Bob Hawke, one of Australia’s most popular and long serving Prime Minister, though some dislike him too, has been a staunch supporter of Israel, like most (or should I say, all) Aussie prime ministers. Therefore I was most surprised when I read of him speaking on the most important factor that has caused Arab/Muslim resentment against Western nations.
Rhodes scholar, intellectual, sportsman, union leader, once a piss-head, and compassionate bloke, Bob Hawke said correctly that until the Palestinian problem is resolved, the issue of international terrorism will not be solved, abated nor won over.
He called on the international community to pour massive supply of capital, technical and educational aid and expertise into the Palestinian community, so that the Palestinians, now living in semi-bondage under the Israelis, may perceive that there may be hope in life afterall.
He wants the World Bank (unfortunately under neo-con Paul Wolfowitz, who is pro-Israel), US, Europe, moderate Arab state and even Israel to provide the delivery mechanism, technical assistance, commitment and a massive supply of capital into Palestine.
Only by helping the Palestinians become a community enjoying decent standards, would the Palestinian feel that living in peace may be worthwhile. Right now, when one is at the bottom of the heap, life is considered cheap and associated with despair, and we know that’s how terrorism gets its recruits from.
He pointed out that the Palestinians exist in a hopeless economic environment with virtually no hope of employment or maintenance, let alone improvement of their living standard. What he didn’t say was that Israel has contributed towards that state by restricting Palestinian economic movements and placing all forms of trade, immigration, social and political limitations, subtle or otherwise, to prevent the Palestinian from progressing towards the develoment of a viable state economy and independent Statehood.
He took a shot at his old ally, the USA, by criticizing President Bush for the latter’s adventurism in bombing and invading Iraq. Hawke as Aussie prime minister had supported Bush’s father in Gulf War I, which didn’t invade Iraq. That war had a more above-board objective, which was why it was supported by most nations. Compare Bush Snr's handling of Gulf War I with his son's handling, or more correctly, mishandling of Gulf War II.
Hawke said the American argument that war on Iraq was essential to the fight against terrorism was bullshit - OK, he didn’t exactly use the word ‘bullshit’, but I thought a more colourful equivalent might add some spice to his condemnation of the US claim.
One thing I notice of his speech. He didn’t criticise Israel for its land grab from the Palestinians, nor did he mention once the Israeli continuous frustration of Palestinian Statehood. As I mentioned, Hawke has been very pro-Israel so it may still be difficult for him to tell his friends in Tel Aviv to stop the land robbery, and the 'Berlin Wall' that snakes avariously to embrace choice Palestinian land plots.
But for such a pro-Israel politician, Bob Hawke in delivering such a frank and spot-on speech must certainly be considered as revealing. I consider it as an incredible milestone for the cause of the Palestinian people.