Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian and this great nation's most influential foreign affairs analyst, couldn't believe what he'd just read in the Australian Jewish News:
"Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has joined Israel's other allies in criticising the decision to build 1100 new homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo... Rudd indicated the Australian Government was 'disappointed' with the Israeli government's move to permit construction. He said the 'decision to further expand the settlements was counter-productive to the Middle East peace process." (Rudd 'disappointed' at Israel decision, The Australian Jewish News, 7/10/11)
'Jeeesus, Kevvie,' he exclaimed, 'I can't let you get away with it this time!' Quicker than you can say Shit, not another bloody Israeli settlement expansion announcement*, he had lunged at his keyboard and banged out the following:
"Kevin Rudd is making a serious mistake and misjudgment about the Israel-Palestinian dispute, which is reducing Australia's potential to play a constructive role, harming our relationship with Israel and damaging the Gillard government... That [misjudgment] is that what the situation needs most of all is increased international pressure on Israel." (Rudd shouldn't join chorus of Israel bashers, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 6/10/11)
He paused for breath, so enraged was he at this, but the latest act of anti-Israeli lese majeste from the prime - sorry, foreign - minister. He so wanted to bail the bugger up and give him a piece of his mind thus:
'Have you forgotten what real love is, Kevvie? Have you? Real love is unconditional! So if you really love Israel, like we here at The Australian really love Israel, it doesn't matter what crazy thing it does, you forgive it, OK, no questions asked. Certainly none of this ISRAEL-BASHING I'm a bit disappointed in you kind of shit, OK? No, whatever fool thing it gets up to, just say to yourself - TO YOURSELF, Kevvie - Boys will be boys, take a deep breath, take it in your arms, smother it in hugs and kisses, and coo in its shell-pink ear, Who's a pretty boy then? You're so special, you're gorgeous, you're adorable, I love you sooo much. Be good now. But pressure? Discipline? No way!'
He then resumed typing:
"It is perfectly legitimate to make reasonable demands of Israel." (ibid)
But no sooner had he written that than his smoking fingers came to a grinding halt. No, it wasn't writer's block. He'd never had that problem. Quite the contrary, actually. No, try as he might, he just couldn't think of an example of a reasonable demand of Israel. Not one! Concluding that one simply does not make demands of Israel, he thought he'd maybe put himself in Rudd's shoes and try to imagine what might pass as a reasonable demand of Israel on the part of the foreign minister. But all he could come up with were such as these:
'Come to me, my melancholy darling. Sit down here and tell me all about it. Do try one of these scones I had Therese whip up especially for you. Oh sugar, how many times have I asked you before not to blow your nose on my tie.'
'Damn,' he exclaimed, 'no examples it is. If any letter writers should enquire just what might constitute a reasonable demand of Israel, the letters editor can simply bin them. Whereupon, he assaulted the keyboard once more:
"The several steps the Gillard and Rudd governments have taken away from Israel, especially expelling an Israeli diplomat over the misuse of Australian passports, an action that neither the French nor Germans took in similar circumstances, and which was opposed by Abbott, have a sad consequence. They have diminished our credibility with the Israelis. Lots of nations have credibility with the Palestinians, very few with the Israelis. Australia has lost that distinctive chance for influence and become just another member of the international chorus line that always blames Israel." (ibid)
He stopped typing, leaned back in his chair deep in thought, and idly began picking his nose. The excavation complete, he rolled the contents into a ball with his fingers and flicked it expertly at the wall, where, after gravity had done its work, about 3 or 4 cms below the point of impact, the snotball finally came to rest, joining countless others, large and small. That was it, he thought, Rudd's existential threats against Israel have got to stop. Resolved to have it out with the foreign minister directly, he first made a few phone calls to the boyz, as he liked to call them, before getting on the blower to the man himself. Preliminaries discharged, he cut to the chase:
'Face it, Kevvie, you've blown it. You had your chance. You could've been more understanding of Israel. You could've said, Passports shmassports, what's a few scraps of paper compared with the Ozraeli relationship? And just to prove I've got my priorities right, here are a few more. But no, you had to get up on your high horse, didn't you now? Still, all is not lost. I've just been on the blower to Michael, Vic, Col and the rest of the boyz and we've come up with a way you can restore our credibility with the Israelis, win back that distinctive chance for influence, and steal a march on Abbott all at the same time.
'So listen up! How about you or Gillard, depending on who's PM at the time, announce, in the lead-up to the next election, that Labor will, if elected, create the world's first Ministry for Israel? Not, you'll note, a Ministry of Israel, but a Ministry for Israel. Know what I mean? Now Michael, Vic, Col and the boyz reckon it might just do the trick. Of course, you'll have to introduce an Israel tax, but, hey, that'd practically sell itself, right? And - and I know you're not going to like this particularly, but you'll just have to swallow what little pride you have left, OK? - you'll have to make Danby Minister for Israel.
'Don't sound so pained! After all, he's been a sort of Shadow Minister for Israel for yonks, so why not just formalise it. Oh, yeah, one more thing. You know how Vic and Col and the rest of the boyz have to slink around and prod bods like Kelly and Fifield and Clarke and Nile and the rest to do the hokey pokey for Israel? Well, they just feel that if they all had jobs in the new ministry their invaluable work of ensuring that our political leaders and their mates in the media mind their manners and stay on the straight and narrow - know what I mean? - would be so much easier. And just think, Kevvie, all that demeaning scrabbling around for party funds would be a thing of the past. The coffers would be forever groaning.
'So what do you say, Kevvie? Here's Australia's coveted credibility with the Israelis restored, our priceless distinctive chance for influence back from the dead, and so much more besides. So, what do you think? Is it a goer?'
[* "The Israeli local committee for organization and construction in occupied Jerusalem has approved the building of 300 new housing units in the holy city. A weekly Hebrew paper said in a report on Friday that the new units would be included in Pisgat Ze'ev, noting that the international condemnation of the former 1100 units did not deter the committee." (Israel planning 300 new housing units in Old Jerusalem, The Palestinian Information Centre, 9/10/11)]