30 August 2014

The moral emptiness of the Green Left

From The Weekend Australian Editorial, 31 Aug 2014:

...the opposition of many on the Left to the prospect of Australia extending its humanitarian aid to provide military assistance against the Islamic State is telling.

...this past few weeks ...many on the Left have highlighted images of suffering civilians in Gaza in a relentless and erroneous push to depict Israel as a brutal represser. Some critics, however, have been curiously reticent about reporting or showing Christians under siege in Mosul in northern Iraq and other persecuted minorities. Commentators such as the ABC’s Jonathan Green, for example, think censoring images of the Islamic State’s atrocities is good journalism.

Further muddying the public space, activist group Australians for Palestine failed to correct a falsehood in a recent email newsletter that misrepresented a photograph of a group of dead children as victims of the Gaza conflict. In a letter to the editor today, Sonja Karkar from Australians for Palestine admits the image was used “inadvertently” and that no correction email was sent out.

The hypocrisy of the Left and its rampant moral equivalence makes a rational debate on national security and the threat posed by extremists more difficult. The murderous rampage of the Islamic State, whose warlords have Israel, the rest of the Middle East, much of Asia and some of Europe in their sights, shows what is at stake in quashing the caliphate. Apologists for Hamas and those who would turn a blind eye to the Islamic State barbarism are on the wrong side of the moral ledger of history and humanity.

The Prime Minister spoke yesterday about the atrocities perpetrated in Iraq — beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions. He reminded us of our nation’s obligations under the UN’s doctrine of a responsibility to protect those facing slaughter in Iraq. “This is as near to pure evil as we are ever likely to see,” Mr Abbott said, and urged our nation to strive for a better world. Yet, this bracing dose of reality for our nation, and those like our own, is greeted by the sadly predictable, but utterly obnoxious, refrain of “mission creep” from those unable to discern our nation’s vital interests.

The threat of terrorism for us is real, but the slaughter of innocents is occurring right now.

We must be part of the mission to end this, rather than indulging in the moral emptiness of the Green Left.

27 August 2014

Pallywood comes to Australia

From The AustralianAugust 28, 2014by CHRISTIAN KERR:

THE activist group Australians for Palestine has prompted outrage by misrepresenting an image of children killed in Syria as young victims of the conflict in Gaza in an email to MPs that attacked Israel’s operations.

The email photos and text.

The email photos and text. Source: TheAustralian

Sonja Karkar.

Sonja Karkar. Source: Supplied

The group, whose August 10 email compared those killed in Gaza to victims of the Holocaust, has declined to correct the error or apologise, even after the deceptive use of the image was exposed.

Underneath the image of dead children, Australians for Palestine editor Sonja Karkar wrote that “some people may find the above photo disturbing and we hope it is”.
“It is not being shown gratuitously, but to bring home the true awfulness of what is happening in Gaza,” she wrote.
The email continued: “Almost 2000 Palestinians have been slaughtered and some 10,000 Palestinians have been wounded ... Israel’s bombs continue to strike with vengeance at the civilian population below. Make no mistake about it: more than 80 per cent of those already killed were civilians.
“We cannot shed tears over yesteryear’s Holocaust victims when reading books, seeing films or visiting museums and not see that these innocent Palestinian children today are just as deserving of your sorrow and outrage.”
Liberal MP Luke Simpkins told The Australian he believed he had seen the photo before. The former long-serving army officer raised the picture’s provenance with Ms Karkar.
Mr Simpkins discovered the same image had appeared in a Canadian online news site in May this year and an Israeli website last November, well before the current fighting in Gaza began early last month.
On August 12, Ms Karkar told Mr Simpkins: “Since sending out this email I have been alerted to the fact that this picture was taken in Syria and not Gaza. It was a careless error to make on my part.”
She continued: “In my next post I will be apologising for using the wrong image.”
The following Australians for Palestine email bulletin, dated ­August 18, made no mention of the matter.
Ms Karkar did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Another key Australians for Palestine figure, Nasser Mashni, declined to speak to The Australian, but Mr Simpkins lashed the group.
“Given that the AFP calls for outrage, I can say that I was outraged at their abuse of the facts and taking advantage of the deaths of innocent Syrian children in the biggest, most desperate conflict and human tragedy in the region,” he said.
“I find their ethics and tactics deplorable in their attempt to win favour with the Australian ­people.”
Mr Simpkins said there was no comparison between the civil war in Syria, unfolding events in Iraq and the most recent round of ­action in Gaza targeting Hamas.
“Hamas is a terrorist organisation that uses public television to encourage and indoctrinate children to aspire to kill Jewish people,” he said. “For years Hamas have fired rockets into Israeli suburbs and towns, all from civilian areas. They are cowards that hide behind innocent people.”
Allegations that confronting images of conflict in the Middle East found on social media or the internet are staged, mislabelled or misattributed have become so widespread a derogatory name has been coined for them — Pallywood, a contraction of Palestine and Hollywood.
Despite the mocking title, Jewish leaders around the world are deeply concerned by the proliferation of the pictures. There are fears the images are licensing anti-Semitism and provoking violence and abuse directed at their communities.
Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council said graphic images “which are purportedly from Gaza which have later been authoritatively identified as coming from Syria, Iraq or Egypt, proliferate on social media”.
“In addition, photographs which have been shown to be staged and images which have been manipulated for dramatic ­effect spread virally through Facebook and Twitter,” he said.
Mr Jones warned against the abuse of photographs.
“Individuals and organisations which want to be treated as serious contributors to policy development need to exercise as much caution with images as they do with text,” he said. “To distribute an inaccurately labelled image, which is not only unverified but which could have been easily identified, is as bad as circulating outright errors of fact.”
Mr Jones hit out at Australians for Palestine over the episode.
“In this situation, the image was challenged, but when the person distributing it admitted it was not from Gaza she did not honour a commitment to publicise and correct the error,” he said. “It would appear that bad judgment was supplemented by bad faith.”
A wave of anti-Semitic incidents has occurred since the outbreak of fighting in Gaza last month.
In the most recent incident, anti-Semitic flyers saying “Wake up white Australia” were distributed in Bondi, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

