I’ve never thought much of Gerry Brownlee. He appears to me a typical right-winger with the added disability of a nasty personality.
Brownlee’s defenders say he just speaks his mind bluntly when he needs to but that’s not the problem.
He’s an old-fashioned bully on behalf of “old money” Christchurch – the ruling elite who live in his wealthy Ilam electorate.
When he praises anyone – such as he has the Christchurch City Council – it’s because he has them right where he wants them. Under his thumb.
He’s an easy target for jokes: “Here comes Gerry – lock up your pies” as an acquaintance said to me recently.
I didn’t pick him as particularly ideological. I would have thought his politics were pragmatic right wing rather than ideological right wing.
I’ve changed my view this last 24 hours with his aggressive pro-Israel stance.
In one of his first acts as Foreign Minister he has written to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to get our diplomatic relations “back on track” after Israel withdrew its ambassador to New Zealand last December following our co-sponsoring of a security council resolution which condemned Israel for continuing to build Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.
Settlement-building on Palestinian land is one of many Israeli provocations which are blatant violations of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“I’ve sent a letter to Mr Netanyahu yesterday firstly congratulating them on their national day but expressing a desire for the Israeli-New Zealand relationship to get back on track and to do that by recognising that we’ve got synergies and innovation and agriculture and various other things like that.”
Since then Brownlee has gone much further by repeating streams of Israeli propaganda as fact.
I shouldn’t have been surprised at Brownlee’s expressed close affinity with Israel. Around this time last year as Defence Minister Brownlee visited Israel and met Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon – better known as the “butcher of Qana”.
Brownlee is in love with the racist Israeli state in much the same way his predecessors in the National Party were in love with our (white) “kith and kin” in apartheid South Africa.
Brownlee repeats the Israeli position that the situation can only be solved with negotiations between Israel and Palestinian representatives. This is NOT the way forward because there is a huge power imbalance between the parties and in any case Netanyahu went into the last Israeli election promising NOT to do any deal with the Palestinians. The apartheid Israeli state has never been interested in peace. They have always wanted Palestinian land much more than they want peace – hence the continuous settlement building across occupied Palestinian land.
What is needed is for the international community to insist that Israel obey international law and uphold United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Brownlee says New Zealand “should not intervene in the dispute beyond condemning terrorism”.
For Brownlee, this means that whatever murder and mayhem Israel perpetrates against Palestinians is justified as national defence while any Palestinian resistance to Israel’s military occupation is terrorism.
The world has long moved on from support for apartheid in South Africa and it is moving away from support for apartheid Israel.
International boycotts played a key role in bringing South African apartheid to an end. Through the increasingly successful international BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign the same international action will bring an end to Israeli apartheid.
Brownlee wants to move New Zealand in the opposite direction and build stronger economic relations with the racist state. This is the equivalent of putting the boot into Palestinians.
Brownlee was on the wrong side of history with apartheid South Africa and is in the same position now with apartheid Israel.
In his letter Brownlee congratulated Israel on its “National Day of Independence”.
Will he write to the Palestinian leadership on May 15th to lament with them on their Yawm an-Nakba, meaning “Day of the Catastrophe” which marks the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli terror squads, the mass theft of Palestinian land and the establishment of an Israeli state based on racism towards Palestinians?
They’re not his kith and kin.