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One Jimmy Carter is Already Too Many

August 12, 2009 – 9:45 am8 Comments

malcom_fraserBy Anthony Frosh

Malcolm Fraser’s whitewash of Hamas in The Age (August 11th 2009) is a cheap and desperate attempt to maintain a modest public profile.  Not only is his Hamas advocacy piece poorly written, but it is almost completely lacking in substance.  It demonstrates the fact that Fraser has only the most superficial grasp of the complex issues that plague the Middle East.  So fraught is his article with both misunderstandings and reifications that it is difficult to know where to begin. Let’s go through some of the more absurd paragraphs.

Paragraph 3:  Fraser writes that “Israelis believe that Muslims generally will not accept the fact of Israel’s existence.” Is Fraser not aware that some Israelis are Muslims, or of Israel’s longstanding diplomatic relationship with Turkey? Most Israelis, and certainly Israeli policy-makers, are not so ignorant as to categorise the world’s entire Muslim population as a single entity, even though Fraser evidently is.

Paragraph 5:  Fraser writes that the actions of Israel’s (alleged) nuclear program “promote proliferation and have clearly influenced Iran” (My emphasis). Clearly? It’s not clear to me, and Fraser provides no evidence whatsoever. Even Ahmadinejad is not using this feeble excuse to justify Iran’s nuclear program.

Paragraph 6:  Fraser complains that criticism of Israel often leads to charges of anti-Semitism.  I think the incidence of this is overstated, and to the extent that it is true, this is because criticism of Israel frequently comes from anti-Semites.  Furthermore, Fraser’s complaint is fast becoming the catch-call of the anti-Semite.

Paragraph 8: Fraser writes that “Hamas won a legitimate democratic election.” Here is where Fraser really reveals himself to have a poor grasp of the realities of the conflict. Voting alone does not a democratic election make. Without freedom for people to express themselves or the ability to campaign on a freely chosen political platform, an election can hardly be described as “legitimate” democracy. Fraser sadly diminishes the meaning of the phrase.

I could go on, but we encourage tighter word limits at Galus Australis than they do at The Age, so allow me to jump ahead to some of the juicier bits…

3rd last paragraph: Fraser writes “If there were agreement on the boundaries of a Palestinian state, Israel would have no problem about recognition.”  I can see it now: wealthy Saudi tourists spending their not-so-hard earned petro-dollars in the fashionable boutiques of Dizengoff St, and lazing on the beaches of Eilat.  And Fraser, like most of the 1967ers, fails to explain why these particular armistice lines are the most appropriate ones to use as final status borders.  Exactly what is so morally superior about these particular boundaries, compared to any of the other boundaries that have existed throughout the last century?

Final two paragraphs: Fraser writes that Israel is the source and inspiration for fundamentalist terrorism, and worse than that, he writes of successive Australian governments being afraid of “the Jewish lobby.” The best turn of phrase that I can think of to describe these two paragraphs is that Fraser has done a Michael Backman. Clearly The Age has learnt nothing from that affair.  I tried to source a comment from the Jewish lobby on this issue, but it seems no such actual entity exists.

Other than an easy way to get attention, I’m not sure why Fraser is writing about Israel, Jews, and Hamas.  I guess he just lacks the courage to write an article on how we should establish formal diplomatic relations with the Bali bombers.

For any readers out there who feel annoyed by Fraser’s article, spare a thought for Jimmy Carter.  I spoke to him on the phone today*, and he was positively irate.

“Malcolm Fraser is pathetic! A 1970s head of government criticising Israel and the Jewish lobby, embracing terrorist groups such as Hamas, all just to get his profile back in the public eye? That’s my routine – tell that old fool to get his own act!”

* Editor’s note: none of the telephone conversations quoted in this article actually took place outside of the author’s imagination.

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