Damien O’Connor moves from “keep politics out of sport” to “keep politics out of agriculture”


Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor is scheduled to speak at an online summit this week helping to develop “strategic partnerships with Israel in Agriculture.

Here is the Open letter to Damien O’Connor from the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa in response.


Open letter to a minister ignoring war crimes, ethnic cleansing and human rights abuses

Writing this letter to you reminds me of the letters the anti-apartheid movement wrote to the New Zealand Rugby Union and governments in the 1970s and 1980s in the campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

Back then the rugby union and most politicians refused to recognise the appeals from South Africa’s black majority for support and solidarity. They arrogantly ignored the suffering and human rights abuses which went with apartheid and wanted to “keep politics out of sport”.

Today another anti-apartheid struggle is being waged against the racist, apartheid policies of Israel and its unbridled brutality against the Palestinian people. Your letter pays lip service to Palestinians but expresses solidarity with Israel and its desire to “keep politics out of agriculture”.

And Israeli apartheid – a Crime against Humanity – is no longer in question. It is an established fact as outlined in these reports from respected human rights groups:

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Just like the rugby union and governments in the late 20th century your response tells us the government has chosen the side of the oppressor rather than standing with the Palestinian people.

Your 10 February response to our arguments calling on the government to withdraw from next weeks Agritech summit “building strategic partnerships in agriculture with Israel” was obviously written for you by foreign affairs staff who are long practiced at avoiding arguments challenging their views and simply trotting out timeworn space fillers which are all but irrelevant today.

Only Foreign Affairs could say “the New Zealand Government expects and calls on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law” and keep a straight face. For over 70 years New Zealand governments have been appeasing Israel with these same shabby comments trotted out in public while this racist state continues its systematic human rights abuses against the indigenous people of Palestine.

Appeasement has NEVER worked with Israel – just as it hasn’t worked with rogue states anywhere in history.

Between the time we wrote and the time you replied, Amnesty International, the largest and most respected human rights organisation in the world declared Israel to be an apartheid state (see the link above) Were you aware of this?

We have pointed out to you before that Aotearoa New Zealand should have nothing to do with Israel’s agriculture sector which is based on:

With this in mind the New Zealand Superfund recently took the principled step of withdrawing investments from Israeli bankswhich are funding illegal settlement building on Palestinian land on “responsible investment grounds”. Agritech and the New Zealand government however have decided to do the irresponsible opposite – give active assistance to Israel in its exploitation of stolen Palestinian land. The Israeli Agriculture Ministry, which will take part in your summit, has the specific goal of supporting and assisting illegal Jewish settlements with water supplies and the establishment of agriculture ventures.

Your letter shows you are not up to date. It is uninformed and ignorant of what goes on in Palestine but there is still time for you to get up to date – the summit is not on till next week.

Please read the Amnesty International report over the weekend so you are informed and have time to withdraw from this event. We expect nothing less.

By pulling out you will upset racist Israelis who will use false smears of anti-semitism against you but this is a small price to pay for standing on the right side of history with Palestinians.

Playing sport with apartheid South African was wrong just as helping Israel exploit stolen Palestinian land is ethically and morally wrong.

Please respond urgently and in your response please indicate you have read this letter and the Amnesty International report.



  1. Agritech should add one word to the the events name ….

    ‘strategic Cavalier partnerships’ ,,,, in honor of a pack of rugby mercenary’s who gave support to Apartheid. ….

    …… “The players who did make up the 30-strong squad were said to have earned NZ$100,000 for the trip, a tidy sum in those days but a poor return in light of the damage done to reputations ”

    Perhaps Labour is sowing the ground for some of that Zionist Apartheid money,,, that buys political friends for Israel all over the world ,,,, with bribes/donations https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1bQzcx9iBE&list=LL&index=199&t=17s

    Israel knows the most profitable land is the areas stolen for free ,,, especially if it came with stolen infrastructure too ,,, https://youtu.be/UX8oChavStk?list=LL

    Israel claims NZ knows all about stealing land too, or as they put it ,,,, “the denial of indigenous rights, and the deliberate destruction of a two-state solution in favor of an illegal land grab, are the bedrock on which the modern state of New Zealand was founded. ” … https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/new-zealands-settler-problem

    … perhaps we are swapping notes with the zionists , in the ‘land stealing workshop ,,,at the the Cavaliers Apartheid supporting conference.

    • So many twats who have no idea of history,too thick to read. Israel is an independant state and makes laws for them, as we do for us,they are NOT imposing on anyone else,the arabs are NOT native to Israel or the old Palestine, which was Israel, the Romans renamed to palestine. You are another dickhead to quick to believe to support you bigotry.

  2. Thank you John Minto for spelling it out in plain english for all to read on a day where democracy would appear to be well and truly broken.

