31 October 2014

Australian Jews remember tumultuous relationship with late former PM Whitlam

From an article published 27 Oct 2014, by Dan Goldberg:

Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam, former prime minister of Australia who died October 21, 2014, seen in 2007. 
Photo by AFP

The reaction of Jewish community leaders to the death last week of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was telling – not so much for what they said but for what they didn’t say.
... Whitlam’s tenure marked the nadir in relations between the government and the Jewish community since 1948.
Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said: 
“On matters relating to Israel, including the introduction of the so-called ‘even-handed’ policy, the Jewish community was rightly disappointed with, if not hostile to, Whitlam’s attitude and actions.”
Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, said: 
“He had what was at times a tumultuous, disappointing relationship with the Jewish community, with his somewhat cynical and indifferent ‘even-handed’ approach when the survival of Israel was at stake during the difficult period of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.”
According to Sydney-based historian Dr. Suzanne Rutland, 
“Whitlam sought to completely change the direction of Australia’s foreign policy, moving from the United States orbit towards that of the Communist and Third World powers.”...“This change of direction affected his policies … seen most clearly in his constant criticism of the Jewish lobby and his strong support for the Arab lobby.”
As a result, under Whitlam, Australia’s voting patterns at the United Nations changed, he moved to establish an Arab League office in Australia, and developed contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
But it was Whitlam’s failure to condemn Egyptian and Syrian strikes on Israel during the Yom Kippur War that infuriated Jewish leaders, prompting a delegation to arrange a meeting in Canberra.
“At first he refused,” one of the delegation recalled this week. “We were outraged.”
Whitlam then agreed, and a 10-strong team went to Canberra. But the PM “point blank” refused to meet all the delegates. Isi Leibler, then a Jewish leader in Melbourne who now lives in Israel, “had a stroke virtually on the spot.”
Two or three members eventually met with the PM, but relations remained lukewarm at best.
In 1974, Whitlam was invited to a pre-election breakfast in Melbourne that was “supposed to be a rapprochement,” according to Isi’s brother Mark Leibler, a veteran Zionist leader.
Question time was a heated affair, which has since become infamous in the annals of Australian Jewish history.
“Why is it that during the Yom Kippur War you said nothing until the Americans started rearming the Israelis,” Mark Leibler recalled a colleague asking the PM.
Famous for his abrasive style, Whitlam reportedly retorted: “You people have to realize there’s also a big Arab Christian community here too.”
The Iraqi affair
Revelations later emerged that Whitlam had proposed taking a $500,000 donation from the Iraqi Ba’ath Party to help finance his 1975 election campaign. As a result, one of his ministers resigned, saying: 
“It would be inevitable for the Australian Jewish community to regard any such money as blood money that might be paid for, ultimately, in Israeli blood.”
...One senior community leader who declined to be named [said]: 
“I have a lot of things to say about Gough Whitlam that are negative. But there is an old saying, do not speak ill of the dead.
Another added: 
“Gough Whitlam was a friend [of the Jewish community] till he got elected.”
Just months before his 1972 election, Whitlam was the keynote speaker at the Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration in Sydney.
“He made a promise there that if elected he will be the first serving Australian PM to visit Israel,” recalled Joachim Schneeweiss, who became president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in 1976. “It was the sort of promise he made thinking it would enhance his chances [of election].”

Whitlam, who had visited Israel before and after the Six-Day War, never followed through on his promise.

30 October 2014

WA Senator Glenn Sterle Condemns Maverick Melissa Parke

From a Post by Senator Glenn Sterle, 31 Oct 2014:

"I rise to condemn the recent remarks from the Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke...."

Senator Glenn Sterle.
Senator Glenn Sterle

Yesterday I stood in the Senate to rearticulate that the Labor Party opposes the BDS campaign. It has no place in our society. I stand for engagement with Israel on every level. Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved by parties negotiating a mutually beneficial outcome. Labor does not regard the BDS campaign as contributing to this outcome.

Palestinians DON'T Support the boycott and divestment movements against Israel

From JewishVirtualLibrary Myths&Facts, by Mitchell Bard:

In an effort to delegitimize, isolate and ultimately destroy Israel, organizations around the world have called on universities, governments, labor unions and co-ops to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (termed the BDS movement). Supporters claim that international pressure through the BDS movement will help the Palestinian people achieve independence.

However, BDS advocates do not support a Palestinian state coexisting beside Israel, do not help individual Palestinian businesses and do not represent the views of the Palestinian Authority or even most Palestinians living in the territories.

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told South African journalists,
"We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself. We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel." 
Palestinians actively engage in trade with the Israeli government. 
The Palestinian Authority shares a variety of cooperative agreements with Israel in nearly 40 spheres of activity, from joint security measures to environmental protection and conservation. In 2008, Israel's Histadrut labor union signed an agreement with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions to advance common goals and build fraternity. In August 2012, then-PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed a series of bilateral trade agreements that took effect January 2013 and marked an important step in bolstering economic ties between Israel and the PA.386 Overall, Israeli-Palestinian trade (import/export of goods & services) totals nearly $4 billion annually.

Palestinians also work with Israelis in business and industry. 
In September 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to increase the number of work permits - to 40,000 - for Palestinians in the territories who work for various companies inside Israel proper. What is especially ironic is that while the PA's leaders constantly complain about Israeli settlements, at least 30,000 Palestinians work in those settlements, helped construct them or supplied some of the building materials. A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that Palestinians working for Israeli businesses are paid more than twice the salary that their peers receive from Palestinian employers.

An article in the Palestinian Authority mouthpiece, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Israel was praised for its treatment of Palestinian workers. "whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers," the article noted, "they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers" because "the salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers" in the West Bank. Furthermore, the paper reported "the work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers."

An Arabic TV broadcast on Al-Hura also reported on the positive relations between Israeli employers and Palestinian workers. "There are 10 large industrial centers in Judea and Samaria, in which some 15,000 Palestinians work side by side with Israeli employees," according to Aryeh Savir of United With Israel. "At Barkan alone, 3,000 Palestinians are employed together with 3,000 Israeli employees. They work together, earning the same wages, enjoying the same social benefits, vacation days and pensions as prescribed by Israeli law. They go on trips together. Coexistence between the two peoples happens here, and all are awarded with a good and respectable livelihood."

Moreover, Palestinians invest in Israel.
Statistical data from 2011 shows that private Palestinian investment in Israeli companies - notably hi-tech and industry - amounted to roughly $2.5 billion, more than double the Palestinian investment within the West Bank. For example, Hani Alami, a leader in the Palestinian telecommunications industry, bought 30 percent of the Israeli company Alvarion. Israeli Arab Hisham Adnan Raya, a construction magnate, was an angel investor in the Israeli web design company Webydo.

Ironically, the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, does not personally boycott Israel - he obtained a Master's Degree and, since 2009, has been pursuing a Doctorate at Israel's Tel Aviv University. He is just one of thousands of Palestinians who study at Israeli colleges and institutions.

While BDS advocates try to paint Israel as a demonic country practicing the type of discrimination associated with old South Africa, tens of thousands of Palestinians enjoy the benefits of working, studying and investing with Israelis. Their livelihoods and good relations with their Israeli neighbors are threatened by misguided European efforts to punish Israel for settlement construction and the broader BDS campaign, which begs the question: If Palestinians don't support BDS, who does the movement represent?

