The ALP and Israel is like a disease that no medicine can cure

Australian unionist Paul Howes loves Israel. He supports its criminality, murder of opponents, defends it from everybody and would ideally like to make love to the Jewish state. He’s also one of the key figures behind the recent coup of Julia Gillard when overthrowing Kevin Rudd.

Welcome to the modern Australian Labor Party, where Israel is a state religion.

His column in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph is a typical rant that conveniently forgets to mention that one of Australia’s leading Zionist lobbyists, Albert Dadon, is actually an Israeli lobbyist. He wields influence but of course we can’t mention this. Furthermore, Howes doesn’t want to see that there is a profound conflict of influence with the Prime Minister’s partner working for a Zionist lobbyist who is trying to affect government policy towards the Middle East. But of course for some, anything related to the Jewish state is beyond criticism. Fat chance:

It hasn’t taken long for the double standards to emerge, in the week since our first female Prime Minister took office.

While it’s significant that Julia Gillard is our first female PM, what’s really significant is how long it took us to get there.

I’m writing this column in the Sydney CBD, where we have a female Lord Mayor and State member, and female federal MP, a female Premier and a female Governor.

In Canberra, there’s a female Governor General and – at last – a female PM. With the exception of the dual-Lord Mayor/Member for Bligh, all these women are, or were appointed by, Labor.

The Liberal Party, on the other hand, is so bereft of female talent that they’ve recycled Julie Bishop as deputy leader three times for different leaders, despite the fact that she’s not considered competent enough to hold the shadow Treasury portfolio.

But the progressive side of politics has always championed women. In my own role as a union official, we have had female leaders of the Australian Council of Trade Unions since 1996, with the newest president, Ged Kearney, taking office in the past week.

She replaces Sharan Burrow, who has been elected as the head of the global trade union movement.

Yet we’ve already seen double standards being applied to our new PM with significant media coverage of Prime Minister Gillard’s hair, clothes, voice and domestic arrangements.

The Melbourne Age carried a front-page story last week about the employment status of the Prime Minister’s partner, Tim Mathieson.

He works as a salesman for a Melbourne property company, chaired by Albert Dadon, prominent in the local Jewish community.

The article implied that, somehow, because Mr Mathieson works for a company associated with a Jewish community member, this would somehow impact on the PM’s stance on foreign policy, particularly in relation to her views on Israel.

It was one of the crassest examples of shoddy journalism I’ve seen. The implication was, firstly, that because Mr Mathieson is a man and the PM a woman, whatever he thinks about the world or who he works for will impact on what Ms Gillard thinks.

The second implication was that, simply because Mr Mathieson works for a company owned by a prominent Jew, his personal views on policy matters will be skewed by his job.

One Canberra press gallery journalist summed it up best on Twitter when he said: “I can’t ever recall a male politician being the subject of claims his wife’s job would influence his views on the Middle East.”

He was spot on, summing up in one sentence the appalling double standards applied to Prime Minister Gillard in the article. In fact, outrage over the article was so intense that even former Age editor Michael Gawenda labelled it “bizarre”.

Mr Mathieson’s employer, apart from being Jewish, is a well-known jazz musician and was chairman of the Melbourne Jazz Festival.

Following the logic of The Age’s article, one could presume that our nation’s leader will redirect the Government’s arts funding solely towards the Australian jazz industry.

Ludicrous, isn’t it? Just as ludicrous as saying that the PM is going to toe some pro-Israel line simply because of who her partner works for. It’s the type of double standards and sexist reporting that belongs in the past.

Julia Gillard has shown she is her own person. It doesn’t matter what her hair looks like. I don’t think anyone is really interested in how she dresses. It doesn’t matter who her partner works for or what their living arrangements are.

What matters is that she’s the best person for the job and light years ahead of Tony Abbott when it comes to understanding the needs of ordinary Australians. Yes, she’s different from her predecessors, but just like Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke, she is her own person.

Any suggestion that her partner’s views, or her hairstyle, has any bearing on how she runs the country is laughable at best, sexist at worst.

Paul Howes is national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union

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

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