16 December 2015

ASIO boss errs in Islam swipe at Tony Abbott

From The Australian, 17 Dec 2015, by Greg Sheridan:
Illustration: Sturt Krygsman
ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis and, to some extent, Malcolm Turnbull have combined to damage ASIO by embroiling it, in a completely improper way, in a domestic partisan political issue.

I have never seen a director-general make such a fundamental and foolish misjudgment about ASIO’s proper role.

Last Sunday in the News Corp Australia papers, Lewis had an interview with Samantha Maiden in which he made comments about the proper way to talk about Islam. Lewis said unnamed irresponsible people were fuelling a backlash against Muslims and that this was “dangerous” to national security.

Lewis went on to say, uncontroversially, that there was a need to work closely with the Islamic community “to secure the outcome we want, which is the security of the country”.

He further said “that the estrangement, should it occur with the Muslim community here, would be very unfortunate for our operations. It impacts negatively on what we are trying to do”.
Lewis added, “I don’t buy the notion the issue of Islamic extremism is in some way fostered or sponsored or supported by the Muslim religion.

“I think it’s blasphemous to the extent that I can comment on someone else’s religion.”

The interview was conducted last Thursday. The day before, on Wednesday, Tony Abbott, the prime minister three months ago, had written an opinion piece in the News Corp Australia tabloids arguing that Islam needed reform. In it Abbott said that “most Muslims utterly reject terrorism” and he warned against “demonising Islam generally”.

However, Abbott also said: “We can’t remain in denial about the massive problem within Islam.” Abbott argued Islam had never experienced either a reformation or the Enlightenment and had consequently not developed acceptance of the separation of church and state and of pluralism.

Abbott also quoted polls that show a large minority of European Muslims supports extremist aims, if not terrorist methods.

He praised international Islamic leaders who also argue their faith needs to modernise. In perhaps the most clumsy part of his piece he called for more cultural robustness and that people should be happy to proclaim the superiority of Western civilisation over that strand of Islamic extremism which justifies killing people in the name of God.

One or two sentences were definitely clumsy, but the comments were within the bounds of reasonable debate.

However, Abbott was not alone. Reading back through interviews and contributions in parliament, you could add Peter Dutton, Josh Frydenberg, Scott Morrison, Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar, Alan Tudge, ­Andrew Nikolic, George Christensen, Angus Taylor, Eric Hutchinson and quite a few others to the list of politicians who supported an open, honest and of course respectful discussion about Islam. and made comments which would offend the Lewis standard of what is acceptable for politicians to say.

All through last week ASIO was briefing journalists, on a notionally not for attribution basis, that it opposed the thrust of what Abbott was saying, though it is not clear Abbott’s name figured in the briefings.

Certainly offending the Duncan Lewis standards of acceptable speech was Peter Costello, the former treasurer and former deputy leader of the Liberal Party. Costello sat on the National Security Committee of cabinet for 12 years and no one ever accused him of religious prejudice or being a threat to national security.

In an article last month, Costello wrote: “After each atrocity, complacent political leaders trot out the same platitudes — it has nothing to do with Islam, etc. It is wearing thin with the public. All these attacks are coming from people who subscribe to one religion, which is not Catholic or Protestant or Jewish or Buddhist or Yazidi. Plainly it has something to do with Islam.”

Lewis has rung a number of Coalition politicians to tell them in effect that if they do not use Turnbull’s softer form of words on Islam, they are in danger of becoming a threat to national security. In the Lewis formulation, Costello is surely a threat to national security.

When we speak of anyone’s religion we should do so carefully and with some sensitivity. But Muslims, like everyone else in a free society, deserve to have their beliefs subject to searching scrutiny.

But for sure it is no part of the role of the director-general of ASIO to get involved on one side or other of a legitimate partisan debate within Australia, even if that partisan debate is within the government rather than between government and opposition.

Lewis’s actions and words have drawn private condemnation from government frontbenchers and backbenchers, from serving and former national security figures, and from very senior former politicians other than Abbott.

All the former very senior national security figures I have consulted consider it at the very least a serious misjudgment by Lewis.

The context is everything. Lewis gave his interview the day after Abbott’s article appeared and in the week of Abbott’s speech in Singapore that made mention of the same subject, and a few days after his interview with Paul Murray on Sky News.

Turnbull could not address the media without being hounded for a response to Abbott. Maiden, a first-rate journalist, naturally juxtaposed Lewis’s comments with those of Abbott.

Lewis’s comments could only be read as slapping down Abbott and all the other Liberals who had made comments critical of the Grand Mufti of Australia, or calling for a discussion about Islam.
There are only two possible interpretations. The first is that Lewis intended to slap down Abbott. If this is true, then Lewis has gravely exceeded his brief and interposed the security agency into a direct political role that is wrong in principle and dangerous in practice.

If Lewis did not intend to slap down Abbott, then it was an astonishingly incompetent strategic communication, because that is how everybody has interpreted the remarks.

Either way, it’s a very poor show from Lewis.

This is not a question of being fair to Abbott. It is not about Abbott at all. It is about the integrity and role of ASIO and the nature of free speech in Australia.

The other question is whether Lewis was prompted to make these remarks.

The Prime Minister’s Office is insistent that it played no role in getting Lewis to give the anti-Abbott interview to Maiden. The Attorney-General’s office was informed that the interview was taking place and was informed, after it took place, of its general contents.

The interview had been requested some time before, but of course directors-general of ASIO have countless newspaper interview requests. Deciding to accept one, and the timing and content, are a proactive strategic choice.

Several Liberals believe Turnbull’s office played a role in priming Lewis to say what he said and to make the phone calls he has made.

Several of the most senior national security figures of the past told me they could not believe the head of ASIO would do such a thing without political guidance.

Lewis is wrong in substance to say extremism bears no relation to Islam. He is wrong in principle to inject ASIO into a legitimate political debate. This is reminiscent of the ASIO of old at its worst.
Turnbull is profoundly wrong to keep quoting ASIO as his authority for the way he talks about Muslims. This is a complete misuse of the moral authority of ASIO, which derives from its apolitical, technical competence. All sides of politics have striven mightily in recent decades to depoliticise ASIO. It is irresponsible to tamper with that.

I have been writing about ASIO for nearly 40 years. It is a magnificent organisation full of dedicated professionals who labour long and hard to keep Australians safe. It deserves our thanks. The last time I wrote a critical column about ASIO was in the early 1980s. But its DG is accountable for what he says, like everybody else. In this hopefully isolated incident, Lewis, a profoundly admirable man in general, has performed very poorly.

14 December 2015

Resolution adopted by the State Executive of the Labor Party in WA on the current violence in Israel

Luke Walladge, Adviser at Office of Senator Joe Bullock, announces:
  • Delighted to see WA Labor accept our motion unanimously this evening, standing in support of or fellow liberal, tolerant, secularist democracy Israel.
  • Disappointed to see some delegates abstain from the vote, and even more disappointed to see one delegate insist that the abstainers' names not be noted.
  • I'd have thought that a motion condemning murder was worthy of support, and that anyone who didn't agree might have put their name to it. If you're ashamed of your own position, it's time to reconsider it.
  • However, what's important is WA Labor's stance - that murder is wrong, that terrorism is never justified and that those who excuse these things are to be repudiated. May it ever be so.

The resolution is as follows:

That the Swan Valley branch:

Condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks on Israeli civilians carried out throughout Israel and the West Bank by Palestinian terrorists, frequently targeting children and the elderly, which have left dozens of Israelis dead or injured;
Deplores the acts of incitement by Palestinian clerics and political leaders which have precipitated the current violence, including inflammatory declarations by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which appeal to racism and claim that “Jews have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet,” and calling upon the Palestinian people to “spill blood in Jerusalem”;
Rejects any attempts to draw a moral equivalence between Israeli victims of terror and Palestinian perpetrators whether in media reports or public statements by Australian political leaders;
Conveys condolences to the Government of Israel and its people, particularly to victims of terrorism and their loved ones;
Rejects claims that the ‘root cause’ of these attacks is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and settlement construction, noting that the Arab rejection of peaceful co-existence with Jews pre-dates both the occupation and the commencement of settlement building in 1967, and even pre-dates the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, noting for example the religiously motivated massacre of Jews by Palestinian Arabs in Hebron in 1929;
Affirms: the rights and duties of the Israeli authorities to take appropriate measures to defend and protect its population from terrorism

RECOMMENDATION: That the motion be referred to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

13 December 2015

Debate turns ugly at National Union of Students Conference

From an AUJS MEDIA RELEASE 10th December 2015, by Julian Kowal / December 10, 2015:
A debate on “ethno cultural policy” at the National Union of Students (NUS) Conference on Wednesday nearly ended in violence after it was hijacked by an aggressive group of far-left student delegates.
The group had controversially put forward a motion that referred to Israel as “an apartheid state” and accused it of “ethnic cleansing”. It said that in the event of future hostilities between Israel and its neighbours, regardless of which side is at fault, “NUS will issue statements in solidarity with the Palestinian people” and “will take steps to enact, where practicable, a boycott of Israel”.

A conservative Palestinian student, a member of the Liberal club, was due to speak against the motion, but was prevented from doing so when some of the far-Left delegates stormed the stage, stole the microphone from his hand and moved a gagging motion against his right to speak. A number of NUS Delegates have also charged that proponents of the motion used gross racist language during the course of the melee.

“The supporters of the motion yelled the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Ashkenazi Jews’ as terms of abuse”, AUJS National Political Affairs Director, Julian Kowal said. “Their speech and behaviour was indistinguishable from that of the antisemitic fascist student unions of an earlier era.”

