The ALP and the two ethnic-state solution for the Middle East

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is split over policy towards the Middle East. The Party’s centre-right faction is generally supportive of Israel while the left faction supports Palestinian rights and is critical of Israel’s construction of settlements on the occupied West Bank. However, both factions implicitly support the Jewish and Palestinian people having their own states. They differ only in the speed with which the two state solution should be activated.

It is astounding that any major faction of the ALP supports ethnic states because in domestic politics the Party is vehemently opposed to Australia preserving its European identity. The Party wishes a state for the Palestinian nation at the same time that it participates in turning the Australian state against the nation that created it. Until the late 1960s the ALP fiercely supported the White Australia Policy. The policy ethnically restricted immigration to accelerate assimilation and maintain a white majority. At the same time the policy helped protect wages by regulating the supply of labour, especially from low-wage countries. That changed when the Party’s leadership was replaced by university-educated professionals, beginning with Gough Whitlam. Since then the Party has supported multiculturalism of the most aggressive kind, that effectively subordinates Anglo Australians while garnering minority votes, in part by offering unrestricted immigration.

The left-right support for ethnic states in the Middle East was made clear in a recent controversy within ALP ranks.[i] In early September 2015 the Queensland branch advocated that Australia immediately recognise a Palestinian state. Queensland ALP vice-president Wendy Turnbull claimed that Israel was falling out of favour in social democratic parties around the world due to its persecution of the Palestinian people.  The response, she said, was to support “the Palestinian people and their rights to a sovereign state of their own alongside Israel”. Palestinians are an ethnic group, so Turnbull was proposing an ethnic state, just as Israel declares itself to be the Jewish state. That could be described as the two ethnic-state solution. The centre-right also supports this formula, but does not see the need to hurry the process.

It is significant that the Labor left implicitly supports a two ethnic-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict while condemning Israel for aggressive actions. It seems they do not consider ethnic states inherently aggressive or otherwise ethically unsound, at least in the Middle East. At the same time the Party has moved to counteract the influence of what is seen in Labor circles as a powerful Israel lobby, by requiring Labor officials who accept subsidised travel to Israel to spend equal time in Palestinian areas.

Again, this is astounding, because Labor does not speak up for fair representation of white interests, for example in order to democratise multiculturalism in Australia. If the Labor or Liberal parties applied their domestic policies to the Middle East, they would call for a unitary state of Jews and Arabs and condemn the majority’s concern about losing ethnic control of the state. Indeed, they would urge the opening of the state’s borders to immigration and refugees in an effort to diversity the population and promote multiculturalism.

It can be difficult to discern rhyme, reason or principle in Australian attitudes to ethnicity and nationalism.


[i] Troy Bramston, “ALP peace shattered on Mid East policy”, The Australian, 1 Sept. 2015, p. 3.

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