Opportunism, hypocrisy, manipulation, and deceit come quickly to mind when delving into the behaviour of politicians. Against this background, two Australian former prime ministers who have thrust themselves into the headlines over the genocide in Gaza, Julia Gillard and Scott Morrison, come to mind.

Gillard was one of six former Prime Ministers (along with Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott, John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, and Scott Morrison) who last October issued a statement, purportedly ‘even-handed’ but only to the extent of calling on Israel to avoid civilian casualties, at a time it had already killed thousands.

By not calling for a ceasefire, they were supporting more killing. It was not Israel’s fault that it had to kill all these people, they argued, as Zionist leader Golda Meir did many years ago. Hamas wanted Israel to invade, Hamas wanted Israel to kill Palestinians, Hamas’ mission was “to promote hatred, hatred of Jews, hatred of Palestinians, hatred of Muslims.”

This was a pure rant so no surprise to learn that the statement was drafted by a senior figure in the Zionist lobby, Mark Leibler. Why six former Prime Ministers couldn’t draft their own independent statement and had to go running to the lobby was a question no one asked.

Australia, especially in the two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, is a Zionist stronghold. The politicians always and almost unanimously defer to the lobby. The few that don’t are instantly attacked as antisemites. The rightwing media – there is very little else – immediately pounces on them. Murdoch’s flagship daily the ‘Australian’ is especially vicious. The end result is that whatever crime Israel commits, it is never held to account.

The worst of the bad news is routinely suppressed. In late May pictures of the Rafah fire caused by an Israeli missile strike were published in the mainstream media but not the line of babies burned to death and the father holding up the body of a headless child. Only on social media were Australians able to see the horrific details of what Israel had just done.

Had the headless baby and the charred bodies of babies been shown they would have caused nationwide outrage, which of course is why they were not shown. No one asked why the Israeli Air Force was dropping bombs on refugee tents.

In 2014, when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister, former Foreign Minister Bob Carr said she had “subcontracted” Australian foreign policy to Jewish donors. It was more complicated than money for elections because the real sub-contracting since the 1960s has been to the US. Deference to US policy interests means deference to Israel and thus falling into line now behind Israel’s ‘right’ to defend itself by destroying Gaza and its people.

Gillard has visited Israel several times. In 2009 she spoke at the King David hotel, where more than 90 mostly British officials were murdered by Zionists in the bombing of the hotel in 1946.

She could have paid her respect to them and she could have acknowledged the rights of the ‘traditional’ owners of the land as she would have done in Australia. Instead, she prattled on about the “common culture of democratic freedom” between Australia and Israel.

In 2013, Gillard was awarded the Jerusalem Prize by Australian Zionists and the World Zionist Organisation. In 2014, she did go as far as describing an Israeli attack on a school as “deplorable” but that, along with her warnings against “disproportionate” violence, was acceptable to the lobby as criticisms she had to make to retain any public credibility.

Even before leaving office Gillard set herself up as an international defender of the rights of women and children. She is the chair of the Global Institute of Women’s Leadership at King’s College in London, the chair of Wellcome, the health organisation, the patron of CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), which seeks to allay poverty and inequality by helping girls to go to school and encouraging them to succeed.

She is also a distinguished fellow of “universal education” at the Brookings Institution yet has had nothing to say in the past eight months about the mass destruction of schools and universities in Gaza and the killing of their students and teachers.

Promoting herself as the global guardian of the rights of women and children, neither has Gillard ever spoken against Israel over the tens of thousands of Palestinian women and children killed, wounded, tortured, imprisoned, humiliated, and deeply traumatised by Israel in Gaza and on the West Bank.

Gillard is currently helping the Zionist lobby by appearing in a documentary organised by Josh Frydenberg, a former Liberal Party treasurer tipped out of his Melbourne seat in the last elections. The documentary is an attempt to stifle protests at genocide with the old cry of anti-semitism.

Gillard says young people protesting on and off campuses don’t know the “real facts” because of their misunderstanding of history and how Israel came into existence. Needless to say, Gillard’s “real facts” are what she learned from her Zionist friends and thus not facts at all. Young people do know the history, and that is why they are a problem to the Zionists.

In 2018, five years after Gillard was overthrown, Scott Morrison stepped up to the plate. Coming out of a questionable background in the private sector (last two contracts terminated prematurely, his ascent to the Prime Ministership established him as a clever political operator, just like Gillard.

A foundational difference was that while Gillard declared herself to be an atheist, Morrison was an active Christian.

The amorality required of a political life would seem to be the very antithesis of the moral principles that are the foundation of Christianity but Morrison found a church able to unite god and mammon.

His Pentecostalism is basically an American corporate marketing venture trading in religion. Forget the meek inheriting the earth. Meekness is not a sound Pentecostalist investment strategy for Christians seeking high returns. Pentecostalism’s ‘prosperity theology’ teaches that God helps those who help themselves, with no questions asked about what they are helping themselves to. While Jesus at least promised the poor the kingdom of heaven, the Pentecostalist God regards them as losers who just need to try a bit harder.

As immigration minister, Morrison’s treatment of the most vulnerable people on the planet – refugees and asylum-seekers – was ruthless. Most came from countries that Australia had helped wreck by joining the US in its illegal wars but when they came to Australia seeking sanctuary they were turned back.

While keeping out the ‘boat people,’ Morrison called for welfare cuts and then tax breaks for banks found guilty in 2017 of committing the greatest frauds in Australian banking history.

In and out of office Morrison was an echo chamber for US interests. His attacks on China as an “international bully” were followed by abuse of Russia after its intervention in Ukraine. Sanctions were declared against Russia while ‘defensive’ weapons were provided to the “lion of democracy” in Kyiv, as Morrison grotesquely described Zelensky.

On Israel, Morrison’s scriptural belief requires unwavering support for Jews, as when ‘end times’ arrive they must still be around so they can all convert to Christianity. With Israel and its lobbyists now trying to push antisemitism to the top of the agenda, what could be more truly anti-semitic than looking forward to the day when Jews will no longer be Jews?

As prime minister, Morrison showed his devotion to the ‘Jewish people’ by moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem, despite the fact that in international law ALL Jerusalem and not just the western part has been an occupied city since 1948. (Albanese moved the embassy back to Tel Aviv).

In 2019 Morrison was thanked for his fidelity to Israel – as Gillard had been – by being awarded the Jerusalem Prize. Responding to the finding of Amnesty International (and of Human Rights Watch and Israel’s premier human rights organisation Beit T’selem) that Israel is an apartheid state, he merely said that “no country is perfect.”

While referring to the “terrible violence” inflicted on the people of Ukraine by Russian “thugs and bullies” he has had nothing to say about the infinitely worse violence inflicted on Palestinians by Israeli “thugs and bullies.”

He opposed a ceasefire when he went to Israel with Boris Johnson in November 2023 and regards the possibility of Netanyahu being arrested in Australia as so “absurd” that Australia’s membership of the ICC is “ridiculous.”

Behind the catchphrase of ‘support’ for Israel and its ‘right’ to defend itself, what is Morrison actually ‘supporting’ either actively or by failing/refusing to speak out? The starting point here is two descriptive Latin phrases of legal and moral depth. Qui tacet consentire videtur – ‘silence gives consent’ – and ubi loqui debuit ac potuit – ‘when he should have and could have spoken out’.

This especially applies to high-profile figures whose opinions can shift public opinion. What does Morrison’s silence and failure to speak out ‘when he could have and should have’ mean in practical terms?

What he has not spoken against is Israel’s destruction of all civilian infrastructure in Gaza, including hospitals, schools, mosques and churches and the killing so far of more than 35 000 people. They include at least 15000 children and – at last count a few months ago – 17,000 children who have no one left to look after them, their immediate and extended families having been totally wiped out.

What he has not spoken against is Israel’s murder of doctors, other medical staff, UN workers, teachers, poets, and journalists and missile attacks that have blown heads into streets and left Palestinian families having to go to the few hospitals still partially active to identify relatives from the bits and pieces of their bodies.

What he has not spoken against is the entombment under the rubble of their bombed apartment buildings of thousands of men women and children, the forced repeated transfer of hundreds of thousands of civilians from one unsafe area of Gaza to another, and the missile attacks even in these ‘safe’ areas.

What he has not spoken against is deliberate starvation and the cruelty, sadism, and humiliation involved in the Israeli onslaught. What he has not spoken against is the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the abduction of thousands more, and the looting and destruction of shops and markets.

Morrison can blame Hamas as much as he likes but this is what Israel has been doing every day of the week for the past eight months. He is not alone, of course, because neither the current Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and Foreign Minister Penny Wong have dared to open their mouths to speak against Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity.

How can Morrison be taken seriously as a Christian when he does not stand up and condemn Israel outright for the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza? How can Gillard be taken seriously as the global defender of women and children when she will not hold Israel to account for its slaughter of Palestinian women and children in Gaza and on the West Bank?

The indictments sought against Netanyahu and Gallant for war crimes and crimes against humanity may yet be followed by prosecution for genocide. As all members of the war cabinet are culpable, their turn may come. Individual soldiers stupid enough to film themselves committing war crimes may follow.

Netanyahu is a major war criminal. Australians don’t need the ICC to tell them he is a criminal; just as those amongst them standing with the Palestinians will be remembered for their moral strength, the politicians and journalists who provided cover for Israel will be remembered for their cowardice and complicity in the face of the worst international crimes in modern history.

Republished from THE PALESTINE CHRONICLE, 31 May 2024.