Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Statement on former Foreign Minister Carr's recent comments

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AIJAC has had good relations with former Foreign Minister Bob Carr over many years and are puzzled and disappointed by his strange claims that Australian foreign policy under the previous government was under the sway of the "extraordinary influence" of a Melbourne based pro-Israel lobby - apparently a reference primarily to AIJAC. It is frankly sad when an elected official imagines that disagreement with their policy position must stem from malicious influences.

Mr. Carr's spurious allegations that the lobby held "extraordinary" and "unhealthy" sway over the views of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her office show her a distinct lack of respect. Ms. Gillard was an independent-thinking Prime Minister who is fully as capable of coming to her own conclusions about optimum Australian foreign policies as is Mr. Carr. The fact that some of her conclusions on promoting Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation were different from Carr's is no more evidence that she was under the influence of "unhealthy" pro-Israeli lobbying than Carr's views are evidence that he is under the "sway" of Australia's several pro-Palestinian lobby groups.

AIJAC seeks exactly what Mr. Carr seeks for the Middle East - a negotiated two-state solution whereby an independent Palestinian state arises on the vast majority of the West Bank and Gaza augmented by land swaps from Israel, while the Palestinians accept Israel's right to live in peace as a Jewish state. Yet bizarrely, because we had some friendly disagreements with Mr. Carr on the best policies to encourage this outcome, we are, in Mr. Carr's lexicon, "extreme right-wing."

Despite Mr. Carr's unfortunate decision to engage in ad hominem attacks rather than debate the best way to achieve this shared goal, AIJAC will continue to make the case, fairly and openly to anyone who cares to listen, for the Australian policies which we believe, after all due consideration, are most likely to help bring about lasting and secure Israeli-Palestinian peace. And we make no apologies for doing so.

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