Leading article Australia

Welcome, Bibi

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

Sensible and fair-minded Australians, whether supporters of the Coalition, Labor, One Nation, or Cory Bernardi’s new party (obviously supporters of the Greens don’t fit the description), should all be united in giving visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara a warm welcome to our shores. Whether you approve or not of specific policies enacted by Mr Netanyahu’s government, the fact remains that ‘Bibi’ is a democratically elected leader standing alone in a treacherous sea of despots, mad mullahs, crazed dictators, Islamic theocrats and sadistic barbarians. He has been elected Prime Minister by his fellow countrymen and women on four separate occasions, three of them in a row; a track record none of our own current crop of political leaders is likely to emulate.

The miracle of the democratic and prosperous state of Israel remains undimmed, in spite of – or perhaps partly because of – the horrors that surround it. No other global leader faces the constant aggression on so many fronts that is the lot of the head of the Israeli government. Where our own leaders are often brought down by political opponents and critics in the media, or misjudgements leading to bad polls, that is mere child’s play for an Israeli Prime Minister. The real battles are existential, with enemies within (Islamist-inspired knife-wielding Palestinians) seeking Israel’s destruction, and enemies without (the UN, the EU, the deceitful Obama administration and many more of the international Left from Bob Carr to Kevin Rudd) seeking to delegitimise or destabilise the Jewish state. And that’s before you even begin to worry about your insane Iranian neighbours whose (soon to be nuclear-tipped) warheads are scrawled with charming incitements to obliterate your country from the map.

But under the leadership of Mr Netanyahu, Israel has not only successfully defended itself, but has allowed its citizens to prosper and enjoy the fruits of their ‘start-up nation’ endeavours. Israel leads the world in areas of technology, cyber-security, agricultural innovation and much else. Despite the constant threat of terrorism, Israelis enjoy a vibrant cultural lifestyle in many ways similar to our own.

Indeed, the ties between Israel and Australia go back a long way. In 1917, it was the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade’s brave charge at the Battle of Beersheba that was a key turning point in liberating the Holy Land and Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire, opening the way for the creation of Israel. In 1948, it was Labor leader ‘Doc’ Evatt, who championed Israel’s formation as President of the UN General Assembly. And an intriguing (and somewhat shameful) quirk of our shared history will always be the ‘What if?’ question of the bizarre Kimberley Plan, whereby a group of Jews sought, but were turned down by both Labor and Liberal governments, to establish a safe haven for those escaping the Holocaust in a remote part of Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Mr Netanyahu’s visit will strengthen our ties even further through trade and mutual areas of co-operation, including the signing of two bilateral agreements aimed at advancing – and for once, Prime Minister Turnbull’s favourite word is apt – innovation in research and development between our two nations.

Mr Turnbull is to be praised for his comments in which he lambasted the UN Security Council’s latest shameful anti-Israeli resolution 2334, the subject of a controversial cover of this magazine.

No doubt the usual anti-semitic – oh sorry, we mean ‘anti-Zionist’ – ratbags will scurry out of their ideological rubbish tips to do their best to make Bibi’s welcome as hostile as they can. And no doubt the usual luvvies at the ABC and in parts of the Fairfax press will be only too eager to assist them. Our advice to Mr and Mrs Netanyahu is to do what the rest of us are forced to do on a daily basis: ignore them.

Equally, Mr Netanyahu should smile at, but ignore, the bleating platitudes he will hear emanating from all sides of Australian politics chiding him about ‘settlements’ whilst pledging ‘support for the two state solution’.

With Donald John Trump replacing the unlamented Barack Hussein Obama in the White House, now is the time for Israel to take bold steps, supported by the US, to end the stand-off with the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, an area Jews have lived in for close to 4,000 years, despite a long and bloody history of occupation, forced expulsions and massacres. The ‘one state that everybody is happy with’ comment from Mr Trump was more than just a teasing quip. Israel won two wars against unrepentant Arab armies. Rather than pandering to the aspirations of its vanquished foes for a bastardised Palestinian state that would be nothing more than a launch pad for endless missile attacks, Israel has other options. With the Palestinians having shown over many decades that they will never agree to anything Israel offers, Israel should forget about the ‘two states’ and put its own interests to the fore, until such time as Palestinians are serious about Israel’s security and about desiring peace. Shalom.

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