An article appeared in yesterday’s online edition of the Australian entitled ‘UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demands compensation from Israel for Gaza strikes’. The article from AFP covered the latest UN investigation which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found conclusively that Israeli weaponry was “the indisputed cause” of attacks on several schools, a health clinic and the world body’s Gaza headquarters. One of the recommendations from the report said that the UN should “take appropriate action to seek accountability and pursue claims to secure reparation or reimbursement for all expenses incurred and payment made by the United Nations”. The article stated that “in one strike near a UN school more than 40 people were killed” and in the end the article repeated the mantra about the “1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians” killed during the fighting.
Those who have followed the conflict closely would understand that the UN investigation and the AFP report simply regurgitated old claims, mainly from Palestinian sources, many of which have proven to be unreliable at best if not totally false. An example is the allegation that forty people were killed near the UN school. The research done on the matter reveals that not only did the UN jump the gun in declaring that Israel had attacked a UN school (the Age claimed this on the day after the incident took place but never retracted despite the fact that it has been totally debunked) but that the original casualty figures of 40 were subsequently reduced to just 12, with nine of those being terrorists (see more). The Age has remained silent to this day on that matter.
Today’s print edition of the Australian has rectified a lot of the claims made yesterday by the AFP. In an article by Abraham Rabinovich entitled ‘Israel savages UN report on Gaza attacks’ a more balanced position is presented, with figures from both sides and a clarification on the UN school fiasco. The first recommendation of the UN report seeks “formal acknowledgment by the Government of Israel that its public statements alleging Palestinians fired [from the UN school compound] were untrue and regretted”. Rabinovich exposes the fact that the recommendation makes no mention of the UN’s own initial claims that the school had been struck by Israel, which was also untrue.
The Age never seems to disappoint with their own offering of the same story entitled ‘UN chief seeks compensation from Israel’ by John Heilprin, AP and APF. All of the initial claims are in there, minus any explanation or clarification from the Israeli side.
What the Age has added in from the initial AFP report is 8 paragraphs about an alleged torture facility which is an “undetermined location in Israel and which is not accessible to the International Committee of the Red Cross or detainee’s lawyers and relatives”. Israel has denied operating the centre or using it for interrogation. I want to know when the Age is going to print a story about Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity by Hamas by 1047 days, and has been denied even the most basic human rights.
I have often talked about my dismay at the numbers game that is continually played out by the media. I have now come across an interesting article that appeared in the New Republic entitled ‘Numbers Game’, which talks about the discrepancies in the numbers of civilians killed during Operation Cast Lead. For example, certain names that have popped up on the civilian list have been exposed terrorists involved in attacks over the years, including a militant cleric who mentored suicide bombers and sent his own son on a suicide mission in 2001. In regards to this particular instance, those compiling the Palestinian numbers claim that they “cannot count him as a militant or fighter” because he was unarmed and at home with his wives and children when he was killed.
The Age and the Australian both report on US-Israel relations with ‘Biden outlines peace requirements’ and ‘US cranks up pressure for two-state Mid-East solution’. The Age declares that “Netanyahu has so far refused to publicly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state”, despite then mentioning that President Shimon Peres declared that Netanyahu will honour the obligations of the Road Map. Most observers know full well that the Road Map calls for two states, so the Age is plain wrong on this point. Further, it is the PA leader Mahmoud Abbas who has failed to endorse a two state solution as outlined in various UN resolutions which called for two states starting with the November 1947 partition resolution on which all subsequent resolutions and negotiations have been based – the one that called for two states; one Jewish and one Arab.
As I mentioned in my last email, the Zionist Council of Victoria and the Zionist Federation of Australia are hosting the Australian Premiere of Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel”, a documentary based on his bestselling novel of the same name. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Rabbi James Kennard and Idan Dershowitz. Tickets are $15 and are selling fast. To pre-book your ticket, please email me or phone 9272 5507. Payment can be made over the phone via credit card or by coming into the ZCV office and paying cash. For the flyer and a preview of the film, click here. I look forward to seeing you there!
Israel Advocacy Analyst
Zionist Council of Victoria