Today in the Canberra Times Kuhn has a powerful piece about Israeli apartheid and the Australian government’s bankrupt position:
Has Labor’s position on Israel really changed?
One week Julia Gillard cheers on Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza, the next the parliamentary ALP caucus rolls her over recognition of Palestine by the United Nations General Assembly.
The shift does not mean that Labor is now hostile to Israeli apartheid. Labor has a slightly different view from Israel, the United States and the Coalition about how best to preserve Israel as a racist state. Labor’s Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, understands that the Arab Spring means that minor concessions have to be made to prop up the credibility of the Palestinian Authority, which is Israel’s policeman on the West Bank.
The laws that define Israel as a Jewish state mean that its Palestinian citizens have second-class status. They are not allowed to live in most areas, their separate schools are underfunded, they are ineligible for many welfare services and public sector jobs, Arabic is treated as inferior to Hebrew.
After living for decades under Israeli occupation, the Palestinians of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem have no say at all over Israel’s policies. Jews – like me – have a right of ”return” to Israel so long as they can demonstrate their hereditary Jewishness through their mothers’ lines. Palestinian refugees born in what is now Israel and their children and grandchildren have no right to return.
Australia abstained in the General Assembly’s overwhelming vote to accept Palestine not as a member of the UN but just as an ”observer state”, like the Vatican. Gillard had wanted Australia to vote against the resolution, with Israel, the United States and a handful of its clients.
The General Assembly decision will not improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians.