"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."
Welcome though the leadership and common sense shown by Foreign Minister Bob Carr in saving the Prime Minister from herself and heading off a foreign policy disaster in the UN General Assembly is, it should in no way blind us to the frankly risible simple-mindedness of his position on the Middle East conflict:
"'No, it doesn't change things,' an insouciant Foreign Minister Bob Carr told the Weekend Financial Review after he led a successful revolt against Prime Minister Julia Gillard's insistence that Australia vote against upgrading the status of Palestinians at the UN. 'Australia is, and always will be, a friend of Israel. They have their own democracy. They have a system that enables them to throw out prime ministers and ruling parties. They have the rule of law and their Supreme Court can overrule the government of the day on difficult issues.' However, 'good friends speak the truth to one another and, as a friend of Israel, we have a duty to highlight our concern about the settlement activity which is illegal under international law.'" (A loss for the Jewish lobby, Andrew Clark, 1/12/12)
Where to begin with this pollyanna-ish guff?
Israel is not a democracy. Only when the 5 million Palestinian refugees, who were disenfranchised (and so much more) in 1948, return to their homeland and get to vote in Palestine's first post-apartheid election will 'Israel' be a genuine democracy.
Now apart from that little caveat, the other slight problem I have with Carr's position is that, while he's now speaking out about Israeli settlements, he's never once mentioned, so far as I'm aware, the occupation itself - the trigger-happy troops, the land-grabbing Wall, the checkpoints and roadblocks, the closures and curfews, the arrests, imprisonments and torture, and the home invasions and demolitions; or Israel's Gaza blockade or killing sprees; or its apartheid laws; or its history of ethnic cleansing, wholesale theft and dispossession; or its serial aggressions and invasions of neighbouring lands (annexation optional). Presumably, all that's just water under the bridge for Carr.
As for Carr's delusional nonsense about Australia being a 'good friend' of Israel, don't even get me started.
The origin of his Israel fantasy - and this probably applies to many others in the Labor party - is of interest here. In establishing his credentials as a long-time Israel luvvie during an interview with Richard Glover on the latter's Drive program yesterday afternoon, Carr mentioned he'd read some pro-Israel pamphlet or other written by former Prime Minister and Labor elder Bob Hawke back in the 70s, and that, as they say, was that. Sort of, 'If it was good enough for Hawkie, it was good enough for me.'
Talk about the blind leading the blind. Here's where the credulous Hawke was coming from back then:
"[Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir] showed [Hawke, soon after the Arab-Israeli war of 1973] photographs of 18-year-old Israeli kids whose hands had been tied behind their backs and who had been shot in the back of the head. Mrs Meir wept with Hawke over the pictures. 'She said she felt guilty about it because if she had taken a pre-emptive strike [presumably on Damascus] those kids would not have been dead.' Hawke took the pictures back to Australia and showed them on television. He told the story about Golda Meir's agony again and again, and every time he did it, he wept. 'I came away from that,' he said four years later, his voice breaking, 'in an intellectual position which was incapable of change.'" (Bob Hawke: A Portrait, Robert Pullan, 1980, p 158)
If Carr has read a serious book on the subject of Palestine/Israel since then, I'd like to know about it.