An Australian politician sparked uproar in a parliament debate Wednesday, when he described Gaza as "the world's largest open-air prison camp" and compared resistance to Israel's former occupation of southern Lebanon with that against Nazi Germany, Australian media reported Friday.
Labor Legislative Councillor Shaoquett Moselmane made his comments during a debate in the New South Wales's (NSW) parliament over a motion on a recent study trip to Israel by a delegation of regional parliamentarians organized by the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.
Moselmane's description of Gaza echoed comments made earlier in the debate by David Shoebridge of the Greens party, who slammed the trip as a one-sided visit which "edited out" Palestinian and left-wing Israeli voices.
"How could members go there [Israel] and meet with only one of the legislative bodies, the Knesset, and ignore the Palestinian Legislative Council? How could members, who wanted to get a balanced understanding of the issues facing Israel, Palestine and the Middle East, go to the other side of the planet and fail to visit Gaza, the world’s largest outdoor prison?" Shoebridge asked.
In Moselmane's ensuing speech he defended resistance groups who fought against the Israeli occupation in Lebanon and compared them with resistance against Nazi Germany, according to a blow-by-blow account of the session posted on the Australian Jewish news service J-Wire's website. "I resent members here accusing the resistance of being terrorist groups. I salute the resistance," Moselmane stated.
"If the resistance in Lebanon had not forced the Israelis out of Lebanon I would not have been able to go to my grandparents’ home in southern Lebanon and visit the land I was born in," he continued. "I salute them for their resistance. It is the right of people to do so. Imagine what the response would have been in 1941 or 1942 if we had condemned resistance against Nazi Germany. Guns would have been blazing at us for not resisting Nazi Germany."
According to J-Wire, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff said that the "extreme and baseless comments" came from a marginal group and were "quickly and appropriately condemned by the Labor and Liberal MPs."
Jeremy Jones AM, Director of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), told J-Wire: “When a member of an Australian parliament crossed the line from vigorous criticism of Israel to what the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights describes as antisemitic discourse – making a direct analogy between Israel and Nazi Germany – it would have been hoped the entire Parliament would have been outraged.”