Rambam (v): To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia on a grooming session conducted by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.*
Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)
"Almost 1 in 4 federal MPs have accepted free overseas travel worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign governments, private companies and lobby groups... since the last election [11/07]... China is the main destination with 19 visits, followed closely by Israel (15) and Taiwan and the US (both 14). The confession of the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, that he had failed to declare 2 trips to China in 2002 and 2005 has thrown the spotlight on this unregulated scheme, described yesterday by one long-time political insider as 'pretend transparency'... 'No independent person oversees these trips and there are no rules. Most of the politicians declare as little information as possible', one insider said. Norm Kelly, of the Australian National University's Centre for Democratic Institutions, called for greater scrutiny. 'If an organization or company or government is spending money on Australian MPs there's a reason for it. They're not doing it to develop democracy in Australia. They see a positive outcome for their organisation and the question is whether that's a positive for Australia as well'. Dr Kelly said it was also at odds with the Government's proposal to ban foreign donations to political parties... 'The argument for banning donations is that [it] can buy influence and access', Dr Kelly said. 'A... trip is doing the same thing and it's probably a more effective way of doing it too because you've got the person captured for that trip'... The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has paid for 13 MPs to visit Israel since November 2007. The executive director, Colin Rubenstein, said the program had been running for several years and offered trips to Australians to help them understand the complexity of the Middle East. Journalists, including some from the Herald, have accepted this trip." (MPs hooked on Chinese junkets, Phillip Hudson, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/3/09)
While I'm happy that this practice has finally made it to the front page (of the SMH at least), there are still many questions which require answers:-
Why didn't the Herald print a list of these politicians and their destinations? When who says what about China or Israel, shouldn't we know if they've first been rambammed? And why didn't the Herald print a list of journalists (or at least its own) who have "accepted" such junkets? It's one thing to refer to a lack of "rules" for politicians, but what about Fairfax's own Code of Conduct which explicitly states, "We will not accept gifts or inducements which could impair our judgment or be perceived to be a conflict of interest, bribe or inappropriate gift"? Why isn't there at least a disclosure at the conclusion of each and every article on Palestine/Israel by a rambammed Herald journalist? Were the Herald's afterthought about junketing Herald journalists and the comment from AIJAC's Colin Rubenstein only included because the paper knew that it might otherwise be accused of hypocrisy on the matter? And finally, given that junkets to 'that shitty little country, Israel' are almost as numerous as those to the mighty Celestial Empire, and that Rubes has been wheeled in to justify them, when is the Herald going to do an 'exclusive' on that?
Another thing: the graphic headed Free For All, which accompanies the above article, is interesting in its own right. Under the sub-heading Trips Paid For we find the following list:-
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council 13
Chinese Govt 11
Taiwanese Govt 11
Australia America Leadership Dialogue 9
Australia-China Development Association 6
Why, when the Chinese and Taiwanese governments are named, are we being led to believe that all 13 trips to Israel were funded exclusively by AIJAC with no Israeli government input? Second, although it is plain from the graphic that more trips were paid for by AIJAC and/or the Israeli government, why is this not mentioned in the body of the article?
In addition to AIPAC's journalists' junkets, it should be remembered, we also have the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (BOD) sponsoring same, including the Herald's Paul Sheehan. Now if we were to add journalists' junkets to politicians' junkets...
[* For my other posts on rambamming just click on the tag following the post.]