      • Right Fynn your point has been made. You don’t believe in fairies. You have that right. Perhaps you should, as an exercise to open your mind to imagination about the Israel-Palestine question. I think John Minto has overlooked the important point in all of this – money. Israel has got it somehow, and we want to know how they did it. End of discussion, money does buy love from the NZ Government of whatever stripe. And Israel developed good water systems and trickle irrigation. which might save us from the irrigation spray and depleted rivers.

        • Well if money does indeed buy love from the NZ govt we should all be equally concerned about Muslim Brotherhood and Arab money which is being disbursed to receptive regimes, including terror-supporting regimes, in greater measure. And golly, do we ever reciprocate. How many taxpayer dollars did Murray McCully “invest” with a Saudi sheep consortium? Did we ever get any return?
          As a non-optional extra the MB dollars come with the well-worn tactic of escalating fear about Zionist money among neo-nazis, anti-semites and gullible socialists. Seems to be going down a treat in those greedy capitalist economies yon marxists despise. Best keep a watchful eye on them.
          Then there’s the CCP with their very generous loans to third world countries via the ever-expanding BRI who’s tentacles are now engulfing our Pacific neighbours. I hear some most uncharitable rumours about certain interests in NZ but our govt does seem to love their money. No worries though aye; I’m sure Minto will expose the subterfuge in his next article.

  3. I’m certain Mr O’Connor will remain on the right side of history and treat these lies and distortions with the comtempt they deserve. All democracies have condemmed the AI report including the US UK Germany Austria Canada Czech Republic and Australia. Some of those most vociferous in their condemnation have been proud Arab Israelis who resent beimg labelled ‘Palestinians’. The AI and their fellow antisemites have been thoroughly embarrassed.

    • “In 1961, Hendrik Verwoerd declared that ‘Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state’. As an architect of apartheid, and South African Prime Minister at the time, he spoke from a position of some authority.Anyone denying the horrendous reality of Israeli apartheid is simply lying.”

      Back in 2018, Caroline Morganti wrote in Haaretz that that newspapers editorial board had already compared current Israeli policy in the West Bank to apartheid at least 13 times since 2006. Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken wrote an article called Apartheid, and so did many others. In Yedioth Ahronoth, former Cabinet minister Yossi Paritzky wrote an op-ed, Our Apartheid State. Back in 2008, former Cabinet minister Yossi Sarid wrote, What acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duckit is apartheid. And former education minister and Israel Prize laureate Shulamit Aloni said that Israel practices a distinct and even violent form of apartheid against the native Palestinian population in the West Bank.

      Centrist and even right-wing Israeli politicians have also used the phrase, and many have used the term as a warning to Israel to change its ways. The list includes: Shin Bet directors Yuval Diskin and Ami Ayalon; former prime ministers Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and Yitzhak Rabin; Israels current president, Isaac Herzog, and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. Morganti notes, Even Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), known for her support for annexing the West Bank and desire to see an Israeli flag over the Temple Mount, said in 2013, Continuation of the status quo [and] over time, the State of Israel will truly become an apartheid state. And in December of last year, Israels most famous living writer, David Grossman, said, Maybe it should no longer be called an occupation, but there are much harsher names, like apartheid, for example.” https://smartagain.org/2022/02/11/altercation-the-times-goes-awol-on-amnesty-and-apartheid/

      • Israel is a free state and NOT apartheid,this guy you mention is a complete tosser, who are the jews oppressing, NOT the arabs,they do NOT belong there,they are syrian and jordanian.

  4. Good letter John should do the trick Damion is a reasonable man and a Coaster. I am a quadrillion more times worried about the military occupation of Palestine than I am by Covid.

  5. damien o’conner is a useless, lazy, prick. His reputation, or rather that lack of one, says it all.
    Having that dopey cud chewer anywhere near our primary industry particularly as Minister of Agriculture! FFS! is like letting an asylum full of mad knife murderers do day surgery at a kindergarten.
    A perfect Minister of Agriculture would be Chloe Swarbrick but just as I finished writing that did I hear all the dopey old true-blue, mindlessly natzo adoring, poisons spraying cockies leap off their quad bikes and kick their nearest dog in a blind fit of rage at the thought of it?
    We have no need to export our agrarian product to racist, psychopathic, narcissists like israel. We HAD priceless markets in the UK, Europe, the USA etc but those markets got fucked once creating private wealth for the pudgy, lazy, pink fingered, Auckland urban elite became the swindle of preference. Once [they] got control over our producer/exporters via the corrupt swindling protection racketeers the producer boards ( aye boys? ) the rest is a difficult recent history to comprehend for what was once one of the wealthiest democracies per head of population in the world.
    14 smiling minions to o’conner show us that all is so beyond and below well that I’ll be having a sleepless night.

  6. Minto showing again what complete twat he is. The arabs are NOT native to Israel and Israel is a free state just like New Zealand and as we make laws for us, the jews make laws for them, they are NOT imposing on another people and how many arabs in the knesset? this guy is thick as a tree trunk, cannot see the truth because it gets in the way of his bigotry and attitudes.

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