22 August 2016

WA Liberal Party Rejects the BDS Movement

The WA Liberal Party unanimously passed a motion at its annual State Conference rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The motion specifically called on the Federal Government to
"condemn any attempts by Australian organisations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement at home or abroad as well as take measures to prohibit such organisations from receiving support from or be associated with public agencies or government departments". 

State Vice President Anthony Spagnolo applauded the motion stating: 
“The BDS movement hurts Jewish businesses and further divides people instead of working towards a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The unanimous passing of this motion is testament to the WA Liberal Party’s longstanding support for the State of Israel.”

18 August 2016

Repeal of 18C would send 'worst possible message'

Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said if the Coalition backed a bill by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to remove “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the RDA, it would be the worst possible message.

“The removal of the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from section 18C would send a signal from government that the public promotion of racism will be tolerated in Australia and will no longer be considered to violate community standards...That would be the worst possible message to send at a time of increasing fear, insecurity and polarisation. It would be a serious abrogation of principled leadership by government.”

Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’
Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’ Photograph: Stefan Postles/AAP

Repeal of 18C would send 'worst possible message'

Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said if the Coalition backed a bill by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to remove “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the RDA, it would be the worst possible message.

“The removal of the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from section 18C would send a signal from government that the public promotion of racism will be tolerated in Australia and will no longer be considered to violate community standards...That would be the worst possible message to send at a time of increasing fear, insecurity and polarisation. It would be a serious abrogation of principled leadership by government.”

Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’
Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’ Photograph: Stefan Postles/AAP

16 August 2016

GetUp! ...and "force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety"

From The Australian, 16 Aug 2016, by Sharri Markson:
A director of activist group GetUp! supports a boycott of Israeli products and wants to “force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety”. 
Fresh from revelations GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison campaigned for the Greens during the federal election, comes news that another board member, Sara Saleh, publicly supports the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement on Twitter.

Sarah Maddison & Sara Saleh
In a speech in March, Ms Saleh said the media fabricated news in support of Israel and claimed Israeli soldiers were banned from taking their phones into Gaza so they could not post to Facebook photos of them doing unspeakable things to dead Palestinians.
“It would come then as no surprise that after years of indoctrination, most Western news outlets are biased in favour of Israel, skewed at best, one-sided at worst in their media reports,” Ms Saleh said, adding this included “fabrication of news”.
...At the Australians For Palestine forum in March, Ms Saleh also said:
“We must crack their ethno-nationalist supremacy to the very core. We must go further than resisting through remembrance alone, we must force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety.’’
During the federal election, Ms Saleh was involved in the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network’s IvotePalestine campaign, which had the support of all 51 Greens candidates.
GetUp! told The Australian it represented “mainstream issues important to a majority of Australians” including “economic fairness, human rights and environmental justice”.
Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, whose seat of Higgins was also targeted by GetUp! during the election campaign, said it was “very clear” the group had a “very political agenda to support the Greens”.
“It’s disappointing that organisations like GetUp! pretend to be non-partisan but are hyper-partisan and hyper-political,” she said.
“I think any person who has supported GetUp! on the basis that it wasn’t a political organisation, should reassess. GetUp! needs to be much more upfront as to where the funding actually goes and whose campaign they are supporting.”
The federal Labor MP for inner-city seat of Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, said his support for Israel was one of the reasons the Greens campaigned against him.
Ms Saleh refused to comment yesterday. GetUp! released a statement saying: “Our board consists of experienced people with diverse interests and affiliations.’’

10 August 2016

World Vision has seriously betrayed donors' trust

From The Australian, Editorial, August 8, 2016:

$56 million of donations used to fund terrorism

... Investigations that led to the arrest of World Vision's Gaza director Mohammed el-Halabi, [an estimated $56 million of its funds were allegedly diverted to help Hamas terrorists in Gaza], revealed "an abysmal lack of monitoring of donations and projects".

That criticism demands urgent action by World Vision in Australia and the other 100 countries in which it operates.

