Why the Australian state supports Israel so stridently

by Vashti Kenway • Published 12 July 2013

Nineteen pro-Palestine protesters were arrested in a shopping square in Melbourne in July 2011 for participating in a protest against Max Brenner, a chocolateria that gives material support to the Israeli military. The excessive policing of the demonstration, the month-long trial in the magistrates’ court, the hundreds of hours of police time devoted to the case and the countless articles in The Australian newspaper vilifying the protesters, all attest to the Australian state’s hostility to pro-Palestine activists. The parade of politicians who, in the aftermath of the arrests, made ostentatious visits to their local Max Brenner store, signified more than their desire to enjoy a casual hot chocolate. These “drink-ins” illustrated a deep bipartisan commitment both to the state of Israel and to the silencing of its critics.

The dominant explanation for the pro-Israel consensus in Australian politics given by Australian Zionists and the political establishment is that Australia and Israel have a deep cultural affinity, based on shared experiences, values and beliefs. An Australian government pictorial history produced to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of Israel draws on the nationalist myths of both countries:

Both peoples pursued their national goals with an irrepressible confidence, resourcefulness, optimism and a knack for improvisation. The immigrant experience, developing land in a harsh environment and a pioneering spirit of adventure have both featured prominently in the history of both nations. More profoundly the early Zionist pioneers and the Australian diggers of both world wars shared an ethos of social egalitarianism and a healthy irreverence for authority.[i]

In a less romantic fashion, Australian historian Colin Rubenstein makes the same point:

[G]eopolitically, there is little reason to expect Australia and Israel to have a closer relationship than any other two states of a similar size and distance from one another. But there is something in our cultures, national outlooks and personalities drawing us together.[ii]

The Israeli embassy traces this symbiosis back to the Australian military’s role in Palestine in World War I:

Many Israelis still remember the pictures of those brave men – particularly the legendary Light Horse Brigade – which fought in the crucial battles for Gaza and Beer Sheva. Memorials in Jerusalem and military cemeteries are reminders of our mutual desire for shared democratic values, liberalism, freedom and human rights.[iii]

Other accounts cite the sympathy of Australian politicians towards Jewish victims of the Holocaust; the Australian ruling class were supposedly so moved by the plight of European Jewry that they made a particular effort to push the formalisation of Israel through the UN. Capitalist geopolitics, political expediency and imperialist manoeuvres aren’t mentioned in many of these accounts. Australian politicians are presented as creatures of conscience and generosity. Such narratives are facile at best and at worst smokescreens obscuring pragmatic colonial and imperial projects.

Some critics of the Australia-Israel relationship argue that there is a strong Israel lobby that corrals, bribes and intimidates foreign policy makers into a support for Israel they would otherwise be reluctant to give. Others argue that the genesis of Australia’s support for Israel lies in the ANZUS treaty. They suggest that Australia backs Israel only because the US does. Both imply that were it not for some extraneous force, Australia wouldn’t be as committed to Israel. For instance, the well known Jewish writer Antony Loewenstein argues “On current evidence, the Australian government is (close to being) utterly captured by the Zionist lobby, the US alliance and blindness towards racial apartheid in the occupied territories.”[iv] This article argues against all of these claims.

Zionism, colonialism and imperial manoeuvres

Both Israel and Australia began their modern lives as colonial settler states operating in regions of the world important to the most powerful capitalist countries. Both have become middle level capitalist powers with regional aspirations to greater dominance. Both are reliant on their relationships with the biggest imperial powers of the day, first Britain and then the US. Both have been important to these powers’ presence in the respective regions. The relationships haven’t been one-way streets, however. Both Australia and Israel have made mutually beneficial bargains. They have become (in the words of former Prime Minister John Howard) “deputy sheriffs” in their regions and have acquired the attendant military, economic and political power.

Countries that began as colonial settler states can play a particularly useful role for the imperialist powers. The settler populations strongly identify with the colonial countries. Mainstream Australian identity is strongly Anglophile. English is indisputably the dominant language, and dominant ideological institutions encourage cultural identification with the English-speaking world. In the early history of Australia, this was with Britain; now it is with the US.

Similarly, the population of Israel sees itself as part of Western “civilisation”. Culturally, most Israeli Jews identify with the West. The political, social and cultural isolation of Israel leads to a strong identification with the Israeli state. This leads to a generalised support for Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Israelis support even the most repressive policies towards the Palestinians.

Israeli culture is even more racist than Australia’s. A survey conducted late in 2012 demonstrated this.[v] The majority of the Israeli Jewish public, 59 percent, want preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries. Almost half, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs, and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children. A 74 percent majority are in favour of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Perhaps most shockingly, 58 percent of the Jewish public believe that Israel practises apartheid against Arabs and don’t disapprove.[vi]

A survey in 2011 revealed that the Israeli Defence Force received Israeli teenagers’ virtually complete trust (93 percent). The survey also found that more teens trusted politicians in 2010 – from 38 percent in 1998 to 43 percent in 2010.[vii] There is also widespread sympathy for, and identification with, the US state.

The populations of the Arab states surrounding Israel are highly volatile. There has been a long history of anti-colonial struggle and in the last two years there have been revolutionary upheavals. While the populations of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya rose up to overthrow their own regimes, struggles in Israel limit themselves to minimal demands. This makes Israel extremely valuable for the US and central to maintaining imperialist domination across the Middle East. Israel offers a level of domestic stability that other pro-US countries around the region do not.

‘In harmony with the truest interests of the British empire’

The Middle East is one of the most vital regions in the modern capitalist world. Its plentiful oil and its centrality as a trade route make it a prize for imperial powers. It has been the scene of many battles for control. In the early part of the twentieth century, tensions between the various European powers and the Ottoman Empire became the immediate cause of World War I.

