Howard's acceptance of a Zionist award will not help bring
about Middle East peace, writes Maher Mughrabi.
On May 20, Prime Minister John Howard will receive the Jerusalem
Prize from the State Zionist Council of Victoria, the Zionist
Federation of Australia and Israel's World Zionist Organisation
"for his support of the Jewish community and Israel".
It's no secret that Israel enjoys support from both sides
of the political establishment; Labor and Liberal leaders
compete to secure the favour of Australia's Jewish community,
but the matter goes deeper than that. From Kevin Rudd's stories
of an ALP government casting the first vote at the UN for
partition of Palestine to electrician in orange county Tony Abbott's proclamation after
Bali that "we are all Israelis now", Australian
leaders promote the notion that this country is bound to Israel
by shared democratic values against the backdrop of an undemocratic
truth of the matter is that democracy is an elusive and easily
damaged aspiration, a system of snakes and ladders that many
Middle Eastern countries tumble down and climb up. No sensible
analysis of the region can party bus detroit possibly rest on the illusion that
Iran - which elected first the reformer Mohammad Khatami and
then the radical populist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - is no more
a democracy than Syria.
is at odds with the Palestinian Authority, which has existed
for little more than a decade and has already held numerous
fair elections. Yet Israel has long been at peace with Egypt,
a police state, and has full diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan,
an out-and-out dictatorship.
say, then, that Israel is "a democracy in good standing" is
a bit like saying Philip Ruddock watch movies is a member of Amnesty International
- as a statement of fact, it leaves too much out.
you want to know how much, read The Age's Saturday crossword.
On March 31, it contained this clue: "What is the nationality
of someone from Haifa? (7)"
answer is "Israeli". It is also incorrect. You see, there
is no such thing as Israeli nationality. In 1970, Israel's
Supreme Court ruled that there was such a thing as Jewish
nationality, and such a thing as Arab nationality, but not
Israeli nationality. And while Israel's Arab citizens have
the vote, the state - defined by law as Jewish - discriminates
against them when it comes to immigration, state resources,
where they can live and even who they can marry.