"Never have a companion that casts you in the shade." Baltasar Gracian
Liberal MLC David Clarke, whose anti-BDS motion and Zionist rant in the NSW Legislative Council I dealt with in my previous post, has had a circuitous route, to say the least, to Zionism - as Greens MLC John Kaye, outraged by Clarke's predictable smearing of the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic, made clear in his contribution to the 'debate':
"He is the same David Clarke who twice - once in April 2005 and then in April 2007 - attended a commemoration of the rise of the fascist Ustasha Government into power in Croatia in April 1941. He is the same David Clarke who was reprimanded by the chief executive officer of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr Vic Alhadeff, who I acknowledge is present in the gallery today. In The Jewish News of 26 April 2007, Mr Alhadeff said of the Hon. David Clarke: 'The function-' that is, the function attended by Mr Clarke- 'celebrated Hitler's establishment of the Nazi state of Croatia... This is a state that supported the Jasenovac extermination camp, where hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, including 60,000 Jews... It is very troubling that such a brutal regime still finds support in democratic Australia'. There is no excuse for the Hon. David Clarke moving this motion when he so shamefully supported the celebration of the Nazi regime in Croatia. Like so many who come from the extreme Right, today he finds himself with the fanatical support of Israel. He joins with groups such as the Australian Protectionist Party and others in opposing the BDS campaign. Many in the Jewish community will be shocked to see the way the Hon. David Clarke summons up the memory of the Holocaust when his mentor-" At which point Clarke, obviously stung, raised a point of order, claiming he found Kaye's comments "offensive" and asking that they be "withdrawn."
By 'mentor' Kaye meant Lyenko Urbanchich, Nazi collaborator and propagandist in Slovenia during WWII and NSW Liberal Party heavyweight until his death in 2006.
Mark Aarons'* obituary of Urbanchich throws the following light on the relationship between Urbanchich and Clarke:
"The peak of Urbanchich's success came in 1977 with the formation of the Liberal Ethnic Council. As council president, he automatically had a seat on the state executive. Other council executive members included his close ally, David Clarke, who learnt ethnic branch stacking techniques from his mentor and today leads the 'Uglies' faction established by Urbanchich 40 years ago. Clarke helped organise the numbers to narrowly save Urbanchich from expulsion from the Liberal Party after a 1979 ABC radio documentary (which I produced) exposed him as a Nazi propagandist. Urbanchich initially defended himself by claiming that documents used in the program were communist forgeries. When copies of his propaganda were found in Western archives (including contemporaneous British intelligence microfilms), he switched to arguing that German censors had inserted the pro-Nazi content. This was rejected by the Liberal inquiry, but, despite the evidence, the 1980 vote to expel him fell just short of the 60% required. The NSW Liberals' moderate faction bitterly regrets this failure. In the following 15 years, Urbanchich successfully continued his ethnic branch stacking. In 1996, Urbanchich and Clarke established the far-right's ironically named 'central committee'. By 2005 Clarke controlled the NSW state executive, the Young Liberals (in NSW and federally) and the NSW Women's Council. From this powerful position, the faction Urbanchich founded in the 1960s has embarked on a purge of moderates, especially in the NSW parliamentary party. Clarke's support base today is the same far-right constituency that Urbanchich built through ethnic branch stacking, especially using extremist elements in the Croatian and Christian Lebanese communities and often involving violence." (Ardent Nazi took Liberal to extremes, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/3/06) [*Aarons is the author of War Criminals Welcome, 2001)
But that was then. This is now. Urbanchich's old-fashioned anti-Semitism must seem a bit musty these days, what with Israel kicking ass with the 'best' of them. Now it's Arabs and Muslims who are the new Jews, so perhaps it's time, as many on the far-right seem to have concluded, to trade in their Judeophobia for Islamophobia. Not that any of the former ever rubbed off on David Clarke, of course. After all, as he explained in a 2005 interview with ABC journalist Monica Attard (abc.net.au/sundayprofile, 18/9/05), Urbanchich had a perfectly satisfactory explanation:
MA: You knew [Urbanchich] well?
DC: Well yes, I mean he was a member of the State Council of the Liberal Party, I mean most people who are members of the State Council of the Liberal Party would know him to varying degrees.
MA: And were you shocked when you learned of his links to the Nazis?
DC: It came as a surprise but at the same time he put forward an explanation that he was working in his position at the behest of the underground. He put forward a proposition supported by some documents that he was part of the underground that was loyal to the government of King Peter which was in exile in London during the war years.
MA: But was it your belief in his story, was that what made you back him and his case against expulsion?
DC: I opposed his expulsion from the Liberal Party and sufficient people did oppose his expulsion on that basis.
MA: And your friendship with him continued thereafter?
