The Australian Jewish News of 27/2/09 on the government's 'Minister for Israel', Labor MP for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby:-
"Significantly, in both elections [2004 & 2007], the Liberals fielded Jewish candidates against him... because they understood Danby's key strategy. To survive as a Labor MP in Liberal territory, he needed the edge of identity politics, and the Jewish community provided it for him. But while they understood identity politics [the Liberals] could not defeat, perhaps even fully grasp, what made Danby an asset to the Jewish community... if Danby bills himself as the Jewish community's 'friend indeed', he is sometimes also seen as a 'friend in need'. In the end, Jewish voters concluded they did not really need a Jewish MP cheerleading in the ranks of the Howard government, but they did need a Jewish MP... to keep in line a Labor opposition flying with an unsecured left-wing, and after November 2007, to act as a watchdog within the new Rudd Government... He corrals his parliamentary colleagues and forces them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions. 'During a recent political controversy, we had 11 federal MPs get together on an Israel issue. Mike Kelly [MP] convened them and I organised with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), who had a delegation up there, to sit down with us and we strategised together', Danby said. 'That is like America - people being part of the normal run of Australian politics and that's the way it should be'." (A decade of Danby, Peter Kohn & Naomi Levin)
Summing up: Danby was elected specifically to keep government MPs on the Zionist straight & narrow, putting the hard word on them should they show any sign of deviation from same, and wheeling in the lads of the Israel lobby if required (Gaza?).
Elsewhere in the same piece we read: "Michael... has also been very influential in ensuring that the policies of the Labor Party, in its internal considerations of the issues relating to the Middle East, are consistent with the aspirations of the local Jewish community."
And what are the policies of the Labor Party?
In 1986 Labor's platform contained this: "Labor seeks a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. The attainment of such peace remains an urgent necessity. Labor thus affirms UN Security Council Resolutions 242 & 338 which seek such a peace; also UNSC Resolutions condemning acts contrary to such objectives, namely 388/73 (violation of Lebanese sovereignty); 508 and 509/82 (June 1982 invasion of Lebanon); 501/82 (annexation of Golan Heights); 476/80 (annexation Arab section, Jerusalem); 465/80 (Israeli settlement in occupied territory)."
Nothing to write home about, of course, but compare it to Labor's current (2007) platform: "Labor is convinced that all Australians seek a lasting and equitable solution to the problems that have worked against stability and development in the Middle East. Labor will pursue a sustained Australian engagement in the Arab/Israeli conflict based on the rights of all people in the Middle East to peace and security and livelihood and their desire for better access to land, water and financial assistance than they have had in the past, regardless of their race, religion or origins. Labor believes that urgent attainment of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the best way to reduce violence and conflict across the Middle East."
The change is enormous. A just peace has given way to a merely equitable one, the UN's role in underpinning Palestinian rights and challenging Israel's occupation of Arab lands has disappeared completely, and there's no mention of Israel's occupation or its abusive treatment of the Palestinians. Instead, we're left with only vague references to "the rights of all people in the Middle East."
By way of contrast, here's Labor's current policy on Western Sahara: "Labor supports the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination and is concerned about allegations of human rights abuses in the occupied areas of Western Sahara. Labor believes in maintaining an appropriate dialogue with the Polisario Front, the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara. In government, Labor will support UN efforts to organise a free and fair referendum on independence in Western Sahara, and calls on the UN to press Morocco to implement all UN resolutions pertaining to Western Sahara."
Only the intervention of an Israel lobby (and absence of a Moroccan) can account for the stark difference between the two.
While Danby alone can't be credited with this obscene emasculation of Labor's Middle East policy (he was first elected to the seat of Melbourne Ports in 1998), there's no doubt that, along with his mates from ECAJ and the rest, he's played a vital role in the process.