He used to be just plain old Barry O'Farrell, or sometimes, in his earlier, more porcine form, as Fatty O'Barrell. But since becoming premier of NSW in March 2011, he's undergone a transformation. He's now Baruch O'Farrell, Israel's bestie ever in the Premier State.
The first I became aware that Barry was undergoing some kind of metamorphosis was back in April 2011 when he wrote a letter to Marrickville Council threatening to sack it over its support for BDS. Alas, it's been all uphill since then, as I've indicated in a series of earlier posts. (For a quick summary of the Barry-to-Baruch process, read the coda to my 8/4/13 post Doing the Donkey in the NSW Knesset 12.).
Now in his letter to Marrickville Council, the Premier declared authoritatively that:
"Council's core focus should be on the delivery of quality core services to its residents and ratepayers." (Marrickville Council threatened with the sack, abc.net.au, 15/4/11)
Note the key words: "core focus".
And going back to his inaugural speech of 1995, the then Barry O'Farrell piously professed that he was "proud of the fact that my Party is the only political party not beholden to sectional interests. We do not kowtow to business, labour or rural interests... This whole-of-community representation is what allows us to make decisions based on what is right, not on what is demanded of us." (About Premier Barry O'Farrell, premier.nsw.gov.au)
Got the idea? The old Barry we all knew and loved - well, maybe not loved exactly, but you know what I mean - just wasn't into "sectional interests" or "kowtowing".
Now look at him:
"More than 620 guests representing the who's who of NSW society, including diplomats, government ministers, faith, civic and business leaders were treated to two outstanding addresses at the Yom Ha'azmaut [Israel Independence Day] function last night [2/5]... one from NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and the other from Israel's ambassador Yuval Rotem... The Premier presented Ambassador Rotem... with an effigy of himself bearing the name Baruch O'Farrell. The Premier announced the launch of the NSW Human Rights Award and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Vic Alhadeff has been selected as a member of the 3 person [judging] panel... The function was hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Zionist Federation of Australia and the State Zionist Council of NSW." (Double treat for Sydney Yom Ha'azmaut function, jwire.com, 3/5/13)
Not only has Israel become a core focus of NSW politics but it looks like there's a whole lot of kowtowing going on in NSW politics.
Some gems from Baruch O'Farrell's speech:
"If one was restricted to a single word to describe the State of Israel it would be extraordinary."
And if I were restricted to a single word to describe Baruch O'Farrell it'd be...
"Israel has lived up to the prophetic words of Theodore [sic] Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, when he said: 'If you will it, it is no dream'."
So Israel's a dream come true? For Herzl, Baruch and his mates maybe, but for the Palestinian people it's a 24/7 unending nightmare.
"I have always supported Israel because I want Israelis - and people around the world - to be able to enjoy the secure border, lifestyle and liberty we Australians take for granted. Regrettably, President Peres was correct when he noted that while Israel was founded on the principle of equality, its existence was challenged and threatened by countries which neither acknowledge equality nor practise that principle."
Israel was founded on equality - yes, of course, for Jews. Most of the non-Jews got the boot.
"Recently, I was directed to the book, 'Israel: Years of Challenge' by David Ben-Gurion - Israel's first Prime Minister who proclaimed its independence on 14 May 1948. In the book Ben-Gurion wrote that... because Israel was surrounded by hostility, the surest way of arriving at peace and cooperation with its neighbours was by making friends around the world who understood Israel and would convey that understanding to Israel's neighbours. Well tonight we are just some of those friends and supporters that Israel has around the world. And Ben-Gurion reminds us that it's not enough to just be a friend. We need to speak up for our friend too. Whether in response to the latest attack upon Israeli civilians or the latest BDS protest, we need to demonstrate our support for Israel's right to peaceful existence with secure borders. Here in NSW we are trying to do our bit."
So let me get this right: Israel robs the Palestinians blind and its 'friends' clean up the mess. Brilliant! Oh, and anyone over here who dares to say, 'Hang on a minute', will have Baruch on his back.
"I am delighted that... the Parliamentary Friends of Israel was re-established. It is the parliament's largest friendship group and it is fiercely bi-partisan. I am delighted that a multi-party delegation of State MPs visited Israel and I want to acknowledge the wonderful assistance of the Jewish Board of Deputies in helping make that happen. And I am delighted that, later this year, one of my ministers will be part of a second delegation of MPs visiting Israel."
Not another bloody rambamming!
"My visit to Yad Vashem - and many visits to the wonderful Sydney Jewish Museum - certainly furthered my understanding of the incredible suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust... That's why I strongly endorsed the decision of the Board of Studies that from next year study of the Holocaust will become compulsory for NSW school students in years 9 and 10. This comes as a direct result of the tireless efforts of the Board of Deputies..."
Using the Holocaust shield to protect Israeli apartheid from criticism.
"I was very grateful the [Israeli] Ambassador [Yuval Rotem] took the time to come to Sydney last December when I was honoured to be presented with the Jerusalem Award by the Zionist Council."
Talk about buying the natives with trinkets. I can see it now, can't you? That patch of green in yonder distance. Ah yes, the 'Baruch O'Farrell Memorial Forest'.
"You'll notice I've even used the Hebrew word for Barry - Baruch - which many of you will know means blessed."
Yes, Baruch, we know, we know...