We are tracing the history of the unlikely relationship that has developed in the providence of God between the Tarshish power Australia and the nation of Israel. In this second part we examine the years from the time of the six-day war through to the years of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (1975–1983). What is intriguing is that the Australian government under Gough Whitlam moved away from supporting Israel and that government was dramatically replaced by the Fraser government which happened to be far more sympathetic to God’s people. We hope you enjoy tracing the history of this remarkable friendship between the two countries.

Following Holt’s death in late 1967, the conservative coalition  governments under John Gorton  john(Jan 1968 – Mar 1971) and  William McMahon (Mar 1971  – Dec 1972) largely continued  the Middle East polices which prevailed under Holt and Menzies.

Australia declared itself  “neutral”, interested in friendship with both Israel and the Arab  states, and keen on promoting  peace processes, especially  through the United Nations.  However, as Sam Lipski put  it, “while John Gorton was  Prime Minister, there was no  question [of Australia ever  being] anything but pro-Israel”,  with Holt and McMahon also  fairly described by historians as “very friendly to Israel”. Voting at the UN throughout this period bears this out.

It is generally agreed that, despite a solidly pro-Israel record up until that point, the election of an willamALP government under  Gough Whitlam (Dec 1972 – Nov  1975) marked a sharp departure in Australian policy toward Arab-  Israel issues. The Middle East was not a matter of controversy during the campaign, nor did it  feature in the platforms of either  of the major parties.

However, in office, the Whitlam Government  moved toward a foreign policy designed to be closer to the Non-Aligned Movement, where onesided  condemnation of Israel was the norm. While Whitlam described this policy as one of “evenhandedness  and neutrality”, this neutrality was very different from the “neutrality” also proclaimed by his conservative predecessors.


The effects of this new policy became most noticeable during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.  Australia refused to condemn the Egyptian and  Syrian attacks which launched the war, and then refrained from condemning the Soviet airlift of arms  supplies to the Arab combatants. However, once the US began to airlift arms and supplies to Israel, the Australian UN representative, on instructions from Canberra, condemned both airlifts, with a particular  emphasis on the US airlift.

Under Whitlam, Australia also voted for a resolution equating Zionism with racism at a UN  women’s conference in Mexico, though it voted  against the infamous equivalent resolution in the UN General Assembly.

Whitlam later approved the establishment of a PLO liaison office in Canberra and became embroiled in a series of scandals involving the acceptance of Arab loans to Australia and the ALP. It later emerged that one of the men at the centre of the loans affair, ALP activist Bill Hartley, had also written to Yasser Arafat seeking PLO funds for the ALP.

1975–1983: The Fraser years

The election of a Liberal-National coalition under Malcolm Fraser in December 1975 saw a return to a more sympathetic position on Israel. Australia again refrained from voting for one-sided resolutions critical of Israel in the UN, and voted against many of the harshest annual examples, often in a minority of only three or four.

Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock consistently stated that Israel could not be expected to negotiate with the PLO until such time as it abandoned its call for Israel’s destruction and extended recognition to Israel. The government repeatedly stressed Israel’s right to “secure and recognised boundaries”.

One of the major Middle East policy developments of the Fraser years was the government’s decision in October 1981 to send Australian forces to participate in the “Multinational Force and Observers” in Sinai, which were part of the mechanism developed to monitor the Israel- Egypt peace treaty. The Australian contingent, a combined air force helicopter squadron, was small, around 100 soldiers and eight helicopters, but was surprisingly controversial in Australia at a time when all overseas deployments were viewed with suspicion in the post-Vietnam era. The force was deployed in March 1982 and remained until April 1986, when it was withdrawn by the ALP government, despite Israeli and Egyptian requests that it remain. A smaller Australian contingent returned in 1993 and has remained since.

In responding to Israel’s raid on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant in October 1981, the Fraser Government said it “regretted any action which could add to the tensions in the Middle East”, but did not name or condemn Israel.

In the early 1980s, while continuing to support Israel’s refusal to deal with the PLO, Fraser began to call for Israel to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian homeland or state.

During the Lebanon war of 1982, Fraser was initially understanding of Israel’s action, but as the war dragged on became more critical. Following the Sabra and Chatilla massacre by a Lebanese militia allied with Israel, Fraser declared, “Events [have occurred] which weaken or diminish Israel’s right to the support of countries such as Australia, because it breaks down the moral position on which it stands.”

Mark Twain on the Immortal Jew

“… though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished” Jeremiah 30:11

American author Mark Twain (1835–1910) is probably best known for his two popular novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but he may not be so well known for his lesser writings on a wide variety of subjects, including the Jews.

Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens. A great traveller and close observer of human behaviour, Twain wrote with biting satire and an irreverent wit that challenged many of the cherished beliefs of polite society. His unconventional attitudes are reflected in the many articles he contributed to the newspapers and popular journals of his day.

The following quotation concludes an article he wrote titled ‘Concerning the Jews’ that was published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine for September 1899, pages 527–535 (not March 1898, as is often incorrectly cited on the internet and elsewhere).

“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

Every Knee Shall Bow

The following short article is the essence of the final study given by Brother Ron Houben at the Cumberland ecclesial camp held at Hebron in May 2008. It is a contemplation on the thoughts and feelings that will be experienced when we are before the Judgment seat of Christ.

One day, very soon we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Make no mistake about it, there will be fear. All those, (with perhaps the exception of Mary Magdalene) who had found themselves in the presence of an angel were stricken with terror. They found themselves prostrate before these heavenly beings, yea, even speechless. How much more when we face the one who has been given all power in heaven and on earth, and been crowned with glory and honour having been made so much better than the angels.

As we approach the throne our hearts are pounding, our palms sweating, our throats dry, overwhelmed by the presence of power. Fear grips us and panic overtakes us as we suddenly feel totally unworthy to stand before this majestic being. We cannot seem to think of any good or worthy deeds that might credit us with his approval. Our lives seem to have been futile and vain. We had wasted so many opportunities. We cannot even bear to look at his face. As we slowly walk into his presence our legs begin to fail and we fall to our knees before his feet. Surely before him no flesh can glory in his presence and before him every knee shall bow. With our head bowed, our heart racing, our eyes filled with tears, we see his feet before us. The feet of an immortal being! The feet of the Son of God! Our mind begins to wander and think of these feet that graced this earth 2000 years before. We remember Jairus the Pharisee prostrate before the same feet, pleading for compassion and how Christ responded even to this hardened ruler of the synagogue. We think of the Syrophoenician woman who fell before his feet and sought his grace and was granted to feed from the crumbs which fell so lovingly from the table. We recall the woman in Simon’s house whose tears fell on the same feet – a woman whose life had been tormented by evil experiences and had ultimately resorted to a life of immorality. The Lord’s gracious words come to mind, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace”. Imagine Mary casting herself in anguish before the same feet, grieved at the loss of her brother. His response was to share her grief; he understood her pain and wept with her. Remember Mary again prostrate before the same feet pouring costly, precious ointment over those wonderful feet, anointing him for his burial.

The smell of the sweet perfume seems to fill the air around us. Through the tears our eyes begin to focus on the scars so visible before us. Our mind goes to the brutality of the crucifixion and the unbelievable love our Lord had for his disciples, for his enemies and for those like us, who would follow. As our mind focuses on his love we realise we are no longer shaking; in fact calmness has passed over us as love seems to cast out the fear. We suddenly feel at one with this being of power and beauty, we feel an overwhelming warmth emanating from him to us. Then the silence of what has seemed like an eternity, but in reality is only a few moments, is broken, as we hear him say our name. He knows us! He knows our name! Rabboni! We grasp his feet in pure unspeakable love. He is our life, he is all we ever desired – our Lord, our Messiah, our King! “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”