Melissa Parke is a maverick

From J-Wire, 30 Oct 2014:

...following the pro BDS speech by Fremantle MP Melissa Parke in parliament this week ...Michael Danby, MP for Melbourne Ports and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition said 
‘the Labor Party opposes the BDS campaign. The Leader of the Opposition, the Honourable Bill Shorten, has repeatedly reaffirmed this position.'
‘In a speech to the Zionist Federation of Australia on 30 March he stated 
“I also want to register my profound opposition to those promoting an anti-Israel boycott.  I reject it.  It has no place in our universities and it has no place in the commercial marketplace. I stand for engagement with Israel at every level”. Peace in the Middle East will only be achieved by the parties negotiating a mutually equitable outcome. Labor does not regard the BDS campaign as contributing to this outcome.
Michael Danby, the federal member for Melbourne Ports said

‘Melissa Parke is a maverick. Her views represent no one except her own. 
Anthony Albanese, the leader of the ALP’s left, led a campaign of opposition to the BDS together with his wife Carmel when they faced down the Green political party at the recent NSW State election. 

Danby said 
...Can I remind you that the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, has said on a number of occasions that he wants an end to the Jewish state. His BDS movement is not an opposition to settlements, it’s an opposition to Israel’s existence.
Omar Barghouti:  
‘Going back to a two-state solution, beside having passed its expiry date, it was never a moral solution to start with.’ … ‘Good riddance. The two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is finally dead. But someone has to issue an official death certificate before the rotting corpse is given a proper burial and we can move onto a unitary state where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.’
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek said: 
“We don’t support it at all. And we think it’s a very clumsy way of making a point, frankly.”
Executive Director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim told J-Wire:
“Not even Lee Rhiannon was prepared to present the BDS petition to the Federal parliament when she was asked to do so in August.  But it seems that Melissa Parke has become even more extreme in her anti-Israel views than Lee Rhiannon.  
She has also foolishly quoted ex-UN official Richard Falk in support of her position.  Falk is primarily known as a fringe “9/11 conspiracy theorist”, and has been widely denounced, including by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”  As noted by the British government’s Equality and Non-Discrimination Team, Falk’s recent writings are “resonant of the longstanding antisemitic practice of blaming Jews (through the State of Israel by proxy) for all that is wrong in the world.
No country is perfect but to condemn democratic States like Israel and Australia with the “apartheid” tag is ludicrous, and an affront to those who suffered under the real thing in South Africa.
Every one of the parties represented in the Federal parliament and in the State or Territory parliaments supports Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, free from military and terrorist attacks and the threat of such attacks....They have all rejected endorsement of the anti-Israel BDS campaign in their policy platforms, and leaders of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens have denounced BDS publicly more than once.
More importantly, despite criticisms of Israeli government policies and practices, whether well-founded or not, most Australians have shown no tolerance at all for the fringe groups that have picketed chocolate shops, university centres that try to censor Israeli academics or local councils that are inclined to spend rate-payers money on anti-Israel crusades.”
Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek have been right to publicly dissociate themselves and the ALP from Ms Parke’s ill-considered statements.

28 October 2014

Melissa Parke positions herself on the fringe

From The Australian, 29 Oct 2014, by Christian Kerr:

LABOR leaders have distanced themselves from Fremantle MP Melissa Parke after she broke ranks with party policy and called on Australia to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against “apartheid” ­Israel and quoted a 9/11 “truther” to back her stand.

“BDS is a perfectly acceptable form of protest,” the former UN lawyer told parliament in a speech she admitted would “likely not be popular”, tabling a petition urging Australia to join the movement.

....in defence of BDS....Ms Parke quoted former UN special rapporteur for the occupied territories, Richard Falk, who was rebuked by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in 2011 for “preposterous” remarks asking if the September 11 terror attacks had been orchestrated by the US government....

Her stand was immediately rejected by the Opposition Leader. “Labor’s position on this matter is clear,” Bill Shorten’s spokesman said, pointing to a speech earlier this year when Mr Shorten said: “I stand for engagement with Israel at every level.”

A spokesman for deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, who is overseas, said any suggestion the US government was involved in 9/11 was “utterly abhorrent”.

A spokesman for Ms Parke said she was unaware of Professor Falk’s 9-11 comments...