20 August 2014

...during the War in Gaza

A letter to my Israeli and Arab friends, during the War in Gaza, August 2014
by Professor Jörg Imberger: Winthrop Professor of Environmental Engineering,  Director of the Centre for Water Research and Vice Chancellor Distinguished Fellow, University of Western Australia.
Every evening my wife and I sit down for dinner and watch the news. We’re bombarded by reports of death and destruction in Gaza and the pompous rhetoric of reporters who invariably proclaim: “Why is Israel inflicting such heavy casualties on the civilian population”. Never do I hear a neutral analysis of the situation, nor an explanation of what is happening. Yet, in the same news programme, there is, quite rightly, outrage when Australians die in an airplane shot down over the Ukraine.
I wonder how a US, UK, French, Australian or other European citizen would react, if every day of the week, every minute of the day, there is a possibility of a stray rocket hitting their neighbourhood or a suicide bomber exploding a device in a supermarket. How do mothers feel when they send their kids to school, turning to say goodbye and thinking: “Will they be safe?” I travel a lot and I can tell you what the reaction would be in these countries. There would an immediate call to arms! Yet these same people expect Israelis to shelter the civilian population in Gaza, when there is clear evidence that Hamas is using these same civilian neighbourhoods as military staging posts, rocket launch pads and military tunnels.
My family originally came from the British mandate of Palestine as part of the German “Templer” colonies, a religious movement to “create God’s Kingdom on Earth” and lived there from 1868 to 1941, at which time they were deported to Australia by the British and interned in Tatura, Victoria for 6 years because of their German heritage.
The first time my wife and I went to Israel was June 14 1967, three days after the end of the six day war, to explore my roots. The visit made an incredible impression on me. Where ever we went people were proactively friendly, so much so that on one occasion in Jerusalem, when we got on the wrong bus, the bus driver asked the passengers whether they would mind going on a small detour to take us to our destination, everyone shouted in the affirmative. People with numbers tattooed on their arms, were genuinely friendly even after learning of our German backgrounds. I was amazed how they could forgive the hardship that Germans had inflicted on them.
I must contrast this with the experience at a party in California that we had attended shortly before the trip to Israel, at the house of a Palestinian friend who had immigrated to the US a few years before to study in the US. I talked to the children of the parents and not knowing what to say I asked: “What are you going to do when you grow up?” The reply from the oldest (~6 year old boy) was “I am going to kill as many Jews as I can”. I was shocked and will never forget the glow in the boy’s eyes. Clearly, the child did not know what he had said, but it does give insight into the home culture.
Obviously, there is an incompatibility in cultures.
On the one hand we have the Jewish people who have been the victim of genocide and who the British and French allowed to settle back into their historical home. They went about establishing a safe haven, a place which they can call home, be safe and be part of the world community, with about 50% in Israel and the rest global citizens. Understandably, the experiences of the world’s aggression towards then had taught them to be careful and thus you now see a nation that is commercially successful, has the means to defend itself and is part of an intellectual global network. In many ways Israel is at the forefront in globalisation that is sweeping the world.
Given half a chance Israel could lead the Middle East in the age of globalisation, benefiting not only itself, but all the surrounding countries. Jordan is trying, but the militant elements are preventing the nations of Syria, Lebanon and Egypt from even just opening their eyes to the obvious possibilities. This is strange, because even a cursory look at Germany before and after the war, clearly shows that the Jewish culture provided the intellectual leadership in Germany, so the same could obviously be achieved in the Middle East. 
The Palestinian people have also been dealt great injustices.  But rather than seeing the glass half full, they see the glass half empty. What makes the situation even worse, is the reluctance of their fellow Arab neighbours not to lift a finger to help their situation.
Clearly the only long term solution, given the present psychological state of the Palestinians and the Israelis, is for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria to assimilate the approximately 2 million Palestinians in Gaza with generous financial help from the nations that precipitated the problem in the first place, the UK, France, US and Germany. If the normal citizen of Gaza was given the choice of the host country, ownership of a new house, a decent job and the full rights of a citizen, then surely common sense would prevail and the Palestinians could look forward to a decent, secure way of life and the Israelis, security of their borders. Such a relocation could usher forward a new Renaissance in the area. Speaking from experience, having moved home numerous times, the geographic location of one’s home is not important, it is the security, the prospects of a meaningful existence in one’s society and a like minded circle of friends that are the important ingredients of a successful “home”. Unfortunately, the male ego, whether on a religious crusade, rectifying a perceived injustice or simply having the need to dominate, is what prevents logical solutions.
To my many Israeli and Arab friends, I wish you the strength to work towards suppressing the hatred of the fundamentalists, render them impotent, as they are not motivated by a just cause, in fact they are not motivated by anything other than hatred fuelled by their male egos.  To the militants who may read this, you are imposing immeasurable hardship on your children and their children, simply to appear tough to your co-conspirators in crime. God will judge you harshly.


An Attack on a People's Soul: The Global Resurgence of Anti-Semitism

There is no greater insult to a people than to mock their national tragedy or exploit it for rhetorical value. Likening democratic Israel to Nazi totalitarianism is not just a lie, it is an obscenity. 
Credit: arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com
On 25 July, as Israel's war with Hamas raged, my niece, who is nearly 5 years of age, arrived at her Jewish day school in Perth to find the words "Zionist scum" daubed on the outer walls of the school. A Star of David was drawn between the words.
The incident was hardly the most serious crime visited upon Australia's Jewish community, which has become accustomed to verbal abuse and even acts of violence during times of turmoil in the Middle East. During the Gulf War in 1991, in which Israel was not a combatant, Jewish kindergartens in Sydney and Melbourne and three synagogues in Sydney were firebombed.
Yet the incident at my niece's school affected me deeply. It touched me personally. No one should be attacked solely because of their national origin. Grievances from foreign conflicts should not be transplanted into Australian society. An attack on an Australian child with no understanding of or connection to conflict abroad is a prime instance of cowardice. When a child that I love was confronted with such senseless hatred, it stung.
Perhaps the incident evoked memories of a Rabbi describing to me his pain at seeing Holocaust survivors arriving at his synagogue for a Sabbath service to find neo-Nazi slogans and swastikas emblazoned on the walls of the building. The Rabbi shed tears as he described this attack on "the souls" of people who had already experienced the limits of human suffering.
Viewed dispassionately, the incident in Perth would rate at the lower end of antisemitic acts committed during the course of the latest Gaza war.
In Melbourne, on 10 July, a Jewish man was confronted by two men who called him a "Jewish dog" in Arabic and then violently assaulted him. On 4 August, at a Perth Shopping Centre, a visiting Rabbi from Jerusalem and his assistant were set upon by six teenagers threatening to "fix [them] up" for "killing babies in Gaza." In Sydney, on 6 August, eight teenagers boarded a school bus servicing three Jewish schools and threatened to "slit the throats" of 30 terrified primary school children aged between 5 and 12, while shouting "Heil Hitler" and "all Jews must die."
While these overtly antisemitic incidents are characterised as opportunistic or random because they do not appear to be the product of careful planning or deliberation, the increasing frequency and intensity of these incidents closely correlates with the escalating use of antisemitic motifs by Israel's critics. This phenomenon has spread from the extreme margins of politics into the mainstream media in several instances.
Take for example the cartoon drawn by Glen Le Lievre, which appeared in the 26 July edition of the Weekend Herald. The cartoon unambiguously portrayed an ugly stereotype of a Jew, identified with hook nose, kippah (religious head covering) and Magen David (Star of David), sitting in an armchair and using a remote control to blow up houses and people in Gaza.
The cartoon, for which the Herald subsequently apologised, portrayed Jews as a group as collectively guilty of acting outside the norms of civilisation and the laws of war, intentionally causing civilian deaths in Gaza. The cartoon thus attributed to Jews a collective blood guilt for the deaths and suffering in Gaza. This kind of calumny of the entire Jewish people has deep historical roots in the Deicide myth ("the Jews killed Jesus"), a myth that was only abandoned by Christian churches in the twentieth century.
The increasing frequency of references to a shadowy, corrupting, omnipotent lobby advancing the interests of the Jewish people at the expense of the rest of humanity has become another disturbing feature of the political discourse. This too plays into long-discredited myths about a global Jewish conspiracy. The British libertarian thinker Brendan O'Neill observed the resurgence of conspiratorial thinking and its inevitable fixation with symbols of Jewish identification, not least Israel:
"There is a growing tendency to think conspiratorially, to be constantly on the lookout for the one malevolent thing or group or person that might be held responsible for the myriad problems afflicting Western societies and international affairs. This is the real driving force of modern-day populist anti-Zionism that sometimes crosses the line into anti-Semitism."
Global audiences are continuously bombarded with images and other content on television and social media, which then become the basis for shallow and uninformed opinion-formation for billions of people. This plays into and fosters a reductionist mindset, a craving for simplification in the form of one big theory that will "explain everything."
The idea that a hidden force or shadowy cabal - whether it be Freemasons, the illuminati or some other mysterious sounding group - is at the centre of power, inequality and human misery has a natural appeal to the weak-minded. The characterisation of Jews collectively as "powerful and pervasive" or "hating the light" is a symptom of this mindset.
In seeking to understand why, for example, Israel's right to exist in peace has enjoyed cross-party political support in Australia, conspiracy theorists are blind to the obvious strategic interests and democratic values shared by Australia and Israel. They turn instead to paranoid fantasies which depict the Australian government and media as beholden to Jewish puppeteers.
A further factor in the rise of hostility towards Jews in Australia has been the use of political protest directed at Israeli government policies and actions, as a pretext to vent raw Jew-hatred. As the British writer and satirist Howard Jacobson noted:
"It's impossible to believe that an active anti-Semite wouldn't - if only opportunistically - seek out somewhere to nestle in the manifold pleats of Israel-bashing ... Tell me not a single Jew-hater finds the activity [of Israel-bashing] congenial, that criticising Israel can 'never' be an expression of Jew-hating, not even when it takes the form of accusing Israeli soldiers of harvesting organs."
Political protest against any government is legitimate, whether or not the protest is factually based and fair or, as is often the case with anti-Israel protests, hypocritical and based on outrageous falsehoods. However, the abuse of legitimate protest as a licence to indulge in racism is contemptible and unacceptable in any context.
The picture overseas is even worse. Anti-Israel rallies have not only descended into open and unashamed outpourings of antisemitic rhetoric, but have also become occasions for instigating anti-Jewish violence. Outrageously, anti-Israel rallies in Germany have featured calls for "Jews to the gas." In France, several such rallies have concluded with mobs attacking synagogues. A Paris synagogue filled with Jewish worshippers was assailed by protesters chanting "death to Jews" and attempting to firebomb the building.
In Australia, the use of antisemitic motifs in anti-Israel rallies has been more subtle but nonetheless pervasive. Supporters of the Palestinians unhesitatingly condemn as racist any claim that the Palestinians are not an authentic people and have no right to national self-determination. Yet they make the same claim about the Jewish people. The very rights that the Palestinians claim for themselves they deny to others. This too is racism, not merely hypocrisy. As the eminent Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer observed,
"Opposition to Jewish independence and to national rights for Jews does constitute antisemitism."

The Jewish people are, and always have been, both a faith community and a national community, with a long history of statehood in the Holy Land, centred around Jerusalem. The Hebrew language, culture, religion and civilisation are native to Israel. Jews are officially recognised almost everywhere as a people, distinguished from others by a well-developed combination of shared customs, beliefs, traditions and characteristics derived from a common past. It is that combination which gives Jews an historically determined social identity, in their own eyes and in the eyes of others, which is based not simply on group cohesion and solidarity but also on their common historical antecedents.
To try to redefine the Jewish people as a non-people so as to suit the interests or convenience of others is not only dishonest but also an assault on our people's human dignity. This is quintessential antisemitism.
An expression of this mindset is the slogan constantly heard at anti-Israel rallies that "Palestine will be free from the river to the sea" (a reference to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea encompassing both the West Bank and the whole of Israel). This is an unambiguous call for the destruction of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian State.
Equally, support for a range of terrorist organisations at anti-Israel rallies, from Hamas to the Islamic State (IS), leaves little doubt as to the protester's intentions. It is self-evident that a supporter of the IS brand of roaming, barbaric jihadism does not foresee a Palestinian State coexisting with the Jewish national home. Most likely, the flag-bearer does not envisage Jewish existence in any form.
Sympathy for Hamas, a designated terrorist organisation, is equally disturbing. While the murders of over 1000 Israeli civilians during a relentless campaign of suicide bombings during the Second Intifada may have been forgotten by some, Hamas remains committed to slaughtering as many Jewish civilians as possible. The Hamas Charter calls for Israel to be "obliterated" (preamble) and for the killing of Jews (Article 7, final paragraph).
Support or apologetics for Hamas's "resistance" against Israel legitimates the rhetoric and the crimes of the organization and seriously undermines the credibility of the Palestinian cause. It also exposes the fact that the anti-Israel movement is less committed to advancing legitimate Palestinian national aspirations than it is to denying legitimate Jewish rights. This zero-sum thinking about the conflict, which has brought the Palestinians nothing but disaster for more than 100 years, epitomises the Palestinian solidarity movement.
The frequent use of Nazi imagery and slogans to characterise Israel and Israelis is further evidence of the extreme and often unhinged nature of pro-Palestinian activism in Australia. As described by Mark Lindsay, comparing Jews or Israelis to Nazis is "an analogic argument that fails to take seriously the particularities of the current conflict and makes a mockery of the Holocaust itself." There is perhaps no greater insult to a people than to mock or minimise their national tragedy or to exploit it for rhetorical value. It is not intended as a statement of fact or opinion. It is intended to be hurtful. Likening Israel, the only State in the Middle East which enjoys democracy and freedom of expression, to Nazi German totalitarianism is not just a lie - it is an obscenity. It falsely equates descendants of murdered Jews to the tormentors of their forebears.
Unable substantively to respond to the charge of antisemitism, the anti-Israel movement has sought to recruit individuals identifying as Jews. This appears to be based largely on the misguided and offensive belief that the endorsement of a small number of Jewish individuals absolves the anti-Israel campaign of the charge of discriminating against, or vilifying, the Jewish people collectively. While frequently claiming to represent a "growing number of Jews," in reality, these individuals represent virtually no one. Sociologist Philip Mendes estimates that less than 1% of Jews hold strong anti-Israel views. The Gen08 Survey, the most comprehensive study of Australian Jews carried out in Australia, found that while "there are a wide range of views on the policy to be followed in pursuit of peace with Palestinians ... support for Israel unifies the Jewish community."
Miniscule though they are in number, anti-Israel Jews are shamelessly amenable to being put to use as vehicles for propaganda. Firstly, the inordinate media attention they receive gives the false impression that a sizeable number of Jews are sympathetic to their views. Secondly, they serve to "rubber-stamp" antisemitism in the anti-Israel movement by lending their names and Jewish credentials to its rhetoric and tactics. Thirdly, and perhaps most disturbingly, through grandiose public denunciations of Israel and the populist rallying cry of "not in my name," it is implied that any Jew who refuses to join them in their denunciations of Israel bears responsibility for Israel's actions and is therefore a legitimate target for hatred and violence.
One such activist expressed this point explicitly in a tweet the day after a recent antisemitic attack on Jewish primary school children on a Sydney school bus. He proclaimed that Jews living outside Israel "are fair game" citing their supposed "influence" and "militant support for crimes of the Jewish state." The statement speaks volumes about his skewed moral compass and descent into a mindset of dehumanisation.
To be clear, it is false to contend that every criticism of Israel is antisemitic. Israel's most incisive critics are its own citizens. But it is equally false to contend that no criticism of Israel is antisemitic. Criticism of Israel can cross the line into antisemitism in a variety of ways.
The Palestinian solidarity movement frequently laments its inability to obtain broad popular acceptance of its "narrative." Until the movement abandons its extreme, annihilationist rhetoric and honestly examines the hatred it evokes and incites, the majority of Australians - and fair-minded people everywhere - will continue to be repelled by its underlying aims and methods.

*Alex Ryvchin is the Public Affairs Director at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

13 August 2014

Muslim communities must face up to bad apples

From The Australian, August 14, 2014, by Tanveer Ahmed:

AS a psychiatrist who visits jails, I see a lot of overlap between locals who are lured towards terror and many clients from Middle Eastern backgrounds I see in the legal ­system.  
While the cries for calm and cohesion are laudable and the fears among the Muslim majority of being tarnished by a tiny minority appropriate, there remains a wholesale denial within sections of the Muslim community that the bad apples have any connection to the apple tree. Khaled Sharrouf was not an isolated individual, but a man with a family which was linked to a community.

There remains a marked difference in the way males are raised within some Lebanese groups which predisposes them to greater acts of anti-social behaviour. It is a fairly specific segment of the Lebanese community and a result of the migration of poorer farmers and lower-class Lebanese Muslims after the civil war in 1975. Their numbers and concentration are greatest in southwestern Sydney.

There is a rampant anti-social character to some youths from this segment which stems in part from unsuccessful child rearing. The horrific moves towards terror acts can be seen as an ideological extension of a propensity towards bad behaviour, combined with an unshakable victim mentality.

There are clear trends in the ­clients I see from Arab groups in jails. They come from large families. The fathers were often absent while they worked unskilled jobs trying to provide. The mothers lacked the extended family support they may have had in their ancestral lands. Parenting focused on the daughters, for in the world the mothers knew girls needed more discipline and attention for opportunity and marriage to beckon. The men were placed on a pedestal with few behavioural limits. The relatively absent fathers, who might have disciplined the sons, compounded the problems.

I see further key psychological differences among these groups, particularly the Lebanese or the children of refugees from Iraqi or Afghan backgrounds. They are likely to see anger in different ways to Westerners or migrants from more educated ethnic groups. While expressions of anger and threats are a quick way to lose face in polite Western society, it is more acceptable within Arab groups. At its worst, calm, measured responses to conflict may be seen as weak.

This is outlined by Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennell’s groundbreaking work visiting Muslim criminals in jail, where he makes reference to the Arab notion of “holy anger”, which is completely foreign to English.

Another key difference is the psychological idea of “locus of control”. This refers to whether we believe our lives are driven primarily by internal or external factors.

