Sunday, September 9, 2012

From Flower to Flower...

"If patient perseverence in pursuit of the object aimed at deserves recognition, then the Zionists deserved the recognition they met with. For with the activity displayed by bees in the high tide of the honey flow, the Zionists contacted with British politicians and flitted from flower to flower gathering pollen as they flew, with the punctilious attention to preliminary detail shown by bees, in preparing the necessary documents for presentation to the British Government." (Frances E. Newton, Fifty Years in Palestine, 1948, p 198)

In my previous post I made a passing reference to the current issue (Vol 2 2012) of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' newsletter At the Board. While it may be just a glossy 4-page insert in The Australian Jewish News appearing twice a year, if ever you wanted a wide-lens snapshot of the extensive lobbying and networking efforts of the Israel lobby, this is it.

As always in these matters, don't be deceived by the name Jewish Board of Deputies. Its newsletter may be crowded with photos, but there's nary a kippah, let alone a shtreimel in any. No, the NSWJBoD (and its newsletter) is as Zionist as Theodor Herzl (an atheist BTW), and Zionists, who conflate the ancient faith with their modern political ideology, only ever pay lip service to the former, either exploiting elements of it to sell their secular, colonizing project in Palestine to a gullible West ('Jewish' state, 'Jewish' people), or using it as a convenient shield when under attack for their colonial-settler crimes against the indigenous Palestinian people (As NSWJBoD's CEO Vic Alhadeff puts it in his At the Board editorial: "Criticism of Israel blurs into hatred of Jews.").

That defending and selling Israel is primarily what the NSWJBoD is all about is immediately evident: 

Page 1 of At the Board leads with Only a credible threat will deter Iran, an item about the Jerusalem Post's military correspondent telling a rabble of Young Liberals (and at least one Young Labor) and a mob of polliewaffles (Ray Williams MP, Melinda Pavey MLC, Walt Secord MLC, Eric Roozendaal MLC, Tim Owen MP, Minister for Resource & Energy Chris Hartcher MP, Catherine Cusack MLC and Scot Macdonald MLC)* that the Americans (!) should beef up their forces in the Persian Gulf and threaten to attack Iran if it enriches uranium to 20%. [*Names gleaned from the multitude of group photos littering the page.]

Then there's NSW MP mission to Israel, where we learn that the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel will be undertaking a study mission to Israel under the auspices of the NSWJBoD in January 2013, and Advocacy mission to Israel, where we're informed that "a unique mission to Israel is being planned by the NSWJBoD in conjunction with the Israel-based HonestReporting organisation." 

Turning to page 2, it becomes evident that getting academics on board is also a part of NSWJBoD's work, and what a wonderful opportunity to regale them with tales of Israel's scientific and technological derring do (See my 26/10/11 post Sucked in at Sydney University) is provided by Passover: In  A first for academics, we learn that "80 senior academics from all 5 Sydney universities joined 20 Jewish leaders at an unprecedented Passover dinner at the University of NSW... organised by the NSWJBoD."

As for our state politicians, that deliberate take on American Independence Day, Israel Independence Day, provides a wonderful opportunity for ringing declarations of love for Israel (mere terms of endearment are apparently no longer good enough!): In Ties stronger than ever we learn that NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell addressed "550 leaders of NSW" at an "Israel Independence Day cocktail event," where he "reaffirmed his government's unwavering commitment to Israel and announced a review of the state's racial vilification legislation." A mega event this one, and so the NSWJBoD teamed up with the Zionist Council of NSW, ECAJ, and the Zionist Federation of Australia to bring it off.

[Let me run that past you again: Barry O'Farrell REAFFIRMED HIS GOVERNMENT'S UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL. Keep in mind that this is Barry O'Farrell, not Barry Obama, that this is state, not federal, politics, and that this US-style nonsense has gone  unreported in the Australian ms media!]

Finally, tucked away in the lower right corner of the newsletter is an item headlined Students explore cultures. It's accompanied by a photo of two female students from Emanuel School* and a student from Auburn Girls High wearing a hijab: "600 students came together to share their cultural differences at the Board of Deputies' Youth Encounters and Respect Understanding and Acceptance programs." [*Given that Emanuel School is described on its website as "a Jewish Community School that nurtures a commitment to Jewish community, heritage, ethical living and the State of Israel," one can only speculate as to whether the proverbial elephant-in-the-room put in an appearance.]

