Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser convincingly exposed the falsity of his own and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s unsubstantiated claim that the pro-Israel Australian Jewish community wielded too much power - with these few well – chosen words to the ABC’s Jon Faine:
“Fraser: Um, I once said that Israel had exercised excessive power in relation to Lebanon. I got some pretty furious phone calls as a result, and people asked to come up and see me. And I thought it was going to be two or three [of them] and I found, well, there were so many they wouldn’t fit in my office. So I said “Let’s go into the Cabinet Room”. They all explained Israel’s position, which I understood. And at the end of that discussion I said, “Well, gentlemen, I am glad to have listened to you, but you know the Australian government’s position”. I said that “The power Israel used was excessive. That view has not changed. But I have heard you. Thank you.” But it’s a continuum, it’s a continuum.”
There could be no clearer case of the total ineffectiveness of those Jewish representatives sitting in the Cabinet Room - whom Fraser had properly met, courteously listened to and then rebuffed.
These lobbyists again had not got to first base.
Yes Prime Minister – contrary to your highly damaging allegations - lobbying you on this occasion on this particular issue once again had failed to change your mind.
Yet you misleadingly use this meeting to suggest there is an organised Jewish lobby that exercises too much power over Australian Governments.
Such an offensive suggestion is utterly false – as your own recollection confirms.
Maybe you felt uncomfortable when confronting the larger than anticipated number of lobbyists who had unexpectedly filed into your office. Numbers may be a turn off – as can be exasperation resulting from meetings over the same issue.
You admitted having received some pretty furious phone calls from these people. Prime ministers would not probably appreciate such calls and their tenor.
Larger than expected noisy interest groups combined could have been even more counter-productive. Personal impressions created by lobbyists can be the kiss of death negating detailed well-researched fact-based arguments.
The indisputable fact however remains that the representations made by this group of lobbyists – for whatever reasons – were once again rejected.
But my most serious criticisms - Prime Minister - are reserved for these following comments you made
“The Jewish community…well not all the community…because I have had many letters, I’ve got many letters in my office in the files that say “No we don’t agree with the publicly proclaimed leaders of the community in Melbourne. We take a different view.” But they’re not going to say so publicly. The Jewish community seek to get Australia to support policies as defined by Israel. Look, Israel years ago, during one of the wars, killed 30 or 40 Americans on a spy ship in the western (sic) Mediterranean.
Faine: That was a mistaken missile hit, if I remember correctly, or an air strike. I can’t remember.
Fraser: Well, the Americans tried to cover it up. It wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate.
Faine: You believe so?
Faine: Based on what?
Fraser: Information I have. I am not going to tell you the source.
You revealed there were an undisclosed number of publicity shy Australian Jewish citizens who had previously written to you requesting you not to accept the views of the organised Jewish community leaders supporting policies as defined by Israel differing from theirs.
That argument was your perfect entitlement to accept and theirs to make - but you can’t have it both ways.
Being ready to reject the views of these community leaders knowing this could lead to possibly losing votes if the majority of Jewish voters they represented were unhappy with your decision does indeed suggest you were a politician of principle – a rare phenomenon in politics.
So why allege excessive power-wielding when you were prepared to dismiss their submissions even if it cost you votes in sending them back to Melbourne empty-handed – which is what you actually did?
But far worse – you told the interviewer you believed that the Americans had deliberately covered up an attack on the USS Liberty on 8 June 1967 at the height of the Six Day War.
When asked to provide the evidence to substantiate your claim - you refused to reveal the source.
Prime Minister - six American investigations into these claims resulted in the following findings
CIA report June 13, 1967 No malice; attack a mistake
US Navy Court of Inquiry June 18, 1967 Mistaken identity
Report by Clark Clifford July 18, 1967 No evidence ship was known to be American
Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence 1979/1981 No merit to claims attack was intentional
National Security Agency 1981 Mistaken identity
House Armed Services Committee 1991/1992 No support for claims attack was intentional
Refusing to substantiate your highly damaging claim on public radio after it was challenged as being factually inaccurate - is surely conduct unbecoming of a former prime minister.
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