Israel: The Australia Of Our Dreams


Imagine, if it’s not too much of a stretch, that you have a friend. Now imagine that that friend has been the subject of cruel taunting by a local bully. Then imagine that your friend, in an admirable show of defiance, goes to the bully’s house to teach him a lesson, but having no available form of transport, borrows your bike to do so. The bully is duly defeated, your bike is returned, and all is well.


Now imagine that your "friend" is in fact an entire country, and the "bully" is a terrorist organisation, and "borrowing your bike" is in fact forging the passports of your citizens in order to facilitate a covert assassination.

Aha! You’ve just cottoned on to my clever polemical thought experiment.

Yes, for the last few days the news has been aflame with talk of Israel, and the rights and wrongs of forging the passports of Australian citizens for the purposes of Hamas leader-extermination. Stephen Smith, the spinsterly schoolmarm of Australian politics, has come over all self-righteous, denouncing actions and expelling diplomats and having conniptions left, right and centre. "This," he declared, "was not the act of a friend."

Well now let’s examine that, for a start. If it wasn’t the act of a friend, what was it? It wasn’t the act of an enemy. I mean, imagine if Mossad had forged a bunch of Iranian passports to irk them. They would just have looked stupid. That would be a ridiculous plan, and I’m surprised Stephen Smith seriously expected Israel to do it.

Clearly, forging Australian passports is very much the act of a friend; when you’re looking to take advantage of someone’s trust for your own ends, who else do you turn to but your friends? We should be flattered! They didn’t forge Finnish passports. They didn’t forge Chilean passports. They forged Australian passports, and if anything that’s a testament to the quality and good reputation of the Australian passport system. In fact, this could prove to be more lucrative than bribing countries to buy our plastic note technology. Just think how quickly we could reduce the deficit if we hired out our passports for international assassins of all sorts! Exactly the kind of business opportunity our government should be on the lookout for, but usually misses because it’s too busy killing golden geese and electrocuting tradesmen.

But our government’s squeamishness about cashing in on the global political murder boom is really a side issue, and doesn’t get to the heart of the real reason that Stephen Smith has such a ferret in his panties about Israel: jealousy.

Let’s be honest, Australia. You’re angry at Israel … because you want to be Israel.

And why wouldn’t you? Israel is, to be blunt, freaking awesome. Can any of us honestly say that our first reaction to the news of the forged passports was not, "OMG that is so cool!"? I certainly can’t. It was just like the movie Munich, one of the best cinematic representations of Israeli coolness around — the main other being of course the Lemon Popsicle series.

And the thing is, Israel is ALWAYS doing sweet stuff like that. Assassinating terrorists, bulldozing settlements, defying the UN; it is the most bad-ass of countries.

And I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking Australia needs to follow that lead a bit more.

After all, can you see Australia getting all up in other countries’ grilles like Israel does? Next time New Zealand tries to get its tainted apples in, can you see Kevin Rudd being all like, "Oh yeah? Eat missile, biatch!"? Israel would.

Next time East Timor whines about unfair division of proceeds from gas fields, can you see the Aussie Government sending in the bulldozers to knock down all their houses? Israel would.

Can you see Australia, next time it needs a few more fighter jets, swaggering up to America and saying, "Ooh, nice region you’ve got here. It’d be a shame if it were to suddenly become … unstable." Israel would. Because Israel is cool.

The hilarious thing is that Julie "The Iron Question Mark" Bishop actually thinks Australia could do anything as cool as forging passports for nefarious purposes. Australia never does cool stuff. While Israel does all the cool stuff, throwing bombs, ignoring resolutions, demanding massive military aid, goody-two-shoes Australia just mooches around, "making its displeasure known", and "undergoing continuing diplomatic efforts" and "respecting the differences of others". While Israel crashes the party, downs a bottle of rum and sets fire to the swimming pool, Australia stands in the corner, sipping water and telling everyone to chew their food carefully.

Because Australia is all about not making a fuss, being polite, not causing offence. Whereas Israel sees what it wants, and it takes it. Most countries would see not being in Europe as an insurmountable obstacle when it comes to entering the Eurovision Song Contest. But Israel banged on Eurovision’s door, cried, "We’re coming in, ready or not!", barged through, and then — for good measure — won it with a transsexual. When was the last time you saw Australia enter a transsexual in an international music contest? Exactly. Yet here’s the Government condemning others for being cool, when it clearly ought to be apologising for its own lameness: that’s Rudd for you.

It’s true that there have been moves towards being cool in Australia: Paul Keating’s abusive rants; Mark Latham’s tendency for explosive violence; John Gorton’s private swingers’ club. But we’ve always ended up retreating back into dull, teetotal, fairy-cake conformity.

We have to confront the cold, unpleasant reality: Israel is the Batman of geopolitics. Taking the law into its own hands, cleaning up the Middle East, going places the cops won’t go to make sure evildoers get what’s coming to them. While all the time, straitlaced old Constable Australia sits behind his desk, doing things by the book, following procedure, and letting the crooks slip through his fingers.

Sure, you might respect his dedication to the rule of law, but when you bump into Syria in a dark alley, who would you rather have swooping down from the rooftops? Because I can tell you right now, it won’t be Australia handing out the knuckle muffins and launching surgical strikes on the bad guys. It won’t be Australia keeping the Middle East safe for democracy. It won’t be Australia laying the smackdown with its smooth combination of marksmanship and forgery.

It won’t be Australia — but I think it’s time that it was. We could be the Israel of the South Pacific, if only we can harden up a little. Let’s get tough. Lob a few rockets into Port Moresby. Roll a few tanks into Fiji. Let them know we mean business. We could show the world there’s a NEW Chosen People in town.

So let’s stop condemning Israel for living out our fantasies. Let them be an inspiration for a new age of Australian belligerence.

Hey, we’ve already got the passports!

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.