Update – 14 November 2008

Dear Advocates, 

Over the past ten days there has been a significant escalation of hostilities in and around Gaza which began when it was discovered that Hamas was digging a tunnel in preparation for further abductions of Israel soldiers. An Israeli operation into the territory ensued (I wrote about this here last week). Hamas responded immediately by launching rockets and mortar shells into Israel. Between 4 November and 11 November, 61 rockets and 18 mortar shells were fired. Since the lull arrangement went into effect in June 81 rockets and 36 mortar shells were fired, meaning a significant increase in fire from Gaza in the past week or so. Since this data was noted, even more rockets have fallen. For more information on the escalation of violence please read News of the Terrorism and Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: November 4-11 2008 from Terrorism info.

Our print media has not reported much over the last few days but the television news stations, particularly SBS have been reporting on the closure of the border between Israel and Gaza and its effect on humanitarian aide into Gaza. Even the Israeli media is reporting on the shortages – read ‘Israel insists ceasefire can hold’ from Jpost and ‘UN: Israel’s border closures leave us with no food for Gaza’ from Haaretz.

The fundamental difference is the context provided in the Israeli media against a complete lack of context elsewhere. This is not to justify border closures or accept that one action rationalises another but it would be helpful if the if media would attempt to hold Hamas accountable for their actions in the same way as it holds Israel accountable for what it does even when it acts to defend its own citizens under threat or under fire from hostile forces.

Today’s Age carries an Op-Ed by Daniel Flitton entitled ‘How to reverse bad policy and come up smelling like roses’, which addresses the issue of the Australian government voting in favour of UN resolutions against Israel. He suggests that though it a risky move – “upsetting Israel… annoying some in Australia’s Jewish community” – it is “the right approach”. He states “Australia can be a friend to Israel and at the same time firmly impress upon Tel Aviv the need to abide by international standards”.

Flitton does seem to suggest a more cynical reason (which other advocates have also mentioned) for Australia voting against Israel at the UN – namely Australia’s bid to get a seat on the UN Security Council in 2013-2014, which could be blocked by certain countries. He concludes by saying that “Australia’s former position compromised our international standing” (apparently even regardless of whether that position was morally correct) but his final sentence that “Australia has added its voice to the world majority, demanding Israel and the Palestinians make a genuine effort towards peace” seems rather hollow in view of the fact that both the current government and its predecessor has constantly been on record as supporting a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

Meanwhile, a recent report from PMW shows a children’s program, again from Palestine Authority controlled television (that’s the peace partner), teaching children to deny the legitimacy of Israel. Scientists have suggested that what we teach children from birth until the age of six shapes them for life in terms of their attitudes and behaviour. If they embed this mode of thought including hateful characters who deny the other’s basic right to exist like Farfour the Mouse into the minds of young children, then what hope is there for the attainment of a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians and what hope is there for the future? These are questions that are shunned in our media by people like Daniel Flitton and others of his view who rarely even consider them as having any relevance. If there is to be a genuine peace it must be based upon mutual recognition and therefore, as one advocate put it, talking about Israel’s “right” to exist should be off the table. Israel exists – now let’s move on.

Best wishes,


Emily Chrapot
Research Officer
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507