Monday, December 20, 2010

The Kevin Rudd Road Show 2

Murdoch's Australian reports on the KRRS:

"Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday visited the parents of a young man who is probably the most valuable prisoner in the world - captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. After visiting Israel's President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, Mr Rudd dropped in on the tent where Noam and Aviva Shalit keep a daily vigil to maintain public awareness of the plight of their son... He has been denied all visits, including from the Red Cross - a breach of international humanitarian conventions which insist that a prisoner should be given access to medical care. Sitting in the tent yesterday and looking up at one of the posters of Shalit on the wall. Mr Rudd remarked: 'Good looking boy'. 'He used to be', Shalit's father said. 'We are not sure now'. Mr Rudd said he had visited the tent to express Australia's solidarity for the plight of Shalit and for his release." (Rudd offers support for captured Israeli, John Lyons, 15/12/10)

Visits by Rudd & Co to the parents of almost 7,000 completely valueless Palestinian prisoners (including 300 minors, 35 women, 210 prisoners held without charge or trial, Palestinian parliamentarians and others held in solitary confinement since the 2006 Palestinian elections, 1,000 ill prisoners, 750 prisoners of war from Gaza and hundreds of others from the West Bank who haven't clapped eyes on their families for the last 4 years)*: 0

[*Report: 70,000 Palestinians jailed since intifada, The Palestinian Information Center,, 30/9/2010]

"Israeli officials have described as very curious a call by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd that Israel allow international inspection of its nuclear facilities... Australian officials supported Mr Rudd's position. One said there was 'a clear logic' about his comments - international inspectors should have access to all nuclear facilities, wherever they are. One Israeli official said yesterday: 'This comes, as the Americans would say, completely out of left field... What is the point? It is a very curious statement'." (Nuclear inspections call 'curious', John Lyons, 15/12/10)

What the...?! How dare he! Who does he think he is? What prompted Rudd to such heights of insolence, foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan wants to know:

"[T]here was one episode of policy freelancing, or innovation, or just downright oddity, that has no honourable explanation and has perplexed, to put it mildly, his many Israeli admirers. In an interview with this paper's John Lyons in Cairo on Saturday, Rudd said: 'Our view has been consistent for a long time and that is that all states in the region should adhere to the [nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that includes Israel. And therefore their nuclear facility should be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection'... [T]he de facto equating of Israel and Iran is bizarre." (That's no way to treat a precious friend, Mr Rudd, 16/12/10)

Ooo... he can't possibly mean our precious friend is, like, totally pissed off with Kevvie, can he?

"No Australian foreign minister in history has previously called for Israel's nuclear facility to be open to IAEA inspection. Israel, not being a signatory to the NPT, has no legal obligation to submit to IAEA inspections... There are areas of deliberate greyness in international diplomacy. No serious Western foreign minister ever demands that Israel submits to IAEA inspection."

I could swear Sheridan's channeling the late Dennis Hopper's manic freelance photographer in Apocalypse Now: Listen up, nerd. You don't inspect Israel. He inspects you. He's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean, sometimes he'll... when you say hello to him, right, he'll just walk right by you and he won't even notice you, then suddenly he'll grab you and he'll throw you in a corner and say, 'Did you know 'if' is the middle word in life, if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all are in doubt'. I mean, I know, I'm a little man. Israel's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas. I mean... "

We know, Greg, we know. In the presence of Israel's poet-warriors, we're all such little men.

"So, presumably Rudd would not take such a radical and fateful step unless this prefigured some new and profound Australian policy objective, right? But, dear reader, the truth is that when Rudd got to Israel he did not raise the NPT and IAEA inspections even once in his lengthy meeing with Benjamin Netanyahu, or in his speech to a gala [sic: galah] dinner at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem... At a press conference with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Rudd did repeat his statement that Australian policy wanted Israel to join the NPT but by then he had abandoned any reference to inspections."

Of course, Greg, of course. As you, above all, know, the closer one gets to those poet-warriors who walk right by you and don't even notice, the littler, the more insignificant, the more spineless we become. Forget crustaceans, Greg, they at least have exoskeletons. Worms, more like it. We should have been pairs of parapodia appendages crawling - yes crawling's the word, Geg - crawling across the floors of ancient seas.

But I digress. Poet-warrior Lieberman just fixed Kevvie with a baleful glare, grabbed him by the short and curlies, gave them a vigorous twist, grunted, 'Listen up, suckhole, you can stuff the NPT up your wormhole', "we are a very responsible country and a very responsible government and we have proved this for many years,"* and that was that, no more NPT, no more IAEA. In fact, and this must have been hard for Kevvie, no more acronyms for the duration.

[*Israel rejects Rudd's call for nuclear inspections, John Lyons, The Australian, 16/12/10]

And, notes Sheridan, not a whisper on settlements either: "[A]ll through the Arab world Rudd had denounced Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, but in his talks with Netanyahu and in his public speech they didn't get a mention."

Not that the trivial matter of Palestinian land-grabbing colonies wasn't raised with poet-warrior Bibi. But, by his own account, it was Sheridan, not Rudd, who raised the issue of the latter's criticism of settlements with the great man, only to be told, to the muffled accompaniment of bulldozers and excavators carving out a bit more lebensraum off in the distance: "I think it (settlements) is one of the issues that will need to be negotiated, but is it the source or the root of the conflict? No. The conflict went on for decades before there were any settlements. I don't think in its heart this is a territorial conflict - it's an existential conflict about the acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state." (Australia a close friend, says PM, 15/12/10)

Singing from the same songbook as poet-warrior Peres, poet-warrior Bibi wasted no time in refocusing Kevvie and his gormless entourage of antipodean suckholes, although unlike Lieberman, he chose flattery rather than a twist: "I think Kevin Rudd has been one of the world leaders who saw the danger posed by Iran. The issue of terrorism is a huge problem but it is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the marriage of weapons of mass death with with a militant Islamic regime. That's"... pause for effect... "Iran." (ibid)

But again I digress. Now, where were we? Oh, that's right, Sheridan's perplexity over Kevvie's impudent behaviour: "One interpretation is that Rudd could not resist telling the Arab audience in Cairo what it wanted to hear, then telling the Israeli audience in Jerusalem what it wanted to hear. This is a common interpretation of Rudd, but one this column has resisted, regarding Rudd as a figure of singular substance in foreign policy. But you cannot have it both ways."

A figure of singular substance in foreign policy - just like you, Greg?

Gosh, the worm's... sorry, the man's, a worry: "The ongoing tragedy with Rudd is that his ability could never remotely be in doubt. He knows more about foreign policy than anyone on either side of the Australian parlianent."

I'm glad you said than anyone on either side of the parliament, Greg. I thought for one silly moment you were going to say than me.

"But these strange quirks seem to get in the way. Rudd's performance in Israel overall was impressive, but there were times when he seemed to strain just that bit too much to connect with the audience."

I know what's coming, Greg. I know what you're getting at. It's Rudd's little witticism about Menachem Begin undertaking some interior redesign of the King David Hotel back in '46, right? (See my previous post The KRRS 1). Right.

"Rudd was referring to the incident in which Israeli independence activists blew up the hotel."

Israeli... whaaat?! Israeli independence activists?! You mean Begin's Irgun terrorists whom Churchill described as "the vilest gangsters"? (See my 26/12/09 post A Murky Legacy)

"I accept that they were not the equivalent of modern terrorists."

Of course you do, they weren't Arabs now, were they?

"But people died in that incident. I don't think such a joke was in good taste, although many in the audience appreciated it."

Your poet-warriors or your worms?

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