The friend of my friend … isn’t so sure anymore

At the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Australia will abstain from a vote on a resolution to give Palestine observer status at the UN.

[Prime Minister] Ms Gillard had wanted Australia to join the United States, Israel, Canada and a handful of smaller nations in voting no but faced stiff resistance led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, and supported by MPs from the Left and Right factions, most notably the usually pro-Israel NSW Right.

During a heated cabinet meeting on Monday night, only two ministers backed Ms Gillard while 10 argued for a abstention or a yes vote.

Ms Gillard insisted on a no vote and cabinet had no choice but to back her. But she was warned subsequently by factional bosses the Right would not be supporting her in the caucus on Tuesday morning when MPs were set to vote on a motion to back Palestine.

Behind the scenes, the former prime minister Bob Hawke and the former foreign minister Gareth Evans were agitating among the backbench against Ms Gillard’s position.

Ms Gillard agreed to an abstention just before caucus met, avoiding a defeat.

… Senator Carr is a founder of the group, Labor friends of Israel. One of his colleagues said Senator Carr believes that “as a friend of Israel, at times you’ve got to save it from itself”.

The resolution is expected to pass easily. France, Spain and a raft of other European countries will likely vote in favour. Britain may vote yes, if the Palestinians agree not to approach the International Criminal Court to accuse Israel of war crimes.

This may be a largely symbolic vote of dubious value to Palestine, but at least some of Israel’s friends are starting to question whether supporting Israel always means doing what Netanyahu wants.

44 replies
  1. 1
    geg6 says:

    I don’t care if it’s largely symbolic. Anything to break the stranglehold Israel holds on Europe and the US. Hell, I’m ready to give Palestine a voting seat, even though I know it’s pie in the sky thinking. I think Israel is the most dangerous nation on earth right now.

  2. 2
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    When you actually check out conditions in Gaza, suddenly things don’t seem nearly as black and white as Bibi would have you believe.

    People are suffering and dying there, but then again, they’re Untermenschen, so who gives a rat’s ass, amirite?

  3. 3
    Chris says:

    I don’t care if it’s largely symbolic. Anything to break the stranglehold Israel holds on Europe and the US.

    I think Europe’s largely done with Israel at this point. No one outside of the blessed United States has it in them anymore to go on making excuses for Israel’s atrocious record, not when they insist on doubling down on it every few years in the most public and brutal way possible. Those few that remain on the Israeli side do it largely as a favor to the U.S.

    For all the “can’t trust anyone, it’s us against the world” talk you hear out of Israel, I wonder how many of them truly realize how completely their international position depends on the U.S. And, more importantly, how many of them have thought far enough ahead to realize that once the U.S. loses its superpower status, they’re totally screwed.

  4. 4
    r€nato says:

    Now that Israel has Hamas to deal with, they can’t just write off Palestinians as all terrorists bent on destroying Israel.

    They can negotiate with the imperfect Fatah… or they can be absolutists and empower the Iranian-friendly Hamas faction.

    Will the GOP learn anything from Israel’s hard lesson in allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good?

    Obama may well have the opportunity to earn that Nobel Peace Prize after all. Does anyone think that this would be even remotely possible with Romney in the WH (or any Republican)?

  5. 5
    red dog says:

    @Chris: I agree completely. If we want to make a small dent in our debt, take the billion plus away from Bibi and watch his pie hole slam shut. Arrogant prick.

  6. 6
    Suffern ACE says:

    Whatever good it does. I’m not really interested in throwing out much more stuff Israel and I’m definitely not interested in spending much time worry about the Palestinian Authority, Hamas or Hezbollah either. All sides kind of threw out any chance of peace in the 1990s. Why should I suddenly think “Wow. Recognition by the UN is going to really help bring everyone around?” It’s not like the Palestinian Authority’s friends represent some great fest of warm peace fuzzies.

  7. 7
    kindness says:

    I gotta be honest with you Israel…You’re fucking up big time.

    How hard is that?

    One could follow it up with a whisper ‘apartheid’.

  8. 8
    Brachiator says:

    Ms Gillard has been a strong ally of president Obama. But she has had to fight hard against not only her political opposition, but also people in her own party.

    Not too long ago, she gave a fiery speech about misogynists and sexism.

    Apart from the understandable plight of the Palestinian people, you also have to look at the actions of the Australian government in the context of their internal political battles.

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    People are suffering and dying there, but then again, they’re Untermenschen, so who gives a rat’s ass, amirite?

    Israel should rename itself Lower Syria and renounce US aid. Then you wouldn’t hear a damn thing from most Americans except “the US shouldn’t get involved” and “nothing to be done.”

