Israel’s 60th anniversary to be supported in Canberra.

Tomorrow it is proposed that the Rudd government will support a parliamentary motion in favour of Israel’s 60th anniversary. In lending their support to this motion the new administration will forfeit any of the moral ground they gained with the apology to indigenous Australians last month.

Israel represents a state which occupies Palestinian land. It was a state founded on a project of brutal ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian population (the recent work of the eminent scholar Ilan Pappe The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine documents this). Today it continually practices violent means of occupation and segregation in Gaza and the West Bank. Daily news reports attest to this. In fact several scholars, such as Uri Davis (see his Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within), refer to Israel as an apartheid state. The construction of the “separation wall” under the Sharon government confirms this apartheid behaviour. Despite being declared illegal under international law by the ICJ, the current Israeli government has maintained and furthered its construction.

For 60 years the Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of suffering resulting directly from a colonial project that we here in Australia are being asked to confront in the wake of the historical apology. How can Prime Minister Rudd now support a motion that celebrates this brutality? As an Australian I am offended at this hypocrisy and seeming ignorance by the Rudd government who only several weeks ago asked the most ardent Australians to accept the necessity of an apology to indigenous Australians for the ethnic cleansing they endured at the hands of the coloniser and the immense difficulties and continued suffering of those from the stolen generations. Surely a more fitting response, in the spirit of the apology, would be to urge Israelis to acknowledge what has been done to the Palestinians in the last 60 years and to review their own foundational history which, like ours here in Australia, was not at all a pure project.

Tomorrow various organisations like the Australian Friends of Palestine, Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Independent Australian Jewish Voices plan to respond by running ads in the press and organising protests in some capital cities. Such acts will probably be incorrectly and inappropriately targeted as anti-Semitic but, in view of what I’ve outlined above, I think it is in every Australian’s interest to not be silent, to say to the Rudd government “not in my name” because such an offensive motion warrants this action.

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12 Responses to Israel’s 60th anniversary to be supported in Canberra.

  1. Raffe says:

    These motions are not unprecedented. A similar motion was placed before the Senate commending the Hungarians for a similar milestone in 2006. Addressing some of your more specific complaints. Israel’s security fence is a proven method at halting terror attacks within Israel. There was a 90% drop in terror attacks from 2003 to 2004 attributed to a combination of the security fence and the increase in pinpoint targeted assassinations on terrorist cells. Certain parts of the fence route within Palestinian lands and other times the fence intrudes on the Israeli side of the border. In many cases of Palestinian’s who have been disturbed by the fences route have appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court and WON for its path to be changed. I ask you to find me another country whose judiciary overrides both the military and government on self-defence matters in a time of war.
    Also, the term ‘wall’ is quite excessive. The most publicized aspect of the security fence is the concrete blocks in Jerusalem, however this only composes 3% of the entire route. Much of it is an electronic wire fence, a claim i can back up with pictures, which alerts the IDF to any person attempting to cross from the Palestinian side to the Israeli side. The concrete sections of the security barrier are to prevent Palestinian snipers shooting at Israeli civilians in their cars below. Many Israeli’s were injured and killed in these attacks. It is at these points of the security barrier where a fence is not effective and so a wall must be erected.
    At many points in the security fence’s route there are crossing points for Palestinian farmers who have been inconvenienced with the fence cutting off access to their lands.Not only do they receive compensation from the Israeli government but Palestinian farmers are permitted to cross through to the Israeli side of the fence, once again a claim that i can back up with photographic evidence, to cultivate their land. I admit and understand the Palestinians are inconvenienced by this but i firmly believe that the right to live trumps the nuisances caused.
    I have no response to Ilan Pappe because he is so discredited as a historian and so i shall leave it to Benny Morris’s opinion:
    ‘Unfortunately much of what Pappe tries to sell his readers is complete fabrication….This book is awash with errors of a quantity and a quality that are not found in serious historiography…The multiplicity of mistakes on each page is a product of both Pappe’s historical methodology and his political proclivities… For those enamored with subjectivity and in thrall to historical relativism, a fact is not a fact and accuracy is unattainable’.

