Embassy move would send a message to Arab world

Most of us agree that a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be in the interest of humanity. It would not eliminate jihadism because the destruction of Israel is only the first of its aims, but it would eliminate a fashionable cause that leftists use to cloak their anti-Semitism — and their contempt for Western values — with a veneer of respectability.

It would redefine the battlelines between Islamist extremism and the Western tradition. But such a resolution is impossible until the Arab world is prepared to make the concession of Israel’s right to exist.

Why should they make such a concession while our support for Israel is equivocal? The embassy move may be symbolic in practical terms but it is one way in which the West can send a message to the Arab world that Israel is not going anywhere if we can help it.

Peter O’Brien, Kiama, NSW

Congratulations to Jennifer Oriel for her perceptive article (“Islamist bullies should butt out of our foreign policy”, 19/11). The threat by Muslim nations that terrorist attacks by Islamists will escalate if Australia relocates its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be laughable if it were not so sinister. Australia and many countries throughout the world have been subjected to numerous acts of terrorism by Islamists long before the issue of moving embassies to Jerusalem arose.

If Muslim nations believe some of their citizens may launch terror attacks, it is up to them to neutralise such activity and not threaten law-abiding countries by justifying terrorism in response to what is a non-violent foreign policy decision by a sovereign country.

Babette Francis, Toorak, Vic

Jennifer Oriel’s highly-informed article endorsing the relocation of our embassy to Jerusalem is a significant counterpoint to Paul Kelly’s cautious reluctance in The Weekend Australian to condone it. They are probably both correct, but at the margin, where all political issues have always battled, pay the ethics. Do the right thing.

Betty Cockman, Dongara, WA

What a tangled web we weave when we practice to curry favour in a by-election (“Mahathir meddling makes Jerusalem shift more sure”, 17/11). Now that, on the foreign front, Joko Widodo and Mahathir Mohamad have voiced their opposition and, on the local front, John Howard and Josh Frydenberg have voiced their support, whether or not Scott Morrison sticks with his knee jerk, it has assumed a life of its own, one that may well damage our international trade and will definitely damage any formerly perceived intelligence of those who presume to plot the course of where the country is heading.

John Lewis, Port Macquarie, NSW

Why are people taking so much offence at the proposal to move Australia’s embassy to west Jerusalem? It should always have been in Israel’s capital, just as it is in the capital of every other nation where we are represented. So what is the problem?

If or when the two-state solution is finally achieved, the Australian embassy to Israel will be in Jerusalem. Depending on the nature of that solution, there might be another embassy in east Jerusalem, or perhaps in some other town in Palestine.

Is it suggested that the move will impede the development of a two-state solution? I cannot see how the location of our embassy has any effect for or against the development of a two-state solution. If that is not the problem, what is causing the offence?

Richard Topham, Deepdene, Vic

Mahathir Mohamad asserts his right to free speech in criticising Israel, while warning that Australia’s right to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem may lead to terror incidents. Which is the point — criticising Israel is indeed a matter of free speech; upsetting the Muslim world is risky speech.

Robert Wolfgramm, Boronia, Vic

Mahathir Mohamad’s comments on Jews demonstrates the gulf between the liberal West and authoritarian democracies. Mahathir has said the 9/11 attacks could have been staged to provide the US with an excuse to attack Muslims. In 2014, he equated Israelis to the Nazis. Channelling Julius Streicher (hanged in 1946 for crimes against humanity), Mahathir denounced Jews as “hook nosed”.

It is time we recognised that while Australia is linked to Asia, the principles that underpin our society just do not resonate with our neighbours.

Bruce Watson, Mosman, NSW

Letters that appeared in The Australian.