Tony Abbott's Suppository of All (Foreign Policy) Wisdom, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan declared in yesterday's Australian that:
"Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop intend to reverse the anti-Israel direction in Australia's voting patterns in the UN resolutions that Kevin Rudd oversaw as prime minister, and which Bob Carr continued. This is an immensely important sign of the Coalition government's values and direction." (Unstinting support for Israel back in place)
Yes, a sign that we are now entering an era of uncritical, knee-jerk support for Israel of the kind typically displayed only by the United States, Canada and a handful of non-serious Pacific statelets.
"Canberra will revert to the voting pattern established by John Howard and Alexander Downer: less ambiguous, less apologetic."
Yes, Sir, no, Sir; three bags full, Sir.
"Bishop has not issued any general voting instructions but she has made it clear she intends to restore the Howard voting pattern and to reverse the votes Rudd changed. She has also made it clear she expects to see every significant Middle East resolution. Nothing will be done by autopilot. Her view is that Australia's vote on each resolution will be decided on its merits but that she will not support any unbalanced, one-sided or unfair resolutions on Israel."
A quick perusal of the rest of Sheridan's piece reveals the Israeli agenda which will henceforth determine how we vote in the UN:
1) Whenever any criticism of Israel finds its way into a UN resolution, it must always be offset by a criticism of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.
2) Israel's "presence in the Old City of Jerusalem" is to be taken as a given.
3) Any references to the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to "Palestinian territories" should be accompanied by an "acknowledge[ment] that Israel already voluntarily observes its humanitarian provisions."
4) Any resolution that calls for Palestinian self-determination must also mention Israeli self-determination.
Now given Tony Abbott's stated devotion to the man he describes as his "political mentor," the late B.A. (Bob) Santamaria, you'd perhaps be forgiven for expecting that Santa's views on the Palestine/Israel conflict would carry some weight in how an Abbott government relates to Israel, if not act as its ultimate guide.
So what are Santa's views on this issue?
"My viewpoint about Israel," wrote Santamaria in 1975, "has always been the same. I became unpopular many years ago... with many of the Jewish community because I was opposed to the establishment of the state of Israel, before it was established. My reason was that I did not believe people should be forcibly thrown out of their ancestral lands."
Santa saw the Palestinian people as the indigenous and rightful owners of Palestine and recognised that Israel was created at their expense. He also acknowledged the Palestinian Nakba of 1948.
"I dissented as strongly from the acts of terrorism which were committed by the Haganah, the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvei Leumi, as I object to the terrorism of the Viet Cong and to the terrorism used by some elements of the PLO today. My objection to terrorism has been increased by seeing the results of terrorism at first hand in Vietnam."
Santa acknowledged that Israel had emerged out of the barrel of a terrorist's gun.
"Since I know the history of the irregular military activities which accomplished the establishment of Israel, I am not greatly influenced by the protests against PLO terrorism today when it comes from the descendants of the same people."
Santa recognised the hypocrisy of Zionists who label resistance to their crimes as 'terrorism'.
"Despite my opposition to the establishment of a state on this basis, the state of Israel did come into existence and today there are something like 3 million people in Israel. There is thus a new historical fact. And, while I think it was a mistake ever to have established the state, in the light of this new situation I do not believe that the state should be obliterated. I believe that the Israelis would be treated as badly as they themselves in the past have treated others."
"As they themselves have treated others." Indeed.
"Furthermore - and this does not influence me substantially - I do not think that they will give up lightly. I believe that they have nuclear weapons and that, if they are faced with the certainty that their state is going to be destroyed, they will not hesitate to use them. As they see it, the alternative is their own extinction anyway."
"As they see it..."
"Hence, the policy which we have pursued is this. We believe that there should be a settlement in Israel based on the existence of two states:
(1) An existing Israeli state, backed by international guarantees, but having given up the territories which it occupied after the 1967 war."
Note the territories which Israel occupied in 1967. Not some of it - all.
"(2) A new Palestinian state, taking in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and with some kind of legal presence in Jerusalem."
Indeed: Palestinian sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem.
"(3) That, in order to achieve this settlement, the Arab states should at some point be brought to say that, if the Israelis give up these territories and if adequate compensation is made to the Palestinian refugees, they will simultaneously recognise Israel."
Santa acknowledged the right of Palestinian refugees, at least in part. I have no idea where he stood in relation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but, assuming he subscribed to its principles, he'd have backed the Palestinians' right of return.
"I understand very well that it will be hard to reach this solution. Nevertheless, it is the solution which we think is best in all the circumstances today. We do not accept the obliteration of Israel as a state in favour of a new Palestinian state in which they would be a small minority, simply because we believe that within such a state their life would be very bitter indeed and they would not have much of a future..."
I'm sure that Santa would have been the first to admit, had it been put to him, that the life of Palestinian refugees in their camps is very bitter indeed and that they do not have much of a future. And I'm equally sure he'd agree that if white South Africans could be expected to deal with their post-apartheid bitterness, so too could Jewish Israelis when Israeli apartheid finally gives way to a secular, democratic Palestine following the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands.
"[This] is the best available - even if very inferior - method of achieving a kind of justice in a situation which should never have arisen." (B.A. Santamaria: Your Most Obedient Servant, Selected Letters: 1938-1996, 2007, pp 309-310)
IOW, says Santa, even were the Israeli occupation to end, this would be at best rough justice for the Palestinian people.
So "the greatest Australian of his time,"* had a clear understanding of Israel's original sin and freely acknowledged the justice of the Palestinian case.
Be that as it may, if it ever came down to betting on which side of the divide an Abbott government would come down if presented with a clear choice between the Israeli way or the highway, the latter being Santa's principled position, I'm pretty damn sure the Israeli way would win hands down.
Hell, I'm a thousand per cent sure Abbott doesn't even know what Santa's position was on this issue.
[*Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, David Marr, Quarterly Essay, 2012, p 9.]