Old Daph’s plea to the Australian Jewish press: “Give it a rest already!” The cringe-worthy slavering over new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, I mean, on the grounds that he’s let it be known that he thinks he might quite possibly have maternal Jewish roots. This nauseating hero worship seems to have had its genesis with this over the top article http://www.jewishnews.net.au/menachem-mendel-turnbull/32186, which was liberally quoted from in the Australian Jewish News a fortnight ago when Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott in a sudden coup. The paper may as well have breathlessly raised the question of whether Mr Abbott can claim to be one of the tribe; after all, his Dutch maternal great-grandmother’s name, Bredschneijder, does sound a tad more promising than the Anglo-Saxon monikers with which Turnbull’s maternal line is peppered.
From a letter in the current issue of the communal newspaper: “At his [Turnbull’s] speech at the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation’s Yom Ha’atzmaut breakfast, it was indicated that he might have some Jewish roots or possibly he is halachically Jewish. Without being intrusive, it would be interesting to find out the facts about it.” Glad to oblige. Here’s his apparent lineage, which is close to what a commenter on my own blog posted: no hint of a Yiddishe momma anywhere. (See http://ethnicelebs.com/malcolm-turnbull)
Turnbull – a former head of the Australian Republican (i.e. anti-monarchist) Movement – is certainly to the left of his predecessor, Abbott. Many right-wing Liberal voters (the Liberal Party is Australia’s right-of-centre political party, corresponding to the British Conservative Party, and similarly “broad church”) are extremely bitter at his stab-in-the-back to Abbott during the latter’s first term as prime minister, and disgusted with Abbott’s deputy leader, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, for failing to warn Abbott of the planned coup against him as soon as she had wind of it. But that’s the grubby game of politics: in Australia’s case such disloyalty and jostling for place has over the last few years resulted in a spate of “revolving door ministries” reminiscent of the French Fourth Republic. Ms Bishop has emerged as a winner in all this: she retains the deputy’s position and she retains her Foreign Affairs portfolio. Another winner is Josh Frydenberg, a young, able and ambitious Jewish frontbencher who’s entered the Cabinet for the first time. Educated at two of Australia’s best-known Jewish day schools, he’s perceived, like Turnbull and Bishop, as a friend of Israel.
Moreover, it’s hard for this Liberal voter (yours truly) to disagree with the view that a Turnbull regime is far preferable to the political oblivion that was predicted to face the party had the unpopular and gaffe-prone Abbott not been replaced. Better a Turnbull-led Liberal government than a Labor (ALP) one, with its domination by trades unions and factions, some of which favour policies that are not in Australia’s best interests – or Israel’s. To say nothing of the ratbag dastardly Greens.
I tend to consider the worst Liberal government preferable to the best Labor one. But it’s impossible to ignore the current war of words taking place over Iran between Foreign Minister Bishop and Labor MP Michael Danby, who’s been a stalwart (Jewish) pro-Israel advocate long before as well as during his parliamentary career. Mr Danby has authorised a series of advertisements – some billboard-sized – (www.NoLibIranDeal.com) bearing a photo of a smiling Ms Bishop – blonde locks covered, barely, by a fetching lacy black hood – in conversation in Teheran with a contented-looking Hassan Rouhani. The advertisements bear the words “Say no to Bishop’s Iran deal”.
Danby states: “While claiming to be Israel’s friend, the Liberals appear intent on speeding up Iran’s passage from pariah to international acceptability despite the fact Iran has done little to show the world it deserves losing pariah status. Malcolm Turnbull can be a friend of Israel or a friend of the dangerous Iranian regime. He cannot be both. With Iran still making blood-curdling threats against Israel, Prime Minister Turnbull must call Ms Bishop in and order her to halt and reverse this slide towards appeasement of the hard-line, bellicose regime in Tehran.”
Furthermore: “Since the proposed nuclear deal with Iran, Australia and Julie Bishop have failed to respond, as they have in the past, to war-like announcements by Iran where Israel has been directly threatened. Only recently, the head of Iran’s parliament called for the annihilation of Israel. Supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei forecast darkly that Israel ‘would not exist in 25 years’ because of Iran’s policy. Just three years ago, Ms Bishop supported international sanctions and loudly condemned Iran. In 2012, as Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Bishop came out swinging when an Australian diplomat planned to visit Iran. Ms Bishop has changed her mind on Iran, nearly as often as she’s changed her preferred Liberal party leader. I hope through my campaign to encourage her to change her perspective on Iran and to stay loyal to the democratic cause in the Middle East.”
Ms Bishop has dismissed Danby’s criticisms.
She told the Australian J-Wire news service: “The Australian government is a steadfast friend of Israel and reversed several UN voting positions of the former Labor government, of which Michael Danby was a member. The government also rejects the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign supported by many within Labor and the union movement. Mr Danby voted for the weakening of Australia’s border protection laws under the Labor government, which resulted in thousands of Iranians entering Australia illegally. The Coalition government [under Abbott] stopped the flow of illegal migration and is negotiating with Iran to facilitate the return of its citizens. Mr Danby should apologise for his role in supporting the weakening of our border protection laws, and for the Labor movement’s support of BDS before making further juvenile comments.”
Danby has retorted: “Julie Bishop’s responses to the story about the media campaign I have launched were laughable and embarrassing. Ms Bishop has completely avoided the Iranian issue. Instead of attempting to defend her Iranian policy, Ms Bishop attacked Labor on unrelated issues. Having organised hot chocolate sit-ins across Australia to support Max Brenner against BDS, it is shameful that the foreign minister is divisive on an issue we all agree on. At its July National Conference, the ALP passed a resolution that specifically rejected the BDS campaign against Israel… I have asked for a Parliamentary debate before any decision is taken about weakening Australian sanctions against Iran. Sadly, based on her comments [talking up the resumption of trade relations between the two countries] on ABC Rural (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-07/julie-bishop-trade-iran/6751132), it sounds like Ms Bishop has already made that decision.”
He added: “The Jewish community justly fears the setting up of Iranian consulates in Woollahra [in Sydney] and Toorak [in Melbourne], given that the role Iranian diplomats played in the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires [in 1992] and the AMIA [Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina] Jewish centre two years later is beyond doubt. Together with the Labor leadership, I am going to demand Parliamentary debate and public scrutiny of Bishop’s slide towards Iran. If she thinks the issue will go away, then she’s wrong.”