No one wants to be on the wrong end of a racist rant but more importantly, since so much of modern day racism comes from minorities who would like to see their bigotry protected, the only way through this mess is to allow free speech and discussion. If the decency or the Australian public will no longer protect you, then nothing else will either. This is from Andrew Bolt in a post he titled, Carr is a warning to Jews: the Left is the natural home of the bigot.
Many of Australia’s most prominent Jews face a terrible reality that I’ve warned about for almost a decade: the natural home of the anti-Jewish bigot is now the Left. Too many prominent Jewish intellectuals here have pampered their enemy.
ABC chairman Jim Spigelman concedes the point:
Spigelman: My father was a bit of a lefty from his Polish days because Jews in Poland tended to be on the left ‘cause all the anti-Semites were then on the right. That’s exactly the reverse today.
Throsby: Is it?
And, right on time, former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr takes the stage.
Carr is not an anti-Semite, but his views on the Jewish lobby are absurd and dangerously close to an anti-Semitic trope:
BOB CARR: … And what I’ve done is to spell out how the extremely conservative instincts of the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne was exercised through the then-Prime Minister’s office…. I found it very frustrating that we couldn’t issue, for example, a routine expression of concern about the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank….
SARAH FERGUSON: You’re saying that the Melbourne Jewish lobby had a direct impact on foreign policy as it was operated from inside Julia Gillard’s cabinet?
BOB CARR: Yeah, I would call it the Israeli lobby – I think that’s important. But certainly they enjoyed extraordinary influence. I had to resist it and my book tells the story of that resistance coming to a climax when there was a dispute on the floor of caucus about my recommendation that we don’t block the Palestinian bid for increased non-state status at the United Nations.
SARAH FERGUSON: They’re still a very small group of people. How do you account for them wielding so much power?
BOB CARR: I think party donations and a program of giving trips to MPs and journalists to Israel. But that’s not to condemn them. I mean, other interest groups do the same thing. But it needs to be highlighted because I think it reached a very unhealthy level. I think the great mistake of the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne is to express an extreme right-wing Israeli view rather than a more tolerant liberal Israeli view, and in addition to that, to seek to win on everything, to block the Foreign Minister of Australia through their influence with the Prime Minister’s office, from even making the most routine criticism of Israeli settlement policy using the kind of language that a Conservative Foreign secretary from the UK would use in a comparable statement at the same time.
Carr is not wrong to say there is a Jewish lobby, or Israel lobby, just as there are other ethnic and religious lobby groups, including Aboriginal ones. The Jewish lobby is more organised that most, and on certain issues speaks with more unity than most, too.
This can come with a risk, as we now see in the debate over the Abbott Government’s plans to reform the Racial Discrimination Act to allow more free speech. Jewish community leaders have been the strongest opponents of this change, and base much of their argument on an issue of particular concern to Jews: that such a change would permit Holocaust denial. I suspect most non-Jews also loathe Holocaust deniers but would not be so quick to say they should be gagged by law – and that the rest of us should be gagged from arguing other propositions as a consequence. The danger here is that Jewish leaders are seen to be arguing for an illiberal ban to the benefit of their own community, but at the cost of the wider one. Such tribalism comes at a risk in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith nation.
I think it is fair to make these points. But Bob Carr’s comments go further – dangerously further.
He is singling out the “Israel lobby” as having had a more “unhealthy” influence than other such groups in that it had “influence with the Prime Minister’s office” under Labor, seeking “to block the Foreign Minister of Australia” from aiding Palestinian interests. This influence, claims Carr, is exercised through “party donations and a program of giving trips to MPs and journalists to Israel”, trips which indeed both Gillard and I have received.
Here is where Carr oversteps.
Carr completely ignores the reality that many supporters of Israel in the case he raises have not been bought, bribed or otherwise influenced by “unhealthy” lobbying, but have reached their opinion by judging on the merits of the argument. They see a democracy threatened by terrorism, an open society challenged by a closed one, and they decide accordingly. Yet this difference of opinion is portrayed by Carr as just the evil product of “unhealthy” Jewish influence peddling.
It is a joke to believe Gillard as prime minister could be further influenced by the offer of trips from Melbourne Jews. Politicians and journalists are also offered trips to the Muslim Middle East, yet Carr does not declare those “unhealthy”.
And how much influence did those Melbourne Jews have really? Carr boasts that he actually defeated Gillard on the issue by leading a caucus revolt against Gillard’s position.
That raises Carr’s dangerous double standards – to decry a “unhealthy” a Jewish influence he defeated while saying nothing about the more troubling Muslim influence to which he surrendered – and Labor with him.
Labor politicians have done dangerous favors for Islamist extremists like Sheik Hilali, revoking moves to throw him out in exchange for votes, but Carr has not criticised that as “unhealthy”. Labor made a politician of a Muslim ethnic boss and supporter of the Syrian dictator in exchange for votes, but Carr did not say this was “unhealthy”. Nor did Carr say it was “unhealthy” when even Liberal Prime Minister John Howard appointed a Muslim Community Reference Group to advise him – one third of whose members were supporters of the pro-terrorist Hezbollah.
