Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday 22 July 2010

From the Land of Oz - A Tale of Two Malcolms

If you've ever been to the London borough of Tower Hamlets - not the most heimishe of locations nowadays - you may have noticed a large exterior wall clock dedicated to the memory of Minnie Lansbury, who died in 1922 aged 31.  Born to Jewish parents surnamed Glassman, Minnie was a suffragette and popular civic leader, renowned for her compassion for the neighbourhood's poor.  She was the daughter-in-law of George Lansbury, the famous Labour Party leader.  Her widower remarried, and became the father of celebrated actress Angela Lansbury.

     Malcolm Turnbull, the urbane Oxford-educated barrister/merchant banker who led Australia's Liberal Party (the Aussie equivalent of the British Conservative Party) from 2008-9, is the son of Angela Lansbury's cousin Coral, and like his forebear George Lansbury he is something of a philosemite.  He is certainly one of the best friends that Israel has in the antipodes, and the other evening he proved his credentials yet again when during the current federal election campaign he and his two rival candidates for the parliamentary seat of Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs (which he has represented since 2004) addressed the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. A video of all three speeches can be viewed here and there is a a synopsis of them here

Turnbull's unequivocal warmth towards Israel and his profound grasp of the harsh realities that Israel confronts contrasts sharply with the woeful stance of his octogenarian namesake and fellow Liberal Malcolm Fraser, who was prime minister of Australia from 1975-83.  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.


  1. Given Frasers constant criticism of Israel, is he self-hating? Maybe Dhimmi Carters half-Jewish too? (that might explain his obsession with Israel).

  2. Very interesting Daphne, thank you

    Jonathan Hoffman

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Jonathan, I'll post some Aussie fare from time to time. At the moment the Australian Council of Churches and the Boycott is an isue of concern.


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