Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The Last Word: Return engagement

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Jeremy Jones

 

Picture this.

You are a high-profile Australian with no shortage of public platforms and at least one prominent journalist who seems happy to convey your thoughts to the public on any occasion.

An invitation comes to you to speak on an historic anniversary, giving you the opportunity to wax lyrical, factual or however you like, on a subject on which you have previously opined with, some would say, boring regularity.

If you accepted, would you acknowledge that your judgement in doing so would be subjected to scrutiny?

Would you be completely unaware that any public appearance would be, logically, considered a matter for discussion in the public domain?

Bob Carr, former Premier of New South Wales, former Foreign Minister, formerly trusted by more than a few ex-colleagues who now question his integrity and decency, is now subject to ridicule as he strains credulity with his responses to the above line of questioning.

On April 1, the Al Quds Community Centre, which overtly proclaims an aim of the conquest of all of Israel (no "two state solution" on their radar!) commenced advertising a fundraising event in May.

Shortly afterwards, two speakers' names appeared in the publicity: Kuwaiti poet Ahmad Al-Kandari and "Bob Car" [sic] with supporting photos of these two dignitaries leaving no one in doubt as to who "Bob Car" was.

Ahmad Al-Kandari, as two or three minutes of research would reveal, is not simply a word artist, but a rabble rouser, on record declaring, "we are the soldiers of Hamas and jihad is our path . . . we will never recognise Israel" and "Say to Zion: we have brought slaughter upon you, and we shall watch you dying."

More than a week after I started receiving daily publicity notices for the double act, Bob Carr declared he was "proud to be commemorating the 70th anniversary of the displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians at the event", confecting a relationship between his purported advocacy of peace and coexistence with maximalist political posturing.

Only when the matter received mainstream media attention did Carr declare that he wasn't willing to share the microphone with Al-Kandari, then said he had found an "alternative function" at which the birth of modern Israel would be bemoaned and condemned.

With no comment, the publicity channels for the event continued circulating promotional material, but with one small change - not removing Carr from the bill or even correctly spelling "Carr", but simply substituting a former Mufti of Australia for the international wordsmith Al-Kandari.

In the course of his self-defence, Carr asserted his support for the vision of the Oslo Accords, without commenting on why the Oslo Accords are no longer in play (as this would have made his association with maximalist Israel-haters appear even more absurd).

As Premier, Bob Carr had a reputation for an inability to acknowledge that decisions he made should be subject to constructive criticism. I had first-hand experiences of how suggestions about even mildly alternative options, which were still consistent with his stated positions, were anathema to him.

I am also one of many readers of his autobiography who had first-hand knowledge of relevant events excluded from his narrative and of events which, to put it kindly, were understood by others present to have transpired in a way quite unlike their portrayal in Mr Carr's published recollections.

In this latest instance, Bob Carr was incredibly unconvincing in his attempts to extricate himself from a hole he had dug for himself.

If he is happy to associate himself with individuals and events dedicated to a world without Israel, because they give him pro tem adoration, he should stop pretending that the welfare of Israelis or Palestinians is of any concern to him.

It is sad, or perhaps even pathetic, to witness what appears to be a campaign, by a person with a record of public service, to destroy their own legacy.

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