ACTIVIST group GetUp says it stands behind a “grossly distorted” video it posted on social media last week demonising Israel.
Among other accusations, the video narrated by GetUp board member and Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) campaigner Sara Saleh accuses Israel of wanting to “erase the Palestinian presence from all over Palestine” and “violently dispossessing” and “forcibly removing” Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
She makes a direct equivalence between the plight of Palestinians and that of Indigenous Australians and states, “Israelis are settlers on Palestinian land,” not just those in the West Bank, suggesting all of Israel is illegitimate.
Referring to the Jerusalem riots that preceded the recent conflict with Hamas, she claims, “As Israel launched its attacks on people praying inside Al-Aqsa mosque, what we saw is police brutality and violence and Palestinians carrying the bodies including that of their children outside of the mosque,” even though the death count from the riots was zero.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said GetUp “has lost its moral compass”.
“This video is ablaze with a litany of baseless charges, outrageous half-truths, biased omissions and historical falsehoods. All it will do is undermine intercultural and interfaith relations,” he said.
“GetUp is now part of the problem, not the solution. The modern blood libels that Israel stole Palestinian land, that it wants to erase the Palestinian presence and is ‘invested’ in killing Palestinians is part of a broader trend of vicious, hateful incitement that will only foment further hostility against Australian Jews, especially young people.
“And shame on GetUp for not only excusing Hamas but for distorting and abusing the social justice issue of Indigenous rights so as to appeal to a broader base of support and pummel and demonise the Jewish state.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said it was yet another example of an organisation being manipulated into becoming a mouthpiece for the anti-Israel movement.
“GetUp has always focused on domestic issues and its ability to impact the actions of Hamas and the Israeli government is precisely nil,” he said.
“By allowing a BDS activist from APAN to speak on its behalf and deliver a version of history that is grossly distorted, progressive Jews will feel rejected by the organisation, its credibility will suffer and its ability to influence policy in Australia will be seriously undermined.”
The AJN put a number of the video’s inaccurate assertions to GetUp and asked whether it had fact-checked Saleh’s accusations, whether it stood by them, whether it apportioned any blame for the recent violence to Hamas and whether it believed Israel is illegitimate.
National Director Paul Oosting replied, “We are proud to platform our board director Sara Saleh, a respected commentator and activist for peace, justice and a free Palestine, because it is important in this moment that Palestinian voices are heard around the world.
“Sara has spoken out passionately for many years for an end to the Palestinian occupation and the start of freedom, dignity, and peace.
“GetUp has joined with civil society groups across the world in a growing global movement of solidarity and hope, as people everywhere speak out for justice in Palestine.”