David Macilwain (VIC) writes to The Age re emerging Australian Mid East policy 10Mar11 March 11, 2011

From Kevin Rudd’s recent statements in Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem, combined with those of Julia Gillard and Steven Smith on the American Alliance, an unsettling picture of Australia’s Middle East policy is emerging which doesn’t match the rhetoric.

To the protesters in Tahrir square, or Benghazi or Bahrain, Australia offers helpful advice apparently untarnished by years of arms sales to their governments, as well as a model of multicultural democracy they might learn from. They may well forget our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, or at least forgive it if we demonstrate genuine support for their aspirations.

Much as we may play it down however, our relationship with Israel is the game-changer in this. The release of the “Palestine Papers’, followed by the US veto on the UN settlements resolution, both fed into Arab popular sentiment and reinforced disdain for Israel’s oppression of its indigenous population.

Kevin Rudd’s comments in Jerusalem leave no doubt in my mind – had Australia been among the 15 states who supported the UN resolution to stop settlement building, we would have joined the US and opposed it. It is to be hoped that our total hypocrisy on this issue will be noted by Arabs all round the Middle East fighting for their rights and their dignity.

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