AJDS Letter to Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Bob CarrBelow is the text of a letter sent by the AJDS Executive to Bob Carr on 7 March 2012.
Dear Senator Carr,
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS) welcomes your appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
As an organisation within the Jewish community, we particularly aim to offer a considered and alternative viewpoint to members of the Jewish community and others in Australia. The AJDS was formed in 1984 by Norman Rothfield and others including Moss Cass, a former Labor government minister in the Whitlam government. It aims to promote free discussion on issues of social justice, politics, human rights and conflict resolution – particularly in relation to the Israeli Palestinian conflict where we have consciously avoided the stereotyping and fear-mongering that are all too common in public debate on both the Left and Right.
The AJDS actively counters the false view that the Australian Jewish community speaks with a single voice on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We have all complained at some time about the indifference of the world to the plight of the Jewish people at their most horrific period in human history. Neither can we then ignore the plight of Palestinians seeking their own self determination. Just as the international community supported the establishment of Israel, so too it is equally important that the international community support resolution of the conflict through a two state solution with the establishment of Palestine and resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem.
The public position taken by the main Jewish organisations such as the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) downplays the complexities of the conflict and avoids casting a critical eye over Israeli policies that prolong the conflict, while readily highlighting Palestinian policies that do likewise. This does not in fact reflect the diversity of opinion in the Jewish community here, or indeed in Israel itself, particularly amongst younger people.
The AJDS believes that Australia can take a more forthright role through the power of international diplomacy, to bring an end to Israel’s 45 year-long occupation of the West Bank, by encouraging Israel and Palestinians to negotiate a settlement based on UN resolution 242 and other key decisions internationally, including an equitable distribution of resources such as water. Australia’s good relations with Israel and the Arab and Muslim world places Australia in a better position of influence than many other countries.

We know that you demonstrated an honest and even handed approach to Palestinians in the face of considerable opposition from some in the Jewish community, when you presented the Sydney Peace Prize to Hanan Ashrawi in November 2003. We hope that you continue to support Palestinian human rights and hold all parties to account for policies which breach international law and human rights conventions. The maintenance of robust democratic institutions and processes in Israel is integral to safeguarding the rights of all Israelis, whatever their background. In the same way, Australia should take a stronger role in the development of effective civil society and government institutions in the emerging Palestinian state. Supporting Israel and Palestine as partners for peace and democracy should be a positive activity by Australia.
The AJDS also hopes that Australia takes a stronger position on nuclear non-proliferation throughout the world, including banning export of uranium in situations where it could be used for non-peaceful purposes.
AJDS Executive.

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