Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s thought-bubble about our Israel embassy may well have been a cynical ploy, but it would have been the right move. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s thought-bubble about our Israel embassy may well have been a cynical ploy, but it would have been the right move. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Morrison has let down a friend with each way bet

I SUSPECT most Aussies couldn't give a toss about where our embassy in Israel is located, but here's why they should.

Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and is our frontline against Islamic terrorism.

Surrounded by hostile neighbours who would love nothing more than to see the Jewish state's total obliteration, its ongoing survival really is the ultimate David and Goliath story.

The foes who wish to attack our freedoms are the very same who call for Israel's destruction.

As the old proverb goes, my enemy's enemy is my friend.

What's more, we should never let ourselves be browbeaten by our Muslim neighbours Indonesia and Malaysia over our own foreign policy decisions.

So we should care that Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement about Israel this week has let down a friend by having a bet each way.

Yes, Morrison was right to recognise Israel's capital as being in Jerusalem.

After all, what other sovereign country in the world doesn't get to choose its own capital?

But it was a shame he chose to qualify that recognition as "West Jerusalem" and delay moving our embassy there until there is a two-state solution.

That kicks the can into the Never Never, given the Palestinians have - in recent history - steadfastly refused to come to the negotiating table and there's no chance of peace while terrorist organisation Hamas remains in control of Gaza.

It is true that the entire issue of relocating the embassy was raised during the Wentworth by-election in - as shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong called it - a "cynical ploy" to appeal to that seat's large Jewish demographic, but that doesn't make it any less the right or principled thing to do.

The fact is the Jews have lived in Jerusalem for more than 3000 years and that is where the country's parliament, the Knesset, is based along with many government institutions.

The city was divided into East and West for a period of 19 years, when the eastern side was occupied by Jordan, after the combined forces of the Arab states invaded Israel the very next day after it declared independence in 1948.

East Jerusalem remains disputed territory since Israel wrested it back from Jordan in 1967 in the Six-Day War.

Lobby group Australian Jewish Association argued against dividing the city by drawing a distinction between east and west, saying "Israel has announced Jerusalem is to remain united as it always was."


Summing up the preposterousness of that distinction, satirical Twitter account The Mossad, named after Israel's national intelligence agency, posted: "Thank you Australia for recognising West Jerusalem as Israel's capital! In return we have recognised North Canberra."

But it's the decision to leave our embassy in Tel Aviv - instead of following US President Donald Trump's brave lead and shifting it to Jerusalem - that's truly not kosher.

Instead, Morrison announced we'd be setting up a trade and defence office there, a small concession.

That makes us appear like we're kowtowing to Indonesia and Malaysia, the latter a country whose prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is an avowed anti-Semite.

Mahathir engaged in some old-fashioned victim-blaming last month, when he warned that moving Australia's embassy in Israel would increase the risk of terror.

"I pointed out that in dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes," he said after a meeting with Morrison at the Asian summit in Singapore. "Adding to the cause for terrorism is not going to be helpful."

Indeed, those ultra-sensitive wannabe terrorists have already reportedly been picked up in chatter over encrypted messaging system Telegram, with one post last month calling for "lone wolves to make Christian Australian citizens and Australian assets or places of interest in Indonesian and Malaysian cities targets of terror as punishment for Australia's support for God-forsaken Zionist Israelis."


Malaysian Mahathir Mohamad is an avowed anti-Semite. Artwork: Terry Pontikos
Malaysian Mahathir Mohamad is an avowed anti-Semite. Artwork: Terry Pontikos


So now we're not only going to let other nations dictate our foreign policy, but jihadis, too?

The reality is there is a $15 billion trade deal with Indonesia that has been hanging in the balance since the embassy move was first broached.

But Australia could have called Indonesia's bluff; after all, following the US' embassy move, there was no real fallout with Jakarta.

Indonesia condemned the US decision and there were some protests staged by Islamist groups outside the country's US embassy, but then the issue died down.

Meantime, Indonesia still hasn't decided what to about the Australian trade deal, while Mahathir remains critical of Australia, on the weekend saying we had "no rights" to recognise Jerusalem.

Domestically, Morrison's half-baked move has opened the government up to ridicule from Labor, which immediately jumped on the decision as a "humiliating backdown".

Labor has already said it will reverse the decision to recognise West Jerusalem as the capital and will keep the embassy in Tel Aviv if it wins the next election, prompting the Zionist Federation of Australia to warn that would be a "hostile act".

A more courageous move from the PM was to recognise the grossly biased United Nations as a hotbed of antisemitism.

In his announcement, Morrison observed that the "UN General assembly is now the place where Israel is bullied and where antisemitism is cloaked in language about human rights."

If only he could have shown the same leadership on the embassy.

Caroline Marcus is the host of Saturday Edition and Sunday Edition on Sky News.