You’d think a politician with Peter Dowding’s record of failure would have the good sense to take his super payout and go fishing. But no, Mr Dowding — forced out in 1990 after only two years as Premier of WA and found by the WA Inc Royal Commission to have “presided over a disastrous series of decisions” and to have placed electoral advantage before the public interest — has decided to re-invent himself as a foreign affairs commentator.
Mr Dowding’s return to the public arena has been provoked by the forthcoming visit of the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to Israel. He sees this as part of a dastardly Zionist plot engineered by me and others to dupe the Deputy PM into compliance with Israeli policies.
I can only assume Mr Dowding doesn’t know Julia Gillard very well, if at all. I doubt anyone has ever duped her into anything and I would certainly not try to do so. She visits Israel, as she visits other parts of the world, to see for herself and make up her own mind. When in Israel she sees who she wants and talks to whoever she likes. There are plenty of critics in Israel of the current Israeli government’s policies including the labor members of the Israel Cabinet (ever heard of Ehud Barak, Mr Dowding?) and no doubt she will talk to them.
Mr Dowding says that I “write off those who believe in meeting Palestinian aspirations to live in some semblance of a homeland with some semblance of dignity, as ranting supporters of terrorism.” This is quite untrue. I have always been a supporter of a two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel. I have never accused critics of Israel of being supporters of terrorism — unless they have actually supported terrorism.
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So does Mr Dowding support or oppose terrorism? It’s hard to tell. He says it’s “a serious issue.” Then he says “but that applies to the terrorism from people with nothing left to lose as well as State terrorism.” What does this mean? That Yassir Arafat, who stole four million euros of EU aid money, had “nothing left to lose”? He had plenty to lose, which was why he rejected President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak’s offer of a Palestinian state in 2004. Or perhaps that the Saudi multi-millionnaire Osama bin Laden is one of the wretched of the earth? In fact terrorists are nearly always well-educated people from affluent backgrounds. They act not out of desperation but out of religious or political ideology.
Next Mr Dowding suggests that Julia Gillard, Stephen Smith and I are unhappy about President Obama’s Cairo speech and that the Deputy PM is rushing off to assure Israel that we don’t agree with President Obama. In fact, I thought the Cairo speech was positive and although I can’t speak for Julia Gillard or Stephen Smith I’ve no doubt they thought so too. There was nothing in it which contradicts Australian policy. President Obama supported a Palestinian state, supporting: “the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” That is also the policy of the Labor Party and the Rudd Government, which I support.
It’s also a policy which I happen to know that most Israelis would support, if such an outcome could be achieved without putting their own safety at risk. They don’t believe that to be the case at the moment, and I don’t blame them. Perhaps when Hamas and Hizbollah stop firing missiles at Israel towns, that view will change.
Coming back to President Obama’s speech — perhaps Mr Dowding missed the part where the President condemned terrorism, saying: “We will relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject, the killing of innocent men, women, and children.” Perhaps he wasn’t listening when President Obama quoted the Quran, saying: “whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.” Perhaps he chose not to hear President Obama say: “Threatening Israel with destruction is deeply wrong.” The President also condemned anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Recently in parliament I identified this criticism (restated explicitly during Obama’s visit to Buchenwald), as a pre-election challenge to the current president of Iran. It is to early to tell whether this subtle American challenge will be as successful as the new US policy in Lebanon with the recent defeat of Hezbollah and particularly its Christian satellite.
Anyone who follows Persian politics knows Holocaust denial has been “front and centre” in the crucial Iranian TV debates. My comments have focused on Obama’s challenge to Persian leaders to repudiate denial’s of the Nazi genocide. This together with the internal economic disaster wrought by Ahmadinejad will hopefully lead to his democratic demise.
The way is then open for the US to diplomatically engage and demilitarize Ahmadinejad’s missile and nuclear build up.
I suggest that Mr Dowding actually read President Obama’s speech and I also suggest that he do what Julia Gillard has done — go to Israel and find out for himself what is going on there. Then he might not waste his time and Crikey readers’ time with absurd conspiracy theories.