Et tu, Mrs Bishop?

“We publicly and privately say that any unilateral action that is seen as damaging or impeding the peace process should be called what it is — that includes the unilateral actions on the part of the Palestinians to achieve statehood. It includes the violence and the attacks, and it also includes the settlements. So on both sides there are issues that are likely to be seen as hurdles to recommencing the peace process.” — Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, speaking in Israel, as quoted in The Jerusalem Post, September 4, 2016)

Calling all concerned Australians: the way I see it, your foreign minister — who had a really positive track record vis-à-vis Israel when she served under Prime Minister Tony Abbott — could be taken aside and quietly chastised for her obvious effort this week to be ‘even-handed’ between Israel and its mortal enemies.

She should not be allowed to get away with even the hint of a suggestion that the construction of homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria lies in any way, shape or form parallel with the virtually daily, officially sanctioned and encouraged, Arab murderous attacks on Jews.

And no, I have not overlooked that this could have been a feint — White Bishop to Black Knight (PLO leader).

Indeed, kudos to the Australian for spelling out what no other western politician has the guts to – that her government:

  • is opposed to any unilateral efforts by the Palestinian Arabs to achieve statehood — which must include efforts to get Australia (and other countries) to recognise the non-existent ‘State of Palestine’;
  • scores the Palestinian Authority for the violence and attacks that form a transparently manipulative effort to use terrorism to obtain their state.

I definitely don’t want to gloss over this explicit Australian position. It exposes and counters the PLO strategy that seeks to circumvent one-on-one negotiations with Israel in the belief that a sympathetic world will serve up their state to them on a platter with or without a peace agreement.

So thank you, Madam Foreign Minister, for having the courage and the ethical sense to spell this out.

It was also gratifying that you did not meet with PLO chief and Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas — the one we call the ‘terrorist in a tie’ as opposed to his keffiyeh-sporting predecessor.  You’ll hopefully have heard about Israel’s expressions of outrage at Abbas’ Fatah faction’s praising on September 5, 2016 of the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorism as a “heroic operation?” And you’ll know that Abbas is believed to have financed that heinous crime.

So thank you for not meeting him.

Still, your effort at drawing some sort of equation between Israel’s legitimate actions and the Palestinian Arabs’ illegitimate deeds cannot go unanswered.

Back in 2014, you infuriated the Arab world — and irked the Europeans, the UN and the Obama administration — when you bucked the near-universal consensus on Israeli ‘settlements,’ challenging reporters to show “where is it written” that constructing Jewish communities in Samaria and Judea flouts international law.

Later that same year, the Abbott government was on course to becoming Israel’s most spirited partner for real peace when it stated – through Attorney-General George Brandeis — that it would be complicit with those nations that had succumbed to Arab pressure to employ enemy-parlance by, for example, referring to parts of Jerusalem as “occupied”.

What happened between then and now — apart from your (my personal opinion — sorry to say it) Brutus-like participation in helping depose Abbott in favor of Malcolm Turnbull?

Have you changed your stand?

On the other hand — is Australia “calling it what it is” — what you really said? Perhaps not? Careful parsing suggests that you may have merely articulating that there are some on one side who “are likely” to see ‘settlements’ as obstacles, or hurdles, to peace.

Yes, well there may be “some” who regard these Jewish communities as an impediment to peace (as there are “some” who believe Jews to be sons of pigs and apes, AKA untermenschen) — but the question at your front door, Mrs Bishop, is this: does Australia believe this about settlements? If the Turnbull government does, then it should spell it out. If it doesn’t, please spell that out too.

Quite frankly, Israel does not need more ‘honest brokers’ in the world (and owes nothing in this regard to the United States). Israel needs real allies. (Imagine how the British Empire would have reacted if its ally – the USA — had tried to play neutral referee with Germany for purposes of diplomatic expediency?)

Israel needs nations who will openly assert that the Jewish people’s close settlement of all their ancestral land (central to which is the deceitfully misnamed “occupied West Bank”) is their full historic right, that it is completely supported under international law, and that the belligerent and rejectionist Arab states with their murderous Islamic ideology are the ­one and only obstacle to peace.

Don’t nations like Australia, who purport to be in pursuit of real peace in the Middle East, know that it is precisely the lack of principled courage and of the moral fibre to call good, good and evil, evil that continues to directly contributed to the prolonged existence of this conflict?

About the Author
Stan Goodenough is a South African Gentile Evangelical Christian, 27-year resident in Israel, married to Czech national Christian, father of seven Jerusalem-born children, journalist, writer, speaker, accredited tour guide.