It would be hard to imagine a more egregious betrayal of trust than for money donated to a charity in good faith to end up serving the cause of murderous terrorists who concentrate on killing innocent civilians.
That is what the Gaza-born Halabi stands accused of by Israel's internal security service Shin Bet. It says he has been a lifelong member of Hamas and received military training in the early 2000s before Hamas leaders ordered him "to infiltrate" World Vision in 2004.
According to Shin Bet, he rose through the ranks until he became World Vision's Gaza director, financing weapons and military bases and providing materials for Hamas to construct the maze of tunnels it uses with deadly effect to attack Israel. According to Shin Bet, a project for the "rehabilitation of fishermen" was a cover to equip the terrorists' military marine unit. As Dore Gold, director-general of Israel's foreign ministry says, Hamas works hand in glove with Islamic State terrorists in neighbouring Sinai and is an integral part of Iran's actions in the Middle East.

Rightly, the Australian government has suspended its funding of World Vision projects in Gaza, for which DFAT provided $5.7m in the past three years. While Halabi has reportedly confessed, it would be unthinkable to resume such taxpayer funding until the case against him has been concluded. World Vision's website, shows 71 per cent of its funding in Australia comes from the community and 12 per cent from government.

As Colin Rubenstein wrote in The Weekend Australian:
"diverting humanitarian aid is despicable; diverting it to a militant organisation that carries out attacks on civilians is simply evil."
World Vision, which spends so much time appealing for donations on television, must do better in supervising how its funds are spent.


08 August 2016

ABC's Sophie McNeill: biased Israel basher with a blind spot for Hamas


Hamas again largely missing from Sophie McNeill's latest Gaza expedition

Allon Lee

August 8 2016

On ABC TV, Radio and the national broadcaster's website (July 30), Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill returned to what is clearly her favourite type of story - a one dimensional narrative focusing on Palestinians suffering in Gaza, where only Israel is deemed culpable for their plight.

Her hook was to focus on the challenges of rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed in Gaza during the 2014 conflict.

...On ABC TV "7pm News" in Victoria, newsreader Ian Henderson's introduction said rebuilding is "painfully slow as Israel tightly controls the importation of building materials," omitting from responsibility Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza over which Israel has no control.

...reports began with McNeill's favoured style of opening - introducing viewers to the travails of ordinary Palestinians who are just trying to live their lives but are being unreasonably oppressed by Israel.

According to McNeill, Fida Mosabeh's home was damaged when hit during an Israeli airstrike on their neighbourhood on "the outskirts of Gaza".

It is disappointing McNeill didn't name Mosabeh's neighbourhood. This is important because most of the damage that occurred in Gaza happened in the outer suburbs, such as Beit Hanoun and Shuja'iyya, which are Hamas strongholds and were the scenes of some of the fiercest fighting during the 2014 war.

This is not incidental because Hamas deliberately based its fighters and military infrastructure in residential areas, using civilians as human shields.

The TV report said Israel restricts many building materials with Israeli spokesman Adam Avidan quoted vaguely explaining that Hamas diverts these materials for "military needs."

...On the website, she wrote that "the issue of importing concrete into the besieged Strip" is now "the newest battleground between the people of Gaza and Israel."

McNeill said one Palestinian, Abdel Rahman, who is currently rebuilding his home, told her it was "humiliating that Israel first destroyed his home; and now he needs their approval to rebuild it" under the GRM arrangements.
Maybe she could've asked Abdel Rahman if Hamas' military doctrine of fighting from within residential areas means it therefore holds even a modicum of responsibility for the damage to his home. Indeed, almost completely missing from the report was any sense that Hamas could have any responsibility whatsoever for either the destruction in Gaza or the slowness of Gaza reconstruction - even though it is the governing authority of the territory - and even the UN has admitted that Hamas is stealing cement intended for civilian reconstruction.
...the "AM" intro failed to acknowledge that in addition to needing to neutralise rocket launches from Gaza, much of the damage was a by-product of Israeli forces needing to destroy terror tunnels whose entrances were inside houses, as well as contending with houses that Hamas had booby-trapped.

...Robert Piper, UN Gaza humanitarian coordinator, was quoted ..On TV ... "we need to call it what it is which is the collective punishment on 1.8 million Gazans."

The "collective punishment" allegation was given special prominence in the online article, appearing both as a bold headline, and as a pull quote, screaming out to readers the message that the blockade is inhumane.

Unsurprisingly, McNeill didn't ask how Piper can guarantee that lifting a partial blockade won't lead to further attacks by an entity that has spent 25 years carrying out terror attacks against a country it has repeatedly vowed to destroy - because implying that Hamas has any responsibility for the Gaza situation was apparently out of the question.

The reasoning for the omission of such an obvious question is apparent when one considers how McNeill's July 14 "AM" item
reporting on the discovery of newly built terror tunnels had concluded.

In that instance, McNeill decided to end the report with quotes from Sabah Udar, whose son had died whilst excavating a tunnel. Udar said, "If there was no occupation, our children wouldn't do such a thing."

In other words, the message was that Hamas' terror is an understandable reaction to occupation. Of course, Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 - something not pointed out.
In fact the assumption that Gaza is occupied territory is clearly an accepted convention of the ABC. The "7:30" website abstract for McNeill's June 15 report called Gaza "occupied territory".

Moreover, the ABC website has a
dedicated page called "Palestinian Territory, Occupied" under which stories about Gaza are filed, including the latest McNeill effort.

Nor does McNeill ever pay more than lip service to Egyptian enforcement of the blockade in assessing whom to hold responsible for Gaza's situation.

McNeill made the initial note of Egypt's participation in the blockade on "AM" and the online article - but not on TV - but it went no further than that.

Based on McNeill's past practice this was not an accident.

McNeill's June 15 "7:30" report was
ostensibly about an extremely rare opening by Egypt of the Rafah crossing straddling its border with Gaza. But Rafah's opening was merely the pretext that was used by McNeill to focus on alleged Israeli responsibility for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

Significantly, in that June 15 "7:30" report, Piper had explicitly told McNeill that, "Our focus really is on that Israeli border and on the imposition of a blockade on Gaza," not the Egyptian border.

She apparently has the same skewed preoccupation - which is why it is unsurprising that McNeill did not probe or push Piper to justify or explain the rationale behind this policy position by elements of the UN, which expects Israel, under threat of genocide by Hamas, to throw open its borders, whilst Egypt is given a free pass.

Moreover, in her latest report McNeill was once again typically vague in outlining the nature of the blockade.

The website article stated, "For nearly 10 years Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip. Movement in and out is heavily restricted and so is the entry of many goods essential for construction."

As noted in the latest edition of the Australia/Israel Review (see "Reporting by Numbers" in Noted & Quoted), a parallel report on Gaza produced by SBS TV "Dateline" (July) at least had the professionalism to include on its website a statement by the IDF which
contained the following vital and relevant information:
Every day, over 850 trucks loaded with medical supply, construction materials, food and so on into Gaza. As of today, over 2 million tons of goods enter Gaza since the beginning of 2016.

You can see expansion of our civil policy towards Gaza over the course of 2014, 2015, 2016:

2014: 1,017,628 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 143,264 crossings were registered
2015: 4,314,941 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 361,891 crossings were registered
2016: 2,222,392 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 151,841 crossing were registered
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) as agreed upon by the UN, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, works effectively as the numbers speak for themselves.
Since October 2014, over 5.2 million tons of construction material have entered Gaza for international projects, house repairs and road construction.
Over 100,000 houses are in different stages of the reconstruction process out of 130,000 houses damaged, according to the UN assessment.
Many international officials, including the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, have expressed their impression by the progress of the reconstruction.

In the many reports McNeill has filed she has rarely if ever felt it necessary to actually state the figures of either people or goods entering and exiting Gaza.

