Skip to comments.Australia 'ideal' for Middle East Peace Talks
Posted on 06/23/2005 10:29:27 PM PDT by Red Sea Swimmer
AUSTRALIA should agree to host a Middle East peace summit, showcasing itself as a model multicultural nation, one of the world's most influential Jewish leaders has said.
American Jewish Committee chief executive David Harris, who will meet John Howard today, also believes Australia should nudge Indonesia and Malaysia towards formal ties with Israel.
Mr Harris, a close friend of former US president Bill Clinton, believes Australia's good relations with the Arab world and its long-standing support for Israel make it an ideal player in the effort to establish concord between Israel and the Palestinians.
"It has a certain credibility when it speaks with Israelis and Arabs," he told The Australian yesterday.
So much so that Australia could be the ideal location for a conference to restart serious negotiations on a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
"There are many countries in the world that are offering themselves as possible venues for peace-making," he said.
"But there are far worse places in the world for people to meet in a spirit of peace-seeking than in a peaceful, multicultural open country like Australia. But that will depend on the (Middle East) parties themselves."
The American Jewish Committee is extremely influential in the White House and State Department, representing the largest group of Jews outside Israel. It has missions in 20 countries.
Mr Harris said Australia should also use its diplomatic sway to bolster Palestinian moderates and ensure they prevail when Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip later this year - a message he will convey strongly to the Prime Minister when they meet today.
He will ask Mr Howard to encourage the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, and its influential neighbour Malaysia, to formally recognise Israel.
"Given Australia's increasingly close ties with Indonesia, and its improving ties with Malaysia, any successful efforts by Australia to encourage these countries to adopt a more open attitude to Israel would add to the confidence-building environment," he said. "If the world's largest Muslim country were to revisit its position on Israel, what a powerful message it sends.
"So here, quietly, Australia could play a very helpful role."
One of Mr Harris's most significant tasks nowadays is combating what he fears is the rising tide of anti-Semitism around the world.
It was wrong, he said, to equate the situation in Europe today with the 1930s, when hatred of Jews was state policy, most obviously in Germany. However he still urged vigilance, describing Europe's condemnation of an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in 2000-01 as "slow and grudging".
"We need to be careful in our analysis of anti-Semitism and in invoking the term," he said. "But the problem is real and unfortunately it's rising, not declining."
The widespread use of technology meant that anti-Semitism that was once localised in some Middle Eastern countries was now diffused throughout the world.
But in his native US - where in 2000 a majority voted for an orthodox Jew, Joe Lieberman, as vice-president, despite Lieberman's Democratic ticket losing the electoral college vote - anti-Semitism was now taboo.
"The challenge is to keep the taboo in place," he said.
I feel this is a dance worth sitting out...
Maybe it will be an Aussie who hosts the World Peace Conference ?
A noble thought but not worth the hassle.
It would also make one swell Palestinian Homeland.
Hey guys! Wanna take the UN too?