Carr did not denounce this “unhealthy” influence, either:
Australia’s senior Islamic cleric threatened to withdraw community support for federal Labor in Western Sydney if union leader Paul Howes replaced Bob Carr in the Senate, a leaked email reveals.
The email, written on behalf of the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, by his chief political adviser, accused Mr Howes of a “blind bias for Israel” and said that if he was appointed to the Senate, community support for Labor that was mustered for the federal election would be withdrawn.
The email was sent to MPs and officials on September 9… Mr Howes, the national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union, withdrew from the contest …
Note that the Mufti has shown support for Hamas.
But let’s talk about the truly unhealthy influence in the very case Carr discusses – a bid by Palestinians for greater recognition.
Labor ditched Israel in that instance not so much out of principle but out of Labor self-interest. As former Labor speech-writer Troy Bramston wrote at the time after talking to the players, Labor feared the influence of the Muslim lobby and the votes it could muster in key Sydney marginal seats:
And, critically, there is the growing Muslim and Christian make-up of several key western Sydney Labor seats, which have exposed MPs to different points of view on the Middle East.
Some sections of the party suggest Victorian Labor is too close to the Israel lobby and does not fully understand the underlying changes in Sydney’s outer suburbs.
Did Carr denounce that “unhealthy” influence? No. He in fact was among the first to give in to it:
BUT of all reasons given, the worst and most repeated was as the Daily Telegraph said: “NSW Right MPs … were more concerned a no vote at the UN would offend Middle East and Muslim communities in their fragile southwest Sydney seats.” The Sydney Morning Herald heard the same: “Many MPs in western Sydney, who are already fearful of losing their seats, are coming under pressure from constituents with a Middle East background.”…
Carr reportedly stressed “the electoral problems in Sydney” to Gillard, and The Australian reported the “demographically challenged” Water Minister, Tony Burke, insisted on not rejecting the Palestinian resolution.
Burke’s “demographic challenge” is that the proportion of Muslim voters in Watson, his Sydney seat, has rocketed to an astonishing 20 per cent… In fact, of the 20 seats with the most Muslim voters, Labor holds all but one.
That’s why Carr’s attack on the Jewish lobby is so sinister. He exaggerates its power, falsely assumes those who agree with the lobby have been bought, and meanwhile is silent on the rise of more troubling lobby that has influenced Labor – the Muslim lobby, which includes supporters of extremists.
Something sick is at work in the Left. It’s not just Jews who should be alarmed.
What a disgraceful breach of confidence and a shameless betrayal:
Bob Carr has published private text messages between himself and Julia Gillard to reveal the “extraordinary” level of influence the pro-Israel lobby had on the former prime minister’s office.
In a remarkable disclosure of private conversations, Mr Carr said he chose to publish the text messages in his book – Diary of a Foreign Minister – without getting Ms Gillard’s permission, because to do so was in the national interest.
Carr wasn’t the foreign minister of Australia, seeking to advance the nation’s interests. It seems to me he was merely an embedded journalist, seeking material to advance his own.
Reproducing private text messages, Mr Carr suggests Ms Gillard’s support of Israel was so immovable that she would not even allow him to change Australia’s vote on what he considered to be a minor UN motion.
“Julia – motion on Lebanon oil spill raises no Palestinian or Israel security issues. In that context I gave my commitment to Lebanon,” Mr Carr writes in a text message.
“No reason has been given to me to change,” Ms Gillard reportedly replies.
“Julia – not so simple,” Mr Carr responds. “I as Foreign Minister gave my word. I was entitled to because it had nothing to do with Palestinian status or security of Israel.”
Ms Gillard shuts him down in a final terse message: “Bob… my jurisdiction on UN resolutions isn’t confined to ones on Palestine and Israel.”
Mark Liebler responds, during an aggressive interview with Tony Jones:
Just unpick for a moment what he’s saying. He’s talking about the Jewish lobby, he’s talking about a difference of opinion between him and the Prime Minister. Why can’t they have a difference of opinion on a matter related to Israeli policy? No, if there’s a difference of opinion, the Prime Minister has to be controlled or influenced by someone. So the Prime Minister has to be wrong ‘cause she’s controlled by the Jewish lobby. How does the Jewish lobby control the Prime Minister? Through donations to the ALP and sending people to Israel. I mean, give me a break. I mean, would anyone sort of seriously accept that? I mean, I’m very flattered.
By the way, the Jewish lobby he’s referring to is the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He’s referred to it in The Australian newspaper, so he’s referring to me directly. But, you know, as flattered as I am, this is really a figment of his imagination. I mean, Julia Gillard is an independent-thinking woman. She can come to her own conclusions without being influenced by the Jewish lobby and I suppose the Jewish lobby, according to Bob, … has the current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, under its influence. After all, he’s adopted a very pro-Israel attitude.