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And it came to pass

I have received a pointed email wanting to know why, in the midst of the “passport scandal”, Jewgle Perth has nothing to say about the “violation of Australian soveriegnty”. 

The reason is, the Jewgle team have been out celebrating the festival of Purim.  Rabbenu Artscroll describes this festival as follows: 

“The miracle of Purim took place in what was surely the darkest period in Jewish history up to that time.  The first Temple had been destroyed and the Land of Israel had been virtually denuded of its Jews.  Permission had been granted to begin building the second Temple, but the work was halted by King Achesverosh of Persia.  Even when it did proceed, only 40,000 Jews had the courage to return to Eretz Yisrael.  The nation was demoralised….”

“The book of Esther chronicles a new kind of miracle.  The name of G-d does not appear at all because it was hidden throughout.  The story of Esther and Mordechai took place ove a period of nine years and it reads like a string of fortuitous coincidences.  Precisely that it is a miracle and its message, because the book of Esther taught the Jewish people that G-d always hovers near his people, and teaches that there are no coincidences in Jewish history.  Isolated incidents always have a pattern, even when we do not have prophets and sages to decipher them for us.  The messages of Purim are timeless, even without the inspiration of the Temple and G-ds revealed presence”.

There is no better time to understand the Jewish people’s relationship with both the Omniscient creator, and the Sovereign rulers of contemporary civil law, than on the day of Purim.  In particular, observance of the “law of the land” is a Civic obligation that remains sacrosanct for Jewish people, but nonetheless a state of being which has often been turned against Jewish communities without just cause.

The passport scandal situation before us is, at this point in time, a trial by media.  The media have, whilst noting that the Government of Israel have neither confirmed or denied that it had any involvement in the assasination of Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai, clearly declared a belief that it was a Mossad sting.  The indignant and self righteous condemnation from Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith seems to be an assertive, but premature reaction that is politically expedient, but lacking in substance and without regard of the longer-term consequence.

As a Jewgle blogger, I have no better knowledge than any other Australian as to whether the Mossad were culpable of identity theft of three Australian citizens. 

I would however like to state that I concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by the Australian Government, that passport violations are a serious breach of Australian soveriegnty and not to be taken lightly. In the same context, I would also like to state that Israel has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. 

The analogy to Purim, is that so much of this story just does not make sense.  Why would it be that Israeli identities (quite traceable from the point of entry to Dubai on any legitimate passport) are used to mask the accused assassins?  Why do the falsified documents, so brazenly displayed by the media carry photos with dimensions and angles that would clearly not meet the standards of the Australian authorities and would easily be identifiable as a falsified document by even the most simplistic customs officer (ever tried to get a passport recently)?  Why is only a certain amount of footage and imagery being provided to the media for the clear construction of a narrative that may or may not be legitimate?   

There has been a lot of internet analysis and commentary that infers an attitude of “so what?”  Even if it was the Mossad, Israel has the right to pursue targeted killing of a combatant, with no collateral damage against civilians, as a justified act of warfare.  These articles suggest there are no other means to pusue terrorists other than to travel on false identities, and that furthermore, every intelligence agency in the world engages in such practices.  There are reports that Mabhouh himself had five foreign passports on him when he was assasinated, and that it is hypocritical that these violations of soveriegnty found no voice of condemnation.   There are reports that it was in Dubai’s interest to deflect blame to Israel, even though many Islamic terrorist groups had plenty motivation to also target this criminal.

I do not see the same intrigue, or “whodunnit” type of romance that the media seem to find in this story.  I find a lack of jounalistic integrity and a double standard.  The reported message is that Israel is guilty by implication, and that Israeli diplomatic relations with Israel have regressed due to calculated assumptions. 

Reading this story over the past few days has made me feel like a character in a Purim shpeil.  Here I am, a Jewish advocate, being asked to defend the indefensible, even though circumstancea are far from clear and the laws of logic have no bearing on the political dynamics of the moment.   Our Government, seem to have a comical relationship with their “loyal subjects”.  The number one issue in the land is how to stuff pink batts into the roofs of our houses, and the number two issue is to condemn the only Government in the world that seems to actively pursue the terrorist threat that threatens its existance based on an assumed act of false identity. 

This story will only wither and die if the Australian Government decides to put an end to it.  If the diplomatic impasse continues to serve as a convenient political deflection, then maybe we will hear more self righteous pomposity from our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.  The upshot of it all is that Israel is unlikely to waiver – its policy of ambiguity will remain.  The intent of Israel to eliminate the terrorist threat (a real and complex existential threat to the nation) will continue through whatever means are necessary.  Israel will conclude that sometimes diplomatic fallout is necessary.  It is a better alternative to contemplate, as opposed to radioactive fallout.

I do not sanction a violation of Australian sovereignty.  I do not know whether Israel is guilty of this or not.  I do not accept the media’s charge to demonise Israel as the guilty party on the basis of a game of “join the dots”.  But I do care – about the value and integrity of my Australian passport, about the security of the State of Israel, and about the need for journalistic integrity when it comes to translating the opinion of Dubai security agents into factual missive.  Sadly, all three of the above seem to be under threat, and all the meanwhile my representative Government seem to have completely lost the plot. 


“In the third year of the reign of King Rudd Achashverosh, the King conferred with the experts who knew the times, for such was the King’s procedure to turn to all who knew law and judgement.  Those closest to him were the seven officers of Persia and Media, who had access to the King.  Memuchan-Smith declared before the King “let it be that their passports be revoked, and that the King’s decree shall be a proclamation throughout the nation”.  And it came to pass that the passports were petitioned.  And the King levied taxes on all the land. 

The Jews througout the provinces organised and defended themselves, gaining relief from their foes, treating their enemies as they pleased.   On that very day when the enemies of the Jews expected to gain the upper hand it was turned about.  The Jews gained the upper hand on their adversaries and sought to attack those who sought their hurt.  The Jews gained relief from their enemies and transformed the occasion from one of sorrow to gladness.  The days were chronicled to be remembered and celebrated by every single generation.  Esther’s ordinance validated the passport regulations on the day of Purim and it was recorded for the sake of all those concerned for the welfare and prosperity of the free world.”          

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