Courting the Jewish vote

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

The fight for the Federal seat of Wentworth is between the self-appointed, Honorary Jew (Malcolm Turnbull) and the proudly Zionist, True Jew (George Newhouse.)

Pitching directly at a recent Jewish Labor Forum, Newhouse told the assembled crowd that, “Malcolm’s recent discovery of the Yiddish vernacular is no substitute for over 30 years of loyalty, hard work and commitment to our community.” In other words, I’m the real Jew who will love Israel uncritically and Malcolm is the wannabe Jew who, er, loves Israel uncritically.

For Australian Jews this election is about a variety of issues and Israel is just one of them. Like all citizens, concerns about health, education, foreign policy and industrial relations are paramount, but Israel is central. Any candidate that even dares utter anything mildly critical of the Jewish state is doomed to failure. The Zionist lobby will eat him or her, with crackling, for dinner.

Both the Liberal and Labor parties have identical policies on Israel. John Howard has always shown that Israel is to be nurtured and defended, no matter what – witness his unyielding defence of Israel during last year’s Lebanon year, despite cluster bombs still killing and maiming civilians – and Kevin Rudd isn’t any better.

His Foreign Affairs spokesman Robert McClelland recently issued a press release praising “Israel’s efforts to restart negotiations with Palestinian people” and welcoming the upcoming “peace” conference to be held in Washington between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas. Its likely failure – due in part to Zionism’s addiction to ongoing land acquisition in the occupied territories and exclusion of the democratically-elected, Hamas government – is ignored because the ALP doesn’t want to upset the Jews. Muslims, larger than the Jewish population, are seemingly irrelevant.

Tellingly, the only major party with a comprehensive policy that offers full rights for both Israelis and the Palestinians are the Greens.

In Melbourne Ports, sitting Jewish Labor MP Michael Danby is a likely winner against a Jewish Liberal competitor, though he spends taxpayer dollars complaining about the appointment of former ABC foreign correspondent and Media Watch head Tim Palmer to the position of Lateline Executive Producer. In case readers don’t know, Palmer is actually a Hamas suicide-bomber who has somehow infiltrated the national broadcaster.

Finally, in the Victorian seat of Issacs, Mark Dreyfus QC is hoping to become the second Jewish Labor Member of Parliament. In a “wide-ranging interview” with the Australian Jewish News last week, Dreyfus offered this compelling reason for Jews to elect him: “It will be nice to keep Michael [Danby] company.” Policies? Ideas? Vision? Hardly, Dreyfus says he just really enjoys campaigning.

The Jewish community deserves better than a bunch of Labor party clones keen to enter Parliament simply to press Jerusalem’s buttons.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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