Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Labor's Zeitgeist Error & Other Bruises

Labor has got Israel all wrong, contends Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan in his latest opinion piece in The Weekend Australian, Carr and Rudd completely wrong on Israel (9/3/13).

"The sad case of Ben Zygier, the Mossad agent who committed suicide... brings to the fore the strange pathologies in Australian opinion concerning Israel [and] also underlines just how badly the Labor government has gone off course in its conception of Israel, and Israel's place in the world... the whole case has been used, characteristically, to paint Israel as a secretive, militaristic, national security state."

Israel militaristic - no way! A national security state - perish the thought!

Ah, but as much as I read and savour every word that Greg writes, nay because I read and savour same, I have to point out that he did write last month that "Mossad secrets, including secrets involving Australians, are very hard to crack." (Mystique of Mossad its greatest weapon, 14/2/13)

Still, are such contradictions not a sign of the man's greatness? Greg need only quote the very great Walt Whitman here: "Do I contradict myself?/ Very well then I contradict myself/(I am large, I contain multitudes)"

Now just because Ozraeli Ben Zygier worked for Mossad and had a rather unusual hobby - collecting Australian passports - that certainly doesn't justify Labor's "two dominant foreign policy figures, Kevin Rudd and Bob Carr" dumping on Israel thus: "This week Rudd demanded that Israel say what Zygier was charged with" and Carr proclaimed that if Israel had used Australian passports for intelligence purposes "Australia would be outraged and, absurdly, Australians would be put at risk."

Admonished Greg wisely: "When dealing with a friendly nation surely it is reasonable to wait for evidence of an offence before throwing the switch to outrage."

Now I agree wholeheartedly with him here. It's called the presumption of innocence. After all, some people collect stamps and others passports, OK? It's called FREEDOM and if you don't like it, you can bloody well bugger off to North Korea!

How, wonders Greg, has it come to this? (Parenthetically, need I remind you that it wasn't always so. Try to remember the kind of September... sorry, I got carried away there for a moment. Remember the good old days, when Kevin had support for Israel in his DNA and Israel's 60th was celebrated in federal parliament? Remember the fabulous Kevin Rudd Roadshow to Israel and back? Remember when Julia, Tim and Albert were an awesome threesome? All but a passing memory now I'm afraid.)

"Beyond Zygier," writes Greg as he chugs upstream into Labor's heart of foreign policy darkness, "let me offer some examples of where Labor has got it so wrong on Israel and then suggest the analytical mistake at the root of these missteps."

And there, lurking in the rank, tangled undergrowth, what does he see? Why it's the very spawn of Bill Hartley himself - Gareth Evans!

"Under the baleful influence of Gareth Evans, a tremendously negative force on on contemporary Labor foreign policy who offers only a bureaucratic version of conventional wisdom (and conventional wisdom is often wrong)," Canberra not only abstained on the vote to elevate the status of Palestinian Authority to observer status at the UN but showered it with "millions of dollars" of aid money.

And this, of course, has taught those layabout Palestinians - the Middle Eastern equivalent of our dole bludgers - that they can get "something for nothing," that they don't need to compromise or negotiate with Israel because "the international community will do their job for them."

Too right, Greg! If only these bludgers would give a little. Take Jerusalem for example. Let the Israelis have East Jerusalem - all of it. They're beautiful. They deserve it. What's wrong with Ramallah for a Palestinian capital? Or, better still, Amman? Baghdad even! Or Lakemba? Why not? Think Israelaterally for a change.

But that shameful Australian abstention in the UN, which had the PA popping Australian-funded champagne corks, isn't all. Did you know that "in the Australia-UK Ministerial Meeting in January, Carr ratcheted up Australia's rhetoric on Israel"? 'Fraid so. "For the first time, [Carr's] office was describing all Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal."

Just imagine, describing illegal settlements as illegal! Next thing you know he'll be calling the West Bank occupied Israeli territory. And Gaza a concentration camp!

"To simply call all Israeli settlements illegal," declared Greg, "is simplistic, reductionist, almost childish."

Absolutely! After all, just because a "Jewish suburb" of East Jerusalem is full of illegal Jewish settlers doesn't mean you can call it a 'settlement', right? And if those PA hens have been dumb enough to let "large settlement blocks [sic]" slip through in their 'negotiations' with Israeli foxes, so can the rest of us, right?

Now in addition to that, "Australia's position is also wrong in international law [because] Jordan, which formerly controlled the territory, is not the sovereign power..."

Yes, just because Israel is the only country in the world which reckons the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit an Occupying Power from transferring its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, don't apply to it because Jordan's claim to the West Bank (1948-1967) was dodgy anyway, doesn't mean it isn't right, right? After all, hasn't Greg already declared that "conventional wisdom is often wrong"?

Devastating, eh? But Greg's only just getting started. Here's our bronzed ANZAC kicking sand in Nancy boy Carr's eyes:

"But why take this position at all, except to kick sand in the Israelis' eyes? China claims all of the South China Sea almost right up to the Philippines shore, yet Canberra maintains a strict neutrality. If Israel is a friend why the gratuitous aggro?"

Brilliant analogy! As Jimmie de Rothschild told another Gentile Zionist's Zionist (Blanche Dugdale if you really must know), back in '41: "I had lived so much among Jews that I was taking a Jewish point of view, and could not see things in proportion."*

But there's more! Greg's like a demon dentist whose root canal treatments just go on and on:

"The demand that Obama urgently seek a peace settlement betrays the deeper analytical flaw by Carr and Rudd."

And here's the proof: Syria's finito. Egypt's kaput. The Palestinians are hopelessly divided. How therefore can Israel - which is to peace what a heat-seeking missile is to heat - possibly be expected to make peace under such circumstances?

But all of the above is merely symptomatic of a deeper malaise according to Greg:

"Underlying this is the cardinal doctrine of conventional wisdom among Guardian readers, UN habitues, European think tank staff and the like, and that is the implausible notion Israel is at the heart of Middle East disputes and the West's trouble with Islam."

Now welcome as this news was to me, I must admit to wondering whether or not we have a bit of a 'one hand/other hand' problem here. I mean, on the one hand Israel can't possibly be expected to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians because Syria and Egypt and the rest are exploding all around it, but on the other the Palestinians' trials and tribulations have got nothing whatever to do with the rest of the Middle East or the wider Muslim world. But hey, Greg hasn't been well of late what with his bypasses and all, so we'll cut him some slack, OK? And anyway, he's got lovely quote from "the respected Jeffrey Goldberg, a senior editor at The Atlantic" to back him up, so there.

Lay back, relax, open your mouth wide, just a little bit more:

"Carr, Rudd and Evans add to this zeitgeist error the subsidiary error that Australia seriously damages its reputation by supporting Israel at the UN, a proposition for which there is no evidence. But even if it were true, this would be a price worth paying [because] Israel is Australia's friend and ally."

Yes, Australia, all of Australia, every man, woman and child, should wear it as a badge of pride that, of all the world's passports at its disposal, Israel should choose ours to help it do what all right-thinking people agree had to be done in Dubai. Right-thinking people like union supremo Paul Howes for example, who once wrote: "I'm proud that our nation has played a small and accidental role in the removal of the terrorist al-Mabhouh from the planet."**  Any Australian tourists or travellers in the Middle East who come to grief because they're suspected by the locals of being Mossad agents can just be written off as collateral damage, OK?

[*Baffy: The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale, 1936-1947, 1973, p 183; **See my 8/5/10 post Zionism Red in Tooth & Claw.]

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