On November 8, the Australian ran an op-ed from former Foreign Minister Bob Carr announcing his new role as patron of the Labor Friends of Palestine, wherein he argued, ad nauseum, that Israel is becoming apartheid-like and that settlements are what is preventing a two-state solution.
Spouting arrant nonsense, Carr claimed that, “settlements have doubled in the past 54 months alone.”
Since 1999 no new settlement has been established and existing settlement boundaries have not enlarged since 2004. Nor is it true that the settlement population has anywhere near doubled. Nor has the rate of construction in settlements doubled, if that is the claim.
Carr also indulged in historical revisionism, blaming Israel for creating Palestinian refugees because “massacres were used during the foundation of Israel in 1948 to drive out 700,000 Palestinians” and citing Israeli historian Benny Morris as a source. Yet Morris has repeatedly and strongly rejected the claim that there was a Zionist plan in 1948 to “drive out” Palestinians.
On Adelaide ABC Radio’s “Evenings with Peter Goers” (Nov. 12) Carr again twisted former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert’s rumination on the possibility of apartheid if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot eventually be resolved.
Yet when Carr offered his panacea for the conflict – “a two-state solution…’67 boundaries but with agreed…swaps of territory… handling of refugees, the status of Jerusalem, the future of those outpost settlements” – he ignored the fact that both these former Israeli leaders essentially offered the Palestinians that package and were rebuffed with silence or violence.
The Australian (Nov. 11) rejected Carr’s assertion that the settlement has replaced the kibbutz as the “symbol of Israel” noting that, “Israel withdrew from some settlements in 2005, handing Gaza to the Palestinians. This did not improve life for Palestinians. Rather, it gave Hamas a handy site to launch its rockets at Israel.”
Interviewed by Graham Richardson, Carr falsely claimed that “60 per cent of [Israeli PM Binyamin] Netanyahu’s cabinet [is] on record opposing a Palestinian state.”
In fact, only about six of Israel’s 22 ministers oppose a Palestinian state as a matter of principle and none bolted when Netanyahu was negotiating to create one in 2013/14.
Carr rejected Richardson’s suggestion settlers would agree to move if a peace deal were signed. Yet during the 2005 Gaza withdrawal ordered by Ariel Sharon, an overwhelmingly majority of the 8,000 plus settlers evacuated left peacefully, Sky News “Richo” (Nov. 12).
On Nov. 12, ABC Radio National “Religion & Ethics Report” host Andrew West asked US academic and New Israel Fund board member David Myers if Carr’s claim of “creeping apartheid” was not “too far off the mark.”
Myers replied, “I am not sure he is too far off the mark” and claimed there was preferential treatment in Israel for Jews and “in particular in the West Bank,” referring to “separate roads for Jews and Arabs.”
West interjected that “many defenders of Israel” insist they are “separate roads for settlers not Jews but I guess the fact is that most settlers are Jewish.”
In fact the short stretches of road can be used by any Israeli, including 1.6 million non-Jews.
Australian Jewish News publisher Robert Magid noted that Carr failed “to mention that the Netanyahu government is committed to a two-state solution” and if you “look at any map in the Palestinian territories or the Arab world… ‘the Occupation’ is not of Jenin or Ramallah but Tel Aviv and Haifa. Anyone who betrays that birthright should be killed as a traitor. The only peace agreement Abbas would sign is for Benjamin Netanyahu to hand over all of Israel,” Australian (Nov. 12).
Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s Peter Wertheim repudiated Carr’s claim that there are “racially based laws for the Jewish minority – and an inferior set for the Palestinian majority,” noting that Jews outnumber Arabs in the combined population of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank,” Australian (Nov. 13).
Federal Labor MP Michael Danby told Graham Richardson that “80 per cent of Israelis” want to “make a deal”, and urged that instead of focusing on Israel, Carr should call for Palestinian Authority elections which haven’t been held since 2006, Sky News “Richo” (Nov. 20).
Meanwhile in the Canberra Times (Nov. 14), Federal Labor MP Melissa Parke was singing from Carr’s song sheet, writing “it is the extreme right-wing government of Israel and its uncritical Western backers who stand in the way of progress.”
As opposed to the bastion of human rights that is Hamas, which calls for death to Israel and Jews collectively, or Fatah’s President Mahmoud Abbas who once promised that not one Jew will live in a Palestinian state?