Zionists Stand Over Australian Politicians

These two articles from the Australian Jewish News, June 21 2003, should be read closely by all Australian patriots and all other persons of good-will who are concerned that the policies of the Middle-East aggressor state - Israel - do not incite war and further terrorism. In these articles, Zionists make various bland matter-of-fact statements and implicit comments on Australian politicians and government:

(i) that there existed bi-partisan support for Israel by both major parties since 1948 with certain hiccups in the Labor Party in the Whitlam years.
(ii) this bipartisanship has broken down over the Iraq war and the Labor leadership should not have allowed it.
(iii) the Executive Council of Australian Jewry tried to persaude Labor back into line.
(iv) criticism of Israel is taken as criticism of the Jewish community.
(v) it is expected that the Labor Party will reel in critics of Israel or the party will lose Jewish support.
(vi) John Howard is to be persauded to support Israel's attempt to destroy Hamas, and by Isi Leibler, no less.
The local Zionists in the so-called Jewish leadership speak and act as Israeli representatives in Australia's domestic affairs.

These articles are hardly unrepresentative of the Australian Jewish News. They are alarming indications of the inter-relationship of Zionism in Australia with Israeli state terrorism and the foreign policy of the country. This situation increases the threat to Australia from Moslem terrorists, yes, but it highlights that the real enemy of peace is Israel. The issue of Australian independence is concerned with the defeat of Zionism in our internal politics.

Crean must reel in backbench

IT is quite conceivable that some Australian Jews will shift their support from Labor to Liberal at the next federal election based on one factor - Israel. The unrelenting public-relations battering which Israel has endured since the intifada erupted 34 months ago has been played out in the Australian parliament, thanks to the federal Labor Party backbench, which appears to have been given an implicit green light under Simon Crean's stewardship.

Crean, who survived a leadership challenge by Kim Beazley this week, has presided over a backbench which blatantly hijacked the parliamentary debate on the Iraq war late last year, degenerating it into an attack on Israel in which Ariel Sharon was accused of being a "war criminal".

A subsequent private member's motion on Israel moved by Labor MPs sparked a bitter exchange which led Liberal MP Chris Pyne to charge that it had shattered "the 54-year bipartisan position that's existed between Labor and Liberal over the State of Israel". More pertinently, it led the Executive Council of Australian Jewry to issue a letter to every federal MP expressing its unanimous opposition to the motion. And then MP Julia Irwin issued a stinging attack against the Jewish lobby, reading out an email which described it as "the most implacable, arrogant, cruel and powerful lobby in the country".

On all three occasions the anti-Israel venom came from the Labor backbench; on all three occasions Crean sat in silence. The Labor leader, who maintains that his party's support for Israel has not wavered under his tenure, should have immediately distanced himself publicly from such sentiments; instead, he chose to speak to Irwin in private.

Whether he was ill-informed or ill-advised is irrelevant; his non-performance was a glaring lack of leadership which was damaging to Israel, to the Jewish community and, perhaps, to Labor at the next ballot.

This is not the first time in recent years that the Labor Party has raised the ire of the Jewish community, despite the long history of Jewish support for the party. During prime minister Paul Keating's tenure, foreign minister Gareth Evans upgraded relations with the PLO in 1992 after the first Gulf War - during which the Palestinians hailed Iraq's firing of Scud missiles at Israel - and criticised Israel's-human rights record during a trip to the Middle East.

But the nadir of relations was arguably when former prime minister Gough Whitlam deeply offended Jewish sensibilities in 1974, sparking a period of frosty relations between the community and the party until Bob Hawke was elected in 1983. Not only was Hawke a great friend of Israel, but he publicly lent his name to the campaign to free Soviet Jews and personally welcomed to Australia a group of 12 refuseniks.

On the other side of the political divide, Prime Minister John Howard has shown his staunch support - politically, diplomatically and militarily - for the State of Israel, and is backed in this regard by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Treasurer Peter Costello.

While Beazley's credentials on Israel are also not in question - he recently visited Israel as a mark of solidarity at the height of the Iraq war and has a deep understanding of the Middle East conflict and Israel's geopolitical situation - the Labor caucus has chosen Crean, whose recalcitrant backbench proffers policies on Israel that differ diametrically to his own and which appears to have swayed Labor from its traditional moorings.

Nor should concern with Labor's wayward direction be limited to its anti-Israel tirades. Issues such as reconciliation and the republic have fallen off the radar during the Howard Government's tenure, arguably another Crean failure.

Similarly, Howard's intransigence on asylum-seekers and the appalling "children overboard" saga did not elicit the strong response which a credible Labor Opposition (then under Beazley) should have mounted.

It is worth recalling that Labor is the party which abolished the White Australia policy, introduced the Racial Discrimination Act and native title, and (in New South Wales) was the first government to apologise for the policy of removing Aboriginal children from their families.

A political shift appears to have occurred within Labor, more by osmosis than by design, and Michael Danby, the only Jewish federal MP, has his work cut out to impress upon Crean the imperative of reeling in the party's anti-Israel chorus.

But if Crean is to shore up support for Labor from the Jewish community, he will also need to provide firm direction on social-justice issues, which are crying out for a strong Opposition voice.

Isi Leibler to question PM on Israel criticism
Bernard Freedman

WORLD Jewish Congress senior vice-president Isi Leibler will question Prime Minister John Howard's criticism of Israel's threat to destroy Hamas when they meet in Canberra next week.

He believes Howard's view - that Israel's threat to destroy Hamas is not sensible, unhelpful and not in Israel's interests - is based on insufficient information.

Visiting Australia from Israel, where he now lives, Leibler told the AJN this week that comments Howard made to Neil Mitchell on Melbourne's Radio 3AW last Friday do not reflect any change of policy or support for Israel.

When Mitchell asked if Israel's threat to Hamas was fair, Howard said: "It's understandable. I don't think it's sensible. Everybody, difficult though it is, has to exercise restraint.

"The hyper-escalation by the Israelis is very unhelpful and I don't think it's in the interests of Israel. It's in Israel's interest to have peace, and that has to be kept in mind.

"For the peace process to succeed, there does need to be a breakthrough, there does need to be a situation where, despite the provocation and despite the retaliation, despite everything that has happened, one side says 'Well I won't retaliate in relation to the latest outrage.'"

Leibler said: "I am going to see the prime minister on Monday week. I believe his statement was based on insufficient information. I don't consider it a change of policy.

"I will convey my views to him. I have been extraordinarily proud of John Howard's approach to the Middle East. I remember three years ago when Howard met Arafat in Gaza, how Arafat made all sorts of promises. Howard assured me then he would stand by Israel, and he has."

Local Jewish leaders share Leibler's view that Howard's comments do not indicate any change in policy on Israel.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Dr Ron Weiser said: "We appreciate that the prime minister thinks Israel's response is understandable. We would expect him therefore also to understand that Hamas would be an obstacle to the 'road map' and that it's not an organisation Israel can be tolerant of."

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jeremy Jones said Howard's comments came across "as someone who is frustrated because he sees hopes for peace diminishing. The comments have to be taken in the context of his very solid support for Israel's right to protect itself against terrorists."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer last week said that Israel "made a mistake to endeavour to assassinate the leader of Hamas with a helicopter attack. And now we've got into the situation we're in.

"The Hamas decision to abandon plans of a cease-fire and to resume hostilities against Israeli citizens was the first real setback to the Aqaba summit," he said.

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