For decades one of the reflex compliments paid by the Australian Jews to almost any ALP politician has been “friend of Israel”. Encouraged by the emphatic enthusiasm for the Jewish State expressed a few decades ago by Bob Hawke, the pro-Israel Labor mantra continued almost unperturbed by “occasional” unpleasant realities on the (ALP) ground.
An unexpected jolt to our political comfort zone was given by the last ALP Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, a veteran in the “friends of Israel” camp, one no less responsible for the creation , long time ago, of the Labor Friends of Israel. A “simple” statement at a local mosque and decades of “friends of Israel” completely gone.
His opinion that “settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease” is highly contentious. Any implication that the West Bank is sovereign Palestinian territory – something it has never been – prejudges core issues of the peace process that must be negotiated. Here
Considering the faction riddled ALP, Bob Carr’s “right wing” association came as an added shock. Now – blissfully- gone, Carr’s replacement within the Labor Parliamentary structure, Tanya Plibersek, brings with her an even heavier political dowry in respect to Labor’s love for Israel.
Born in 1969 in Sydney, the daughter of Slovenian migrants, Tanya Plibersek was educated at Jannali Girls High. A student of high accomplishments she made Dux before acquiring a BA in Communications at UTS, followed by a MA in Public Policy at Macquarie University. Once she entered the Federal politics her rise to the top echelon of the ALP was meteoric.
After the Labor/Rudd 2007 elections, Tanya Plibersek covered a wide range of Ministerial portfolios from Housing to the Status of Women, Human Services, Social Inclusion to Health. Quite a vast range.
Following Labor’s transition into Opposition, as the new Deputy Leader, Plibersek had the given choice of electing the portfolio she desired. Her choice, Foreign Affairs, came as contradictory one even inside the Labor Party. Apart for the evident lack of previous involvement in the field, one of the observations made was that her open hostility toward Israel may deem her less qualified for an expected more balanced foreign affairs position. This relates to a fulminant anti-Israel rant dispatched in 2002 on the floor of the Lower House. While not her area of portfolio concerns, Tanya Plibersek raged against an “…Israel rogue State…..(whose) ruler ( Ariel Sharon ) is a war criminal…”. Nobody in the then Labor Party objected to her outrageous comments and neither did Tanya Plibersek for over NINE years.
“This leads to hypocrisy. I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders.
The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies.
It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.
Needless to say, the US does not mention the
UN resolutions that Israel has ignored for 30 years;
it just continues sending the money.”
Only by 2011 we heard a faint “recantation” under the guise of something not quite “judiciously” expressed.
Nine years after the offensive remark, Plibersek had , finally, acceded to the “two state” outcome.
Indulgent commentators saw this “change” as a sign of maturity in Tanya Plibersek’s profile. Yet , in 2002 she had been a senior politician already.
Could a slight alteration in rhetoric alter so radically a devout member of the Left wing of the Labor Party?
Could conflicting attitudes and statements regarding Israel from Labor, seen at Bob Carr, but even more disturbing , at that famous Israel passionate Bob Hawke of late , offer the Australian Jewish fold the necessary comfort in seriously considering that there is genuine love for Israel in Labor ?