Israelis regret "yellow race" comments . . .
Okay - to be more precise - they regret that it will cost them political support in Australia and around the world.
"I can't tell you how sensitive these things are here," said a senior member of Sydney's Jewish community, referring to Ambassador Naftali Tamir's description of Asians as having "yellow skin" and "slanted eyes" . . .Keep in mind, the comments are "offensive" only to others while merely "embarassing" to Israelis, which is why they intend to stand by the source of these racist remarks while denying, for political purposes, that they share his views.
Tamir, who was on his way back to Australia from Israel when the report broke, was intercepted at a stop-off in Asia and recalled to Israel to "clarify" the matter with his superiors at the Foreign Ministry.
"If the article is accurate, this is a grave and unacceptable remark," said the ministry in a statement on Friday, adding that it will not return to business as usual if an internal examination confirms that the ambassador did indeed make the comments attributed to him.
The key concern of the Jewish community, the source in Sydney explained, was that the broad coverage of the comments in the Australian press would fuel those who charge that Israel is a racist state and that the Australian government is erring in its overtly pro-Israel position. He added that while the comments were considered offensive and embarrassing, the community would "rally around [the ambassador]," while distancing itself from the sentiments.
Grahame Leonard, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the community's umbrella organization, told Haaretz yesterday that the community holds Tamir "in the highest regard," and praised his "outstanding" representation of Israel during the recent Lebanon war . . .. . . as Israelis committed genocide against a defenseless Arab population. Why am I not surprised?