"Darkly [Rudd] commented on the state of affairs, rehearsing the history of his relations with the Israel lobby, once so happy now so gloomy. How much of this is about money, I asked him. He said that about one-fifth of the money he had raised in the 2007 election campaign had come from the Jewish community." (Diary of a Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, p 232)
That telling quote relates to Australian federal politics. But what about state politics?
On a recent Q&A, a former NSW Liberal Party leader, Kerry Chikarovski, had this to say on the subject of the Middle East conflict: "[A]s a state politician, let me say, it was never one of those issues that was much to front of mind in terms of, you know, debate within the State Parliament..."
Indeed. So how could anyone have predicted that Israel would become core business in NSW under the leadership of ex-premier Barry (Baruch) O'Farrell (2011-14). For sheer devotion to Israel, O'Farrell rivalled ex-PM Julia Gillard.
Consider just some of the evidence:
1) April 2011: O'Farrell threatens to sack Marrickville Council over its support for pro-Palestinian BDS movement.
2) August 2011: O'Farrell announces formation of NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel.
3) October 2011: Israel lobbyist Vic Alhadeff to lecture NSW Police on Zionism.
4) May 2012: O'Farrell attends Israel Independence Day function, announcing a review of Section 20D of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, and reaffirming his government's "unwavering commitment to Israel."
5) May 2012: NSW Police attempt to have Palestinian Nakba Day march banned in NSW Supreme Court.
6) November 2012: O'Farrell declares that 'Baruch' means Barry at pre-Chanukah function in NSW Parliament.
7) December 2012: O'Farrell is awarded the Jerusalem Prize by the Zionist Council of NSW.
8) January 2013: NSW Parliamentary 'Study Mission' to Israel.
9) March 2013: BDS-bashing 'debate' in NSW Parliament.
10) April 2013: O'Farrell announces Inquiry into Racial Vilification Law in NSW.
11) May 2013: O'Farrell presents effigy of himself bearing the name 'Baruch O'Farrell' to Israeli ambassador at Israel Independence Day function, announces appointment of Israel lobbyist Vic Alhadeff as judge of NSW Human Rights Award, says that study of Holocaust will be compulsory for students in years 9 and 10, and declares: "If one was restricted to a single word to describe the State of Israel, it would be 'extraordinary'."
12) May 2013: O'Farrell signs London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.
13) December 2013: O'Farrell appoints Vic Alhadeff as NSW Community Relations Commissioner.
As the late Julius Sumner Miller used to say, Why is it so? Could the following data, perhaps, shed some light on the reason for this extraordinary display of devotion, bordering on the manic, by a mere state premier to an apartheid state on the other side of the world?
According to the Guardian's Datablog post How money flows to the NSW Liberals (Nick Evershed, theguardian.com, 29/4/14) $787,000 flowed into state party coffers from 2010 to 2011, most of it, I imagine, prior to the state election of March 2011. Of this, $200,000 - over 25% of the total - came from Frank Lowy's Westfield Ltd and Harry Triguboff's Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd.