Take a young opportunist: "A fellow student activist says [Julia] Gillard has always been 'very much on the pragmatic side'. 'She was always that way in student politics. She was more inclined to deal with the Libs, the Zionists and various right-wing groups than she was with the Left'." (She's got it, Stevenson & Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/03)
Rambam her: "[Zionist Federation of Australia president] Philip Chester said the fact that he had 'never heard [Gillard] say a word about the Middle East' was no indication of any lack of support for Israel, but added that he was more comfortable with Gillard filling the deputy role having been to Israel, which she visited for the first time last year." (Rudd 'good for the Jews', but Gillard still untested, The Australian Jewish News, 7/12/06) [See my 12/6/08 post Pemulwuy in Palestine]
And she'll sing like a bird: "Israel's air strikes were a response to an act of aggression by Hamas which had broken the ceasefire. We are saying to Hamas that they should cease any further action." (Gillard quoted in A time for fighting, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH 29/12/08) [See my 30/12/08 post Gaza Slaughter: Australia's Response]
But now there's more, heaps more: "The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will lead a high-level delegation to Israel next month as part of an effort to strengthen political, business and cultural ties between the two countries. The tour, organised by the lobby group the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), will include in the 40-strong delegation Liberal MPs Peter Costello, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Guy Barnett, Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, QC, Jewish scientists, academics, businessmen and women, and journalists. An equal number of Israelis will attend the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum*, to be held at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel's most prestigious hotel. Leading Israeli politicians from the governing Likud and Labour parties will attend, as well as the opposition party Kadima, led by the former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. It is hoped that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will attend. As foreign minister in 2002, Mr Netanyahu helped to launch the AICE with the then foreign minister, Alexander Downer. The chairman of the exchange is Albert Dadon, who was an early supporter of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, first bringing him on a trip to Israel in 2002. In 2005 Mr Dadon accompanied Mr Rudd and his now chief-of-staff, Alistair Jordan, on a trip to Israel... A spokesman for the organisers said the tour would include a visit to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet leaders of the Palestinian Authority. However, the purpose of the forum in Jerusalem on June 25-26 was not to engage with different points of view on the Israel-Palestine question but to promote an exchange of ideas and issues common to both countries, such as water, electoral reform and education." (Gillard to head mission to Israel, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH, 26/5/09) [*I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that this forum, according to the AJN (29/5/09), is "part of the G'day Shalom Salaam Israel event."]
What a party it'll be! Check out the guests:
Besides Julia, there'll be Peter Costello, the prime minister who wasn't. Now he's been rambammed so many times his first experience of same is practically lost in the mists of time: "Costello first visited Israel... as a guest of the Australian Union of Jewish Students in 1979. He has since returned to the country a number of times, most recently in 2003." (Costello holds court, AJN, 17/9/07)
In 2003, eh? Back then he was sounding just like Gillard on Gaza: "[Costello's] utterances during his 3-day visit to the Holy Land this week were broadly in line with official Israeli thinking. In particular, he endorsed Israel's position that there can be no further progress on the road map for peace until the Palestinian Authority honours its primary obligation to crack down on militants and halt their terrorism. 'Terrorism breeds a response', Mr Costello told the Herald on the final day of his visit." (Costello toes Mid-East line, Ed O'Loughlin, SMH, 20/9/03) These two might sit on opposite sides of the parliamentary playpen, but when it comes to Israel, they're so close it's indecent.
Speaking of which, there'll be good old George Brandis, one of the Israel lobby's attack dogs in the House of Unrepresentative Swill. He's currently engaged in some vital post-Durban II mopping up operation: "It's been a while since former Federal Court judge Catherine Branson has found herself under cross-examination. Branson, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, found herself hauled before Senate estimates this week, having to explain the attendance of social justice commissioner Tom Calma and other senior commission officers at the Durban Review Conference on Racism. The conference had been boycotted by the Australian Government on the grounds that in the past it had served as a forum for racist attacks on Israel. Liberal senator George Brandis, formerly a barrister, appeared to take great delight in nailing the former judge, who he accused of evading his questions." (Caught in crosshairs, The Australian, 28/5/09)
Brandis will be flanked by senate colleague, Guy Barnett, who also wanted a piece of Mr Calma. As he said on his website: "The Government's refusal to recall Mr Calma or lack of influence over Mr Calma is inexcusable. It is a pathetic effort. Mr Calma's presence at the conference signals that Australia condones anti-Jewish rhetoric... I will be pursuing Mr Calma, the AHRC and the Government in Senate Estimates." (guybarnett.com, 23/4/09)
And last but not least, there'll be Christopher Pyne, fresh from his labours in the House of Reps ensuring that the "sensibilities of Jewish Australians" are fully protected from any loose talk by Labour riff raff in the chamber. [See my 25/5/09 post The Analogies that Got Away]
Seems Israel just can't get enough of our love, baby.