The BDS campaign is aimed at destroying Israel, not promoting peace between Israel and its neighbours. By supporting it, Parkes places herself outside serious politics.

It is a product of the NGO Forum held in parallel to the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa , which was marked by repeated expressions of naked anti-Semitism and condemned as such by the United States government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson.

The Forum’s final declaration established an action plan—the “Durban Strategy”—promoting “a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel . . . the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel”

According to BDS proponents, if South Africa was worthy of a boycott and sanctions campaigns that eventually led to the downfall of that despicable system, “Israel should be subject to the same kind of attack, leading to the same kind of result..."

While some proponents of BDS may be well-meaning, the campaign certainly provides cover for anti-Semites to disseminate their hatred.

Education Minister Pyne suggests that the BDS campaign has made anti-Semitism fashionable .
Here in WA, a BDS campaign activist was jailed for 3 years under the Racial Discrimination Act.

14 October 2014

Australian Islamists plot Australia's downfall

From The Australian, 15 Oct 2014, by Anthony Klan:

MORE than 200 people packed the headquarters of hardline Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir in Sydney’s west last Friday night to cheer as the group’s local head called for the overhaul of Aus­tralian society into an Islamic totalitarian state — while relying on the nation’s democratic traditions to achieve that goal.
...Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is estimated to have as many as one million members worldwide, states as its aim to replace the “corrupt society” of Western countries “so that it is transformed into an Islamic society”.

The group made headlines last week when spokesman Wassim Doureihi appeared on ABC’s Lateline and continually refused to condemn terrorist group Islamic State, despite repeated questioning from host Emma Alberici.

Mr Doureihi dodged the question when asked whether he was “outraged” by images of a seven-year-old Australian boy “holding up severed heads like trophies” in Iraq or Syria.

At Friday’s public lecture, “The War to End a Blessed Revolution” — in reference to the foreign campaign against Islamic State in Syria — Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Australia head Ismail Alwahwah called for a “new world order” and said he was willing to “sacrifice everything” for the group’s goals.

Underlying the hardline nat­ure of the group, the audience chanted in unison in response to regular screams of “Takfir” from an audience member throughout the presentation. Takfir is a highly evocative term used by Muslims accusing other Muslims of apostasy, or being unbelievers, because they hold less radical interpretations of Islam. It is also used against non-Muslims.

...Tony Abbott has said the government will “have another look” at Hizb ut-Tahrir after the new anti-terror laws are introduced to see if it should be banned as a terrorist organisation.

While Friday’s lecture raised a number of reasonable concerns, such as the deaths of Muslims in the Middle East as the result of foreign actions, Mr Alwahwah’s lecture often wandered into rambling territory and much of the logic was counterintuitive.

Despite seeking the abolition of democracy and the imposition of a totalitarianism Islamic state in Australia, the group relies on Western democratic concepts and railed against its perceived wind-back of freedoms under the new anti-terror laws.

The group bemoans the fact the new laws would bring about “restrictions of rights to a lawyer”, and would allow for computers to be “hacked without a warrant” and for people to be stopped “randomly in the street”. “Nobody likes to be victimised, targeted, oppressed,” says Hizb ut-Tahrir’s website.

Mr Alwahwah repeatedly said he was open to have his opinions changed if presented with a convincing argument. When presented with simple questions, like his spokesman Mr Doureihi, Mr Alwahwah refused to respond.

Non-Muslim audience member Alison Bevege repeatedly asked what the penalty for her would be for apostasy, being a non-Muslim, under Hizb ut-Tahrir. Mr Alwahwah refused to answer directly and went on to speak about Muslims killed in the Middle East at the hands of foreigners.

Mr Alwahwah said he would have a “conversation” with Ms Bevege later.

Many Islamic scholars consider apostasy a crime, with several stating it was punishable with the death penalty.

Mr Alwahwah’s response to the question was similar to that of Mr Doureihi, who told Lateline that if she wanted answers to her questions regarding Islamic State, “you have my number”.2