Saturday, October 20, 2012

Julia the Insubstantial

Questions about the real Julia Gillard seem to me to be based on a false premise, namely that, somewhere out there, there really is a real Julia.

There isn't.

And if I had to come up with an example of just how lacking in substance the Australian prime minister is, it'd be this:

"All of us rejoice in marking Gilad Shalit's year of freedom, and his reunification with his family and friends. I trust that the warm embrace of the people of Israel, and the support Gilad engendered around the world, is helping to heal the wounds of his brutal imprisonment. Gilad's ordeal was a lesson for all of us in the unconscionable inhumanity inflicted by his captors in Gaza. But it has also underscored the urgent need to find a way to achieve, at long last, a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. We must redouble our efforts to find the path from the darkness of Gilad's cell to the light of peace for Israelis and Palestinians." (A lesson & an inspiration for us all, Julia Gillard, The Australian Jewish News, 19/10/12)

That the above is merely a statement on paper designed primarily for the readers of The AJN is immaterial. These words are as much Gillard's as anything she says in parliament, scripted or otherwise. You can see the strings, the moving, wooden parts. You can hear the robotic, droning, valium-penetrating voice.

However, the dawning realisation that maybe no one's home comes when one contrasts her propaganda  cliches -  "the wounds of his brutal imprisonment"; "the unconscionable inhumanity inflicted by his captors"; and "the darkness of Gilad's cell" - with Shalit's own words:

"'There was a common denominator between us, sport,' he said of his captors. 'During the day I would play all kinds of games with them. Chess, dominoes. There were moments when a kind of emotion would arise, a kind of laughter, when we watched a good (football) game on television or a movie,' he said, relating their surprise on seeing an impressive Israeli goal during a Champions League soccer match." (Shalit seeks solace in sport, The Australian, 19/10/12)

The full realisation, however, that the Prime Minister is more of an absence than a presence surely has to be the knowledge that, when it comes to the 730,000 occupied Palestinian men, women and children estimated to have served time in Israeli prisons since 1967, many subjected to regimes of ill-treatment and torture, Gillard has said nothing.

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