israel and palestine flags painted over cracked concrete wall

From Bear Pit to Smear Pit

Anyone who thrived in the Bear Pit of the NSW Parliament, where the finer points of civil debating etiquette are not rigorously followed, is bound to be colourful in argumentation. Which brings me to Bob Carr’s polemical article ‘Is criticism of Israeli settlement policy anti-Semitic? Israeli nationalists insist it is’ (Pearls and Irritations, June 6).

The former NSW Premier throws everything at my mild rebuke of his earlier article (June 1) which had insinuated that the Australian Jewish community, or as Bob put it, “the Israeli Lobby” are a sinister cabal of right-wing extremists, and “the best funded foreign influence operation in Australian life”.  (Not that there’s anything antisemitic about that characterisation, he tells us).

In his latest philippic, Bob utilises a strawman about antisemitism (how the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance spells the term) – and Israeli settlements. I know of no Australian Jewish community representative body that has said that opposition to settlements is ipso facto antisemitic. If there are, Bob, please let P&I readers know.

Bob misquotes himself saying that he actually referred to the “Israel Lobby”, whereas in fact his article uses the term “Israeli Lobby” at several points. Bob now says: “I used the term ‘Israel lobby’ because that’s what it is.” It is not too much to ask for him to quote his own language accurately. His formulation – “the Israeli Lobby” – caused my ears to prick up. As if the whole Australian Jewish community could be dismissed with a verbal flourish that they are “Israelis” – implicitly, not belonging here as Australians.

Read the article by Michael Easson on his blog.