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No neat answers to be found in Israel

By Bren Carlill - posted Friday, 19 May 2006

It only took a day or two for the anti-Israel worms to come out of the woodwork. Too dumb or lazy to write a parallel piece themselves, they latched onto Walt and Meirsheimer’s essay in the London Review of Books that sought to cast Washington as a puppet in the Jews’ war to control the world.

The article hardly needs to be commented on here. Scholars good and bad have easily shown the many holes in its arguments. Even ardent Israel-hater Noam Chomsky dismissed it.

In Australia, the usual crowd jumped on board. “It’s true!” they all cried. The Jews really do control the world. And the local chapter is none other than the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, or AIJAC.


As someone who isn’t Jewish and who works at the AIJAC, let me say a couple of things outright. When I started, I didn’t have to take any blood oaths. I didn’t have to drink the blood of Christian children. I didn’t even have to end my love affair with swine products.

AIJAC is an interest group. It has an interest. Actually, three interests. It seeks to raise a positive profile of Australia in Israel; it seeks to raise a positive profile of Israel within Australia; and it seeks to help protect the interests of both the Jewish community in Australia and other ethnic minorities.

In our liberal democracy of Australia there are many interest groups. There are those groups that support the legalisation of marijuana, groups that seek to protect the interests of all types of ethnic minorities or workers in specific industries. There are even groups - shock horror - that would seek to advance the Palestinian cause of a state of their own (with world Islamic caliphate and destruction of Israel being optional extras).

The AIJAC welcome the existence of these groups because we recognise that we live in a democracy and in such an enterprise, free speech and the right and ability to contact our representatives in matters of business, religion and politics are set in stone.

Most of these anti-Israel types tend to say loudly and publicly that they’d defend to the hilt the right to free speech. In fact, their usual line is that it’s the Jews that stifle free speech by denying criticism of Israel. (I’ve always found it somewhat ironic that they air these views in public forums, thus instantly disproving their own arguments …)

This being the case, I find it interesting that so much comment has been made over a recent trip organised by AIJAC for a group of Australian clergy to go to Israel. What were our purposes in sending them? To turn them into Jews? To make them all super pro-Israel, so they’ll start preaching pro-Israel doctrine from the pulpit?


Let’s step back a bit. At the core of the clergy trip is the problem of perceptions. We, in the West, want to look at the world in black and white. This person is good; that person is bad. Space and time limitations in the print and television media also cultivate such simplistic analyses.

A typical analysis might run along the following lines: Palestinians are stateless and occupied. Thus, Israel is bad. Thus Palestinians are good. Thus Palestinian terrorism, though deplorable, can be justified to a certain extent.

And while black and white analysis of conflicts might result in a neat “answer,” it also leads to gross generalisations and misperceptions. Because these generalisations don’t lead to a better understanding of the conflict, they ultimately prolong the conflict. Like all conflicts, the Arab-Israeli conflict will only ever have a chance of being resolved if people understand the issue.

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About the Author

Bren Carlill worked at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council between 2006 and 2011.

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All articles by Bren Carlill

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