Fisking Fraser

Dry Bones -Their Holiday Calendar6th October 2011

We all knew that Malcolm Fraser, Australian Prime Minister 1975 to 1983 and ministerial positions including Minister for the Army (1966) and Minister of Defence (1969) was not the same Malcolm Fraser of 2011. Nothing prepared me that he would be that different.  What follows is a line by line fisking of an article It’s now time for the West to recognise Palestinian statehood
appearing in Fairfax newspapers. Not just on obvious errors of fact. He owes all Australians an explanation on some points. If he believe this now what did he believe then?

It’s now time for the West to recognise Palestinian statehood

Malcolm Fraser
October 4, 2011


The current negative approach is damaging and can’t be justified.

 Damaging to whom Mr. Fraser? I know it’s a mantra of the ‘For Israel’s Own Good’ lobby that Israel needs an enemy determined to destroy it, in easy artillery range of 80% of her citizens. Is that your point? Is it damaging to Australia?  How so? Damaging to World Peace? Australia has happily supplied soldiers to just about every war that Britain and later America became embroiled in. That includes Vietnam, under your watch.

The arguments against recognition of a Palestinian state seem to rest on the simple proposition that agreement must be reached through negotiation and that a resolution granting statehood would set that process back.

 That would be the argument Barak Obama will probably make through gritted teeth but it is hardly the only argument. Surely that the Palestinian State you propose fulfills none of the prerequisites for statehood deserves a mention. Palestine doesn’t have a permanent population. The constant demands to ethnic cleanse it of Jews should shoot that down. What is its defined territory? Or do you mean will be defined by UN mandate and then negotiated with Israel who occupies part? Who is the government of Palestine? Abbas, two years past the end of his term or Hamas who control Gaza where Abbas doesn’t dare set foot? Perhaps the commitment by both Hamas and numerous members of Abbas’s own party to go to war whenever practical is a reasonable ground for voting against? Perhaps the distinct likelihood that the State of Palestine will become a centre for exporting radical Islam and jihad against the West should be an argument for not rushing in.

If that argument was valid it would have been true in 1948 when the United Nations recognised Israel as an independent state. People should then have argued the Israelis must negotiate with the Palestinians, the people who were being pushed out, and once they had come to an agreement, we could recognise Israel.

 In 1948 the United Nations recommended partition into a Jewish state and an Arab state. All the Arabs rejected this, started a war to destroy the Jewish state and lost! No one was being pushed out when the UN made their decision. The recognition that no negotiations were possible is why the UN tried to force a solution.

If the argument is so thin, why are some Western powers so strongly against recognition of a Palestinian state? I suggest it is because of the lock that Israel has over the policies of too many Western countries. There is an Israeli lobby that governments are not prepared to offend.

 Clearly Mr. Fraser you have an obligation to explain your actions to the Australian people. What decisions did the Australian Government make while you were minister and Prime Minister that you wouldn’t have made without pressure from the Israeli lobby? What did you think the Israeli lobby would do if offended? How large is the Israeli lobby in Australia to panic you so much? Why did you claim to be a friend of Israel?

There have been two major stumbling blocks to peace. The first is the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank, the daily diminution of what might become Palestine. US President Barack Obama, to his credit, tried to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the expansions. He did not succeed. If other Western countries had supported Obama at the time, that result may have been better.

Many will point out that the building is within existing communities. Their boundaries are not expanding but my point is different. In what way should other Western ‘support’ Obama? What would you want Australia to do in the almost certain event Israel would resist the interference in its affairs? Would you send troops, stop selling goods to Israel, stop buying? Would you do more than Obama?

The second problem concerns the divisions between Fatah and Hamas, and here both Israel and the West have played their part in perpetuating that division. Hamas won a legitimate election. Nobody claimed it was fraudulent. Indeed, people working in Palestine had predicted a Hamas victory because, in small communities across the territory, if people had needed help it was Hamas that would provide it and not Fatah, which was seen as self-serving and corrupt.

 Hamas won a legitimate election and then were ‘legitimately’ dismissed. Does that sound familiar? Perhaps the year 1975 would jog your memory?The pot is definitely calling the kettle black.

Hamas and Fatah†† have fundamentally different world views and strategies to destroy Israel. I would venture they have considerably less  in common than the Labor Party and the Liberal Party you once led. Defining them as one corrupt and one not is more than a little simplistic.

After Hamas’s election victory, much of the West, led by Israel and the US, said: ”Well, you are going to have to change your policy before we will talk to you. You must now accept the existence of the Israeli state.” That stand forced Hamas back to the weapons it had known for too long, most of which were psychological. Its rocket attacks on Israel caused little damage relative to the retribution exacted by the Israeli army against the people of Gaza. The main effect of those rockets has been, and remains, the propaganda weapon that it provides Israel.

 There are so many historical errors here, it’s hard to know where to begin. I’ll leave that to others. My questions are these:

Mr. Fraser, how many rocket attacks,’causing little damage’, would you have allowed to land on Australia before calling out the full force of the Australian Army?

Mr. Fraser, if I had been old enough at the time‡ you would have sent me to fight the North Vietnamese. No damage was ‘ever’ done to Australia by Vietnam except for attacks on Australian soldiers on Vietnamese soil. Wouldn’t even one Aussie bullet have been a grossly disproportionate response?

The ineffective use of power by Hamas has been regarded as totally illegitimate, while Israel has used its official forces time and again in provocation or retribution. The violence is endless and who is responsible for cause and effect will depend very much on who you are talking to. There is no absolute truth.

