Nov 11, 2010

Howes on being a ‘critical friend of Israel’ and union embrace of boycott

The Middle East "quagmire" is largely "the fault of Israel", according to Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Antony Loewenstein

Journalist and author

The Middle East “quagmire” is largely “the fault of Israel”, according to Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

In an interview with Crikey, the author of Confessions of a Faceless Man said that he was a “critical friend of Israel” and the ongoing building of illegal settlements in the West Bank was “mad”.

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9 thoughts on “Howes on being a ‘critical friend of Israel’ and union embrace of boycott

  1. davidk

    Israel is an aparteid state. Palestinians do not enjoy the same rights as Israelis. Very simple.

  2. Sophie Black

    Ed: This story originally cited national occupational health and safety unit director Dr Yossi Berger in Victoria in relation to Zionist advocacy conducted in the AWU, this reference has now been removed due to inaccuracy.

  3. Norman Hanscombe

    The debate on Israel is as big a quagmire as the confrontation itself. How does one deal with a situation in which:

    1] The U.N. (because of collective guilt about what had happened to the Jewish people) decided someone must make it up to them, and establishing a Jewish State was the way to do it.

    2] When the grossly outrageous boundaries were drawn up for Israel and Palestine, it was decided the honour of being the ‘someone’ who had to pay would be given to the Arabs.

    3] When the Arabs, unimpressed that their lands should be distributed in an indefensible manner to newly arrived Jews, simply because of an alleged millenia-old real estate deal they’d reached with God, understandably were upset, and went to war for their homes which may not have been given to them by God, but their people had occupied for quite some time.

    4] Anyone feel there’s an obvious answer to the problem, even for such a talented knife wielder as Howes?

  4. Frank Birchall

    Thanks for the detailed piece, Antony. I simply can’t make sense of Howes’ position on Israel — he seems to want to have 5 bob each way (to quote an old aphorism) but the bottom line appears to be ignorant support of the utterly disgraceful West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements. He should be ashamed.

  5. SoAnyway

    It’s bizarre that the Union movement spends so much time and energy debating Israel that it should be devoting to the interests of Australian workers. There are plenty of rogue states to go after, after all. You’ve got to wonder why they choose just Israel. Very small BDS groups are also exerting a lot of pressure, possibly because so many of them are unemployed or retired, and have all the time in the world. I’d like an investigative journalist to attend a few of their meetings, and see what a small handful of cranks these “movers and shakers” really are. You’ve always got to wonder why so many Anglo Australians are projecting their own guilt about living on expropriated Aboriginal land onto Israel. Colonists in glass houses, throwing stones at the traditional scapegoats…

  6. SoAnyway

    Forgot to add I admire Paul Howes for taking a balanced, middle path and resisting far left pressure.

  7. davidk

    @ Soanyway
    I most certainly accept the wrongs done to the aborigines of Australia. I do not project my guilt, such as it is, onto anyone. The fact the Jews have been hard done by in the past is the very reason one might have expected them to act more honourably in this instance. It’s the hypocrisy of their position I abhor. If you were to take a brief look through the history of the last millenia I think you will find it is the perception the west has of the destiny of the land of Israel that has instigated more bloodshed than many other causes ie the various crusades and the ongoing arab responses to same. This is not wholly the fault of the Jews, but they might try a little harder to find a balanced solution and stop provoking further discord by continuing to build settlements and treating the palestinians as second class citizens.

  8. Kevin Herbert

    FRANK BIRCHALL: totally agree with your comments.

  9. Kevin Herbert

    SOANYWAY; so Israel should not be criticised by the Australian union movement..is that what you’re saying?

    You sound like those archetype diaspora Aussie Zionists who use the puerile reasoning that ” Isare may be doing bad rhings, but so are other countries”.

    Do you realise just how silly that sounds.

    Julia Gillard when asked to comment on the IDF’s alleged war crimes in Gaza in 2009, attempted to deflect the question by responding that: “Bad things happen around the world each day”.
    At that precise moment, thousands of Australian voters began briefing against her, including a large part of her own party. Gillard is identical to you & your fellow far right Zionists: ie. no judgement, no substance. She’ll be gone shortly.

    Finally, the BDS movement in Oz is run by decent Aussies from all backgrounds, and including leading members of the Aussie Jewish community. Deligitimisation doesn’t wotrk for Zionist anymore..the game’s up globally for Israel, which is sliding towards a disaster of its own making.

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