Maria Vamvakinou, Labor MP for Calwell in Victoria, has tabled a private member’s Bill in Federal Parliament calling for the diplomatic recognition of Palestine, a step already taken by the House of Commons in Britain and the parliaments of Spain and Sweden.
Ms Vamvakinou, a co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine group, told MPs: “I want to remind the House that it has been 67 years since the partition of Palestine and the occupation, which continues until today — an occupation that is devastating, demoralizing and damaging for all involved.
“The time has now come for this to end. Australia must vote yes at the UN for Palestinian statehood. Fifty six per cent of Australians are in favour of this and 135 countries have already done so.”
Predictably and on-message, the pro-Zionist lobby in the ALP and Liberal Party condemned Ms Vamvakinou’s motion as provocative and unhelpful.
Her initiative coincided with the collapse of Benyamin Netanyahu’s coalition regime in Israel and the calling of a snap election next month.
Haaretz, an Israeli daily newspaper, quickly headlined the election announcement: “Vote against Natanyahu – Save Israel.”
Its editorial stated: “Anyone who fears for Israel’s future as a peace-loving democracy with a stable economy should join forces to keep Netanyahu from winning a fourth term. The prime minister has once again proved to be an extreme nationalist willing to sacrifice the country’s basic values to realize a destructive ideology. If he wins again at the ballot box, Israel’s future is in danger.”
Naturally, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop won’t be taking Haaretz’s advice. They’ll be backing Netanyahu and the crazies because they are on “the same page” and wearing the same white sleeveless coats.
The meaning of Gough
Since Gough Whitlam’s death on October 21 there have millions of words written and spoken about the nation-building and cultural changes that he delivered in his brief three years in office (December 1972- November 1975).
With the self-deprecating humour that was pure Gough, he once said: “I’m not immortal, I’m eternal.”
This week there was much laughter at the launch of James Carleton’s book, The Wit of Whitlam, when his speechwriter Graham Freudenberg delivered another Gough quote: “I may be a legend but I am not a myth.”
I like to think that EG was addressing young politicos anxious to follow in his footsteps, and I think he was saying he was a real person who accomplished real things.
Whitlam’s legendary status was earned and not delivered by spin doctors, PR agents, fableists or hacks posing as historians.
La Lucha Continua
How encouraging to see the republics of Latin America regaining their dignity and the people exerting independence. It started with Cuba and then spread to Venezuela and Ecuador.
Last week Uruguay’s President Jose “Pepe” Mujica, aged 79, accepted six detainees from Washington’s torture centre at Guantanamo on the island of Cuba.
Their release followed Mujica’s open letter to Barack Obama shaming the US president who pledged to close the military jail in 2006.
For 14 years Mujica himself was in detention as a political prisoner – much of it in solitary confinement – for his guerrilla activities with the revolutionary socialist group, the Tupamaro.
In neighbouring Chile, President Michelle Bachelet is busy burying the Milton Friedmanite economic policies inflicted on the country after President Salvador Allende’s leftist government was overthrown by the CIA in 1972.
She has won popular approval for focusing the budget in education, housing and health.
One of her principal allies is Senator Isabel Allende, president of the Senate and the daughter of the assassinated Socialist Party president. She is widely expected to be the country’s next president – which will infuriate Dr Henry Kissinger and the CIA maddies in Langley, Virginia.
Not surprisingly London’s Financial Times lamented the dismantling of Friedman’s voodoo economics, saying: “Yet now Latin America’s most prosperous country may be reversing the experiment, to the consternation of free marketeers everywhere.”
It quoted the free market’s poster boy historian Niall Ferguson as saying Chile used to be the region’s “most intelligent country” but now may be “beginning to exercise its right to be stupid”.
Notwithstanding the squeals from Washington and Wall Street, President Bachelet celebrated a moment of personal triumph recently when two former air force colonels who tortured her father to death during the 1973 Pinochet coup were jailed.
Once again the iron laws of history prove stronger than the subjective intrigue of imperialist spy agencies.
The Kippers are coming
With the UK general election scheduled for 7 May next year, much attention is focussing on the right-wing anti-immigrant party, the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip).
Following victories in two recent by-elections, two renegade Tories are now sitting as “Kippers” in the House of Commons from the southern England seats of Rochester and Strood and Hastings and Rye.
The Tories were driven into second place and Labour came a dismal third with a shade over 16% of the vote.
The Daily Express is showing some interest in supporting the “Kippers” and so is its traditional right-wing rival, the Daily Mail. But what of Rupert Murdoch’s papers – will they dump the Tories and David Cameron who they supported in 2010 and switch to Ukip’s populist ratbaggery?
Murdoch, who now tweets his editorial instructions to his editors (he no longer trusts the phones after reading about phone-hacking!), tweeted last month: “In UK only Salmond (former head of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond) and Farage (Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip) connecting with people. Big Tory asset (is) Marxist Miliband (Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband) trusted even less than opportunist Cameron.”
Tory Cabinet minister Michael Gove, a former Times reporter, said the other day that he was “absolutely 100 per cent” certain there would be no more Tory defections. But on that score he may be proved wrong – yet again.
The anti-Europe Ukip is collecting a constituency which was once the preserve of the pro-Nazi National Front, the racist British National Party and Screaming Lord Sutch’s Monster Raving Looney Party.
Farage has managed to raise millions of pounds from eccentric businessmen and create a formidable vote-gathering machine. In a hung parliament his party will be able to put either the Tories or Labour into office and then claim Cabinet places. Not possible? We shall see.
In the absence of a convincing socialist alternative, the dire economic conditions which prevail in “the green and pleasant land” favour the irrational and the reactionary. Britain’s debt of £96 billion is running at 5.3% of GDP, a deficit which is larger than those of European basket cases such as France, Italy and even Greece.