Australia's first female Muslim MP, Labor's Anne Aly (Cowan, WA), went on a study tour of Israel in March this year. Apparently, so overwhelmed was she that she's only just now gotten around to unburdening herself on the subject at an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) debriefing in Perth:
"When the opportunity came to visit Israel, I was grateful because I needed to have the experience. I needed to go and see for myself... to actually experience what it was like in Israel rather than fit into some kind of position I should take on any of the issues... I really wanted to formulate my own opinion through my own experience, because nothing replaces the experience of actually being somewhere and having that experience of being there." (WA MP talks of her visit to Israel, jwire.com, 14/9/17)
Ah, the politician's lot. That email/phone call. That knock on the door. What could it portend? Well, blow me down if it isn't an opportunity to visit Israel.
And what a wonderful opportunity that is! Just imagine, you not only get to formulate your own opinion of the Palestine/Israel shindig through your own experience, but have attentive Israel lobbyists on hand to decide where you go and who you speak to, and afterwards whisk you off to all the best eateries in the land. You'd be silly to pass it up, eh?
As it happens, Aly, who had arrived in Australia at the tender age of two, recalled the words of her mother:
"Growing up... my mother always called Jewish people our cousins. Always called Israelis our cousins."
Cousins, eh? Not so much a rambamming as a family visit! (After all, isn't MUM the word?) And, hey, doesn't Mrs Aly's homely maternal wisdom put the wars of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 in a whole new light? Mere family tiffs! And all praise to cuz Anwar for kissing and making up with cuz Menachem at the White House in 1979, cuz since then it's been kissing cousins all the way.
The despair over the Palestine/Israel contretemps that had apparently dogged Ms Aly for all of her 49 years disappeared, I'm pleased to hear, in an instant:
"It's really easy to get caught up in the kind of despair of you know 40 or 50 years of no resolution, but what I saw, what I saw was inspiration. What I saw was people who want to live in peace... "
No, nothing even vaguely resembling a brutal OCCUPATION - just smiling, welcoming Israeli cousins, all apparently cooing 'Shalom ilaykum, cuz' at Ms Aly.
Of course, once blinded by anti-Israel propaganda, she could now see that Mum was right all along:
"The only exposure that I really ever had to the whole Palestine-Israel question was with propaganda. We really need to be vigilant against that, and particularly we need to be vigilant against propagandising the situation to be about Muslim versus Jew. It's not about Muslims versus Jews. Muslims and Jews are cousins."
And the proof in the pudding? Her Israeli cousins tenderly ministering to their fallen-on-hard-times Syrian cousins:
"Dr Aly recalled an emotional encounter at the Ziv hospital in Safed, where Israeli doctors treat victims of the Syrian Civil War. Dr Aly talked about how she became a translator for her fellow MPs [Senator Alex Gallacher, Julian Hill, Steve Georganas, Meryl Swanson and Milton Dick*]. She also reflected on her admiration for the doctors and staff who are treating the injured Syrians."
Now that must've been one, like, almighty emotional encounter for the normally phlegmatic Aly, cuz: "When I was going to the White House people were like, 'Wow you must be so excited to meet Obama' and I was like 'meh'." (Why teenage extremism is personal for Anne Aly, Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/2/16)
[*I'll deal with these rambammed non-relatives in my next post.]