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Update – 13 May 2010

Dear All,

A University campus is normally an interesting place to visit. On Tuesday, I was walking across Melbourne University when I noticed a small crowd gathering in the distance. Someone was waving a Palestinian flag and others were wearing kaffiyehs so I moved closer to see what all of the commotion was about.

It turned out that I had stumbled across an activity which the Students for Palestine call an ‘al-Nakba BBQ’. Of course, al-Nakba refers to the “catastrophe”, an annual day of morning for Palestinians which marks the creation of the State of Israel. To me, the idea of a having a BBQ to mark an alleged “catastrophe” seemed inappropriate and more than a little insensitive, but that is not what really bothered me.

What I really found bizarre was the group of students who had set themselves up next to them, handing out flyers for an upcoming rally for same-sex marriage rights. What a peculiar partnership?

I wonder whether these students are aware of what it means to be a homosexual in a place like the Gaza Strip or even in parts of the West Bank. While homosexuality is not technically illegal in Palestinian areas, there is absolutely no legal protection for gays from discrimination and hate crimes (see more) and most need to either hide who they are, or flee to Israel for protection.

In 2005 on the issue of gay marriage, Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ most senior officials declared, “Are these laws for which the Palestinian street is waiting? For us to give rights to homosexuals and to lesbians, a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick?” (see more)

Now, I wonder whether these students who purport to align themselves to causes of social justice really understand the truth behind the cause they are supporting?

Clearly, they are unaware of what goes on in places like the Gaza Strip and the above example is just one of dozens that demonstrate how what should be basic human rights are completely ignored under Palestinian rule. Yet these same social justice groups, that believe in gay rights, the rights of women, civil rights etc, are happy to march across the streets of Melbourne accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.

Let’s face it, their knowledge and understanding of the complex conflict between Israel and its neighbours is limited.

The problem is that you have newspaper column space given to people like George Bisharat claiming that “the catastrophe of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Arabs continues unabated to this day” (see more). Just like the apartheid claim, the ethnic cleansing claim is outrageous not just because it is a complete fabrication that can be clearly refuted by a little something called ‘history’ and ‘truth’, but because this lie is given validity by newspapers, commentators and Israel’s detractors on campus.

How is it possible for Israel to have committed (and still be committing) some sort of ethnic cleansing yet leave what now amounts to 20% of the population living as equal citizens in the country? The Bedouins, for example, are considered a small minority within Israel’s Arab minority. Their population has increased tenfold since the establishment of Israel in 1948 (see more). Please read this very in-depth list of facts refuting the claims of ethnic cleansing with plenty of supporting evidence to back it up.

Perhaps the students are unaware that many of Israel’s enemies consider that the “catastrophe” really was their failure to destroy the Jewish State and to wipe out its inhabitants back in 1948 and in subsequent wars?

Just today, while listening to Khaled Abu Toameh speak at Monash University, a girl from Students for Palestine stated clearly (and hysterically) that Israel has NO right to exist because it is an apartheid state. This is after listening to an Israeli-Arab journalist speak for 20 minutes about why he writes for the Jerusalem Post, namely because he able to do his job, report the news freely. Listen up Students for Palestine. If you do not believe Israel has a right to exist, there is no starting point and we have nothing to talk about.

Finally, in other news, the ZCVs guest speaker Ambassador (Ret) Yoram Ettinger will be on ABC2 News Breakfast tomorrow morning (Friday) at 7:30am. The interview will run for 7 minutes. You can find ABC2 on Channel 22 of your digital television and 126 on Foxtel.

Then join us at 8:15am on the Ground Floor, Conference Room at Beth Weizmann Community Centre. For those that attended the Yom Yerushalayim Oration last night, you will know it is well worth coming to hear more Ambassador Ettinger’s well-informed insights. For those that were unable to attend last night, do not miss your chance again!

Best wishes,