    This just recently happened:

    At least 34 people are reported to have been killed and many injured by two car bomb explosions in a south-eastern district of Syria’s capital, Damascus.
    __
    State media said “terrorists” were behind the blasts in Jaramana and broadcast pictures showing several charred vehicles and damaged buildings.
    __
    The district is predominantly Druze and Christian, two communities which have so far not joined the uprising.

    Are they also to be counted as Untermenschen?

    Or how about this recent revelation: The United Nations failed in its mandate to protect civilians in the last months of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, a leaked draft of a highly critical internal UN report says.

  9. 9
    Calouste says:

    @Brachiator: You are aware that any proposed UN action in Syria has been threatened with veto by Russia and China?

  10. 10
    double nickel says:

    Sadly, Canada’s neocon government is in lockstep with the US on this one. I remember a day when we actually stood for something as a country.

  11. 11
    Calouste says:

    Maybe, just maybe, if you have allies you want to keep as allies, you shouldn’t do things that piss them off to the point where they expel some of your diplomats, things like copying and faking passports issued by your allies for use in an assassination operation.

  12. 12

    @Brachiator:

    She’s also embroiled in a scandal about her actions when she was working as a lawyer, deeply hypocritical in the issue of gay marriage, and made her much praised anti-sexism speech in the context of defending a Speaker who then resigned in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal for describing female genitalia as “shell-less mussels”.

    I don’t see how any of that changes the fact that the Australian Labor Party, and the NSW Right – previously almost certain votes for “whatever Israel wants” – appear to have changed their position, at least for the moment.

  13. 13
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: To be fair the current scandal seems to be more a case of the Liberals make the same insinuations over and over to the press, no evidence is found, the press report that “Some say…” and a scandal grows legs. As to the rest I agree.

  14. 14
    Pococurante says:

    So Canada, Australia, and the USA are reluctant to undercut the Israeli people because of the current government.

    And the BJ community erupts with conspiracy theories.

    Idiots.

  15. 15

    @TheMightyTrowel:

    I should have said “alleged” actions.

    Don’t get me wrong – I don’t much like Gillard, but I’ll take her over any of the other viable options.

  16. 16
    eemom says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    I don’t see how any of that changes the fact that the Australian Labor Party, and the NSW Right – previously almost certain votes for “whatever Israel wants” – appear to have changed their position, at least for the moment.

    Well, call me a cynic, and I know less than nothing about Aussie politics, but I suspect there’s more to the change than a sudden desire to do the right thing — especially ON the right. Any thoughts on that?

  17. 17
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: I’ll take her over any of the other viable options

    QFT.

  18. 18
    waratah says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: Thank you Sara I have been interested in how Ms Gillard handles what my sister in law and her friends call the “old boy’s club.”

  19. 19
    Brachiator says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    She’s also embroiled in a scandal about her actions when she was working as a lawyer, deeply hypocritical in the issue of gay marriage, and made her much praised anti-sexism speech in the context of defending a Speaker who then resigned in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal for describing female genitalia as “shell-less mussels”.

    Of course, the Speaker was best buddies with the political leader Tony Abbot, who has slimed Gillard and her family with equally reprehensible language, and who is hardly a friend to gays or to women.

    You really want to be supporting Abbot here?

    I don’t see how any of that changes the fact that the Australian Labor Party, and the NSW Right – previously almost certain votes for “whatever Israel wants” – appear to have changed their position, at least for the moment.

    The question is the degree to which any of this has anything to do with principles or concern about the Palestinian people, as opposed to political jockeying by various Australian political factions.

    @Calouste:

    You are aware that any proposed UN action in Syria has been threatened with veto by Russia and China?

    Yes, the Syrian people, like the Palestians, are pawns in a larger political game.

    Obama may well have the opportunity to earn that Nobel Peace Prize after all. Does anyone think that this would be even remotely possible with Romney in the WH (or any Republican)?

    Oh hell, no. I would expect Romney to pretend to support Israel while looking for the nearest authoritarian regime he could find in Egypt to pretend to be pro-America while keeping the Palestinians in line.

    So far, not too far off from much regular US policy. But Romney would be dumb enough to back an Israeli attack on Iran figleafed with the promise of stabilizing the Middle East.

    At the end of the day, the Palestinian people would still be screwed, along with millions of other people in the region.

  20. 20
    LanceThruster says:

    Britain may vote yes, if the Palestinians agree not to approach the International Criminal Court to accuse Israel of war crimes.

    Here’s some candy, child, but don’t you dare tell your parents.

  21. 21

    @eemom:

    The suggestion from the article:

    One factor driving the NSW Right was Labor’s poor stock in western Sydney, where MPs and ministers are being lobbied by voters with a Middle-Eastern background.

    Sounds right to me. From the little I have seen, Australia has a very broad and increasing mix of cultures, and supporting Israel unreservedly isn’t necessarily a good call when your electorate has thousands of voters of Lebanese, Egyptian or Iraqi background.