British policy in the first decades of the century involved a mixture of direct colonial rule and clientelism. British support for Jewish migration to Palestine and for a Jewish homeland was part of the project of establishing sympathetic communities in the Middle East that could be relied upon to back the imperialist project. While Palestine itself was of little direct economic interest, it was important for the defence of the British position in Egypt. In October 1918 Leo Amery, a key member of Prime Minister Lloyd George’s secretariat, argued that “strategically Palestine and Egypt go together”. Palestine was “a necessary buffer to the Suez Canal” and “geographically practically the centre of the British Empire”.[viii] British politician Winston Churchill advocated for the Balfour Declaration. In an article entitled Zionism versus Bolshevism published in 1920 he made clear the rationale:

[A] Jewish state under the protection of the British Crown, which might comprise three or four million Jews…would from every point of view be beneficial and would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.[ix]

Britain was awarded control over Palestine by the League of Nations in 1922. Under Britain’s protective wing, the Zionist project advanced considerably. In 1882 there were 24,000 Jews in Palestine; by 1914 there were 85,000. Another wave of immigration between 1919 and 1923 brought a further 85,000. Such high levels of immigration, either directly sponsored or tacitly endorsed by the British, were bound to bring about conflict with the other inhabitants of the area, the Palestinians. The first serious clashes under the Mandate took place in April 1920, when serious rioting in Jerusalem left five Jews and four Arabs dead.

British support for the Zionists had to be balanced with the relationships the British had built up with various Arab rulers. One solution to this imperial conundrum was to partition Palestine, give the Zionists their own state, crush Palestinian hostility and hope Arab rulers would accept a new reality. Various plans for the partition of historic Palestine were developed, put forward and rejected by one or another party as unfair and biased.

In 1936 there was a Palestinian uprising against British occupation and increasing Zionist immigration. This revolt was one of the most significant in the history of the Arab world. It lasted for three years and involved a general strike of 175 days. It evolved into a guerrilla war that eventually left 37 British troops and police, 80 Zionist settlers and more than a thousand Palestinians dead. The scale of the revolt prompted the Australian government to weigh into the debate. It suggested a more cautious approach toward the Zionists and a cap on Jewish migration to Palestine – not because it cared about the welfare of the Palestinians, but because it wanted to maintain regional capitalist stability. On 14 February 1939, Australian Prime Minister Joseph Lyons cabled his British counterpart, Neville Chamberlain:

We regard the situation in Egypt, Palestine and in fact the whole Near East as being of great importance to Australia owing to its relation to vital imperial communication… We feel it will be highly dangerous to estrange the Moslem world at present by any decision over Palestine which might be regarded as unduly favourable to the Jews.[x]

This concern did not extend to Palestinians on the receiving end of the British repression of the uprising. Villages were bombed, thousands of Palestinians were interned without trial, harsh collective punishments were imposed, routine use was made of Arab hostages as human shields, and ID cards were introduced. On these human rights abuses, both sides of Australian politics remained silent.

The looming prospect of war in Europe increased the importance of the Empire retaining Arab loyalty. Some concessions were therefore made to the Palestinians. The British government issued a white paper that limited Jewish migration to 75,000 a year. This move outraged the Zionists, and they began to look to the US as a more reliable and generous sponsor.

In the Second World War, Australia served as part of the Allied war effort in the Middle East. The Australian ruling class wanted both to maintain their position in the camp of the biggest colonial powers in the world and to shore up their own interests abroad. The Middle East was particularly important for Australia in terms of its strategic value – its air communications, the Suez Canal, the railway and oil pipe line from Baghdad to Haifa – and economically – the exploitation of salts from the Dead Sea. While at times the Australian government was critical of British backing for Israel, it was always on the basis of concern for Western interests. It had backed almost every twist and turn of British policy, occasionally advising caution not to let support for Zionism disrupt relations with the Arab regimes. Australia was heavily invested in a stable situation in the Middle East. Historian Chanan Reich says: “The policies of Lyons and Menzies towards the Jewish-Arab conflict over Palestine were the product of a unique Australian interpretation of the interests of the British Empire in the Middle East.”[xi]

Zionists in Australia took a different line but continued to frame the situation in terms of what would be advantageous to Britain’s and Australia’s imperial interests. The president of the Victorian Jewish Advisory Board appealed to Lyons in March 1939: “Palestine is the backbone of the link between Britain and Australia and the destruction of a pro-British institution in Palestine, which the Jewish National Homeland would be, would jeopardise the communications between Australia and the Home Country.”[xii]

The Australian political establishment, including many Jews, saw Australian and British interests as fundamentally intertwined. Discussions in the chambers of power were never framed in moral terms; realpolitik reigned supreme. Australian conservatives aspired to be more British than the British. They had a long history of agitating for British interests abroad – even if this occasionally meant disagreeing with the British government. There was some conservative reluctance over Israel. The early association of Israel with Eastern European communists, the sympathy for Israel in the international labour movement and their own anti-Semitic attitudes made them suspicious of the state.[xiii]

The Labor Party, on the other hand, was much keener on a Zionist state in historic Palestine. In this, it was in accord with the British Labour Party, which had endorsed Zionism even before the Balfour Declaration. In December 1943 the national ALP conference expressed its support for the “continued growth of the Jewish national home in Palestine by immigration and settlement”.[xiv] One of the key figures in pursuing this agenda was E.V. (Doc) Evatt, ALP leader to be, who was close to Zionist representatives in Australia and also wanted Australia to establish more of a place on the world stage. He saw the international debates around Israel as a mechanism to do this. He argued that the Labor government of the day should take a more unambiguous position in favour of the partition of Palestine, the establishment of a Jewish state and the acceptance of larger numbers of Jewish settlers to Palestine. There was some reluctance in the party to go this far, but the tide was flowing in this direction.

Australia: ‘godparent of the Israeli state’

World War II left Britain militarily and economically weakened. It was proving impossible to maintain direct control over the colonies, and Britain was reconsidering the benefits of a direct mandate in Palestine. In Palestine the Zionist movement was determined to force the best possible post-colonial situation for itself. The Haganah and the Irgun launched armed offensives against British targets and terrorised local Palestinians. Their violence had the intended effect. The British sped up their withdrawal and offered more concessions to the Zionists than they might have done otherwise. In Australia these changes in British policy were not reflected in the position of the Liberal and Country parties. The conservatives were absolutely committed to the British staying in Palestine; they favoured direct colonial rule. The Labor Party shifted to a more clearly pro-Israel policy. Evatt, emboldened by a changing context, felt able to make more strident statements in support of the Zionist project. A report on a meeting he had with various Zionist representatives recorded him as launching a scathing attack on the “British policy of kowtowing to the Arabs”. He said it was “disgusting in view of the Arabs’ war record, when they had hung around the flanks waiting to stab us in the back if things went wrong”. According to the report, Evatt also seemed somewhat forgiving in his attitude to Zionist terrorism in Palestine, arguing that it had made the world aware of the Jewish struggle.[xv] He pushed for Australia to back Israel’s bid for statehood, and this position won the day. He subsequently played a key role at the UN in pushing through the partition of Palestine, an act for which he is still feted by the international Zionist movement:

Evatt’s largest impact…was on the partition of Palestine, where the voting was close enough to make his enthusiastic manipulation of the rules of procedure in the Israeli cause (as chairman of the vital committee) a final feather that turned the scale. For good or ill, he may therefore be put down as one of the godfathers of the present Israeli state.[xvi]

At midnight on 14 May 1948, the leaders of the Zionist organisations in Palestine, headed by David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel. The US recognised the provisional Zionist government as the de facto authority in Israel within minutes. It was swiftly followed by the Soviet Union. Despite its prominent role in the diplomatic manoeuvring, the Australian government took more than eight months to recognise Israel officially. On 29 January 1949, Chifley announced that the government had decided to give full recognition, and that it regarded the new nation as “a force of special value in the world community”.[xvii] This declaration came a day before the British government’s, but was organised in concert with it. Despite a turn towards the US, Australia had not fully broken with Britain.

Postwar reality

The tectonic plates of world capitalism shifted after World War II. The US emerged as the pre-eminent Western superpower and was vying for world control with Russia. The politics of the Cold War were played out on the battleground of the Middle East – with Israel as a key player. All the big powers were competing for allies in the region to guarantee their trade routes, their oil supplies and their economic interests. Reports at the time stressed the importance to the West of the Middle East oil resources, which represented an estimated 75 percent of proven reserves outside the Russian bloc. What’s more, if the Cold War was to turn hot, the Middle East would be a focal point of communication between Europe, Africa and Asia.

In time of war it would be a suitable area from which to mount air attacks against the Soviet Union and from which to protect the right flank of NATO. It stood in the way of a Russian outlet to the Indian Ocean through the Persian Gulf, and Russian penetration of the African continent through the Sinai Peninsula.[xviii]

The US state was keen on shoring up its allies in the region in anticipation of war. Australia was part of the Western bloc in the Cold War battles. The expansion of Communist China was of particular regional concern to Australia. Over this period the Australian ruling class saw its interests as better guaranteed by an alliance with the US. This was formalised in 1951 with the signing of the ANZUS treaty. This treaty was not a formalisation of subservience to the US but rather a guarantee of mutual interests. Australian dominance of the Asia-Pacific region was to be maintained in return for Australian support for US expansionism elsewhere. This treaty has influenced Australian governments’ attitude to the Middle East ever since.

1967 and the ‘favoured regime’

The 1967 war, in which Israel decisively defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan, was a major turning point in Israel’s fortunes. By the end of six days of war, it had captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula. This of course meant further dispossession of the Palestinians. In the West Bank, 55 percent of the land and 70 percent of the water were seized for the benefit of Jewish settlers, who constituted only a tiny fraction of the population. In Gaza, 2,200 settlers were given more than 40 percent of the land, while 500,000 Palestinians were confined to crowded slums and camps.[xix] What’s more, Israel’s military victory against radical nationalist regimes such as Gamal Abdel Nasser’s in Egypt assured the West that Israel could play an absolutely central role in keeping various nationalist Arab regimes under control. As Noam Chomsky says:

In general, Israel’s services in the Middle East have established the close Israeli-American alliance and confirmed the estimations made by the American intelligence [community] as early as 1958, that the “logical answer to confronting Radical Nationalism” – that meaning independent secular [Arab] nationalism – is “support of Israel”, which is the only reliable base for the US in the region.[xx]

After 1967, US funding for Israel rose by 450 percent. Between 1967 and 1972, total US aid to Israel jumped from $13.1 million per year to $600.8 million per year. The US Congress even allowed the Pentagon to hand weapons to Israel without expecting any payment.[xxi] Israel had proved its military prowess. While previously the US state had hedged its bets, it now saw Israel as the favoured regime: one that could both help guarantee US economic interests and encircle any pro-Soviet governments in the region. Australia could see which way the wind was blowing. At the outbreak of the 1967 war, Prime Minister Harold Holt met with US President Lyndon Johnson in Washington and assured him that Australia would assign two of its fastest cruisers to a joint task force if it proved necessary to open the Gulf of Aqaba by force. In doing this, Australia demonstrated its allegiances. Nevertheless, Australian politicians remained concerned to keep the Arab states on side. This was a false neutrality and much more about public relations than actual diplomatic and military support for any Arab or Muslim countries.

An increasingly ‘special relationship’

In March 1966, the minister of external affairs, Paul Hasluck, was the first Australian cabinet minister to visit Israel. The Israeli daily with the largest circulation, Ma’ariv, “extended a warm welcome to Hasluck and praised his public support of Israel and the Zionist Federation of Australia”.[xxii] This was followed by a flurry of joint visits and activities between the two countries, including a visit to Israel by the chairperson of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, W.J. Aston, who made a pre-emptive strike in support of Israel’s expansionist agenda: “I believe that although the presence of unfriendly nations surrounding Israel, has had some adverse effect, it has also spurred the people of Israel, through sheer necessity, to greater efforts.”[xxiii] Not to be outdone, the ALP opposition condemned the government for failing to act to protect the right of Israel to use the Suez Canal, or “to extend the service of the Australian airline Qantas to Israel”, so “allow[ing] itself to surrender to oppression”.[xxiv]

In this period the Israeli ambassador to Australia, David Tesher, noted that in the four years of his ambassadorship, many “Australian officials, politicians, journalists and businessmen had visited Israel, including the Minister of External Affairs, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the former and present leaders of the Opposition, the Attorney-General, the Premier of Victoria and forty-five parliamentarians”.[xxv] This practice continues today.[xxvi] The conservative Gorton (1968-1971) and McMahon (1971-1972) governments continued with the prevailing pro-Israel order. As Australian Jewish News editor Sam Lipski put it: “[W]hile John Gorton was Prime Minister, there was no question that Australia was seen to be anything but pro-Israel.”[xxvii]

