...The date was September 17, 2001. The occasion was the dinner to announce the winners in the 2001 NSW Premier’s History Awards. Carr was premier of NSW at the time and was delighted that the famous American documentary maker Ken Burns had accepted his invitation to present the prizes at the dinner in Sydney.
It turned out that Burns was a last-minute scratching from the event. It was around a week since al-Qa’ida’s terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Air transport from the US had been disrupted.
Moreover, word got around the audience that Burns was not keen on flying in the wake of what Americans term 9/11.
At the start of the dinner Carr came over to talk to me. I expressed commiserations that his guest Burns was a non-starter. To my surprise, Carr seemed quite shaken by the 9/11 attack.
He said to me that he had now come to the conclusion that the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 had been a mistake.
Carr stated his belief that the Arab world would never accept the creation of a Jewish state and that Islamists would continue to target Western nations.
From around late 2001, I noticed a change in Carr’s attitude towards Israel.
There was also the political factor. There are numerous references in his diary to the importance of the Muslim Arab vote, especially in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Carr is ready to bag what he terms the “Israel lobby” in Australia and to identify such AIJAC figures as Mark Leibler and Colin Rubenstein as allegedly exerting improper influence.
But he offers no criticism of such an entity as a “Palestinian lobby” while acknowledging the lobbying of Muslims and non-Muslim Arabs on Australia’s foreign policy towards the Middle East.
Diary of a Foreign Minister indicates that Carr is somewhat unhinged in so far as Israel is concerned. He cannot accept that Gillard’s long-time support for Israel reflects her real position. And he believes that talented Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg is incapable of writing an op-ed article of his own volition — he has to be instructed to do so by “the Melbourne-based Israel lobby”.
Diary of a Foreign Minister is very much the real Carr. As such, his obsession with the alleged Israel lobby is of more concern than his obsession with the nutritional value of organic steel-cut oats.