It reflected the raw anger and contempt among sections of the Australian public for the way in which the Liberal Party prime minister had been catapulted into office that year, in an audacious totally unexpected and possibly illegal coup involving the peremptory sacking of the Labor Party prime minister Gough Whitlam by Governor-General Sir John Kerr, an event of the "I-remember-where-I-was-and-what-I-was-doing-when-I-heard-the-news" class. and one which still rankles with many Australians today.
From a conservative's perspective, Gough Whitlam, a patrician lawyer of radical bent, was arguably the worst prime minister in Australian history, and, in contrast to Fraser, he was certainly no friend to Israel.
But since leaving office Fraser has changed, shifting ever leftwards, as seen in this recent interview with political scientist and public intellectual Robert Manne, whose journey has been similar. A former blogger here in Australia, a chabadnik, expressed this metamorphosis of Fraser's, which includes being an apologist for Islam, well in 2007:
''Former PM Malcolm Fraser (from 1975-1983) is opening his big mouth again and accusing the present government of using "the politics of fear to damage traditional Australian values". He said this and more in a speech at the Australian National University today as reported on ABC news.
[Fraser] was one of the most right wing PMs we have had and is now reinventing himself as a (small "l") liberal.'In one of my early blogposts, in 2010, I summed up Fraser thus:
'The supercilious Oxford-educated scion of the squattocracy and of a mother of Jewish descent, Una Woolf, Fraser is widely remembered for three things: the controversial manner of his appointment to office, the much-mocked pronouncement that "life wasn't meant to be easy", and the mysterious loss of his trousers in a seedy hotel in Memphis in 1986 when he was chairman of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group. While prime minister he was a hard-headed rightwinger, and in 1975 his Cabinet learned of a plot by Palestinian terrorists to assassinate three prominent Aussie champions of Israel - future Labour prime minister Bob Hawke, communal leader Isi Leibler, and journalist Sam Lipski. Fraser was perceived as friendly to Israel.
Subsequently, however, Fraser - evidently determined to be an elder statesman of international import - reinvented himself as an extreme small-l liberal and a self-righteous exponent of "human rights", founding the organisation Australians All. He sounded off to the embarrassment of his Liberal Party successors, undermining them, especially the estimable and staunchly pro-Israel John Howard. He loftily dismissed widespread public fears of large-scale Muslim immigration, made light of the threat from radical Islam, called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas (thereby earning the soubriquet "Mad Mal of Hamastan"), and rounded on "the Jewish lobby" - yes, he used that very phrase - when Zionist leaders pointed to the flaws in his arguments and questioned the wisdom of his views. He flounced out of the Liberal Party in 2009, condemning its conservatism. Early this year he was quick off the mark to urge the then prime minister Kevin Rudd to expel Israeli diplomats from Canberra in reprisal for the use of four Australian passports by the team believed to be responsible for the assassination in Dubai of the Hamas arms dealer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
Perhaps the kindest thing to be said about Malcolm Fraser is that he should have had the grace and good sense years ago to button his lips and fade quietly into one of those spectacular antipodean sunsets.'Already dubbed by some "Mad Mal of Hamastan", Fraser has reached a new low in his comments about the small valiant beleaguered Israeli nation. Evidently Fraser has been reading, and giving credence to, one of the darkest anti-Israel theories on the internet, as exemplified by this article by British antisemite Alan Hart.
As the Australian Jewish News (which hit the news stands today) reports, during an interview last Friday on ABC Radio Melbourne, when Fraser (plugging his new book Dangerous Allies) was asked by host Jon Faine
'if he agreed [with former Foreign Minister Bob Carr] that “the pro-Israel and in particular Jewish community lobby in Australia wielded too much power”, Fraser responded, “They certainly do.”
When Faine suggested other religious, ethnic and communal groups, like the Italian community, also lobbied the government, Fraser said, “I don’t think the Italian community, just to take one example, try to get us to follow any particular policies in relation to Italy. And that’s the difference … The Jewish community seek to get Australia to support policies as defined by Israel.”
Shockingly, Fraser also wallowed into the muck of conspiracy theory when he said, referring to the USS Liberty disaster of June 1967:
“Israel years ago, during one of the wars, killed 30 or 40 Americans on a spy ship in the Western Mediterranean.
The Americans tried to cover it up. It wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate.”Long-serving Zionist Federation of Australia president and current AIJAC head Mark Leibler is reported as saying:
“To make these allegations about Israel deliberately targeting Americans when there’s no evidence to support it, when successive inquiries by both the Americans and the Israelis have demonstrated that this was an accident, I just think it is appalling beyond description...".The present president of the Zionist Federation points out
“The [USS Liberty] incident was subject to no less than 10 American investigations and an additional three Israeli investigations, all of which found that it was indeed an accident.
If Mr Fraser has a credible source to back up his outlandish claims, then he is duty-bound to reveal it.”Read more here