Interview with the PM’s Special Emissary to the Jews
The following is an abridged version of an interview recently screened on the ABC’s Q&A program.
Tony Jones: Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a very special Purim edition of “Q&A”. I’m your host, Tony Jones. We had, tonight, hoped to be able to reinvite our guests from last year’s Purim edition, deposed President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, along with the now former President of Libya, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. As it happens, Muammar Gaddafi was not able to attend, having suffered a fate not dissimilar to that of Haman, while Mr Mubarak is otherwise indisposed.
Instead, we have been fortunate enough to have join us tonight, a man who has recently been appointed the Prime Minister’s special emissary to the business community and her special emissary to the Jewish community.
Ladies and Gentleman, please make welcome, Mr Bruce Wolpe.
Bruce Wolpe: Shalom my fellow Americans… I mean g’day my fellow Australians.
Tony: Mr Wolpe,You’ve recently been appointed both the Prime Minister’s special emissary to the business community AND her special emissary to the Jewish community. How do you find the time to take on two such diverse portfolios, and do you find it difficult to balance priorities between those two roles.
Bruce: Well frankly, Tony, the two roles really aren’t that diverse from each other. If truth be known, I feel a little guilty about it.
Tony: Guilty about, for example, spending too much time on one portfolio and not enough on the other?
Bruce: No, guilty as in…sometimes I feel like I’m getting paid two salaries for what is essentially the one job. But hey, you don’t look a gift horse in the throat, or whatever it is that you Aussies say down here.
Tony: A lot of our audience sitting at home will be wondering why Julia Gillard even needs to have a special emissary to the Jewish community. After all, when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister, your role did not exist.
Bruce: Well Tony, you need to understand that Ms Gillard and Mr Rudd were and are very different from each other with regard to their feelings toward the Jewish community, as well as what should be Australia’s relationship with the State of Israel.
Tony: Are you saying Kevin Rudd was somewhat hostile to the Jewish community or at least to Israel?
Bruce: Well Tony, let me ask you and our audience something: Can anyone here imagine an Israeli Diplomat being expelled from Australia under Julia Gillard’s watch? The fact that one was expelled under Mr Rudd’s watch suggests that he was not exactly simpatico with the Jewish People.
Tony: Ok, well we’ve just received a Twitter response from a KRUDD, and he says this:
@KRUDD: I resent Mr Wolpe’s insinuation. I didn’t expel the Israeli diplomat because of my hostility to Israel. I expelled the diplomat because we were lagging in the polls, and also to distract everyone from what was our growing budget deficit at the time.
Tony: And a few more tweets coming in on the same matter. This one from a JRUDD.
@JRUDD: I’m effing proud of your last tweet, dad!
@ThereseRein: I concur, and am also proud of you, KRudd
Tony: And now we’ve also received a tweet from the CSG
@CSG: If someone is the owner of a white 1985 Subaru Sportswagon parked right outside the front doors, please move your car within the next 3 minutes or it will be subject to a controlled detonation. Your cooperation is appreciated.
Well, let’s move on, shall we.
Mr Wolpe, could you give our audience an idea of the kinds of tasks a Prime Minister’s Special Emissary to the Jewish community does. For example, what would be one of the most challenging things you’ve done in this role?
Bruce: Certainly Tony. Let me give an example from only last week. It was a Sunday morning, and Julia and Tim were planning on having some close friends and family around for lunch at their home in Altona, and thus they needed fresh bagels and mon kichel, which as you can imagine, are not that easy to acquire in Altona. Well, I got a call about 9am on the Sunday morning, from the Prime Minister, and she said she’s had a rough night reading Kevin Rudd’s twitter feed, and she just couldn’t face up to queuing in either Glick’s or Haymishe.
Tony: Well, what about Lichtenstein’s? I’ve heard reports that the service is friendlier, and the product is less oily than Glicks, and altogether of a higher quality.
Bruce: Could you not interrupt me Tony?!
Tony: Sorry, but..
Bruce: Please, just let me finish.
Tony: Ok, I’m sorry, please continue
Bruce: Anyway, I had to get in my car and drive several blocks, somehow find parking on Carlisle St, take a number at Glicks for bagels, then shoot across to Haymishe for mon kichel…umm that’s Poppy Seed cake, then wait an eternity for an old lady to give my change, while meanwhile I lost my number at Glicks.
Tony: Yes, well I think we all get the idea. We’ve got another comment off the Twitter from a Professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann of the University of Adelaide, and I’ll simplify the comment for the audience. He says something to the effect that he’s concerned that Ms Gillard cannot hope to have the same level of understanding of foreign policy matters as Mr Rudd, because she doesn’t have the same level of understanding of linguistics compared to Mr Rudd.
Bruce: I think we actually need to be asking what Ghilad’s comment says about Ghilad.
Tony: What that says about Gillard?
Bruce: Yes, what it says about Ghilad!
Bruce: Yes, Ghilad!
Tony: Sorry, are we talking about Gillard or Ghil’ad?
Bruce: I’ve lost track.
Tony: So have I.
Well finally, we’ve had several people ask what is the Prime Minister going to do about the situation with the Melbourne Beit Din.
Bruce: Well, as you know, Julia has a lot of experience with combating infighting, lack of transparency, abuses of power, egotism, and general intransigence. At the moment, she’s more focussed on dealing with these same problems in the Labor Caucus, but once things have settled down there, I expect that she will announce a special inquest into the Beit Din, possibly to be chaired by Minister Peter Garrett.
Tony: Well there you have it, another startling revelation on Q&A. And I’m afraid that’s all we have time for tonight. Please join us again next, when we broadcast live from the carpark of Rishon kosher food store, where we discuss the growing influence of the Kitniyot Liberation Front. The KLF – a genuine liberation movement fighting for our freedom to consume legumes on pesach? – or a dangerous terrorist group threatening the continuity of Jewish life as we know it? For that, join us next week on Q&A.