Monday, July 2, 2018

Bob Carr's 'Run for Your Life'

Former foreign minister Bob Carr's just released autobiography, Run for your Life, is very revealing of the Australian Labor Party's relationship with the Israel lobby. Here's a key extract from the chapter Me and 'the lobby':

"The hold of the Israel lobby over Australian politicians is based on two facts: first, donations to the political parties from the Jewish community leadership; second, paid trips to Israel extended to every member of parliament and journalists. From the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) over 700 trips alone. This political influence is particularly noticeable with the Victorian ALP Right and deserves some examination by journalistic sleuths, who seem reluctant to touch the subject. No other community, in my experience, treats politicians as their poodles; even when making a political case - not the Tamils or Singhalese, the Chinese, the Macedonians, the Cypriots, the Turks nor the Armenians." (p 180)

The problem here, of course, is that our politicians can only be treated as poodles by the Israel lobby if they are sufficiently stupid and ill-informed as to allow themselves to be. A huge part of the problem is that perennial bugbear, received wisdom. As Carr puts it succinctly, speaking of the ALP's infatuation with all things Israel in the 80s, "We just accepted the prevailing wisdom. [Palestine] had been 'a land without a people for a people without a land': this was the Exodus narrative." (p 175) Or as Bertrand Russell once put it even more succinctly, "Most people would rather die than think."

While Carr, to his credit, has come far on the matter of Palestine, when he writes about "the [Israeli] settlement movement capturing Zionism," and "Zionist zealots," it is clear that he still has further to go. Zionism was, is now, and always will be, a colonial-settler movement, one, moreover, which simply cannot abide, or come to terms with, the presence, in any way, shape, or form, of Palestine's indigenous Arab population. Likewise, talk of "Zionist zealots" overlooks the obvious fact that, whatever guise Zionism takes, it is inherently fanatical, and devoted to the same inhuman end: a greater Israel, free of its indigenous Palestinian Arab population.


Grappler said...

We could have a fruitless debate about the stupidity of politicians - in terms of power and affluence they seem to do very well - I wish I were as stupid. And I don't think that by nature they are incurious. Rather they choose to be willfully ignorant on this topic. It wouldn't take a lot of effort to read even the words of the Zionist leaders - Weizmann, Ben Gurion, Dayan, Peres, Jabotinsky, etc and know that this an ideology fundamentally at odds with what Australia perceives itself to be. Nor is it only about donors as we both know. It is also about the media. Politicians know that if they step out of line, the media will make sure that they will not win the next election. But of course we live in a democracy - right?

MERC said...

G, astute comment, as always.