4 Nov 2011

Australia Out In The Cold On Israel

By Jake Lynch
By opposing the Palestinians' bid to be part of UNESCO, Australia has confirmed its position on the pro-Israeli fringe of world political opinion, writes Jake Lynch
Australia's opposition to the Palestinians' admission to UNESCO, the UN cultural organisation, shows why some of us want to take this portion of foreign policy into our own hands through boycott, divestment and sanctions. By joining just 13 other countries in the "no" camp, out of 173 to cast a vote, Australia confirmed its position on the pro-Israeli fringe of world political opinion.

Even the US State Department spokeswoman, pressed by an unusually persistent reporter, struggled to articulate one good reason why the move should be seen as harmful to whatever tattered prospects remain for a renewed "peace process" with Israel. 

This "hard core" was even smaller, at seven votes, in the UN General Assembly this time last year, on a motion that:

"Reaffirmed the illegality of Israeli actions intended to change the status of Jerusalem... [and] Reaffirmed [the General Assembly's] commitment to the two-State solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, the Assembly also stressed the need for Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem."

The wording was designed to maximise consensus in favour: nothing in it is at odds with the generally recognised facts of the situation, and the main points of international law. And yet Australia opposed this too, along with the US, Israel itself and those luminaries of the international community, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau.

In this, it is out of step with Australian public opinion, which would favour a more balanced approach. An online Research Now survey of 1,021 Australians last year, by researchers from Griffith University, showed that "The majority (55 per cent) understand the Israel-Palestine conflict to be about ‘Palestinians trying to end Israel's occupation and form their own state'".

The UN General Assembly motion precisely reflects this view — but Australia rejected it.

Earlier, the Prime Minister (then deputy PM), Julia Gillard, characterised 'Operation Cast Lead', the attack on Gaza in 2008-9, as no more than Israel exercising its "right to defend itself". But a separate opinion poll, conducted by Roy Morgan for the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, found that more Australians rejected this view than supported it.

The UNESCO vote came shortly after some 20 academics at the University of Sydney, contacted at short notice, signed a letter objecting to a so-called 'Israel Research Forum' held at the University this week.

The privately funded event was intended to burnish Israel's image through fostering research partnerships with universities including Technion, in Haifa, which — like several other institutions involved — is up to its neck in complicity with weapons manufacturers and the Israeli military.

It's also home to the Samuel Neaman Institute, which in 2009 published the Neaman Report on public diplomacy, commissioned by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It considers how to present and promote Israel abroad, in response to the perceived "problem" of international public opinion about the conflict with the Palestinians. One of its recommendations is to identify "beneficial clients" of public diplomacy including "educational organizations ... active in areas such as professional aspects of technology, industry, agriculture etc".

Coincidentally or not, it was just such areas that were being discussed at the University of Sydney event. One of the objections was that it risked being seen as public diplomacy, based on attempts to "change the subject" away from Israel's breaches of international law and treatment of Palestinians.

Students who attempted to register for the Forum were accepted if they gave "Anglo" names but not if they had Arabic names. Some of the latter were told the event was full, even though they had emailed before some Anglos who were invited to attend: an apparent attempt at racial profiling, which served merely to amplify the existing concerns.

Reports of the event, and the criticisms it received, smoked out familiar objections to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, from supporters of Israel and of Canberra's reflex pro-Israel line at the UN and elsewhere.

Chief among these is: why pick on Israel, when there are much worse abusers of human rights? We do not take matters into our own hands when it comes to dealing with, say, Iran or Syria because (a) neither of them is carrying on an illegal military occupation of someone else's territory and (b) the abuses their governments mete out to civilian protesters and dissidents find no apologists in Australian politics, and are already and rightly condemned by Australian diplomacy.

Neither, by the way, is any other country carrying out a collective punishment of another people, in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is what Israel's continuing siege of Gaza amounts to. Hence the Freedom Flotilla, which has just reached international waters with an Australian, Sydney youth worker Michael Coleman, on board, along with supplies of banned materials.

Why not boycott America? Surely its indiscriminate drone attacks on Pakistani villages, its aggressive invasion of Iraq and long record of exceptionalism make it the obvious target?

In a sense, this campaign is indeed aimed at the unacceptable face of US foreign policy. In structural terms, Washington wants a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians but the record suggests it does not actually want peace. The former creates an 'indispensable' role for America in the Middle East, which is a major strategic asset. The latter would risk negating it.

As France's President Nicolas Sarkozy told the UN Summit in September, when it discussed the Palestinians' bid for statehood, the US-sponsored process has failed — unsurprisingly, since the self-appointed mediator is also the chief arms dealer and diplomatic protector of one of the parties. It serves Washington's interests but not those, ultimately, of anyone else.

That is why the Palestinians have taken matters into their own hands, and that is why we in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement are doing our bit to support them.

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David Grayling
Posted Friday, November 4, 2011 - 10:52

Thanks for this article, Jake! It clearly demonstrates that our Government is out of step with the rest of the world with its pro-Israel, pro-American sentiments.

BDS should be applied to both Israel and America. Both imperial rogue nations seriously threaten the safety of the rest of the world and will undoubtedly pull the rest of the world into an endless war scenario!

Endless war, with nukes in existence, is a recipe for disaster! Let's condemn all warmongers and BDS the bastards out of existence!


Posted Friday, November 4, 2011 - 13:23

Thank you Jake, has been hardly a peep on this in the corporate media.

Source: http://antonyloewenstein.com/2011/11/01/lets-be-clear-australia-has-no-i...

"Let’s be clear; Australia has no interest in helping Palestinians end Zionist occupation

Last night’s UNESCO vote, that confirmed Palestine as a full member, showed just how few nations in the world are true client states of America, craven (hello, Aus­tralia!) or both:

There were 14 “no” votes, 52 abstentions and 107 “yes” votes (there were also 20 Mem­ber States absent):

No: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.

Abstentions: Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Bu­rundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Sin­gapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.

Yes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, India, In­donesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s De­mocratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federa­tion, Sant Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sey­chelles, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Re­public, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Confederated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Niue, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan."

Posted Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 07:57

AxeEugene posted Friday, 04 November 11 at 1:23PM
Thanks for the link.
Putting aside momentarily biased or emotional opinions it would be interesting to get the "real" reasons why the nations who voted 'No' felt that it wouldn't be opportune to take this step "at this point in time".

Posted Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 14:07

I believe to have a base understanding of the good, the bad and the ugly of the ultra conservative Israeli government under Netanyahu.

What I do not understand however are the underlying differences between the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas. What are their respective goals? Is the only unifying aim the "destruction of the state of Israel?


Question: Which countries are opposed on principle to a separate independent state of Palestine. That'll be interesting to find out. Anyone?

Posted Monday, November 7, 2011 - 11:10


We have five major OPINION POLL pushers. The public is being bombarded these days 25 hours 8 days a week. Everyone with their own agenda to push can and often will commission a poll that backs up their cause. When, for example the tabloid Daily Telegraph publishes a poll you can be assured it will to suit their purpose.

Public BEWARE of poll results! Even if the results published appear "reasonable" ask yourself what the impact is and who benefits from it.
Political POLLING have "assisted" in the demise of opposition leaders and the toppling of a serving PM. The somnambulist public generally will take these polls at face value and journalists more and more construct their arguments around them.

The POLL mentioned in this article:

"In April 2009, CJPP and AFOPA (Australians Friends of Palestine Association, Adelaide), commissioned a Roy Morgan RESEARCH POLL seeking Australian attitudes to the Palestine-Israel conflict. The surprising results show that Australians are “reading between the lines of the media bias against Palestine and Palestinians.”

I believe the result and the sentiment expressed in this instance is probably reasonable but just think about it for a moment
1. Do you know what questions were asked and how they were formulated?
2. If the outcome had been "unfavourable", would it have been published or referred to in this article?

Again, be extremely sceptical about OPINION POLLS!

Question: Are there any countries opposed in principle for Palestinian's to gain their independence? I can't think of any!

Correct me if I am wrong.

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 14:59

Whenever you have empires like USA, you get all sorts of strange groups inside and out who seem to be above the law.
Israel appears to be above the law on many issues,
and USA's GDP appears to give it the right to block every attempt by many nations around the world to suspend Israel from the UN,
for its latest abuse.
I've observed the ALP as being as pro Israel as the boring, Tory LP,
so our rejection of Palestine's nationhood request could just be the ALP following the USA like a good puppet, oops I mean Ally.