...as always, McNeill chose not to include a spokesman from Hamas the provocateur that ignited the spark of the last war and the governing authority in Gaza, to explain and justify why Gaza reconstruction is so slow.

For over a year she has consistently refused to ask hard questions about Hamas. This story was a classic example of how McNeill's reporting typically operates - ordinary Palestinians suffering are presented. The story is framed to imply that Israel is the sole cause of that suffering. An Israeli spokesperson is briefly allowed a sentence or two in defence so that the story can be said to have "balance." The Palestinians are given the last word supported by McNeill's largely sympathetic commentary. Hamas and other Palestinian leaders barely exist unless the Israeli spokesperson mentions them.

McNeill's stubborn refusal to expose Hamas' rightful place in the firmament of terror and destructive effect upon the welfare of Gazans in the story on July 30 was starkly laid out by Israel's arrest of Mohammad El Halabi, the head of World Vision in Gaza.

As her own report on "AM" last Friday stated, El Halabi is "charged with giving millions of dollars of World Vision funds to Hamas to pay fighters, buy weapons, and build fortifications in Gaza." In other words, here is more evidence Hamas is stealing much of the aid Israel is facilitating getting into Gaza - so no wonder Gaza's reconstruction is going slowly and ordinary families are suffering. Ideally, this should be a wake-up call to McNeill.

 ...McNeill's reporting raises serious questions of whether she meets the statutory requirements as the ABC's Middle East correspondent of her professional obligations, as laid out in Section 4 of the ABC Code of Practice, which includes the following:
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.

And also
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.

Considering the numerous stories filed by McNeill on Gaza that have virtually never included a Hamas spokesperson nor an independent expert to talk about Hamas, her blind spot on Egypt's blockade and simplistic assumption that Israeli security measures are a reason for terror and not the other way around, one would have to entertain serious doubts.

Australia cuts funding to World Vision over Hamas ties

From A7, 4 August 2016, by Rachel Kaplan:

Australia has suspended funding to humanitarian NGO World Vision, pending investigations into the nature of its funding to the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.

Israel exposed World Vision's Gaza branch leader Muhammed al-Halabi for funneling 60 percent of his annual humanitarian aid budget into Hamas' military wing. Although al-Halabi has already been arrested, the extent of the damage, both to security and to humanitarian causes, has yet to be assessed.

Israeli legal organization Shurat HaDin says it blew the whistle on World Vision years ago - but no one was listening:
"In 2012 [we] notified the Australian government that its aid money being administrated by World Vision was being transferred to front charities of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. Both the Australian government and World Vision denied [our] warning."

According to Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner:
"World Vision has repeatedly denied our charges and refused to seriously investigate where its funds are going. They assured us that the organizations they fund had been vetted and were not engaged with terrorism.

"Who knows how many of Hamas' missiles and stabbing attacks were funded by World Vision after they were put on notice that there were financing Palestinian terror? The assistance to Gaza by foreign aid organizations is directly responsible for the murder of scores of Jews in Israel."

03 August 2016

Weaken Islamic State, don't destroy it

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 352, August 2, 2016, by Efraim Inbar:

The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction. A weak but functioning IS can undermine the appeal of the caliphate among radical Muslims; keep bad actors focused on one another rather than on Western targets; and hamper Iran’s quest for regional hegemony.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter recently gathered defense ministers from allied nations to plan what officials hope will be the decisive stage in the campaign to eradicate the Islamic State (IS) organization. This is a strategic mistake.

IS, a radical Islamist group, has killed thousands of people since it declared an Islamic caliphate in June 2014, with the Syrian city of Raqqa as its de facto capital. It captured tremendous international attention by swiftly conquering large swaths of land and by releasing gruesome pictures of beheadings and other means of execution.

But IS is primarily successful where there is a political void. Although the offensives in Syria and Iraq showed IS’s tactical capabilities, they were directed against failed states with weakened militaries. On occasions when the poorly trained IS troops have met well-organized opposition, even that of non-state entities like the Kurdish militias, the group’s performance has been less convincing. When greater military pressure was applied and Turkish support dwindled, IS went into retreat.

