THERE were many positives to come out of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s online forum with Anthony Albanese this week.
Our community has long enjoyed bipartisan support from Canberra and Australia’s alternative PM demonstrated this will largely continue should he win the keys to The Lodge.
There are still however a few issues of concern.
On the local front, we laud Albanese’s stance against antisemitism and Labor’s endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition.
He rightly condemned the anti-Israel boycott movement, pledged his ongoing opposition to it and stressed that it has no place in Labor Party policy.
Albo’s unequivocal rejection of the false apartheid slur and condemnation of a recent Queensland Labor resolution that accused Israel of ethnic cleansing were equally welcome.
We also applaud his support for a two-state solution with a “Jewish State of Israel” and his interest in collaborating with Israel on technology and water conservation.
On the tricky subject of Labor’s potential recognition of a Palestinian state – entrenched in the party’s platform this year – more clarity in his response may have been helpful.
He did not rule out such recognition in the absence of a peace deal, only that his party would not take any action without consulting “relevant organisations and nations, including the Jewish community, Israel and the Palestinian community”.
In addition, while he condemned “indiscriminate rocket attacks”, he did so without actually mentioning Hamas and in the same breath opposed “moves that undermine peace, no matter who they’re from”, such as “Israel responding aggressively to rockets”, settlements, and “some of the actions in East Jerusalem”.
To some, it may have appeared he was drawing an equivalence between Israel and its aggressors.
Later in the session, he agreed that the 2001 and 2008 peace offers, rejected by the Palestinians, were missed opportunities.
Here, while he made many of the right noises, Albo missed some opportunities of his own, which will still concern many in the community – namely a clear and unequivocal denouncement of Hamas as the aggressor and ruling out recognising a Palestinian state outside of a peace agreement.