  2. Julian says:

    As an Australian I am offended by your one-sided and ignorant view of Israel.
    To my knowledge Israel in it’s entire 60 year history has never attacked first on any nation or person. It has always acted in response to very real acts of aggression.
    The “separation wall” has nothing to do with apartheid behaviour. It quite simply and effectively keeps suicide bombers out.
    What would you do if your neighbours continually and openly declared that the destruction of Israel was their highest priority. Maybe it’s worth remembering, the suffering people of Gaza have been shooting 15-20 rockets into Israel every day for the last six years. What other nation would put up with these rockets. Fire just one of these at Washington or Paris and you would receive a much heavier and swifter response than that of Israel. Israel is a very patient and tolerant country.
    I suggest you spend a little time researching the great things that Israel has done/tried to do for the people of Gaza.
    Also Australia’s indigenious communities desereved their apology from Kevin Rudd on behalf of all Australians.
    The people of Gaza and The West Bank should learn how to behave.

  3. jbayeh says:

    Raffe in response:

    In proposing to address my specific concerns you dedicate a lot of your attention the security wall and claim “Israel’s security fence is a proven method at halting terror attacks within Israel” and that there was a 90% drop in attacks from 2003 to 2004 because of the barrier and other targeted assassinations. I would have thought that Hamas’ unilateral ceasefire was really the contributing factor for the drop in what you call attacks. As for targeted assassinations, the hundreds dead in the recent foray into Gaza, along with others in previous years, do not seem to indicate much of the pinpoint precision that you suggest.

    You talk about the fact that Palestinians are simply inconvenienced by the wall and that, in having their land encroached upon, Palestinians have appealed to the courts and amazingly “WON”. I’m not sure why we should be so enamored by this: it was after all their land that the illegal fence was being built upon.

    Ilan Pappe might have been discredited by some, namely as you indicate by Benny Morris. A lot of Pappe’s work relies on archival research and he has used various official documents archived by the Israeli state to expose the real ethnic cleansing that took place in Israel’s foundational years. Benny Morris himself hardly disputes the ethnic cleansing that Pappe so judiciously discusses, but indicates that it did not go far enough. A lengthy quote from Morris in a Haaretz interview in 2004 clearly expresses his position on these matters:

    “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on . . . from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them . . . If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will be because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer in 1948. Because he left a large and volatile demographic reserve in the West Bank and Gaza and within Israel itself.”

  4. llwynn says:

    Thanks, Jumana, for your clarifying response. Here’s a link to the Benny Morris interview that you cited, which is archived on the website of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society: http://labyrinth.net.au/~ajds/morris_interview.htm . The interviewer specifically asks Morris about his use of the term “cleanse” and the response is enlightening.

    Raffe, as for Ilan Pappe being a historian who has been “discredited,” I wonder, then, why one of the most highly respected academic presses in the world, Cambridge University Press, which relies on stringent peer review to assess scholarship, publishes his books?

    Julian, perhaps you could educate us about “the great things that Israel has done/tried to do for the people of Gaza.” Does that include the 200 Gazans killed since the start of 2008? Does that include the recent blockade of Gaza which prevented even humanitarian supplies like medicine from entering the occupied territory? Or the fact that Haaretz reports that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is the worst it has been since 1967? See http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/961340.html.

  5. Raffe says:

    jbayeh in responding to your response to me :

    Despite the ceasefire proposed by Hamas and other militant groups there has been evidence of many attempts and successes to breach the fence and commit terrorist acts within Israel; the most recent less than a week ago.
    Operation Hot Winter, the counter-terror incursion into Gaza last week, was anything but a pin-point assassination. Rather it was an embattled countries response to countless rocket attacks on its soil.
    You and I could argue for months on end about who owns the land. You believe that 700,000 people were innocently uprooted from their homes to make way for a zionist country. I believe that the majority of them fled of their own will after coaxing from the larger Arab states under the belief that they would be returned once “the Jews were pushed into the sea”. Whilst i’ll admit that some were forcefully removed by the Haganah forces the majority were left to become citizens of the State of Israel, who now enjoy more civil liberties and freedoms than any other people in Arab countries.
    I’d also like to remind you that 850,000 Jews were forced out of their homes in Arab states and were sent to Israel. Unlike the Jordanians, Saudi’s or Egyptians the Israeli’s made a home for these dispossessed people.
    We could also debate whether or not the Palestinians truly owned the land considering that the Jewish inhabitants were kicked out by the Romans and since that day every year have spoken the words “next year in Jerusalem” cementing the Jewish people’s connection to the land.