It is true that IS has ignited immense passion among many young and frustrated Muslims all over the world, and the caliphate idea holds great appeal among believers. But the relevant question is what can IS do, particularly in its current situation? The terrorist activities for which it recently took responsibility were perpetrated mostly by lone wolves who declared their allegiance to IS; they were not directed from Raqqa. On its own, IS is capable of only limited damage.

A weak IS is, counterintuitively, preferable to a destroyed IS. IS is a magnet for radicalized Muslims in countries throughout the world. These volunteers are easier targets to identify, saving intelligence work. They acquire destructive skills in the fields of Syria and Iraq that are of undoubted concern if they return home, but some of them acquire shaheed status while still away - a blessing for their home countries. If IS is fully defeated, more of these people are likely to come home and cause trouble.

If IS loses control over its territory, the energies that went into protecting and governing a state will be directed toward organizing more terrorist attacks beyond its borders. The collapse of IS will produce a terrorist diaspora that might further radicalize Muslim immigrants in the West. Most counter-terrorism agencies understand this danger. Prolonging the life of IS probably assures the deaths of more Muslim extremists at the hands of other bad guys in the Middle East, and is likely to spare the West several terrorist attacks.

Moreover, a weak and lingering IS could undermine the attraction of the caliphate idea. A dysfunctional and embattled political entity is more conducive to the disillusionment of Muslim adherents of a caliphate in our times than an IS destroyed by a mighty America-led coalition. The latter scenario perfectly fits the narrative of continuous and perfidious efforts on the part of the West to destroy Islam, which feeds radical Muslim hatred for everything the West stands for.

The continuing existence of IS serves a strategic purpose. Why help the brutal Assad regime win the Syrian civil war? Many radical Islamists in the opposition forces, i.e., Al Nusra and its offshoots, might find other arenas in which to operate closer to Paris and Berlin. Is it in the West’s interests to strengthen the Russian grip on Syria and bolster its influence in the Middle East? Is enhancing Iranian control of Iraq congruent with American objectives in that country? Only the strategic folly that currently prevails in Washington can consider it a positive to enhance the power of the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis by cooperating with Russia against IS.

Furthermore, Hizballah – a radical Shiite anti-Western organization subservient to Iran – is being seriously taxed by the fight against IS, a state of affairs that suits Western interests. A Hizballah no longer involved in the Syrian civil war might engage once again in the taking of western hostages and other terrorist acts in Europe.

The Western distaste for IS brutality and immorality should not obfuscate strategic clarity. IS are truly bad guys, but few of their opponents are much better. Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys. The Hobbesian reality of the Middle East does not always present a neat moral choice.

The West yearns for stability, and holds out a naive hope that the military defeat of IS will be instrumental in reaching that goal. But stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. The defeat of IS would encourage Iranian hegemony in the region, buttress Russia’s role, and prolong Assad’s tyranny. Tehran, Moscow, and Damascus do not share our democratic values and have little inclination to help America and the West.

Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change. Unfortunately, the Obama administration fails to see that its main enemy is Iran. The Obama administration has inflated the threat from IS in order to legitimize Iran as a “responsible” actor that will, supposedly, fight IS in the Middle East. This was part of the Obama administration’s rationale for its nuclear deal with Iran and central to its “legacy,” which is likely to be ill-remembered.

The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.

02 August 2016

In politics of grievance, peace is just a dirty word

From The Australian, August 2, 2016, by Nick Cater:

With hindsight the organisers of the soccer peace tournament between Jewish and Arabic children should have heeded George Orwell’s warning: football is merely war without the shooting.

The kids at least behaved. “I love it when we play together like this,” Qusai, an 11-year-old Palestinian, told journalists. “I hope that one day there will be peace between Arabs and Jews and that there will be no more wars and death.”

Qusai’s dream of a normal life is not shared by local sports administrators, who shudder at the very thought of normality.

