Danby, at one stage of his career the only Jew in federal Parliament, is (like Foreign Minister Bob Carr, once considered friendly towards Israel) a leading figure on the Right of his party (the ALP), and has been a pro-Israel advocate since his student days.
In his column he condemns what he sees as Carr's manipulative betrayal of Israel, which, he claims involved Carr ringing around keyparty figures to ensure that pro-Israel Prime Minister Julia Gillard (pictured, with Bibi Netanyahu) was undermined.
Writes Danby, inter alia:
"As NSW premier he [Carr, in 2003] awarded the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian ideologue Hanan Ashrawi. As the only major figure in the Australian Jewish community to defend his actions, I used the Voltaire argument, namely his right to say things with which others disagreed....
Parliament last month saw a switch in Australia's stance at the UN creation of a Palestinian state after Julia Gillard's pro-Israel position was challenged and then overturned by Carr and others....
Some caucus members worry about every Palestinian - who is, by aid dollars per capita, the most highly subsidised minority in the world, including $350 million of Australian taxpayer funds.
By contrast, poor gentle Tibet gets little sympathy. More than 80 Tibetans have burned themselves to death in the past 18 months as a result of Chinese oppression.
Tibetans launch terrorist attacks on no one. They acquire no Iranian missiles to attack Chinese cities; they strap on no suicide vests to blow up no children on school buses.
Yet the Tibetans can't get a meeting with our Foreign Minister and they don't get a dollar from the UN.
We avert our eyes when a real power like China crushes under its boot an ancient people like the Tibetans. Yet our Foreign Minister asks of the Palestinian vote at the UN: "How will I explain this on the steps of the mosque at Lakemba?"
Nor are there any caucus resolutions over the 200,000 in the living death of North Korean concentration camps or the 300,000 African Muslims of Darfur butchered by their Islamist government in Sudan.
But the ostensible, domestic motivations for our changed vote are the most troubling aspect of the debate inside the Labor Party during the final week of parliament. It is self-defeating to suggest, as was widely claimed, that voters in western Sydney (who swung against the NSW Labor Party by 30-40 per cent at the last state election) will be influenced by votes at the UN.
Corruption at the heart of both the Left and Right of NSW Labor and the clear lack of infrastructure, particularly in western Sydney, are the real turn-off in Sydney seats. Phoning around, then speaking on the matter and ultimately threatening to speak against the Prime Minister is unforgivable behaviour for any minister in any cabinet government...."Read the entire article here (hat tip: reader Shirlee)
In a recent column in the Jerusalem Post, the internationally-known and widely respected Jewish leader Isi Leibler, for a quarter of a century the dominant figure in the Australian Jewish community until he made aliya over a dozen years ago, also condemns Bob Carr's position, contrasting it with the demonstrated pro-Israel stance of almost all Australian federal administrations (regardless of party) down the years.
Explains Leibler, with justification:
"Much of this historical bipartisanship can be attributed to a vigorous Jewish community, renowned as being one of the most vibrant Zionist communities in the Diaspora. Its leadership has never failed, to speak upand take a principled stand on behalf of Israel when appropriate."Of Carr, he writes in part:
"On a few recent occasions, votes by Australia at the UN appeared to deviate from the norm, but this was rationalized as temporary pandering to the Arabs to solicit votes for elections to the Security Council.
The dramatic tilt against Israel was spearheaded by Foreign Minister Bob Carr who exerted enormous pressure on the Labor caucus and compelled Prime Minister Gillard to backtrack from her decision to oppose the Palestinian initiative. Had she not complied, she would have been humiliatingly defeated and possibly toppled as Prime Minister.
Carr was vigorously supported by former Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, at one time one of Israel’s greatest supporters, notorious (whilst inebriated) for having called on Israel to “nuke” the Palestinians if they failed to halt the terror. Hawke was intimately connected to Israel’s Labor leaders but after Menahem Begin was elected Prime Minister in 1977, he changed his views and today regards Israel as “intransigent”. He was supported by another veteran Labor politician, former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who since retiring from government has been consistently canvassing the Arab cause. Both fervently lobbied Labor ministers to repudiate Gillard’s policy....
Carr visited Israel in August this year meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders including Ashrawi.
On his return to Australia, he raised eyebrows when he dispatched a delegation to Iran to solicit votes for Australia’s UN Security Council candidature. There were also unconfirmed rumors circulating that undertakings were made to the Arabs in return for their support.
His backing of Israel during the Gaza campaign was lukewarm. In the Senate, he made the astonishing statement: “Any response by Israel needs to be proportionate and not lead to civilian casualties. We have on more than a dozen occasions called on both sides to exercise restraint”.
Setting aside the moral equivalence inherent in this remark, he was effectively demanding that Israel – which more than any army in history goes out of its way to minimize civilian casualties – take no action to defend its citizens from missile attacks.
He was even more forthcoming after the UN vote when he proclaimed “I don’t apologize for the fact that Australia has interests in the Arab world. If we had voted no, that would have been a body blow to our interests in over 20 countries. The truth is they all see this as a bedrock issue.” He also dismissed suggestions that the Palestinians intended to exploit their new observer status to initiate charges of war crimes against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
Carr’s change of policy was confirmed when he joined the European bandwagon and hauled Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem over the coals following Israel’s decision to build homes in the Jerusalem suburbs and adjacent areas – which the Bush Administration had agreed should remain within Israel....
[U]nless Gillard succeeds in persuading the Labor Party caucus to change its approach, in the short term Israel should not expect support from Australia under Foreign Minister Carr. Like many of our European “friends”, Carr may continue insisting that his motivations are based upon having the Jewish state’s security at heart and trying to save Israel from itself. But when the chips are down, he will abandon us as he did at the UN General Assembly.""
|A recent scene in Sydney
Leibler also notes a salient demographic factor:
(The number of Jews in Australia is around 100,000.)"With close to 500,000 Moslems now living in Australia, many concentrated in key Labor Party electorates, their influence has impacted on a number of Labor Ministers. Combined with the vehement anti-Israeli orientation of the far left Labor factions, this enabled Carr to persuade the Cabinet to tilt its policy against Israel."
Incidentally, the results of Britain's 2011 Census were announced today.
Of potential relevance to the way politicians react to issues affecting Israel, that Census shows that there are 263,000 declared Jews – and 2.7 million Muslims.