  22. 22

    @Brachiator:

    You really want to be supporting Abbot here?

    No. Until Penny Wong becomes PM, I’m in the “pox on both their houses” school.

    The question is the degree to which any of this has anything to do with principles or concern about the Palestinian people, as opposed to political jockeying by various Australian political factions.

    I suspect about 97% political self interest. But a bug up Bibi’s arse is still a joy I will take whenever it is offered.

  23. 23
    muddy says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: I’d like to replace the bug with a boot.

  24. 24
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @LanceThruster:

    Britain may vote yes, if the Palestinians agree not to approach the International Criminal Court to accuse Israel of war crimes.

    Here’s some candy, child, but don’t you dare tell your parents.

    More like “Well, we’ll let you go to school as long as you promise not to start spreading stories to your teachers about Uncle Billy raping you”.

    So what is Britain going to do if the Palestinians say “sure” – and then go right ahead and drag Israel’s dirty laundry out into the light of day before the ICC?

  25. 25
    katinphilly says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: Let’s hope the Palestinians do.

  26. 26

    This may be a largely symbolic vote of dubious value to Palestine, but at least some of Israel’s friends are starting to question whether supporting Israel always means doing what Netanyahu wants.

    So fickle, these anti-semites.

  27. 27

    […] Australia will abstain on the Palestine recognition vote at the UN. […]

  28. 28
    Chris says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    I suspect about 97% political self interest.

    Yep.

    As with South Africa in the eighties, it’s simply become a liability to support current Israeli policy. And it’s not like Israel controls the flow of oil, or holds millions in other countries’ debt, or is an industrial superpower. There’s no realpolitik reason that would cause anyone to go easy on them like they do on, say, China or Saudi Arabia.

  29. 29
    Mjaum says:

    @Pococurante:

    You are confused.

    Israel is a democracy. This means people vote for their leaders, and thus have a certain amount of responsibility for said leader’s actions.

    The palestinians are not a democracy. Yet, I just *know* that you’re more than willing to throw them under the bus because of their “leaders'” actions.

    Being a democracy is not an excuse. It’s an obligation. Same way being Christian is an obligation. Some people have forgotten this.

  30. 30
    Jason says:

    Israel is a democracy. This means people vote for their leaders, and thus have a certain amount of responsibility for said leader’s actions.

    Israel is not a democracy. There are 4.3 million Palestinians in the occupied territories who are kept stateless and have no representation whatsoever in the Knesset. They have “separate but equal” representation in the Palestinian Authority, a corrupt Bantustan-style client government utterly dependent on Israeli largess. If Israel is a democracy, South Africa during the Apartheid era was a democracy. You can blame whoever you want for this situation, but the empirical facts are indisputable: a democracy is not a country where 38% of the people in the territory claimed by that country have not representation in the legislature.

    The only way you can argue that Israel is a democracy is if you view the Palestinians as unpeople.

    @Chris

    As with South Africa in the eighties, it’s simply become a liability to support current Israeli policy. And it’s not like Israel controls the flow of oil, or holds millions in other countries’ debt, or is an industrial superpower. There’s no realpolitik reason that would cause anyone to go easy on them like they do on, say, China or Saudi Arabia.

    Yet, the US always does go easy on Israel. Why? There’s a crucial difference from the South African situation: around 40 percent of the US financial and cultural elite were not white South Africans, but around 40 percent of the US cultural and financial elite are drawn from the 2.3 percent of the population that is Jewish. And overwhelmingly, American Jews support, and have always supported, the Zionist enterprise, with only a few murmers from the far left that maybe it’s not terribly progressive to progressively bulldoze the Palestinians out of their homes and towns and cities to make way for settlements and Jews-only highways.

  31. 31
    Chris says:

    @Jason:

    There’s a crucial difference from the South African situation: around 40 percent of the US financial and cultural elite were not white South Africans, but around 40 percent of the US cultural and financial elite are drawn from the 2.3 percent of the population that is Jewish. And overwhelmingly, American Jews support, and have always supported, the Zionist enterprise, with only a few murmers from the far left that maybe it’s not terribly progressive to progressively bulldoze the Palestinians out of their homes and towns and cities to make way for settlements and Jews-only highways.

    The biggest source of support for “the Zionist enterprise” isn’t Jews, it’s the far more numerous and equally powerful fundiegelical Christians. IMHO.

  32. 32
    eemom says:

    @Jason:

    around 40 percent of the US cultural and financial elite are drawn from the 2.3 percent of the population that is Jewish. And overwhelmingly, American Jews support, and have always supported, the Zionist enterprise.

    Got some back up for that, you neo-Protocols asshole?

  33. 33
    Joe Buck says:

    @LanceThruster: The Palestinians might just decide to do without the UK’s vote in that case, as they don’t need it. Access to the ICC is something they most definitely want.