Palestinian Olympic Committee chairman Jibril Rajoub demanded “that all individuals and institutions distance themselves from such activities”. Their recurrence would arouse “disgust and aversion” since “any activity of normalisation in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity”.

The anti-normalisation movement is the latest pernicious force in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians, no matter how peaceful or helpful, is denounced as a sellout.

The strides towards Palestinian independence that began with the 1993 Oslo Accord have stopped. Today the Palestinian elite and their friends on the international Left forbid even baby steps.

Israeli peace activists attending a grassroots peace conference in Ramallah, on the West Bank, two years ago were confronted by a large poster reading “Normalisation is an act of treason”. They had to be escorted to Israel in police vans when their hotel was stoned. Last year, Arab women taking part in the annual Jerusalem Hug rally were attacked outside the Damascus Gate by Arab youths who ordered them to leave the “normalisation event”.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement instructs academics to shun their Israeli counterparts, presses for boycotts of businesses with tenuous Israeli connections and tries to embarrass rock stars such as Carlos Santana into cancelling Israeli concerts. All in opposition to “normalisation … the colonisation of the mind, whereby the oppressed subject comes to believe that the oppressor’s reality is the only ‘normal’ ”.

“It is vital to counter normalisation activities,” BDS founder Omar Barghouti says. “They constitute a key weapon that Israel has used against the Palestinian struggle for rights in general.”

The disputed Palestinian territories should serve as an object lesson to Western victim-mongers; the politics of grievance achieves little apart from increasing stocks of righteous indignation. The suffering of those they pretend to protect is prolonged; oppression, real or imagined, becomes a lifetime sentence handed down at birth.

Four million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza are condemned to a grotesque Groundhog Day. If Israel tries to help them, for example by supplying water, electricity or medical assistance, the move is condemned as a Zionist plot. To the anti-normalisation movement any improvement in the lives of the “oppressed subjects” is anathema. Why? Because it would destroy the argument that everything bad is the fault of the “occupation”. The huge gap in income ­ gross domestic product per capita is $36,000 in Israel compared with $1600 in the Palestinian territories ­ is evidence of what they call apartheid and they want to keep it that way.

Palestinians receive the highest per capita development assistance in the world but there is little to show for it. One would think, therefore, that Palestinian sympathisers would welcome an ambitious, privately funded project to build Rawabi, a hi-tech city on the West Bank. There is room for scepticism about the commercial viability of the project, which includes the Middle East’s largest amphitheatre, a 3-D cinema complex and a bungee jump, but that is surely the concern of Bashar Masri, the charismatic Palestinian entrepreneur behind the project and his Qatari backers. The 8000 well-paid construction jobs, a third for women, and the benefits that flow from investing $1.3 billion into the West Bank economy are real enough.

Yet Rawabi has been denounced by the Palestinian BDS National Committee. Masri was rebuked for “a shameless act of normalisation of the worst type that trivialises the sacrifice of those Palestinians that on a daily basis struggle to defend their rights and dignity”.

Masri stands accused of “open relations of cordiality” with “numerous Israeli businessmen”. A separate project allowing Palestinian farmers to learn Israeli desert farming techniques also was censured. “These initiatives could be seen as teaching Palestinians to adapt to Israeli occupation instead of challenging these illegal measures,” the committee says.

Palestine’s acceptance into the Olympic Movement 20 years ago offered a chance to break this deadlock. The Olympic Charter seeks “to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace”. There is no chance for peace, however, so long as obdurate haters such as
Rajoub are in charge of the Palestine Olympic Committee. Less than a year ago Rajoub congratulated the organisers of a table tennis tournament for naming it after terrorist Muhannad Halabi, who murdered a rabbi and a father in Jerusalem last October and stabbed the man’s wife and their two-year-old son before being shot by police.

In January, Rajoub told Palestinian television such terrorists were martyrs and heroes. “We bless you and strengthen your families, and say to you: You are a crown on our heads.”

