Whilst I welcome politicians finally seeing the light on the subject of Jewish State, and going public with it, their enlightenment is invariably less than 100 watt.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr is a classic example of the phenomenon, as his address to the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) on Friday night, reprinted in part in The Weekend Australian, reveals.
Some excerpts, annotated:
"Pennant Hills Golf Club in Sydney is an unusual place for an epiphany on the changes in Israel. Still, it was there I met a Christian volunteer who went to the occupied territories to escort Palestinian children to school, to protect them from verbal and physical violence by Israeli settlers. Violence against Arab kids? Christian volunteers to protect them? From Jewish settlers? None of this was around in 1977 when I rented a room in Sydney Trades Hall and called on Bob Hawke, ACTU president, to help me launch Labor Friends of Israel. In 1977 the Israeli occupation was 10 years old. There were 25,000 settlers. It was easy to believe the Israelis were holding the West Bank only as a bargaining chip. Arabs were terrorists." (Why I'm now a friend of Palestine)
Easy to believe? Who was easy to believe, Bob? Someone must have been in your ear at the time, spruiking the cause. After all, a party operative (Carr was not an MP until 1983) doesn't simply up and start a fan club for a foreign state apropos nothing. (Carr reveals neither why he set up - or helped set up? - LFOI in the first place nor whether he now regrets having done so. That late, great, always staunchly pro-Palestine NSW MP George Petersen describes Carr in the 80s as "an unabashed admirer of United States capitalism" with "a total commitment to the ideology of economic rationalism." (George Petersen Remembers, 1998, p 356) For the WikiLeaked details of Carr's and Hawke's links with US diplomats back in the 70s, see my 11/4/13 post Rats in the Ranks.)
And those Arab terrorists? You honestly couldn't see them for what they were, a national resistance movement with genuine grievances? As a voracious reader, did it not occur to you to read a book on the subject, one not pushed on you by those whispering in your ear at the time? And are you now prepared to concede, after all these years, that George Petersen (and Bill Hartley) got it right on Palestine? Just asking.
"Israel has gone from secular to religious... from cosmopolitan to chauvinist... 'The symbol of Israel used to be the kibbutz,' says a friend in the British Labor Party. 'It's now the settlement.' They have doubled in the past 54 months alone."
So when Israel, to use your terms, was secular and cosmopolitan, it was OK? You really had no idea that exploiting religion for political ends has been a central feature of Zionism from its inception? What part of Jewish State did you not understand? And don't tell me you still can't see that the kibbutz was just the settlement of its day? Is it really that hard, Bob?
"He (UK MP Richard Ottaway) and others in centrist politics, have been sickened by settler fanatics standing on seized Palestinian land declaring God gave them Judea and Samaria, and the Arabs are inferior anyway."
What about the kibbutz fanatics who perpetrated the Palestinian Nakba, Bob? Those who, by fire and sword, drove out the indigenous Palestinian population in their hundreds of thousands in 1948, stole its land, and refused its return?
But wait, what's this? 1948 finally gets a look-in:
"In 1977 when we launched Labor Friends of Israel we knew none of [the Palestinians'] narrative. Now Israeli historians... have gone to the archives of their army to tell the full story of how massacres were used during the foundation of Israel in 1948 to drive out 700,000 Palestinians."
You really needed Israeli historians to explain why all those Palestinian refugees were twiddling their thumbs in refugee camps throughout the Middle East? Seriously?
And who are you to preach to those you once dismissed as mere terrorists?
"Palestinians must commit to non-violent resistance, not a third intifada. They must build international support. They must engage with the righteous Jews who condemn the takeover of Zionism by the fanatics."
The takeover of Zionism by the fanatics? Blimey! You still haven't twigged to the fact that Zionism, from Herzl to Netanyahu, is fanaticism incarnate?
Still, it's a measure of how just how much Israel has alienated so many in the Western political establishment (the recent House of Commons vote, dealt with in my 17/10/14 post Britain's Moral Responsibility for Palestine, is another case in point) that Carr can conclude his speech thus:
"Forty years ago I signed up to be president of Labor Friends of Israel. I still count myself a friend of the liberals in that country but it serves the cause of a just peace better by me this week becoming patron of Labor Friends of Palestine."