The World

Apr 3, 2018

Australia’s silence on Gaza killings part of our knee-jerk support for Netanyahu

While condemning every killing of an Israeli by terrorists, Australia can't bring itself to say a word when Israeli soldiers deliberately kill unarmed protesters.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Australian government has a strong record of condemning killings in Israel and Palestine. "Shocked by the brutal killing of Itamar Ben Gal, a father of four, near Ariel today. Such violence and terror cannot be justified. Heartfelt sympathies to his family and loved ones," tweeted Australia's ambassador to Israel Chris Cannan in February, after the murder of a rabbi from an (illegal) Israeli settlement in the West Bank in February. "Appalled by the killing this weekend of three family members enjoying a Shabbat meal. My thoughts are with survivors, family and loved ones," Cannan tweeted last July after another Palestinian terrorist murdered Israelis in another West Bank settlement (also illegal). Cannan's predecessor Dave Sharma regularly condemned violence, such as the truck attack on Israel Defence Force soldiers in Jerusalem in early 2017.

Presumably, given the slaughter of 16 unarmed Palestinian protesters by IDF forces and the wounding of hundreds more at the Gaza border on Friday, Cannan would have offered his thoughts to the "survivors, family and loved ones" of the victims? However, his normally busy Twitter account has been strangely silent for several days. Indeed, given the sheer scale of the shootings by the IDF, and the large death and injury toll, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop would have at least offered a feeble expression of concern?

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16 comments

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16 thoughts on “Australia’s silence on Gaza killings part of our knee-jerk support for Netanyahu

  1. Sleuth

    Every time Benjamin Netanyahu is elected, it’s always a very violent period in the Middle East.
    Unfortunately bloodshed is his calling card. If he is convicted of bribery, the whole world will heave a huge sigh of relief.

  2. old greybearded one

    Can someone,perhaps from the Jewish Board of Deputies, explain the difference between settlements in the west bank and lebensraum in Czechoslovakia?

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Strictly, the very reasonable question ought to be directed to the Knesset and not to the Board of Deputies. Zionism is a secular ideology. Many (most ?) orthodox Jews do (and did) not think Gurion had any right to offer Jews a homeland and it was somewhat blasphemous to do so. There are some (orthodox) Jews that do adhere to the ideology of Zionism. As Obama discovered, Zionism is not to be underestimated.

      The second point of detail is that Lebensraum had its origins at about the time of the inception of Zionism (1890s) – and was not confined to Czechoslovakia. The WWII version was to extend the concept from Germany (roughly Longitude 7.5 degrees to 46 degrees (i.e, to the west of the Caspian Sea) but not including Finland. The objective was to remove (indigenous) people the Nazis considered to be of inferior stock for the benefit of the region.

      Passover must have had a remarkable irony for Jews this year – in particular this year. The very miseries that the Jews inflicted upon the Palestinians were inflicted upon the Jews by the Nazis 80 years ago. Does history repeat itself?

  3. Vincent Matthews

    Shameful and embarrassing the influence Israel has on Australian politicians. No other nation could get away with the brutal injustices Israelis impose on Palestinians without being condemned. But the Israeli lobby here and particularly in the US is so powerful Netanyahu can get away with any atrocity he wants to commit against the Palestinians.

    1. DF

      Colin Rubenstein has Julie Bishop on speed dial, and Downer before her.

  4. kyle Hargraves

    Yes; its interesting. To a large extent Netanyahu enjoys the same electoral luck as did Queensland’s late Premier Sir Joe. One could barely find an elector who voted for him (or admitted to voting for him) but he won elections without trying. Ditto for Netanyahu as one strolls around Tel Aviv and the other more western cities of Israel.

    Zionism had nothing to do with Judaism. It was a mere political, indeed secular, concept and “anywhere” would do for the Zionists. Various factors contributed to the Zionists occupying Palestine; not the lest of the two being the refusal in 1939 to accept 900 (or so) Jewish refugees from the German Ship St. Louis. The passengers were denied entry to Cuba, the United States, Canada, Oz & NZ – to name a few countries. The other factor, of course, was the collective guilt of the concentration camps. It is hardly likely that the UN would approve the creation of Israel nowadays even in the circumstances that existed in 1948.