Now selling Israel to Australian politicians is obviously easier than selling it to the general public. A sponsored trip to Israel, a fundraiser or two, or donations to party coffers* can usually do the trick (See, for example, my posts The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy (22/6/10) and Julia Irwin Spills the Beans (11/8/10)), but for the wider community, especially the Christians and Muslims among them, interfaith and other joint functions can be used to normalise Israeli colonization and apartheid. If the matter doesn't arise, then the NSWJBoD can pass as stirling advocates of multicultural harmony and religious tolerance: if it does, then it can be spun as a religious issue, requiring a degree of understanding and tolerance on the part of the function's Arab Muslim participants, or maybe portrayed as too divisive an issue to be raised in a harmonious, multicultural Australia:

The banner heading for page 3 reads: Sharing cultures, values and foods. The text which follows informs us that: "The Jewish community has been involved in numerous outreach endeavours in recent weeks. These include a Shabbat dinner with leaders of the the Chinese community; a Jewish-Muslim cooking project; a Shabbat dinner with 50 Young Labor leaders; a Jewish-Muslim young executive forum; and the Abraham Conference, which brings together Christian, Muslim and Jewish representatives. All were organised by the Board of Deputies in conjunction with partner organisations."

[Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the Young Labor Shabbat dinner, which apparently (according to a J-Wire account (29/4) brought Young Labor's movers and shakers together with members of the Australian Union of Jewish Students. We learn that the attendees were addressed by Eric Rozendaal MLC: Did he, I wonder, reprise his performance in the Legislative Council last year, where he described BDS as "sinister" and muttered darkly about Max Brenner boycotts recalling Germany in the thirties?]

At the bottom of the page is a message from NSWJBoD president Yair Miller in which he invites his readers to "sign up to take a Talking About Israel course."

Page 4 leads with an item on Parliamentary Friends of Israel. We are reminded that "The PFoI group was relaunched with a major function at State Parliament House. Premier Barry O'Farrell MP, Opposition Leader John Robertson MP and Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem addressed the event, which was attended by representatives of 6 political parties."

Next comes Lunch with opinion-makers, about the JBoD Luncheon Club which brought together such political and media luminaries as Victor Dominelli MP (Minister for Communities), Mike Kelly MP (Parliamentary Secretary for Defence), Walt Secord (Labor MLC), Clive Mathieson (Editor of The Australian), Imre Salusinszky (journalist for The Australian), Julie Bishop MP (Shadow Foreign Minister), Jeremy Buckingham (Greens MLC), Max Phillips (Marrickville Greens councillor and Buckingham offsider), and Robert Borsak (Shooters & Fishers Party MLC). You'll note the presence there of the Israel lobby's allies in the Murdoch press and its new Greens recruits.

And last, but by no means least, we have a word from the NSWJBoD's CEO Vic Alhadeff, darkly warning that "Criticism of Israel blurs into hatred of Jews."

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies: Busy bees indeed.

[*For example, in 2001 Frank Lowy donated $300,000 each to the Coalition and Labor; Richard Pratt $218,000 to the Coalition and $125,000 to Labor; and Harry Triguboff $278,000 to the Coalition and $107,000 to Labor. (Cited in Jews & Australian Politics, Levey & Mendes, 2004, p 139)]


Anonymous said...

Col. Mike Kelly M.P.[Labor] and Premier Bob Carr's former chief of staff at the time of the Ashrawi Affair and now member of the NSW Upper House Walt Secord MLC [Labor] will have a chance to get together to finally solve the mystery.

Who leaked Colonel Kelly's letter to the premier, from Iraq, denouncing Dr. Ashrawi and the Sydney Peace Prize crowd to the media?

Anonymous said...

As Premier Bob Carr had a huge swipe at Kelly calling him a "clanking" Colonel.

Now Senator Carr and the clanking Colonel are on the same team in Canberra.

Did Senator Carr have to ditch any previous affection for Dr. Ashrawi and get into bed with Col. Kelly to become Foreign Minister?

Strange bedfellows indeed.

MERC said...

Indeed! Ah, the Ashrawi Affair. What was Colonel Mike Kelly MP thinking, I wonder, when Bob Carr was plucked by PM Gillard from retirement and elevated to the position of foreign minister?

Just to remind the customers of what must have been on Kelly's mind then, here's 'Army critic of peace prize angers Carr' from the SMH of 3/11/03: "The Premier, Bob Carr, has accused an Australian army officer serving in Baghdad of 'clanking around in colonel's regalia' without properly understanding Australia's mission in Iraq. Mr Carr's attack was in response to revelations that Colonel Mike Kelly, an adviser with coalition forces in Iraq, wrote to the Premier, accusing him of legitimising terrorism and giving 'comfort to the enemy' through his determination to present the Sydney Peace Prize to the activist and academic, Hanan Ashrawi. Mr Carr was angered that Colonel Kelly linked the conflict between Israel and Palestine to the war in Iraq, and to the Sydney Peace Prize, which is awarded by a Sydney University foundation. 'Mike Kelly ought to understand the mission,' Mr Carr said. 'The Australian mission in Iraq is not to engage in war with the Arab world or the Palestinians but to remove Saddam Hussein and find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. That's his mission and if he's clanking around in colonel's regalia not understanding the mission of the Australian Government in Iraq then he ought to read the Prime Minister's speeches. It's not about a general war with the Arab world or a military engagement with the Palestinians.'" (Nick O'Malley)