29 March 2015

Feeding lies to Muslim children in Australia

From an article on March 26, 2015, by Julie Szego*:

Illustration: Matt Golding

The head of a Victorian Islamic School is regurgitating distorted ideas about the West which could drive radicalisation.
Perhaps the most telling disclosure from the principal of Victoria's largest Islamic school is that when he warns his students not to join Islamic State because it is a plot by Western countries, he's careful to hold back. Omar Hallak, principal of the nearly 2000-strong Al-Taqwa College ...demurs from identifying the specific countries he believes are training and equipping IS as part of a plan to control oil in the Middle East.
All he says is, "some" Western countries are behind the scheme. Presumably Hallak sees the omission as a measure of his caution and restraint: why smother one bonfire only to pour fuel on another? But what of his students? Aren't they bewildered, poring over maps in the hope of landing on a nation capable of such evil genius – Italy, maybe? Lichtenstein?
Of course not. Hallak can leave the idea half-formed because he knows his students can fill in the blanks: Israel and America. In this genre, even as the storyline changes, the villains are always the same. Hallak cites evidence of the plot in IS's "shiny new equipment". As killing innocent people is not "the Islamic way", Hallak says, "we don't believe Muslims are creating IS". His students are told this truth "many times", and shown "evidence" that IS has no link to Islam. 
Now I've searched for the most generous interpretation of Hallak's quotes, wondered if the published words blunted some nuance. Maybe his was a sophisticated geopolitical analysis about the unforeseen consequences of the US-led invasion of Iraq, IS seizing American weapons from the Iraqi army, the West's bankrolling of unpalatable militias and despotic regimes and indeed sometimes for oil, the whole damn mess. Maybe he means IS isn't Muslim, as in they're not what he regards as "true" Muslims in a theological sense – an increasingly unviable rationalisation, though one with mainstream cred.
But there's no nuance in what he said because he's working off a template: Hallak's views are as unoriginal as they are disturbing. They spring from a pathology that's widespread in the Arab and Muslim world – and fast spreading to the West – where conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic propaganda run rife and uncomfortable truths can be supplanted with delusion and lies. 

  • The Holocaust is a hoax. 
  • The Israeli Mossad orchestrated 9/11. 
  • The West or the Mossad staged the Charlie Hebdo massacre, a theory advanced by several Turkish politicians from the ruling party, including, in some cryptic doublespeak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself.
As to the theories about IS, they began swirling almost as soon as the medieval butchers seized the world's attention. In Iran, a minor PR hiccup last November saw the deputy foreign minister claim IS was created by the Mossad to "tarnish the image of Islam" when previously the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had instead attributed the group to the US and Britain.
Last month in Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 for directing genocide in Darfur, responded to the IS's video purporting to show the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, with the claim the CIA and the Mossad are behind IS and Boko Haram as "there is no Muslim who would carry out such acts."
And in Melbourne, Hallak regurgitates these lines even as he insists he educates his students to be good Australian Muslims and that his school has no problems with radicalisation. I don't doubt his sincerity. I do doubt his capacity to grasp the irony that it's precisely these types of distorted narratives, casting Muslims as eternal victims and Israel as the cause of all the world's troubles, on which IS and other militant groups feed.
This is the type of narrative that can drive radicalisation; Jake Bilardi's classmates say his path to martyrdom began with his increasingly one-dimensional take on the Middle East conflict. Here, Hallak extends this narrative to prove IS isn't Muslim, which paradoxically affirms the militant worldview. The head spins.
Victoria's Education Minister, James Merlino, called the principal's comments "reckless and dangerous," but said there wasn't much he could do because the school is "independent." The Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Kuranda Seyit said he did not support Hallak's comments and while "everyone has a right to have their own theories and beliefs" teachers should not be confusing young people. He also made laudable comments about the need for harmony in a multicultural society.
But last year the council itself drew an explicit link between Israel's actions in Gaza and the surge of recruits to IS, without challenging the underlying premise that a geographically removed conflict largely focused on slaughtering Muslim apostates is the responsibility of Israel. Hallak goes even further than alleging Israel fuels IS and says that Israel is IS.
Neither Seyit's nor Merlino's criticisms nail the problem. Hallak isn't simply "confusing" his students with his quirky "theories," he's feeding them outright lies, sinister, not to mention racist, fairy-tales directly contradicted by evidence. The lies are indeed dangerous, even if the purveyor of those lies doesn't recognise them as such. What's our Western education system worth if independent schools are allowed the independence to represent toxic lies as verifiable truth?
And how do we dissuade young people from joining a murderous band of ideologues when there are authority figures so blinded by ideology they can't even see the problem?
*Julie Szego is an Age columnist, author and freelance journalist.

24 March 2015

Senate defers a pro-Israel motion [UPDATED]

Senator Bob Day (Family First, South Australia)  and NSW LDP Senator Leyonhjelm put the following motion to the Senate for a vote this Monday, 23 March 2015:

That the Senate acknowledges, respects and values:
(a)  the historical ties between Australia and Israel, starting with the Beersheba campaign of 1917;
(b) Australian trade with Israel nearing $1 billion per annum; and
(c)  the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

UPDATE: 27 March 2015:

Senator Day’s motion was not voted down by Labor, as previously reported. Rather, it was “refused formality” by the Senate – a procedural term that prevents a vote being taken on a motion. This is a long-standing convention on motions dealing with foreign affairs to give Senators the opportunity to consider them. The motion was put aside until another time. 

However Senator Day expressed his disappointment that such an uncontroversial motion was delayed, because despite convention "formality on foreign affairs topics has been permitted on no less than 9 occasions in the last 12 months."

Senator Day made this short statement in response:

Mr President, this motion has received substantial backing from people across Australia who support Australia’s ties with Israel, and I thank those people for contacting their MPs.
I will not recite the terms of the motion because every item is factual and uncontroversial.

When it comes to formality on motions touching on foreign affairs, there are clearly no hard and fast rules in this place as formality on foreign affairs topics has been permitted on no less than 9 occasions in the last 12 months.

Mr President, I would like to put on record my disappointment over Labor’s obstruction of this motion supporting Israel.  Due to a busy agenda, however, I will not move for a suspension of standing orders and a debate but indicate to the Senate that I am committed to securing a statement in support of our ties with Israel and will bring this matter back to the Senate again in the near future.

21 March 2015

Emeritus Chief Rabbi of Perth calls on USyd Senate to restore the confidence and dignity of the University

Dear Vice chancellor Dr Spence

The outburst by students alleged to have been led by a professor at the University against Col Richard Kemp, an exemplary soldier for more than 35 years, who speaks facts without emotion and sentiment, during his visit by invitation to the prestigious University of Sydney where I was a former lecturer in post graduate Hebrew Studies and in the Department of Adult Education for at  least five years, is nothing short of shameful and disgusting behaviour. 

I feel embarrassed for you and all the staff and students and should naturally expect that an appropriate response will be forthcoming from the Senate in dealing with this matter so as to restore the confidence and dignity of the University and its magnificent record. 

Rabbi Dr Shalom Coleman CBE AM MA LLD(HON CAUS) Emeritus Chief Rabbi of Perth Western Australia

17 March 2015

Lynch protest goes against what universities stand for

AS an alumnus of the University of Sydney, I am appalled at the behaviour of some students and some staff (“Protesters disown their university values’’, 17/3).
Debate has always been part of university life — even very robust debate. The aggressive imposition of the misguided beliefs on a visiting speaker by an unrepresentative group of ­activists is a development which is to be condemned and action should be taken to prevent such behaviour.It is now time for the university to demonstrate real leadership.The silent acceptance of this development will ensure that outside speakers will be unwilling to subject themselves to harassment and abuse simply to provide interested students the benefit of their experience.Let us see how the university leadership wants itself to be seen.
Robert Schwartz, Dover Heights, NSW

A SHOCKING spectacle emerged on the University of Sydney campus last week, challenging the core ethos of a university.The bonfires and book burning of 1930s Nazi Germany similarly signalled a violent opposition to challenging ideas such as “theoretical physics’’, termed “Jewish physics” by Aryan ideologues.Jake Lynch of the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies should understand, better than most, that freedom of expression and the free dissemination of ideas should not be stifled lest great new perspectives and innovations, such as Albert Einstein’s gift to our understanding of the modern world of science, be subsumed.
Adam Rapaport, Bondi Junction, NSW

BY now it is surely clear to note the irony that Jake Lynch is director of the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies; his actions seem more fitting to his namesake.The question is: what appropriate disciplinary action will the university now take?
Libby Burke, Ashgrove, Qld

NOT even the most casual student of history could fail to see the parallels between the strident anti-Semitism of the self-styled progressive left, and the events in Germany culminating in World War II.It may be true that allowing bigots to have their voice also exposes their views to public scrutiny. Nevertheless, it is astounding that a purportedly reputable institution such as the University of Sydney could allow Jake Lynch to use his position there to ­attempt to lend a degree of legitimacy to his offensive views.
Paul Yates, Beachmere, Qld

THE 2015 Sydney peace prize should go to the elderly Jewish lady who is ­alleged by Jake Lynch to have kicked him in the groin while he was busy assisting demonstrators hell bent on being anti-Semitic during a public seminar on university grounds.
Gerard Barry, Roseville, NSW

IN the traumatic era of the Vietnam War, there was real academic soul-searching into what a university is all about.That is when the concept of Irenics — the study of what makes peace, named for the Greek goddess of peace — came into vogue.A school of Irenics was once proposed for Sydney Uni.What a shrieking self-indictment it is that the eventual outcome is a “centre” whose head is chosen for his peace-killing partisanship, notable for his prominence in the faux subject of ‘peace journalism’, today’s updating of classic ‘agitprop’ as taught in the universities of the Soviet Union.Just as that system’s fabricated truthiness eventually collapsed into its own hollowness, the enterprise of Jake Lynch, a lifelong Marxist, is destined to crumble.What a shame for the real study of what makes peace. And what an indictment of a once-true university that has legitimised such a travesty.
David Scholem, Rose Bay, NSW

I HAVE taken Jewish schoolchildren in school uniform to functions during the day on the Sydney Uni campus and have witnessed their first experiences of anti-Semitism.A university is a place of learning about the wider world. I fear that what is happening on our campuses is resulting in the opposite. I question what the universities are doing to ensure that freedom of speech is being promoted and supported in such a way that the vocal minority are not the only people who feel comfortable in being able to express their opinions.

Auryt Jacobson, Sydney, NSW

16 March 2015

Protesters disown their university values

From: The Australian, March 17, 2015, by: Richard Kemp*:

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman

Illustration: Sturt Krygsman

TACTICAL responses to insurgencies by the conventional armed forces of democratic states, and the ethical challenges of fighting an enemy that uses civilians as human shields and as targets, are topics of obvious relevance to Australian foreign ­policy and contemporary inter­national affairs.

I was invited to address these issues at the University of Sydney from the standpoint of my experiences as a commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and elsewhere, and as the former head of international terrorism intelligence in the British Cabinet Office for the Joint Intelligence Committee and the national crisis management group, COBRA. As well as being a practitioner, I have studied and written extensively about these matters.

I spoke for about 20 minutes to an audience of about 100 students, academics and guests.

A group of about a dozen people then stormed into the lecture theatre and started yelling at me and the audience through a megaphone, accusing me of “supporting genocide”, and tried to shut down the lecture.

The protesters occupied the lecture theatre, intimidated members of the audience and were intent on preventing the exchange of views my lecture was intended to facilitate. Two of the academics then joined them, one of whom I saw badgering an elderly woman who objected to him photographing her on his iPhone. When she tried to push the iPhone out of her face he grabbed her arm forcibly, and appeared to hurt her. When she retaliated physically, the academic — an associate professor [Jake Lynch] — waved a $5 note in her face and the face of a Jewish student.

I heard one of the protesters yell support for the Islamist group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a vile group that is banned in many countries, whose theo-fascist values seem to me entirely at odds with the progressive values these students claim to support.

I have addressed the UN commission of inquiry on the conduct of the parties to the Israel-Hamas war. I have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation and recognised the extraordinary measures to which Israel has gone to avoid civilian casualties when faced with an enemy that militarises civilian infrastructure and shields its fighters with the bodies of the civilians it claims to defend. US General Martin Dempsey, the highest ranking officer in the US Army, sent a fact-finding team to Israel and concluded the US ­forces had lessons to learn from the measures taken by Israel to spare the lives of Palestinian civilians as far as possible, often at the expense of its own soldiers.

By daring to defend the actions of the Jewish state and condemning Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both designated terrorist organisations, I was considered fair game for the protesters. This is indicative of a pervasive culture among certain sections of university students and staff in Britain, and clearly in Australia, where to speak objectively about Israel is to court harassment, thuggery and violence. The behaviour of the protesters and the academics was an affront to the core ideals of the university — the freedom to speak, the freedom to assemble and the freedom to engage with ideas and opinions.

This protest had clear anti-­Semitic undertones. The audience was predominantly Jewish and the protesters knew that. Often anti-Semitic abuse and ­hatred is dressed up as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist action. This resonated that way, with vicious shouting and intimidation against a group of Jews and brandishing money around invoking the stereotype of the “greedy Jew”.

As for Associate Professor Jake Lynch, shown to be so adept at conflict with an elderly woman, his value to the university and its students would be enhanced by listening to those who have seen real conflict and have risked their lives to secure peace.

*Richard Kemp was commander of British Forces in Afghanistan and headed the international terrorism intelligence team at the British Cabinet Office.

13 March 2015

Colonel Richard Kemp complains to USYD about antisemitic Lynch mob

12 March 2015.
Dear Dr Spence,
I was invited to speak to students at the University of Sydney at lunch time on 11 March 2015, in a session chaired by Dr Gil Merom, one of your senior lecturers. My subject was ethical dilemmas of military operations in relation to recent conflicts. I had intended to engage with students, present my practical experiences as a British military commander and stimulate a discussion.

Shortly after I had introduced my talk, covering the principles of necessity, proportionality and discrimination as they apply under the laws of armed conflict and giving examples from my experience in Northerrn Ireland and Afghanistan, the event was disrupted by the forceful entry of a group of students. They entered the room aggressively and noisily. They had a loud speaker set at full volume into which one of the students was screaming abuse directed at me. The other students were chanting the same abusive words and some were waving banners and placards. They were shouting: “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide”. This group was joined in their chants by a few in the audience who had apparently positioned themselves in the room previously in order to join in the planned protest.

The protesters imposed themselves between the audience and me. This, combined with the loudness of their screaming and shouting, made continuation of my lecture impossible until after they had left. I observed the audience, and many of them, including some elderly visitors, were clearly intimidated by the aggression of theseprotesters. Several members of the audience appealed to the protesters to leave to allow the lecture to continue and these were met with even greater aggression including personal verbal abuse. In some cases I saw the protestors deliberately and aggressively invade the personal space of members of the audience, including at least one elderly woman.

University security officers who were already present in the room asked the protesters to leave. When they abusively refused to do so, the security officers attempted to physically move them out. They resisted and pushed and shoved the security officers, impeding them from doing their jobs.It seemed to me that, in trying to eject the protesters, the security officers were acting out of concern for the safety of the audience members, as the intimidation by the protesters increased.

Associate Professor Jake Lynch, the Director of your Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, and Dr Nicholas Riemer, one of your senior lecturers, who were both apparently leading and encouraging the protesters, screamed at the security officers to desist. This seemed to be a clear attempt to impose their own authority as faculty members, thereby hoping to intimidate the security officers into allowing the abusive demonstration to continue. 

At one point I observed Associate Professor Lynch waving money in the face of a Jewish student, a clearly aggressive and insulting act that seemed to invoke the stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew’.


Although not Jewish myself, I found Associate Professor Lynch’s behavior deeply shocking and offensive. 

I felt the language directed against me to be abusive and insulting. I have never supported a genocide nor the killing of civilians of which I was also accused by the protesters. In fact I have devoted my entire working life as a British soldier to defending my country and the countries of friends and allies;  to preventing killing, terrorism and ethnic cleansing; to peace‐ keeping and to humanitarian operations. I have frequently risked my own life to do so. I have often served alongside troops from your own country.Surely it is not right that I, as a guest of your university and a visitor to your country, should be subjected to such gratuitous insults and slander.

Although the students attempted to intimidate me as well as the audience members, I did not feel personally threatened, as I have faced considerably greater dangers and threats than could possibly be presented or contemplated by such people. However, many of the audience members undoubtedly felt threatened and intimidated by the naked aggression shown to them by these students. I ask you if it is right that students, members of staff and visitors to your university, including elderly people, should be subjected to this form of abuse? From my observations of the audience I have no doubt that some of them were greatly and understandably traumatised by this experience.

Many members of the audience were Jewish and I am sure the demonstrators knew this and set out with the intention of intimidating Jews at the University of Sydney. This of course is nothing other than anti‐Semitism and it compounds the acts of intimidation by the protesters.

On the basis of my observations, as I have mentioned, Associate Professor Lynch and Dr Riemer sought to incite and encourage the student protesters. Can it be right that members of your university staff should indulge in such disgraceful action?

Peaceful and reasonable demonstration, such as handing out leaflets, chanting dissenting views or holding placards with messages of opposition to the views of a speaker, is of course acceptable. Indeed, such a peaceful demonstration was under way outside when Ientered the room for my lecture. I was offered and accepted a leaflet, which I read and I briefly engaged in discussion with a protester.
However the type of racially‐motivated aggression, intimidation and abuse that occurred at this event is wholly unacceptable. Also unacceptable in any respectable university is the curtailment of an invited and approved speaker’s freedom to speak and engage in legitimate academic discourse such as I experienced at your university.

I urge you to investigate this incident and to take action against the students and staff members who were responsible for the behavior that I have described. If you fail to do sohen you will be failing to discourage such action in your university in the future. You will thus be failing in your duty to ensure that your students, visitors and guest speakers may take part in debate within the precincts of the University of Sydney without fear or concern for their own safety.

I would add that you have a particular responsibility in respect of the racist, anti‐Semitic nature of this protest. As you know anti‐Semitism is a rising phenomenon in the world. Jews in many places live in increasing fear and concern that they will be singled out and discriminated against. Only by taking firm action against anti‐Semitic abuse and hatred whenever and wherever it occurs can this situation be reversed. Sydney University has the opportunity here to set an example to other academic institutions that lack the moral courage to face up to the modern scourge of anti‐Semitism.
Yours faithfully,
Colonel Richard Kemp CBE (Address removed)
Dr Michael Spence BA LLB Syd. DPhil PGDipTheol.Oxf.
Vice Chancellor
University of Sydney.

12 March 2015

Former Minister slams Sydney-University Lynch mob

13 March 2015
The following letter from Peter Baldwin, former ALP Minister for Higher Education excoriates 'repulsive' anti-Israel protesters, demands university take disciplinary action

Dear Dr Spence,

On Wednesday 11 March I attended a meeting at Sydney University that was addressed by Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan. Colonel Kemp was scheduled to speak about the ethical dilemmas that face military forces confronted by non-state adversaries, especially those that deliberately conduct their operations in close proximity to civilian populations with the goal of gaining propaganda advantage from the inevitable casualties. He was in Israel during the Gaza conflict of July-August last year. He stated at the time that he was impressed by the IDF’s measures to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties and that he had difficulty envisaging what more they could do to this end given the reality of military operations.

By way of background, I am a former politician: the Labor MP for the seat of Sydney for fifteen years, and a member of the federal ministry for six years. For three of those years (1990-93) I was the Minister for Higher Education. During that period I visited a great many campuses and was,  more than once, the target of student protest demonstrations.

But I never experienced anything quite as repulsive as what I witnessed last Wednesday, partly captured in this YouTube video.

I learned about the meeting from an email flyer forwarded by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, though I understand the meeting was sponsored by the Australian Union of Jewish Students. The gathering was attended by a varied audience of students and others, including one other former parliamentary colleague.

When I arrived at the meeting there was a group at the door handing out leaflets supporting the BDS campaign against Israel. After Colonel Kemp had spoken for about twenty minutes there was a kerfuffle and around 15-20 people forced their way in led by a young woman who repeatedly screeched “Richard Kemp supports genocide” into a megaphone that was set to maximum volume. The group chanted continuously and defied the (very restrained) efforts of the security guards to evict them. They clearly intended to disrupt the meeting to the point where it could not continue. It was only after a concerted effort by the security people, with the protestors resisting violently, that the talk could be resumed. This was a truly frightening episode. At one point the lights went out, leading people to wonder what might come next.

In amongst the robotic chanting a few things stood out. The screeching young woman can be clearly heard expressing sympathy for the extremist organisation Hitz ut-Tahrir, whose Australian spokesman gained notoriety last year for refusing (on ABC Lateline) to condemn the tactics of Islamic State (beheadings, crucifixions, incinerations, selling women into slavery). When one of the protestors was accused of fascistic behaviour, he responded “we are not fascists, we’re Marxist-Leninists” – another totalitarian ideology responsible for tens of millions of deaths.

The disruptors tried to suppress the views of Colonel Kemp, who gave a lucid and well-reasoned account of the moral issues in this kind of conflict in the limited time he had available, yet insist on the right of Hitz ut-Tahrir to spout their genocidal ideology, a sample of which was reported in today’s Australian newspaper:

THE top Australian cleric of extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir has ramped up his hate speech in a rant referring to Jews as “the most evil creature of Allah” who have “corrupted the world” and will “pay for blood with blood”.
In the latest tirade to surface, cleric Ismail al-Wahwah — representing an organisation whose stated aim is to take over the world — said recognising Jews constituted the “epitome of evil” because that would “strengthen the cancerous entity”.

This, apparently, is acceptable speech to these champions of the ‘left’ - a striking confirmation of the old trope about extremes of Left and Right meeting at some point. The group primarily responsible for this outrage, a Trotskyist group calling itself the ‘Socialist Alternative’, has a record of this kind of thing at your university (this incident for example).

It seems you have active at your university a bunch of totalitarians who think they have a  right of veto on the expression of views they disapprove of, and who will try to enforce this veto by violent disruption. The effect this will have on the free exchange of ideas is obvious. Potential speakers will think twice about the prospect of being subjected to this kind of thing. The expression of certain viewpoints will quietly disappear from campuses and students will increasingly inhabit an intellectual monoculture in which only approved opinions are sayable.

According to one Jewish student who I communicated with today the climate at Sydney University is becoming increasingly poisonous and fearful for identifiably Jewish students, especially those who have the temerity to defend Israel.

Do you agree with me, Dr Spence, that these are deeply sinister developments? Do you accept that an institution where such behaviour is tolerated has ceased, in one crucial respect, to deserve to be called a University?

More to the point, will you:
  • Unequivocally condemn this behaviour and make clear it will not be tolerated in future
  • Take steps to ensure the perpetrators are dealt with under university disciplinary procedures
  • Commit to restoring a genuine climate of free debate at Sydney University in which all can participate without fear of intimidation?

I look forward to your response.

Best wishes,

Peter Baldwin

11 March 2015

New Israel Fund Australia: just a few questions...

IIW Editorial, 12 March 2015:

In a statement issued yesterday, President of the New Israel Fund (NIF) Australia suggests that "our [the NIF's] support for liberal democracy, freedom of expression, and human and civil rights have made us a target..." which amounts to the absurd implication that critics of the NIF must be enemies of liberal democracy, freedom of expression, and human and civil rights.

He further alleged that the NIF has been subjected to "tarring... baseless attacks... baseless allegations..." and "pressured by people whose aim is to quash discussion...", lamenting that "these baseless attacks have spread to Australia as well, where right-wing blogs and radio shows have posted articles that twist NIF’s record and urged the community to 'ostracise' NIF."

The NIF statement yesterday refers to a personal attack on some of its recent critics in the US, but otherwise does little to refute the hundreds of published examples of the NIF continuing to fund NGOs that are active in international campaigns that contribute to the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

The New Israel Fund has, since its founding in 1979, provided over US$250 million to more than 850 organizations. The organisation, its leaders and some recipients of its financial support have reportedly 

  • accused Israel of war crimes
  • attempted to prosecute IDF officers in jurisdictions outside of Israel
  • called for and promoted boycotts and sanctions against Israel
  • engaged in legal actions against Israel in jurisdictions outside of Israel ("lawfare")
  • promoted the exertion of international diplomatic pressure on Israel
  • undermined the Zionist notion of Israel as a Jewish state

Well, far from stifling debate, we invite NIF leaders to give us clear answers to some simple questions, and let Australian friends of Israel judge for themselves whether the NIF should be ostracised.

Does the NIF financially support any of these NGOs? Yes, or no?

  • Adalah
  • Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
  • Bimkom
  • Breaking the Silence
  • B'Tselem
  • Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement
  • Gisha
  • Hamoked
  • Human Rights Defenders Fund
  • I'lam
  • Ir Amim
  • Molad
  • Mossawa
  • Negev Coexistence Forum
  • Nine Seven Two (+972 Magazine)
  • Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF)
  • Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I)
  • Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
  • Rabbis for Human Rights
  • Social TV(formerly Syncopa Community)
  • Yesh Din

Did the NIF, in 2010 to 2013, authorise grants of over US$14 million to the above-mentioned organisations? Yes, or no?

Did some of the above-mentioned NGOs, on 21 July 2014,  send a public letter to Israel's Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein alleging “serious concern of severe violations of international humanitarian law, and specifically the laws of war…at the level of offensive policy and the rules of engagement”? Yes, or no?

Did several of the above-mentioned NGOs collaborate to publish the GazHeb website, which accused the IDF of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza, 2008)? Yes, or no?

Did NIF Director and former President Naomi Chazan, just one day after the beginning of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (December 2008) sign a petition demanding "an immediate cessation of the aggression of the Israeli military forces in Gaza ...The slaughter can only fuel further conflict..."? Yes, or no?

Did NIF-funded Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), on 21 January 2015, publish “Gaza, 2014: Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission,” alleging Israeli violations of human rights and international legal norms during the 2014 Gaza War, stating that PHR-I “Believes that the prima facie evidence collected and presented in this Report should be used for the purposes of legal determination of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, whether through local or international justice mechanism[my own emphasis added]? Yes, or no?

Did NIF-funded B’Tselem, on 28 January 2015, publish Black Flag: The legal and moral implication of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014,” alleging that there was a “black flag of illegality flying over” Israeli military tactics during the 2014 Gaza War? Yes, or no?

Did NIF-funded B’Tselem, during the 2014 Gaza war, demonize Israel with a series of publications that repeated false or distorted factual and legal allegations? Yes, or no?

Did  NIF-funded Adalah submit a report to the UN Commission of Inquiry claiming that “Israel’s investigations into its 2014 Operation Protective Edge fall far short of the international standards of independence, impartiality, effectiveness, promptness and transparency”? Yes, or no?

Did NIF-funded Yesh Din, in an October 2014 submission to the UN Human Rights Committee,  allege that the “Israeli military investigation system is marred by structural failures that render it incapable of conducting serious investigations into offenses committed by soldiers against Palestinians” Yes or no?

Has NIF-funded +972 Magazine, ever featured writers that accuse Israel ofapartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “racism,” “land confiscation,” “discrimination,” “displacement,” “fail[ing] to prosecute violence against Palestinians,” or“perpetrating another Nakba,” or deriding American Jewish hypocrisy.”Yes, or no?

Did NIF-funded +972, on May 14, 2012,  publish a cartoon, “The hater in the sky,” depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raping President Barack Obama and eating his limbs? Yes, or no?

Did the discredited Goldstone report, which focused on alleged Israeli “war crimes” in the 2009 Gaza war, reference the following NIF-funded NGOs? Yes, or no?
  • B’Tselem more than 56 times; 
  • Adalah, 38 times; and 
  • Breaking the Silence, 27 times.

Did NIF-funded Adalah, in 2007, draft a “Democratic Constitution” that called for replacing the Jewish foundation of Israel with a “democratic, bilingual, and multicultural” framework? Yes, or no?

Did former NIF Associate Director in Israel Hedva Radovanitz, in 2010, tell the US Embassy Policy Officer in Tel Aviv that "she believed that in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic"? [my emphasis added] Yes, or no?

10 March 2015

Riot at Sydney University

From J-Wire, March 11, 2015 by Glen Falkenstein*:
Read on for article
Protesters have  disrupted a lecture, fighting with security guards, at the University of Sydney.
Protestors   Photo: David Sokol/J-Wire
Protestors Photo: David Sokol/J-Wire

The lecture was being given by retired British military officer Colonel Richard Kemp, a world-renowned expert on armed conflict, the Middle East and a prolific media commentator,
Colonel Kemp had been invited by the University to speak on “Ethical Dilemmas of Military Tactics” and “Dealing with non-state armed groups,” in light of Australia’s military engagement with non-state actors, including ISIS.
Kemp began his talk with a brief explanation of his career and a joke about England’s cricket loss to Bangladesh on Monday. He went on to discuss non-state militant groups in Ireland and Afghanistan and the obligations of soldiers when engaging with civilians and civilian groups. Before he could go into any detail or discuss any other issues, he was interrupted by over a dozen students bursting into the lecture hall screaming “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide.”
A demonstrator with a megaphone drowned out any attempts by the moderator to get the lecture back on track. Protestors wrestled with security guards who had asked them to leave and were then forced to remove them. Protestors stood on chairs, began to push students and shout loudly at those who objected to their behaviour.
Professor Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) and an ardent opponent of Israel, shouted in the faces of students, including at a senior officer of the Jewish student union. He then proceeded to stand on chairs and film attendees. Lynch screamed that attempts to remove the protestors was a violent attack on freedom of speech by security guards. When another academic suggested that he ask a question, Lynch responded that was not what this is about, only later opting to ask a question when invited by the Colonel.
One student commented that Kemp “hadn’t even mentioned Israel or Palestine” in the time he had to talk. Another student mentioned that she did not have strong views on either side of this issue, was studying international relations and had come expecting a talk, not an ambush.
After about 20 minutes of shouting, the protestors were finally removed from the hall, having objected loudly to their treatment by the security guards and some others present. Kemp, resuming as if nothing had happened, continued to speak on engagement with non-civilian groups in armed conflict. Concluding his talk, Kemp briefly addressed what he termed a “commercial break.”
Disruption  Photo: David Sokol
Disruption Photo: David Sokol

“This protest was about my perspective on the IDF… I was in Israel during the 2014 summer conflict and I do believe that the IDF in their attack on Hamas in Gaza… were doing everything they could to protect civilians… People have told me I am wrong, but no one has told me what more steps Israel could take to minimize civilian casualties.”
Students, academics and other interested people had come from all over to hear an expert speak on a topical and important subject. Sydney University academic Professor Suzanne Rutland was present at the event and I spoke to her shortly following its conclusion:
“I feel that the demonstration really showed clearly that the anti-Israel group speaks in slogans without any sort of understanding of the intricacies of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and without any sort of acknowledgement that when they stand there chanting, “free Palestine,” what they mean is the dismantling of the Zionist entity which means genocide against Israel’s Jewish population.”
...“Accusing Israel of committing genocide has no academic basis whatsoever; they even said the Colonel (Kemp) was responsible for genocide. I strongly support legitimate criticism and when we teach about Israel we try to present a critical, balanced voice which is part of academic learning.”
“What I think the demonstration represented was the struggle faced by myself and others on campus who are opposed to Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions. While we try to follow the rules of polite debate, the BDS supporters will often not allow an alternative voice and this is what happened during the lecture.”
“Given the anti-Israel bias on campus we were grateful Dr Gil Merom agreed to chair the function and advertise it to his students.”
Peter Wertheim, the Executive Director of the ECAJ, which facilitated the lecture, was scathing about the disruption to the event, telling JWire:
“The attempt by about 15 students and academics to shout down and censor a public lecture at the University of Sydney by Col Richard Kemp, an internationally renowned, much-decorated expert on military and security affairs, is an utter disgrace.  Their attempts to bully campus security personnel who restored order was also shameful.  These  are the same people who have on numerous occasions invoked the principle of academic freedom to justify their engagement in political advocacy on campus.  Their hypocrisy is now obvious.  For them, academic freedom does not apply to views they disagree with.   They are cowards who are afraid of the truth.  Fortunately, the lecture was resumed after a 15 minute disruption and Richard Kemp’s presentation was so compelling that even academics who had participated in the earlier protest asked him questions and were given comprehensive answers.  The ECAJ is proud to have facilitated the lecture.”
*Glen Falkenstein is a Policy Analyst/Staff Writer at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)

08 March 2015

"Super blood moon" this Sukkot


Did you know that the next Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles) will be ushered in by a ‘blood moon’ (total lunar eclipse) on September 27th? Not just any blood moon but a super blood moon. This occurs when the moon is at perigee – closer to the earth than at any other time of the year. Given that it will be centred over Israel, it will appear 14% larger than a regular full moon there. There has never been a super blood moon on the Sukkot following a shemitah (Sabbath) year before.

The Bible sets shemitah years to occur every seven years as an economic reset year; debt is eliminated and slaves go free. To give the land a chance to rest. The current shemitah started in October 2014 and goes until 13 September 2015. The last 2 shemitah years – 2001 and 2008 - have seen highly significant financial crises. 

The Jewish Talmud (book of interpretation) says: 
“When the moon is in eclipse, it is a bad omen for Israel. If its face is as red as blood, (it is a sign that) the sword is coming to the world.” 
In other words, it is a portent of judgement or war in their view.

In Genesis 1:14, we read that God created the sun, moon and the stars not only to give us day and night but also as prophetic signs. During the period from April 2014 to September 2015, there will have been a ‘tetrad’ (four) of these blood moons, each one of them falling on the full moon festivals of Passover or Tabernacles.  As stated, however, only the last one will be visible from the Land of Israel. (Heavenly signs are not considered by the prophets to be significant unless they are).

The above photograph gives you some idea of what will be seen (weather permitting) from Jerusalem on the evening of September 27th. As you can see, it is going to be an amazing spectacle. More than this, however, if the prophets (both Jewish and Christian) are right in their understanding of the times, then has the time come for you to throw caution to the winds, seize the day and make the trip which has been on your bucket list all these years. 

Can you afford to put it off any longer?

For more details of this window of opportunity, visit www.cmj.org.au