Following hot on the heels of his electrifying speech to the assembled faithful at the Jewish National Fund AGM last month - Israel an apartheid state?! No way, Jose! A tad biased against its Arabs maybe, but an apartheid state? Never! - union supremo, Labor queenmaker, and all round visionary genius, Paul Howes, is once again socking it to them:
"In a speech at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch... Howes argued that Australia's north-western region would flourish if 'desert settlements', just like Be'er Sheva, had been built." (Howes says Australia needs a Be'er Sheva, Australian Jewish News, 6/8/10)
Er... Paul, Be'er Sheva, as you call it, is/was never a Zionist settlement. In 1948 it was a small Palestinian town called Beersheba, in the northern part of Palestine's Negev Desert. According to British mandate figures for 1946, both Jewish population and land ownership in the Negev district was less than 1%. Despite this, the UN partition resolution of 1947 included the bulk of the Negev in the proposed Jewish state - but not, I hasten to add, Beersheba. That was to be in the Arab state. So why today do we have an Israeli city called Be'er Sheva? Simple - Arab Beersheba got a Zionist makeover in 1948! In the words of Ilan Pappe: "Another ominous-sounding name was given to the [Zionist military] operation in the Beersheba-Hebron area: 'Python'. Apart from the small town of Beersheba, which with its 5,000 inhabitants was occupied on 21 October, two large villages, Qubayba and Dawaymeh were taken. Habib Jarada who today lives in the city of Gaza, remembered the people of Beersheba being driven out at gunpoint to Hebron. His most vivid image is that of the town's mayor beseeching the occupying officer not to deport the people. 'We need land, not slaves', was the blunt answer." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, p 195)
But I digress: "Following the election, Howes plans to discuss with the government the prospect of a Pilbara city, based on Israel's successes. Drawing on the wild idea in the 1930s to create a Jewish homeland in the remote north-west Australian Kimberley region, the union leader showed knowledge of Israeli history and geography. 'One wonders what could have happened had the refuge and safe haven, a homeland away from home for a restless, troubled, brilliant, exiled people using their passionate ingenuity, which created a great flowering in the Negev desert, had been instead concentrated on our great spread of sand in the west', Howes said." (ibid)
Er... Paul, one doesn't have to wonder. We know that "[i]n the Pilbara it was common practice to forcibly retain Aboriginal people on pastoral stations to be used as slave labour." (Pilbara Aboriginal history, wangkamaya.org.au) However, if Zionists had colonised the Pilbara, we know what they would've said to its indigenous people, not to mention their white, but non-Jewish, pastoralist slave drivers, don't we?: "Sorry, we need land, not slaves."
I apologise for interrupting your little fantasy, please continue: "'A wilderness was to be tamed and turned into farms and orchards and pastures and factories, with secondary industries such as tanning, tinned fruits, jams, leather products, mats and bricks, with a dam across the Ord [river] and hydro-electricity, all done by 75,000 Jewish settlers who would write poems about the kangaroo and the kookaburra'."(ibid)
Er... Paul, I'm going to have to stop you there, mate. You might like to take a gander at this: "Israel's founding father had a dream of making the Negev desert bloom, a vision clouded today by the harsh reality of industrial wastelands, chronic unemployment and fading hopes. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, settled thousands of people in the desert in an attempt to transform it into a flourishing centre of the newly established Jewish state. But in recent years that Zionist dream has crumbled before globalisation, as factory after factory, set up to provide work for the desert pioneers, has shut its doors, moving east in search of cheap labour." (Globalisation clouds vision of Israel's Negev desert, france24.com, 3/12/09)