...Albert Dadon is a Melbourne Jewish lobbyist. He has sought to influence Australian prime ministers and cabinet ministers on both sides of politics. He counts Kevin Rudd as a friend and Tony Abbott as well. He briefly came to prominence for giving a job to Tim Mathieson, Gillard’s partner. For all these things he is unapologetic. And for Carr, he has polite yet powerful scorn.
“What he is trying to do is limit the rights of any members of the Jewish community to have any influence on the political process ...We have no apology to make to Mr Carr or to anyone for being part of the fabric of this society where we have a voice and influence in public debate. Everyone from car companies to cigarette companies to anything is trying to have some sort of influence and input in government. So why should we apologise for having a certain outcome by government?.. as Carr’s reflections from Diary of a Foreign Minister gain circulation, there is near uniform condemnation of his accusation, repeatedly put throughout the book, that a particularly conservative Melbourne Jewish lobby had excessive influence over Gillard and “Likudniks’’ — named after Israel’s ruling centre-right Likud party — in her office, and the ALP Victorian Right faction led by Shorten and Conroy.
There are no apologies to be made and the fact he is singling us out with a finger is reminiscent of a certain era when Jews were limited in having a voice in political debate. On that side, I am very uncomfortable with what Mr Carr is saying.’’
Most observers have interpreted Carr’s claims as aimed at the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, which publishes the Australia Israel Review, and AIJAC chairman, Mark Leibler.
“He’s referring to me directly...But, you know, as flattered as I am, this is really a figment of his imagination.’’In a statement released yesterday, AIJAC said Carr’s comments were sad and
“Mr Carr’s spurious allegations that the lobby held ‘extraordinary’ and ‘unhealthy’ sway over the views of former prime minister Julia Gillard and her office shows her a distinct lack of respect... Ms Gillard was an independent-thinking prime minister who is fully capable of coming to her own conclusions about optimum Australian foreign policies, as is Mr Carr.The same point was made by Robert Goot, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
“The fact that some of her conclusions on promoting Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation were different from Carr’s is no more evidence that she was under the influence of ‘unhealthy’ pro-Israeli lobbying than Carr’s views are evidence that he is under the ‘sway’ of Australia’s several pro-Palestinian lobby groups.”
“These claims border on conspiracy theories which make for salacious gossip and help to sell books, but bear no relationship to reality... Bob Carr’s suggestion that there has been anything untoward in the way Jewish community organisations have conducted their advocacy, as we do openly in a democracy like many other organisations, including Palestinian advocacy groups, is as bizarre as it is misconceived.’’[Michael] Danby [Member for Melbourne Ports], who is Jewish and a strong supporter of Israel...believes Carr’s views are less representative of political miscalculations than anti-Israel bigotry.
“No lobby in Australia, I understand, has that kind of influence. It’s laughable..."... Carr’s Diary of a Foreign Minister recalls how these divisions played out in November 2012, when the Australian government was confronted with how to vote on a UN resolution to elevate Palestine to observer state status.
Carr was frustrated and gloomy. ...Carr was overruled on issuing a statement on “condemning” Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and Gillard rejected his idea of supporting an Egyptian proposal for a nuclear-free Middle East. And she was steadfast in rejecting Carr’s plea not to oppose the UN motion on Palestine status.
Carr, having been NSW premier for a decade, opposition leader for seven years prior and schooled in the winner-take-all Tammany Hall-style NSW Right political machine, did what he had done all his life: the numbers. He decided to roll the prime minister.
The culmination of the campaign came in the cabinet room on November 26, 2012. The day before, Conroy had told Carr, sitting next to him in the Senate, that his position on Palestine was “monstrous, a betrayal, a deceit”. There was talk of binding the national Right faction behind Gillard’s position. “I think you might find the NSW Right takes a different view,” Carr told Conroy.
Gillard opened the discussion in cabinet on Palestine observer status and asked Carr to “give an account of the pros and cons of the options”, he wrote in his diary. Gillard then asked for comments. One by one, ministers launched into Gillard and opposed her position. Nine in all spoke against Gillard.
It became a showdown between the Victorian Labor Right — critical to Gillard’s hold on the prime ministership — and the NSW Labor Right. These two groupings had rarely seen eye to eye, but on this occasion the NSW Right was joined by the Left’s Anthony Albanese, Martin Ferguson and Mark Butler, and the Right’s Simon Crean and Craig Emerson, the latter a staunch Gillard loyalist....
Only Shorten and Conroy spoke in support of Gillard.
The next morning, Carr woke just before dawn.
As the Labor caucus swelled with speculation a vote against Gillard could precipitate a leadership crisis, they met in her office. He told her she faced defeat in caucus unless she supported the motion to abstain on the UN vote. “I saw fear dance in her eyes,” Carr wrote. Gillard relented, knowing he had arrayed the numbers against her, and backed a caucus motion to abstain the UN vote.
Whatever the influence of the Melbourne Jewish lobby, or any other on caucus at the time, the falafel faction folded.