The notorious New South Wales branch of the Greensparty has once again embroiled the party in scandal, following revelations in The Australian that it has forged close ties with the nation’s most infamous Holocaust denier and Nazi, Fredrick Töben.
They even invited him to sail in solidarity to raise funds for Gaza, in protest at Israel’s attempts to stop the flow of weapons and equipment used by terrorists there against Israeli civilians and enemies of the Hamas-led regime there. The non-sharia booze cruise for Gaza wasn’t cheap:
$75 regular | $100 solidarity (inclusive of food and fine company)
Emails between an unnamed Greensparty staffer who we can reveal is Mark Riboldi, an electorate officer to David Shoebridge MLC, show a close degree of interaction between the supposedly left-wing MP’s state electorate office and the notorious anti-Semite from Adelaide. A Google search, the general notoriety of Töben including a lot of press last year relating to an anti-discrimination case against him, mean their denial that they were aware of his views and activities strains credulity. As you’ll see, Töben wasn’t shy about writing about “Jewish pressure” in correspondence with the Greensparty. And of course, Töben could very well be a Greensparty voter given the well-established environmentalist tradition in Nazi ideology.
The Australian’s Christian Kerr, who has been understandably agitating for redeployment from Canberra to Melbourne, has done well to shine light on a very sinister email exchange showing the Greensparty and Nazis show common cause when it comes to hating the Jewish state, Israel. The Australian reveals:
Mr Shoebridge’s office emailed Dr Toben a link to his speech on March 25.
“Many, many thanks, Mark – and all the very best to David – and I do hope there will not be a bending to Jewish pressure after this courageous stance!” Dr Toben said in a return email the same day.
“Definitely not,” came a response from Mr Shoebridge’s office two days later.
Usually Israel haters are careful to refer to “Zionists” rather than directly referring to Jews. Mark Riboldi was not disturbed by the plain-speaking about the Jews. Quite reminiscent of that other anti-Semite, one-time Christian Kerr boss turned foe Stephen Mayne, who once told an ABC radio audience he’d submitted to what he claimed was omnipotent Jewish power by just following the editorial line of the Jewish News on Israel when he ran Crikey.
The publication’s carnival of Israel-hating writers at the time mustn’t have got Mayne’s memo. As ever with Mayne, now an unemployed carpetbagging local councillor in league with dodgy developers’ mate Darebin mayor Tim Laurence, it was a fib. Mayne told a lot of fibs back then, Crikey insiders say, especially those co-founders he reputedly defrauded in their partnership when it came to divvy up the spoils from the sale to Eric Beecher. Whatever one might say about Kerr – and we’ve said plenty – he is sound on Israel and troubled by anti-Semitism of the kind Stephen Mayne exhibits. Mayne was also recently accused of removing delicacies including cakes and meals from Melbourne Town Hall premises that are generously provided by ratepayers to keep the councillors well-fed. It is unclear whether that makes Mayne family members, whom we choose not to name at this time, complicit in his arguably unlawful behaviour.
The Greensparty-Nazi alliance exposed by Christian Kerr today is about as confronting and worrying as anything else we’ve ever seen from the Greens. Their pre-occupation with Israel, their insistence on the Jewish state being some kind of villain while remaining silent about the Middle East’s real human rights abusers like the Saudis and Syrians, can now be seen in its proper context.
A Google search of the Greensparty’s intended guest Fredrick Töben is a horror show. He is undoubtedly Australia’s most prominent and infamous Holocaust denier, saluted with the Third Reich salute by his fans during his multiple criminal trials. He has produced lengthy texts and videos making his case that among other things: 1) the Holocaust didn’t happen, 2) Nazi death camp prisoners were fed better than Germans in general and 3) those gas chambers were just designed to make sure no-one got nits during their stay. It’s vile, menacing and horrible stuff.
And the staffer who invited him – Mark Riboldi – has a Linkedin page shows he claims to have been a “researcher,” a “communications assistant” to the NSW Greensparty, not before he started as an electorate officer working for David Shoebridge, in a self-titled role “Communications and Policy Advisor”. His duties extend to answering the phone, the tweets and inviting Nazis to anti-Israel events. The bloke can use Google. It’s frankly impossible to imagine he hadn’t heard of him, while taking such a keen interest in the Middle East.
And even when the Greensparty high command decided there was too much heat to allow Töben to attend in full-dress Nazi uniform, Shoebridge’s staffer didn’t say we don’t like your views, he apologised for the inconvenience and merely said his views would “likely offend a number of guests who we work with frequently.” Nothing about Shoebridge or the staffer or the Greensparty themselves being offended. Riboldi wrote:
“Hi Frederick, I’m afraid we’re going to have to rescind our invitation to this event. I have been informed that, based on your past actions and views, your presence will likely offend a number of guests who we work with frequently. Apologies for any inconvenience. Mark for David.”
It appears Toben got angry as a result of being uninvited, demanded his hosts pay him for his airfare to Sydney and appears to have provided details of his correspondence to maximise the trouble for the Greensparty as a payback. While all that’s amusing, it’s no laughing matter that the Greensparty and Australia’s most prominent Holocaust-denier have been so closely connected at all.
The Greensparty’s continued involvement in the Nazi-emulating Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions blitzkreig against the Jewish state, their extensive interaction with Holocaust deniers and Nazis is perplexing, confusing for those who like to peg them as self-indulgent idealistic lefties who love koalas and didn’t grow out of student politics.
Maybe some of them are like that. Maybe some of them mean well. The anti-Labor left tradition is a long-term, albeit fringe, part of Australian politics.
But the fact the Greensparty attracts and is comfortable with support from Nazis ought worry all of us.
