Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Malcolm Fraser continues his Leftward lurch

The former PM's defence of the Palestinians and Hamas is offensive. It's probably Stockholm syndrome. He used to be savagely mocked and hated by the Left so he has apparently decided to join them. Perhaps that is also why he has attempted to re-write history

by Isi Leibler

I RETAIN fond memories of my genuinely warm association with Malcolm Fraser when he was prime minister and I headed the Australian Jewish community. Our relationship was based on shared values and my appreciation for his inestimable assistance on behalf of Soviet Jewry, ensuring that, while I was in Moscow, the Australian embassy provided support for my efforts on behalf of Jewish dissidents.

I also recollect that in those days he was enthralled with Israel and he would spend hours discussing and enthusiastically lauding the achievements of the Jewish state.

In Jewish mystical folklore we relate to a dybbuk - a malevolent spirit capable of dramatically transforming a person's entire outlook. I am tempted to attribute Malcolm Fraser's dramatic reversal of attitude to a dybbuk.

In his recent Age column, Fraser repeated his now standard portrayal of Israelis as villains and Palestinians as noble underdogs. But on this occasion, the numerous demonstrable falsehoods he expresses impel me to respond from my vantage here in Jerusalem.

For example, he says that in 1948 the Israelis "pushed out" the Palestinians, omitting to mention that Israel had accepted the UN partition plan but that it was the Palestinians, supported by five Arab armies, who invaded the new Jewish state with the objective of destroying it. He repeats the mantra that settlements over the green line are at the core of the Arab-Israeli problem. But he conveniently omits to mention that the PLO indulged in terrorism before 1967 when the first settlements were established, and that even today they represent less than 5 per cent of territory beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

Fraser also repeats the canard that "Israel refuses to talk substantially about realistic boundaries", ignoring the fact that two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, had offered the Palestinians 95 per cent of the territories formerly occupied by Jordan. But they were rebuffed. What I regard as even more offensive and perhaps pathetic is the praise that Fraser extends to Hamas, the evil Islamic fundamentalists who share much in common with al-Qaeda. He says that Israel should be negotiating with them. Is Fraser aware that the Hamas charter calls explicitly on the faithful to murder all Jews and that their Islamic faith prohibits them from engaging in any form of compromise because the Jewish state must be utterly destroyed?

He even makes a bizarre observation that the thousands of rockets and missiles launched by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians "caused little damage" and did not justify Israel's response. I wonder how Fraser, as a prime minister, would have responded if residents in his neighbourhood were forced to live with their children in shelters for extended periods of time because their neighbours were lobbing missiles at them. Not to mention dispatching suicide bombers to target them in shopping malls.

He enthusiastically supports Palestinian efforts to bypass UN resolution 242, endorsed in 1967, which called for direct negotiations to resolve the territorial conflict. But even after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an unprecedented move, froze all construction in the settlements for 10 months, the Palestinians refused to negotiate. Furthermore, in his recent speech at the UN General Assembly, the intransigent Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected compromise on any issue, reiterated his determination never to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and even denied the historical association of the Jewish people with the Holy Land. He hypocritically accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing", employing terms against them such as "racist" and "apartheid" without retracting his earlier proclamations that not a single Jew would be permitted to li ve in a new Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has made clear he is willing to compromise and make major sacrifices for peace by ceding land, but will not endanger the security of his citizens. If the Palestinians had accepted this 10 years ago, they would already have a state. They can have one tomorrow if they display a willingness to accept Israel as a Jewish state and are willing to peacefully coexist with it.

Netanyahu accepted the latest Quartet call to negotiate without any preconditions. Abbas refused. Many believe that he is not seeking a settlement and even if he were, he would not have the political power to implement it, especially having reiterated his determination to reunite with the genocidal Hamas.

I am truly saddened that the Jewish community has lost the friendship of Malcolm Fraser and hope that, in the course of time, he will adopt a more rational and open-minded approach.


Queensland Police Service dinosaurs

Banning of breastfeeding mums from firearms training is 'sexist and archaic' expert says

EXPERTS are calling on Queensland Police Service to reveal evidence supporting its decision to ban breastfeeding mothers from undertaking firearms training amid concerns that it's sexist and archaic.

QPS was recently forced to review the 2004 policy after losing a recent unlawful discrimination case in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but the organisation has refused to change it.

Queensland University of Technology Nutrition and Dietetics senior lecturer Dr Danielle Gallegos said the policy was "bizarre" because there was no evidence to suggest breastfeeding mothers and their babies were at risk. "You would imagine if there was a real risk for lead exposure than that risk is against the board not just breastfeeding mums," she said. "You would have to question the motivation behind the policy. It's not based on evidence as far as I'm aware."

Despite using lead-free ammunition, QPS Human Resources executive director Patsy Jones said the service didn't want to place officers who were either pregnant or breastfeeding "at risk of lead exposure in any circumstance" amid fears of the "hazardous effects of lead through breast milk". "As the QPS presently relies on private shooting ranges for firearms training, and we are not in a position to control those environments, the policy errs on the side of caution.

"The policy is in place to be supportive and consistent with our duty of care to our members. It is not intended that it be punitive or disadvantageous to any member."

The Courier-Mail revealed last week that Senior Constable Tammy O'Connell was compensated by the Queensland Police Service and the Crime and Misconduct Commission after she was forced to stop breastfeeding her daughter, Lucy, now aged 2, so she could return to work. Snr Const O'Connell was told if she wanted to return to work part-time, she needed to complete a half-day weapons training course to requalify her to carry a handgun.

"For a large employer to come out and say we're not supportive of breastfeeding in the workplace, we're not supportive of women returning to work and breastfeeding their infants, then that's a real blow," Dr Gallegos said.

Australian Breastfeeding Association director Robyn Hamilton also called for QPS to produce evidence supporting their policy. "I think if you ingested it - for sure - but just doing firearms training, it would just be atmospheric," she said.

QPS last night did not provide any evidence supporting its policy but said it was open to change if they were proven wrong.


Private schools say Leftist education "Review" wrong, prejudiced

THE private school sector has criticised the quality and assumptions of the key research projects commissioned by the Gonski review of education, while questioning the independence and accuracy of the work.

In their final submissions to the review of school funding, the Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, the NSW Parents Council and the Independent Education Union all rounded on work released last month by the Gonski review.

The NSW Parents Council criticised what it termed a "shameful attempt to develop class war debate". Instead of recognising that parents make radical financial decisions in order to choose schools that support their philosophical approach to raising their children, the tenor of the reports was that they chose to go private merely because they "are blessed with greater, wealth, income, power or possessions".

Allowing only one month to respond to 700 pages of commissioned research was "disgraceful", the Parents Council said.

Responding to calls for accountability in the use of taxpayer funds, the council also said non-government school parents are subsidising parents of children in government schools and are entitled to greater insights into the "inefficient allocation and deployment of government funding for schools".

The funding review, headed by David Gonski, is scheduled to report to the federal government by the end of the year. Apart from releasing four commissioned reports - which it did not endorse - it has given little insight into its thoughts and directions.

But the private school lobby has seen enough to be on its guard about what the Independent Schools Council terms a "high stakes" funding review. "A number of reports strongly reflect an inherent bias against non-government schools," the council submitted.

"That these reports were allowed to be released without these overt and covert biases being addressed undermines the credibility of the research informing the Panel's deliberations," it said. The council accused the authors of the Nous Group report of making "inflammatory and inaccurate statements" and relying on opinion not research.

A key proposal in a report by Allen Consulting is for the establishment of an education resource standard, the amount of money needed for a student to reach minimum educational benchmarks.

It is a proposal that concerns the independent schools sector, which said the data on which it would be built is inadequate.

The report also provided no details about how it might be implemented making it impossible to assess the impact on individual independent schools.

The independent teachers union is also worried about the data, particularly an apparent reliance on Naplan test results, an approach it said "is seriously flawed". "Overseas experience clearly points to evidence of test coaching, widespread cheating or fraudulent behaviour when school funding or resourcing is tied to high-stakes literacy and numeracy tests," it wrote.

Independent school principals are also worried by the lack of detail about how such a standard might work in practice, as well as how other funding ideas scoped by the reports might function.

"AHISA would be concerned if the Review panel were to recommend any of these proposals without further intensive consultation with school sector representatives," it said. And the headmasters' association repeats the accusation of prejudice.

"The inherent bias against non-government schooling evident in the research papers shows that non-government schools, particularly independent schools, are still struggling to be deemed legitimate providers of school education in Australia," it submitted.


Tax forum a 'pointless talkfest', says Abbott

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has rubbished the tax forum at Parliament House, describing it as a "pointless talkfest".

Despite Australia's key business and community groups, as well as unions, contributing to the forum, Mr Abbott says it is a "pretty pointless PR stunt" to which the Coalition was not invited.

But a spokesman for Treasurer Wayne Swan disputes that, saying Mr Abbott and his treasury spokesman had made it known they were not interested in attending the forum.

The spokesman said the Opposition was told they were welcome to attend "but we never heard another thing".

This morning Mr Abbott told reporters: "We were never invited, simple as that," and said the forum was flawed without the minerals tax and carbon tax on the agenda.

"How can you have a tax forum credibly that does not discuss the two big new taxes that this Government wants to hit us with?" he said. "We want lower, simpler fairer taxes and the only way you can get lower, simpler, fairer taxes is to get the Government waste under control."

He said the Opposition had a "tax seminar" coming up which was to be hosted by Liberal think tank, the Menzies Research Centre.

Mr Abbott would not be drawn on the Opposition's economic policies, saying he would be giving voters the "full fiscal plan in good time before the next election".

Prime Minister Julia Gillard opened the forum saying any tax changes must take into account Australia's patchwork economy caused by the booming mining sector and the contracting manufacturing and tourism sectors.

She insisted any changes must be revenue neutral. "Money spent has to be paid for, clever ideas about spending money have to be matched with clever ideas about where that money is coming from and that is a challenge for this forum over the next two days," she said.

Ms Gillard says five factors are shaping the future of Australia's economy: the ongoing effects of the global financial crisis, the emergence of Asian economies, the need to price carbon, the pressures from Australia's ageing population, and the likely length and strength of the resources boom.

"And that means the transformations in our economy that it is driving will be deep and occasionally painful, so working through our tax settings needs to understand the dimensions of this change and the patchwork economy that is resulting from it."

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott, who insisted on a tax forum in return for supporting the minority Labor government, says it is time to put an end to the partisan debate on tax changes.

"Today's forum and the process out of it can play a critical role in making the national interest more important than any one partisan interest," Mr Oakeshott told the forum. "It is disappointing, for example, that the potential next government is not here today. They should be."


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