A clear eyed view from Greg Sheridan

Greg Sheridan gets it with regard to Israel, and it is pleasing to see his article in todays Australian.

Sheridan begins “THE sad case of Ben Zygier, the Mossad agent who committed suicide in an Israeli prison in 2010, brings to the fore the strange pathologies in Australian opinion concerning Israel. It also underlines how badly the Labor government has gone off course in its conception of Israel, and Israel’s place in the world.  I think Labor has been led astray by its two dominant foreign policy figures, Kevin Rudd and Bob Carr. It’s no secret I admire Rudd and Carr. Both get far more right than wrong on foreign policy. But they are wrong on this.”

Sheridan discussed a few aspects where Carr has got it wrong:

For example, “The demand that Obama urgently seek a peace settlement betrays the deeper analytical flaw by Carr and Rudd. At the moment, Syria does not exist as a nation, 70,000 of its citizens have been killed and its army has abandoned the border regions with Israel. Egypt is in terrible internal turmoil. Its army has effectively lost control of the vast Sinai area that borders Israel. No one can know what its future government will be like. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The Palestinian leadership is murderously divided between the West Bank and Gaza. Surely it is intellectually fraudulent to imagine that any Israeli government could make a comprehensive peace in this context.

Underlying this is the cardinal doctrine of conventional wisdom among Guardian readers, UN habitues, European think tank staff and the like, and that is the implausible notion Israel is at the heart of Middle East disputes and the West’s troubles with Islam.”

He adds  “Jimmy Carter, a kind of rich man’s Evans, gives the platonic ideal of this position, when he writes: “The heart and mind of every Muslim is affected by whether or not the Israel-Palestine issue is dealt with.”  The respected Jeffrey Goldberg, a senior editor at The Atlantic, points out that this notion now is simply “empirically insupportable”. The civil war in Syria, the bloodshed and polarisation in Egypt, the chaos in Libya, the murderous politics of Tunisia, the disintegration of Yemen, the overarching Sunni-Shia conflict, Pakistan’s support for South Asian terror, Afghanistan’s Taliban – none of these can be remotely attributed to anything to do with Israel by anyone who takes reality seriously.

Just because an idea is widely uttered at the UN doesn’t mean it embodies any reality. Carr, Rudd and Evans add to this zeitgeist error the subsidiary error that Australia seriously damages its reputation by supporting Israel at the UN, a proposition for which there is no evidence.  But even if it were true, this would be a price worth paying. Israel is Australia’s friend and ally. The Labor Party used to know this and care about it. Joining in the popular kicking of Israel is not a sign of moral courage, though it will win plaudits from the usual suspects at the UN and in conventional international relations think tanks.

But it is an immoral position that betrays fundamental political, moral and ethical values that Labor used to understand pretty well.

 

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