By Ted Lapkin
Amongst Palestinians, speaking well of Zionism can be a capital offence. At least that’s what Conservative Party Mayor of London Boris Johnson learned while leading a trade mission this week to Israel.
It turns out that ‘BoJo’ – as His Honour is colloquially known – was forced to curtail meetings with various Palestinians after his criticism of the BDS movement elicited a barrage of death threats. The flamboyant Johnson, known both for his unruly shock of blond hair and his complete disregard for political correctness, described the anti-Israel boycott movement as:
“‘completely crazy’ and promoted by a ‘few lefty academics’ in corduroy jackets pursuing a cause.”
But wait … it gets even better because BoJo just won the safe Tory Commons seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the British general election of this past May. And at the politically tender age of 51, Johnson has a long way to go yet in his political career and will surely soon find himself on the front bench.
With the UK Labour Party propelled into irrelevance under the leadership of Leftist radical Jeremy Corbyn, I think we can expect great things from BoJo. Who knows, perhaps he might to all the way one day to No. 10? Isn’t that a wonderful thought?
And closer to home, there was another trade mission to Israel led by another possible future Prime Minister (at least that’s how Julie Bishop described Liberal MP Wyatt Roy – and only half in jest).
The 25-year-old Roy, who represents the north Brisbane Division of Longman, created political history at the 2010 election by becoming Australia’s youngest-ever federal parliamentarian. And just a few months ago achieved another notation in the record books with his elevation to Malcolm Turnbull’s frontbench as Assistant Minister for Innovation.
And Wyatt knows the mother-lode of innovation when he sees it, and accordingly led a trade mission of 50 Australian businesspeople to what has colloquially become known as Israel’s ‘Silicon Wadi’.
“Israel has more venture capitalists per capita investing in innovation than any other country” said Roy to The Australian.
“It has more entrepreneurs and more start-ups on a per capita basis. But we need to develop a uniquely Australian eco-innovation system … There is a lot around that we can do when it comes to collaboration around science, research and innovation”.
He noted that Australians and Israelis both shared a culture that had a deep seated
“anti-authoritarianism, which is not something you find in many countries around the globe. When you are not afraid to challenge authority, it drives a more entrepreneurial mindset, a more aspirational and egalitarian mindset.’”
Wyatt Roy also took time to mark the 98th anniversary of the famous mounted cavalry attack by the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade at the Battle of Beersheva in 1917. This assault, one of the last horse cavalry charges in military history, was key to collapsing Turkish defences and facilitating the British conquest of Eretz Yisrael. And here he is, chatting to Australian ‘shnatis’ at the Beersheva battle memorial site.
But the puffed-up panjandrums of the European Commission aren’t quite as fond of free enterprise. This week we learned of their plan to impose a special labeling requirement on Israeli goods produced in Judea, Samaria and (presumably) parts of Jerusalem.
Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz slammed this EU initiative, describing it as “a discriminatory policy. We all remember when Jewish products were last labeled in Europe.” 1930s Germany, anyone?
But Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now apparently thinks the European labeling proposal is the greatest thing since sliced hallah:
“This decision can strengthen Israel because it says there is a difference, and what is produced in Israel is legitimate — buy it, invest and continue the ties. It is the right of every person and every country to say we don’t want to be part of this thing you are doing in the territories.”
And on a less masochistic note there were reports this week of a strike by the Israeli Air Force on targets in the vicinity of Damascus airport. The airport has long been used as a conduit for the transfer of heavy Iranian weaponry to Hezbollah. Off loaded from Iranian aircraft, rockets and other types of arms are transferred to trucks and transported by road to the Shia terrorist group’s arsenals in Lebanon.
If these reports are accurate – and based on past experience – it’s is very likely that the air strike was aimed at interdicting precisely such a weapons shipment. Sounds like the good news story of the week to me.
And while we’re on the subject of Syria, you may recall that a few weeks ago I had a piece published in The Australian pointing out the strategic disaster that would have ensued had Israel listened to all the ‘experts’ who demanded the return of the Golan to Syria. Well, in another manifestation of its foreign policy genius, the Obama White House has apparently rebuffed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s desire to discuss recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Heights.
The Times of Israel has reported that Netanyahu’s oblique suggestion was rejected on the grounds that it would damage the coherence of Barack Obama Syria policy. That’s funny, I didn’t realize he had one.
And for those who wish to sharpen their advocacy skills there’s a useful workshop scheduled for Beth Weizmann Community Centre (306 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield South) on 30 November at 8 pm. Entitled “Public Diplomacy Toolkit: Triumphs, Bloopers & What Can I Do” facilitator Michael Lawrence will teach the aleph-bets of “tactics, magic and tricks to speak on Israel’s behalf.”
See you there.