08 June 2017

ABC backs anti-Semitic Al Jazeera after Gulf switches off Qatari propaganda channel

From The Australian, Cut & Paste, June 9, 2017:

Time for the ABC to turn off Al ­Jazeera? The Australian, yesterday:
Conservatives have called on the ABC to reconsider its two hours a day Al Jazeera content, labelling the Qatari-based news channel “Islamic propagandists”.

A whole sweep of Gulf nations are set to dump the Qatari news channel. BBC News online, yesterday:
Qatar’s Al Jazeera media network has undoubtedly put the tiny Gulf state on the international map. It is the showpiece of the oil and gas-rich ­nation’s efforts to turn its financial largesse into outsized global influence and visibility … But there are growing fears that the current diplomatic crisis in Qatar could place the high-profile network’s future in jeopardy.

One reason the ABC should never have had Al Jazeera on its news channel is its long history of anti-Semitism. ...August 6, 2008:
The Al Jazeera television station ­admitted Wednesday that its coverage of Israel’s release of convicted Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar violated the station’s own code of ethics. The admission came in response to a threat by Israel’s Government Press Office to boycott the satellite channel unless it apologised … The head of ­Israel’s Government Press Office said Al Jazeera would get only minimal services until it provided a “reasonable answer” about a program which featured a birthday party for Kuntar, who spent 29 years in an Israeli jail for a 1979 attack in which five Israelis were killed.

...Aunty is determined to stick with the viciously anti-Semitic channel. An ABC representative speaking to The Australian, yesterday:
Al Jazeera English is an award-­winning service with a strong presence in Europe.

Maybe it’s time they listened to Australia’s Jewish community instead. Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council chief Colin Rubenstein on The Bolt Report, Wednesday:
I think that it’s entirely unacceptable that broadcasters in Australia, ­esp­ecially public-funded broad­cast­ers … are running Al Jazeera content … This is a station run by the rulers of Qatar who sponsor Islamism.

06 June 2017

A reply to the antisemitic former Anglican bishop of Canberra-Goulburn

From The Spectator, 30 May 2017, by Denis MacEoin:

In his recent article, ‘Capitalism, Anti-Semitism & The Judaeo-Christian Ethic’ the former Anglican bishop of Canberra-Goulburn and Australia Palestine Advocacy Network head George Browning presents what he describes as a “reflection into the heart of the modern State of Israel”...

Towards the end, Browning denies that his article is anti-Semitic: “Rather … I believe it to be supportive of the essential value upon which the culture of Judaism is founded – the practice of universal justice.”

Is Browning aware of the leading modern definition of anti-Semitism written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and recognised by some 32 countries? This definition, like others before it, includes several clauses that identify unfair, incorrect criticism of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, or the setting of double standards for it as anti-Semitic. Browning’s article, as we shall see, falls without reserve into that definition. 

It is hard to understand how a man of his intelligence and deep involvement in Israeli-Palestinian matters should not know of or respect the IHRA definition or earlier, almost identical ones such as the original European EUMC and US State Department definitions. In order to make this clear, here are two clauses from the IHRA definition:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

Now, let me turn to several statements made by Browning in the course of his article:
Universal justice appears to have become an unwelcome stranger in the land of Israel. Zionism’s compulsive identification with land, has replaced justice as its core value.
What on earth can he mean? Countries all round the world have high regard for their land. Patriotism is a common position for the Irish, the Scottish, the English, the French, the Italians, and dozens more. The Palestinians, to whom Browning is intensely loyal, talk about little else but their right to the land. But according to Browning, Jewish love of their ancestral land, a place to which Jews prayed to return for over two millennia, overturns the ancient Jewish love for justice in a way other nation’s love for their land and their self-determination within it, does not.

Just after that statement, Browning makes another:
The having, holding and conquering of land has seemingly become the arbiter of nationhood…
Does Browning know so little about history? Jews did not conquer the land of Israel: they were given it first through the League of Nations Mandate system, then the United Nations Partition resolution, and reinforced by UN resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), all through internationally-recognized and binding agreements. In 1947, the Palestinian Arabs rejected the offer of a second Palestinian state, and five Arab countries launched an offensive war to drive the Jews out. Although this war failed, the Palestinians lost Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. In 1967, fighting another defensive war, Israel forced Egypt and Jordan out, later made peace treaties with both countries, and in 2005 moved out of Gaza completely. Settlements within the West Bank, (originally the Jewish territories of Judea and Samaria) are legal under international law despite claims to the contrary and will be negotiated in exchanges of land, when and if the Palestinian leadership agrees to a peaceful resolution. Such offers were made in 1947, 1967, 2000, 2001, and 2008, but turned down by the Palestinians and their Arab allies every time.

Browning might do better to talk about the way Muslim Arabs originally took the Holy Land – by military conquest, alongside a series of worldwide conquests by Muslim forces in the seventh and later centuries. The only reason the Arabs insist on holding land is because of a ruling in jihad law that refuses to relinquish land once conquered. Is Browning actually aware of any of this, or is he just making things up as he goes along?

The bishop next takes issue with three statements commonly made about Israel, summarily dismissing them one by one. First, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East:
Hang on, no it is not. First of all, on who’s (sic) definition of democracy?  Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are afforded no rights while Arabs in Israel have differing and reduced rights to their Jewish counterparts.
What unmitigated guff. What other democracies does Bishop Browning know of in the Middle East? Syria? Lebanon, under the control of the Iranian terrorist organisation Hizbullah? Turkey, under the increasingly authoritarian rule of President Erdogan? Egypt? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Qatar? Yemen? Iran?

But Israel is a true democracy in which every adult citizen has the right to vote, to form or join a political party, and be elected to parliament. Arabs in Israel have exactly the same rights as citizens as Jews: they have political parties, they serve in the parliament (the Knesset), they serve as judges in Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, they serve as diplomats, they are free to worship (whether they be Muslims or Christians), their places of worship are protected under the Law for the Protection of Holy Places. Unlike all other countries in the Middle East, women in Israel (Arabs or Jews) have the same right as men. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive cars or go out without male escorts. In Israel, many women are fighter pilots. Not a true democracy?

As for the West Bank, Palestinians certainly have rights. Under the Oslo Accords, the region is divided in three: Area A (where there are no Israeli settlements) is under the full civil and security control of the Palestinian Authority (whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, is now in the undemocratic twelfth year of a 4-year term of office). Area B (also without Israeli settlements) is under joint Palestinian and Israeli control, and only Area C is under full Israeli control. The Israel security presence is there to defend Israeli civilians from the thousands of terrorist attacks that have been and are still being launched by Palestinians.

Israel is not a perfect democracy. Nor is Australia. Nor is the UK. Nor is the US. And so on. So why does Browning both lie about Israel and single it out above other democracies as not being a democracy? A majority of Israeli Arabs say they would rather live in Israel than elsewhere because they flourish well there.

The second statement Browning turns to is this: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that enables freedom of religion:
Well, no.  Israel claims to be a Jewish State.  By definition the statement excludes those who are not Jews. The idea of Jerusalem as an historical centre for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike is being constantly eroded.
This is an egregious lie. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state (or the Jewish state) no more impinges on freedom of religion there than being a Christian nation deters freedom of religion in the UK, Australia and elsewhere. All the countries around Israel and beyond define themselves as Muslim, and there is no religious freedom in any of them, in fact, minorities are routinely persecuted or worse: Baha’is in Iran, Copts in Egypt, Christians in the West Bank and Gaza suffer fierce discrimination and often murder.

