Friday, January 18, 2008

Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship

The Israel lobby in Australia has chalked up its first victory with the Rudd Government. In The Australian Jewish News (AJN) of 7/12/07, Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), was reported to have "spoken with representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and hopes to meet [Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen] Smith as soon as possible. Goot said he would like to ask Smith about ways to prevent anti-Semitism at the World Conference Against Racism [WCAR] in Durban in 2009, and 'to work out the mechanics of our relationship in the future'."

In the AJN of 18/1/08, we read that "The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has praised the Rudd Government and its UN ambassador for voting against funding for the so-called UN Durban Review Conference, or 'Durban II'." AIJAC's Dr Colin Rubenstein griped that the WCAR held in 2001 "was hijacked and turned into a caricature of the very forces it was supposed to combat, even reviving the old canard that Zionism equals racism." He "commended" the Rudd Government for what he called its "principled stance."

41 (to 93) states, all European (apart from the US, Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea & Turkey - Israel does not vote on Shabbat) voted against funding Durban II. The US ambassador to the UN, Mark Wallace, even went on to vote "alone against the UN 2008-09 regular budget because money for hatemongering had been included." [ Amusingly, Wallace is described on this neocon Hudson Institute website as "US Representative for United Nations Management & Reform."]

Let's get back to basics here. As Uri Davis, Israeli anti-Zionist activist and author, points out in his seminal 2003 work, Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, political Zionism is a political programme committed to the notion that it is a good idea to establish and consolidate in the country of Palestine a sovereign, Jewish state that attempts to guarantee in law (eg Absentees Property Law 1950) and in practice (via the mass expulsion of its indigenous Palestinian Arab people in 1948) a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control, in other words a form of apartheid. Because, unlike western democratic political programmes, Zionism is not predicated on the principle of the separation of religion and tribalism from the state and violates the values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the standards of international law, it is a form of racism. The Israel lobby, of course, seeks always to blur the fundamental distinction between Judaism (a confessional statement belonging to the private realm of the individual) and Zionism (a political programme), and routinely smears anti-Zionism by linking it with anti-Semitism.

The Rudd Government's vote on Durban II cannot, therefore, be described as "principled," since Israel, as a Jewish state, is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the UDHR. Australia's vote is, in fact, a vote for racism and apartheid.

At the 2001 WCAR, most participants (but not Australia) supported a resolution equating Zionism with racism, prompting a walkout by Israel and the US. The final text of the resolution, while recognising the Palestinians' right to self-determination and expressing concern at their plight under foreign occupation, drops all criticism of Israel. The parallel WCAR NGO Forum, however, stuck with the original resolution, declaring Israel a "racist, apartheid state," and calling for the imposition of "a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel as an apartheid state as in the case of South Africa, which means the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel." []

You can now see why the Israel lobby in Australia is busy "working out the mechanics of [its] relationship" with the Rudd Government.

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