Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Bob Carr and Australia’s “Pathetic” Turn Against Israel

December 9, 2012 10:40 am 2 comments

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

In the diplomatic debacle at the United Nations General Assembly pertaining to the vote of recognition to the Palestinian Authority, two countries considered solid supporters of Israel, abandoned us at the crucial moment.

Israel was shocked when Germany abstained, especially as Chancellor Angela Merkel had stated earlier that Germany would vote against the Palestinian initiative.

The other unexpected defection was the last moment abstention of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government, considered a strong supporter of Israel.

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 Menachem 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 was only appointed to his post in March this year. Prior to that he had served for 11 years as Premier of Australia’s largest state, New South Wales.

Ironically, he was once considered a close friend of the Jewish community. He is knowledgeable about Jewish affairs and has a genuine and sensitive understanding of the Holocaust. In 1977, he was a founding member of the Labor Friends of Israel.

He subsequently became a passionate admirer of Amos Oz and appears to have absorbed much of his far left outlook on Israeli affairs.

In 2003, as State Premier, he dismayed the Jewish community and friends of Israel by presenting the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian political activist, Hanan Ashrawi, renowned for her rabid demonization of Israel.

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.

Australia has a long association of friendship with Israel dating back to Australian troops who served in Palestine during both World Wars. Labor leader Dr. H.V. Evatt was UN President in 1948 when the Jewish state was proclaimed and since then until today – with the exception of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam from 1972-1975, – successive Australian governments of all political persuasions, displayed strong friendship towards Israel.

The Liberal (conservative) government under Prime Minister John Howard, which governed Australia for 11 years prior to Labor’s electoral victory in 2007, was especially supportive of Israel and could be compared to the Harper Government in Canada today.

When Howard visited Israel in 2000, I had already made aliya and reluctantly accepted his invitation to accompany his delegation to meet with Arafat. Afterwards he solicited my opinion and I told him that I regarded Arafat as a duplicitous terrorist and did not believe he had any intention of seeking a peace settlement. I recall his response: “Should Arafat ever renege on the commitments to peace which he conveyed today, I give you a clear undertaking that as long as I am Prime Minister, the Jewish community and the people of Israel will never have reason to feel that I let them down”. Howard kept his word and in subsequent years emerged as Israel’s greatest champion amongst world statesmen.

Labor, headed by Kevin Rudd, gained office in 2007 and three years later was succeeded by Julia Gillard. Under both Prime Ministers, but especially Gillard, Labor maintained an evenhanded bipartisan approach towards Israel.

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.

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.

However it is premature to totally write off the Australian Labor Party. It has a long tradition of friendship towards Israel and many of its leaders were distressed with recent developments. Besides, although understandably disheartened, Prime Minister Julia Gillard remains solidly pro-Israel, reiterating her view that this abstention was a mistake and will only serve to embolden Palestinian extremists.

The opposition Liberal Party adamantly supports Israel. Former Prime Minister John Howard described the government’s tilt as “pathetic” and an “embarrassment”.

Elections are scheduled next year and recent polls indicate that the Liberals may win by a landslide.

But unless 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.

The writer may be contacted at ileibler@leibler.com. This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

2 Comments

  • @VinceTalor…Israel that you called the ultimate rogue state brought to the civilized world the inherent protections of human rights based on the Ten Commandments and Judaic Law. Yes the “Palestinians” deserve dignity and to live peacefully and they would have if they stopped indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets into Israeli towns since Israel gave up Gaza and Hamas it took over. After two Intifadas which took the lives of over a thousand Israelis the PA still have never recognized a Jewish state. There are 1.5 million Arab Israelis who have more rights in Israel than all the Arab countries combined. On the other hand the “Palestinian” Arabs have vehemently promised that any Palestinian state would be free of Jews. (Judenrein).

  • The Palestinian people deserve the right to exist as a state, they deserve dignity and they deserve to live peacefully. Israel ought to be ashamed of itself for shamelessly stealing Palestinian land while pretending that its the Palestinians fault for not negotiating. Most atrocious was the recent declaration that they would retaliate to the UN vote by grabbing yet more Palestinian land. The world is finally coming to the realization that Israel is indeed the ultimate rogue state.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports US & Canada Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    Tom Brady: Best Part of My Summer Was Watching Julian Edelman Lather Himself in Mud at Dead Sea in Israel

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may have been bogged down this offseason over the NFL’s “Deflategate” scandal, but he found unusual recourse in images of teammate Julian Edelman lathering his body with potent Dead Sea mud in Israel. Indeed, as Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became the latest celebrity voice to offer directions on the Israeli-developed navigational app Waze, and wide receiver Matthew Slater happily got married, Brady has been facing legal issues after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reaffirmed a four-game suspension for Brady as part of a ball-deflating scandal […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →