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Update – 17 August 2009

Dear All,

In an interview with famous Israeli author Amos Oz, the interviewer asked Oz if it is true what they say about a writer writing the same story all of his life, to which Oz replied, “I hope it’s not true. But I’m afraid it is.”

Sometimes in this role, I feel exactly the same – as if I am writing the same story over and over. The particulars of each individual story change, but the essence is still the same. I was therefore not at all surprised when I opened up both the Age and the Australian newspapers today to see that once again, both papers have a different idea of what constitutes news.

I would have to go with the Australian’s version of the news today, with their offering by correspondent John Lyons entitled ‘Hamas battles hardline Gaza rivals’. Sheik Abdel-Latif Moussa, the leader a group called Jund Ansar Allah, declared on Friday, “We will set up the Gaza emirate on our death bodies, and we will apply the laws and edicts of Sharia”. It would seem that the group is not happy with the way Hamas is ruling in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, he also declared the group’s links to al-Qaeda, “we belong to al-Qaeda and our leader is Osama Bin Laden”.

Of Hamas, he declared, “it’s not implementing Islamic law and prefers to meet with Congress members and with Blair and Carter… Should Hamas choose the way of Allah and the way of Jihad, we shall be its servants, but if they try to take over our mosques, we’ll cut off their arms” (see more). What ensued over the next several hours was a gun battle, which led to 24 people being killed, most of them from Jund Ansar Allah. Moussa himself was killed in the battle. Hamas has declared that Moussa committed suicide by detonating an explosive vest he was wearing once they knew they were cornered (see more) but this is unverified given the fact that journalists have been denied access to independently verify any such claims. Jund Ansar Allah has posted a message on the al-Qaeda website declaring that they will avenge the 24 deaths and that “war is on its way” (see more).

It is a different story in the Age today. And when I say different story, I do not mean that their version of events are different. What I mean, is that the Age chose not to run with this story at all, and instead filed a very different story entitled ‘Delicious’ beer just the drop for Palestinian Oktoberfest in the West Bank’. This Jason Koutsoukis piece is just another fluff piece to add to his collection, this time about the booming brewery of one West Bank resident. The beer is called ‘Taybeh” and under the slogan ‘Drink Palestinian – Taste the Revolution’, the company produces about 500,000 litres a year which is then imported to places such as Europe and Japan. Now while I am glad that Koutsoukis is introducing the Australian public to what is a truly tasty beer (indeed, it is available in great bars all over Israel), it is hard to believe that this is really considered news, especially on a day when our other reliable broadsheet is printing stories about the chaos in Gaza. Did Koutsoukis miss this story because he was too drunk from all the “Taybeh” in the West Bank?

Finally, this is already a few weeks old, but I have not read about it in any of the mainstream media. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a 164-page report at the end of July entitled ‘The Operation in Gaza – Factual and Legal Aspects’. While Human Rights groups and the media are quick to point the blame squarely at Israel, this report gives a factual perspective based on legal aspects. The result shows that the IDF was guided by International Humanitarian Law, including the principles of distinction and proportionality. It also demonstrates how both before and during the Operation, ‘the IDF went to great lengths to ensure that humanitarian aid reached the Palestinian population, including by facilitating the delivery of 1,511 trucks carrying 27,162 tons’. For a shorter analysis of the Paper, please click here.

Best wishes,

Emily Chrapot
Israel Advocacy Analyst
Zionist Council of Victoria
9272 5507