Strong reaction to Arab League’s consideration of Australia’s pro-Israel stance

February 3, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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Jewish leaders have reacted strongly to reports in “The Australian” that the Arab League “would take Australia’s pro-Israel position into account” in exercising their 22 votes for the election of a seat on the UN Security Council.

The newspaper also reported Arab League  Secretary-General Hasehm Youssef as saying “Canberra kept bad company”.

Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, issued a statement in which he said:

ECAJ President Robert Goot

“The Arab League representative has brazenly admitted that his organisation is prepared to use sheer force of numbers to try to bully Australia into changing the way it votes at the UN.  He should know that Australians do not succumb to stand-over behaviour.

Australia’s votes at the UN have been based on principle.  Australia has condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel; acknowledged that Israel has both the right and duty to use force to defend its towns and cities against such attacks; boycotted the Durban 11 Conference in Geneva at which Ahmadinejad engaged in yet another antisemitic rant; walked out of the UN General Assembly when Iran’s President Ahmadinejad spoke in 2009; and supported Israel being given the opportunity to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council and to vote at its meetings.”

Together with the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands,  Panama, Poland, Slovakia and Macedonia, among many others, Australia voted against the adoption of the Goldstone Report by the General Assembly.  Every other developed democracy abstained.   By referring to all these States as “bad company”, the Arab League representative has insulted the entire western world and endorsed the odious dictatorships that were among the States which voted to adopt the Goldstone Report.”

It would be a good thing for Australia to have a seat on the UN Security Council, but not if the price for obtaining it is to abandon our principles and bow to bully-boy threats.  The Australian Jewish community is confident that the Government has the moral fibre not to compromise its principled bipartisan support for Israel, a two state solution and a comprehensive peace in the region.”

Dr Colin Rubenstein

Colin Rubenstein, executive-direction of the Australian/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, added: “The comments by Youssef were disappointing if unsurprising. Unfortunately, the Arab League has rarely displayed any inclination to be a constructive force for Middle East peace, and their traditionally  retrograde and unhelpful strategy of focusing on boycotts and diplomatic posturing  to isolate,condemn and debunk  Israel was again on display in Mr. Yousef’s statements. There is no evidence that this is anything other than offensive rhetoric and  UN members will in any case make their selection based on a variety of considerations.  Regardless, no self-respecting Australian government would allow its policies to be influenced by such bullying tactics.

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