Monday, March 30, 2015

'An Audible Drawing In of Collective Breath'

I'm sure that Sam Lipski (then & now) actually thinks that the incident he describes below reveals more about Bob Hawke than it does about the 3,000 blinkered individuals listening to him:

"For the Jews of Australia, it was a night to remember. On May 17, 1988, some 3000 of them came to the Concert Hall at Melbourne's Arts Centre to celebrate, to pay tribute and to give thanks. On stage were 15 former Soviet refuseniks. Just months earlier... Mikhail Gorbachev had let them leave for Israel. Just days earlier they had landed at Melbourne Airport to a heroes' welcome from the Jewish community... But later in the evening, prime minister Bob Hawke punctured the mood of celebration. In an otherwise powerful and uplifting speech, Hawke included just one unsettling sentence. In it he drew comparisons between Soviet Jews and the Palestinians and black Africans under apartheid. There was an audible drawing in of collective breath. Then a turning of heads in disbelief. The remarks distressed the refuseniks, disappointed many of Hawke's admirers, and marked a turning point in Hawke's public views on Israel. With a few words, his public persona changed from the Jewish state's most passionate admirer in Australia to its sorely troubled critic." (On a night for refuseniks, Hawke brought Palestinian conflict to the party, Sam Lipski & Suzanne Rutland, The Australian, 28/3/15)

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