Message to members from Robin Rothfield

Dear fellow members of the AJDS: Let’s get back on track.
I have been a member of AJDS for over 20 years. As I look back at our history, I am proud of what we have achieved. For example, in light of the Chilcot report, we can take pride in the statement of AJDS issued in August 2002 [see below], which made some remarkably accurate predictions on the outcome of an invasion of Iraq. And the forum we organized in 1997 of 300 people on Aboriginal land rights.
As Sol Salbe once pointed out, AJDS is a broad church of the Jewish Left and we welcome the expression of any number of views dealing with such subjects as the two-state solution, BDS, and the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
But sometimes, when I hear views expressed  on these subjects, I feel we need to remember the basic principles upon which AJDS was founded.
With this in mind, I have collected four articles as follows:

Enjoy reading!  And let’s get back on track!
Robin Rothfield

Little can be said in favour of the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. His past actions against his own people as well as against neighbours such as Iran, Kuwait and Israel have shown him and his regime to be a dictatorship that threatens the lives of millions of people in the region.
We are wary, however, of the stated aim of the United States to invade Iraq in order to replace Hussein’s regime. There are several reasons for opposing such a war:
* Very little, if any, evidence has been presented that Iraq still possesses significant weapons of mass destruction. We note also that the usually well-informed Israeli media and commentators have not endorsed the US Administration’s claims. We certainly oppose any war launched on the basis of an American Presidential decree.
* Nor has evidence been produced linking Iraq with Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation.
* The US has chosen not to obtain United Nations endorsement for its actions. Only the Howard government in Australia has come out in open support, while most other governments have serious reservations.
* Such a war would inevitably bring about widespread destruction and loss of life in Iraq and possibly in neighbouring countries as well as among the invading forces.
* Israel’s best friend in the region, King Abdullah of Jordan, has made it clear that while he shares the aim of removing Hussein, this should not be achieved by military force.
* The war may result in a break-up of Iraq or the creation of a regime even more implacably opposed to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. It would lead to a serious worsening of the refugee problem worldwide.
With the lessons of Vietnam very much in mind, we call upon the Australian Labor Party, as the main political opposition force in this country, as well as the Australian Democrats and the Greens, to disassociate themselves clearly from any American foreign policy moves against Iraq which would involve Australian military forces. Such moves would probably lead to a disaster in the region and would severely increase the tension which already exists between the Arab/Moslem world and the West.
The actions of the Australian government in relation to Iraq should not be dictated by the perceived self-interest of the United States. Our own national interests demand a truly independent foreign policy, worked out in co-operation with the relevant bodies of the United Nations and other international organisations.
Whatever the fate of Saddam Hussein himself, the heightened polarisation resulting from a war on Iraq is likely to create many more problems for the world than exist at present.
— Australian Jewish Democratic Society, 12 August 2002


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