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Update – 15 May 2008

Dear Advocates,

Last week we celebrated the Hebrew date marking 60 years since the establishment of the State of Israel. In the meantime, yesterday marked 60 years since English date. Yesterday, Palestinian groups marked 60 years since what they call al-Nakba – the 1948 “Catastrophe”.

Strangely enough, we still have to endure the fact that 60 years on, some academics, political commentators and journalists find it necessary to question the very right of Israel and no other nation on earth to exist. However, we no longer need to debate Israel’s right to exist. It exists and it thrives and the debate now needs to be about how to move forward.

Maher Mugrabi, a staff writer for the Age writes an Op-Ed in today’s Age entitled ‘Two people, one state – deal with them together’. The very title is problematic for me because it completely goes against the idea of two states for two people, which has been at the very core of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for the past 15 years. It ignores the fact that we are dealing with two groups with different languages, history, economies, religion, social and national aspirations. To try and pawn off the idea of a one-state solution with its deadly potential for further chaos and destruction in the region  ignores the two different narratives and the aspirations of two very different peoples that are at the very heart of the issue.

One of the most interesting articles to come available in the build up to the 60th anniversary of the Jewish State was this offering by Efraim Karsh, entitled ‘1948, Israel and the Palestinians – The true story’, which offers a more realistic look at the events leading up to and around Israel’s establishment. It is rather lengthy but certainly worth a read.

The English date of Israel’s establishment was marked yesterday in Israel by a rocket hitting a mall in Ashkelon and wounding at least 30 people. The Salah al-Din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, claimed responsibility for the attack. Their spokesman, Abu Abir said, “This attack was intended as a message to Israel that if it continues to escalate the situation and reject the ceasefire proposal, Zionist residents of southern Palestine will continue to live under danger of mortal peril and this will be their own government’s responsibility.”

The attack was also praised by Gaza’s ruling party Hamas, who apparently said that the longer range of the strike (hitting as far as Ashkelon) “proved that Israel’s defence doctrine had failed.”

It will be interesting to see what sort of coverage this gets in the print editions of our local papers (especially given the fact that The Age now has a new Middle East correspondent, Jason Kousoukis), but for now please read for their “breaking news” section:
Rocket hits Israel mall from The Australian
Bush hails Israel as rockets wound 14 from The Age.
Haaretz, Jpost, Ynet and MFA among others are constantly being updated.

Beyond Images has put out an interesting supplement entitled ‘Claims against Israel’, which addresses issues such as the West Bank, the events of 1948, the situation in Gaza and whether or not Israel should engage with Hamas. It offers a few key points that might be useful when discussing these issues.

I’ve spent a fair bit of my time since I began doing the Israel Advocacy Updates writing about Ed O’Loughlin and his appalling reporting from the Middle East. Last Saturday (10/05) O’Loughlin filed his last piece for the Age as Middle East Correspondent entitled ‘Wars between worlds’. Quite frankly, I think he capped off his 5½ years at The Age in the exact way he spent his time there – with a one-sided view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians laced with distortions and outright misrepresentation and a failure to present all relevant facts by omitting so many matters that should have been covered in order to provide readers with the true picture. I would welcome a reporter who will report us the news from both sides of the conflict, and not litter his reports with his own prejudices. If a reporter must report on matters critical of one side, then that is fine. He or she must also be prepared to provide some context by also reporting on matters critical of the other side. O’Loughlin routinely failed to do this during his 5½ year stint which surely must have left some of his more naive readership thinking Hamas might be a Boy Scout troop rather than a terrorist organisation.

I came across an interesting article in the Washington Times a few days ago entitled ‘Hezbollah redrawing Mideast Map’. It offers an interesting insight into the violence in Lebanon at the moment (which is receiving some coverage in our local papers (but far less coverage than if Israel was involved) and the effect this, and other events such as the Hamas takeover in Gaza last year, will have on the entire Middle East.  

Finally, I would like to mention a piece by Gil Troy, which he first wrote in 2001 but has updated in honour of Israel’s 60th entitled ‘Why I am a Zionist’. The statement that rings the most true to me is, “I am a Zionist because I celebrate Israel’s existence. Like any thoughtful patriot, though I might criticize particular government policies I dislike – I do not delegitimize the state itself.”

Best wishes,


Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
State Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507