Not everyone sympathetic to the plight of the hopelessly divided and poorly led Palestinians is an anti-Semite or is even anti-Israel. But those who impose impossible standards on Israel (that they never seek to apply on other Mid-East countries), those who find themselves supporting the Gazans or the West Bankers or Hezbollah or even the Syrian rebels who snack on the hearts of their enemies are getting into bed with the political enemies of everything we politically value in Australia: human rights, individual liberty, religious freedom and democracy.
It should come as no surprise that those who oppose Israel attract Nazis and far-right groups like flies to rotten eggs. The long sweep of history shows they are part of the same tradition, frequently employing the same tactics (like boycotts), with thinking similarly twisted and troubled, motivated by deeply worrying sentiments we once dared to dream were extinguished when the Nazi death camps were liberated and Israel from the ashes of the Holocaust.
At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum, there’s a memorial wall that reads in the languages of the world “Never again.” When you confront the fact that currently elected members of Australian parliaments – from the Greensparty no less – are in league with those who pretend the Holocaust didn’t happen because they are sympathetic to its perpetrators, we’re powerfully reminded that those words “Never again” have a great deal of meaning still. “Never again” isn’t a boast, it’s a reminder that there is evil in the world and we must always be ready to identify it and have the courage to act against it.
UPDATE: The Greensparty MLC responsible for this unpleasantness says it’s all a big misunderstanding and that he didn’t intend for the Holocaust denier to be invited to the anti-Israel booze cruise:
UPDATE: David Shoebridge has refused to sign the London declaration condemning anti-Semitism.
UPDATE: David Shoebridge gives a reasonably good account of himself on Sydney radio, distancing himself from the actions of his rogue staffer.
UPDATE: The Australian reports in a follow-up yarn that a “split” has emerged in the Greensparty over how to handle their Greens-Nazi relationship. Some – like former Christine Milne staffer and violist – Tim Hollo impressed with his no-holds-barred attack on those responsible for building friendships with Nazis:
The invitation was sent to Dr Toben after an email exchange with Shoebridge staffer Mark Riboldi, who sent a link to a March 25 debate in the NSW Legislative Council on a study trip to Israel that was hijacked by pro-Palestinian MPs. In the exchange Mr Riboldi agreed he would “definitely not” be bending to Jewish pressure.
Mr Hollo condemned Mr Riboldi’s conduct: “As a proud Jewish Green, I have spent years convincing people it is wrong and offensive to conflate criticising Israel’s government and armed forces with anti-Semitism. In this context, David Shoebridge’s staffer’s approach to Fredrick Toben is an inexcusable error that is completely out of step with Greens policies, values and action.
“He should not be allowed to tarnish the great work done by the rest of the party.”
You can’t fault Hollo’s tough-on-slime approach. Other Greenistas were less certain of just how critical they could be of those seeking the black-leathery embrace of Nazi chums.
For example, Comrade Hollo’s old boss-cocky Christine Milne thought it was best to just condemn anti-Semitism rather than those cuddling up to it:
“The Australian Greens totally reject and condemn anti-Semitism . . . It is abhorrent. We condemn unreservedly Holocaust denials. It has no place anywhere in Australia society,” Senator Milne said. “The horrendous consequences of the Holocaust are still being felt around the world and I am appalled that people like Dr Toben engage in fabrication of history and . . . spread and engage in anti-Semitism.”
But she stopped short of condemning Mr Shoebridge.
UPDATE: This issue has done as much to damage the reputation of the Greensparty as anything else they’ve ever done.
It comes as no surprise – to them or anyone else – that if they attack, campaign against and besmirch the Jewish state of Israel they will inevitably attract the attention and support of anti-Semites, in Holocaust-denier and/or Nazi form. It doesn’t help that Nazism itself had a conservationist/environmental element to it.
This should give them pause. The Greensparty is not a party of race-hate. But their willingness to engage with those who are, to even invite them on booze cruises, is a worry about how they are evolving.
It boils down to this: they are wrong about Israel. Israel’s Tel Aviv sandal-wearers and beach-bums have far more in common with Greens than they could imagine unless they’ve been there. Israel’s vibrant, puzzling and fluid democracy is far more consistent with the proportional representation voting system and polity favoured by inner-city leftists who’d love a Stephen Jolly Socialist list to get a couple of MPs, next to the Greensparty, a couple of Assange-ites and other space cadets. Our system is far better, of course.
Israel was – once – a lefty darling. But it kind of fell out favour when it proved its capacity to defend itself against the invading armies of Arab dictatorships (some Soviet-linked, many ultra-conservative), and maintained close ties with the United States. By defending its borders and people successfully and – after many decades of terrible struggle – building a successful export-oriented, innovative economy, Israel lost its under-dog status and there’s nothing a lefty loves more than an underdog. Now it’s the Palestinians who look like they’ve got the rough end of the stick. Any sensible analysis of recent events shows that it’s entirely self-imposed, usually by their inept, thieving and extremist leadership. Terror attacks on Israeli civilians caused Israeli security to tighten up. Somehow this was conflated into Israel being an “apartheid” state despite a rich cultural and ethnic diversity in Israel, which no-one could reasonably deny. It is a remarkably cosmopolitan, diverse and inclusive society with a great passion for liberties and freedoms, certainly as much as our society is, if not more.
The Greensparty’s indulgence in supporting a “boycott” of the Jewish state is an outrage.
They are – indeed – as the Australian’s powerful editorial persuasively argued this morning “a ship of fools.” They put it best:
By flirting with BDS, the Greens forfeit the right to be considered a mainstream party. It demonstrates a preference for the company of the numbats and conspiracists in the dark and dangerous fringelands. Until the party disentangles itself, forcefully and unambiguously, from the BDS movement and those who would see a democratic, sovereign nation wiped from the map, its chances of being taken seriously are zero.