[Published 25 August 2013]
Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Bob Carr have gone underground since Carr announced on 8 August at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney that Rudd personally as well as the Labor Party had adopted as policy that Jews had no right to legally live in the West Bank.
“I’ve been to Ramallah, I’ve spoken to the Palestinian leadership, and we support their aspirations to have a Palestinian state in the context of a Middle East of peace. And that means respect for the right of Israel to exist. But we want that Palestinian state to exist, in the context of a peace in the Middle East, and that’s why we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don’t make apologies for it.”
Attempts to elicit whether Rudd personally and the Labor Party had adopted this policy prior to Carr’s announcement have ended in total confusion.
Labor’s candidate for the seat of Stirling - Dan Caddy - received no answers from Carr when he asked those pertinent questions.
An embarrassed Caddy wrote to the constituent seeking such information:
“I have received advice from our (Foreign) Minister’s office which I have included below. I appreciate that it does not specifically address the questions you have posed, but I hope it clearly articulates what the position is.”
Caddy’s response was however seriously undermined when sitting Labor Member for Melbourne Ports - Michael Danby - spoke out a few days later:
“There’s a narrow view in the Department of Foreign Affairs, in their legal section, that the settlements are illegal. It’s not the view of the government as I understand it.
“He [Carr] has accepted their [the legal department’s] view. The Prime Minister hasn’t accepted that view as far as I understand it.
“I disagree with the Foreign Minister’s interpretation of this. I was disappointed; of course I was disappointed.”
Rudd could clear up this apparent confusion very easily by issuing a one sentence press release affirming or denying that the Lakemba Mosque Declaration represents his personal view and Labor Party policy.
However Rudd has remained silent in the face of angry protests lodged by peak Jewish organisations and the Opposition spokesperson on Foreign Affairs - Julie Bishop.
One can only conclude in the face of such Prime Ministerial silence that Carr’s Lakemba Mosque Declaration was shoddy policy made on the run without the knowledge and acquiescence of the Prime Minister in an attempt to secure the votes of the Moslem community in the elections to be held on 7 September.
The Moslem vote for the Labor Party is by no means assured following another hastily cobbled together policy announced by Rudd in July regarding asylum seekers - making it clear newcomers would no longer be re-settled in Australia under any circumstances - but would be transferred to Papua New Guinea for processing and re-settlement.
This heartless policy would be anathema to all Moslems already in Australia - especially families of potential asylum seekers dreaming of one day being re-united with other family members.
Predictably one could reasonably expect a backlash in the voting intentions of all ethnic and religious groupings in Australia impacted by this policy reversal.
$3 million dollars had reportedly been spent on an advertising blitz in the Australian media explaining the new refugee plan for six days before any similar ads were placed in the countries-of-origin of asylum seekers.
The advertising campaign is going to cost a staggering $30 million - and will now controversially run at taxpayer cost during the election period.
A Department of Immigration spokesman has confirmed the intention of the advertising.
“The advertisements are aimed to speak to ethnic communities in Australia which are the main boat people source. They include Afghans, Iranians, Sri Lankans, Iraqis and more recently Vietnamese people though there are of course other communities.”
He said the aim was to spread the message through “word of mouth” from Australia back to those communities.
The Labor Party holds a number of seats by very small margins where Moslems and different ethnic groups comprise a significant proportion of the voters.
It is becoming increasingly evident that a bizarre balancing act was performed by Carr at the Lakemba Mosque - announcing unequivocally and without apology as Labor Party policy that Jews are not legally entitled to live in the West Bank - thereby hoping to placate and ameliorate Moslem concerns with another Labor Party policy denying Moslem asylum seekers any legal entitlement to live in Australia.
To further impress Moslem voters - Carr added an assurance that this anti-Jewish policy concerning the West Bank was personally embraced by Prime Minister Rudd and so would remain unchanged if the Labor Party is returned to power.
His assurances seem to have fallen on deaf Moslem ears - if the results of recently published polls in those tightly held Labor marginal seats are any guidance.
Carr - and Rudd - have amazingly managed to alienate Jews, Moslems and other ethnic groups - who will consider as immoral and inhumane - and be motivated to vote against - Labor policies that deny Jews the right to settle in the West Bank or asylum seekers the right to settle in Australia.
Hastily conceived policies drawn up in the heat of an election campaign appear set to hit the Labor Party with devastating effect.