Former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr used to be a supporter of Israel, co-founding Labor Friends of Israel in 1977. But he has turned on Israel in a big, bad way. The latest manifestation of his contempt for Israel are comments that are revisionist and antisemitic.
Former foreign minister Bob Carr has lashed out at Israel, accusing the Jewish state of fabricating history and bribing Australian politicians, in an attack condemned by the Turnbull government.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hit back at Mr Carr’s tirade, describing his remarks as deeply unhelpful and provocative.
The one-time titan of the Labor Right let loose at a dinner in Sydney late last month at an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People function in a speech that has appeared online, accusing Israel of eliminating the Arab character of Jerusalem.
Mr Carr praised Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, the leader of the party’s so-called “watermelon” faction and an arch-foe of his old NSW Labor colleagues. “The people of Palestine are seeing street by street the character, the nomenclature, of Jerusalem being changed,” Mr Carr told the gathering. “The story of Jerusalem is now being fabricated. Judaising and eliminating the Arab character of this great Arab city is a shocking thing to take place.”
He said parliamentarians “are being seduced and bribed … with paid overseas trips to Israel”, describing offers of such study tours as “disgraceful”.
Judaising Jerusalem? The very name Jerusalem to which Carr refers is a nod to the city’s Jewish roots – “Jerusalem” being based on the Hebrew יְרוּשָׁלַיִם (Yerushalayim), a name first mentioned in the Jewish tanach, in the book of Joshua. The Arabic is Al Quds. So Carr is actually “Judaising” the city by referring to it as Jerusalem!
But Jerusalem does not need to be “Judaised.” It is a huge part of Judaism as a religion, but also historically. In Judaism, it is the holiest city we have, with the Temple Mount being the holiest place. Tellingly, Jews are not even allowed to go up there and pray – although Muslims have full access. If that is “Judaising” Jerusalem, I’m the Pope.
(In contrast, in Islam, Al Quds is not even mentioned in the Koran, and when praying to Mecca, Muslims are pointing their tucheses to Jerusalem).
Historically, clearly there is a rich history of Jews living in Jerusalem. But just this week we saw further proof of it, with a 2,700-year-old seal impression bearing the name of the
Arabic Jewish king Hezekiah being discovered in excavations by the Temple Mount.
Thankfully, there are Australian politicians in Carr’s Labor party who are not so blatantly anti-Israel (or suspiciously antisemitic):
News of the remarks comes as the state executive of Labor’s West Australian branch prepares to consider a motion on Israel, and in a week when ABC managing director Mark Scott has been forced to defend coverage of the region before Senate estimates.
The West Australian motion condemns recent attacks on civilians in Israel and the West Bank, rejecting claims “the root cause of these attacks is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and settlement construction, noting that the Arab rejection of peaceful coexistence with Jews predates both”.
It “rejects any attempts to draw a moral equivalence between Israeli victims of terror and Palestinian perpetrators”.
Luke Walladge, a West Australian Labor state executive delegate who moved the motion, said the former NSW premier had gone through “a quite shocking transformation” from his old position as a “Labor moderate”. “Bob has sold out any principles he … had … to appease the current ideological and cultural groups within NSW (Labor branches).’’