DC: I still know Ljenko Urbancic and you know, many people do, he's still a member of the State Council of the Liberal Party.
MA: So you have a friendship now?
DC: Yes I would. Look, I would have friendly relations with him, yes. He's getting on in years, he's into his eighties, it's quite infrequently that you see him at Liberal Party gatherings.
MA: Did you sort of have to take a bit of a lower profile in those years because of what happened with the Liberal Ethnic Council?
DC: No, absolutely not. I'm not ashamed of anything that I've done; I've always stood for good values.
MA: And you're not... you're certainly not ashamed of the continuing relationship with Urbancic?
DC: The situation is: I accept people as I find them and the Liberal Party found that he should remain as a member of the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party accepts that and he's continued as a member of the Party ever since.
We've already glimpsed Vic Alhadeff, for whom the anti-BDS gibberings in the parliamentary bearpit must have been music to the ears, in the gallery, smiling down as Clarke and co strutted their stuff and nonsense. But who else is David Clarke rubbing shoulders with these days?
Well, with some seriously worried (& worrying) people as it happens. The kind who curl up in a foetal position at the mere sight of a hijab. Yes, Clarke was most assuredly among friends at that 'National Conference for All Concerned Christians' in November 2009, according to my impeccable source, Islamophobic website islammonitor.org.
The theme of the conference, which "represented an alliance of Assyrian and Australian Christians," was "Australia's Future & Global Jihad," and its attendees are described as "wanting a halt to Muslim immigration into Australia in order to stop its Islamification." (An emerging Australian-Assyrian Christian alliance?, Gaspar, 28/11/09)
Clarke was lovingly introduced to the assembled concerned Christians by fellow MLC, and Christian Democrat crusader, the Reverend Fred Nile, as "a fearless and uncompromising leader on moral and Muslim issues."
So why exactly have Muslims become an 'issue' for Clarke? Well, 'Gaspar' reports him as telling his audience that "Christianity is under threat from MUSLIM EXTREMISTS [Islam Monitor's capitalisation] (who he sharply distinguished from peaceful Muslims)." Oh dear! The turbanned, scimitar-waving, moustache-twirling hordes are probably advancing on St Mary's Cathedral as we speak! Hijabs in the rear, of course.
The other speakers made up a stellar cast, including Jenny Stokes of Saltshakers, who discussed "Islam and the way it cynically exploits the interfaith movement"; Keith Piper of the Liberty Independent Baptist Church, who spoke about 'Leading Muslims to Christ', which, he claimed he had done - in shopping centres, no less - by "showing them they are victims of lies"; and the incomparable Danny Nalliah of Catch the Fire Ministries, who, among other things, talked about "how President Bush opened up the whole Middle East for Bibles to be brought in."
This lot'd do old Lyenko proud. Still, every cloud has a silver lining as they say, and this conference was no exception. It came in the form of Emmanuel Michael, chairman of the Assyrian Federation of Australia who must have stirred up no end of cognitive dissonance among the anxious Anglos when he expanded thus on the subject of life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein:
"Saddam was a dictator. But he did something for us [Assyrian] Christians. I want you to know this. He was a dictator for people who were against him. Saddam built churches for us. [The] Australian government doesn't do that. Saddam built a church for our community. I want to mention this because he was a dictator. But he did a few things good. One of them was that. And the other was [when] he went to my village, called Sharafiya, north of Mosul. He was surprised. He said to the priest who was greeting him... 'Why are your houses built of mud-brick?' They said, 'Because this land is not ours, it belongs to the Catholic Church' and we have to pay rent'. He said, 'Alright'. He went immediately to the head of the [Catholic] Church and said, 'I'm buying this village'. Saddam bought the village and came back less than 2 hours later and said, 'The village is now yours. It's your property. You can build on it'. And he gave $15,000 to each family. At that time the dinar was worth $3. Now it is worth nothing. You see, he did things to help us, to protect us."
Poor old David, Fred, Danny and the rest must have had heart attacks. Even the guy who'd faithfully recorded the conference's goings on for islammonitor.org, calling himself Gaspar, felt compelled to append the following bracketed comment: "Now there's a bandwagon for the mainstream media to jump on: life was better for Iraqi Christians under Saddam Hussein than under America."
But I digress. Yes, whatever the vibes passing between Urbanchich and Clarke in the old days, Clarke's obviously got a bee in his bonnet about them Muslims these days, and that obviously goes some way toward explaining his conversion to Zionism.
But is that all there is to it? Perhaps Aaron's references to Urbanchich's ethnic branch stacking and use of violent extremists provides the key. David Clarke, of all people, must surely know a good old ethnic branch stack when he sees one. And God knows if Israel isn't the mother of all ethnic branch stacks. Think about it.