  6. Mark says:

    Jbayeh almost every accusation you make against Israel is bursting with innacuracy. Firstly you state Israel occupies Palestinian land. Can you please tell me where the borders of this land start and begin? Answering such a question is impossible because there never has been such a thing as Palestinian land. Prior to 1947 the land was ruled by Britain. After this the partitition plan proposed to split this terrirotory into a Jewish section and an Arab section. While the Jews accepted such a plan the Arabs did not. Thus in a war started by Israel’s Arab neighbours the land that was supposed to form an Arab state was occupied by either Jordan or Egypt. During this time the Arab occupiers had every opportunity to establish a Palestinian state but refused to do so. Israel does not occupy any Palestinian land, as such a land has never existed.

    Secondly to accuse Israel of occupying Gaza is plain wrong. In 2005 Israel withdrew all its troops and all Israelis living in the area. This gave the Palestinians the opportunity to establish an independent state along side Israel with the prospect of peace and trade. Instead in a violent coup a terrorist organisation seized power and has been attacking Israel ever since.

    I could go on forever dismantling the factual innacuracies in your argument, however it would probably take up more space than anyone would care to read. So I will finish by saying as a person who claims to care so mcuh about Indingineous Australians your comments are offensive and misguided. You are just as bad as those uninformed or just plainly racist people who oppose recognising the wrongs done to Aboriginal people. Jewish people have lived as natives in the land of Israel for thousands of years before Islam was even thought about. Islamic people temporarily controlled the Jewish homeland before eventually being defeated by the British. Honouring Israel’s 60th birthday is akin to recognising the rights of Indingienous Australians to their historical land. Wake up and realise your stupidity.

  7. Pat says:

    Mark, since when were all Palestinians Mulism? As I understand it, the Palestinians who mourn the loss of their land (where they did indeed live, the lack of an independent state does not whitewash this fact) are both Muslim and Christian. Their struggle is not religious, it is nationalist. The fact that the majority of inhabitants of that area pre-Israel identified as Arab/Palestinian and not Jewish should alert you to the fact that a small Jewish presence in that area does not justify the creation of a state that has displaced a huge number of people from their homes. Can you justify your ignorance of the reality of the forced removal of Palestinians as anything other than racism? There seems to be no other explanation as to why you see the attachment of Jewish Israelis to that land (most of whom had no recent ties to the area) as outweighing the rights of people who lived there before and during the creation of Israel against the wishes of the majority of people who lived there. Seems pretty racist to me.

  8. Mark says:

    Pat you want to talk racism, let’s talk racism.

    Only 1.7% of Palestinians today are Christian, this is down from 7% in 1948. Check this in any fact book.

    You want to know why, because successive Islamic government have worked hard to intimidate and at times kill Palestinian Christians. See below for a particularly vicious attack on Gaza’s Christians when Hamas first took over.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wirestory?id=3317956

    This problem is particularly noticeable in Bethlehem. In 1948 Christians made up 75% of the population. They were the majority. However due to violence sponsored by Fatah and other extremist groups the Christians only comprise 33% of the population today.

    If you are interested to read more about the plights of Christians in PA and Hamas controlled areas please see http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp490.htm. It is a great over view.

    Incase you don’t want to read see this video on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FNKHchrDsc

    Let’s continue to talk racism. I do not deny that a large number of Arabs became refugees after the 1948 war. Some fled out of fear, some were told to leave by their Arab leaders and return once Israel was destroyed and some were expelled. However an equal amount of Jews were expelled from Arab countries. Your harping on about Israel’s actions, whilst ignoring identical actions by Arab countries can only lead me to think you yourself are a one-sided racist who is determined to attack the Jewish state at every opportunity. Otherwise you may just be uninformed.

    Finally let’s discuss the so called lack of connection of Jews to Israel. In Jerusalem, the Jew’s holiest city, there has been a Jewish majority for over 200 years. So to argue that Jews have no tie to the land is plain wrong. Further the only reason that the whole area has not had a consistent Jewish majority was because Jews were expelled in 586 BCE and 70 CE both periods were before these Christian and Muslim majorities that you speak of ever existed.

    If you really care about racism in the Middle East you should invest your time in countries like Saudi Arabia. Did you know that non-Muslims are forbidden from entering Mecca? Indeed there are signs at the enterance openly stating it.
    Seems pretty racist to me.

  9. Edmund says:

    Mark is severely wrong with his numbers. Palestinian Christians are about 30% of the population world wide. As one I can easily say that our Muslim brethren work towards the same goal of nationalism that we do. These reports that Christians are the victims of terror are simply incorrect. Take Easter for example, not a single attack.

