Australia's foreign minister, Bob Carr, will be visiting Israel next week. Here is Isi Leibler in the Jerusalem Post on the long and friendly relationship between the two nations which stretches back to when Australia was a teenager and Israel was occupied by Britain and yet to shake off the League of Nations mandate that was unlawfully administered by the British. (Or would have been illegal if there was any serious jurisprudential concept of international law that then, like now, wasn't an offence to decency and the intelligence).
Australia’s positive relationship with Israel dates back to when Australian troops served in Palestine in the course of the two World Wars. To this day, veteran Israelis recount vignettes of the warm and uninhibited relationships with the Australians – in stark contrast to the cold and frequently hostile British attitudes displayed throughout the mandatory period.
Since 1948, when Labor Party leader Dr. H V Evatt served as UN President, until today – with the solitary exception of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam whose hostility against Israel during the Yom Kippur war is considered an aberration – successive governments on both sides of the political spectrum have consistently displayed friendship to Israel.
Australian governments also supported broader Jewish concerns. In 1962, Australia became the first country at the UN to raise the issue of Soviet state-sponsored anti-Semitism and called for the right of Jews to emigrate, with successive governments making significant global contributions towards ameliorating the plight of Soviet Jews. The Australian Embassy in Moscow was regarded as a haven for refuseniks who they invited to receptions despite the tensions this created with the Soviet authorities.
The Australian government made major contributions to the global campaign to rescind the UN resolution bracketing Zionism with racism and also acted as intermediaries for Jewish leaders who sought to promote diplomatic relations between Israel and Asian countries.
Following the previous Liberal (conservative) government headed by John Howard, who emerged as Israel’s greatest champion amongst world statesmen, concerns that the new Labor government would distance itself from Israel proved to be totally unfounded. In fact, aside from the small Green factions, Israel today enjoys genuine bipartisan support throughout the entire Australian Parliament.
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Cross posted Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill