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Update – 7 December 2007

Dear Advocates,

Today’s Age ran a story by Ed O’Loughlin entitled ‘Fuel levels critical in besieged Gaza’. Although the article discusses the fact that the Israelis and Palestinians are blaming each other for the fuel crisis, the emphasis is more in the faults of the Israelis. The article states that the Israelis have cut the supplies by at least 15%, and now the Palestinians have “decided to stop accepting their reduced supply as a form of protest.” O’Loughlin makes a very brief mention of the violence of Palestinian terrorists who have caused the impasse and even then it comes by way of a one-line mention about how “Palestinians blame the crisis on a decision by the Israeli cabinet in October to reduce fuel supplies to the besieged territory… as a punishment for militant rocket fire directed at nearby Israeli communities.” This is O’Loughlin’s sole concession to the fact that Israeli towns and villages bordering Gaza have been under constant siege from missiles fired on a daily basis at Israeli homes, schools and kindergartens and synagogues.

The Age report carried a photograph of a Palestinian woman baking food on a rudimentary stove, as if to show the suffering of Gazans as a result of the fuel shortages. On the other hand, there is no mention of the suffering of Israeli civilians as a result of Palestinian attacks on Jews who live near Gaza. A report published on “2,000 Qassam Rockets and Mortars fired at Israel from Gaza in 2007: Number of Attacks by Palestinian Militants escalating dramatically” states that as of 4 December 2007, ‘the number of rocket and mortar attacks Palestinian militants in Gaza launched at Israel during the past year hit the 2,000 mark’. This is almost double the number fired in 2006, and yet O’Loughlin and the Age simply brush over the issue and declare Israeli action of reducing fuel supplies to a territory that has declared its hostile intentions and backed it up with such attacks against it as “punishment”.

O’Loughlin should be presenting Australians with a fair and accurate account of what is going on in the region but he fails to give the full picture. Yesterday, the Jerusalem Post ran a story entitled ‘PA: Hamas stealing Gaza hospitals’ fuel’, stating that “for three days, for three days, Hamas has been preventing Gaza fuel companies from receiving fuel allocations sent from Ramallah. According to a Palestinian Press news agency report, Hamas was stealing fuel and medical supplies sent from the PA Health Ministry in Ramallah to Gaza hospitals.”

In other news, the world press has gone into overdrive with stories about U.S intelligence reports that indicate that Iran stopped nuclear weapons development in 2003. The Israelis were among the first to declare that the threat of Iran is still a very real threat, outlined in a statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on 4 December on the MFA website: ‘FM Livni calls to continue to fight Iran’s nuclear development’. The Jewish Virtual Library has also produced a very informative Fact Sheet entitled ‘Good News, Bad News on Iran’. Our local papers have picked up on Israel’s warnings about Tehran with ‘Tehran is still a threat: Israel’ from the Australian (6/12) and the Age’s offering today ‘Israel warns Iran to co-operate or pay price’. Yesterday (6/12) the Australian had a very rational editorial entitled ‘Iran still a threat’. Last Sunday, the Age published a letter by SZC President Dr. Danny Lamm under the title of ‘terrorism is real’ (which was in response to the letter ‘riders of the apocalypse live in US, not in Iran’, a response to Colin Rubinstein’s opinion piece ‘we’re MAD if we do not rein in Iran’). In short, regardless of any intelligence to the contrary, the world must not ignore the threat posed by Iran.

The Age also published an article today entitled ‘PM tells Olmert he’ll visit Israel’, which talks about Olmert’s call of congratulations to our new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and Rudd’s pledge to visit the Middle East and Israel during this term. It is very encouraging to see the two leaders showing each other mutual support, and suggests that Israel and Australia will still maintain its close relationship with our new government.

Finally, I would to finish with two positive advocacy stories. The first appeared in The Age on Monday (3/11) entitled ‘Israelis and Palestinians to play side by side, brought together by our great game’ about a joint Palestinian-Israeli Australian Rules Football team being put together in joint cooperation with the Peres Peace Centre to play in the International Cup next August. The article gives great exposure to the aims Peres Peace Centre to promote peace through business, education, culture and sport.

The second article is in the area of medicine and science and appeared on the MFA website entitled ‘Israeli ‘guided missiles’ induce cancer cells to commit suicide’, which talks about a new technology being produced by an Israeli startup company that acts like a “guided missile that can recognise and kill inflamed cells from tumours and other diseases”. If we can get stories such as these (and the countless others about Israeli advancements) into our mainstream media, it could show that Israel is defined by far more than the Israeli-Arab conflict and politics.

Last week on 29 November we celebrated 60 years since the United Nations passed Resolution 181 for the Partition of Palestine. The United Nations, for their part, have declared that 29 November be the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. Please click here to read a fantastic article by Anne Bayefsky on this issue.

In the meantime, the State Zionist Council of Victoria’s “Countdown to 60” activities are already in full-swing. The Community will be holding a number of exciting events leading up to the 60th Yom Ha’atzmaut next May.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507