By Dr. Danny Lamm
In choosing politics over principle, the NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party has moved further down the treacherous path laid out by Bob Carr and his ilk. That path is contrary to the interests of peace for the people of the Middle East and to the values of freedom and liberal democracy for which the ALP purportedly stands.
Seventy years ago, under Labor’s Dr. H. V. Evatt, Australia was at the forefront of the United Nations resolutions which supported the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into two States – one Jewish and one Arab – and which lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.
The Arab governments of the region rejected the UN resolution and in the decades since have fought several wars with the aim of destroying the world’s only Jewish State. They have done little if anything to prepare Palestinian Arabs for statehood, self-government or the establishment of a working civil society that might live in peace with its neighbour.
Under governments of both sides of politics Australia has a proud and admirable record for supporting Israel as the only democratic nation in the Middle East. As a result, Australia and Israel have enjoyed a strong, warm and constructive relationship which continues to this day.
With an eye toward broadening their electoral support in western Sydney, forces within the NSW State ALP are prepared to enter into a Faustian bargain to abandon bipartisanship in favour of the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State, presumably one that would be administered by an undemocratic polity which having had almost twenty years of significant self-rule remains deeply divided and under the pervasive influence of terror groups seeking the demise of Israel.
To be clear, the motion pushed by Carr and his cronies does not demand any concessions from a Palestinian leadership which has repeatedly used terror to achieve its ends, most recently in the call for days of rage to protest the implementation of security measures at the Temple Mount which by any world standard should not have raised an eyebrow let alone a call to murder. The motion does not demand negotiation, it does not demand Palestinian recognition of Jewish Israel and most importantly does not demand renunciation of terror as preconditions for recognition.
We should not forget that the Palestinians are currently ruled in Ramallah by Mahmoud Abbas, a corrupt despot who shuns democracy in the twelfth year of a four-year term, and in Gaza by an equally corrupt proscribed terrorist group, Hamas, which is openly anti-Semitic and calls for Israel’s destruction.
Given what has transpired recently at the state ALP conferences of Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania there threatens a critical mass of votes to change the federal position. The claim of federal ALP politicians that the NSW motion will not impact Labor’s foreign policy ignores the inexorability and wilful blindness of the pro-Palestinian camp of the ALP.
The Jewish community and all others who are truly concerned about the fate of the only real democracy in the Middle East should be alarmed at the swiftness with which it appears that the ALP has sacrificed its support of liberal democratic values over a period of 70 years in favour of the lure of votes in the western suburbs of Sydney.
Credit is owed to those NSW ALP members who stood against this motion, especially Michael Forshaw and Mike Kelly, who had the courage to speak out about this matter on the conference floor.
The result however, is a defeat for values and principle. Supporters of Israel must be forthright in their condemnation of the ALP on this issue because the values we share with Israel – democracy, the rule of law, gender rights, freedom of expression, a free press and an independent judiciary are all things which do not exist under either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. In embracing the unilateral establishment of a Palestinian state the ALP is forsaking its own and indeed Australian values.
This article appeared in the Australian Jewish News (11 August, pg 3)