Former Labor prime minister (1983-1991) Bob Hawke, currently out & about on the hustings, pressing the flesh on Prime Minister Julia Gillard's behalf, was this month both the subject of a telemovie, Hawke, and a biography, Hawke: The Prime Minister, by his wife, the novelist Blanche d'Alpuget.
Hawke, of course, probably the most pro-Israel of any Australian political leader, not only took on those in the party who had the temerity to defend the Palestinians, but actively campaigned in the late 70s to secure the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. His love affair with Israel is extensively documented in d'Alpuget's earlier 1982 biography of Hawke: Robert J Hawke: A Biography. The following passage, the biography's thumbnail sketch of the Palestine/Israel problem, is, as you'd expect, vintage Zionist propaganda, and of little value other than as an example of the genre. However, d'Alpuget's footnoted source is a corker.
But first, the offending passage:
"Israel had not been an issue in Australian politics before the escalation, in 1964, of the Vietnam War. In that year the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was founded with the major aim of its charter the total destruction of Israel. This aim was inspired by rankling over injustice: the United Nations decision of 1947 to divide British Mandated Palestine, a colony of the Empire, into two countries, allotting one to Palestinians and the other to Jews as a national home, was, from the Arab point of view, both a colonial act of theft and an insult to the whole Arab world. The Arabs had never accepted the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that such a Jewish national home should be created in Palestine; they discounted the fact that already, before World War II, Jews who had been returning to live in Palestine since the 1880s had bought a great deal of land there from the Arab and absentee Turkish landowners. That by 1947 European Jews were desperate for somewhere to live was of little concern to the Arabs for it was not they who had set up the gas chambers and slave camps. They saw the partition of Palestine as a European attempt to assuage European guilt. The Arab policy was to reject half a country and gamble upon winning by force of arms a whole country - or to lose the half they already had. But despite four major wars, 87,000 killed in action, hundreds of thousands wounded, billions of dollars spent on armaments which could have been spent on improving the lives of people, orgies of propaganda to encourage hatred, there is no Palestinian State and Israel has increased its territory. On the day in 1948 when Israel was declared an independent State the Arabs launched a war and as a result lost territory to Israel. They continued to harass until 1956 when Israel launched a war and won more territory. The Arabs continued to harass, and after 1964 became better organised in their campaign for the total destruction of Israel, which in 1967 made a pre-emptive strike. In six days Israel won a victory which astonished the world. The Arab nations reacted to defeat by increasing the price of oil to what was at the time a staggering $US5 a barrel, more than double the old price. Israel, by now, had the image of permanent military invincibility, and slowly her status as underdog began to change. In the years after 1967 the Arab nations, with a population of 120 million, were able to cast themselves as the plaintiffs against Israel, with a population of 3 million, as defendants. The Palestinians, refusing to acknowledge the legality or the reality of the State of Israel, lived in refugee camps. In the early 1980s children in the Palestinian camps born there and born of parents who were born there would reply to the question 'Where do you come from?' with the name of a village, now part of Israel, that their grandparents had once lived in and which they had never seen. (1)" (p 247)
"1. Briefing to author in Tel Aviv by staff of Australian Embassy."
Beats me why we didn't (don't?) just rent a room in the Israeli foreign ministry.