"Bill Shorten embodies the traditional core values of the Labor Party, and his solid support for Israel reflects that. Mr Shorten knows, as we do, that bipartisan support for Israel is an integral part of the fabric of our country's foreign policy."(AIJAC national chairman Mark Leibler, The Australian Jewish News, 18/10/13)
While firefighters in NSW are battling desperately to contain and extinguish blazes across the state, a battle of far greater import, unheralded by the media, has been fought by a small band of heroes against a fire that came close to consuming the very core principle - nay, the very heart and soul - of the federal Labor Party: its unshakeable, unswerving, uncritical, river deep and mountain high love for Israel.
Make no mistake about it, in igniting the (dead) wood of the parliamentary Labor party last November, Labor's pyromaniacal foreign minister, Bob Carr, triggered a conflagration that almost destroyed the PM herself!
Still, PMs come and PMs go.
Far, far worse, Carr's incendiary act came close to changing forever the very way we vote - vis-a-vis Israel - in the UN General Assembly.
The good news is that now, with Carr's unlamented departure from Labor's parliamentary ranks, the last burning embers of critical thinking on the subject of Israel have finally been extinguished, and the smoke is beginning to clear to reveal the lineaments of a new party firmly under the control of those for whom Israel is, was, and always shall be, the proverbial light on Labor's hill.
I can now reveal that this epic struggle for the Israeli soul of the Australian Labor Party was won largely by the heroic efforts of one man, Michael Danby MP. After all, as this humble and self-effacing man hinted in a recent tweet, it was his Solomonic wisdom that has guided Bill Shorten ever since the latter fell under his spell while barely out of short pants:
"Known Bill since he was 20. Always thought he'd be PM. Hope my (parliamentary secretary) role contributes to his office projecting serious and adult policies." (17/10/13)
Serious and adult policies? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge...
Still, it should not be forgotten that however great has been Danby's role in seeing off Carr and overseeing Bill Shorten's rise and rise to the wuthering heights of Labor leadership, others too have been risking their all in dousing those last flickering embers of critical thinking (on the subject of Israel):
"ECAJ representatives have met with Tanya Plibersek on several occasions, most recently in Sydney last week. The meeting discussed the differences of opinion we had had with the former government but was friendly and constructive', [said ECAJ president Danny Lamm]." (ECAJ on Plibersek: forgive and forget, The Australian Jewish News, 18/10/13)
And just to make sure that Danby's magic on Shorten doesn't wear off, ECAJ "will be working with him to try to reverse some of the poorly considered statements about Israel that were made in the name of the previous government." (ibid)
And just to make sure that ECAJ's magic on Shorten doesn't wear off, AIJAC's Colin Rubinstein "said he was looking forward to working with Shorten and his shadow cabinet." (ibid)
And just to make sure AIJAC's magic on Shorten doesn't wear off...