The governments of the late 1960s and early 1970s have been described by historians as very friendly to Israel. In the UN, Australia almost never voted in favour of resolutions severely critical of Israel, a policy that continues today.[xxviii] After a slight distancing from Israel under Whitlam, Australian governments since Fraser have been unambiguously pro-Israel, despite the serious atrocities committed directly by Israel or with its complicity. Israel’s war on Lebanon in 1982 is a case in point. It was an offensive designed to crush the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which was operating in the refugee camps of southern Lebanon. Israel widely bombed civilian areas in Beirut and was mutually responsible (along with the fascist Lebanese Christian Phalangist forces) for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila. Journalist Robert Fisk described his arrival at Chatila just after the troops had withdrawn:

They were everywhere, in the road, in laneways, in back yards and broken rooms, beneath crumpled masonry and across the top of garbage tips… In some cases, the blood was still wet on the ground. When we had seen a hundred bodies, we stopped counting. Down every alleyway, there were corpses – women, young men, babies and grandparents – lying together in lazy and terrible profusion where they had been knifed or machine gunned to death.[xxix]

Australia’s initial response to the conflict was to excuse Israel. Malcolm Fraser argued that the offensive against Lebanon was not about crushing the Palestinian liberation movement but rather about the right of Israel to “secure and recognised boundaries”.[xxx] Offence becomes defence and war becomes peace. A few months later, after images of Israel’s strafing of Beirut emerged, Fraser argued that while the violence in Lebanon was to be deplored, “we need to understand that Israel suffered provocation”.[xxxi] After the massacre in the Sabra and Chatila camps, Fraser made the following mealy-mouthed statement: “Events [have occurred] which weaken or diminish Israel’s right to the support of countries such as Australia because it breaks down the moral position on which it stands.”[xxxii]

Fraser set the bar for excuse-making for Israel’s brutality, and the Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments have striven to reach it ever since. A few key incidents suffice to illustrate the material and political support the Australian state has given to Israel in recent years.

2006 Lebanon war

Conservative John Howard was prime minister during Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon. Among Australian prime ministers, Howard has been one of the most explicit in support of Israel. In 2002, he called himself an “unapologetic and long-standing friend of Israel”.[xxxiii] In 2007, he spoke of the “personal commitment I have to the relationship between Australia and the State of Israel” and the “precious bilateral relationship between Australia and Israel”.[xxxiv] Under the Howard government, Australia’s UN voting record was the most pro-Israeli in the world, excepting only the United States and three small Pacific Island countries. It thus came as no surprise that when Israel began its bombing campaign of Lebanon in 2006, another offensive designed to push back a regional Arab nationalist enemy, Hezbollah, Howard was on board. Even the 1,137 civilian Lebanese deaths, 30 percent of whom were children, did not deter him. Despite the overwhelming superiority of its military and the savagery of its attack, Howard used the well-worn argument that Israel was the David against the menacing Goliaths of the region:

Once you are attacked…and if that attack is in the context of a 50-year rejection of your right to exist, which is the situation in relation to Iran – and bear in mind the link between Iran and Hezbollah; bear in mind the exhortations from the Iranian President that Israel should be destroyed and wiped off the map – you can understand the tenacity with which the Israelis have responded.[xxxv]


The switch from a Howard Liberal government to a Rudd Labor government brought very little change. At no time was this more obvious than during the 2008-09 Gaza war. This offensive was designed to punish Gazans collectively for voting for a party the Israelis didn’t approve of – Hamas. The offensive lasted for just under a month but killed around 1,400 Palestinians. Israel utilised the deadly chemical weapon white phosphorous, which it rained down on civilian areas of Gaza city, including a UN Relief Works Agency headquarters. Despite worldwide outrage about Israel’s disproportionate use of force and anti-war demonstrations of thousands across Australia, the Labor government gave cover to the Israelis. Julia Gillard, acting prime minister at the time, blamed Hamas for the renewed violence: “Clearly the act of aggression was engaged in by Hamas which commenced shelling with rockets and mortars into Israel,” she said. “That is what breached the ceasefire, and Israel responded.”[xxxvi] Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was no better:

Australia recognises Israel’s right to self-defence. The escalation in the conflict, following the [action by] Israeli ground forces, underlines the absolute importance of bringing about an effective diplomatic solution.[xxxvii]

Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull insisted that Hamas must accept Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. His spokesperson said he was saddened by casualties on both sides of the border, but “he noted that Hamas broke the ceasefire with its unprovoked rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages”.[xxxviii] Not one word was uttered denouncing Israel’s brutal actions. Nor were there threats to cut diplomatic relations or curb trade relations. Gillard consistently resisted calls to condemn Israel’s ground incursion. What is more, the Australian government rejected the findings in the Goldstone Report. On 5 November 2009 Australia voted against a UN General Assembly resolution that called, among other things, for the Goldstone Report to be sent to the UN Security Council.[xxxix] An Australian representative told the UN General Assembly: “We have voted against this resolution because of a number of genuine concerns arising from the language of the text and the flawed nature of the report it is based on – which we cannot endorse.”[xl]

This brief history illustrates an increasingly close relationship between Israel and Australia. This trend has been prompted by a variety of shifts and changes in the Middle East since the 1960s, shifts that have made Israel a bedrock of Western power in the region.


