Australia tilts against Israel

December 7, 2012 by Isi Leibler
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In the diplomatic debacle at the United Nations General Assembly pertaining to the vote of recognition to the Palestinian Authority, two countries considered solid supporters of Israel, abandoned us at the crucial moment…writes Isi Leibler.

Isi Leibler

Israel was shocked when Germany abstained, especially as Chancellor Angela Merkel had stated earlier that Germany would vote against the Palestinian initiative.

The other unexpected defection was the last moment abstention of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government, considered a strong supporter of Israel.

On a few recent occasions, votes by Australia at the UN appeared to deviate from the norm, but this was rationalized as temporary pandering to the Arabs to solicit votes for elections to the Security Council.

The dramatic tilt against Israel was spearheaded by Foreign Minister Bob Carr who exerted enormous pressure on the Labor caucus and compelled Prime Minister Gillard to backtrack from her decision to oppose the Palestinian initiative. Had she not complied, she would have been humiliatingly defeated and possibly toppled as Prime Minister.

Carr was vigorously supported by former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, at one time one of Israel’s greatest supporters, notorious (whilst inebriated) for having called on Israel to “nuke” the Palestinians if they failed to halt the terror. Hawke was intimately connected to Israel’s Labor leaders but after Menahem Begin was elected Prime Minister in 1977, he changed his views and today regards Israel as “intransigent”. He was supported by another veteran Labor politician, former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who since retiring from government has been consistently canvassing the Arab cause. Both fervently lobbied Labor ministers to repudiate Gillard’s policy.

Carr was only appointed to his post in March this year. Prior to that he had served for 11 years as Premier of Australia’s largest state, New South Wales.

Ironically, he was once considered a close friend of the Jewish community. He is knowledgeable about Jewish affairs and has a genuine and sensitive understanding of the Holocaust. In 1977, he was a founding member of the Labor Friends of Israel.

He subsequently became a passionate admirer of Amos Oz and appears to have absorbed much of his far left outlook on Israeli affairs.

In 2003, as State Premier, he dismayed the Jewish community and friends of Israel by presenting the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian political activist, Hanan Ashrawi, renowned for her rabid demonization of Israel.

Carr visited Israel in August this year meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders including Ashrawi.

On his return to Australia, he raised eyebrows when he dispatched a delegation to Iran to solicit votes for Australia’s UN Security Council candidature. There were also unconfirmed rumors circulating that undertakings were made to the Arabs in return for their support.

His backing of Israel during the Gaza campaign was lukewarm. In the Senate, he made the astonishing statement:  “Any response by Israel needs to be proportionate and not lead to civilian casualties. We have on more than a dozen occasions called on both sides to exercise restraint”.

Setting aside the moral equivalence inherent in this remark, he was effectively demanding that Israel – which more than any army in history goes out of its way to minimize civilian casualties – take no action to defend its citizens from missile attacks.

He was even more forthcoming after the UN vote when he proclaimed “I don’t apologize for the fact that Australia has interests in the Arab world. If we had voted no, that would have been a body blow to our interests in over 20 countries. The truth is they all see this as a bedrock issue.” He also dismissed suggestions that the Palestinians intended to exploit their new observer status to initiate charges of war crimes against Israel at the International Criminal Court.

Carr’s change of policy was confirmed when he joined the European bandwagon and hauled Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem over the coals following Israel’s decision to build homes in the Jerusalem suburbs and adjacent areas – which the Bush Administration had agreed should remain within Israel.

Australia has a long association of friendship with Israel dating back to Australian troops who served in Palestine during both World Wars. Labor leader Dr. H.V. Evatt was UN President in 1948 when the Jewish state was proclaimed and since then until today – with the exception of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam from 1972-1975, – successive Australian governments of all political persuasions, displayed strong friendship towards Israel.

The Liberal (conservative) government under Prime Minister John Howard, which governed Australia for 11 years prior to Labor’s electoral victory in 2007, was especially supportive of Israel and could be compared to the Harper Government in Canada today.

