Jewish leader ‘regrets’ anti-Israel claims

Former Labor MP Melissa Parke has settled a defamation case against a prominent Jewish leader, who has expressed “regret” for making claims of anti-Semitism.

Both Ms Parke and Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein claim the case had major implications for freedom of speech.

Ms Parke, who withdrew from recontesting the seat of Fremantle just weeks before the 2016 election after an explosive speech attacking Israel, took legal action against three different parties over their attacks on her remarks.

In a speech that angered then Labor leader Bill Shorten, Ms Parke rationalised Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel after claiming Israeli soldiers forced a pregnant woman to drink bleach at a Gaza checkpoint.

Ms Parke was quoted as saying that while rocket attacks were illegal under international law, they were also “a reaction to and a consequence of decades of brutal occupation”.

“Inshallah, Australia will join that consensus once we have a federal Labor government,” she said.

The speech was attacked by Mr Rubenstein, Liberal MP Dave Sharma and Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, owned by News Corp Australia, publisher of The Australian.

Ms Parke took legal action against all three parties, saying they had implied or stated she was an anti-Semite in a bid to ­silence her criticisms of Israel.

Read the article by David Penberthy in The Australian.