Western thinking teaches that we have some control of our destinies. In its most optimistic forms, it is the basis for the self-help industry. Applying these kinds of ideas to my Muslim patients, particularly first-generation or less educated migrants, is extremely difficult. There is simply no such concept in Arab cultures.

What Arab cultures have are strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behaviour. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans: if God wills it to occur. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set directions for their community every Friday. These clerics dictate political views, child-rearing behaviour and whether to integrate into Western societies.

In societies shaped under Islamic influences there is little emphasis on guilt and a greater likelihood to demand that society adapt to one’s own wishes.

Muslim youths have unique difficulties in coming to terms with their identity, especially when they have conflicting value systems at home compared with school or work. This can produce greater deviance, a point better measured in Britain where South Asian youth suffer from mental illness at three times the rate of the general population.

But there are Muslim youths from many different countries living in Sydney. Other Arab Australians from Egypt, Jordan or Iran do not have the same problems. If you meet them, they will be quick to point out that their community’s migration was from a more skilled base. They had smaller families, focused on their children’s education and integrated more easily.

There is no doubt Muslim communities throughout the Western world have been under the pump since the age of terror unleashed itself this century. But for all the ­interfaith work, awareness building and cries for tolerance, there continues to be a significant tendency to externalise all blame.

Mike Carlton's tirade of racist abuse

From The Australian, 6 August 2014, by Sharryn Markson
“I deeply regret the insulting, discourteous and unprofessional remarks Mike Carlton made to you,” [The Sydney Morning Herald’s editor-in-chief Darren] Goodsir emailed one businessman on Friday. “Your points are valid, and well made ... I apologise for his inappropriate conduct, and have stressed to him the need for higher standards in future.”
While Goodsir was apologising on his behalf, Carlton continued to inflame the situation, tweeting this week: 
“Now the loony Likudnik racists are infuriated I have a Jewish son-in-law. That’s okay. I’ll have him taken out and shot …” This was followed by: “No, they’re turds. The truly astounding thing of the past week has been the racism, hatred and bigotry of the Likudniks.” Another tweet said: “Oh FFS, you stupid little pissant.”
The term “Likudnik”, referring to the ruling centre-right Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu, was also used by former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr in his criticism of what he claimed was a powerful Jewish lobby that influenced Australian government decisions.
After being confronted with evidence of Carlton’s abusive correspondence with readers, Goodsir last night issued a statement describing his actions as “completely unacceptable”.
...On Monday, Fairfax apologised for an anti-Semitic cartoon, created by illustrator Glen Le Lievre, which ran in the print edition of The Sydney Morning Herald and on The Age’s website on July 26, showing a Jew with a hooked nose casually destroying Gaza while ­reclining on a chair marked with a Star of David. The cartoon accompanied a column by Carlton under the headline: “Israel’s rank and rotten fruit is being called ­fascism.”
Fairfax has gone into overdrive over the past 10 days in an effort to stop subscribers cancelling the HeraldThe Australian understands business leaders have complained directly to Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood and at least one board director, who was planning to discuss the issue with chairman Roger Corbett.
But Carlton has not let up on his abuse of readers over Twitter, where he is identified as a Herald columnist, and email, where he has the Herald in his signature.
“How arrogant and foolish you are,” he said to one reader, while telling another, “Looking forward to hearing from you after you have joined the IDF and gone off to kill some kids. Reluctantly, of course. Until then, f. k off.”
He told another reader, Tanya Levin: “You are a vulgar and stupid bigot.” To another, he said: “What a ridiculous little wanker you are. F. k off.”
Sydney father Yury, who did not want his surname published for security reasons, said he was shocked when, after writing to complain to Carlton, he received a torrent of abuse.
“You’re the one full of hate and bile, sunshine. The classic example of the Jewish bigot. Now f. k off,” Carlton emailed him. He later wrote: “Go f. k yourself. I gather you are some sort of jumped up hotel waiter. What a pathetic wanker you are. And A-grade liar. Anything from you in future goes straight to trash, unread.”
Yury, 36, said columnists who included their email address under their articles should be able to engage in polite discourse. “Lots of us have tried to write to Carlton to explain the inaccuracies in his articles, but you get back this ­offensive language,’’ he said.
University of Sydney media and communications graduate Allie Pollak, 25, wrote to Carlton articulating her view on his columns. 
“In my humble opinion you could be using your valuable real estate much more wisely by investing your eloquence and intelligence to shed light on how a troubling but ultimately resolvable saga could do with a whole lot more pressure for peace and a call to end the blame game,’’ she wrote. 
Despite the polite nature of her email, Carlton fired back: “As a ‘communications graduate’ you really do need to discover the dangling participle. And do something about it.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said Carlton’s responses to some of his readers were racist and showed an intolerance of views that differed from his own.
“One expects more temperate language from a senior writer using the Herald’s Twitter handle and email account...
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Yair Miller said there was no place for the type of language and the tenor in Carlton’s responses. 
“It is clear that his responses are as devoid of substance as are his columns on this issue...His clear lack of any sensible and tangible responses leads to a response that is vulgar and offensive.”
“This is not the first time Mr Carlton has resorted to abusive responses to members of the Jewish community over many years and we are glad the SMH editors are now aware of this...’’
...Defamation senior counsel Bruce McClintock said some of the Herald’s readers would have grounds to pursue legal action if they wished. “Calling someone a bigot on Twitter, in the public ­domain, is clearly defamatory. Undoubtedly,’’ he said.
Carlton was also rude to a former Fairfax director, businessman David Shein, who complained, telling him: “You must be nuts. I fear so.” Mr Shein, a board member from 1999-2000 and now an investor in start-up companies, has organised a meeting with Goodsir next week to discuss the Herald’s coverage of the Israeli conflict. “After 28 years, I’ve cancelled my subscription over the one-sided coverage. It’s completely unbalanced reporting of a tragic situation for all parties involved,’’ he said.
...A Fairfax source said there was dismay at management and newsroom level that Carlton had been permitted to get away with such behaviour. Mr Corbett refused to comment when contacted by The Australian on Monday, other than to say: “My company is defended in its editorial today.”
Under the headline “We apologise: publishing cartoon in original form was wrong”, the editorial acknowledged the cartoon “closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany”.
In his statement, Goodsir said it was a basic principle “that our staff, columnists and contributors should always behave with ­respect and courtesy”.

Mike Carlton sued for racial vilification

From The Australian, 14 Aug 2014, by Sharri MarksonMedia Editor:
...the Racial Discrimination Act will be used in a complaint against The Sydney Morning Herald over its anti-­Semitic cartoon and the accompanying article by former columnist, Mike Carlton.
A Sydney engineer, Wayne Karlen, 60, has lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission ­arguing the publication of the cartoon and column caused offence to Australian Jews.
Mr Karlen also referenced the subsequent abuse of readers by Carlton, stating in the complaint that The Sydney Morning Herald has committed an unlawful act within the meaning of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“This cartoon racially vilifies Jews and the similarity to Nazi propaganda compounds the distress to those of us that had relatives fight and die in WWII,’’ he said. “The absence of a strong formal censure for publishing this racist and offensive material conveys an appearance of official acceptance of same.”
Mr Karlen, who is not Jewish, said he decided to lodge the complaint on Tuesday after the ABC’s Media Watch defended the cartoon and Carlton the night before.
“The suggestion by the public broadcaster and others that this cartoon is acceptable must be refuted in the strongest terms and those responsible for its dissemination must be held responsible...The publication of this cartoon has caused offence to and racially vilifies Jews and was done to portray Jews as murderers of men, women and children for entertainment. The publication of this cartoon has caused intimidation and contributed to the Jewish community becoming afraid for their safety living in Australia and has offended their friends and supporters.”
In addition to Mr Karlen, The Australian understands at least one member of the Jewish community has also lodged a complaint with the commission under section 18C, although Jewish ­organisations have stated they will not be taking similar action in light of the Herald’s apology.
Mr Karlen suggests the Herald should ­be publicly censured and receive a “significant fine” that could be donated to an accredited Jewish charity.
Carlton resigned after Fairfax moved to suspend him when emails and tweets surfaced showing his repeated abuse of readers using inappropriate language.

Section 18C of the act makes it unlawful anything that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimated groups of people on the grounds of race, ethnicity or national origin....

12 August 2014

Separating fact from fiction and dispassionate legal analysis from propaganda

From Canberra Times, August 11, 2014, by Alex Ryvchin, public affairs director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry:

In armed conflict, fact and truth are often trumped by emotion. Sober analysis gives way to crude comparisons of body counts that disregard the fighting methods of the combatants or their differing regard for human life. Graphic images of death are posted on social media with little understanding of the true story behind them, in an attempt to compel us to condemn one side and beatify the other. The language of international law is misappropriated to confer emotional condemnations of one side with the false veneer of impartial analysis.
Take for example, the accusation that Israel’s response to Hamas is “disproportionate”. British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made the claim in a recent opinion piece, in which the Liberal-Democrat leader also urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas, an entity constituted for the sole purpose of bringing about Israel's demise.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof made the same accusation, relying on a simplistic comparison of civilian casualties. “One principle of international law is proportionality of response,” Kristof said, “but so far Israel has lost three civilians, Gaza has lost 1033.”
Proportionality in armed conflict has nothing to do with equality of casualties, or even equality of firepower. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, proportionality weighs the direct anticipated military advantage of a strike against the expected incidental loss of civilian life.
The “anticipated military advantage” of Israel’s military actions in Gaza is clear. It is the removal of the direct threat posed to the lives and wellbeing of 8 million Israeli citizens (Jewish and Arab) by Hamas rocket attacks and the new and arguably greater threat posed to Israeli civilians by an elaborate network of tunnels from Gaza which lead directly to towns and villages on Israel’s sovereign territory.
The discovery of long, sophisticated underground passages, kilometres in length, running from under homes in neighbourhoods like Shejaiya in Gaza and ending underneath the homes and dining halls of Israeli communal farms and villages in the south, demonstrates the military advantage, indeed necessity, of Israel striking against the tunnels. The enormity of the threat posed by the tunnels was underscored by evidence that Hamas had been planning an attack involving hundreds of fighters emerging from such tunnels to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians on an unprecedented scale.
To test proportionality simply by comparing civilian casualties on both sides produces a rather perverse interpretation of a clear and unambiguous concept of international law. It suggests that Israel would be more justified in striking Hamas targets if only Hamas were better at killing Israeli civilians.
As the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, explains: 
“A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians [principle of distinction] or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage [principle of proportionality]."
Commenting on Israel’s efforts to reduce civilian casualties, the former commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, concluded that 
“everything the Israeli Defence Force does to protect civilians and to stop the death of innocent civilians is a great deal more than any other army, and it's more than the British and the American armies".
A further pseudo-legal accusation against Israel is that it “collectively punishes” the Palestinians for the crimes of Hamas. Labor’s Anthony Albanese, recently made this claim.
The crime of collective punishment involves the deliberate and conscious imposition of penalties on innocent people as a reprisal for the acts of others. (Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention). For example, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, the Germans maintained a policy of shooting up to 400 Poles, randomly selected, as a reprisal for every German killed. It is a concept often confused with the inadvertent causation of civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures in times of armed of conflict.
It is without question that civilians have suffered during this conflict, as in all armed conflicts. However, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest, and ample evidence to disprove, that Israel has sought deliberately to impose penal or retributive punishments on people it knows to be innocent.
Throughout the conflict, Israel has enacted a series of measures to minimise and alleviate the suffering of civilians as far as possible.
Israel has operated a temporary hospital for Palestinians on the Israeli side of the Erez border crossing in co-operation with the Red Crescent. Israel has also kept open the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which 970 trucks have entered the Gaza Strip carrying food, fuel, medicines and medical equipment.
The clear aim of maintaining a humanitarian passage despite the intensity of the fighting is to spare the Palestinian people from undue suffering as far as possible, the antithesis of collective punishment.
Sensational allegations against Israel have invariably been made during previous outbreaks of hostilities, but these have frequently been disproved months or even years later once the facts have been known and reputations have suffered permanent injury. Immediately after Operation Cast Lead, the UN-commissioned inquiry headed by Justice Richard Goldstone claimed that Israel had intentionally targeted and killed civilians. Justice Goldstone publicly retracted these claims two years later and admitted that his conclusions were wrong.
Truth and justice seem like ethereal concepts when people are dying and war rages. Yet only by separating fact from fiction and dispassionate legal analysis from propaganda can we begin to move beyond conflict and towards resolution.

Demilitarize the Criminal Hamas

From SMH, 12 Aug 2014, by Mark Leibler, National Chairman of the Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council:

As of this writing, the war that raged between Israel and Hamas over the past month appears to have ebbed.
If it is over, it is only because Hamas finally made the decision that Australia and the world had been imploring them to do for weeks – that is, to stop committing the war crime of firing indiscriminate rockets on Israel.
You can criticise Israel’s handling of the war. You could – even before having all the facts and details of the battles between Hamas terrorists and the Israel Defence Forces – rush to judgment that the IDF could have done much more to reduce civilian casualties.
I would strongly disagree with you. I believe as more verifiable facts come to light of how the war was conducted on the Israeli side, there will be more evidence to exonerate the IDF from most self-serving allegations – originating primarily from Palestinian sources – as happened in the past, following outbreaks of fighting in 2009 and 2012.
You are free to criticise Israel. However, what you can’t do is try to excuse Hamas’ aggression by claiming that Israel turned its back on peacemaking with the Palestinians. That would be historical revisionism.
...Israel’s desire for peace even extends, to the extent it can, to its dealings with Hamas – an organisation committed to Israel’s destruction. Israel has maintained that as soon as Hamas agreed to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet – to recognise Israel, renounce terrorism and adhere to previous agreements signed with the PLO and Palestinian Authority – Israel would be prepared to negotiate with them. To this day, Hamas has not accepted even these commonsense baseline parameters.
Even in the absence of such reforms from Hamas, Israel had respected a ceasefire with Hamas since 2012, promising calm for calm. While Hamas rockets never completely stopped since then, they greatly slowed, and Israel exercised the utmost restraint to avoid escalating hostilities when they arose.
In the weeks leading to the current conflict, Israel once again attempted to de-escalate the situation, but was repeatedly scorned. Then, during the war, the IDF upheld a ceasefire in good faith on seven occasions. Some of those ceasefires were agreed to or even requested by Hamas, but all were violated by Hamas.
Hamas, it must be remembered, is a proscribed terrorist organisation and calls for a genocide against Jews right in its charter. It has never accepted Israel's right to exist ...Hamas has unceasingly used terrorism and violence to sabotage the chances for peace. During the 1990s and again in the 2000s with the Second Intifada, Hamas' preferred tactic was suicide bombing.
After the Second Intifada, when former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon built a fence to thwart the infiltration of suicide bombers into Israel, Hamas increasingly relied on rockets and mortars fired from Gaza to kill Israeli civilians.
In 2005, Israel ...withdrew from Gaza and also from an area of the West Bank, giving the Palestinian Authority an opportunity to show the world what a future Palestinian state could be like. Sadly, within two years, Hamas seized control in a bloody coup, and the biggest losers have been the Gazan people, who have been subject to oppressive, totalitarian Islamist rulers who embarked on an intensive militarisation campaign while ignoring their needs.
It was only after Hamas seized control that Israel instituted a defensive blockade – a move that has been endorsed as legal by the UN. Following years of concessions, the remnants of that blockade remain solely to prevent Hamas from developing its terrorism capabilities, which is precisely why Hamas is so intent on having this restriction removed.
Two key aspects of Hamas’ campaign of militarisation were a massive increase in rocket production and the interweaving of Hamas military assets into civilian neighbourhoods, including the digging of military tunnel shafts in apartment buildings and clinics, extending into Israel, and even the installation of hidden rocket launch sites in schoolyards.
This outrageous and unprecedented level of militarisation of civilian areas by Hamas is, of course, a flagrant violation of international law and, together with Hamas' tactical use of human shields – as detailed in their own captured training manuals – has been identified by analysts as the biggest reason for the distressingly high number of Gazan civilian casualties that have been encountered.
For the international community, it’s time to get to the root of the problem in Gaza. That problem is not the occupation. There is no occupation in Gaza, according  to most benchmarks of international law. In fact, one might well argue that it was the absence of occupation which allowed Hamas to develop its terrorism infrastructure since 2005. As for the West Bank, Israel has consistently shown a willingness to end its control there as part of a secure, realistic two-state peace resolution.
The problem, as ever, is Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organisation which keeps using Gaza's civilians as sacrificial lambs in an endless, senseless war it cannot possibly win, even by using every dirty, illegal trick in the book.
It is clear that as long Hamas has the means to attack Israel it will do so, at the cost of innocent lives of both Israelis and Gazans. To avoid future needless bloodshed, the international community should support Israel's call for any relaxation of the blockade and program of rebuilding and reconstruction to be linked to a carefully supervised demilitarisation of Gaza.
There is a word to describe a cynical regime that pours millions into rockets, terrorism tunnels and indoctrination towards martyrdom while refusing to invest in health, education, economic development or even fuel to run its power plant.
It’s criminal. 

