Albert Dadon is a leading Australian Zionist lobbyist who loves nothing better than cosying up to any old Israeli politician who gives him the time of day. Backers of occupation? No problem. Defender of the status-quo? Of course. He has no desire to do anything to change Israel for the better, merely to get Australian politicians face time with full-time Zionists. Amazing what money can get you these days.
Notwithstanding his exacerbated legal problems, former prime minister Ehud Olmert continues to attract admirers. Olmert, who was the keynote speaker at the Gala Dinner at Jerusalem’s King David hotel hosted by Albert Dadon, founder of the Australia-Israel- UK Leadership Forum, found himself not only among friends but also among supporters.
Diplomats and politicians, as well as people from the business community, crowded around him and listened intently to what he had to say both from the speakers’ platform and in private conversations.
Presumably, Olmert will receive a similar reception in April in New York where he will be the keynote speaker at The Jerusalem Post Conference.
Dadon is a businessman and philanthropist of French Moroccan background who lived in Israel before he settled in Australia. Prior to initiating the leadership dialogue, which is relatively recent, he founded the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), which inter alia sponsors the annual Australian film festival in Israel and the Israeli film festival in Australia.
Convinced that a dialogue between Australian and Israeli parliamentarians would improve the already good relationship between the two countries, Dadon was gratified to see the formula was so successful that British politicians were eager to join. So this year for the first time, it’s not just a dialogue between Australian and Israeli government ministers, shadow ministers, parliamentarians, academics and other community leaders; it also has a British component with bipartisan representation all around.
In introducing Olmert, Dadon allowed himself to be critical of Israel, saying: “Here in this country, you take one of your best sons and bring him down.”
The remark was greeted with approbation.
Dadon recalled that in 2009, Olmert had given an interview to Greg Sheridan, the influential columnist and foreign affairs analyst of the national daily The Australian, in which he had laid out his peace plan “which had almost gone through”.
What Olmert had told Sheridan, Dadon continued, had recently been confirmed by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in her new memoir, No Higher Honor. Since then, said Dadon, then it had also been confirmed in a newspaper interview given by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which he stated that had Olmert remained in office, a peace agreement might have been concluded because they were only three months away from it.
“It’s disconcerting that you’ve cut off the best prime minister you’ve ever had,” declared Dadon, who advocated that Israel should follow the French system and not prosecute a sitting head of government.
With regard to the dialogue at hand, Olmert said it was his fervent hope that Israel will engage in dialogue not only with Great Britain and Australia but with her Palestinian neighbors, “not because I care about the Palestinians, but because I care about Israel. A two-state solution is essential for the future of a Jewish democratic state.”
The most important thing for a prime minister to remember, he said, is not to do what is politically comfortable for you, but what is in the national interest.
Yitzhak Rabin had been such a prime minister, he said. He took a long time to make up his mind. It was painful and he suffered, but once he made a decision it was for the good of the national perspective not his own personal political comfort.
Rabin’s son, Yuval, was in the audience to hear this tribute to his father from another former prime minister, who at the time had been on the opposite side of the political fence.