Guest Notes

Jewish notes

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

Bob hawke’s conditional friendship

In Bob Hawke’s recent article (Australian Financial Review, 13 February) he claims that it is a certainty that in the Middle East ‘there can be no possibility of any sort of lasting peace without a settlement of the Israel-Palestinian dispute.’

Let’s look into this proposition. Iran’s incursion into the Syrian civil war had nothing to do with spreading its hegemony into the Syrian-Lebanese region. In propping up Assad’s Alawite minority regime against its Sunni majority and in the process contributing to the butchery of half a million Syrian citizens, Iran only acted out of compassion for the Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia’s and the Gulf States’ concern with Iranian expansion into the peninsula are, of course, a result of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse and nothing to do with Iran’s geostrategic ambitions. Al-Qaeda’s determination to undermine western civilisation and Isis’ dream of a caliphate embracing the entire globe is primarily intended, of course, as support for Palestinians.

The overthrow of the Mubarak and then the Morsi governments in Egypt occurred as a result of failed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and had nothing to do with internal social, political and economic conditions. Iran’s fomenting of wars in Yemen, the tribal anarchy in Libya, civil war in Sudan, strife in Algeria and Tunisia, and unrest in Bahrain all have their origin in the Israel-Palestinian dispute.

The corollary is that, with the solution of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, serenity will spread throughout the Middle East, the storms will recede and brother will embrace brother. It appears that Bob has been overdosing on John Lennon.


Bob then proceeds to his next powerful statement: ‘I am well known as a long-time supporter of the right of Israel to exist as a state behind secure and recognised borders.’

Interesting. Does this imply that his support for Israel’s existence is conditional on secure and recognised borders? We know that in Palestinian Authority schools children are taught to hate and kill Jews and wish to become martyrs. Schools, streets and stadia are named after murderers of children and families. The government rewards the families of dead and imprisoned terrorists with monthly stipends, appreciation for a job well done. Government-controlled media spread anti-Semitic propaganda and encourage attacks on Israeli civilians. And these are the good guys. Then there is Gaza controlled by Hamas with its exterminationist ideology. So much for potential ‘secure borders’.

Furthermore the Palestinian Authority perpetuates the myth of the ‘right of return’. For the Palestinians, an essential term of a peace agreement would require all six million so-called ‘refugees’ to have the right to return to the cities and villages in which their ancestors lived, now in Israel. Any Palestinian leader who betrays this chimera of a ‘right of return’ would have difficulty accessing life insurance.

Hence ‘secure borders’ and a peace agreement are out of the question. As for Bob’s requirement of ‘recognised borders’ we must ask the question: recognised by whom? The lynch mob known as the United Nations, whose Human Rights Council includes the most barbaric war criminals? A Council which passes more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined?

That the recent Security Council resolution to which Bob refers was passed without a US veto only indicates the extent to which the Obama administration betrayed its staunchest ally in the turbulent Middle East. Furthermore, it made no reference to ‘recognised borders’. Which leads us back to Bob Hawke’s support for Israel’s right to exist. He only believes in the existence of Israel ‘behind secure and recognised borders’. So his friendship is conditional. If those conditions are not met, he doesn’t believe in the existence of Israel.

That is an interesting ontological statement. I imagine that most Israelis believe in the existence of Australia unconditionally, secure and/or recognised borders or not. But to Bob, Israel’s existence is on the line. If secure and recognised borders were unattainable, Israel would have to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Bob was once a friend both of the Jewish community and the state of Israel. My wife Ruth and I met him in Israel when he was on his way back from Moscow pleading for the release of Jewish refuseniks. He was also a good friend of my father Isador, of Sol Same and many others in the Melbourne Jewish community. But that’s ancient history. In recent decades, he has expressed nothing but deep disappointment that Israel has let him down.

The above criticism of one of Israel’s sometime friends is in no way my endorsement of the Israeli government’s crazy legislation legitimising the theft of private Palestinian land, a policy which is politically counter-productive and will anyway fall foul of Israel’s Supreme Court: a certain own goal. Nor do I have any sympathy with the proliferation of illegal settlements on disputed land deep in the West Bank heartland. These actions, however unacceptable, are not the cause of the lack of progress in peace negotiations. What Hawke has omitted to mention are the numerous proposals for a peace settlement by sympathetic Israeli leaders: Rabin, Peres, Barak, Olmert, all of which were rejected by the Palestinian leadership out of hand without reply. The ten months cessation of construction that Kerry demanded, and which Netanyahu implemented, resulted in a refusal on the part of Abbas to enter into discussions which would only have exposed his inability to make any tangible concessions given the demand of a ‘right of return’. Fortunately, Bob, Israel does not depend on your conditional approval of its existence.

But Bob’s pièce de résistance is his recommendation that this kleptomanic regime which promotes terror against its neighbours, is in enmity with the authority governing half its population, operating in a land with no agreed borders, should be the next child of that august body, the United Nations. Should fit in perfectly.


Show comments
Close