Let me take the Baha’is as an example. They are the largest religious minority in Iran, yet they are persecuted, executed, imprisoned and more by the state. In Israel, they have their two holiest shrines, the seat of their international governing body, their international archives and other bodies. These and their world-famous gardens have won them status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Israel allows them complete freedom. They are as much loved by the Jewish state as they are hated in their homeland. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Christian populations are being slaughtered and expelled in the hundreds of thousands. Israel is the only country in the region where the Christian population has increased year on year since the state’s foundation in 1948. Ahmadi Muslims, persecuted in Pakistan and other Islamic countries, live and worship freely in Israel. All the mosques and holy places of Israel’s Muslim communities are kept safe and secure by the country’s Law for the Protection of Holy Places. The Palestinians, whom Bishop Browning so adores – he is the President of the Palestine Advocacy Network – kill and persecute Christians, murder apostates from Islam, and teach their children in schools to hate Jews and aspire to kill them. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Has Bishop Browning ever set eyes on it?

Browning then says: Israel is the only country in the Middle East that lives by the rule of law:
Well, no, it does not.
Actually, it does. Certainly, it imprisons many Palestinians, but only Palestinians who have gone out to stab, shoot, ram, or bomb Israeli citizens (whether Jews or Arabs).

Back in Northern Ireland, we used to imprison people for crimes like that too. No one was ever imprisoned or interned without due process. Israel never executes its prisoners, even multiple murderers, and its jails are of a high standard in international terms. No one is imprisoned without an open and fair trial. In 1999, Israel’s Supreme Court banned even the use of moderate physical pressure on terrorist suspects. Israeli law is based on a series of Basic Laws that act as a constitution, and Israeli justice is open, transparent, and witnessed by international observers, journalists and international human rights bodies.

Here is a single example of Israeli openness. In 2010, Moshe Katsav, who was president of Israel from 2000 to 2007, was sentenced to seven years in prison on rape and sexual harassment charges. The presiding judge at the Supreme Court was one George Karra, a Christian Arab. But I forget, George Browning insists that Israeli Arabs have few rights.

Problems can indeed arise within the Israeli legal system. But the same applies to all other democracies with equal force. Why does Browning single Israel out and deny its basic lawfulness? There are remedies for miscarriages of justice, and parliament is empowered to reform specific pieces of legislation should they prove in need of it. In countries like Saudi Arabia that are ruled under sharia law, heads are lopped off, limbs amputated, adulterers and homosexuals stoned to death. Saudi Arabia now chairs the UN Human Rights Council’s section on women’s rights. Why doesn’t Bishop Browning focus on genuine cases of the abuse of law that harm innocent people? Why doesn’t he take his Arab friends to task for their blatant disregard for human rights?

And that mention of homosexuals reminds me that there are no laws in Israel against the rights of LGBT persons. In fact, Tel Aviv has a reputation as the friendliest city for male and female gay people in the world. Not a single Arab or Muslim country – including the PA territory and Gaza under Hamas – affords such rights even to the most limited degree. Come out as gay in Israel and you may be shown the way to the nearest gay bar. Do that in any Muslim state and you will be taken to the nearest high building and thrown from the roof.

In his response to that third statement, Browning also writes:
The occupying force protects the illegal settlers and not the Palestinian civil population. Essential services are provided to the illegal settlers and restricted or denied the Palestinians.
Here again, this is without context or explanation. Browning only knows one side of the story. Israel has handed a large swathe of the West Bank to Palestinian control. As for denial of essential services to the Palestinians, how does Browning explain the fact that Gaza, under viciously anti-Israel rule by terrorist group Hamas, has for many years received many thousands of truckloads of essential goods via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel: humanitarian aid continued to be sent in even while Hamas was firing thousands of rockets into Israel civilian centres in 2014 & 2015. The amount of water sent to Palestinian territories has increased from 5 million cubic meters per year to 10 million in an effort to combat the water crisis in the region. The Israel Electric Corporation has for years been supplying electricity to Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians often avoid paying, and currently owe the corporation about NIS 2 billion in debt.

Every year thousands of Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank are treated free of charge in Israeli hospitals, including the families of Hamas and Fatah members. Likewise, children from Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq (many of them Kurdish), receive free heart surgery performed by Jewish surgeons from Israeli NGO ‘Save A Childs Heart’. Children from the latter countries are facilitated into Israel by ‘Shevet Achim’ a Christian NGO. Currently, hundreds of injured Syrians are treated in Israeli field hospitals. Internationally, the World Health Organization has named Israel the top country in the world for the field hospitals it builds in disaster zones, where Israel is a major player in providing aid. Special treatment for Jews alone? Really?

And here is something Bishop Browning might like to think hard about. In 2005, a young woman from Gaza, Wafa al-Biss, was taken to Israel’s Sokota Hospital, where she received over several months treatment for severe burns suffered in a domestic fire. When released, she was given permission to return regularly for outpatient treatment. Not long after, she arrived at the Eretz Crossing carrying a bomb strapped to her leg, which had been given to her by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. She had been told to explode it in the hospital in the same unit that had saved her life, with instructions to kill as many children as possible.

Al-Biss is only one among hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians who have tried to smuggle guns, knives, suicide vests and bombs into Israel. Should anyone be surprised if Israel uses checkpoints and other security measures to save both Israeli and Arab lives? In the wave of terror that has continued for the past two years, Palestinians, including children, have used knives, scissors, and machetes to stab Jews and cars to ram and kill pedestrians or police. Palestinians suffer from the security this demands, by having to wait in queues at checkpoints or searches. That is regrettable, but hardly a reason to condemn Israel. Or would the good bishop prefer to see all this security abandoned so that killers could come onto Israeli streets and take an ever-growing toll of innocent Israeli lives?

What Browning fails to realise is that the Palestinian narrative, and the wider Arab and Muslim demand that Israel must be wiped out, is not a Christian narrative. It is an Islamic narrative based on the ruling that any territory once conquered by jihad (such as Syria, then a Christian country, invaded in 634-35) may never be allowed to pass out of Muslim hands. That is what drives the Palestinian and wider Islamic demand for the creation of a vast Palestinian state that will replace Israel (even though there is already one Palestinian state: Jordan). Why does a Christian cleric prefer a Muslim understanding of affairs to an understanding of why, from Old Testament times on, Jews have linked their worship of God to the land they believe God gave them? For a Christian, Islamic law should have no standing whatever. But Jesus was a Jew who worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem and would be, if he returned, dismayed to learn that the Temple Mount is occupied by two Islamic buildings and that Jews are forbidden to go there or to pray there.

George Browning appears to be interested in neither justice nor peace. He wants to deny the Jewish people the right to live on the only land they have ever possessed, their sole refuge from another Holocaust (a Holocaust that Browning’s Palestinian friends daily threaten to repeat), the sole haven of democracy and Judeo-Christian values in a troubled and disintegrating Middle East.

As Christianity declines across the globe and the forces of Islam gain strength, the day may yet come when Browning and his followers turn their eyes to Israel as a model of human achievement and a promise for the future. And perhaps as a refuge for their co-religionists in a region of death and destruction.

*Dr Denis MacEoin is a British analyst and writer, former senior lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies, specialising in Shi’ism, Shaykhism, Babism and Baha’i, a former senior editor and Fellow at Middle East Quarterly and currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York’s Gatestone Institute.

31 May 2017

Australia and Israel Should Develop Closer Ties in Defense and Foreign Affairs

From BESA Center October 31, 2016:

Australia and Israel should develop closer relations in defense and foreign affairs, according to experts from the two countries.

Dr. Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Prof. Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies have co-authored a report which considers common strategic interests between the two counties, including cooperation on security matters.

They recommend that Australia should upgrade military and diplomatic relations with Israel to tap into its expertise in counter-terrorism, hi-tech weapons systems, and cyber security. They also suggest that Canberra could help Israel enhance the diplomatic progress it already has made in Asia.

The report, The Wattle and The Olive: A New Chapter in Australia and Israel Working Together, suggests that Australia and Israel move towards a regular and sustained dialogue of foreign and defense ministers.

It argues that while Australia and Israel are strong supporters of each other and celebrate their shared political values, there is a lack of understanding on both sides of their shared strategic interests.
“While there’s a mutual recognition of shared values and a reasonably close bilateral working relationship, there hasn’t been sufficient recognition given by either state to how each contributes to the other’s national interests. As a result, there’s a lot of rhetoric from both sides about the relationship, but not a lot of substance … the relationship is in many ways underachieving.”
The authors believe Australia should not view Israel primarily through the lens of the Palestinian issue. They believe that an enhanced relationship with Israel would not damage Australia’s standing in the Arab or Muslim world.
“Arab countries are quietly getting closer to Israel because of the rise of Iran in the region and because of the fear of radical Islam. There is no evidence that Australia’s relationship with Israel has in any way hindered its defense relations with Arab countries, its defense engagement in Southeast Asia or the Pacific, its international efforts to counter terrorism and proliferation, or the ability of the Australian Defense Force to operate in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The report was produced for the second Beer Sheba Dialogue, being held today in Sydney. The dialogue brings together politicians, think tank leaders, strategic analysts, former senior officials, diplomats and former senior military figures from Australia and Israel. Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies associates Prof. Efraim Inbar, and Generals Yaakov Amidror and Gershon Hacohen, are participating in the talks.

Download a PDF of the 56-page report. It is also available on the ASPI website.

09 May 2017

Young NT men prepare to travel to Israel to honour Indigenous soldiers

 From NITV News 9 MAY 2017, by Elliana Lawford:

Ethan Kantawara, 18, Johannes Kantawara, 15, and Stanley Kenny, 16, are travelling to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen that served in WW1. (Elliana Lawford, NITV)

Three young Aboriginal men from a remote community in Central Australia are planning to travel across the world to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen who served in the First World War.

The young Hermannsburg riders recently rode 127 kilometres through the Central Australian desert on wild brumbies to honour Indigenous war veterans in the Alice Springs Anzac Day Parade.

Now they're raising funds to travel to Israel to represent Indigenous soldiers in the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in October.

“I feel really proud, it’s so exciting,” one of the riders, 18-year-old Ethan Kantawara said.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
18-year-old Ethan Kantawara is proud to represent the 'forgotten' Indigenous Light Horsemen.

Ethan is heading to Israel with his 15-year-old brother, Johannes Kantawara, and 16-year-old friend, Stanley Kenny.

The three young Ntaria men were invited to take part in the trip by the Australian Light Horse Association, after displaying excellent leadership in their local community horse riding program.

The riders' trainer, Chris Barr, said the young men are honoured to be representing Aboriginal Light Horsemen.

“They will be leading one of the parades over there that the Indigenous Light Horsemen were involved in and I think it's just a huge honour for these young men,” Chris Barr said.

The students need to raise $30,000 for the trip, with tickets for the ride costing up to $10,930 per person.

They have set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise the money.

"The Indigenous soldiers that went over there weren't really recognised, so ... we really want to get them over there," Mr Barr said.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Stanley Kenny, 16, and Johannes Kantawara, 15, rode 127 kilometres through the desert on wild brumbies to participate in the Alice Springs Anzac Day Parade.

The Battle of Beersheba is considered to be one of the last cavalry charges in military history.

During this year’s 100th anniversary re-enactment, the riders will follow the same route through the desert from Shellal to Beersheba that the Australian Light Horse took back in 1917.

More than 100 riders will be embarking on the ride, and several of them are Indigenous.

The trip’s leader, Barry Rodgers OAM, an Australian Light Horse Association Director, said it’s about “righting a wrong”.

“We didn’t look after our Indigenous diggers well when they came back [from the war]. They served us nobly, particularly in the desert, and when they came home they were just sent back to the bush and weren’t given soldier settlement blocks or recognition,” Barry Rodgers OAM said.

“This is an attempt to try and redress that wrong, and give due recognition that is well overdue,” he said.

“It’s also an opportunity for all Australians to be proud of what these men did.”

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Barry Rodgers OAM and Stanley Kenny lay a wreath together at the Alice Springs Anzac Day Service.

Barry Rodgers said the three young riders from Hermannsburg were especially fitting participants for the Beersheba re-enactment.

“I remember a very special occasion putting a uniform on one of the young lads and he was a very shy and retiring young fella, but when he put the Light Horse uniform on his shoulders went back and a sparkle came into his eyes, it was almost like a spiritual experience, like he was connecting with something in his past that was bigger than himself,” he said.

“It’s a very significant trip that’s gone beyond expectations.”

The Centralian Light Horse Troop leader, Wangkangurru man Raymond Finn, will also be travelling to Israel.

His great-grandfather, Arrernte drover Jack Ludgate, served in the 3rd Light Horse Regiment and fought at Gallipoli.

Raymond has been fighting for the recognition of Aboriginal war veterans for many years.

“I’m very proud to now be going over to Israel represent our forebears,” Raymond Finn told NITV.

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Raymond Finn honours Indigenous soldiers at the Alice Springs Anzac Day Service.

The young Hermannsburg riders will be leading a parade at the restored Turkish Railway Station at Semakh, where a strategic battle took place.

Raymond said they are “the leaders of their community”.

“I think these three guys will represent their community well and it’ll make them feel proud as leaders, I'm honoured to be taking them over.”

Hermannsburg students travel to Israel to honour Indigenous Light Horsemen.
Johannes Kantawara, 15, takes his horses for a drink after a long ride through the Central Australian desert.

Follow this link to watch the young Hermannsburg riders on their 127 kilometre journey through the desert on wild brumbies to honour Indigenous war veterans.

06 March 2017

Jews are the first peoples of Israel – with a right to exist

From the AFR, 7 March 2017, by Nyunggai Warren Mundine:

Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton: within a hair's breadth of peace. 

Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Australia was significant, both historically – the first visit by an Israeli Prime Minister – and for the future Australia-Israel relationship.

The relationship is founded on a strong base. Australia helped create Israel. In 1917 Australian soldiers helped defeat the Ottoman Empire's 400-year occupation of Palestine. Two days later Britain declared support for a Jewish national home there. In 1922 the League of Nations approved the Mandate for Palestine, appointing Britain mandatory power and tasking it with creating a Jewish state. This took 25 years, the UN adopting a partition plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947. Represented by former Labor leader "Doc" Evatt, Australia chaired the UN committee and cast the first General Assembly vote.

So I was disappointed that, during Netanyahu's visit, Labor luminaries Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd and Gareth Evans called on Australia to formally recognise a Palestinian state. Symbolic recognition of a state when none exists is a hollow gesture that doesn't confront the elephant in the room: Palestinian leadership doesn't really support a two-state solution. Likewise, most Arab nations. They won't recognise Israel's right to exist.

The partition plan was a compromise in the face of Arab opposition to a Jewish state. Jews accepted the partition. Arabs didn't, wanting an Arab state only. Arab nations immediately invaded Israel. Israel won that war, gaining territory. Arab nations invaded Israel again unsuccessfully in 1967. Israel again gained territory, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank (from Jordan) and Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt). Israel offered to return everything except East Jerusalem in exchange for recognition. Arab leaders refused, resolving instead to assist Arabs in those territories to resist Israel.

Withdrawal from Gaza
Since 1967 Israel has been under constant threat, surrounded by countries who would drive it off the face of the earth. It invaded South Lebanon in response to attacks, withdrawing in 2000 only to experience hundreds more terrorist attacks from that region.

In 1978 Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace. All Israeli settlements were removed and Egypt recognised the State of Israel.

In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, removing all settlements and handing control to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Gaza fell to Hamas who pursued its objective of destroying Israel. So Israel blockaded Gaza, allowing only humanitarian aid. Under Hamas, manufacturing and agriculture collapsed, unemployment rose to global highs and the economy fell into ruins. Gaza could have industry, trade and people commuting to Israel for work. Instead its people dig tunnels, plan suicide bombings and fire rockets.

Today the West Bank is administered in three areas. Area A, where most Palestinians live, has PA civil and security control. Area B has PA civil control and Israeli security control. Area C, where most Israeli settlements are, has Israeli civil and security control. Israelis and Palestinians live, work and do business together in and between Israel and the West Bank. But Israel restricts movement if required to manage security threats. These threats are encouraged by the PA who rewards Palestinians for attacking Israeli citizens with generous monthly payments. Last year, a Palestinian man killed a 13-year old Israeli girl in her bed. He was shot dead. Fatah (the PA's governing party) declared him a martyr. His mother called him a "hero". His family now receive monthly payments.

Sending the wrong signal
During Bill Clinton's presidency, Israel and the PA came within a hair's breadth of peace. Clinton blamed its failure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Clinton asked both parties to negotiate within set parameters on disputed issues or walk away. Israel agreed, offering Gaza and 97 per cent of the West Bank. Arafat refused. Clinton suggested Arafat "couldn't make the final jump from revolutionary to statesman". Arafat's actions support this. By always wearing military uniform, he sent the message he believed in military victory, not a peace pact.

Clinton said the main hold-outs were the right of return (allowing Palestinian refugees since 1948 and their descendants to move to Israel) and Israeli control of the Western Wall. Palestinian demands on these issues reflect a refusal to recognise a Jewish state. The Palestinian leadership believes the right of return will make Israel an Arab state by flooding it with Palestinians. Ceding Jewish claims to Jerusalem means acknowledging Jews' ancient and continuing presence there, contradicting Arab propaganda that Jews are interlopers in Israel, not its first peoples who lived there for millennia before Arab colonisation.

Sinai, Gaza and the West Bank demonstrate peace won't happen unless both sides agree and Israel's right to exist is respected.

The Palestinian leadership baulks at supporting a Jewish state. This intransigence has repeatedly stood in the way of statehood and weakened the Palestinian position. If not overcome, there will never be a Palestinian state. Israel has twice ceded settlements and land but will never cede its right to exist. Politicians shouldn't expect it to.

Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO is Chairman and Managing Director of Nyungga Black Group

23 February 2017

Kim Beazley weighes into the growing ALP rift

From The Australian, February 24, 2017, PAUL MALEY:

Former Labor leader  within the party over the Middle East, saying Palestinian leaders have become “very comfortable’’ applying moral pressure on Israel but have not undertaken the hard decisions necessary to reach a lasting peace.

...His comments put him at odds with former Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Bob Hawke, in whose cabinet Mr Beazley served as defence minister, after the two former leaders called for the formal recognition of Palestine.

The comments, which came just days before Mr Netanyahu’s arrival, prompted a slap-down by the Israeli Prime Minister, who questioned the kind of state that might come into being.
“What kind of state will it be that they are advocating? A state that calls for Israel’s destruction? ...A state whose territory will be used immediately for radical Islam?’’
...Mr Beazley argued that the weight of political pressure on Israel to recognise a Palestinian state had made it easier for Palestinian leaders to skirt difficult questions. “Their prestige is embellished by the support other countries give them and this removes incentives to reach an agreement,’’ he said.

The push inside Labor to extend formal diplomatic recognition to the Palestinians will come to a head at the next national conference.

Mr Shorten’s preference to adhere to Labor’s existing position, which withholds diplomatic recognition until a two-state solution is reached, is almost certain to be overturned.

Former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr, who has advocated to shift Labor’s policy toward a more pro-Palestinian line, said Mr Shorten would be rolled on the issue.


Friday, 24 February 2017

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian today met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bolster technology ties between the two ‘Startup States’.

Following the meeting, Ms Berejiklian announced that a groundbreaking knowledgesharing program, which saw eight NSW fintech startups travel to the Austrade Tel Aviv Landing Pad in 2016, would continue in 2017.

Ms Berejiklian said the program’s continuation was a “win-win for both NSW and Israel”.
“Israel leads the world in startup innovation and NSW leads the way here at home so
we are ideally matched to collaborate,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“In 2017 NSW will send a second delegation of NSW startups to Tel Aviv to be mentored by Israel’s experts, meet investors and then bring what they learn back to NSW – Australia’s ‘Startup State’.
“I was delighted today to discuss our important relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu who this week spoke of his desire to strengthen business ties and trade links between our nations.”
In 2016 the NSW Government signed an agreement with Israel to collaborate on joint research and development projects, as well as establish formal partnerships between businesses and universities