John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who wrote a 2007 book alleging that the “Israel lobby” has a stranglehold on US Foreign policy, have an Australian cousin: former foreign minister Bob Carr.
Carr, in a new book, Diary of a Foreign Minister, and in interviews promoting the memoir, slammed what he called the “unhealthy” hold the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne wields over Australia’s foreign policy.
Carr, Australia’s Labor Party foreign minister from March 2012 to September 2013, chronicled a bitter political fight in late 2012 with then-prime minister Julia Gillard over how Australia would vote in the 2012 UN General Assembly vote to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member state.
Gillard opposed, while her political rival at the time Kevin Rudd, and Carr himself, were in favor. Rudd, according to a report of the book in The Guardian, went to Carr to talk about the vote.
“How much of this is about money, I asked him,” Carr wrote. “He said about one-fifth of the money he had raised in the 2007 election campaign had come from the Jewish community.”
Carr concluded that “subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors is what this involves. Or appears to involve.”
In the end, Australia abstained in the vote, surprising Jerusalem, which expected that it would vote against the move.
Speaking Thursday to the Australian Broadcasting Company, Carr took the charges even further, saying that “extreme right wing” pro-Israel lobbyists held an “unhealthy “ influence over Australia’s policy toward Israel.
“I found it very frustrating that we couldn’t issue, for example, a routine expression of concern about the spread of Israeli settlements on the West Bank – great blocs of housing for Israeli citizens going up on land that everyone regards as part of the future Palestinian state if there is to be a two-state solution,” he said.
“The important point about a Diary of a Foreign Minister is you shine light on areas of government that are otherwise in darkness, and the influence of lobby groups is one of those areas.
“What I’ve done is to spell out how the extremely conservative instincts of the pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne were exercised through the then-prime minister’s office,” he said.
Colin Rubenstein, the executive director of the Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, slammed Carr for his comments, saying his organization was “puzzled and disappointed” by his “strange claims” that Australian foreign policy was under the sway of the pro-Israel lobby, apparently a reference to AIJAC.
“It is frankly sad when an elected official imagines that disagreement with their policy position must stem from malicious influences,” he said.
Rubenstein said the allegations that the lobby held unhealthy sway over Gillard “show her a distinct lack of respect.”
“Ms. Gillard was an independent- thinking prime minister who is fully as capable of coming to her own conclusions about optimum Australian foreign policies, as is Mr.
Carr,” he said. “The fact that some of her conclusions on promoting Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation were different from Carr’s is no more evidence that she was under the influence of ‘unhealthy’ pro-Israeli lobbying than Carr’s views are evidence that he is under the ‘sway’ of Australia’s several pro-Palestinian lobby groups.”