You meet the Israeli Prime Minister. You can ask him anything. Do you want to mention the occupation? Of course not. Much easier, as per Greg Sheridan in the Australian, to get Netanyahu to recall those glorious days in the Australian sun. Yes, this is Murdoch “journalism”:
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, has very strong feelings about Australia, as he does about many things.
On Australia, however, his feelings are wildly positive.
“I love Australia,” he tells me during a long interview in the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem.
He appreciates Australia’s support for Israel, but he has much more personal feelings, and experiences, especially a vacation here more than a decade ago.
“I was happily unemployed and I received an invitation to go to Australia,” he says.
“It was the second visit I had to Australia. I went there first as United Nations ambassador (in the mid-1980s).
“I came there with my wife and my two boys and we had a wonderful time. I climbed Ayers Rock, again, barefoot, with my boy. He was young, 10 years old, he climbed it with me and nearly fell off the cliff.
“It was absolutely spectacular. Then we had a vacation in Hayman Island. We saw some whales and giant turtles in a nearby island. I don’t think you can beat that.
“I swam and sunbaked and didn’t do anything connected with politics for a couple of weeks. I’d say that’s pretty good. I can tell you I enjoyed it mightily. When I think of Australia, I think good thoughts.”
More seriously, I ask Netanyahu whether Australian support for Israel has been important.
Again, the response is pretty unequivocal: “Yes, very much so. It has been consistent, by and large. You can have here and there a difference. There’s also a sense of warmth and identification, which reflects the position of successive governments.
“But also there’s a sense of warmth of the people, which we don’t always enjoy elsewhere.
“In a world where Israel is vilified, castigated, where a beleaguered democracy is defending its very life against radical Islamist forces, we don’t always get credit. We don’t always get fair play. We feel that happens more often than not with Australia.”
A year ago, Australia’s Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, on a visit to Jerusalem invited Netanyahu to visit Australia as Prime Minister.
Would he like to do that?