30 August 2013

Australian Greens Resolutions on Israel/Palestine

From Australian Greens Resolutions on Israel/Palestine [emphasis added]:

The Australian Greens... :

...1.3 recognise the ongoing injustice that has been done to the Palestinian people and aim to rectify that injustice ...

1.4 oppose Israel's ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for its settlements

...1.7 reject violence and its promotion, particularly against civilians, whether perpetrated by a state, an organisation or individuals...

The Australian Greens will work for:

2.1 the removal of Israeli settlers and Israeli security and military forces from the Palestinian territories

2.2 the termination of the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the establishment of a secure and viable state of Palestine alongside Israel, based on 4 June 1967 boundaries with both states sharing Jerusalem as their capital

2.3 a just and practical negotiated settlement of the claims of the Palestinian refugees that provides compensation for those who are unable to return to their country of origin...

Short Term Targets
3.1 The Australian Greens call for:

the establishment of an international commission under the auspices of the UN to effect a settlement of the conflict, in accordance with the above principles and goals...

3.2 As preliminary steps to the achievement of the goals, the Australian Greens call for:

the immediate end to all acts of violence against civilian populations, including state targeted assassinations...

the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Israeli military from all Palestinian cities, towns, refugee camps, surrounding areas and transport routes, allowing freedom of movement of Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza

the immediate freezing of all Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories (including natural growth) and the simultaneous commencement of the repatriation of the Israeli settlers from the Palestinian territories

an associated withdrawal of Israeli security and military forces from the areas evacuated by the settlers

the immediate dismantling of the separation wall

the deployment of an international peace keeping force endorsed by the commission to: monitor the implementation of the above preliminaries by the parties ...

The Australian Greens ...specifically recognise those Israeli soldiers who have refused to serve in the occupied territories.

Israel/Palestine March 2010
Adopted by National Council, March, 2010

Given the continuing disregard by Israel of calls to halt settlement expansion in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem:

The Australian Greens:

1. Call upon the Australian government to halt military cooperation and military trade with Israel;

2. Reiterate our call for the immediate freezing of all Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian Occupied Territories

3. Call for the removal of existing Israeli settlers and Israeli security and military forces from the Palestinian territories...

5. Reject violence and its promotion, particularly against civilians, whether perpetrated by a state, organisation or individuals...

Secular Party of Australia: Opinion on Middle East

From an opinion piece from President of the Secular Party of Australia, John Perkins:

...A Middle East solution

It is uncomfortable to refer to religions as delusions, but this is an uncomfortable reality. Beliefs persist in spite of contradiction with facts. Delusions can be harmful. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Middle East. Archaeological evidence shows that there was no Prophet Abraham and no Exodus. There is no Promised Land and there are no Chosen People.
It seems that in the Middle East, not only is the conflict founded in delusion, but that the solutions commonly proposed are also delusory. This applies  to the proposed two-state solution. The so-called road map to peace is in reality a road map to nowhere. This is not just because the conception of a Palestinian state that the current Israeli position would allow amounts to such a limited grant of sovereignty that no responsible Palestinian authority could be reasonably expected to accept. It is because even if a viable independent Palestinian state could have been established, which unfortunate Israeli “facts on the ground” have now prevented, there is simply no way that this would have permanently resolved the underlying grievances.
The Holocaust against Jews was the greatest crime against humanity ever committed in history. Resulting feelings of injustice and guilt led to the formation of the state of Israel. Prior impetus to realisation of the Zionist dream was given by the Balfour declaration and a similar U.S. Congressional resolution which stated in part “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christians and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. This part of the bargain has never been honoured.
The concept of a nation that seeks to define itself in terms of its ethnic or religious identity, as Israel does, is an anachronism and is at variance with universal secular values.
The only possible long-term solution to the Middle East problem, consistent with principles of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice, is a unitary secular state in which all people have equal rights. This will perhaps require a degree of compromise that all sides will find painful to accept.
A Jewish homeland does not necessarily require a Jewish state, nor is a Jewish state the best long-term guarantee of Jewish security. In the proposed unitary secular state, no religion should be presumed of superior authenticity and no rights or privileges should be granted on the basis of claimed ethnicity or religious belief.
The primary obstacles in achieving this solution are firstly the Judaic beliefs that presume exclusive territorial entitlement, and secondly the irreconcilable Islamic beliefs that also necessitate superior claims to territory. The key to dissipating this irreconcilability is simply to put forward the proposition, which is impeccably based in reason, that some of the beliefs on which the conflict is based are false, unnecessary, undesirable, harmful, and based on little more than ancient mythology...

Only the wilfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities of the world today. Without a doubt it is the prime aggravator of the Middle East.
Those of us who for years have politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out...

Policy Statement on Israel by the Rise Up Australia Party

Further to our recent posting of responses to ten policy questions - focusing on issues of special interest to the Australian Jewish Community and friends of Israel - from the Australian Labor party and the Liberal/National coalition, readers of this blog will be interested in the following excerpt from the Policy Statement on Israel by the Rise Up Australia Party:

Throughout its history Australia has had good international relations with Israel. Australian troops played a significant role as part of the British forces in the area in WW1, especially the Light Horse at the Battle of Beersheba.  The ANZACs also contributed greatly in WWII.  ...  However, there has been a trend in the 21st century by many in Australian politics to reverse or weaken this long-standing relationship.
1.         Democracy
Rise Up Australia Party (RUA Party) supports governments that rule by democracy and allow freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press over those that do not.  Israel is the sole functioning democracy in the Middle East and we applaud its decision to allow Arab citizens who had been in the land for as little as two years to become citizens when it first became a sovereign State in 1948 and that some of these citizens have served, or their descendants now serve, as members of the Israeli parliament...
2.         Israel and the United Nations
RUA Party would restore bipartisan support for Israel which was damaged when Australia abstained rather than voted against the recognition of a Palestinian State on November 29, 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly.
RUA Party deplores the bias of the United Nations which has passed over one hundred resolutions against Israel since 1948 whilst virtually ignoring Arab aggression and many world-wide human rights atrocities. Despite being the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, Israel routinely faces more criticism and condemnation at the United Nations than any other country.
3.         The Two-State Solution
RUA Party upholds that the two-state solution was already formulated last century when the Ottoman Turkish Empire was divided after WW1. ...the territory known as Palestine was divided between the residents (known as Palestinians) allowing for a future homeland for both Arab and Jewish citizens.  The area east of the Jordan River, comprising 77% of Palestine, where the residents were largely of Arab descent, was named Transjordan, and in 1946, this became the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.   The area west of the Jordan River, comprising 23% of the territory of Palestine, where many Jews had returned and settled was allocated to the Jewish Palestinian population for their future homeland. In 1948 this became Israel.  We therefore believe that the Palestinian State already exists as the country of Jordan.  This is the two-state solution.
...RUA Party deplores the attitudes of Arab nations to use ‘refugees’ as political pawns.
4.         The Peace Process Failure
RUA Party believes that Israel should not further negotiate land-for-peace deals unless the Palestinian organisations and surrounding nations formally recognise Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation in their midst ratifying this legally and in a binding manner.
RUA Party will not support any country or people group engaging in ‘peace’ talks with Israel (in English) while its leaders call for Israel’s destruction, summon their people to war, and train their children in aggression against Israel (in Arabic).  RUA Party will call for transparent media reporting of the facts in these matters.[
5.         Israel has the right to defend itself and live within secure and defendable borders
RUA Party supports Israel’s right to defend herself against aggression, including reasonably foreseeable potential aggression, and to do whatever is necessary to keep its people safe from terrorist or military attacks. RUA Party questions the continual and aggressive use of the term “occupied territories” in reference to land that was taken in defensive military operations in retaliation for war being imposed on Israel, or ongoing attacks from its Arab neighbours.
6.         Trade relations
RUA Party would encourage and promote trade relations with Israel.  Australia has much to gain from Israeli inventions and ingenuity especially in the fields of medicine, physics, water management and hi-tech computer technology, and can also learn much about the absorption of people from many different ethnic backgrounds.
RUA Party opposes the anti-Semitic actions of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and its efforts to cripple the Israeli economy.
7.         Jerusalem as Israel’s Undivided Capital
RUA Party upholds Jerusalem’s right to be the undivided capital of the Jewish people.  It will call for Australia to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, move Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem and call other countries to do the same.  
...RUA Party considers that the current Muslim focus on Jerusalem is politically motivated rather than religious.  During the years of Muslim domination of Jerusalem from 637AD to 1917 by various Islamic groups (except for the Crusader period of 1099 to 1187), the city was never made a capital city and barely developed.  Jerusalem has only been considered a major Muslim pilgrimage centre since it was captured by Israel in 1967....
8.         Religious Freedom and Holy Sites
RUA Party recommends that Israel be given and retain governance over all holy sites within her borders.  When Israel has oversight, freedom of religion and access for international pilgrims has been assured for all religions.
RUA Party calls for the Jewish people to be allowed free and safe access to their holiest site, Temple Mount, and other Jewish holy sites in the land, and for unrestricted access for local and international pilgrims to Christian sites.

29 August 2013

Israeli compassion amidst the atrocities

From Times of Israel, August 28, 2013, by Dave Sharma, Australian ambassador to Israel:

As the world’s capitals and leaders discuss how to respond to last week’s chemical weapons attack in Damascus – the most repugnant in a series of atrocities committed in the war that is raging in Syria – it can be easy to lose sight of the daily human toll this conflict is extracting. Though Damascus is only some two hundred kilometres from Jerusalem (or shorter than the distance between Canberra and Sydney, as I tell my Australian friends), the conflict in Syria can feel like a world away.

But in the town of Safed in the north of Israel, better known as one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities, the front-line of the conflict in Syria feels very close. At Ziv Medical Centre, without fanfare or publicity, they are treating a steady and growing stream of wounded Syrians from the conflict. Some 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Centre since February.
Ambassador Sharma visiting Ziv Hospital in Safed, with his wife and baby
Tuesday, August 17, 2013

When I visited earlier this week, 15 hospital beds were being used to treat such victims, the youngest a girl of only eight. They have harrowing stories and horrific injuries. Suffering from shrapnel and bullet wounds, burns and crush injuries, they have somehow managed to limp to the border with Israel, from where they are then transferred to Ziv Medical Centre. On admission they are malnourished, fatigued and traumatised. Many have lost family members. But they are immensely relieved. If they had remained in Syria, the extent of their injuries means most would have died or been left permanently incapacitated.

At Ziv Hospital they get the best medical care on offer to any Israeli, from surgeons and physicians who are quite literally the best in their field, having authored textbooks on the treatment of injuries from armed conflict. On the day I visited I saw how doctors had managed to save the leg of an 8-year old girl from amputation by use of some of the most advanced surgical techniques and injury treatment protocols. A 15-year old girl whose leg was amputated in Syria had been fitted with a prosthetic limb. Against the odds, the doctors at Ziv had managed to save her other leg. This girl was now learning to walk again, taking her first steps.

Arabic-speaking doctors, nurses and social workers are all available to communicate with the Syrian patients and help ease their anxieties. They are provided time and space to recover and rehabilitate and supplied with basic provisions, including clothes and toiletries donated by generous residents from Safed. The multi-ethnic staff at Ziv Hospital – drawn from the Jewish, Arab and Druze communities – reflect the diversity of Israel. They are dedicated and compassionate professionals driven by a profound sense of humanitarianism. They do not stop to ask the patient’s nationality or religion as she is wheeled into the emergency theatre in a critical condition. They simply do their utmost to save life and treat injury.

Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely sees or acknowledges. With all the tales of human woe and misery that continue to emerge from Syria, such small stories of hope should be cherished.

28 August 2013

Australia/Israel Review - September 2013 - Pre-election Edition

AIR's September edition focuses on the federal election campaign, and publishes responses to ten policy questions - focusing on issues of special interest to the Australian Jewish Community and friends of Israel - from the Australian Labor party and the Liberal/National coalition to provide a unique voter resource allowing direct comparison. The questions were on the following topics:
1. Australia's relationship with Israel
2. Australia's role in Israel's quest for peace with its neighbours; Voting on Israeli-Palestinian issues at the UN
3. Response to Iran's clandestine nuclear program; Future options
4. Counter-terrorism policy;  Security costs for the Jewish community
5. Legal status of Hezbollah in Australia
6. Education reforms and funding for independent Jewish schools
7. Response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel
8. Laws against racial hatred; Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
9. Preserving and enhancing Multiculturalism
10. Immigration and asylum seeker policy

(Click on the links above to read each question in full along with the answers from both the ALP and the Coalition. Or to read the whole feature from the beginning, click here.)
Also see AIR’s exclusive guide to some of the political fringe parties running in this election - noting the worrying views and policies that stand behind some of the more obscure acronyms voters will find on their ballots. View Article.

27 August 2013

Canberra conference to feature top 9/11 conspiracy theorist

From UN Watch, Geneva, 26 August 2013:

Sept. 11 Canberra conference to feature top 9/11 conspiracy theorist  

UN Watch urges British Academy to pull support for Richard Falk's Australia event

The British Academy is supporting a lecturer who has been strongly condemned for racism by British Prime Minister David Cameron and by the Foreign Office's anti-discrimination division, reported UN Watch.

The Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group today urged the head of the British Academy, Lord Stern of Brentford, to immediately remove all support for the scheduled September 11 Canberra appearance by Richard Falk, a UN Human Rights Council official recently denounced by world leaders for suggesting that the Boston bombings were the fault of the U.S. and Israel.

Falk was condemned by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, and by the US, UK and Canadian governments, for blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

The Sept. 11 timing of the conference is doubly offensive because Falk was also condemned by the UN chief for spreading 9/11 conspiracy theories.

A copy of UN Watch's letter was sent to Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the UK's envoy to the UN, and to the London anti-discrimination division, both of whom recently condemned Falk for racism.

UN Watch today also sent a similar protest letter to Gareth Evans, chancellor of the Australian National University, which is hosting the conference. Evans, a former Australian foreign minister, served on a 2004 UN panel that led to the creation of Falk's Human Rights Council.

Following is the UN Watch letter sent today.

Lord Stern of Brentford
President of the British Academy
10-11 Carlton House Terrace
London SW1Y 5AH
United Kingdom

August 26, 2013

Dear Lord Stern,

UN Watch is shocked that the British Academy, whose purpose is to support excellence in the humanities, is funding a September 11th platform for Mr. Richard Falk, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who was just condemned by your own government for racism, and who was denounced by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and world leaders for his vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.”

According to a website called Human Rights in Palestine, the Australian National University in Canberra will soon host a "groundbreaking conference" on Palestinian human rights, on September 11. Mr. Falk is listed as a keynote speaker at this event.

This highly problematic event prominently displays a large British Academy logo throughout the website.

Notwithstanding a barely legible footnote on one of the pages containing a disclaimer written in tiny, faded grey letters, the website clearly implies the endorsement and support of the British Academy on its "Home", "Program", "Speakers", "Exhibition" and other pages.

We understand that this British Academy endorsement may be related to your 2009 grant of £29,836 to Dr. Victoria Mason -- a convener of the Canberra conference whose avowed specialties include "Israeli State Terror" -- in order to study "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the West Bank."

In that regard, please note that while the conference program claims to address human rights, Mr. Falk is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing who uses the language of human rights to absolve terrorists of culpability. He is the only UN expert in history to have been condemned for racism by Britain, or any other member state of the European Union.

We are sending a copy of this complaint letter to the attention of UK Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant -- and to Ms. Philippa Thompson, Deputy Team Leader of the Equality and Non-Discrimination Team within the Human Rights & Democracy Department of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who recently examined and addressed Mr. Falk's racism.

The UK Non-Discrimination Team determined that Falk's recent writings are “resonant of the longstanding antisemitic practice of blaming Jews (through the State of Israel by proxy) for all that is wrong in the world.”

As the British Academy, you may also wish to take note that:

1. British Prime Minister David Cameron “strongly condemned” Falk's 2011 publication of an antisemitic cartoon, showing a dog wearing a Jewish head-covering urinating on a depiction of justice and devouring a bloody skeleton. Falk was also condemned by British MPs David Burrowes and Theresa Villiers.

2. The British Foreign Office last year condemned Falk for providing the cover endorsement of a book that asks whether "Hitler might have been right after all." The UK Mission in Geneva protested to the UN human rights office, expressing London's “serious concerns.” The book endorsed by Falk, “The Wandering Who,” also accuses "the Jews" of being "the only people who managed to maintain and sustain a racially orientated, expansionist and genocidal national identity that is not at all different from Nazi ethnic ideology."

3. The British Mission to the United Nations condemned Mr. Falk’s April 19, 2013 remarks on the Boston bombing as “anti-Semitic,” highlighting it was the third time the British Government had to do so.

In addition we note:

•  That Falk is so extreme in his support for the Hamas terrorist organization that even the Palestinian Authority—as revealed in a Wikleaks cable, and which Falk himself admits—has sought to remove him, on grounds that he is a "partisan of Hamas";

•  That Falk recently published an article attempting to downplay, reinterpret and justify the latest call by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to destroy Israel;

•  That Falk accused Israel of planning a "Palestinian Holocaust,"prompting a bloc of dictatorships, including Bashar al-Assad's Syria and Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, to sucessfully nominate him as the UN Human Rights Council's expert on Palestine;

•  That Falk is one of the world's most high-profile supporters of the leading 9/11 conspiracy theorists, lending his name to those who accuse the U.S. government of orchestrating the destruction of the Twin Towers as a pretext to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;
•  That Falk actively promotes the writings of David Ray Griffin, a disciple and close friend of Falk who has produced 12 books describing the World Trade Center attack as "an inside job";

•  That Falk not only contributed the Foreword to Griffin's 2004 "The New Pearl Harbor"—praising the author's "patience," "fortitude," "courage," and "intelligence"—but Griffin credits Falk for getting the book published, and also specially thanks Falk's wife, Hilal Elver, someone who remains a member of Human Rights Watch's Santa Barbara Committee, and who is also speaking at the upcoming Canberra conference;

•  That Falk has repeatedly appeared on the "TruthJihad.com" show of Kevin Barrett, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Holocaust skeptic who rails against the "ethnic Jews" who he says run Washington and the media, a show on which Falk has endorsed Barrett's "good work" while also praising Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad;

•  That in 2011 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the floor of the Human Rights Council to issue an unprecedented condemnation of Falk's 9/11 remarks, saying they were "preposterous" and "an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack";

•  That U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in 2011 denounced Falk's comments as "despicable and deeply offensive," and condemned Falk's "one-sided and politicized approach," saying his words were "so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position," and that "the cause of human rights will be better advanced without Mr. Falk and the distasteful sideshow he has chosen to create";

•  That in reaction to Falk's April 19, 2013 justification of the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks UN chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesman said: “The Secretary-General rejects Mr. Falk’s comments" which “undermine the credibility and the work of the United Nations”;

•  That U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice stated that “Someone who spews such vitriol has no place at the UN.” The U.S. Mission to the United Nations condemned Falk’s “provocative and offensive” remarks, and the “absurdity” of his service as a UN human rights expert;

•  That Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird slammed Falk’s “mean-spirited, anti-Semitic rhetoric” and called for him to be kicked out of the UN, saying “The United Nations should be ashamed to even be associated with such an individual”; and

•  That U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and numerous members of the U.S. Congress condemned Falk's remarks.

We urge you to act swiftly to remove the good name of the British Academy from any association with Mr. Falk, and to deny such a promoter of hatred and racism this undeserved honor and legitimacy. The cause of human rights requires no less.

Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.


Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director
UN Watch

cc:  UK Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant
      Ms. Philippa Thompson, Deputy Team Leader, Equality and Non-Discrimination Team, Human Rights
      & Democracy Department, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office 

25 August 2013

Liberal Coalition: stronger support for Israel and harder line on extremist organisations.

From: The Australian, August 26, 2013, by: Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor

TONY Abbott is committed to upgrading relations with Israel as part of a suite of new policies on the Middle East that includes banning more terrorist organisations and a harder line on visits to Australia by extremists.
A Coalition government would also step-up opposition to the "boycott, divestment and sanctions" campaign against Israel, withholding taxpayer funds from any organisation that actively backed the movement.
The Australian has learned that the Opposition Leader will this week commit to extending to Israeli citizens an electronic travel authority, which in most cases provides nearly instant visa approval.
The ETA system was introduced by the Howard government for citizens of advanced nations who have no history of illegally overstaying in Australia.
The Labor government recently expanded the list of nations whose citizens are eligible for fast-track visas to 64 but left Israel off the list - a decision critics said was in line with recent moves by the ALP to distance itself from Israel, including at the UN.
It is understood the omission of Israel caused consternation in Jerusalem.
Both the EU and Canada provide visa-free entry to Israelis.
An Abbott government would immediately direct that Israel be added to the list of nations whose citizens can access fast-track electronic visas for short-term visits to Australia.
Under a range of new policies - which are being directed by Mr Abbott with broad support within the opposition - the Coalition would seek to ban the Islamist extremist organisation Hizb Ut-Tahrir and prevent foreign members of the group coming to Australia to promote extremism.
The Coalition will also seek fresh advice from ASIO on the question of banning the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Only the militant wings of these groups are currently banned in Australia, while the US, Canada and a number of Western nations have banned the entire organisations.
Coalition policy documents draw attention to the fact that the US and Canada have banned more than twice as many terrorist organisations as Australia has.
The Coalition plans to make it more difficult for "preachers of hate" to visit Australia. It believes the federal government has the power to stop such visits on character grounds and should do so much more frequently.
An Abbott government would also strengthen Australia's opposition to the BDS campaign by committing to a government-wide policy that prevents additional grants of taxpayers' funds to individuals and organisations that actively support the BDS campaign. The moves are widely supported in the Coalition but also reflect Mr Abbott's long-standing personal commitment to supporting Israel.
He travelled independently to Israel as a young man and visited as an opposition MP before he became Liberal leader.
Mr Abbott and foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop believe Labor has deliberately moved away from its former close friendship with Israel, with its rhetoric becoming more critical.
The Coalition opposed Labor's decision to abstain from - rather than vote against - the UN move to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's status to that of an observer state late last year. The US, Israel and Canada voted against the proposal.
The Rudd government has recently described all Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank as "illegal".
Israel argues that because the land is disputed, and its status to be negotiated, this term is incorrect. The US does not use the blanket label of illegal.
The Coalition's stronger support for Israel and harder line on extremist organisations is the clearest foreign policy difference between the two sides of politics.

23 August 2013

Labor Wooing Moslems: Lakmba Mosque Declaration

From Arutz 7, 23 August 2013:

...Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr's announcement in the heat of the current election campaign that Labor Party policy does not recognize the legal right of Jews to live in the "West Bank" - seems to have been hastily cobbled together without any serious discussion or consideration by the Labor Party.
Speaking at the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney on 8 August at celebrations marking the end of Ramadan - Carr reportedly stated:
"... we say, unequivocally, all settlements on Palestinian land are illegal under international law and should cease. That is the position, of Kevin Rudd, the position of the Federal Labor Government, and we don't make apologies for it."
Carr's shock announcement has brought forth ... a blistering attack by Opposition Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
Ms Bishop has released correspondence disclosing that Senator Carr did not seek any advice from the International Law Office within the Attorney General's Department - relying instead only on legal advice supplied by his own Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - before committing Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party to the policy enunciated at the Lakemba Mosque.
DFAT legal advice ... failed to consider the relevance and applicability of article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter which preserves the right of Jews to live in the "West Bank" conferred on them by the Mandate.
...DFAT, Senator Carr, Prime Minister Rudd and the Labor Party were obviously unaware of a letter signed on 22 July by more than 1000 prominent international lawyers and politicians addressed to Baroness Catherine Ashton  - High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President  of the European Commission (EC).
In their letter the signatories asserted that Jews are legally entitled to live in the "West Bank" and questioned the relevance and the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israel's alleged occupation of the "West Bank".
The signatories stated:
"The long-held view of the EU as to the illegality of Israel’s settlements is a misreading of the relevant provisions of international law, and specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is neither relevant to the unique circumstances of Israel’s status in the area, nor was it ever applicable, or intended to apply to Israel’s circumstances in Judea and Samaria [The "West Bank"]"
Senator Carr needs to explain how he could "unequivocally " commit the Labor Party to a policy based on the Fourth Geneva Convention when its applicability had been thrown into grave doubt by the Ashton letter - and especially as no binding legal decision exists that supports the DFAT advice given to Carr.
But the signatories went even further in making it very clear that Jews had the legal right to live in Judea and Samaria:
"The legality of Israel’s presence in the area stems from the historic, indigenous and legal rights of the Jewish people to settle in the area, as granted in valid and binding international legal instruments recognized and accepted by the international community. These rights cannot be denied or placed in question. This includes the 1922 San Remo Declaration unanimously adopted by the League of Nations, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel (including the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem) as well as close Jewish settlement throughout.
"This was subsequently affirmed internationally in the League of Nations Mandate Instrument, and accorded continued validity, up to the present day, by Article 80 of the UN Charter which reaffirmed the validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). "
...Both Senator Carr and Mr Rudd have so far failed to disclose when the Labor Party adopted this contentious and controversial  policy before it was announced at the Lakemba mosque.
While Senator Carr makes no apologies for this policy - the Labor Party has clearly not made its decision after carefully considering all the relevant international law dealing with the issue.
Repeating the mantra that Jewish settlements in the "West Bank" are illegal in international law ... was made on the run ...

The Lakemba Mosque Declaration smacks of political opportunism thrust onto an unwitting and unprepared Labor Party on the steps of the mosque...

19 August 2013

Journey to Israel 2013 6th – 22nd November 2013

Hosted by Rev Fraser Harding, Director Good News for Israel  & Martin Weatherston, Director CMJ Australia 

Featuring visits to: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Mt Carmel, Haifa, Nazareth, the Galilee, Golan Heights, Beit Shean, Qumran, Dead Sea, Masada, Beer Sheva, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Jericho.

Fraser and Martin invite you to come and see the sites and the ‘living stones’ which speak of the ‘Restoration’ of Israel. The primary meaning of restoration in this context is the restoration of Jewish people to their Messiah. A secondary aspect is the return of the Jewish people to a safe homeland after 2000 years of persecution. Both of these perspectives beg the question as to whether the hope of Israel (for Jews) denies the hope of Ishmael (for Arabs). Participants will gain a clear understanding of how these apparently conflicting aspirations can not only be reconciled but even complement one another in the plan & purposes of God for the ‘one new man’ ie. both Jew (Israeli) & Gentile (Arab) alike.

Download this brochure for full details.
TOTAL PACKAGE PRICE TO ISRAEL: AUD AUD $5, 890.00* per person twin share
Single supplement: AUD $1, 395.00
* Price is based on minimum of 20 full paying participants. Subject to change. Conditions apply
• Return economy class airfares with all taxes and fuel
surcharges (subject to change)
• Accommodation - Half-board (breakfast & dinner) in en-suite
shared twin rooms, taxes & portage.
• Transportation - Bus and driver for touring and group transfers
to and from airport.
• Guide - Licensed Christian/Messianic guide.
• Tips - Driver, Guide, Hotels.
• Entrance fees - Historical sites, museums, parks, etc.
• Study Materials.
Travel insurance (mandatory); guest speakers; lunches & snacks; individual activities on free days; individual transfers to/from the airport apart from the main group; wheelchairs; personal discretionary spending.


Steven Green, Olive Tree Travel,
Suite 1, level 1, 230 Balaclava Road, North Caulfield VIC 3161
T: +61 3 8488 9696 or 1300 55 08 30
M: 0413 016 772

Rev Fraser Harding, Director Good News for Israel
0418 762 402
Martin Weatherston, Director CMJ Australia
0417 172 205
Proud Member of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism

DON'T MISS Kelvin Crombie at Albany RSL 24th August 2013

Israeli Film Festival: 21-28 August

Don't forget the Israel Film Festival starting this Wednesday at Cinema Paradiso.

Note that the Opening night admission price of $38 includes admission to the Opening Reception with His Excellency Yuval Rotem, Ambassador of Israel to Australia, at one of his final engagements in Perth before he completes his term in Australia.

The Opening Reception will commence at 6:15pm on Wednesday 21 August, over wines and canap├ęs, upstairs at Oliver's. See below for details of how to book for this event or any of the movies in the Festival.

18 August 2013

Settlements not illegal

A letter in Melbourne's Herald Sun by AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein responds to an important inaccuracy regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The letter in the Herald Sun, SAT 17 AUG 2013, by Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director, Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, reads as follows:

The article, "Prisoners walk free" (HS, Aug 15), was mistaken in reporting that US Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel's settlements are "illegal''. The US does not make this claim, and neither did Kerry.

He repeated the Obama administration's standard formula to express disapproval without making a judgment on legality, saying, "As you know... the United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate".

In the context of the conflict, it is a significant difference. The US regards settlements as unhelpful because the territory on which they are situated is disputed land that is claimed by two different parties.

But settlements are not illegal because an independent and sovereign state of Palestine has never existed, so the West Bank is not "Palestinian land". The US knows the solution is to create a two-state resolution that draws final borders and ends the dispute over land.

Three times, Israel has offered such a resolution, in the last proposing to give Palestinians the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza land area. Sadly, the Palestinian leadership has failed to respond positively.