Thursday, 08 March 2012 02:02
- By Peter Hartcher published in The Spectator, 12 Novemeber 2011
In his Shabbat droscha (sermon) at Elwood Shule last week, Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick said it was permissible to ask if changes to the national leadership were not just good for Australia, but whether it impacted on the Australian Jewish community. Australia is a country where Australian Jews can live in normality. Of course anyone who knows Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s record on Israel knows we have another warm friend in Canberra. Whether it is under Prime Minister’s Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard we have had friends in Canberra. It will be the same under Tony Abbot and Bill Shorten in the future. Australia is now a country of 22 million where its 120,000 Jews are not just tolerated but our involvement and active approval and participation is keenly sought.
Kevin Rudd's legacy should be viewed in a balanced way. Yes it's true according to revelations published as a result of wikileaks that he got Australia to abstain a couple of times at the UN General Assembly's Fourth Committee. This was allegedly to show his displeasure at the misuse of Australian passports by the Mossad in the targeted assassination of the Hamas quartermaster in Dubai. But he also moved the resolution congratulating Israel on its 50th Anniversary, energetically perused Australian and international sanctions against Iran and generally led an administration more sympathetic to Israel than any European power, especially and including the obnoxious anti Israel critics in the current Tory Government in Britain. I publicly opposed Rudd's expulsion of the Mossad liaison officer because it was in Australia's interest that we share the knowledge of the Israeli's special understanding of terrorism. However, in retrospect it was also a mistake for Mr Dagan the former head of the Mossad to make an earlier promise to Australia that our passports would not be used and then to break his word. I have no problem with the hamasnik being sent to Allah but I do think good relations between Israel and its great friend Australia should be maintained.
In the middle of this leadership kerfuffle a capable young minister, Jason Clare and I met with the leadership of all of the community schools at Shalom Alechem School in Elsternwick. There we outlined how the next round of the Secure Schools Funding Program will work. This federal money provides a massive increase in the capital that can be provided for Mt Scopus, Yeshiva Beth Rivka, Yavneh and all the other Jewish schools. Our meeting and conversation are an example of how deep the friendly relationship is between Australian governments and the Australian Jewish community.
Our Jewish community’s central interest in Israel sees our leading political parties; Labor and Liberal, competing with each other for to support the Jewish State. Both Labor and Liberal would not attend a Jew baiting UN conference called the Durban conference. Nor do they support us voting for Palestine at UNESCO. As my brother Simon says, “Australia – what a country!”
Finally, I have a shealeh (question) for our learned Rabbis. It is said that Jews are like the canaries at the bottom of a coal mine in other words; their well being denotes the well being of a given society. My question for the Rabbonim is – do they think it is just coincidental that Australia is the lucky country? Do they think there is a divine hand in Australia’s current confidence, stability and prosperity?
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