I knew Carr when he was Premier of New South Wales and saw him as a friend of Israel, but I was shocked at what I can only term irresponsible allegations about the supposed Melbourne lobby. He seems to imply that Melbourne Zionists seek to influence the national government, and to undermine Australian democracy.
Though I am not calling Carr is an antisemite, making accusations about Jewish support for Israel is part of the antisemite’s armoury.
First we have to ask ourselves, IS there a Jewish lobby? The answer is yes, there is a Jewish lobby. The Churches also have a lobby. So do the ethnic groups. In Australia there is an Aboriginal lobby. The monarchists have a lobby, and the republicans. The pensioners. The environmentalists. The homosexuals. The teachers, parents and students. The doctors, dentists, nurses and patients. Management. Labour. Landlords. Tenants.
Is there something wrong or immoral in articulating your interests through a lobby? The social scientist Peter Drucker writes in his “The New Realities” about the decentralisation of power towards groups with single interests. Society has many such groups. They do not and cannot run the country, but they each do one thing well, like promoting health care or educational opportunity.
The Jewish community does more than one thing well. It concerns itself with Israel and the local community, but also puts its views forward in the echelons of power. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. But it does not have tunnel vision.
It is not selfish or limited to its own interests. It has an age-old moral imperative to champion a neighbour’s cause as well as its own. It has the broad vision to see the needs of society as a whole. Like Jeremiah, it knows that if there is stability in the whole of society, “in its peace will you have peace”. It takes up the cause of Israel and the Jewish people but without detriment to the needs of all human beings. It promotes the welfare of Israel, and is concerned with the whole of the Middle East and all mankind.
Bob Carr should be proud of the resilient democracy where groups can lobby without fear.
* April 2014.