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 16:26

Sadly tales of my demise are exaggerated.
it seems to me that many comments on line all seem to have one thing in common. There is or seems to be a disconnect between reality and idealism.

Some one once said "morals stands are for those who can afford them or those who are prepared to pay the price" (examinator ;-) )

I wonder how many of those calling our government weak, clones, puppets et al really understand that to do otherwise would not be in *Australia's* best interests?
Ask your self would *you* personally be prepared to pay the price?
The government either side's job is to make decisions for what is in the best interests for the *majority* of Australians.
If you think for a moment that corporate America wouldn't gut Australian exports etc to the US in an instance you are kidding yourselves.
One of the stopping factors is that we are 'friends' .
Simply put most Australians wouldn't support anything that would detrimentally effect *our* way of life.

In short we as a nation can neither afford or are prepared to pay the price of this moral stance.

One can also ask what about all the other peoples whose life is even more precarious? Are YOU giving significant share of your income to *them* their needs are demonstrably more dire why aren't we giving them more help.
We're not exactly bereft of choices.

Me thinks that climbing on the moral high horse and blaming it on the government we are simply passing the buck...emotionally distancing ourselves from responsibility.

Because we know that deep down we know that to do otherwise effectively might cost us personally. Meanwhile thousands of people are dying and millions are suffering.....unnecessarily.

One problem with waving the proverbial placard it raises the questioning "what really are you *doing* to solve the problem?"
Proverbial placard waving per se never saved anyone be that in the Congo er Thailand....it takes action.

Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 16:26

Excellent article.

The Australian Labor Government has trashed Australia's reputation by this consistent support for race-based, racist Zionist-run, genocidal and nuclear terrorist Apartheid Israel.

Just as Apartheid Australia backed US-, UK-, Apartheid Israel-backed Apartheid South Africa (until the Whitlam accession in 1972), so today Apartheid Australia under the racist Apartheid Labor Party Government (that has enforced race-based laws and regulations against Indigenous Australians, Afghan refugees and Tamil refuges) backs US-, UK- and EU-backed Apartheid Israel.

Labor ignores the advice of Australia's most eminent Jewish public figure Sir Isaac Isaacs (the first Australian-born Governor General of Australia) : “The honour of Jews throughout the world demands the renunciation of political Zionism" (1946) and of outstanding Jewish Israeli scholar Professor Avi Shlaim (Oxford University): "brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders" (2006).

Indeed racist Zionist-dominated Labor utterly ignores the advice of a multitude of outstanding anti-racist,humanitarian, anti-Zionist Jewish scholars (see: https://sites.google.com/site/jewsagainstracistzionism/home ) , exclusively preferring the advice of traitorous racist Zionists with a prime loyalty to a race-based , nuclear terrorist rogue state - and to that extent Labor is anti-Jewish anti-Semitic as well as anti-Arab anti-Semitic (12 million dead in the Australia-complicit US War on Muslims since 1990).

There should be Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) not only against Apartheid Israel (see "Boycott Apartheid Israel": https://sites.google.com/site/boycottapartheidisrael/ ) but against the evilly pro-Zionist Murdoch media (see "Boycott Murdoch Media": https://sites.google.com/site/boycottmurdochmedia/) and against the evilly anti-Semitic ALP (aka the Apartheid Labor Party, Apartheid Israel-supporting Labor Party) which is a big threat not just to Muslims but also to decent, anti-racist Jews.

The racist Zionists and their supporters (such as Labor) should be sidelined from public life as have been like racists such as the Nazis, neo-Nazis, Apartheiders and KKK.

Decent anti-racist Australians - whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist etc - should put Labor last (the Libs are just as bad but it is cowardly, racist Apartheid Israel-supporting, Zionist-funded and Zionist-blackmailed Labor that actually knows it is wrong and is utterly betraying decent, anti-racist Labor voters.

Peace is the only way but Silence kills and Silence is complicity.

Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 00:22

Decisions in the last few days that highlight the validity of the Occupy Wherever movement. The 1% dictating to the 99% [symbolic] what is going to happen with or without consent...

The Carbon Tax
Gas Fracking in Qld [As per 4 Corners on Monday]
The Palestinian vote

We need a complete change

Posted Friday, November 11, 2011 - 22:19

You can't just blame the 1% with everything you don't like - the social and political landscape is far more diverse than that - remember you are talking about 99% of the population.