24 May 2010

Australia tells Israel: "Mate, that shit ain't cool"

You've got to respect the Australian government's decision to expel an Israeli diplomat over the forging of Australian passports for Mossad agents to off Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. While journalists are legally obligated to qualify their statements with words like 'allegedly' and 'suspected', the rest of us are free to entertain the not-quite-preposterous belief that Israel did order the hit and did forge those multinational passports to allow the assassins unimpeded entry into Dubai.

The Opposition flings accusations of Arab-courting at PM Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, yet what did the Liberals actually expect them to do? Wag their fingers at Israel and go 'tsk tsk'? Say "Now that's not very nice" and leave it at that? We're talking about a blatant breach of trust and security between two sovereign states.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop allowed that "in the absence of proof, it would be appropriate to reprimand, appropriate to chastise the Israeli government." But wouldn't a reprimand in itself imply some level of guilt, of culpability, on Israel's part? Yet the Opposition shies from following this to its logical conclusion, one supported by mounting evidence that the sophistication of the passport forgery and the hit itself bears the stamp of the Mossad.

Israel pulled off an assassination that may have benefited them militarily. But dragging innocent, unsuspecting friends into your dirty fights isn't a politically savvy tactic. Because some of those friends might actually feel, y'know, betrayed.


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