    Then, of late, there have been the deaths of western protesters for the Palestinians by Israeli troops and the matter of the Settlements that continue unabated and contrary to any number of rulings from the Hague.

    Should anyone be surprised at the supine behavior of any government in Oz? To be fair, it is likely that neither Turnbull or Shorten have any idea of the history of Zionism from the 1890s or of the region post WWI. There may be a few in the Dept. of Foreign Affairs with half a clue but in this day and age, where the major chairs are politically appointed, (contrary to the days of Permanent Heads) it is probably safer (and less career-limiting) to keep ones trap shut.

    Yet we have short memories. Apartheid South Africa described Israel (in publications and speeches into the late 1980s) as its dearest friend. To a large extent Israel responded in kind. The publications are still available for anyone who is (remotely) interested.

    As for Israel’s pocket money from the USA the place received, roughly (exact figures do exist) US$80 millions per year from 1948 to 1968 then about $150 millions per year to 1974 and the “support” has been of the order of $2 billion since the late 70s. That summary does not include additional “one-offs” such as the $38b in military aid in 2016 and such like. Israel is no more self-sustaining than the NT in Oz is, indeed, Alaska.

    The country does not deserve to exist and certainly not to the determent of those whom Israel is on a barely disused path to engineer the genocide of those who inhabited Palestine from the time of the Ottoman Empire. Anyway we are accustomed to being told what is appropriate by our betters in the White House or the State Dept or both so such is life.

  5. AR

    Any word from Michael Danby, the Member for Haifa Ports?
    Nah, didn’t think so.

  6. Richard Shortt

    Somewhere down the path Israel takes there is a mirror. I just hope the country recognises itself when it encounters that mirror. As a wiseman once said, those who fight monsters must take care not to become a monster themselves.

  7. cruuze

    Australia’s bias, like the rest of the western world on Israel, is disgusting. We know exactly who are our masters when we discover who we can’t criticize.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      “Australia’s bias, like the rest of the western world on Israel, is disgusting. ”
      ok – some (short) history. The “western world”, knowing virtually nothing of Zionism or the Sykes–Picot Agreement was “glad” that Israel won the 1967 six-day war (c/- of American military and financial aid). From about 1982, with a bit more reading of the history and the occupancy of land post 1967 attitudes began to change. From circa 2000 I suggest that most of Europe is pro-Palestinian. It has taken almost 50 years but “we have got there”. I also offer the conjecture that within the next decade the yanks will be forced to decide between Europe and Israel and will opt for Israel if the USA wishes to become an international pariah.

      1. cruuze

        While I would love to see a day where the US decides between Israel and whoever else, I can’t see that happening anytime soon. Every US president is over there kissing the Israeli flag even before they’ve been to the white house. Even Obama, who absolutely hated Netanyahu pledged some 30 odd billion dollars over six years so Israel just before departing so they could continue bombing civilians with their US-funded F-16s…

        1. kyle Hargraves

          There was considerable euphoria in the Middle East when Obama entered the White House (I was in the Middle East at the time). However, what optimism existed disappeared in rather short order and by the end of the year it was a case of “business as usual”.

          When the citizens of the USA realise that for the last 70 years they have been propping up an unsustainable country, with considerable opportunity cost to themselves, the penny MAY just drop – but, agreed, nothing is going to change in the short term.

      2. Arky

        There was a joke in Yes Prime Minister in the 80s where the PM wants to cast a pro-Israel vote in the UN but the civil service’s advice is for the UK to abstain. Sir Humphrey tells the Prime Minister he should be more concerned with the Oily Places than the Holy Places.

        If you think Europe’s welcoming arms towards the Palestinian cause in latter decades is some noble thing, man, you are not cynical enough to be talking about this stuff.

        1. Richard

          Doubt anybody is that naive but the principle of equality Human Rights for all, certainly carries a lot of weight for a great many ordinary (voting) people.
          Increasingly amongst young Jews in the US, where hitherto, AIPAC roamed free.

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