Howard awarded honorary doctorate in Israel
AM Archive - Monday, 1 May , 2000 00:00:00
Reporter: Alexandra Kirk
COMPERE: The Prime Minister, John Howard, currently visiting Israel has been awarded an honorary doctorate for his loyalty to Jewish causes and the Jewish State.
Alexandra Kirk reports from Jerusalem:
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister has for decades been an avid supporter of Jewish people and the State of Israel. He says it all started back in the 1950s as a law student at Sydney University.
JOHN HOWARD: Friendships which have endured to this day and as a very Anglo-Celtic Protestant boy growing up in the suburbs of Sydney, that experience was very special. It exposed me to the breadths and the quality of Jewish life.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: He says the affection he has for Jewish people and Israel will never be diminished.
JOHN HOWARD: No community in the world in recorded human history has suffered as much from intolerance and prejudice and persecution as have the Jewish people.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Howard's now a member of a rather exclusive club, world leaders who have an honorary doctorate from the Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, people like US Vice-President Al Gore, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and five Israeli Prime Ministers.
UNIDENTIFIED: Mr Prime Minister your public statements throughout your political career have demonstrated a firm loyalty to Jewish causes and to the State of Israel.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: On the back of the program for the ceremony was a letter from Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, congratulating him on his award and what came as a surprise to many, praising Mr Howard for initiating Nazi war criminal trials legislation.
While Mr Howard did support the establishment of the War Crimes Unit, it was in fact the Labor Government's initiative. In 1992, Labor closed it down after it failed to mount one successful prosecution.
Timed to coincide with Mr Howard's visit, Effram Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem is calling for the unit to be re-opened. He says because of Australia's requirement that witnesses appear in person, criminal prosecution is difficult, so the Government should also opt for de-naturalisation and deportation.
EFFRAM ZUROFF: They be deported to the country where the crimes were committed, in most cases - or to Germany. That has not proven to be a problem, neither in the United States nor in Canada. I think that Australia could de-naturalise and deport anywhere between 10 and 15 of these people and in a sense the terrible shame, I think, of Australia's record to date will be changed.
COMPERE: Effram Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.