One argument sometimes advanced is the importance of trade between the two countries. Although this is emphasised by both governments, the actual levels of trade could in no way justify the political, military and moral support given to Israel. While there has been some recent growth, Israel’s trade with Australia has been a minor proportion of total international trade for both countries. It has always been dwarfed by Australia’s extensive trade, primarily in wheat, sheep, meat and minerals, with various Arab states. Australia is Israel’s twenty-second principal export destination.[xli] Australia is thirty-eighth on the list of Israel’s import sources.[xlii] Israeli-Australian trade is worth $88 million a year. This consists primarily of IT and telecommunications equipment, precious stones and metals, chemical products and plastics. The bulk of Australian exports to Israel are coal and aluminium.[xliii]

Australia and Israel have regularly signed agreements related to trade and joint research and development and science. There has also been discussion of further cooperation in communications, agricultural technology and water management, biotechnology and defence. This trade has been facilitated by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, which says this of itself on its website:

The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) is Australia’s pre-eminent international Chamber of Commerce and one of the country’s most prestigious and active national business organisations. The AICC’s national membership exceeds 1,000 leading Australian companies across a broad range of industry sectors. Fifteen of the top 25 companies in Australia are currently members or sponsors of the AICC.[xliv]

Despite the relatively small size of the trade relationship, the political connections are significant. Every year the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce runs trade missions to Israel. The “mission leaders” for these trips are drawn from Australia’s top politicians.[xlv] The most recent was Bill Shorten, who led the mission in April 2012. This kind of overlap between the political and the economic hints at the basis for the bilateral commitment. It suggests that the intimacy of the relationship is based more on the military and political role that Israel can play in the region, rather than economics. The geostrategic imperative is vital.

An added factor is that the Israeli economy is intertwined with its military. This means that even trade relations are often bound up with Israel’s military capacity. The Marxist economist Adam Hanieh notes the overlap in the Israeli economy between the military and the market:

As Israel’s economy has undergone transformation…the new capitalist class emerged from the fusion of indigenous private capital linked to the state, foreign (mainly US) capital buying into state-owned enterprises, and former state bureaucrats and military officers who had led the privatisation process. In this latter regard more than 75 percent of the key executive personnel of Israel’s top one hundred private companies come from high ranking positions in the Israeli state bureaucracy, while Israel’s corporate boardrooms boast significant numbers with high ranking military experience.[xlvi]

Such connections invariably mean that the needs and desires of the Israeli military are intertwined with development of the market. These realities hint at the importance of Israel’s imperial, military and political role in the region as the basis for the backing of both the US and Australia, rather than a simple trade relationship.

The myth of a ‘moral’ Australian state

Another rationale for the unprecedented level of Australian support for the Israeli state has been the “moral imperative”. Evidence reveals a contrary dynamic: a hard-headed, cynical attitude to both the Jewish population in Australia and to the migration to Australia of Jews from trouble zones. The warmth or hostility toward Australian Jews on the part of the Australian ruling class can be understood only in relation to two factors: their integration into and commitment to Australian capitalism, and the imperialist needs of the Australian ruling class at any given time. In the early colonial period, the Jewish population was relatively integrated into Australian society. Historian Hilary Rubenstein describes the colonial era as the “golden age of Jewish participation in the political life of Australia”.[xlvii] After 1840, Jewish congregations were to be found in many country towns even though only two country synagogues now survive. Up to the beginning of the Gold Rush of the 1850s, British Jews made up 90 percent of the Australian Jewish population. Although this numerical predominance was later lost, it set the tone for Australian Jewry until the 1930s and “created an Anglo Jewish atmosphere of orthodoxy and efficiency, piety and dignity, modernity of method with strict adherence to tradition”.[xlviii] This demographic factor had political consequences. Many historians note the political conservatism of this early Jewish population and its tendencies to identify as staunchly British and pro-imperialist. While some sections of the Australian ruling class exhibited anti-Semitic prejudices, this didn’t stop prominent Jews from becoming part of the establishment. Two governors general of this period were Jewish. To the extent that ruling class Jews were in agreement with the imperial interests of Britain (and therefore Australia), they were welcomed.

Increasing turmoil and anti-Semitic agitation in the 1920s and 1930s drove Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jews to Australia in large numbers. The response from the Australian state and the Anglophile Jewish population was hostile. Both feared the political and social disruption that a non-English-speaking Jewish population might bring. As violent anti-Semitism rose across Europe, the government placed strict limitations on Jewish refugees. In June 1933 the cabinet decided that “care should be exercised to prevent a serious influx of Jews”. The minister for trade and customs, the aptly named Thomas W. White, claimed at a conference in 1938 that while the government had admitted some German and Austrian Jews, in the circumstances Australia could do no more. “Australia was not desirous of importing a racial problem by encouraging any scheme of large scale foreign migration.”[xlix]

A quota of 25 percent was applied to ships commandeered by the International Refugee Organisation to bring displaced persons from camps in war-torn Europe to Australia. They placed so-called “Jewish clauses” on these refugees, making a distinction between Jews from Europe’s east and west. If Jewish immigrants were to come, those from the latter were preferred because they were considered to be more easily assimilated. Sir Samuel Cohen, foundation president of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society, argued for even stricter limitations in July 1939: “Our council is in favour of even more vigorous handpicking than the government in its wisdom and kindness has seen fit to impose.”[l]

This push to curb Jewish migration occurred during the pogroms against European Jews and continued despite mounting evidence of the horrors of the Holocaust. It seems the moral conscience of the Australian ruling class was absent without leave – or more likely with leave. And official hostility towards increased Jewish migration dovetailed with Australia’s eventual support for the establishment of Israel. It gave the government an argument for denying entry to refugees.

The myth of the Zionist lobby

There is a commonsense belief that a Zionist lobby with unusual strength operates in Canberra and is the overwhelming reason for Australia’s historic commitment to Israel. Such an assertion cannot be sustained historically. Zionism as a political ideology was a minority current amongst the Australian Jewish population until the eve of the establishment of Israel. Most historians of Australian Zionism acknowledge the difficulty Zionist organisations had getting off the ground in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A survey taken in 1908 indicated that there were 20 different Zionist societies in Australia, but many of them were fleetingly established and small.[li]

The Jewish National Fund, whose files on Australia begin in 1912, reveals the efforts made by the World Zionist Organisation to create interest in Australia by sending frequent emissaries. The first was Israel Cohen, from the London office, who, during his visit in 1921, noted:

The devotion of the [Melbourne] Jews to the British Crown is sincere and ever present, and struck me as much more demonstrative in character than that of their co-religionists in the mother country. So fond were they of singing the national Anthem at the gatherings in which I appeared that I was almost inclined to think that they regarded me not so much as an Emissary of the Zionist Executive, as an Envoy of His Majesty.[lii]

During World War I Melbourne architect and community personality Nahum Barnet said in the Jewish Herald, which he was editing at the time, “Jewish sentiment, the national pride of race, even the story of Israel’s centuries of martyrdom find no stirring response in the breast of the average Australian born Jew.”[liii] Zionist membership was marked by shekel sales. In 1921, 100 shekels were sold in Sydney, 200 in 1922 and the same number in 1923. In Perth, 93 shekels were sold in 1922 and 500 in 1923. In Melbourne, 1,500 shekels were sold in 1923. These were small and proportionate to the Jewish population of the time.

The Zionist movement was also not uniformly committed to establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. There were territorialists who were for establishing a Jewish community in Australia. One of the leading proponents of these schemes was Israel Zangwill, who made plans to buy one million acres of land in the outback for the settlement of 500 to 1,000 families. These schemes were dismissed without hesitation by state and federal governments, which were extremely unwilling to allow the establishment of a “state within a state”. Even when international Zionist campaigning increased in the 1930s, many Anglo-Australian Jews remained aloof on the establishment of Israel. They felt that to support Israel would call their Britishness into question. The Zionist terrorist bombing of British targets in Palestine was widely condemned by the Jewish press in Australia. While a minority of Jews (mainly those more recently arrived from Eastern Europe) were serious Zionist campaigners, establishment figures were lukewarm. Zionist emissary Shimon Hacohen wrote home to Jerusalem in 1946:

A big part of the community of this city are [sic] opposing us almost openly. This comes from two angles; the left wing and the right wing anglicized Jews…in Melbourne where such persons as a leading Rabbi and Sir Isaac Isaacs are openly coming out on the platform against us.[liv]

It was only after the British had left Palestine, and the State of Israel was a fait accompli, that Anglo-Australian Jews began to feel comfortable with Zionism. As Ralph Sander, a Sydney youth leader, found in 1949: “Because ‘Zionist’ is no longer a synonym for ‘Anti-British’ many barriers have been lifted.”[lv]

This history reveals the fallacy of the notion of a strong, cohered, cashed-up Zionist lobby that through its weight pressured the government into support for the establishment of Israel. To make this point is not, however, to deny that there were prominent Zionist figures who did have the ear of key figures in the Australian establishment. Evatt was clearly impacted by some of these individuals, and they contributed to Australian policy-making. Nevertheless, the lobby argument doesn’t hold water given the low level of Zionist organising in Australia prior to 1948. Zionism and support for Israel were a minority current in the Australian Jewish population until the very eve of the establishment of Israel.

The situation today is the polar opposite: Zionism is the dominant ideology among Australian Jews. In a 2009 survey of Australia’s Jewish population, 80 percent of respondents indicated that they regarded themselves as Zionist, while only 13 percent did not. Further questions asked for opinions about the major strengths and problems facing the Jewish community. Respondents had to choose and rank five factors from a list of 14 strengths. “Support for Israel” was the most popular first-ranked choice in Melbourne, chosen by 21 percent of respondents.[lvi] Professor Fania Oz Salzberger made the following comment, indicating how dramatically support for Israel has developed over the last 60 years:

I am yet to find a single Australian Jew who is indifferent towards Israel. There is a level of proximity here that one cannot find amid British or American Jewry, where many individuals are unstirred by their Jewish ancestry, uninvolved with Israel, or both. I like telling my Jewish Australian friends that they are first cousins to us Israelis, while many other communities are second cousins at best.[lvii]

This transformation is the outcome of the convergence of the needs of Australian capitalism with the consolidation and strengthening of the Israeli state. In the last 60 years, powerful institutions and organisations have developed that push a pro-Israel agenda in almost all spheres of Australian cultural, political and economic life. These include the Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) and many others. These organisations dominate political life in the Jewish community and attempt to create a cultural environment that is extremely pro-Israel. Probably the most powerful of these, the AIJAC, describes its role:

Through research, commentary, analysis and advocacy, AIJAC represents the interests of the Australian Jewish community to government, politicians, media and other community groups and organisations. It has professionals dedicated to analysis and monitoring developments in the Middle East, Asia and Australia.[lviii]

Jewish interests are almost completely conflated with Israeli interests in all of these organisations. The activities of the Australian Union of Jewish Students illustrate the point. One of the major AUJS campaigns for 2013 is entitled “My Israel”. It has a website devoted to this campaign, which features a series of posters with photos of Israeli citizens celebrating Israel and lauding its inclusiveness. One of these is clearly responding to the well-documented racism towards African refugees in Israel.[lix] It says:

My Israel is the fulfilment of the dream of my ancestors in Ethiopia to immigrate to Israel. This is the undisputed home of a beautiful, versatile and unique democratic Jewish lifestyle. It is respect for equality and freedom for all citizens of different religions as well. Israel is my home, my family, my roots, the essence of caring for each other.[lx]

This is part of the AUJS attempt to project a positive image of Israel on campus and to hegemonise the debate around Israel/Palestine. Here, not only is AUJS associating Jewishness with Israel, it is also waging an argument that any critique of Israel is anti-Jewish. This is a more general trend. AIJAC, the ZFA, AUJS and AICC all intervene aggressively in different areas of Australian life to clamp down on criticism of Israel. Many of them focus particularly on the media and its depiction of Israel. Antony Loewenstein described this campaign in his 2006 book, My Israel Question:

In October 2003 AIJAC released a report alleging systematic bias at SBS news and current affairs in relation to the Israel-Palestine conflict… It also objects to SBS calling the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem “occupied Palestinian land”. Why? According to the report, “It is indisputably the case that this land has never previously been under the sovereignty of either the Palestinian people or a state called Palestine, nor is there any legally binding UN decision or international treaty that says it should be.”… I submitted a freedom of information request to SBS requesting all documentation related to Middle East programs between 2001 and 2003. I eventually received a bundle of documents that confirmed my suspicions: the vast majority of 29 letters of complaint submitted to SBS news and current affairs management about Middle East coverage were from AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein or other AIJAC staff, and all fit a similar pattern.[lxi]

Further examples abound. In 2012 the Executive Council of Australian Jewry submitted a 20-page letter of complaint to the SBS ombudsman about the drama The Promise. The Promise details the experiences of British soldiers at the end of the Mandate and a young British woman visiting Palestine and Israel for the first time in the 2000s. The Executive Council of Australian Jews (ECAJ) opposed its screening in the most strident terms. They maintained that the depiction of Jewish terrorism (both against the British and in well-documented events like the massacre of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin) was akin to Nazi propaganda and was reflective of a rehabilitation of anti-Semitism.[lxii] The conflation of any critical look at Israel’s history with anti-Semitism is widely used against critics of Israel. SBS denied the charges and went on to sell the DVD of the program.

More recently, the Zionist lobby attempted to curtail the expression of critical views in the media by Loewenstein. In early 2013 the ABC broke the mysterious story of Ben Zygier, an Australian man found dead in an Israeli prison. As it turned out, Zygier was a Mossad spy who had gone rogue and landed himself in jail. The story prompted an avalanche of public discussion about the actions of Mossad and the relationship of Australian Jews to Israel. In response, the ABC radio program AM ran an interview with Loewenstein in which he called for public discussion about “the relationship between the Jewish establishment in Australia and the Israeli government, and indeed Mossad, and indeed Israeli intelligence and the Israeli embassy”.[lxiii] This was enough to provoke a full frontal attack from the ECAJ, which issued a complaint and a press release stating its objection to the public airing of Loewenstein’s views. According to ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim, the ABC had launched a baseless attack on Australian Jews, with insinuations of disloyalty, by interviewing someone whom the ABC itself describes as a “provocateur”. Upon review, the ABC found that it had done nothing to contravene its anti-discrimination policy, but the virulence and frequency of such complaints by the ECAJ and other organisations illustrates the determination of Zionist organisations to quash public debates about Israel.

The hysterical response by The Australian to a motion passed by the Greens-influenced Marrickville Council in 2011 is another case in point. When the council decided to boycott particular Israeli goods, all hell broke loose. The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald waged an almost daily campaign of slander and invective against the Greens. Accusations of anti-Semitism abounded. This press campaign was aimed at creating an environment in which public support for Palestine was seen as unacceptable. In the end, the council backed down, and the Greens watered down their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign at their national conference. The press had played its role.[lxiv] Heresies (like support for Palestinian human rights) were hunted. Political sacrifices were made. The pro-Zionist barrage had its intended effect. Public debate was quashed and pro-Palestine sentiment was vilified.

One of the major programs designed to help frame political opinions about Israel is run by AIJAC. It is the Rambam Israel Fellowship program, which annually sponsors visits to Israel. At a recent event celebrating 10 years of this program, guests heard that AIJAC had sent more than 400 politicians and journalists, together with political advisers, senior public servants and student leaders. Included among the alumni are Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.[lxv] These are propaganda trips, designed to show off Israeli virtue and to sanitise the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. The participants don’t go to Gaza and see the rubble or meet maimed and traumatised Palestinians. Rather they meet politicians from the Palestinian Authority who more often than not are in collaboration with the Israeli war machine. These sponsored programs obviously play a role in strengthening Australian politicians’ commitment to Israel, but they are not the whole story. Groups like AIJAC promote a global agenda that fits neatly with Australian imperialism. The home page of its website lists “Islamic Extremism” as one of the main issues with which it concerns itself:

In the wake of the challenge presented by the September 11 and further terrorist atrocities, AIJAC supported the US-led coalition in the war against violent Islamism, including the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. This also extends to the threat that violent Islamism poses within Western societies.

The growth of Islamic extremism in Asia also constitutes an important issue not only for all Australians, but Israel and the Australian Jewish community in particular.[lxvi]

In a context where the Australian ruling class have used the threat of Islamic terrorism to participate in Western invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and to further their regional agenda against Indonesia, organisations like AIJAC can play a very useful role for them. The conflation of Arab with “terrorist”, a core component of pro-Israel propaganda, is connected fundamentally to the global imperial agenda of the Australian ruling class.


Empathy for the plight of European Jewry or special cultural affinity was not the motivating force for the Australian ruling class to back Israel in 1948. The ongoing intimacy between the two states is not based on the same plucky determination to defy authority. Nor is it due to Australia simply trotting along behind the US like an obedient puppy. Australia backs Israel because doing so fits with Australian capitalism’s material and geopolitical interests in the Middle East and across the world. There is nothing reluctant about the Australian state’s current backing of Israel. Geopolitical interests are bolstered by a series of significantly sized and economically powerful organisations in Australian society that could be termed a Zionist lobby. This lobby bullies, corrals, persuades and provides political arguments for the Australian state’s support for Israel. But Australia’s support for Israel does not emerge from the lobby.

[i] Leanne Piggot, Australia and Israel: A Pictorial History, 2008, http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/israel/pictorial_history.pdf.

[ii] Colin Rubenstein, “Australia and Israel: a unique friendship”, The Drum, 13 March 2008, http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/37466.html.

[iii] Embassy of Israel in Australia, “Bilateral Relations: A Historical Overview”, http://embassies.gov.il/canberra/Relations/Pages/Bilateral-Treaties-and-Agreements.aspx.

[iv] Antony Loewenstein, 8 August 2011, http://antonyloewenstein.com/2011/ 08/08/is-australia-capable-of-showing-any-backing-for-palestine/; see also Ailsa Burns, New Matilda, 9 March 2010, http://newmatilda.com/2010/03/09/why-australia-supports-israel.

[v] The survey was commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund and is based on a sample of 503 interviewees. The questions were written by a group of academia-based peace and civil rights activists, Dialog, headed by Tel Aviv University Professor Camil Fuchs.

[vi] Camil Fuchs, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2012_Yisraela_ Goldblum_Fund_poll.

[vii] Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 2011, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050228,00.html.

[viii] Quoted in John Newsinger, The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire, Bookmarks Publications, London, 2006, p.122.

[ix] Quoted in John Rose, Israel: The Hijack State, 1986, http://www.marxists.de/ middleast/rose/. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a statement of support by the British government for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

[x] Chanan Reich, Australia and Israel: An ambiguous relationship, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2002, p.10.

[xi] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.38.

[xii] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.12.

[xiii] Labour Zionism was the left wing current inside of the Zionist movement.
It encouraged Jewish workers to emigrate to Palestine to help establish a state sympathetic to workers.

[xiv] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.12.

[xv] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.21.

