Football or rockets – ask Barry O’Farrell

December 1, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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The NSW Opposition Leader compared border life in Tweed Heads with border life in Israel.

Barry O'Farrell with ECAH head Robert Goot   pic: Henry Benjamin

Barry O'Farrell with ECAJ head Robert Goot pic: Henry Benjamin

Replacing Malcolm Turnbull at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry conference in Sydney, Barry O’Farrell was responding to a question from Zionist Council of Victoria head Dr Danny Lamm on the general attitude of Australians towards Israel.

Within his response, the State Liberal Party leader said “I don’t think the great majority of people in this country would understand what it would be like to live in Tweed Heads with people in Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta determined to see your destruction or at least the destruction of the country in which you live.”

O’Farrell told the meeting that New South Wales “might have our rivalries with Victoria and Queensland but they are normally played out on the football field.”

He said there there is goodwill towards Israel and that Aussies are pragmatic and 99% would support a two state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

He made special mention of the contribution made by Labour stalwart Bert Evatt towards the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948…and highlighted the quote made Australia’s representative at the 1938 Evian conference  Thomas White who justified the tight quota on Jewish immigration by saying “We don’t have a racial problem and see no need to import one”. The quote is the only reference made to Australia in Yad Vashem, the permanent Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

O’Farrell said: “What Bert Evatt did was learn the lessons of Evian and sought to make practical reparation. They made sure this country was to become a home to people from around the world.”

Touching on the current situation in Israel, O’Farrell said: “Until we see those who oppose the legitmacy of the State of Israel  accept that it is there for the long run and that any solution will be a two state solution, there is no great hope for optism.”

He told the meeting that Australians witnessed events in the region “through the filter of the international media”. He added “No-one ever hears about the missile rocket attacks that ultimately led a government to say ‘enough is enough – we have to do something about this'”.

On the local scene, O’Farrell told the meeting that the racial discrimination legislation brought in by the Greiner govoernment in 1989 needs reviewing. Discussing the contemporary digital world he said: “Unless we adapt these laws to meet the varying ways vilivifation can be pursued in this day and age, we will fail those who rely upon us…those who are affected by it.”

AJN Editor Zeddy Lawrence with SMH Foreigh Editor Connie Levett  pic: Henry Benjamin

AJN Editor Zeddy Lawrence with SMH Foreigh Editor Connie Levett pic: Henry Benjamin

Sydney Morning Herald Foreign Editor Connie Levett joined the newly-appointed editor of the Australian Jewish News, Zeddy Lawrence and AIJAC’s Jeremy Jones to discuss the role of the media today. Lawrence told the delegates that the BBC had been renamed the “British Bias Corporation” and detailed many anomalies in the way media deals with the Israel-Palestine conflict highlighting the introduction of opinion being reported instead of the facts.

Levett focused on the difficult and sometimes sensitive work of maintaining balance in reporting and let it be known that no journalist was responsible for the headlines attributed to his or her story.

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