Australian fellow travellers cannot plead ignorance of the motives of appalling men such as Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. True, Palestinian leaders seldom make such statements in English. Yet the glorification of terrorists and the anti-Semitism that feature daily in official Palestinian media is readily available in English, online, thanks to the diligence of Palestinian Media Watch.
Last week the IOC rejected a call for Rajoub to be removed from all Olympic activities. IOC ethics and compliance officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli said the POC was working to “improve relations between the two countries through sport”. Is that the same committee that wants Israel expelled from FIFA and threatens to strip any Palestinian who takes part in a peace match of their Palestinian Football Federation accreditation?

“This state (Israel) is a state of bullies,” Rajoub fumed in Arabic on Palestinian television.

“Fascists can learn a lesson from this state. We’ll suspend their membership and this way we’ll screw them … I won’t allow and won’t agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel.”

01 August 2016

Golan Druze leader rips UN claim of ‘hardship of occupation’

Leader of Druze community in Golan slams UN accusations against Israel as 'total joke'.


Miriam Alster/Flash 90
A leader of the Druze population of the Golan Heights disputed the assertion of a United Nations committee that accused Israel of imposing economic and social hardships on his community.

Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, told Makor Rishon that the U.N. Economic and Social Council’s recent statement on the area was “a total joke,” the daily reported Friday.

Unlike other Druze populations in Israel serve in the Israel Defense Forces, the Golan’s Druze population of some 20,000 has been careful not to align itself publicly with the Jewish state, which annexed the Golan in 1981 after capturing it from Syria during the Six-Day War of 1967.

The eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria changed that, causing a sharp increase in the number of Golan Druze who applied for Israeli citizenship, which has been available to them since 1981.
Abu-Saleh objected to the inclusion of his native area in the UN panel’s statement earlier this month, which said that “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan.”

“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s laughable,” abu-Saleh said. Druze in the Golan “don’t serve in the IDF and so far are only receiving from the state.” Referencing the war in Syria, he said: “Why don’t they condemn the horrors in Syria, where dozens of children are killed daily? Golan residents have a good life.”

He also said: “Although we weren’t included in some major cabinet decisions on budgets, when we build and make up plans we never felt discrimination. On the contrary, we always found an attentive ear.”

Prior to the eruption in 2011 of a civil war in Syria, only 1,700 of the Golan’s Druze claimed Israeli citizenship offered to them. Hundreds have applied since then.

Very rarely engaging in hostilities, their communities have opened hundreds of restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts serving Israelis and tourists who visit the Golan’s many nature reserves. But the Druze community leaders always insisted they were Syrian citizens seeking to return to Syria from Israeli occupation.

Karim Batkhish, a resident of the town of Masa’ada, is quoted as saying: “The war in Syria is irrelevant to us. Some may say they support [Syrian President Bashar] Assad but it’s a lie to show Syria we’re with them. They’re lying, no one wants to see Syria here.”

Separately, the international nonprofit Human Rights Watch, which like the UN has faced accusations of displaying a bias against Israel, was criticized Thursday for saying in a report on child detention that Israeli “military courts do not provide for specialized juvenile justice.”

This statement is “completely false,” the watchdog group NGO Monitor said Thursday. “A special Juvenile Military Court was established in 2009, and according to the Israeli Ministry of Justice only ‘judges that have received relevant professional training, similar to the training offered to justices of the Youth Courts in Israel, are qualified to serve as juvenile judges.’“

The accusation appears in a report published by HJRW Thursday entitled “Extreme Measures: Abuses against Children Detained as National Security Threats.” It also cites a 2013 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child document which claims that, “Israel had ‘fully disregarded’ previous recommendations to comply with international law.”

But this allegation is also false, according to NGO Monitor. In February 2015, UNICEF published a report on its ongoing dialogue with the Israeli government, citing “positive developments in the administration of juvenile military justice.”
The report “clearly reflects the primacy of HRW’s political agenda over methodological rigor and due diligence,” NGO Monitor wrote.