How shallow and sniffy is this analysis by the director of the Institute for Human Security at La Trobe University, Dennis Altman*, in The Age of September 19?:
"... debate [over Palestine], while sometimes intense..." (Israel's opposition to recognising Palestine is a puzzle)
What? Where is this debate? Certainly not in the Fairfax press.
"... rarely goes beyond entrenched set pieces on both sides."
Surely he's not implying that there's an equivalence between Zionist propaganda and its rebuttal?
"The pro-Palestinian lobby is small, and too often engages in acts that are counterproductive."
Such as? 'Counterproductive': Murdochspeak.
"The pro-Israeli [sic] lobby is far larger and influential, and has powerful emotional support on both sides of politics. Kevin Rudd once claimed that support for Israel was in his DNA, and Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott seemed determined to go one better. Neither national interest nor the small Jewish population explain it. I suspect it is born of the formative experiences of political leaders, now in their 40s and 50s... "
Just emotional support? That's all there is to it? Why so coy? Some people would find that way too superficial. People such as this "Australian official," for example:
"It wouldn't matter whether it was John Howard or Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott in the prime minister's chair... [The Israelis] know they've got us by the balls... partly because of the strength of the Israel lobby..." (Betrayed PM should not be taken for granted by Israel**, Peter Hartcher, SMH, 26/2/10)
By the balls? Not the heartstrings, but the balls. Goodness, whatever could he mean? Maybe this:
"When Labor approached key [Jewish] groups to hold fund-raising events for the coming election, they feigned busyness, but it was a deliberate and unmistakeable retaliation. The Jewish community was an important source of Labor funds for the 2007 election. A single lunch in Sydney raised $100,000. A Toorak tennis court party for 200, attended by Rudd and Gillard, raised more. But as this year has unfolded, it became increasingly clear such effort would not be repeated." (What am I, chopped liver? How Rudd dived into schmooze mode***, Peter Hartcher, SMH, 22/6/10)
Maybe some things speak louder than formative experiences.
"... note that Gillard was a student leader when the national movement was destroyed by ferocious debates on Palestine."
Debates killed the old Australian Union of Students? Or then president Gillard got spooked by the Israel lobby's campus extension and decided to shift to more pragmatic issues - which bored the pants off its members and contributed to its demise soon after she graduated? (See my 14/8/10 post The Real Julia Gillard.)
[*For an equally irritating, but nonetheless interesting amplification of Altman's views on these matters, see Escaping the Tribe? overland.org.au, Spring 2009; **For the context see my 11/6/10 post Those Irresistable Zionist Pheromomes Again 2; ***For the context see my 22/6/10 post The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy.]