When Howard visited Israel in 2000, I had already made aliya and reluctantly accepted his invitation to accompany his delegation to meet with Arafat. Afterwards he solicited my opinion and I told him that I regarded Arafat as a duplicitous terrorist and did not believe he had any intention of seeking a peace settlement. I recall his response: “Should Arafat ever renege on the commitments to peace which he conveyed today, I give you a clear undertaking that as long as I am Prime Minister, the Jewish community and the people of Israel will never have reason to feel that I let them down”. Howard kept his word and in subsequent years emerged as Israel’s greatest champion amongst world statesmen.

Labor, headed by Kevin Rudd, gained office in 2007 and three years later was succeeded by Julia Gillard. Under both Prime Ministers, but especially Gillard, Labor maintained an evenhanded bipartisan approach towards Israel.

Much of this historical bipartisanship can be attributed to a vigorous Jewish community, renowned as being one of the most vibrant Zionist communities in the Diaspora. Its leadership has never failed, to speak upand take a principled stand on behalf of Israel when appropriate.

With close to 500,000 Moslems now living in Australia, many concentrated in key Labor Party electorates, their influence has impacted on a number of Labor Ministers. Combined with the vehement anti-Israeli orientation of the far left Labor factions, this enabled Carr to persuade the Cabinet to tilt its policy against Israel.

However it is premature to totally write off the Australian Labor Party. It has a long tradition of friendship towards Israel and many of its leaders were distressed with recent developments. Besides, although understandably disheartened, Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains solidly pro-Israel, reiterating her view that this abstention was a mistake and will only serve to embolden Palestinian extremists.

The opposition Liberal Party adamantly supports Israel. Former Prime Minister John Howard described the government’s tilt as “pathetic” and an “embarrassment”.

Elections are scheduled next year and recent polls indicate that the Liberals may win by a landslide.

But unless Gillard succeeds in persuading the Labor Party caucus to change its approach, in the short term Israel should not expect support from Australia under Foreign Minister Carr. Like many of our European “friends”, Carr may continue insisting that his motivations are based upon having the Jewish state’s security at heart and trying to save Israel from itself. But when the chips are down, he will abandon us as he did at the UN General Assembly.

Isi Leibler lives in Jerusalem. He is a former president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Comments

17 Responses to “Australia tilts against Israel”
  1. Anne says:

    Daniel’ and ‘Ben’ above, seemingly, would like Australia to assist in the handing over of Israel to be devoured by the jihad crocodile.

    Me, I find that attitude perfectly despicable: and their ranting about ‘the Zionist right’ and ‘the zionist lobby’ is just a thinly-disguised version of the sort of nonsense one finds in that vile forgery, the ‘Protocols’.

    I *like* Jews. I *like* Israel. I am deeply ashamed of – and angered by – the way in which our present administration is treating tiny, beleaguered Israel. I am infuriated by our grovelling to the Mohammedans.

    And I think that Bob Carr, who appears to have absorbed craven dhimmitude from Amos Oz and from that sinister Islamochristian Hanan Ashrawi, and has also been, I think, most unduly influenced – to his and our detriment – by the even more sinister likes of one Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf (he of the insolent ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ project), is rapidly shaping up as one of the most dangerous Foreign Ministers that Australia has ever had.

  2. Anne says:

    ‘Daniel’ and ‘Ben’ above, seemingly, would like Australia to assist in the handing over of Israel to be devoured by the jihad crocodile.

    Me, I find that attitude perfectly despicable: and their ranting about ‘the Zionist right’ and ‘the zionist lobby’ is just a thinly-disguised version of the sort of nonsense one finds in that vile forgery, the ‘Protocols’.

    I *like* Jews. I *like* Israel. I am deeply ashamed of – and angered by – the way in which our present administration is treating tiny, beleaguered Israel. I am infuriated by our grovelling to the Mohammedans.

    And I think that Bob Carr, who appears to have absorbed craven dhimmitude from Amos Oz and from that sinister Islamochristian Hanan Ashrawi, and has also been, I think, most unduly influenced – to his and our detriment – by the even more sinister likes of one Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf (he of the insolent ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ project), is rapidly shaping up as one of the most dangerous Foreign Ministers that Australia has ever had.

  3. Henry says:

    Don’t worry guys, these losers will be gone next year.