  10. Mark says:

    Why has my last comment not been published, there was nothing offensive about it

  11. llwynn says:

    Sorry, Mark, we were having a problem with comments and several got lost for a few days. This last comment of yours got caught in a spam folder for some reason and I just found it.

  12. Raffe, Julian, Mark

    Sir Isaac Isaacs would be turning in his grave at some of your comments. Isaacs in the 1940’s was embroiled in a ferocious debate with Julius Stone about the proposal for creating a Jewish State in British-mandate Palestine. Isaacs favoured a democratic approach. Isaacs argued it was unjust to impose Jewish nationalism on a region whose inhabitants had for millennia not had a Jewish majority. Isaacs said let the human beings living in British-mandate Palestine decide their future. In contrast Stone favoured a Jewish nationalist approach which sought to turn back the clock two thousand years and recreate a Jewish state. Stone blinkered by the tragedy of the holocaust in Europe (like another legal giant Brandeis of the US and our own Dr Evatt a devotee of Brandeis) mistakingly believed that the creation of a Jewish state in historic Israel would help provide Jewish security for the Jewish people.

    History has shown that Stone was wrong and Isaacs was correct. Forcibly creating a Jewish state in a region which had not had a Jewish majority for over two thousand years was a disaster for world peace. Isaacs said in the 1940s:

    “the Zionist movement as a whole…makes demands that are arousing the antagonism of the Moslem world of nearly 400 millions, thereby menacing the safety of our Empire, endangering world peace and imperiling some of the most sacred associations of the Jewish, Christian, and Moslem faiths. Besides their inherent injustice to others these demands would, I believe, seriously and detrimentally affect the general position of Jews throughout the world” (Isaacs p. 8-9).

    A lot has been said about the United Nations creating Israel. Like many nation-state creation stories this is a partial truth. There were just 33 countries who voted in favour of creating a Jewish state, an Arab state and an international city of Jerusalem. 13 countries voted against partition and 10 countries including the United Kingdom abstained. The vote was only in the affirmative through heavy politiciking of the United States. The General Assembly Partition plan (29 Nov 1947) was initially to be voted on 26 August but the vote was postponed on two occasions until it was clear the necessary two-thirds majority (including abstentions) would be gained. The decisive votes were obtained from Haiti, Liberia and Philippines. Each of these three countries were pushed e.g. Haiti and Philippines in terms of aid and Liberia in terms of contracts for rubber exports to Firestone Tyre company. The Philippines itself had spoken against partition but when the vote came her delegates were told to vote in favour. (Smith 1947).

    The General Assembly then charged the Security Council with final deliberation on the partition plan. The United Nations Security Council in March 1948 rejected the General Assembly partition plan as it endangered international peace and security. So they recalled the General assembly to meet in April and May 1948. By this time the US had proposed placing Palestine under UN trusteeship. The Jewish Agency was outraged and decided that they would create a Jewish state whether or not they had the United Nations support. They did this on 14 May 1948.

    Sir Isaac Isaacs was right. War was a consequence of trying to impose the Jewish nationalist ideology on peoples who were not Jewish. The region will continue to be at war whilst Jewish nationalist ideology is championed as opposed to acknowledging past injustices and basing statehood on it’s citizens.

    P.S.

    To give you an indication of how ludicrous the 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Plan (which was rejected by the UN Security Council in March 1948) was consider:

    (1) Thirty years before 87 percent of the region was not-Jewish.
    (2) The region had not had a significant Jewish majority for over two millennia.
    (3) The Jewish State had a slim majority of 498,000 Jews to 407,000 non-Jews. (4) The number of Arabs living in the Jewish state was potentially greater than the number of Jews considering:

    (a) Jaffa the largest Palestinian Arab town (with a population of 55,000 Muslims, 16,000 Christians and 30,000 Jews) was excised from the Jewish state and placed into the Arab state despite being geographically cut-off from the Arab state. To demonstrate the precariousness of such a decision Jaffa was a prime target for the Jewish military and was surrounded and defeated by Irgun (led by Menachem Begin) and Haganah on 12 May 1948 two days before the Jewish Agency declared the state of Israel.3

    (b) 90,000 Bedouins were not included in the Jewish state despite being permitted to live in the Jewish State to graze during the dry season. This potentially underestimated the number
    of Arabs in the Jewish state.

    http://www.1948.com.au/2008events/national/letters/STEWARTMILLSLettertoRudd.pdf

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