The Australian Palestine Advocacy Network wholeheartedly endorses Bob Carr’s criticisms of the disproportionate role of the Melbourne’s Israel lobby on Australian foreign policy.
“It is important to remember that Bob Carr has always taken a balanced and considered position on the Middle East,” noted APAN President George Browning. “He was for several years the president of Labor Friends of Israel and yet supported the award of the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian peace activist Hanan Ashrawi in 2003.”
Bishop Browning rejected the notion that pro-Israeli lobbyists represent Australian Jewish opinion.
“Bob Carr was right to point out that the Israel lobby is not a Jewish lobby representing Australian Jewish opinion. AIJAC is a private organisation that lobbies Australian politicians to adopt the position of Israel’s extreme right on all foreign policy issues pertaining to the Middle East,” he said, referring to the Melbourne-based Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. “They were passionate advocates for the invasion of Iraq and they are implacably opposed any reconciliation with Iran. Most importantly, they stridently oppose any criticism of Israel’s human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Browning described the claim by AIJAC chairman Mark Liebler that Carr had imagined the role of the Israel lobby in Australian foreign policy as “ridiculous”.
“Australia’s policy on Israeli settlements is way to the right of the rest of the international community. Even the United States describes Israeli settlement construction as ‘illegitimate’ but Australia is currently the only country in the world apart from Israel that refuses to acknowledge that the settlements are in breach of international law.
“The question we need to ask is what Australian interests are being served by taking such an extreme position on this issue? Why is Australia siding with Israel against the international community and even the United States on the issue of settlements? What accounts for this policy apart from the influence of the Australian Israel lobby?” Browning said.