  4. Australia has harboured Nazis since the war ended. Friend of Israel? What a joke. What a lie.

  5. Jeff says:

    Australia should stand by Israel.I am a third generation Australian and believe in Israels historical roots to its land.

  6. Cody says:

    Everybody is afraid of the Moslems regardless of where they live. People generally fear what Moslems can and sometimes do, that is kidnap innocents, torture, and behead Christians and Jews when they find them, and most importantly create enough mayhem to create fear and uncertainty within the local population. Just travel to Great Britain to feel the fear that most Britons have of their Moslem neighbors, citizens and non citizens alike. Is Australia capable of dealing with a fifth column living in its midst? The stated goal of the Moslem is to convert by whatever means possible the non believer, is Australia going to bow down to the Moslem the same way that President Obama did to the Saudi Monarch? These are hard questions that all Australians have to ask themselves.

  7. Rita says:

    As a German born Australian I am ashamed for both countries for their cowardice and for proving, that Hitler could still florish and that “born-again Nazism” does even if Heil Hitler has been replaced by Allah Akbar.

  8. Roslyn says:

    What else do you expect with the PM being a practicing Athiest, Bob Hawke, an Agnostic,and Bob Carr, well I have no idea. Once you leave God out everything. There are many people in this country who are supportive of Israel, including myself. I know that in the end, the Jewish nation will prevail.

  9. PATRICIA says:

    Australia has no politician willing to stand up and be counted. Just a lot of politically correct cowards. I am surprised to here that Germany is now following suit. How long before every country stands against Israel. OMG how they will live to regret it. Be’ahavat Yisrael. Shalom.

  10. Michael says:

    yes Daniel as long as those decisions made by our Government lean in favor of the poor Palestinians .

    Unfortunately Daniel we don’t have enough Jews to make up the numbers like the Muslims and we also pose no threat in any case if we don’t get our way….

  11. Whst do we expect? The ALP has become very anti-Semitic over the years – once they courted the Greens, who make no real secret of their Nazi and anti-Jewish sympathies (Nazi German was the ‘greenest’ nation on the planet under the vegetarian Hitler) – an ALP anti-Jewish, anti-Israel stance was inevitable.

  12. Daniel says:

    Leibler confuses being a ‘friend of Israel’ with falling for the spin of the Zionist Right.

    Australia is a sovereign nation and has the right to form foreign policy based on its interests, whatever they may be. Israel is still the only democracy in the region, so Australia will continue to support that country until it has reasons not to.

    And that means Australia will continue to express its policies and opinions without fear or favour. It’s what Australians expect.

    • EthanP says:

      Why is it that people like you don’t have similar comments when the Palestinians spout their “truths”. As for public opinion, with the flood of anti-Israel propaganda comming from the MSM, (NYT, LAT, BBC, Gaurdian, etc) it speaks well of people in general that so many still DO support Israel.

  13. suzy says:

    What the hell, Australia wake up and stay on Israels side, sick of pathetic weak leadership.. Kick Bob Carr OUT…WHAT AN IDIOT…Israel has every right to do with that land as they wish…IT IS THEIR LAND FULL STOP!!!!

    • Ben Eleijah says:

      Australian politicians like their foreign counterparts are weatherwanes. So long as Israel had the unconditional support of the US, they toed the US line and were happy to crawl before the Zionist lobby. Now the US establishment is distancing itself from Israel and Australian politicans are following suit. Israel is isolating itself from the world and its principal patron is now a striken gian from prolonged wars, mounting external debts and econimc recession. It cannot support Israel much longer, particularly after the Arab Spring.
      Zionist lobbies can expect the cold shoulder from politicians as Germany’s Angela Merkel showed Netanyahu.

      • Lynne Newington says:

        It’s a lot like another state/country I know of, everything is political expediency, even to sleeping with the devil to get what they want.

      • EthanP says:

        I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head.
        BHO spent 20 years attending Rev. Wrights “Black Liberation Theology” church. One of there main tenants is anti-semitism/Zionism. The reverends best bud is Louis Farakan. One of the most outspoken anti-semites on the planet.
        Do you believe that Obama “really” knew nothing of this? In 20 years!
        And he has supported the Muslim Brotherhood EVERYWHERE!

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