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Issue #1767      March 1, 2017

“Bibi” and the uglies

It was Benjamin Netanyahu’s first official visit to Australia and the first by a serving Israeli prime minister since the foundation of that country in 1948. In these days of increasingly frequent official visits and showing of the diplomatic flag, such an occasion was bound to happen at some point. But why now, exactly? The Israeli PM claimed his inaugural tour had been “wonderful”. “This has been a wonderful visit here. You people are amazing,” Netanyahu told Foreign Minister Julie Bishop before they headed into secret bilateral talks.

The Jewish community welcomes Netanyahu at a Bondi Synagogue.

Julie Bishop had just returned from her own whirlwind tour of the UK and the US, where she met leaders from the Trump Administration. For what seems like the millionth time, she committed the Australian people to the war-fighting US Alliance and support for any actions the US might like to take in the South China Sea. She was already on record backing Trump’s all but universally deplored “strong immigration and border protection policies”.

Netanyahu’s visit attracted protests by people outraged at Israel’s continued denial of the rights of the Palestinian people, including to a sovereign state within secure borders. The official reception, however, couldn’t have been warmer. Speaking in the Sydney Central Synagogue, Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull painted the official Zionist picture of Israel as a peace-loving, reasonable nation surrounded by irrational and hostile neighbours.

He took the theme up again in a piece for the Australian last week. “Our peoples are bound together first and foremost by the values we share – a mutual commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” the PM wrote. He made the claim about respect for the rule of law in the face of the evidence he quoted in the same column. “In a speech to the UN General Assembly in 2015, Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out that in the preceding 12 months, the General Assembly had adopted 20 resolutions critical of Israel, compared to just one in response to the war in Syria …,” Turnbull lamented.

According to the Australian PM, the world has it all wrong and Israel is being subjected to an campaign of vilification for no reason at all. Turnbull made it clear Australia will cleave to its uncritical line and continue to ignore international protests such as the UN Security Council’s recent condemnation of Israeli endorsement of settlements on Palestinian land. The Israeli parliament has declared 4,000 Jewish settlers’ homes “legal” retroactively in a move prompting almost universal condemnation.

Turnbull made no mention of Israel’s belligerence in the affairs of the Middle East, including support for groups using the most blood-curdling methods to dismember and destroy the sovereign nation of Syria. Like its master in the US, the government of Israel has sought to create division and conflict to pursue its geo-political agenda.

In his jocular speech at the Sydney Central Synagogue, Netanyahu extended an invitation to the celebrity-studded audience to visit greater Israel soon. “I want you to walk the streets of the old city in Jerusalem and hike in the Golan – by the way the Golan will never go back to Syria!,” he said. The Golan Heights is internationally recognised as Syrian territory but has been occupied by Israel since the end of the Six Day War in 1967 despite UN Resolution 497 denying the legality of Israeli control and occupation.

What appears to be happening internationally is that even closer ties are being drawn between the most eager supporters of US imperialism. International law and the will of almost the entire international community as expressed in the UN General Assembly mean nothing to this group of ugly proponents of the “might is right” doctrine at work. Early speculation that, under a Trump Administration, the US might pull back to some extent from its global hegemonic role has proven incorrect. Trump is foreshadowing the “greatest military build-up in American history” and is pressuring NATO to do likewise. Australia is already fully committed to this war-fighting strategy, as is Netanyahu.

The danger of the current policy to peace in the Middle East and to the future security of Israel is clear to just about everybody outside Netanyahu’s elite cheer squad. Former PMs Rudd and Hawke were joined by retired Labor luminaries Bob Carr and Gareth Evans in warning of the threat current Israeli actions pose to the possibility of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine. They were rounded on by people like Labor backbencher Michael Danby. Venom was directed at those in the community promoting an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

This is a telltale sign that BDS is hurting and the best chance for the people of the world, including those living in the countries comprising the increasingly ugly US Alliance, to achieve justice for the Palestinian people and reduce conflict in the Middle East.

Next article – In WA – Climate change, health and renewables

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