Two items appearing recently in the print media speak to the peculiar rigidity of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, when it comes to the Middle East conflict, the second, significantly, composed (or approved) by Gillard herself exclusively for inclusion in the Australian Jewish News:
"Even if Gillard's forced capitulation on the UN vote on Palestine does not change votes in caucus, it will go down as a seminal episode in her prime ministership. Sources describe the cabinet discussion on the Monday night, when 10 of her cabinet ministers spoke against her position of a no vote against Palestine, as respectful. They were gobsmacked when at the end of it Gillard summed up by telling them that even though what they said was fair enough, this was not an issue for cabinet to decide, it was a question of prime ministerial prerogative. She told them she would exercise that prerogative to deliver Australia's vote against Palestine. Ministers were appalled, first, because she had failed to listen; second, that she was seemingly oblivious to the danger she faced; and, third, that there was only one view that mattered: hers." (PM's Praetorian Guards are revolting, Niki Savva, The Australian, 6/12/12)
"It's widely known that the debate within the Labor Party on how Australia should vote was a vigorous one - befitting the significance of the issue pending before the world. But it is important to distinguish between what was debated within the Labor Party and what is always accepted without debate. I am proud of my party's historic friendship with Israel. Nothing will ever change that and we will be proud and firm friends of Israel in the future." ('Our friendship with Israel is beyond debate', Julia Gillard, AJN, 7/12/12)
Is this not one of the great mysteries of Australian political life? Here is the leader of a party that has jettisoned just about every conceivable principle it ever stood for, to the extent that no one knows anymore quite what it stands for, telling two in-group audiences - not the rest of us note - that a supposed friendship with a foreign power, and not just any foreign power but a vicious, occupying apartheid state, is beyond debate.
Why this extraordinary degree of dogma, reminiscent of nothing so much as the doctrine of papal infallibility, this adamantine refusal to openly debate without fear or favour? Did Gillard climb into this ideological straitjacket unaided? What is the nature of its ties and clasps that none of our so-called intellectuals dare mention? Where is Australia's John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt?