OK, so Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in extremis, chose to keep her job rather than go down fighting for Israel. After all, her job description is Prime Minister of Australia.
But that doesn't mean she's happy about it. No way! She just can't make it through the day without a whiff of those irresistable Zionist pheromones. So wouldn't you think Israel's fifth columnists here would appreciate what a pickle the poor woman is in, show a little understanding and cut her a little slack?
But, alas, that's not how it is with this lot. Empathy is not exactly their strong point. You empathise with them, not vice versa, OK? No, she'll have to beg their forgiveness for Australia's criminal abstention in the UN vote on Palestine's observer status.
Her first attempt was a ringing declaration in the Australian Jewish News of December 7 to the effect that her party's historic friendship with Israel is quite simply beyond debate. (See my 9/12/12 post The Prisoner of Zion.)
But a one-off grovel is never enough in this kind of relationship. Which is why she's charged her faithful retainer, 'Clanking Colonel' Mike Kelly, with the mission of interceding on her behalf.
And so, in a 2-page spread in the latest edition of the AJN, Kelly's not only gone cap in hand and hand on heart to plead the lady's case but even taken the trouble to review the history of Labor's dedication to the "Australia/Israel relationship" from go to woe. Be that as it may, it's Kelly's spin on the offending abstention that we're interested in here:
"In the end the decision to 'abstain' was taken to convey the nuance required by the situation that, while the Australian Government acknowledges the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for statehood, our position on how that is to be achieved remains unchanged. Within the Labor caucus there were different views on this issue. This discussion was not driven by domestic political considerations but on what was the best option for achieving the two state solution. The Prime Minister ultimately presented to the Caucus her final view that we should 'abstain' and this position was unanimously supported by the Caucus without further debate. No argument was put to the Caucus to vote 'yes' and such a proposal would have been overwhelmingly defeated. It is utterly false and repulsive to suggest that this vote in any way indicates a dilution of Labor's committed support for Israel, based as it is on a proud and unmatched tradition, or that the Coalition is in any way a stronger supporter. Under the Government, and particularly within my own portfolio of Defence, the relationship with Israel has been taken to unprecedented levels and we are seeking to elevate it further. This has been to the great benefit of our effective operational capacity in Afghanistan and the enhancement of our Force Protection. There is no stronger friend of Israel than this Government. We face the same enemy and we have the same fervent hopes for peace. From time to time friends will differ but a healthy level of disputation is only a reflection of the nature of Israel itself, and what makes it so worthwhile defending." (Labor's abstention explained, 18/1/13)
Wow, the power and the passion! Now who wouldn't be moved by that?
The editor of the AJN, that's who!
In his capacity as editorialist, he excoriated the colonel for "resorting to enough spin to make us giddy" and accused him of concocting "a tortured rationale of how abstention means Labor's view on Palestinian statehood remains unchanged." And then, as if that wasn't enough of a lashing, he went for our ex-military lawyer's jugular with this: "to state... that 'there is no stronger friend of Israel than this [Gillard] government', is a lawyer's argument that stretches the bounds of credibility."
Well, I never! Talk about shooting the messenger.
Now the Palestinians have long been aware that Hell hath no fury like a Zionist scorned, or even looked at sideways, but not, apparently, the Kellys and Gillards of this world. Sometime down the track maybe, after sober reflection, but never while enjoying the spoils of office, that's for sure.
OK, so Kelly's plea to kiss and make up went down like the proverbial lead balloon but, be that as it may, there's still much in it to interest the serious student of the political hurly burly:
Note, for example, the spin Kelly puts on Gillard's rout: "The PM ultimately presented to the Caucus her final view that we should 'abstain' and this position was unanimously supported by the Caucus without further debate." You'd think from this that Her Highness had never, at any stage, been less than on top of the matter. Oh well, I guess all the other accounts of what went on can be junked now. (For those, see my posts While You Weren't Looking 1&2 (1 & 3/12/12); Julia the Downhearted (6/12/12); and The PM Who Put Her Job On the Line for Israel (18/1/13).)
Then we have Kelly's reference to Israel's contribution - presumably the drones mentioned in my 12/12/09 post Head-Shaking Stuff 2 - to our 'Force Protection' in Afghanistan. Where would we be without them?
Finally, there's that line about facing the same enemy. Foreign Minister Bob Carr, in his earlier incarnation of NSW Premier, once had the occasion, bless him, to remind the then Iraq-based Colonel Kelly - who had taken it upon himself to intervene in the entirely domestic matter of Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi being awarded the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize - that "[he] ought to understand the mission. 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." (Army critic of peace prize angers Carr, Nick O'Malley, SMH, 3/11/03) Seems Kelly still thinks we're at war with the Palestinians, and anyone else Israel doesn't like the look of for that matter.