Federal Labor's Minister for Israel, Michael Danby MP, seems to be winning a few hearts lately:
1) "But the best speech on Afghanistan this week came from Labor's Michael Danby, the chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Danby is a true Australian cosmopolitan, with the widest range of foreign policy interests of anyone on the backbench on either side of parliament. He profoundly supports Australia's Afghanistan commitment and I think he is mistaken to do so. But Danby also has a George Orwell-like willingness to face difficult and unpleasant facts." (Denying a deadly dividend, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 26/11/11)
A true Australian cosmopolitan, with the widest range of foreign policy interests of anyone on the backbench?
Oh, really? Why O why is Greg hiding Michael's Light Unto the Nations under a bushel? The plain fact of the matter is that there's really only one foreign policy interest that really gets Danby's juices going. The rest is just window-dressing:
"[Danby] corrals his parliamentary colleagues and forces them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions. 'During a recent political controversy [MERC: Gaza?], we had 11 federal MPs get together on an Israel issue. Mike Kelly [MP] convened them and I organised with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), who had a delegation up there, to sit down with us and we strategised together', Danby said."*
As for that alleged George Orwell-like willingness to face difficult and unpleasant facts, here's Danby 'facing' the fact that his god has failed:
"The boycott [Israel] campaign... is a tactic designed by extremist organisations such as Hamas to mask the strategy of the 'one state solution', a single state between Jordan and the Mediterranean. This would lead to the destruction of the independent Jewish state of Israel. Any Israeli Jews who are not killed, who did not flee for their lives, would be left as a benighted minority (the Arab word for which is 'Dhimmis') in a Hamas-ruled theocratic state."**
Now what might the anti-Zionist George Orwell say about the above? Why, this of course:
"It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit... fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort." (Notes on Nationalism, 1945)
2) "Amid all the rancor of that final sitting week, Labor's Michael Danby introduced to the House of Representatives a motion that highlighted the best in public debate. He called on Parliament to recognise each July 11 as Srebrenica Remembrance Day, as a reminder of the evil that led to the genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the hands of the rebel Serb forces of Ratko Mladic in Bosnia in 1995. It was, Danby said, 'what the Russians would call an act of pamyat - memory." (Rising from the mire, Paul Daley, The Sun-Herald, 27/11/11)
Srebrenica Remembrance Day? OK, I get it! Israeli massacres of Palestinians, Lebanese, and others, dating from the 1930s through to the present, become a bit of a blur after a while, so done and dusted Srebrenica it is. Brilliant move! As Orwell would have said (and did): "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." (Notes on Nationalism, 1945)
Ah, but is there more to Danby's 'cosmopolitanism' than meets the eye? I know I'm a cynical bastard at the best of times, but could it have something to do with this?:
"How does it come about that whether the Palestinian application for statehood will be put to a vote at all, or will simply be rejected, depends on Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the Security Council's non-permanent members? Nine out of 15 votes are needed to win full membership of the UN as a sovereign state, and Palestine has secured 8 so far: those of South Africa, India, Brazil, Lebanon, China, Russia, Nigeria and Gabon. The 9th vote should come from Portugal, Colombia or Bosnia. Portugal will most probably follow the advice of EU headquarters and vote against it. President Abbas personally went to Bogota to lobby for the Colombian vote, but was told that Colombia is too dependent on American aid. So only Sarajevo is left to receive Palestine's last efforts to secure a yes vote, as well as Israeli and American efforts to persuade Bosnia to join those SC members rejecting the proposal or abstaining from the vote." (The importance of Bosnia on Palestine's path to the UN, Hajrudin Somun, Today's Zaman, 29/11/11)
But could a Srebrenica Remembrance Day be taking the irony a little too far?:
"The 3 members of the Bosnian presidency act as 3 heads of state... Each... must support a decision in order for the country's representaive to the SC to vote for the Palestinian petition. Otherwise the Bosnian delegation must abstain... Bakir Izetbegovic, representinting Bosniaks in the presidency, expressed his unreserved support for the Palestinian's legitimate quest for UN membership... The Croat member of the presidency, Zeljko Comsic, generally supports Palestine... The Serb representative, Nebojsa Radmanovic, however, strongly opposes the Palestinian quest for statehood..." (ibid)
But there's more: "Radmanovic... denies that he is pro-Israeli, but how can the fact that he and Milorad Dodik, president of the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska, hosted Avigdor Lieberman when he spent a few days on vacation in Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer be interpreted otherwise? Israel has also promised to invest in the Serb entity." (ibid)
And more: "This attitude on the part of Bosnian Serb leaders has other roots as well: They... regard the whole 'Palestinian cause' as an Islamic one..." (ibid)
So, let's pull all this together: Australia's Minister for Israel is proposing a memorial to Bosnian Muslims massacred by Bosnian Serbs, who are lining up with Israel to block Palestinian statehood, which is supported by Bosnian Muslims.
Surely it's just a coincidence! There couldn't possibly be any connection between these two phenomena. To suggest otherwise would be way too cynical, even for me.
What do you reckon, George?
[*A decade of Danby, Peter Kohn & Naomi Levin, The Australian Jewish News, 27/2/09;**Knowing the truth will scare voters, The Australian, 2/4/11]