“ Overt Anti-Semitism could not be expressed in more simple terms than using the term “Jew” with the intention to defame or insult another individual.” AUJS is deeply concerned that the NUS conference is a space in which students feel comfortable to use “Jew” as an insult.

According to Kowal, Jewish students have been harassed, abused and assaulted numerous times at several Australian campuses in recent years. He named the University of Sydney as one of the worst for Jewish students. “We are simply not free to express our opinions if we support Israel, or even to wear clothing that identifies us as Jewish - some Jewish students have been abused, identifiable only by their religious head-covering”, he said.

“We report all assaults and incidents of harassment and intimidation, and the University authorities have admitted that they have a problem with racism and intolerance of so-called 'non-radical' views on campus, but they have done nothing to address this poisonous culture. There is a growing feeling of isolation amongst Jewish students.

"This motion is just the tip of the iceberg.” Kowal lashed the supporters of the motion as “people who cannot handle contradiction”. He accused them of “having a simplistic, reductionist mindset”.
“The fact that they had to resort to violent behaviour and overt racism, and censored a student from speaking in order to get their motion passed, shows that they are cowards who are afraid of the truth.
University authorities should not allow anybody, especially these fanatics, to behave as self-appointed censors and arbiters of ‘correct opinion’ on campus.”.

07 December 2015

London School of Economics removes ‘contemptible’ anti-Jewish blog posting by Western Australian academic

From Jewish News Online (UK), 4 December 2015:

[please note the 9 December 2015 update** below]

The London School of Economics has removed a “contemptible” anti-Zionism article which accused Israel of treating Palestinians as “sub-human” and described Zionism as being based on “superiority and entitlement”. 

The blog post, entitled “Delegitimising through Dehumanisation: Palestinian ‘human’ rights denied”, was written by academic Dr Sandra Nasr and conflated Zionism with apartheid – as well as accusing Israel of oppressing Palestinians with a “colonial plan” It was described as “contemptible” by Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush. 

Western Australian academic Dr Sandra Nasr

Dr Nasr – a lecturer in Middle Eastern politics at [the Fremantle campus of] Australia’s Notre Dame University – wrote on LSE’s student-run human rights blog: “Zionism, the ideological project to secure a Jewish homeland, relies upon notions of separateness, superiority and entitlement.” 

  She added: “Notions of ‘racial’ superiority are contained in Jewish scriptures and Rabbinical pronouncements have the effect of relegating ‘the other’ to a standard which is sub-human and, therefore, not deserving of the same considerations that are reserved for one’s ‘own kind’.”
Dr Nasr, an Amnesty International activist, also claimed Zionism amounts to deliberate “delegitimising” and “dehumanising” of Palestinians. 

The LSE has since removed the post, which was available for just under 24 hours, admitting its “editorial guidelines were not followed”. ...The Union of Jewish Students branded the now-removed post “dangerous”. It said: “This blog not only uses dangerous anti-Israel rhetoric, but also seeks to undermine passages of the Torah which can easily be seen as antisemitism. This type of rhetoric only goes to strengthen the concerns that Jewish students have at LSE, especially in light of the recent exhibition by LSE Palestine Society which used graphic imagery to remember the Palestinian terrorists that have been committing dreadful stabbings on a daily basis.
“It is frankly offensive that the writer of this blog has chosen to state that there are “armed Israeli lynch mobs roaming Jerusalem’s streets looking for anyone who looks ‘Palestinian’”, when Israelis are living in fear about where the next stabbing attack is coming from.”
**Update, 9 December 2015:
I wrote to the Vice Chancellor of the Fremantle campus of the University of  Notre Dame Australia and immediately received a considerate reply including the following:
  • The University of Notre Dame Australia has unreservedly stated that the opinions and comments expressed by Dr Nasr do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the University;
  • Dr Nasr’s blog posting was not endorsed or sanctioned by the University;
  • The University expresses its disappointment and apologies that comments causing such offence have been associated with the University;
  • The University is addressing this issue with due seriousness in accordance with its relevant processes; and
  • The Vice Chancellor has welcomed and accepted my invitation to meet early in the New Year to discuss these matters.

30 November 2015

Holocaust denier abuses High Court process

December 1, 2015 by J-Wire Staff:
A Supreme Court judge has concluded that Dr Fredrick Toben was using a defamation action in court to espouse his views questioning the Holocaust. His case against “The Australian” was dismissed and was described as an abuse of process.
Fredrick Toben, Holocaust denier
Fredrick Toben, who gained notoriety when his promotion of claims regarding Jews and the Nazi genocide were judged to be in breach of Australian law, and subsequently served jail time for contempt of court, has failed in yet another legal matter.
In this latest case, Toben, represented by Barrister Clive Evatt,  brought defamation proceedings against The Australian newspaper editor Clive Mathieson, Senior Reporter Christian Kerr and former Greens leader Christine Milne, after Milne’s description of Toben as a person who fabricated history and spread antisemitism was published by the paper.
Justice Lucy McCallum of the Supreme Court of NSW ruled that Toben had been  attempting to “manipulate the process of the Court to create a forum” in arguing the very propositions which he had claimed it was defamatory to accuse him of holding, those being Holocaust denial and broader antisemitic propositions.
In 2012, Toben failed in a similar case brought against Jeremy Jones AM, the Director of International and Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
In a comprehensive judgment, Justice McCallum outlined the series of legal matters relating to the promotion of racial hatred involving Fredrick Toben, which had commenced when Jones, in his capacity as an elected officer of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, had lodged a complaint to the Human Rights Commission on 31 May 1996.
Decisions in the Human Rights Commission and the Federal Court, in a series of judgements between 2000 and 2009, consistently went against Toben and in favour of Jones, culminating in Toben suing Jones in 2012  for allegedly for implying that Toben was an antisemite, had falsely said the influence of the Talmud was pervasive and falsely claimed that received knowledge of the Shoah was “a mass fraud perpetrated on humanity”.
The judgment by Justice McCallum detailed the grounds on which allegations had been made against Toben, their validity and Toben’s behaviour in various court proceedings.
Justice McCallum was satisfied that Toben was cynically attempting to represent himself as a philosophical enquirer when he was a person with firm views, and that he did not have “the least interest in vindicating his reputation”, but, simply was seeking a platform to promote views which the Federal Court had already found to be in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act...

18 November 2015

New Australian partnerships for The Technion

From J-Wire News Service, November 19, 2015:

The Technion in Haifa has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Macquarie University in Sydney and the University of Western Australia ...

Professor Wayne Kaplan, Peter Hersh and Professor Robyn Owens at the UWA signing
Professor Wayne Kaplan, Peter Hersh and Professor Robyn Owens at the UWA signing

“The Technion, Israel’s foremost high-tech, scientific and engineering university, is continuing to build collaboration with other leading universities throughout the world,” said Technion Australia president Dr Ruth Ratner.

“With its track record in innovation and particularly through its alumni, entrepreneurship, the Technion is a hotly sought after partner by the world’s leading universities. It receives two requests each day and as a relatively small university (13,000 students and 600 faculty) it has had to become selective in choosing partners.”

“In this context, for the Technion to sign agreements with two Australian universities within 6 months is a testimonial to the quality of research at these universities and a reflection of the high esteem that each holds for the other,” she said.

Asso. Prof Judirh Dawes, Dr Ruth Ratner, Prof. Sakkie Pretorius and Ken Lander at the Macquarie sig
Asso. Prof Judirh Dawes, Dr Ruth Ratner, Prof. Sakkie Pretorius and Ken Lander at the Macquarie signing

Both agreements facilitate student exchange and academic exchange as well as research collaboration.

The UWA agreement was signed by UWA Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Robyn Owens, and Technion Executive Vice President Research, Professor Wayne Kaplan, during the annual Technion Board of Governors’ Meeting. Australian Technion Governor, Peter Hersh, hosted a UWA delegation at the Governors meeting.

The Macquarie University agreement was exchanged at a small ceremony in Sydney by Technion Australia president and Australian Technion Governor, Dr Ratner, and Macquarie Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Sakkie Pretorius.

Technion Australia is working with UWA and the Technion Automated Systems Program to develop a major research collaboration in the area of automated system for marine gas engineering. The project was selected after discussions with a number of potential partners, industry groups and the Western Australia Government.

“Our aim is to develop a project that will benefit both Australia and Israel. UWA has a world leading position in marine gas engineering and the Technion has a similar reputation in automated systems. The continuing challenges of gas fields in the North West Shelf off Western Australia and new discoveries of gas off the coast of Israel make this a national priority in both countries,” Dr Ratner said.

Macquarie University has leading researchers in fields as varied as biblical archaeology, quantum physics, environmental sciences and biomedical engineering. Similarly to the Technion it is breaking new ground in multi-disciplinary research.

“There are already a number of individual collaborations underway and there is much enthusiasm at Macquarie to partner with Technion researchers in a major project,” Dr Ratner added.

The Technion also has agreements with University of NSW, Sydney University, University of Technology Sydney, Newcastle University, Melbourne University, Monash University and Swinburne University.

12 November 2015

inaugural Beer Sheva Dialogue between Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies

Senator Linda Reynolds 
Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (20:05): Last week, I had the great privilege of joining the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Tel Aviv as a participant in the inaugural Beer Sheva Dialogue between ASPI and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. It was my first visit to the Middle East, and it was an extraordinary, eye-opening time to be there, during the current period of regional upheaval and transition. You can only learn so much from books and maps, as this visit absolutely demonstrated to me.
The Australian delegation included ASPI staff, ably led by Anthony Bergin; the Australian Ambassador, Dave Sharma; my parliamentary colleagues Gai Brodtmann, the member for Canberra, and the Hon. Mark Dreyfus MP, the shadow Attorney-General. The delegation also included Mr Allan Gyngell, Major General Gus McLachlan and Major General Jim Molan, retired. The Israeli delegation was led by Professor Efraim Inbar, the irrepressible director of the Begin-Sadat institute. It included esteemed academics such as Dr Max Singer, founder of the Hudson Institute, and a wide range of senior military and civilian representatives of the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces. Most fittingly, this dialogue was named in honour of the famous charge of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade. The Australian embassy organised two wonderfully memorable commemoration ceremonies in Beersheba at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and at the Park of the Australian Soldier.
This most famous of battles is not widely known today amongst many Australians, but it was a decisive turning point in the First World War, so I would like to take a few moments to share the story with you. Ninety eight years ago, in October 1917, the outcome of the First World War was in no way preordained. At that time, the failure of the Dardanelles campaign, a military catastrophe in Mesopotamia and the setbacks on the Western Front had all combined to greatly damage the Allies' morale. The Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire and Germany were all holding fast. Two allied attempts to break the Turkish defensive line running from Gaza, on the coast, to Beersheba, 43 kilometres inland, had failed and the town of Beersheba itself remained in the hands of the Ottoman Empire. A last desperate push was required if Beersheba and its critically important seven wells were to be captured. It was essential to the success of the Commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, General Allenby's, campaign plan.
And so it was that, at 4.30 in the afternoon on 31 October, the 4th and 12th light-horse regiments of the 4th Brigade drew up behind a ridge some four miles south-east of Beersheba, and moved off. Following close behind were supporting forces from the 11th Light Horse Regiment and from the 5th and 7th mounted brigades. Facing sustained enemy fire but moving fast, the mounted infantry quickly fell upon enemy lines. They jumped the trenches, dismounted and then entered the trenches on foot, clearing them with both rifle and bayonet. Though outnumbered, the momentum and the sheer audacity of this surprise attack carried them through the Turkish defences. The light-horsemen took less than an hour to overrun these trenches and, finally, successfully enter Beersheba. The city was captured by nightfall and the Gaza-Beersheba defensive line was finally broken. It was the success and the desperation of the charge, late in the day and by mounted infantry, not mounted cavalry, that has earned it an enduring place in Australian history and also in the history of the First World War. Their success was due not only to their courage but also to their ability to take the initiative, take risks and be disruptive—characteristics that have continued to serve our nation well in successive generations of service men and women and are today seen in our innovators and our entrepreneurs.
At the Beer Sheva Dialogue, Major General Molan reflected on a question he and many of us in this place are often asked: why does Australia get itself involved so often in other people's wars? The simple fact is that we get involved as it is in our national interest to do so. Our national interests extend well beyond our sea borders. Australian military involvement in the Middle East continues today and it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Today, 1,700 ADF personnel are deployed in the Middle East on seven separate operations.
On my visit to Beersheba, I met Defence personnel at the Beersheba ceremonies serving in two longstanding regional operations. Firstly, I met personnel from Operation Paladin, which supports the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, UNTSO, which itself was established in 1948 to supervise the truce agreed at the conclusion of the first Arab-Israeli war. Since 1956, members of the Australian contingent have supported UNTSO, with 25 personnel currently on deployment in Operation Paladin. Secondly, I met personnel from Operation Mazurka, which supports the Multinational Force and Observers, a non-UN organisation established in 1981 to oversee longstanding regional peace agreements. We currently have 12 military personnel deployed in the Sinai, an increasingly unstable region with the rise of the ISIS affiliated Al Wilayat Sinai, now speculated to be responsible for the downing of the Russian MetroJet flight.
The Beer Sheva Dialogue was highly successful and both delegations discovered there is much to learn from one another. Discussions ranged across counterinsurgency, urban intelligence gathering, coalition war fighting, countering improvised explosive devices, the use of reservists, military procurement processes, and military and civilian resilience. Also in Israel at the commemorative ceremony, somewhat fittingly, was Minister Roy leading an innovation delegation. For me, one of the most significant insights from the trip was Israel's success in high-tech innovations, patents and start-ups. Today, Israel generates more start-ups and venture capital investment than Japan, China, the US, Canada or the UK. It was very clear to me that key to this success was the symbiotic link between Israel as a start-up nation and the Israeli Defence Forces ecosystem. As a result of this visit, I am delighted to advise that the Chief Scientist of Israel, Avi Hasson, a world expert on fostering an innovation ecosystem, has accepted an invitation to address the parliamentary friendship groups that I co-chair with Gai Brodtmann and Senator Dio Wang, the defence and innovation parliamentary friendship groups, later this month.
I would like to conclude by thanking both ASPI and the Begin-Sadat institute on the resounding success of this inaugural dialogue. But, as we all know in this place, successful events such as these never just happen. They are a result of extensive hard work by many people. So I give my particular thanks to ASPI. Peter Jennings, your team did an outstanding job. I give particular thanks to Mr Anthony Bergen, your deputy, and also to Mr David Lang, who successfully herded cats all around Israel and contributed to it being such a success. I also give my particular thanks to AIJAC—Mr Colin Rubenstein and Mr Ahron Shapiro worked very hard to make it the success that it was. I give a special acknowledgement and thankyou to Mr Zeke Solomon for your companionship and your support.
A very special thank you and acknowledgement go to our ambassador, Mr Dave Sharma, and to his team in Tel Aviv. They all provided very dedicated and very professional support, which, again, greatly contributed to the success of this visit.
Lastly, my particular thanks go to the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and in particular to Professor Inbar, the director of the institute, and to his large team. We hope that you realised as much benefit from this as the Australian delegation did, and we certainly look forward to future delegations and dialogues.

Finally, and, I think, most wonderfully, as a result of this delegation, on this eve of Remembrance Day, it was very clear that the legacy and spirit of our light-horsemen, who so distinguished themselves at Beersheba, live on. Lest we forget.

02 November 2015

Remarks by Senator Joe Bullock at a Peace Rally for Israel

1 November 2015

Thankyou very much.

In December last year, in Sydney, a man called Man Haron Monis walked into the Lindt café in Sydney armed with a shotgun and took 18 people hostage. The ensuing siege saw two innocent people die, including café manager Tori Johnson who was shot and killed by the gunman.

The hostage-taking terrorist was killed by police as they stormed the café. Does anyone think they were wrong to do so?

Last month, Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, a radicalised 15-year-old jihadist, shot and killed Curtis Cheng, an unarmed police civilian finance worker, outside the New South Wales Police Force headquarters in Parramatta.

In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the terrorist was subsequently shot and killed by special constables who were protecting the police station. Does anyone think they were wrong to do so?

His two confederates, who armed and trained him, were also arrested. Does anyone think it wrong of the police to do so?

Just one week ago, in La Trobe St in Melbourne, a man armed with a meat cleaver and calling himself a “messiah of Islam” held up a café for 2 hours before he was arrested and charged.

Does anyone think it was wrong of the police to do so?

These questions answer themselves. Every Australian would support our police forces, our emergency responders, in their goal of protecting the public from violent criminals out to do us harm.

And yet, on the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, a coordinated campaign of violence against Israelis – a campaign of stabbing innocent people as they wait for a bus or go to school – is met with the suggestion that Israel is to blame. That the victims of murder and attempted murder, targeted for no reason other than they are Jewish, are at fault for the crimes committed against them!

This has been described as Israel “continuing to wage a daily war against the Palestinians”. It has been called a war crime. Israel has been criticised for “disproportionate casualty numbers” and had it said that this ‘reflects the power imbalance between the parties”. In short, Israel has been blamed for violence against its own citizens and condemned for protecting them from terrorism.

This is wrong.

And we are here today say it is wrong.

We are here today to say that people deserve the right to live in peace. But we are also here to reject the double standards and the false morality that says while we would not accept violence on our streets here in Australia, somehow the Jews must accept it in Israel.

Because they are Jews.

My friends, this is not merely wrong, but dangerously close to anti-Semitism.

It springs from a worldview that says Israel is to blame for the latest violence – when it is the Palestinian leadership calling for its young men and women to go into the streets and stab innocent civilians.

It is of a piece with those, like the UN Secretary general, who call on Israel to show “maximum restraint” – while the Palestinian leadership calls “holy’ every drop of blood that is spilled in Jerusalem.

It shares the same false premise as those who say that Israel is the roadblock on the path to peace – when the truth is that every time the Israeli people have offered a settlement to the Palestinians they have been told, “no”.

My friend and colleague Michael Danby said a week ago that, "It's very wrong to compare people with knives in their hands to people with knives in their chests". He has never been more right.

We will have none of these false comparisons. We will have none of these excuses.

We stand with Israel not because we want to simply pick a side, pick a team, and barrack uncritically.
We stand with Israel because incitement to violence and the pursuit of genocide can never be justified. We stand with Israel because we stand against terrorism. We stand with Israel because we stand for the truth of history, for the principles of justice and peace and for the right of Israelis – Jewish, Arab, Druze or Christian – to live in peace and safety.

Friends, you know better than I that the tide of anti-Semitism is rising, even here in our multicultural and tolerant Australia. That the tide of anti-Israel sentiment, fed by lies, distortion and ignorance, rises as well.

Well, I want to say today that whether in the Parliament, in the Labor Party or in the community you have a friend in me.

There are many good men and women in the Parliament willing to stand up and speak for Israel – Senator Smith here today is one, as is my Labor colleague Senator Glenn Sterle. There are many good men and women in all parties fighting for the truth about Israel and standing up for the Jewish community.

We will continue to oppose terrorism - at home or abroad, in Australia or in Israel. We will continue to speak out against the cranks and fanatics who would blame the ills of the whole world on Israel. We will continue to do everything we can to combat anti-Semitism.

I call on the Palestinian leadership to renounce violence, to condemn terror attacks, to accept the right of Israel to exist as the national home of the Jewish people and to show a genuine commitment to peace.

I know you join me in this, and I know you will continue to support our efforts to see truth prevail.

I stand with you.

Senator Joe Bullock
Senator Joe Bullock was elected to the Senate in 2014, after nearly forty years representing shop assistants as an official of the retail employees association, the SDA. He has served on the ALP’s National Executive, as well as spending 19 years on WA Labor’s Administrative Committee and as the State Vice-President of Labor here in WA.

Since taking his seat Senator Bullock has been a strong and vocal supporter of Israel and of the Jewish community. In the wake of the Har Nof terror attacks in Jerusalem last year, his speech to the Senate standing in solidarity with the victims went viral around the world - particularly in Israel. He is known in the Labor Party and beyond for his principled approach to politics and his willingness to stand up for what is right, even if it might sometimes be unpopular or “politically incorrect”. As a committed Christian, he believes passionately in freedom of religion and the rights of all people to practise their faith free from fear or persecution. He’s back from Canberra this weekend and we value his support, not just today but over many years – Senator Joe Bullock.

Remarks by Senator Dean Smith at a Peace Rally for Israel

1 November 2015

Thank you for the chance to be here today at this important gathering, to show our support for Israel and say it is not good enough for the world to ignore what has been a despicable campaign of incitement, of violence and of murder against the citizens of that democratic state.
Australia is a stanch supporter of the state of Israel. We have been a strong supporter of Israel since its creation, and that support has flowed from governments of both political hues.

This is not a partisan issue, and I’m very pleased to have been joined here today by my WA Labor Senate colleague, Senator Joe Bullock.
Because however Australians choose to vote come election time, there are certain values that unite us.

And chief among those is our enduring belief that the citizens of a democratic nation have the right to live peacefully and be secure within their own borders.
What has been occurring recently, with the campaign of incitement to violence and the murder of Israeli citizens at the hands of terrorists offends every value that decent Australians hold dear.

No Australian of conscience could possibly hold sympathy with or defend the outrageous behaviour of some Palestinian clerics, who actively encourage their followers to murder Jews at random on the streets of Afula, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

No Australian of conscience could possibly support the words of Palestinian President Abbas – a self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ – who has told his people that “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure”, and said that murderers will be “rewarded by God”.
No Australian of conscience should be happy with a situation where new generations of Palestinians are having their minds poisoned through vile, anti-Semitic propaganda campaigns that only serve to make the already difficult goal of peace even more unlikely.

And to those Australians who think that what is happening in Israel is a long way away and doesn’t affect them, I simply point out that the values for which Israel stands – personal freedom and democracy above all else – are also the values for which Australia stands, and which Australians have fought and died to protect for generations.
I am proud to be here today with all of you, to stand with Israel and to say we reject the campaigns of hatred and of violence against Israeli citizens by the enemies of freedom and democracy.

Senator Dean Smith
Since becoming a Senator for Western Australia in May 2012, Dean Smith has been a strong voice for WA, and an active champion of WA regional interests, especially in the areas of telecommunications, road infrastructure and aged care.

He also took the initiative of reaching out to the WA Jewish Community, meeting our leaders and expressing his admiration and support for the community and for Israel.

In October 2015, he was elected to the position of Government Deputy Whip in the Senate.

He is very active in Parliamentary Committees on Public Works, Human Rights, Finance and Public Administration, the National Broadband Network, Northern Australia, and Public Accounts and Audit.

Senator Smith is a fervent believer in limited government, promoting personal responsibility and liberty, and strengthening Australian Federalism. Beginning in January 2015, he has been a regular columnist in Australia’s leading business and financial newspaper, The Australian Financial Review.

Prior to entering the Senate he had almost 25 years’ experience working across both State and Federal Governments. He worked as Principal Policy Adviser to former WA Premier Richard Court, an Adviser to former Prime Minister John Howard and various Federal Government Ministers.

Senator Smith also has 10 years commercial experience as a senior executive with Insurance Australia Group (IAG), and SingTel Optus.

28 October 2015

Incitement means no end in sight

From Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, 29 Oct 2015, by Ari Wenig:


Amidst the recent surge in violence and terror attacks in Israel, Palestinian[-Arab] men, women and children continue to be incited to violence against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Videos, cartoons, blogs and posts on social media are being used by Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian[-Arab] media, as a call-to-action for average Palestinian[-Arabs] ...to sacrifice their lives, and transform themselves into ‘martyrs’ for the cause of ...murder of Jews, and the destruction of the State of Israel.


The incitement is occurring both passively and actively, manifesting itself in direct calls for violence, as well as in the absence of condemnation of violence, as President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is yet to denounce any of the terrorism that has occurred in recent weeks.
Below is a photo posted by the Fatah student arm, calling for a demonstration at Quds University in Bethlehem.
The image below, showing a masked man brandishing a knife and holding up two fingers in a V for "Victory" was posted on the official Facebook page of the Fatah Movement with the text: "We'll be victorious or die."
Another cartoon encouraged more rock throwing, calling Palestinians to "Advance, advance." [Al-Ayyam, Oct. 9, 2015] The cartoon shows a Palestinian throwing a rock, with a Palestinian flag in the background.

Perhaps most frightening however, is the way in which the perpetrators of this terrorism have been glorified, celebrated, and honoured by the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and even [Arab] civilians.
Below is a translation of what was posted on the Official Facebook page of the Fatah Movement on October 26th, 2015, following an incident in which an Arab terrorist stabbed and seriously wounded an IDF soldier at a junction outside the Arab village of Bayt Einun, located just north of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank.
The path of the struggle: Palestinian National Liberation movement Fatah, North Hebron branch, escorts its Martyr (Shahid) son to his wedding. Raed Saket Abd Al-Rahman Jaradat, who carried out the stabbing operation at the Bet Anoun Junction

Another example of this can be seen in the case of terrorist Muhannad Halabi, who stabbed and murdered 2 Israelis, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennett, and injured Bennett's wife, Adele, and their 2-year-old son in the Old City of Jerusalem on October 3rd, 2015.
Not only was Halabi, the Palestinian law student, granted an honourary law degree, but the municipality of Surda-Abu Qash, where he lived, has decided to name a street after him. "This is in order to honor Halabi, who carried out a stabbing and shooting operation against settlers in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem," the independent Palestinian news agency Donia Al-Watan reported on October 14th, 2015,
"This is the least we can do for Martyr Halabi," Mayor Muhammad Hussein explained, insisting that naming the street after him is "intended to emphasize the national role played by municipalities."

Paying tribute to terrorists through naming in their honour has been adopted not only by municipalities, but by parents. The official Fatah Facebook page posted the picture below of a newborn Palestinian baby who has been named "Knife of Jerusalem." The picture is accompanied by the following caption:
 "A [Palestinian] civilian from Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip named his daughter 'Knife of Jerusalem.'"

Not only are terrorists being honoured for their actions, but those publicly supporting the terrorism are being rewarded for their participation in the recent uprising. Below is an inciting cartoon drawn by artist Al-Bukhari, who has recently been awarded for his publications.
According to Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official daily newpapaper of the Palestinian National Authority:
The president [Abbas] awarded the Order of Merit for Culture, Sciences and Arts to the creator and artist Al-Bukhari in recognition of his creative path in plastic arts and cartoons, and out of recognition of his life full of giving, actions, struggle, and beauty, in a way that fits Palestine and its resolute and full culture.
Here is an image of Bukhari receiving his award from President Abbas.

Furthermore, a large proportion of the incitement to violence is coming from a distortion of facts, and at times, blatant lies about the acts of terrorism being committed against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
For example, on October 18th 2015, Muhannad Al-Okabi - a 21-year-old Israeli Bedouin terrorist - entered the Be’er Sheva bus station with a knife and a pistol, murdering 19-year-old Israeli soldier Sgt. Omri Levy, then grabbing his automatic rifle to shoot at people in the station, wounding 11 others. Al-Okabi was shot and killed by Israeli police.
While the forum of Negev Bedouin council leaders strongly condemned the attack, stating that "The terrorist who committed this act does not represent any Bedouin residents, who favor coexistence and living together...", the following was posted on theofficial Facebook page of Advisor to PA Chairman Abbas on NGOs, and Fatah Central Committee member, Sultan Abu Al-Einein:
For a long time the Israeli enemy officials have been boasting about the strength of their army, and they have described it as an 'invincible army,' which has become the fourth strongest army in the world.  Yesterday, we saw the exact truth of this army: A [well-] armed army which was beaten by Martyr Muhannad Al-Okabi (terrorist who shot and killed 1 and wounded 11), and before him Muhannad Halabi (terrorist who stabbed and killed 2 and wounded 2), even though he was defenseless, and was not armed with anything but his right to his homeland and his Palestinian will - the same will which the great armies of the world have not been and will not be able to defeat or harm. How many messages of sacrifice are showing in this scene? Armed soldiers throwing down their weapons out of fear of Muhannad's knife, others seeking a wall or fence out of fear of you, hero that you are. We loved you, Muhannad. We loved you, while you sowed life for all Palestinians. We and the whole world saw soldiers flee, despite being armed with their weapons, the moment Martyr Muhannad [Al-Okabi] fell upon them, when he was 'defenseless' or 'pulling out a knife.' Thus he created another rung on the ladder of Palestinian praise, and has won the medal of honor as a Martyr whose name is engraved on every Palestinian's chest. Note: I advise the enemy to arrest everyone whose name is Muhannad. 

The post paints Al-Okabi as having been ‘defenseless’ and unarmed, with no mention of the soldier he killed, or the 11 people that he wounded.
With the incitement to violence strengthening, spreading, and self-perpetuating, it seems the end to this conflict is far from in-sight.