30 May 2013

Terrorist who killed 38 Israelis was appointed PA adviser

A recently published article (see below) has prompted Akiva Hamilton (Shurat Hadin) to add the following to his response to World Vision Australia's Whitewash of an AusAID Recipient's Terrorism Links:
"World Vision Australia justifies giving millions of AusAID dollars to convicted terrorist Bashir Al-Khairi by noting that he "is close to Mahmoud Abbas" (PA Prime Minister and PLO Chairman). 
However Abbas's appointment as his advisor, of an arch-terrorist Hussein Fayyad who murdered 38 Israelis, shows that that being a convicted arch-terrorist is no impediment whatsoever to being 'close to Mahmoud Abbas'..."

From JPost, 29 May 2013, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

Man behind 1978 Coastal Road massacre made adviser to Abbas.

Coastal Road Massacre Bus
Coastal Road Massacre Bus Photo: Wikimedia commons
Hussein Fayyad, one of the commanders of the terror group that carried out the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, revealed on Tuesday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had appointed him as one of his advisers.
The attack, which led to the killing of 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, was planned and carried out by Abbas’s Fatah faction.
Fayyad, who was released in a prisoner swap with Israel in 1985, said that Abbas signed a decree in 2008 promoting him to the position of “advisor” to the PA president.
...Abbas Zaki, member of the PLO executive committee...praised Fayyad as a “fighter for the Palestinian revolution” ...

26 May 2013

Libs to cut funding for BDS activists

From The Australian, 25 May 2013, by Ean Higgins:

A COALITION government would block all federal funds to individuals and institutions who speak out in favour of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.
..."The Coalition will institute a policy across government that ensures no grants of taxpayers' funds are provided to individuals or organisations which actively support the BDS campaign," Ms Bishop told The Weekend Australian.
...The Coalition policy is most immediately directed at [University of Sydney's] Jake Lynch who, along with the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies that he directs, is a vocal supporter of BDS.
Associate Professor Lynch drew the ire of Jewish groups when he rejected a request for help from Israeli academic Dan Avnon, who developed Israel's only civics curriculum for both Jewish and Arab school students.
... Ms Bishop told The Weekend Australian: "It is inappropriate for Associate Professor Lynch to use his role as director of the taxpayer-funded CPACS . . . in support of the anti-Semitic BDS campaign."...

24 May 2013

Shurat HaDin Claims World Vision Whitewash of AusAID Recipient's Terrorism Links

From Shurat Hadin (Israel law Centre), 24 May 2013, by Akiva Hamilton:
World Vision’s latest attempts to whitewash its continued taxpayer-funded support of a Gaza based organisation (the UAWC) with very close links to an illegal terrorist organisation (the PFLP) are episodes straight out of the TV series “Yes Minister”.
They are characterised by a failure to confront the evidence, misrepresentation of the independence and expertise of “experts”, use of straw horse arguments, reliance on hearsay from anonymous and unverifiable sources and attempts to confuse the issue.

Episode 1: When faced with overwhelming evidence find biased cronies and call them “experts”
Shurat HaDin has presented over 40 separate pieces of evidence linking the UAWC to the PFLP. This evidence identifies five UAWC directors as senior members of the PFLP terrorist organisation. It shows extensive cooperation between the UAWC & the PFLP including a use of UAWC facilities for terrorist anniversary celebrations. It shows ongoing arrests of senior UAWC figures for terrorist related activity.
You can even see video of the UAWC President during almost the whole period World Vision has funded the UAWC speaking, as a senior PFLP terrorist, at a Hamas terrorist rally. He was the lead in act for the Hamas leader who was arrested a few days later.
Has World Vision seriously engaged with any of this evidence and provided counter-evidence to disprove it?
NO! Apart from one claim of mistaken identity of a UAWC director, which Shurat HaDin has photographic identification evidence to support its position, World Vision has completely failed to even attempt rebutal of the evidence.
Instead World Vision has engaged “experts” which it attempts to present as “independent” and well qualified but are in fact anything but.

Dov Weissglas
Israeli attorney Dov Weissglas has a long history of opposing Shurat HaDin’s attempts to get compensation for victims of terrorism. When Shurat HaDin obtained Court ordered liens over Palestinian Authority (PA) assets to secure legal claims against the PA for its active involvement in terrorist atrocities that killed and maimed hundreds of Israelis, attorney Weissglas represented the PA in trying to get these liens removed.
When Shurat HaDin sued the Bank of China for knowingly facilitating the transfer of funds to Hamas for a terrorist attack that killed and maimed dozens of Israeli school students, attorney Weissglas was there to defend the Bank of China.
Attorney Weissglas’s senior role in the expulsion of hundreds of Jewish families from their homes which resulted in Gaza becoming an Iranian missile base (also known as “disengagement”) certainly rounds out the picture of exactly who Dov Weissglas is.
Attorney Weisglass is entitled to his legal practice of opposing attempts to get justice and compensation for terror victims. That is every lawyer’s right and even terrorists are entitled to legal representation, but World Vision’s attempts to present him as independent are disingenuous in the extreme.

Mati Steinberg
World Vision presents Prof Mati Steinberg as “Israel’s leading intelligence analyst” and “Head of the Division of Palestinian Affairs of Israel’s General Security Service” (GSS). Both these statements are patently false bordering on ridiculous.
Steiberg was is not an intelligence analyst at all, let alone a leading one. Nor did he ever head a division of the General Security Service (GSS).
Steinberg left the Shin Bet 10 years ago and was merely an advisor to the GSS on Palestinian affairs, not an intelligence analyst or department head. He is an academic who has made his career studying Palestinian society and has a long history of being sympathetic to the Palestinian cause andopposing action against terrorists. A google search reveals that he is quoted a number of times in Haaretz, a newspaper read by only 7% of the Israeli population and representing the views of the far left, but not in more mainstream Israeli publications. He speaks at conferences of the far left organisation PeaceNow.
Again, Prof Steinberg is entitled to his opinion and robust public debate is an important part of Israeli democracy, but it is quite misleading for World Vision to present Prof Steinberg being a “Israel’s leading intelligence analyst” or of being capable of giving an “independent opinion” in a matter such as this. His political positions are well known and are on the far left of the Israeli political spectrum. His professional role requires him to be on good terms with Palestinians and be sympathetic towards them, even when they are involved with terrorist organisations as the UAWC is.
World Vision has grossly misrepresented both the independence and credentials of their so-called experts.

Episode 2: Establish a straw horse and then attack it
World Vision then proceeds to create a straw-horse argument that the job of these experts is to “substantiate our “allegations”.
Shurat HaDin has not made “allegations”. We have presented substantive evidence.
Our evidence does not require further “substantiation”. It is substantive in and of itself.
Our evidence must either be rebutted or it stands.
It is not up to any expert, let alone an extremely biased one with little qualification for the job, to rule on the evidence Shurat HaDin has presented. World Vision does not get to appoint judges.
It is up to World Vision to either rebut the evidence presented with real counter evidence, not biased opinion of its cronies, or accept its truth and stop funding the UAWC.

Episode 3: Use hearsay and anonymous, unverifiable sources
Tim McCormack’s article on his trip to Israel can be summarised as follows: Tim Costello & I met with lots of people who said the UAWC were fine, but we won’t tell you who they are are and we won’t provide anything in writing.
It is not acceptable for World Vision to cite general statements by anonymous and unverifiable sources and then say they’ve conducted a serious investigation.
World Vision have refused to provide Shurat HaDin a copy of Prof Steinberg’s report, a copy of any official Israeli government document substantiating their 3rd hand hearsay or further information about its funding of the UAWC.
Given that for many months World Vision loudly trumpeted the lie that the UAWC was registered as a charity in Israel and still haven’t retracted this false claim despite incontrovertible evidence, Shurat HaDin rightly demands to see the basis for these claims so they can be investigated.

Episode 4: If you can’t win on the facts then confuse the issue
Shurat HaDin’s complaint is about Australian tax-payer funds being used to support a terror-linked group potentially in breach of Australian law.
We have never suggested that the UAWC itself was involved in actual terrorist attacks or passed money directly to the PFLP.
What we have provided evidence of is that key directors of the UAWC have been involved in actual terrorist attacks (Al Kheiri & Khalafallah) as members of the PFLP and many other directors and officers of the UAWC were members of the PFLP and/or were being arrested by Israel for security related issues.
It is well known that terrorist organisations conduct charitable and other legitimate activities  (in order to gain popular support) in addition to their murderous terrorist activities. However it is also well established that funding even a the charitable aspect of a terrorist organisation assists the military arm by freeing resources and assisting it to gain popular support.
The US Supreme Court has recognised this and found that providing a proscribed terrorist organisation with any assistance, even training in international law and political advocacy was illegal*. We have made this clear from our first letter to World Vision back in February 2012.
Shurat HaDin has never suggested that Khalid Hidmi was involved with the PFLP. He appears to be a lower level officer of the UAWC charged with the day to day running of legitimate projects. The organisation he works for is headed by PFLP members and works closely with the PFLP but Khalid Hidmi himself does not appear to be involved in this aspect of the organisation. Thus the freedom of movement of Khalid Hidmi is irrelevant to the question of whether the UAWC is the agricultural arm of the PFLP terrorist organisation.
Contrary to Tim McCormack’s suggestion, Israel does not conduct targeting killings against persons involved in the charitable arm of a terrorist organisation, only those actively involved in effecting terrorist attacks that endanger the lives of Israelis. The suggestion that Israel can or would conduct a military operation in Gaza to shut down the UAWC is ridiculous.
But Israel’s unwillingness to conduct a military operation to shut down the UAWC does not mean that Australian tax-payers money should be going to such a terror linked organisation, nor that such funding may not be in breach of Australian anti-terror law which prohibits indirect support of a terrorist group.
It is about time World Vision stopped the game playing and “Yes, Minister” tactics and faced the bare truth - they have been funding an organisation established by terrorists, headed by terrorists and which works closely with a terrorist organisation. It is not an appropriate use of Australian taxpayer funds nor should a leading Australian charity be involved with such shady figures and potentially illegal activity.
As I said to Rev Tim Costello when I met him in Tel Aviv in Feb 2013: “If you found out that an organisation you were funding was headed by a convicted murderer who was a senior leader of an illegal motorcycle gang, as were many of his fellow directors, you would stop funding immediately - Why is a lesser standard applied to terrorists?”

*Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S. –––– (2010), 130 S. Ct. 2705 (2010)

Victorian Parliamentary Friends elects new conveners and secretary

From JOHN LENDERS MLC Member for Southern Metropolitan Region, Secretary Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel, 22 May, 2013:
In accordance with the procedures of the Victorian Parliamentary Friendship Groups, a midterm election has recently been held for the Parliamentary Friends of Israel. I am writing to inform you that David Southwick and Marsha Thomson were re-elected as Co-Conveners and I was elected as Secretary.
This group looks to create closer ties between Victorian Parliamentarians and that State of Israel. We wish to work closely with the Jewish Community to further this aim.
The Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel group has one of the largest memberships of all friendship groups, with substantial representations from both major parties. David, Marsha and I wish to be proactive in organising events and participating in events organised by the community....

23 May 2013

Australian Left must avoid centuries-old hatred

From: The Australian, May 23, 2013, by Cassandra Wilkinson:
The clearest example was the Greens' promotion of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that happily saw them come to grief in the NSW state seat of Marrickville. The BDS movement seeks to shut down militant agents of Palestinian oppression such as the Max Brenner chocolate shop. No doubt the coming revolution of their imagination will provide a politburo-approved carob alternative to Mr Brenner's treats.
The student activists who tried to prevent the University of NSW from allowing Mr Brenner to open on campus, claimed the BDS campaign was initiated in 2005.
Such sloppy referencing and fact-checking wouldn't pass muster on their exams, I hope. As it happens, I studied history at UNSW -- something the protesters could profit from before they graduate. A basic grasp of history shows us the boycotting of businesses is a longstanding tactic in the campaign of hate against the Jewish people.
Boycotts of Jewish merchants were practised in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire and later across eastern Europe, especially in Romania, Poland and Russia where anti-Jewish activism was serious enough to bequeath us the word pogrom. In 1922, the Fifth Palestine Arab Congress called for a boycott of all Jewish businesses. In 1943, the Arab League banned the purchase of "products of Jewish industry".
The BDS presents itself as a reaction to the power of the state of Israel. In reality it is the most recent name for a centuries-old economic persecution of Jews for having the temerity to become educated and entrepreneurial despite their exclusion from many occupations, geographies and institutions.
This makes it all the more ironic that the University of Sydney's Students Representative Council would seek to ban ties with Haifa's Technion, the world's most successful commercialiser of university research. It isn't a cunning reprisal, it's an act of pointless self-harm.
Julia Gillard, to her credit, was swift to sign the London Declaration. NSW Labor leader John Robertson has followed her lead, calling the declaration "an important step in the ongoing efforts to eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms". But both face resistance from members of their teams who are courting the Muslim vote or flexing their ideological credentials.
During a recent visit by Israeli politicians, NSW Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane disgraced the house by accusing Israel of running torture camps and claiming Israel is driven by a, "craving to take over other people's lands". His actions were rebuked by Labor MLC Walter Secord, a long-time friend of Jewish people.
Moselmane is particularly guileless in his views but others in caucus apply more subtlety to their anti-Israel positions. Several ALP members of the NSW, Victorian and federal parliaments have refused to support resolutions to condemn the BDS.
The BDS and the signing of the declaration may seem marginal with an election looming and a fresh budget to critique. It matters not as an issue of scale but as one of direction for progressive politics. It matters because, as the declaration states, there has been a "resurgence of anti-Semitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society".
The student protests at UNSW and Sydney University may seem trivial or childish -- hardly a "potent force in politics". However, when a significant minority of our political leaders supports these protests it begins to be possible for them to become potent. All social change, good or bad, begins at the margin, with a campus boycott, a rally or a parliamentary debate. This is when we need to take note and nurture change that is good or discourage change that is bad.
The London Left is starting to examine the consequences of having made friends with the enemies of Israel. Seeing leading Left politicians such as Ken Livingstone posing with extremists who vilify homosexuals, women and Jews has British lefties such as Nick Cohen asking how a shared hatred of imperialism can paper over the differences between the radical Left and radical Islam.
The Left in Australia can avoid this London problem by signing the London Declaration and by sticking to its own basic principles.
Stand with those who educate women, stand with those who let gays serve openly in the military, stand with those who allow free speech and political activism.
Stand, in short, with the Jewish people and their state of Israel.

21 May 2013

Israel and Australia honour the Light Horse in Joint Stamp issue‏

Stamps bearing tribute to the heroic Australian Light Horse Brigade and the monumental battle fought by the ANZACs in Beersheba in 1917 were jointly issued by Israel and Australia this month.

Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem acknowledged the special relationship forged between friendly Australian soldiers and Jewish residents amid the 1917 Battle of Beersheba, which has endured until this day.

‘Despite great geographical distance between our two nations, we operate on the same foundation of values. I am proud of all that our countries have achieved together to date and genuinely excited by the prospects the future offers’, said Ambassador Rotem.

CEO of Israel Postal Company Haim Elmoznino also welcomed the initiative saying, ‘the Israel Postal Company is proud to issue two joint stamps with Australia as a manifestation of the friendship and cooperation that extends across a number of fields between the two countries’.

‘I welcome the excellent working relationship the Israel Postal Company has with Australia Post and thank Australia Post for their cooperation throughout and beyond this joint project’, said Mr Elmoznino.

The exhibition displaying the joint issue stamps, their background and paying tribute to the vibrant relationship between Israel and Australia will be hosted between 10 and 15 May at the Royal Exhibition Building.

The stamps and related products will be available for purchase at the Israel booth at the exhibition (booth number 153) and from Max Stern & Co, Israel Philatelic Service official representative in Australia, 234 Flinders Street in Melbourne (contact via 03 9654 6751). Israel’s stamps are also available online from www.israelpost.co.il.
Israel’s Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem acknowledged the special relationship forged between friendly Australian soldiers and Jewish residents amid the 1917 Battle of Beersheba, which has endured until this day.

‘Despite great geographical distance between our two nations, we operate on the same foundation of values. I am proud of all that our countries have achieved together to date and genuinely excited by the prospects the future offers’, said Ambassador Rotem.

CEO of Israel Postal Company Haim Elmoznino also welcomed the initiative saying, ‘the Israel Postal Company is proud to issue two joint stamps with Australia as a manifestation of the friendship and cooperation that extends across a number of fields between the two countries’.

‘I welcome the excellent working relationship the Israel Postal Company has with Australia Post and thank Australia Post for their cooperation throughout and beyond this joint project’, said Mr Elmoznino.

The exhibition displaying the joint issue stamps, their background and paying tribute to the vibrant relationship between Israel and Australia will be hosted between 10 and 15 May at the Royal Exhibition Building.

The stamps and related products will be available for purchase at the Israel booth at the exhibition (booth number 153) and from Max Stern & Co, Israel Philatelic Service official representative in Australia, 234 Flinders Street in Melbourne (contact via 03 9654 6751). Israel’s stamps are also available online from www.israelpost.co.il.

'Eleven Palestinians have died under PA, Hamas detention'

From JPost, 21 May 2013, by KHALED ABU TOAMEH:

According to a report released by the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights, last year saw a 10% increase in the number of complaints over human rights abuses by Palestinian Authority, Hamas.

A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City, July 23, 2012.
A Palestinian inmate stands behind the bars of a Hamas-run jail in Gaza City, July 23, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
Eleven Palestinians have died in Palestinian Authority and Hamas detention centers during 2012, according to a report released Tuesday by the Palestinian Independent Commission For Human Rights.
Two of the Palestinians died in PA detention centers in the West Bank, while the nine others died in Hamas custody in the Gaza Strip.
Seven of those who died in detention had been suspected of “collaboration” with Israel.
The report said that last year saw a 10 percent increase in the number of complaints about human rights abuses by the PA and Hamas, compared with 2011.
Randa Siniora, executive director of ICHR, told a press conference in Ramallah that many complaints were related to arbitrary and political detentions, as well as torture and mistreatment.
She said the group also documented many complaints regarding the refusal of the PA and Hamas to implement court orders.
The organization recommended that the PA and Hamas stop violating freedom of expression by interrogating Palestinians who express their views.
In response, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah welcomed the report, but expressed concern over recurrent reports of cases of torture and ill treatment of detainees by Palestinian law- enforcement agencies...

20 May 2013

AICC Mission to Israel: 28 November to 4 December 2013


Following the success of four recent Missions to Israel, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) will be conducting another seven day visit to Israel from Thursday 28 November to Wednesday 4 December 2013.

This Mission will focus on relationship building, business development and knowledge exchange in a multitude of industry sectors in areas of your interest and specific to your work. Typically included are areas of; Life Sciences, Agribusiness, Water management, Medical, Clean Tech, Security, High Tech, Digital Applications, Renewables, Defence, Education, Sustainability, Venture Capital, BioTech, Commercialisation and more.

For all enquiries, please contact:
John Cluer, Chief Executive AICC(WA)
phone: 0419 938 480
email: perth@aicc.org.au

Our focus is always for delegates to achieve real tangible business outcomes. The visit to Israel will cater for a wide range of interests and contain a group program plus individually customized itineraries developed for delegates. The visit will be specifically designed for executives from business, government and academia and will combine exposure to key Israeli industry figures together with topical high level business meetings designed to expose delegates to innovative business ideas and opportunities. we will be examining Israeli government policy success in promoting R&D activities in a range of related fields.

From AUD$4,950 + GST 
This is the Programming fee which covers group and customized programming, administration, mission management fee, all transportation in Israel, airport meeting service, airport transfers, entrance fees to site visits, three meals per day for 7 days, plus a copy of the best selling book “Start-Up Nation - the story of Israel’s economic miracle”. Does not include international airfares to and from Israel, travel insurance and accommodation. Approximate investment is AUD$9,500 once accommodation, airfares and any personal expenses are included. (Programming rates are: AUD$4,950 + GST for AICC members and AUD$5,690 + GST for Non Members). NB: This Mission is open to all and partners are welcome.

19 May 2013

UK Students reject boycott (Uni of Sydney take note)

From The Jewish Chronicle Online (UK), 17 May 2013, by Marcus Dysch:

The National Union of Students has rejected a proposal to join the international boycott movement against Israel.
At a national executive meeting only five NUS officers voted in favour of an anti-Israel motion, with 15 against and three abstentions.
Union of Jewish Students campaigns director Judith Flacks said: “Failing to pass this motion is a positive sign for Jewish students who put their faith in NUS to reject calls like this.
“The policy would have served only to delegitimise Israel and provide no prospect for peace.”
UJS said it had circulated a petition at the conference signed by 200 delegates objecting to a boycott of Israel.
The motion, proposed by Sheffield University and Goldsmiths College, London, called on NUS to lobby governments and universities to terminate contracts with “companies that are complicit in the occupation of the Palestinian territories”.
It also sought to encourage links with Palestinian universities, to introduce a “right to return for all refugees” and to increase sanctions against Israel.

16 May 2013

Uni of Sydney BDS Professor slammed in Parliament

SPEECH by Hon Peter Slipper MP
Parliament of Australia
Federation Chamber - London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism
16 May 2013

[my own emphasis added - SL]

Mr SLIPPER (Fisher) (09:45):  There are many evils in our society, but there is no evil greater than anti-Semitism. I was interested to read in the Australian today that Professor Rees of the Sydney Peace Foundation, who is on the staff of the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that explicitly equates Israel with apartheid-era South Africa, attacked the Prime Minister and others for their opposition to the position that he takes. I call on the university to sack Professor Rees because in our society what we need is tolerance, understanding of diversity and respect for individual religious convictions. It is incredibly wonderful that the Prime Minister of this nation, the honourable member for Kooyong and so many other members of parliament have chosen to sign a document supporting the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism.
Regrettably, in three minutes one does not have time to read all of the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, but it is a wonderful initiative. Around the world at the moment we are finding increasing anti-Semitic attacks. We are finding, increasingly, that people are opposing those of the Jewish faith. We only have to cast our minds backwards more than half a century ago to the Holocaust, when millions of Jewish people were murdered because of their religion and ethnicity. The fact that the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism is receiving such strong support from both sides of parliament indicates that there are values that unite members of this parliament, and values that unite our society. Professor Rees, from the Sydney Peace Foundation, is out of step with values that this parliament represents.
Professor Rees is un-Australian. His views are absolutely despicable and, in fact, the university ought not to be wasting public money paying a person who has such odious views and who supports anti-Semitism. He is, in my view, someone who has no place on the public payroll. All Australians should abhor what he has said, and I believe that members should sign this declaration. I have visited Israel five times—most recently as Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is a wonderful country, a tolerant country, and I think all of us should stand up against the evils of anti-Semitism.

Australian Parliamentarians sign London Declaration on Combating Anti Semitism

From Josh Frydenberg MP, Federal Member for Kooyong (VIC), Thursday, 16 May 2013:

Please see below the names of all the 71 Coalition MPs who have now signed the London Declaration on Combating Anti Semitism.

See this link for a copy of the signed declaration - please note Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne signed separate documents to that linked here. More are signing on every day...

§  The Hon Tony Abbott MHR, Federal Member for Warringah (NSW);
§  Mr John Alexander OAM MP, Federal Member for Bennelong (NSW);
§  Mrs Karen Andrews MP, Federal Member for McPherson (QLD);
§  Mr Kevin Andrews MP, Federal Member for Menzies (VIC);
§  The Hon Bob Baldwin MP, Federal Member for Paterson (NSW);
§  The Hon Bruce Billson MHR, Federal Member for Dunkley (VIC);
§  The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, Federal Member for Mackellar (NSW);
§  The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Federal Member for Curtin (WA);
§  Mr Jamie Briggs MP, Federal Member for Mayo (SA);
§  Mr Russell Broadbent MP, Federal Member for McMillan (VIC);
§  Mr Scott Buchholz MP, Federal Member for Wright (QLD);
§  Mr Darren Chester MP, Federal Member for Gippsland (VIC);
§  Mr George Christensen MP, Federal Member for Dawson (QLD);
§  Mr Steven Ciobo MP, Federal Member for Moncrieff (QLD);
§  The Hon John Cobb MP, Federal Member for Calare (NSW);
§  Mr Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes (NSW);
§  The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Federal Member for Dickson (QLD);
§  The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Federal Member for Leichardt (QLD);
§  Mr Paul Fletcher MP, Federal Member for Bradfield (NSW);
§  Mr John Forrest MP, Federal Member for Mallee (VIC);
§  Mr Josh Frydenberg MP, Federal Member for Kooyong (VIC);
§  The Hon Teresa Gambaro MP, Federal Member for Brisbane (QLD);
§  Mrs Joanna Gash MP, Federal Member for Gilmore (NSW);
§  Mrs Natasha Griggs MP, Federal Member for Solomon (NT);
§  Mr Barry Haase MP, Federal Member for Durack (WA);
§  Mr Luke Hartsuyker MP, Federal Member for Cowper (NSW);
§  Mr Alex Hawke MP, Federal Member for Mitchell (NSW);
§  The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Federal Member for North Sydney (NSW);
§  The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Federal Member for Flinders (VIC);
§  Mr Steve Irons MP, Federal Member for Swan (WA);
§  Dr Dennis Jensen MP, Federal Member for Tangney (WA);
§  Mr Ewen Jones MP, Federal Member for Herbert (QLD);
§  Mr Michael Keenan MP, Federal Member for Stirling (WA);
§  Mr Craig Kelly MP, Federal Member for Hughes (NSW);
§  Dr Andrew Laming MP, Federal Member for Bowman (QLD);
§  The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Federal Member for Farrer (NSW);
§  The Hon Ian MacFarlane MP, Federal Member for Groom (QLD);
§  Ms Nola Marino MP, Federal Member for Forrest (WA);
§  Mrs Louise Markus MP, Federal Member for Macquarie (NSW);
§  Mr Matheson MP, Federal Member for Macarthur (NSW);
§  Mr Michael McCormack MP, Federal Member for Riverina (NSW);
§  Mrs Sophie Mirabella MP, Federal Member for Indi (VIC);
§  Mr Scott Morrison MP, Federal Member for Cook (NSW);
§  The Hon Judi Moylan MP, Federal Member for Pearce (WA);
§  Mr Paul Neville MP, Federal Member for Hinkler (QLD);
§  Mr Ken O’Dowd MP, Federal Member for Flynn (QLD);
§  Ms Kelly O’Dwyer MP, Federal Member for Higgins (VIC);
§  Mrs Jane Prentice MP, Federal Member for Ryan (QLD);
§  The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Federal Member for Sturt (SA);
§  Mr Rowan Ramsey MP, Federal Member for Grey (SA);  
§  Mr Don Randall MP, Federal Member for Canning (WA);
§  The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, Federal Member for Goldstein (VIC);
§  Mr Stuart Robert MP, Federal Member for Fadden (QLD);
§  Mr Wyatt Roy MP, Federal Member for Longman (QLD);
§  The Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Federal Member for Berowra (NSW);
§  Mr Alby Schultz MP, Federal Member for Hume (NSW);
§  The Hon Bruce Scott MP, Federal Member for Maranoa (QLD);
§  Mr Patrick Secker MP, Federal Member for Barker (SA);
§  Mr Luke Simpkins MP, Federal Member for Cowan (WA);
§  The Hon Tony Smith MP, Federal Member for Casey (VIC);
§  The Hon Alex Somlyay AM MP, Federal Member for Fairfax (QLD);
§  Dr Andrew Southcott MP, Federal Member for Boothby (SA);
§  The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, Federal Member for Murray (VIC);
§  Mr Dan Tehan MP, Federal Member for Wannon (VIC);
§  The Hon Warren Truss MP, Federal Member for Wide Bay (QLD);
§  Mr Alan Tudge MP, Federal Member for Aston (VIC);
§  The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Federal Member for Wentworth (NSW);
§  Mr Bert Van Manen, Federal Member for Forde (QLD);
§  Mr Ross Vasta MP, Federal Member for Bonner (QLD);
§  Dr Mal Washer MP, Federal Member for Moore (WA);
§  Mr Ken Wyatt AM MP, Federal Member for Hasluck (WA); and
The Former Speaker of the House of Representative, The Hon Peter Slipper MP, Federal Member for Fisher (QLD) has also signed.

15 May 2013

Why pick on Israel?

From:The AustralianLetters, May 15, 2013:

WHY does Israel consistently attract the ire of the international community ("Reality ignored in rush to judgment on 'apartheid' Israel", 14/5)?

Israel is indeed different to its neighbours - it is democratic and a champion of rights. It is senseless that Israel is labelled a demonic superpower of the Middle East while the despotic Syrian government massacres more than 80,000 civilians, Saudi Arabia subjugates women, Iran remains under police tyranny, Egyptian Coptics face persecution and thousands of Palestinians are left to languish in refugee camps in Jordan.
Yet boycott campaigns are levelled at Israel. Are there more sinister reasons to explain the focus on Israel?
Joel Feren, Elwood, Vic

14 May 2013

Iraqi Children Saved in Israel

From Jerusalem Online, May 14, 2013:

In the past decade, 180 children from Iraq alone, have been brought to Israel for life saving operations

5 month old Yussuf, suffering from a congenital heart disease, began his journey to Tel Aviv’s Wolflson hospital, from Iraq.  An Iraqi humanitarian organization, arranged to transport Yussuf, yasmar and kabar, who also suffer from heart disease, along with their mothers, on a plane via Jordan.  There they waited for three days, in terrible heat, with Yussuf in distress.  Dr. Zion Chori explained that the three Iraqi children arrived, in critical condition and were immediately sent to the ICU. 
Yussuf’s mother said that they brought him to hospital many times due to his trouble breathing.  
Government minister, Silvan Shalom says that as Jews we have a duty to save each and every life. 
Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli organization, which coordinates life saving operation for children from developing countries, is responsible for saving these children’s lives.
In the past decade, 180 children from Iraq alone, have been brought to Israel for life saving operations.  

13 May 2013

Israel's strategic clarity in Syria

From "Now" (Lebanon), May 9, 2013, by Tony Badran*:

A Syrian woman walks along the Syrian side of the Israel/Syria border fence in the Golan Heights. (AFP photo)
It was perhaps fitting that the multiple Israeli strikes in Damascus last week followed Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s address from Tehran. Nasrallah had warned last Tuesday that the “resistance” was ready to face any Israeli assault and would emerge victorious in any confrontation. Instead, Nasrallah returned from Tehran just in time to witness Israel destroy multiple consignments of Iranian ballistic missiles intended for his group. The Israeli raids provide much needed strategic clarity to the conflict in Syria, throwing into sharp relief two basic points: Israel is not about to let the balance of power with Iran change. In addition, Iran’s ability to strike back has been shown to be decidedly limited.
...The Israeli government’s calculus is rather clear: It will not allow the transfer of Iranian strategic weapons to Hezbollah. In other words, in contrast with the Obama administration, Israel is thinking about the regional balance of power – which is being fought out in Syria – in strategic terms.
Former Mossad operations officer Michael Ross [wrote]... The Israeli Air Force attack... “underscores how differently the dynamics of the Syrian conflict are perceived by the Israelis and the rest of the world.” The Obama administration, for instance, has found it politically expedient to emphasize that its primary preoccupation is with the rise of Sunni extremists and the possibility of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons “falling into the wrong hands,” namely those same Sunni extremist groups.
However, these are not Israel’s strategic priorities regarding Syria, Ross explained. “While the issues of ascendant jihadism and chemical weapons are important,” he wrote, “the absolute top priority of the Israeli government – and by extension the intelligence community and the military – is the prevention of a first strike weapons capability that threatens Israel’s population centers from reaching the hands of Hezbollah.”
...these hits are part of a broader campaign dating back to the immediate aftermath of the 2006 war. That’s when the Iranians made a decision to focus on ballistic missile and long-range rocket capabilities, and on deploying them in Lebanon and Gaza. Syria was a critical node in this regional chain.
Israel made a decision of its own, to target this Iranian network and go after its key figures. Since 2008, we’ve seen the assassination of Hezbollah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh, the two Hamas commanders in charge of missile procurement, Muhammad Mabhouh and Ahmad Jabari, the Syrian liaison, General Muhammad Suleiman, and the head of Iran’s ballistic missile program, General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam.
These assassinations are in addition to the various air strikes on factories and distribution centers in the Sudan, arms convoys, and the mysterious explosions at various storage depots in Lebanon, as well as in Iran, such as the one that killed Gen. Moghaddam in 2011. In fact, one is tempted to add to the list the explosions reportedly heard this past Tuesday in western Tehran, in an area where Iran carries out missile research and storage.
According to a very well-informed source in Washington, “Israel can see anything that moves in Syria with all-weather satellites.”
...With the Iranians clearly accelerating the transfer of as many assets as possible from Syria to Lebanon, the likelihood of future strikes in Syria is high.
...In fact, in addition to hitting ballistic missiles storage depots in the heart of Damascus, the Sunday strikes have reportedly hit facilities manned by Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel. When the Iranian foreign minister complained in Damascus on Tuesday that it was “high time to deter the Israeli occupation,” he underscored precisely Tehran’s inability to do so. Instead, it has seen Israel take out some of its key assets from Sudan, to Gaza and Lebanon, all the way to Tehran itself. And now, it watches as its strategic systems and personnel in Syria become targets for Israeli operations – not to mention exceptional intelligence penetration – which had no problems bypassing the Russian defense systems which Iran financed (and acquired for itself to protect its nuclear sites).
When read in this context, these tactical strikes are shown to be part of a broader, clearly articulated strategic vision – something that’s been sorely missing in Washington. As the US plays for more time pursuing another “process” with Russia, and contorts itself as it walks back the red line it never intended to enforce, Israel, as Lee Smith put it, “sees Iran’s regional project strategically, and Syria as part of greater whole.” In contrast, Smith adds, the US "resembles less a superpower than a mid-level manager."
By focusing on the right priorities in Syria – the regional balance of power and breaking the Iranian network – Israel is providing strategic clarity while all the US is offering is confusion.
*Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He tweets @AcrossTheBay.

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