The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, still hasn't recovered from his December 2010 Movers & Shakers Pilgrimage to the Holy Land (aka the Australia Israel Leadership Forum), returning to it again and again in his columns. Undoubtedly, Sheridan of Israel (as future generations will surely know him) has far and away the most advanced case of Jerusalem Syndrome (JS) of any among Australia's rambammed court scribblers, if not the world's.
Today he muses on exactly what it is about us that gets Israel's juices going. Is it our cute little arse? Our pert breasts? Our dripping wet Boy Toy t-shirt? Our We Love U Israel tats? No, that's not quite it (although we are drop-dead gorgeous if I do say so myself). No, according to Sheridan of Israel:
"... Israel's affection for Australia follows decades of strong support for Jerusalem from Canberra. But it has deeper historical roots. Australian forces were important in driving the Ottomans out of the land of Israel in World War I, and important too in World War II in ensuring that Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic genocide never reached the Jews of Palestine." (Served very well by the stereotypes)
See what JS does to the brain? In WWI Australian troops drove the Turks out of Israel, while in WWII they kept the Germans out of Palestine!
But that's a mere bagatelle to what follows:
"But the way the Australian troops conducted themselves there, the easygoing informality and friendliness of the diggers, is a legend that survives in Israel still, and it often leads to a comparison between Israeli and Australian informality and social egalitarianism." (ibid)
Isn't that wonderful? Our diggers and Palestine's Jewish colons got on like the proverbial house on fire.
Except that's not what the historical record shows, at least in the form of Australian War Memorial document AWM52/ Australian Military Forces, Army headquarters, formation & unit diaries, 1939-1945/1/12/16 East & Middle East Units/ AIF Details Tel Aviv Commanding Officers/ December 1941-May 1942 (awm.gov.au).
Seems the diggers were getting ripped off something terrible in Tel Aviv's eateries, so much so that... well, read for yourself:
"19. The Australian Imperial Forces [AIF] Amenities Officer then addressed the conference... [stating] that his duties as AIF Amenities gave him many opportunities to hear opinions of members of the AIF; he further stated that the fluctuation and rise of prices were not explained to the troops and therefore had created bad feelings among them... He gave examples of bad feelings and told of his experiences whilst censoring letters of troops to their folks in Australia, in which they had written plainly in a lot of cases, in such a way that it could only mean that there would be repercussions toward our own Jewish community in Australia if this continued. In some cases where unfair criticism had occurred, he had taken steps to prevent this criticism reaching Australia. He stated that he was aware of certain second rate newspapers in Australia taking up the story and, whether fair or unfair, the Australian Jewish Community would suffer to some degree." (Weekly Conference - Held at the office of the Town Major 17 March 42)
Yes, that's history for you. Messy, inconvenient, devilish in its detail, a spanner in the works. But Sheridan doesn't do history. Whether he's scribbling about the past or the present, his thing is always mythistory.