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#################### Geoff Seidner
Wednesday, 6 May 2015
ROBERT MAGID - Foley’s folly: will ALP members now go to Taiwan after China?
Foley’s folly: will ALP members now go to Taiwan after China?
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has introduced a policy that directs all state ALP MPs travelling to Israel with the benefit of financial assistance to spend equal time meeting Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank.
He wants the Baird government to follow suit.
Foley explains: “Arabic community leaders put this argument to me about trips to Israel and their desire that parliamentarians get a first-hand view of the life of Palestinians when they are in the region. In the spirit of a two-state solution, I thought that was a perfectly reasonable argument.”
By “financial assistance”, presumably he means Jewish financial assistance.
So, the intention is to prevent Labor MPs from visiting Israel with funds raised by the Jewish community — unless they also pay for equal time for their opponents. The absurdity of the policy is evident if we reverse the coin.
How would Arabic community leaders react if, in raising finance in Arabic communities for Labor MP visits to Palestinian territories, funders were obliged to pay for MPs spending equal time in Israel?
Clearly the intention of the Arabic leaders to whom Foley refers is not to increase the awareness of issues but to restrict the travel by Labor MPs on funds raised by the Jewish community.
As opposed to Foley’s claim regarding Arabic community leaders, I believe the Jewish community would oppose a restriction on Palestinian supporters’ freedom of travel and study.
A corollary of this “even-handed” policy would be to force MPs visiting Ukraine with the financial assistance of the local Ukrainian community to spend equal time in Russia. Will Labor MPs visiting China with Chinese financial assistance be forced to spend equal time in Taiwan?
This policy appears to be an unnecessarily authoritarian approach to the issue. It is unclear why this one-sided restriction on the freedom to learn is not clear to Foley.
In a free society the best policy is to encourage all sides to be well informed.
The idea also shows little faith in the intelligence of Labor MPs, the underlying assumption being that they cannot discern between information and advocacy.
Furthermore, it sees Israel from one angle, as a country in conflict. Israel, like Australia, is confronting multiple issues around health and education, technology and trade. It is tackling poverty, crime, social issues such as gender equality, gay marriage, union issues as well as terrorism. There is much to learn from an exchange of view between the two nations.
MPs are already time constrained so the visits are inevitably shorter than ideal.
During their stay in Israel, Australian delegates visit their counterparts in the Israeli political system and are presented with a wide variety of opinions, some highly critical of the government.
Furthermore, these visits do include a visit to the Palestinian Authority’s capital, Ramallah, organised by the Australian government representative at which Australian visitors hear from representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
Visits to Gaza are obviously problematic. It is under the administration of Hamas, a terrorist organisation.
Australian MPs who have visited Israel have found much in common with their counterparts on most issues and have been surprised how distorted their previous perception was of important matters. These visits are usually packed morning to night with visits to counterpart organisations selected by the participants.
Furthermore, if the visits are funded by advocates of either side they would wish to control the agenda.
One would hardly expect to be able to fund a delegation that gave equal time to the promotion of views hostile to those of the funders. Funds would therefore dry up. As a contributor to such study tours I certainly would be unwilling to support such unreasonable restrictions.
This would eliminate an opportunity for Labor MPs to collaborate with Australia’s ally Israel. It also would prevent MPs from hearing the Palestinian point of view since their supporters wouldn’t fund visits that included equal time spent in Israel.
The only result of this policy will be a denial of opportunities for first-hand knowledge.
Palestinians, Israelis and Australians will be the losers. As Gandhi said: “A policy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves the world blind and toothless.” And, in this case, ignorant.
Robert Magid is publisher of The Australian Jewish News. He has contributed funds to study tours to Israel by local MPs and journalists.
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It really is just a move to shore up the Muslim vote in outer Western Sydney seats. As outlined in this op ed it really is hypocrisy. Spending 'arabic' raised money on a Jewish jelly bean woud be a step too far for a Muslim, let alone spending it on a visit to Israel. Double standards abound in the ALP and this is just one of long list.
Foley is pandering to the likes of Rhiannon, Milne, and any number of left wing loonys that cannot cope with the Israelis being able to stop the the -AVOWED TO ANIHALIATE ISRAELIS- Muslims that surround the smallest state in the ME. and its all about calling those ex-Labor voters back into the fold, and as far as Foley telling Baird Baird what he should do. WELL,
Further evidence of how the western left is choosing to embrace Islam in return for its growing voting power. In the end, the ancient proverb will apply..........."he who rides the tiger is afraid to dismount".
Here's a quick summary. Israel is a modern, vibrant democracy bursting with inventiveness, drive, creativity and forward thinking. Palestine is an artificial construct designed with the pretence of a perpetual refugee camp run by ignorant, backward looking, violent annihilationists determined to keep their citizens in abject poverty for propaganda purposes. There, no need to spend the money now. Next problem to solve?
@Kevin@Neil And before that it was Phoenician or Philistine, and Assyrian, and Akkadian etc etc. For the chronologically challenged, I should point out that none were Islamic.
ALL states are artificial i.e. man-made. Well, of course. What else could they be? There is no God-given right for anybody to own for eternity any piece of this Earth. You own only what your nation is prepared to defend and only for as long as it can do so.
@Neil And if so, I will suggest Australia as we know it is also an artificial construct, but with far less claim on the land than Jews have in Israel.
Let's face it, a mere 250 years ago there was hardly any non-Koori living here. Then came Cook and guess what happened? Walk around First Australian communities and you will find out. Not a pretty sight for certain
I have a better idea for NSW State politicians, instead of spending untold amounts of money traveling around the world at someone else's expense, ....stay at home and do the job your paid by the taxpayer to do here!