[xvi] Coral Bell, A Dependent Ally: A Study in Australian Foreign Policy, Allen and Unwin, London, 1993, p.54.

[xvii] Marty Harris, “Australia and the Middle East conflict: a history of key Government statements (1947-2007)”, 13 August 2012, http://www.aph.gov.au/ About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BN/2012-2013/AustraliaMiddleEastConflict#_Toc332632588.

[xviii] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.42.

[xix] Phil Gasper, “Israel: Colonial Settler State”, in Lance Selfa (ed), The Struggle for Palestine, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2002, p.27.

[xx] Toufic Haddad, “Introduction”, in Tikva Honig-Parnass and Toufic Haddad (eds), Between the Lines: Israel, the Palestinians, and the U.S. War on Terror, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2007, p.29.

[xxi] Dave Rory, “Denounced for telling the truth”, Socialist Worker (US), 26 January 2007, http://socialistworker.org/2007-1/616/616_11_Carter.shtml.

[xxii] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.121.

[xxiii] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.121.

[xxiv] Reich, Australia and Israel, p.122.

[xxv] Hilary Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness to group invisibility: Australian Jewish identity and responses, 1830-1950”, in W.D. Rubenstein (ed), Jews in the Sixth Continent, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1987, p.22.

[xxvi] Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness”, p.25.

[xxvii] Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness”, p.22.

[xxviii] Colin Rubenstein, “A Distant Affinity: The History of Australia Israel Relations”, Jewish Political Studies Review, 2007 http://jcpa.org/article/a-distant-affinity-the-history-of-australian-israeli-relations-2/.

[xxix] Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon, Nation Books, 2002, p.36.

[xxx] Malcolm Fraser, “Speech to the State Zionist Council on the Occasion of Israel’s 34th Anniversary”, 22 April 1982, Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) files, 5.

[xxxi] Michelle Grattan and Stephen Mills, “Israelis Suffered Provocation on Lebanon: Fraser”, The Age, 9 June 1982.

[xxxii] Ian Davis, “Fraser Warns Israel of Waning Support,” The Age, 23 September 1982.

[xxxiii] Rubenstein, “A Distant Affinity”.

[xxxiv] AIJAC, Honouring Prime Minister John Howard, Melbourne, 2002, p.4.

[xxxv] 7:30 Report, ABC TV, 25 July 2006.

[xxxvi] “Hamas to blame for provoking Israel: Gillard”, ABC News, 29 December 2008, www.abc.net.au/news/2008-12-29/hamas-to-blame-for-provoking-israel-gillard/251888.

[xxxvii] Patricia Karvelas, “Rudd Defends Israel’s Rights”, The Australian, 6 January 2009.

[xxxviii] Sarah Smiles and Kate Laherty, “Turnbull Supports Israeli Response”, The Age, 5 January 2009.

[xxxix] UN General Assembly, A/RES/64/10, follow-up to the “Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”, 5 November 2009, http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/ga10883.doc.htm.

[xl] Quoted in A. Shapiro, “Australia opposes Goldstone Report”, Australian Jewish News, 13 November 2009.

[xli] The US, Hong Kong and Belgium are the top three.

[xlii] The US, China and Germany are the top three.

[xliii] Coal $60m, live animals $47m, aluminium $50m and pearls and gems $17m.

[xlv] http://www.aicc.org.au/attachment/page/Tradepercent20Missionpercent 20Leaderspercent2018percent2005percent2012.pdf.

[xlvi] Adam Hanieh, “From State-led Growth to Globalisation: The Evolution of Israeli Capitalism”, Journal of Palestinian Studies, 32, 4, Summer 2003.

[xlvii] Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness”, p.25.

[xlviii] Alan D. Crown, “Demography, politics and love of Zion: The Australian Jewish community and the Yishuv, 1850-1948”, in Rubenstein (ed), Jews in the Sixth Continent.

[xlix] Rodney Gouttman, Anti-Semitism in Australia 1860-1950, http://epress.anu.edu.au/hrj/2005_01/mobile_devices/ch07s03.html.

[l] Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness”, p.32.

[li] CZA, letter dated 7 February 1908, from A. Nesbit to the Central Zionist office in Berlin, in Rubenstein, “Jewish non-distinctiveness”, p.32.

[lii] Israel Cohen, The Journal of a Jewish Traveller, London, 1925, pp.58-65, cited in P.Y. Medding, From Assimilation to Group Survival, F.W. Cheshire, Melbourne, 1968, p.128.

[liii] Jewish Herald, 5 March 1918.

[liv] Rabbi Levi and John Simon, “Doubts and fears: Zionism and Rabbi Jacob Danglow”, in Rubenstein (ed), Jews in the Sixth Continent.

[lv] Levi and Simon, “Doubts and fears”, p.12.

[lvi] Andrew Markus, Nicky Jacobs and Tanya Aranov, Report Series on the Gen08 Survey. “Preliminary Findings: Melbourne and Sydney”, Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University, 2009, http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/ gen08/files/2012/12/gen08-report1-preliminary-findings.pdf.

[lvii] Australian Jewish News, 5 June 2009.

[lix] “Most Israeli Jews agree Africans are a cancer”, Times of Israel, 7 June 2012, http://www.timesofisrael.com/most-israeli-jews-agree-africans-are-a-cancer/.

[lxi] Antony Loewenstein, My Israel Question, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2009, p.192.

[lxii] Australian Jewish News, 12 January 2012.

[lxiii] Interview on AM, ABC Radio, http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2013/ s3691806.htm.

[lxiv] Amos Aikman and Leo Shanahan, “Greens forced to back down on Israel boycott”, The Australian, 20 April 2011.

[lxv] Henry Benjamin, “Rambam – 10 years old”, J Wire, 12 September 2012, http://www.jwire.com.au/news/rambam-10-years-old/27912.

The origins of the criminal Assad dynasty

Omar Hassan confronts the myth that the Assad dynasty in Syria was ever socialist or anti-imperialist.

The siege and resistance in Gaza: Interview with Toufic Haddad

Palestinian intellectual and author Toufic Haddad speaks about the state of Palestinian politics in the context of an inspiring new round of popular resistance.

Eighteen months of hard Labor

Omar Hassan critiques the abysmal performance of the Albanese Labor government so far.