 Uh? You seemed quite sure who was to blame up to this point.

If the West had said to Hamas, ”we will talk with you, we will negotiate with you, but we oppose absolutely your failure to recognise the state of Israel”, it could have done much to heal the wounds between Hamas and Fatah and provide a strong Palestinian entity that could negotiate with Israel. The West could also have said very clearly to Hamas, and I believe Hamas would have accepted this, ”while you do not recognise the existence of Israel now, once there are agreed boundaries of a Palestinian state, from that moment on you must recognise the existence and permanence of the Jewish state of Israel”.

 The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day? Article 11 Hamas Covenant 1988

That doesn’t sound like any acceptance of a Jewish state, now or ever. BTW one focus of Palestinian rhetoric at the moment is that they can’t and shouldn’t recognise a Jewish state. Stay with the programme.

Many would regard that as a fair bargain. Why should Palestinians recognise Israel when Israel refuses to talk substantively about realistic boundaries to a Palestinian state and while Israeli settlers are diminishing what might be and should be a Palestinian state?

 Why should the Palestinians? Wisdom is that sometimes the best policy is to take what you can get rather than lose more. They made war and they lost. Not just once but several times. There are severe penalties for losing a war.

You should ask yourself if settlements are the issue why didn’t the complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 bring even local peace? You should ask yourself why the Palestinian leadership didn’t even respond to Israeli offers on boundaries? 

One could almost argue that Israel, the US and Fatah are in an unholy alliance to destroy Hamas. They have not done so. To talk of negotiations leading to peace while ignoring the reality of Hamas is to talk nonsense. So Prime Minister Abbas is correct in pressing for United Nations recognition.

 Unholy? Have you become Muslim and not told anyone? What part of the Hamas reality is acceptable to you?

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem). Article 7 Hamas Covenant 1988

There are other reasons a new approach is needed urgently. The power of the US under current policies is diminishing in the Middle East. Its capacity to influence events in future will be less than it has been. Turkey has changed the substance of its relationship with Israel in major ways. It will never return to the old subservience to Israeli and American wishes. Likewise in Egypt. Whether the generals allow a true democratic state to emerge may be doubtful, but it is clear that the pro-Israeli policies followed by former president Hosni Mubarak are not now being followed by Egypt. As time passes without progress, Egypt’s stand is likely to become stronger and more effective. Saudi Arabia has also pressed the US very hard on this issue.

Turkey subservient to Israel? Mubarak pro Israel? Are you recommending a review of Australia’s relationship with the ‘weakened’ United States? Are you recommending an Australian alliance with someone else? If so, who?

Recognition by the United Nations could give greater weight to Palestinian arguments and would put pressure on Israel of a new kind to end the policy of settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. That is an essential part of an ultimate settlement.

Recognition by the United Nations will cause Israel to circle the waggons in preparation for an inevitable war with Palestinians strengthened by expectations of world support. Do you have any actual evidence to the contrary to dispute that?

What do you recommend Australia do when the war breaks out? Would you send troops, stop selling goods to Israel, stop buying? Would you do more than Obama? I asked that once before.

The lack of progress over 18 years is due not so much to Palestinian division or to the ineffective rocketry of Hamas, but to the determination of Israel and its closest friends to make sure that nothing is done that Israel does not support. The changes in the Middle East, not only in Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia but across North Africa, will end in greater support for the Palestinian cause. These important relationships for the West may be irretrievably damaged if the West persists in its negative approach to the question of Palestinian statehood.

Greater Muslim support for the Palestinian cause. How is this possible?

“The imperialistic forces in the Capitalist West and Communist East, support the enemy with all their might, in money and in men. These forces take turns in doing that. The day Islam appears, the forces of infidelity would unite to challenge it, for the infidels are of one nation”.

“O true believers, contract not an intimate friendship with any besides yourselves: they will not fail to corrupt you. They wish for that which may cause you to perish: their hatred hath already appeared from out of their mouths; but what their breasts conceal is yet more inveterate. We have already shown you signs of their ill will towards you, if ye understand.” (The Family of Imran – verse 118). Article 22 Hamas Covenant 1988

Mr. Fraser. Do some research. The Muslims don’t like you either. When they say, “First the Saturday people then the Sunday”* they are talking about you.

Malcolm Fraser was prime minister of Australia from 1975 to 1982**.

For a different take on the Fraser article: Israel loses an old friend in Fraser and we long for his return, Isi Leibler, Sydney Morning Herald, October 5, 2011

† In 1975 Fraser manoeuvred the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor government in what is still the most controversial and passionately debated subject in Australian history.
‡ Fraser, as Minister for the Army, was responsible for reintroducing conscription (to you Americans – the Draft) of 18 year olds to fight in the Vietnamese War. Gough Whitlam defeated William McMahon (who coincidentally was my local MP) and ended Australia’s participation. I was 17 years old!
†† No room to discuss this here. Let’s just say that Hamas believes in killing Jews now while Fatah would take whatever they can get and killing the Jews when the balance of power has shifted in the Arabs favour. Throughout the one elction ever held in Palestine Hamas never hid their plans to go to war as soon as possible. The Palestinians may not have specifically voted for this but only deaf and stupid among them could deny they were unaware.
* Fraser is a Presbyterian.
** Surely that’s a typo. I’m sure he was defeated by the fiercely pro-Israel Bob Hawke in 1983.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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