Give peace a chance

July 4, 2018 by Henry Benjamin
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Israel’s Opposition leader Isaac Herzog is visiting Australia immediately following his appointment as the chairman of The Jewish Agency.

Walt Secord, Isaac Herzog and Luke Foley        Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

In a packed itinerary during which Herzog will meet political leaders, media and members of the Australian Jewish community he was hosted by the Labor Israel Action Committee in Sydney.

Until recently Isaac Herzog had been the chairman of Israel’s Labor party.

The meeting was opened by the deputy leader of the NSW Labor party and State co-patron of the Labor Israel Action Committee Walt Secord who welcomed guests including Israel’s ambassador to Australia Mark Sofer. Labor leader Luke Foley, the federal patron of Labor Israel Action Committee and Eden-Monaro MP Dr Mike Kelly, Federal MP for Melbourne Ports and “Victoria’s most vocal and effective supporter of Israel and the Jewish people” – Michael Danby.

Secord said: “Before I introduce NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, I must acknowledge the elephant in the room.   Yes, this weekend, we held the annual NSW Labor Party conference. 800 delegates in Sydney Town Hall.

After a weekend of extraordinary policy announcements from NSW Labor leader Luke Foley and Federal leader Bill Shorten – we are firmly on the path to Government at both the State and Federal levels.

But we also saw that there was no departure or change in the ALP foreign affairs committee platform – in regard to Labor’s long standing support of Israel and a commitment to a two-State solution with a safe and secure Israel – and the Palestinian people.

Without going into details, it was a major effort and many of those deeply involved know how challenging the task was.  As I described to the Israeli Ambassador earlier today, it has been like a duck on a pond; the appearance of little effort above the water, but lots of movement below the surface.

But it would be remiss not to acknowledge the hard-working core in LIAC – especially former Senator Michael Forshaw, Federal MP Dr Mike Kelly, former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal, Michael and Mary Easson who are not here tonight, Byron Danby, Kevin Mooney and Luke Maxfield of my office.

So we have come off a positive weekend on many fronts so it is a great honour to have as our special guest Isaac Herzog.”

In introducing NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, Walt Secord said of him: “He is one of the strongest voices in Israel pushing for a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and a man who has presented a strong, progressive opposition to the Netanyahu Government.”

Luke Foley told the audience that one could be on the centre-left of politics and still be a string supporter of Israel. He spoke of Israel’s founders who established the country in the principles of collectivism and solidarity. Mention Doc Evatt and the establishment of Israel he mentioned the long-lasting bond between Israel and the Australian Labor party. Calling Isaac Herzog by his nickname Bougie he told him that his visit is an act of solidarity with all those members of the Labor party who support Israel.

He stressed that Australians had the right to criticise Israeli politics but not the legitimacy of the country itself.

Luke Foley said that the Australian and Israeli Labor parties had been sister parties for seventy years. According to the census Foley’s electorate has 28 Jews and 28,000 Muslims. He added: “My support for Israel is clearly not from chasing votes.”

Isaac Herzog told the meeting that Doc Evatt had been a close friend of his uncle Abba Eban. He reminisced about his uncle had frequently mentioned Doc Evatt. He said his late father, Chaim Herzog who visited Australia in 1988 when the first president of Israel to do so and was warmly welcomed by Bob Hawke.

Isaac Herzog said:  “There is a great affinity and  my party looks at your party vice versa.”

We believe in social justice democracy and we believe in defending the State of Israel.”

If you look at the greatest example of socialism that works it is the kibbutzim down south near Gaza. Incredible people. Incredible of towns and villages. They are the ones who are bombarded day in day out and the world blames us for trying to protect them. Israel can be criticised but I tell my friends and neighbours all over, before you judge us come and learn the facts on the ground.Come to Israel. See who extends his hand for peace. See who want to contain acts of terror. See who wants to prevent further casualties. Then let’s talk. We live in a very cruel region which has not changed much. except for one major development. In recent years there has emerged a new coalition which is Israel with his enemies who wanted to annihilate it fifty years ago. I am talking about moderate Arab states which include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

He described Iran as “the angry lion who wanted to demolish anything around with terror”. He said other states facing Iran are looking at Israel as being an ally.

Isaac Herzog said Israel Labor had originally set up the two state solution and that he adamantly believes in it.

But he added that when Abbas says “the Jews have no connection with Jerusalem…that’s the biggest fallacy and lie there is.”

He said they only way the conflict can be resolved is by sitting down and negotiating. Nothing else.”.

Herzog said of peace: “It requires leaders. It requires an international effort. And it might need luck. But its feasible.”

He finished by saying “Give it a chance.”


One Response to “Give peace a chance”
  1. Paul Winter says:

    Give peace a chance? What a fool.

    Israel has been giving peace chance, after chance, after chance and all it has received is war and rejection and death and more demands after each concession.

    There can be no peace with an enemy whose theology demands victory on the battlefield and supremacy over Jews. An increasing number of realists are coming to the conclusion that the made up people called the Palestinians must be defeated and its kleptocratic elite replaced by people who do not despise democracy, human rights and the 21st century.

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