    Of course it cuts both ways, as both Palestinians and Israelis could be brought to the court.

  34. 34
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Joe Buck:

    Of course it cuts both ways, as both Palestinians and Israelis could be brought to the court.

    Good. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    However, the narrative in the Western consciousness, carefully spun by the media and politicians, is that of the noble and threatened civilized Israelis versus the subhuman barbaric Palestinians. As shown by the UK’s threat, the side with the most to lose by exposing the dirty sordid truths is Israel – and their Western enablers.

  35. 35
    Steve Crickmore says:

    @eemom: Jason may have understated Jewish influence. According to The Jerusalem Post, not known as a bastion of anti-semitism, in 2007 (I don’t think much has changed) they are proud (and rightfully so) that in the annual Vanity Fair list of

    “the world’s most powerful people,”< 100 of the bankers and media moguls, publishers and image makers who shape the lives of billions. It's an exclusive, insular club, one whose influence stretches around the globe but is concentrated strategically in the highest corridors of power. More than half its members, at least by one count, are Jewish. It's a list, in other words, that would have made earlier generations of Jews jump out of their skins, calling attention, as it does, to their disproportionate influence in finance and the media.

  36. 36
    eemom says:

    @Steve Crickmore:

    Yes, and it’s just a tiny little non-step from bean counting Jewish names on lists to drawing sweeping conclusions about “Jewish influence”, isn’t it?

    Your kind make me sick.

  37. 37
    eemom says:

    And, this kind of shit is exactly what disgusts me about John Cole and others around here who behave as though anti Semitism has NO existence beyond the bastardization of that term by the pro-Israel right wing.

  38. 38
    Steve Crickmore says:

    eemon, take your beef up with the Jerusalem Post and the Jewish news. I was just quoting what they said. Many of the so-called jewish influential people are secular and not exactly pro-zionist, if that makes you feel better. As someone implied earlier, it is the simpler minded American evangelist who are uncritical of Israeli foreign policy more so than the Israelis themselves..including for example, former Israeli PM Olmert who supports the Palestine U.N. Bid It is too bad that Obama wasn’t listening to him, rather than Axelrod or AIPAC!

  39. 39
    eemom says:

    @Steve Crickmore:

    You are a smug, ignorant, bigoted asshole, and you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Nice dodge behind the “American evangelist” point there, though. I’m sure that cockroachian instinct for self-preservation will come in handy when the “Jewish news” mongers come to round up your goyishe ass.

  40. 40
    Jason says:

    @eemom:

    Got some back up for that, you neo-Protocols asshole?

    Yeah, fuck you too. But yes, I do. I’m drawing from the aforementioned Jerusalem Post article, and also a count that Gawker magazine did in 2010 of the top 100 of the Forbes 400 rich list, which found 30 of the 100 richest Americans were Jewish. I just averaged the number to get a rough estimate. Additionally, I will point out that 33% of the Supreme Court are Jews, fully 37% of all American Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish, and at least 42% of the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors (Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and Sarah Raskin).

    So yeah, around 40%, I would say.

    Yes, and it’s just a tiny little non-step from bean counting Jewish names on lists to drawing sweeping conclusions about “Jewish influence”, isn’t it?

    I’m not a fucking neo-Nazi, if that’s what you’re implying. I hate those guys. Truth is, I never gave this much thought until I decided one day to actually research how much power the “Israel Lobby” could actually have, and what I found out stunned me. America really has a massively disproportionate number of Jews at the very top of the power structure. It’s not just a far right fantasy, it’s the truth, and I think we have a duty to the truth to acknowledge it. But unfortunately, it’s a truth that hurts and the same good liberals that will count every white male in every position to excoriate power for not having enough minorities and women are all in agreement not to notice the extreme power of one small ethnic group on American life. It’s OK to talk about Republicans appointing all male Congressional panels or the gender pay gap, but the equally significant gentile gap is the third rail of US politics, something you simply dare not mention, even as it’s obvious to everyone from Pat Buchanon to Matthew Yglesias.

  41. 41
    eemom says:

    @Jason:

    Don’t want to be called a neo-Nazi? Fine. Actually they’re more subtle than you are.

    And anti-Semite is far too kind, considering how the term has been bastardized.

    Fuck you, you Jew hating piece of shit.

  42. 42
    eemom says:

    Proud moment on your blog here, John Cole. Don’t forget to work that standard “omg, if I criticize Israel that means I’m an anti-Semite” sneer into your next brain-dead post about Israel.

  43. 43
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    Well done on the smear by association, eemom. You just keep right on fucking that rat, and maybe everyone will forget about the apartheid taking place in Gaza and the West Bank.

  44. 44
    Mjaum says:

    @Jason:

    Actually, Jason, I agree with you. If Israel wants to call itself a democracy, and get the cudos for said status, it needs to *be* a democracy.

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