Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where Do We Get Them From?

Your Australian polly-waffle is best approached with a Lathamesque sensibility:

"Got through the rest of the day by conditioning my mindset, by sending up the absurdity of what I do. Toured the Townsville Show with Anita Phillips, our hapless candidate for Herbert. When I said troops out by Christmas, she told the local media, 'He didn't say which Christmas.' Where do we get them from? And how do I give them back?" (The Latham Diaries, Mark Latham, 2005, p 312)

"A final piece of Caucus cruelty. Sharon Grierson rang me yesterday to say that she should be on the frontbench because she has emotional intelligence; apparently there's a fad American book on this subject. 'Howard wins because he's got emotional intelligence. We need more people with emotional intelligence; I've got emotional intelligence, you know'. What am I here: the leader of Australia's oldest political party or the Hare Krishna? I feel like R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the only sane man in the asylum." (ibid, p 365)

In addition to not knowing which Christmas is which or possessing emotional intelligence, an essential qualification for your Lib/Lab polly-waffle these days is a complete and utter ignorance of the Middle East conflict and/or a total absence of principle or conscience, such that, when the lobby calls, touting a freebie, he or she is as putty in its hands. Here's the latest batch (that I'm aware of):

"Twelve members of the Parliament of Western Australia arrived in Israel for a 10-day visit, including the Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs, on the initiative of AIJAC, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. For all the representatives, this was their first visit to Israel. They toured all over the country, from the Golan to the Negev, and met key figures in government, academia and the media. They saw, at close range, people and places one usually encounters only on the news, in order better to understand the challenges the State of Israel faces... At the present time, KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) is completing plans for the ANZAC Route - a series of historical sites along the 'Major Military Outflanking' route, a maneuver [sic] that was executed by soldiers from Australia and New Zealand during World War 1. These sites tell the heroic story of the conquest of Beersheba from the Turks by the Australian Mounted Division*... Adele Farina, MP: 'This visit to Israel has been fascinating and has helped all of us understand the complexity of the problems you are dealing with. We had the privilege of meeting interesting people who presented various points of view regarding Israeli society. Today I have a much better understanding of the special connection of the Jewish community in Australia with the State of Israel'. Tony Krsticevic, MP: 'We hear about Israel all the time, and I wanted to see with my own eyes what is really going on here. I was a little hesitant before the trip, but I have been pleased to discover that Israel is a lot quieter and friendlier than I thought. It is amazing to see how people manage to live normal lives in the shadow of an impossible security reality'. Steve Lieblich, from AIJAC, one of the initiators of the tour, concluded: 'The best way to conduct public relations is to bring people here. One can literally see the change effected in people with regard to Israel over the course of the trip. The connection with KKL-JNF helps a lot, as it is a professional organization that deals with water and ecology, issues that are very important to Australians'." (Western Australian Parliament members visit the Negev with KKL-JNF,, 13/4/10)

[*The lengths to which Israel and its lobbyists will go to to concoct historical 'connections' with Australia are extraordinary. See my 1/5/08 post Zionist Myth-In-formation.]

But there's more. The lobby sucks these buggers in even before they've become MPs:

"A group of young Australian political leaders has arrived for a visit to Israel, to acquaint themselves more closely with life in the country, understand its complex realities and see how cooperation between Israel and Australia can contribute to both nations. They have been visiting sites all over Israel, have met a variety of local public figures and have viewed KKL-JNF projects in the south. All the guests were surprised to discover that Israel was not exactly as they had seen and heard it described in the news. The visit was initiated by AIJAC as part of the Rambam Israel Fellowship Program. Lauren Jones, who hosted the group on AIJAC's behalf, explained that the study tours provided in Israel for public figures, journalists and interest groups give those taking part a better understanding of Israeli society and the challenges faced by the State... Andrew Porter of Melbourne, who is an advisor to the Australian Prime Minister: 'It's amazing to see how you manage to make use of every single drop of water and develop every bit of land. Australia and Israel share some points of similarity and face some of the same challenges, such as the water issue. It's very important to continue to promote cooperation between the two countries in every area'. Ben Morton of Perth, Liberal Party State Director: 'Israel is very different from what I expected. Until now I knew very little about the country, but here I've learned a great deal about the local security and social situation. There are things that can be understood properly only after discussing them with the local people and seeing the places for oneself; this means that it has been a very important for me'. Sally Cray of Sidney [sic], senior advisor to the office of the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP: 'In the area where I work there is a large and active Jewish community with which I maintain constant contact. So, when I heard about the opportunity to visit Israel, I didn't hesitate for a moment. This visit has enabled me to identify with the profound love that Australian Jews feel for Israel, and understand their desire to be involved in what goes on here'. Tim Lisle-Williams, from the office of Mark Dreyfus MP, Federal Member for Isaacs: 'As I work for one of Australia's two Jewish members of Parliament, it was very important for me to visit Israel. I now have a better understanding of the realities of life in Israel and the difficulties the country faces. Australia is a huge country, while Israel is so small - but you don't understand how enormous the difference is until you get here'." (Young leaders from Australia visit KKL-JNF reservoirs,, May 2010)

But the lobby doesn't just hoover up pollie-waffles, there's God-botherers too:

"A group of 34 Australians, comprising 21 Christians and 13 Jews, recently returned from the inaugural Australian Interfaith Israel Tour. Hosted by the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, the aim of the tour was to explore the religious beginnings and relationship between the three Abrahamic faiths and learn from the archaeology, history, politics and sociology of the region. Organiser Dr Philip Bliss said the trip's packed program was aimed at giving people a taste of Israel. 'By providing all the background and the origins and all this stuff, people understood by the end of that 10 days, if not earlier, the psyche of how Israelis think and feel', Dr Bliss said. An important message he hoped participants learnt was not to trust everything in the media and to delve deeper, he said... It was not lost on Dr Bliss that the group arrived in Israel two days after the Gaza flotilla incident. 'It was particularly interesting having that as a living example on how things can get taken out of proportion or misrepresented - and that there's two sides to every picture', he said." (Seeking similarities in Israel, Australian Jewish News, 16/7/10)

Expletive deleted.

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