07 August 2014

Pro-Israel speeches in Victorian Parliament

Extracts from the Hansard of Victorian State Parliament:

5 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 33
Gaza conflict
Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) -- As members may be aware, a letter condemning Israel's operation in Gaza was signed by MPs -- mainly from the ALP and the Greens -- from around the country. This letter blatantly provides comfort for Hamas, a terrorist organisation which shares a world view with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and al-Qaeda, with whom Israel is engaged in a life-and-death struggle. This letter is bereft of context and wrong in places. In brief, the facts are as follows.
This conflict was caused solely by the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, menacing and paralysing most people in that country. Israelresponded only after Hamas ignored several calls from Israel for calm.
Israel has now discovered an elaborate network of tunnels into Israel from Gaza which were intended to be used for a mass terrorist attack which would entail the slaughter and kidnapping of civilians. The people of no country, including Israel, should be expected to live under this double threat of rockets and tunnels. The civilian casualties in Gaza are tragic but are caused by the war crimes and actions of Hamas, who have targeted Israel's civilians from among its own civilian population, using them as human shields and even demanding that they stay in harm's way when Israel warns them to evacuate.
At times like this all Australians, especially MPs, should stand with Israel, our friend, our ally and fellow democracy. We must not give comfort to Hamas, a declared terrorist organisation with an ideology that threatens us all. I invite MPs from all sides of politics to come together and show their support for Israel.
6 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 10
Gaza conflict
Ms RYALL (Mitcham) -- In our concern for the civilian casualties we are seeing in so many parts of the world, we must ensure that as parliamentarians we condemn terrorism. Hamas is a terrorist organisation that uses innocent men, women and children as human shields. It stores and fires rockets from civilian locations including schools and hospitals. It has spent funds much needed for the welfare of people on rockets and terror tunnels designed to inflict maximum damage in Israel. Any country subject to terrorism has the right to defend itself. I do not believe for a minute that if we here in Australia were subjected to years of daily rocket attacks and tunnelling to inflict maximum damage on Australian soil we would not defend ourselves and try to shut down that continued terror being inflicted on our own people.
Terrorism in all forms must be condemned.
Israel should not have to live under the constant threats and actions of a terrorist organisation whose desire is to see it wiped from the map. All members of Parliament should show leadership, and we must be very careful when condemning a country for defending itself not to lose sight of the context and give legitimacy to a terrorist organisation that is driven to annihilate another country. Casualties in all circumstances are a tragedy. What we as parliamentarians should be doing is condemning terrorism in all circumstances.
6 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 8
Gaza conflict
Ms MILLER (Bentleigh) -- While we live in a wonderful part of the world where multiculturalism is celebrated, our friends in Israel are under constant rocket fire led by an internationally recognised terrorist organisation, Hamas. Unfortunately too many lives have been lost in the current conflict in the Middle East, but Israel has a right to defend itself and its citizens. What really concerns me is that we are now seeing anti-Semitic attacks from people who have brought the problems of Hamas and its hatred for Israel to our great state. Regardless of peoples' political views, there should be no place in Victoria for extremists who spout hate. People should have the right to feel safe in their homes and on our streets regardless of their religious or cultural beliefs.

7 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 62
Jewish community facilities
Mr NEWTON-BROWN (Prahran) -- I rise today to raise a matter with the Minister for Crime Prevention in regard to security funding for Jewish community facilities in Victoria, in particular those used by constituents of mine in the Prahran electorate. The action I seek from the minister is for him to determine whether any Victorian government grants are available to assist with the safety of Jewish organisations and their members.
The current conflict in Gaza has seen Israel defend itself from the terrorist organisation Hamas, and this has led to an increase in anti-Semitism in the community, with a horrific example in the last 24 hours -- not in Victoria, I might add.
Many of my Jewish constituents in Prahran have voiced deep concerns that these sorts of terrorist incidents could occur in our local community, and they have raised with me the need to improve safety measures in response to the increased threats and unrest towards the Jewish community.
Regrettably, the true nature of the Gaza conflict has been distorted via statements such as the Canberra Declaration on Gaza, which has been signed by over 70 Green and Labor MPs. There has been a spike in the level of hate directed towards Israelis and Jews in recent times. No person, whether in Israel or in my electorate of Prahran, or indeed anywhere else in Victoria or Australia, should be subject to unwarranted prejudice or the threat of harm. We must preserve and promote the great multicultural community of Victoria as the home of many cultures, where racial vilification is not welcome and safety should be assured.
It is on these grounds that I ask the minister to determine what assistance may be available in the crime prevention portfolio to help the Jewish community in my electorate of Prahran, and indeed in the neighbouring electorates of Caulfield, Bentleigh, Malvern and Albert Park and surrounding areas, to help them to respond to the safety issues associated with increased anti-Semitism in the context of the Gaza conflict.
7 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 9
Gaza conflict
Mr BAILLIEU -- As Victorians we are fortunate to enjoy a strong and peaceful multicultural community. But sadly little has changed in the Middle East. Hamas still launches airborne explosives into Israel's power station in Ashkelon even though it supplies the very power so essential to Gaza. Those attacks lead to continuing fighting and further fighting in turn. But it is clear these tragedies will not stop until Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and others acknowledge the rights of Israel to exist in the right of Israel to defend itself, and all parties do whatever is necessary to ensure that children are no longer the innocent and unacceptable victims of this conflict.

7 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 7
Gaza conflict
Mr ANGUS -- As a member of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel group I have had the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of Israel and the many significant contributions Israeli citizens have made in many areas, including innovation, science, health, education and agriculture. Some years ago I was privileged to visit Israel on a study tour organised by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. During that tour I visited the town of Sderot, a few kilometres from the Gaza border. As a result of terrorists in Gaza firing thousands of rockets towards the town over many years its residents have only 15 seconds to find shelter when they hear the code red alert. Every house has a bomb shelter, every bus stop doubles as a bomb shelter, as do the concrete snakes in the local playgrounds. The residents live their lives dominated by the need to stay close to shelter. It is an extraordinarily traumatic way to live.
The recent increase in both rocket and tunnel-based attacks on Israel by the terrorist organisation Hamas has resulted in Israel having no choice but to defend its citizens. Hamas's tactic of using civilians as human shields is deplorable and has tragically resulted in the death of and injury to many innocent people. My sympathy goes to the families of the innocent victims and soldiers killed in this conflict, and I trust that the current ceasefire holds and an end to the bloodshed is reached.

7 August 2014 ASSEMBLY
Page 5
Gaza conflict
Mr TILLEY (Benambra) -- During 2012 I was privileged to visit Israel as part of an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council delegation. It was an experience which left a deep impression, in particular a visit I made to the town of Sderot, a few kilometres from Beersheba and the Gaza border. When the residents of Sderot hear the code red alert, they have only 15 seconds to find shelter. Families have their lives dominated by the need to stay close to shelter. Post-traumatic stress disorder is pervasive in the community.
All war is a tragedy. Civilian deaths caused by conflict, regardless of whether the civilians come from Israel or Gaza -- or anywhere else for that matter -- are even more so.
Despite the histrionics of the left and those who constantly and consistently seek to vilify the free and democratic state of Israel, the current conflict has its genesis in the acts of terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and is made more tragic due to its barbaric human shield tactics. It should never be forgotten that Israel is forced to protect its people with weapons and Hamas uses people to protect its weapons.
I am proud to stand with Israel, and I hope for peace. There will only be a lasting peace if Hamas is demilitarised, which will require the efforts of the wider international community. To this end, I urge more members of this place and other democratic parliaments in our commonwealth which are privileged to meet in relative peace to stand publicly with the free and democratic state of Israel.
6 August 2014 COUNCIL
Page 71
Mrs KRONBERG (Eastern Metropolitan) -- My adjournment matter is directed to the Premier. The world is expressing its concern about the suffering of the people of Gaza, as Israel responds to the relentless missile bombardment it has had to endure from the terrorist group Hamas. We deplore the loss of life and the suffering in this conflict, especially when children are affected.
What is of increasing concern to me and to many here in Victoria, however, is the rise of anti-Semitism nowadays, seemingly because of what Israel has to do to protect its own people. In Europe, and in France in particular, Jew hatred and unbridled violence have escalated. People are chanting 'Death to the Jews'. Frighteningly, the attacks on Jews are largely ignored by Western media with the always paper-thin excuse that 'We are just being anti-Zionist, not anti-Jew'. That excuse has now been stripped away.
What we face as a result of Israel defending itself is blatant anti-Semitism in its many grotesque forms. The lesson for us here, as writer Melanie Phillips puts it, is that 'Anti-Jewish hatred is not just directed against Israel and the Jews of Europe. It is fuelling the Islamic war against the West. It is often said that the Jews are the --canary in the mine-- for the West itself'.
Right now a host of commentators are studiously ignoring the terror that Israelis live under, day in and day out, with thousands of missiles having been launched into populated areas of Israel since 2005. For me, this position defies all rational explanation. One has to ask, 'Why the selective memory? Why the total lack of understanding for the plight of Israel, surrounded by many enemies who state that they want all Israelis pushed into the Mediterranean?'.
We are now seeing the worst scenes of Jew hatred since the 1930s.
Even our own media in Australia has sanctioned that hideous 1930s Nazi-style cartoon just this week. By speaking out in Australia, where we still can, we can ameliorate the intensity of the fear the Jewish community feels by providing comfort and understanding. I grant that Hamas has won the public relations war, which is its stated intention. The people of Gaza have been brutalised by Hamas. They have been used as human shields and have been murdered when they have worked against Hamas's terrorism-fuelled interests.
In a stop press, the Hamas tunnel network, which now comprises 40 tunnels underneath the Gaza-Israeli border, was set to be activated during the Jewish new year holiday on 24 September this year, as a mass terror attack to result in tens of thousands of casualties with explosives placed underneath kindergartens in Israel. The action I seek of the Premier is for him to decry anti-Semitism in all of its guises.

7 August 2014 COUNCIL
Page 6
Mrs KRONBERG (Eastern Metropolitan) -- I rise to deplore anti-Semitism in all its grotesque forms, and to say that there is no place for anti-Semitism in Victoria. I want to refer to an article by Jeremy Jones in the 'Last word' section of the Australia/Israel Review. He said:
On the Facebook page of a Sydney-based group organising anti-Israel events, moderators permitted comments such as 'Jews ... have always been bloodthirsty', are 'whining about the Holocaust', have 'all the money in the world' and similar statements, interwoven with sinister suggestions that the Jewish community in Sydney's 'eastern suburbs' needed to become better acquainted with pro-Hamas protesters.
Just yesterday a school bus in Randwick in Sydney's eastern suburbs was stormed by a group of youths described as being aged between 16 and 18 years. They got on the bus, in which Jewish schoolchildren made up the majority of passengers, shouting, 'Death to Jews' and 'We will slit your throats'. The bus was carrying schoolchildren as young as five years old. This madness, which is continuing in our society, is a grave danger to us all.
The world is expressing concern about the suffering of the people of Gaza as Israel responds to the relentless missile bombardment it has had to endure from the terrorist group Hamas. Hamas does not care for its own people. It has brutalised its people. The people who stand up against Hamas have been -- --

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Elasmar) -- Order! The member's time has expired.

7 August 2014 COUNCIL
Page 5
Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- Over the last month graphic images have been broadcast in our media of casualties caused by the Middle East conflict involving Israel and Gaza. While it is absolutely shocking to witness any casualties of war, and particularly innocent children who have been caught up in this conflict, no country should have to live under constant rocket fire. It has been reported that in the last three weeks Israel has had over 3000 rockets fired at it by the known terrorist organisation Hamas.
I am making this statement because just over a year ago I had the opportunity to visit Israel. It was an extraordinary experience to visit this geographically small, democratic and resilient country, which has achieved so much in a relatively short period of existence.
I also visited and met people living in Sderot, a town very close to Gaza, which is currently under rocket fire, and which has been constantly under attack for literally years. The heartfelt stories of people living under constant attack still resonates with me today: of parents having to choose which child to take to a shelter if they were travelling in a car when an alert went off, of children only being able to play in confined spaces with the protection of concrete play shelters in the shape of giant caterpillars, of houses having their own bomb shelters and of street shelters every 100 metres or so. Why? Because people only have 15 seconds from the time an alert goes off to the time they have to find shelter. That is the reality of daily life for the people of Sderot.
I along with the world community want this conflict to end. As much as we all want peace in the region, I also acknowledge the right of Israelto exist and defend itself.

04 August 2014

The Israel-Hamas Conflict 2014: Dispelling the Myths

A publication of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry – August 2014 

MYTH: Israel is using "disproportionate        force" in its campaign against Hamas

Proportionality in armed conflict

Whilst the loss of innocent civilian is a tragic and inevitable consequence of war, the rule of proportionality in armed conflict prohibits “an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated (Article 51(5)(b) of Additional Protocol 1 to the Fourth Geneva Convention, 1977 – emphasis added).

As explained by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, whether a military response to a threat posed is proportionate is not determined by comparing civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict:

"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." (emphasis added)

Anticipated military advantage versus incidental civilian injuries

The anticipated military advantage” of Israel’s military actions in Gaza is the removal of the direct threat posed to the lives and well-being of 8 million Israeli citizens (Jewish and Arab) by Hamas rocket attacks. Even before the latest escalation by Hamas, there were more than 200 such attacks on Israeli civilian targets in the period between 1 January and 30 June 2014.  Hamas is in clear violation of Article 51(4) of Additional Protocol 1 to the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits “indiscriminate attacks” that are “not directed at a specific military target”.  Further, the discovery of a vast network of tunnels from Gaza under residential areas in Israel, arguably poses an even greater threat to Israeli civilians than rocket fire directed at Israel’s civilian population centres. 

The ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is also often referred to in arguments about proportionality. All the figures cited by the UN in the current fighting emanate from Hamas sources and cannot necessarily be relied upon. During the 2008-9 Gaza fighting, claims that Israel had killed far more civilians than combatants were ultimately exposed as a lie.  As Hamas eventually admitted, of the 1166 Palestinian deaths, 709 combatants were killed in combat, as the Israelis had maintained all along. That is, Israel killed approximately two combatants for each civilian. By comparison, in the 1991 Gulf war, a lawful war authorised by the UN, the ratio was 2.125 civilian deaths for each enemy combatant killed. In the 2003 Iraq war it was 4.5 civilians per enemy combatant. In attacks by drone aircraft in Afghanistan, on average 10 civilians died for each enemy combatant killed.

Hamas’s violations of the laws of war, do not preclude Israel from attacking military targets which Hamas has deliberately embedded in civilian areas, although Israel must give civilians warning of attacks and try to keep civilian casualties to a minimum:

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations. (Article 51(7), Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions 1977)

Protecting civilian life

Israel has gone to far greater lengths than other military forces to avoid civilian casualties. It forewarns civilians via leaflets, text messages, phone calls and other means of the time and place of impending operations (even if this means prejudicing their military effectiveness) and provides maps showing civilians where to go to be safe. 

In respect of Israel’s efforts to prevent suffering of civilians in the vicinity of the conflict zone, Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, made the following assessment on 24 July 2014:

“I believe that on the basis of everything that I've seen, that everything the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) does to protect civilians and to stop the death of innocent civilians is a great deal more than any other army, and it's more than the British and the American armies."

In contrast, Hamas has deliberately exposed Palestinian civilians to harm. On three occasions during the current conflict, the United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has found Hamas rocket caches in schools in the Gaza Strip, turning UN-operated facilitates for children into legitimate military targets. According to the BBC, "witnesses and analysts confirm that Hamas fires rockets from within populated civilian areas.” Amnesty International assessed that Hamas endangered its civilian by deliberately firing on Israeli targets from homes. The United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes accused Hamas of "reckless and cynical" use of civilian facilities during the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, and concluded that this, as well as indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli civilian populations, are clear violations of International Humanitarian Law (Articles 51 – 54 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions 1977).

MYTH: Israel's campaign against Hamas        "collectively punishes" Palestinians 

Collective punishment and international law

The prohibition against collective punishment under international law is derived from the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land 1907 (Article 50);  the Third Geneva Convention 1949 (Article 87 – Imposition of penalties on prisoners of war) and the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 (Article 33 - Individual responsibility, collective penalties, pillage, reprisals).  These provisions are generally accepted as declaratory of customary international law.

Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is especially apposite. It provides that, “no persons may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

The crime of collective punishment involves the intentional imposition of penalties on innocent people as a reprisal for the acts of others.  It is a legal concept which is often confused with the inadvertent causation of civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures in times of armed of conflict. 

Minimising suffering of civilians

It is without question that most regrettably civilians have suffered during the current hostilities in Gaza, as has occurred in all armed conflicts. Evidence of widespread suffering of civilians caught in the middle of a conflict is not evidence that the suffering has been intentionally caused. There is absolutely no evidence to support, and much to contradict, the assertion that Israel has intended to harm civilians. 

Far from holding the civilian population of Gaza passively responsible for the crimes of Gaza’s armed terrorist factions, or imposing penal or retributive punishments on innocents, Israel has taken extraordinary precautions to warn civilians of impending attacks and to direct them to safe areas, even to the point of prejudicing the military effectiveness of its operations, and has also enacted a series of measures to minimise and alleviate the suffering of civilians as far as possible.

For example, Israel has operated a temporary hospital for Palestinians on the Israeli side of the Erez border crossing in cooperation with the Red Crescent. The field hospital contains an emergency room, laboratory, pharmacy, paediatric ward, ambulatory clinic, gynaecology unit, family and internal medicine, and is equipped to treat dozens of patients.  As at the end of July, Israel had coordinated 31 back-to-back ambulance procedures. 247 Jordanian field hospital staff members crossed into Gaza to replace their colleges. 1000 units of blood from Jordan and the Red Cross were transferred to Gaza.

Despite the intensity of the fighting, Israel has also kept open the Keren Shalom border crossing, through which 970 trucks have entered the Gaza Strip carrying food, fuel, medicines and medical equipment.

The clear aim of maintaining a humanitarian passage is to spare the Palestinian people from undue suffering as far as possible, the antithesis of collective punishment.

Sensational allegations against Israel have invariably been made during previous outbreaks of hostilities, but these have frequently been disproved many months or years later. Immediately after the 2008-9 Gaza fighting, the UN-commissioned inquiry headed by Justice Richard Goldstone claimed that Israel had intentionally targeted and killed civilians. Justice Goldstone publicly retracted these claims two years later, after the damage to Israel’s reputation had been done. Claims that Israel had killed far more civilians than combatants were also ultimately disproved (see above).

MYTH: Gaza is under “siege”

Palmer Commission and lawful blockade

In September 2011, a panel of inquiry chaired by former New Zealand prime minister and professor of law, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and commissioned by the UN Secretary General found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was legal under international law and was a “legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza” given the “real threat to Israel’s security from militant groups in Gaza.”

These “legitimate security measures” are evidenced by the frequent interceptions of Iranian vessels bound for Gaza loaded with sophisticated missiles capable of delivering devastating payloads throughout Israel.

Flow of consumer and humanitarian goods

The legality of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade notwithstanding, the free flow of consumer and humanitarian materials shows that Gaza is not under “siege”. Food and supplies are transported to Gaza six days a week via Israel’s border crossings in co-ordination with both international aid organisations and Gaza’s private sector. On average, Israel coordinates the transfer of more than 15,000 tons of supplies each week. 

In 2010, Israel lifted a restriction on the import of numerous items with a dual civilian and military use, including cement and building supplies, in order to facilitate construction in the coastal enclave for civilian and commercial purposes. Israel’s current operation in Gaza has uncovered a highly sophisticated network of tunnels penetrating deep into Israeli territory, constructed using an estimated 800,000 tonnes of cement. A tunnel discovered by Israeli engineers in February 2013, 1.7km in length, would have alone required 500 tons of cement, enough to build a three-storey hospital.

Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Rome Statute makes it a war crime to conscript or enlist children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or use them to participate actively in hostilities. To the extent that this particular provision represents a rule of customary international law, it is binding on commanders of irregular armed forces or groups like Hamas, who have violated the rule by conscripting or enlisting young Palestinian children for the purpose of constructing tunnels for combat operations. A report in the Journal of Palestine Studies found that some 160 Palestinian children died during tunnel construction.

MYTH: Gaza is “occupied

Occupation and international law

A territory is considered “occupied” under international law “when it is placed under the authority of the hostile army [and the occupation] extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.” (Article 42 of the Hague Convention 1907).

Article 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that the occupation will continue as long as the occupying power “exercises the functions of government” in the territory.

Case law and state practice has consistently used the term “effective control” to describe the conditions necessary for an occupation to exist.

Specifically, occupation requires “the exercise of governmental authority… the exclusion of the established government... and the establishment of an administration to preserve law and order.” (United States v List (“Hostages Case”) (1948)).

Hamas and “effective control” of Gaza

The total withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and civilian population from the Gaza Strip (completed on September 12, 2005), ended Israel’s occupation of the territory.

Although Hamas candidates won the most seats in legislative elections in 2006, Hamas illegally seized executive power in the Gaza Strip by the violent ouster of the rival Fatah faction in June 2007. Since that time, Hamas has exercised absolute control over all government and administrative functions in Gaza, including the enactment of laws and promulgation of regulations which Hamas has the capacity to enforce, and does enforce, often brutally. 

Since August 2005, Israel has not exercised any governmental control or administrative authority in Gaza, including control over law and order. The fact that Israel has control of some of the borders and the airspace does not give it effective internal control of Gaza. All aspects of governmental and administrative control have been assumed by Hamas.

MYTH: Hamas has a right to “resist”

The right to resist under international law

International law recognises a highly qualified and limited right to use force to resist “alien occupation.” (Article 7 of United Nations Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) (1974)).

Leaving aside the fact that Gaza is not under Israeli occupation under international law, a position which would immediately preclude Hamas from claiming any lawful right to resist, if Hamas did have such a right it would still have to be exercised “in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations”: (Article 7, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) (Definition of Aggression); Article 1(4), Additional Protocol 1 to the Fourth Geneva Convention) 

This means that the right to use force in ‘resistance’ to occupation, does NOT extend to the use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of other States – including the State that is suppressing them (UN Charter – Article 2(4)). 

Further, the right to use force applies only if the peoples concerned have attempted in good faith to “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”.  (UN Charter – Article 2(3)). 

Finally, the only force which is permissible is that which respects human rights and … fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”.  ((UN Charter – Article 1).  

Hamas comprehensively fails to meet each of these conditions. Its Charter calls for Israel to be “obliterated” (preamble) and for the killing of Jews (Article 7, final paragraph). It declares that peace negotiations are “a waste of time” (Article 13).

If the force used in “resistance” is such that, if carried out by a state, it would violate international humanitarian law (the laws of war), it is as unlawful as if carried out by a state. A key requirement of international humanitarian law is the obligation to distinguish between civilian and military targets (Articles 48 and 51, Additional Protocol 1 to the Fourth Geneva Convention); and not to attempt to use one’s own civilians and civilian structures as ‘shields’ for military purposes targets (Articles 51 – 54).  Hamas clearly violates these requirements (see above).