SYDNEY – Australian Jewish leaders are rejecting allegations that the “hardline” pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne wielded “extraordinary influence” on Mideast policy during Julia Gillard’s tenure as prime minister.
In his new book, “Diary of a Foreign Minister,” Australia’s former foreign minister Bob Carr accuses Gillard of “subcontracting our foreign policy to party donors” and the pro-Israel lobby of having an “unhealthy” influence.
“It is ludicrous and insulting to them [Gillard and other politicians] to suggest that they can be manipulated or bought,” said Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
Johnny Baker, a veteran Zionist leader, added, “His claims about the disproportionate power of the Jewish lobby are akin to the notorious Walt and Mearsheimer book, which many view as anti-Semitic.” John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” drew charges of anti-Semitism.
Dr. Danny Lamm, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, also scolded Carr.
“His willingness to publicly slur supporters of Israel with the age-old canard of undue Jewish influence in political affairs and to breach Cabinet and personal confidences is not only wrong in principle but is sadly indicative of his true nature,” Lamm said.
In his book, Carr takes aim at Mark Leibler, chair of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
“Why can’t he and the lobby understand that their take-no-prisoners approach does their cause immense harm?” Carr writes.
But Leibler said Carr’s claim of an “unhealthy influence” was “a figment of his imagination.”
“How does the Jewish lobby control the prime minister? Through donations to the Labor Party and sending people to Israel,” Leibler told Australian TV. “I mean, give me a break. Would anyone seriously accept that?’’
Carr, a former president of the parliamentary Labor Friends of Israel, was foreign minister between 2012 and 2013 amid turbulent relations between the Labor Party and the Jewish community. He continued Australia’s shift away from blind support of Israel at the United Nations, incensing Jewish leaders by branding all Israeli settlements “illegal.”