Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wake in Fright...

... at the prospect of an Abbott government. Excerpts from Tony Abbott's pitch to the readers of The Australian Jewish News, 20/8/10:

"Israel has no stauncher friend in the world than the Liberal-National Coalition. Israel's democratic values and courage deeply impress Australians. And our two countries' open cultures and western traditions [1] provide us with much in common. Indeed, western civilization is absolutely inconceivable without the Judeo-Christian heritage... The Coalition is firmly committed to restoring the Australia-Israel friendship to the strength it enjoyed under the Howard government... A Coalition government would never support a one-sided UN resolution against Israel [2] to curry favour with anti-Israel states in the General Assembly... The Coalition will never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way that is beyond most Australians' experience and understanding. It is only too aware that Iran and its allies, Hezbollah and Hamas, openly seek Israel's destruction. Nor should we forget that Israel is the only mature, pluralist democracy in its neighbourhood. It was obvious to me when I visited Israel for the second time in 2008 that while occasionally, Israel like all countries, makes mistakes, it is a bastion of western civilization in a part of the world where the rights of minorities and the value of respectful dissent are not well appreciated. The Coalition maintains a complete and and unshakeable commitment to Israel's security. That includes support for a two-state peace settlement involving regional recognition of Israel's right to exist and an accomodation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Israel and the Jewish community internationally rightly remain deeply concerned about Iran's nuclear weapons' ambitions, given that country's threat to wipe Israel off the map. The Coalition is committed to maximising international pressure on Iran, including through sanctions, to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I was interested by the ideas for concerted international action against Iran expressed by the former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler... He called for Iran to be brought before the International Court of Justice for breaching the UN's genocide convention... because of its state-sanctioned incitement to genocide. A Coalition government - conscious that this was yet another Labor broken promise - would look closely at that idea. [3] I am aware of a range of domestic policy issues of concern to the Jewish community. A Coalition government would support, or consider sympathetically, all of them. For example, the draft National Educational Curriculum does not adequately cover the Holocaust, one of the greatest tragedies in human history. The Coalition would take steps to rectify this deficiency [4]... the Coalition is concerned about the activities of extremist organisations of particular concern to the Jewish community. Hizb ut-Tahrir (HUT) is an organisation that is openly hostile to our democratic values and way of life, to non-Muslims - Christians, Jews and Hindus - and to moderate Muslims as well... A Coalition government would examine closely whether there are legal options for closing down HUT, including under incitement to violence laws. I am also concerned that international preachers of hate were allowed to visit Australia to give lectures at the Sydney conference and that Federal Government officials weren't even aware that they were here. A Coalition government would institute measures to fix these obvious intelligence gaps on planned visits to Australia by members of such groups and ensure that they don't get visas..." (Coalition sympathetic to community's concerns)

[1. Abbott on Howard's foreign policy stance: "Far from being America's deputy sheriff, Australia ran a kind of neighbourhood watch scheme in support of western values." (Battlelines, 2009) When questioned by the ABC's Kerry O'Brien on what he meant by this, the best he could manage was, "We have obviously done the right thing by our neighbours. We've done the right thing in East Timor, we've done the right thing, to the extent that we could, in PNG. We've done the right thing, as far as we can, in The Solomons and elsewhere. Australia is a very powerful country in our region, in our neighbourhood, and we have to shoulder the responsibilities that that strength brings."]

[2. A Coalition government would never support a one-sided UN resolution against Israel? Shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop on 12/8/10: "Of course I'd never say I'd never ever abstain, there could be all sorts of circumstances that arise in the future. I don't know, Israel could do anything." (Labor slams Bishop for Israel stance, Daniel Flitton, Sydney Morning Herald). Astute SMH columnist Mike Carlton wrote of Deputy Liberal leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, yesterday: "Beautifully groomed, famed for her 'death stare'. But, like Lord Downer before her, would need help using the atlas at Foreign Affairs." Yet, on this matter at least, she's less a fool than her leader.]

[3. "[Bishop] refused to commit to other measures to stop further development of the Islamic republic's nuclear weapons program, arguing it would be tantamount to the broken election promise given by the then Labor Opposition, which pledged to haul Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad in front of the International Criminal Court for inciting genocide." (Presenting an alternative, AJN, 30/7/10) Looks like you're commited now, Jools! For what it's worth, here's the Howard government's assessment of the idea Abbott is now committed to examining: "Mr Downer accused Mr Rudd of knowingly misleading the Australian public and the Jewish community with a 'ghastly stunt' that he knew could not be carried out and would only undermine Australia's diplomatic standing." (Iranian leader in Rudd's sights, The Australian, 14/5/08) Fools rush in...]

[4. See my 12/4/10 post Sam Lipski's National Curriculum]

Have a nice day...

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