Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

The Last Word: You Can't Be Syria's

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Jeremy Jones

You Can’t Be Syria’s  

It can’t be easy being the diplomatic representative of Syria in Australia. The job description would include putting a gloss on the Baathist regime, with its strong ideological roots in European fascism of the 1930s. Added to this is the fact the Baathists in Syria have failed their people economically, socially, culturally, politically and on the diplomatic level.

Keysar Trad: sought by Marxists and racists alike

With a ruler who is almost universally derided as an incompetent coward with a thuggish streak, Syria would logically be a hard case to sell. To add to these standard woes, Syria has come under attack in recent days by nearly all its comrade states in the Arab League, after the aforementioned President called Middle Eastern leaders “half men” for not giving more support to Iran’s pet murderers, Hezbollah.

So where can a Syrian Ambassador find friends? Well, there are always university campuses, which throw open their figurative arms to apologists for virtually any ideology or political obscenity.

Given Syria’s open and public promotion of crude anti-Jewish stereotyping, there is also the reliable gang of far-right political fringe dwellers, which has a track record of cynicism and hypocrisy on issues of Arabs and Muslims, who on one hand appear as demonic threats to white civilisation but on the other hand are perceived as comrades-in-arms against Jews.

Back in 1998, the Holocaust deniers of the Adelaide Institute hosted the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates at the first “Australian Revisionist Conference”, so it was not completely surprising to see that the publicity for the 2006 “Sydney Forum” promoted a “Special Guest”, His Excellency Tamman Sulaiman, Ambassador of the Syrian Republic.

In the publicity, the organisers of this annual gathering of far-right wingers wrote, “It is the view of the Sydney Forum that no Australian soldiers should be employed in the Middle East in roles that inevitably serve Zionism and the American agenda. Perhaps the views of Syria deserve real consideration in defining the issues.”

The decision to invite a Muslim, any Muslim, created tension within the far-right and the acceptance of the invitation upset a few Arabic speaking opponents of the Sydney Forum crowd.

At the time of writing, the Australia First Party is promoting the Syrian as a speaker while an anti-racist group is claiming that he has cancelled his engagement.

Meanwhile, the far left-wingers have a Sydney Forum equivalent, in which they celebrate the relevance of Marxism to contemporary humanity in much the way the Sydney Forum celebrates the contribution of race-based nationalism. High on the list of speakers in promotional material is that most un-Marxist of speakers, Keysar Trad.

Given Marxism’s view of religion, it might appear a little odd to have this conference promote a one man bandwagon who spruiks a conservative variety of a faith which includes tenets fundamentally opposed to Marxism.

But just as the Sydney Forum could find a place for a Syrian diplomat in their coalition against “Zionism”, Australia’s Marxists slotted Mr. Trad into a session on “where the US war is headed and the growth of resistance”.

When justifying his own address to the right-wing rabble known as the Australian League of Rights a few years ago, Mr. Trad told me that he would unapologetically address any group willing to listen to him defend Islamic peoples from outside intervention. But the issue is not so much of one of Mr. Trad’s crusade, but of the intellectual corruption and ideological dishonesty of those who have invited him to speak.

When observing recent rallies in support of Hezbollah, one could not but be bemused to see people marching in support of a group with an ideology so fundamentally opposed to their own human rights.

It appears that, for some in Australia, unity against “Zionism” exists on a higher moral plane than ideological consistency and a higher practical plane than objective self-interest.

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