Dr. Ron Weiser AM
If I hear the phrase “peaceful demonstration” just one more time, I will have no hair left on my head to tear out.
One wonders how it can be that otherwise seemingly intelligent people like Labor’s Anthony Albanese can look at the Hamas violence and say:
“International law requires a proportionate response, and those people who have guns on one side and, on the other side has rocks, the people with guns have a responsibility to act in a way which is proportionate and people have seen this acted out on their television screen in the last week.”
There were really two parts to the Gaza demonstrations.
A more or less nonviolent one at some distance from the fence.
And then there were the Hamas led rioters, in some cases armed with Molotov cocktails, burning kites, grenades and even machine guns. Their stated objective was to cross a border they do not regard as sovereign, attack Jews (they specifically used the word “Jews”) and to occupy Israeli kibbutzim and towns near Gaza creating as much death and mayhem as possible.
What Israel did was very simply – self-defence.
And in a situation where Hamas considers every Palestinian death as a public relations victory, and use women, children and babies as human shields, it is really amazing that Israel was able to limit the death toll.
Hamas itself boasted that on that fateful Monday, fifty of those killed were their own operatives and three were from Islamic Jihad.
Amazingly, the next day the death toll dropped to two. Did the IDF change its methods? Or discover some magic formula?
No, Egypt intervened and put pressure on Hamas and agreed to end its blockade of Gaza – that is, Egypt blockading Gaza – for the duration of Ramadan.
To make conditions even more miserable for their fellow Gazans, Palestinians burned the gas lines bringing Israeli fuel into Gaza, attacked and damaged the Kerem Shalom crossing where Israel transfers goods into Gaza and turned away trucks coming from Israel with medical supplies.
Kerem Shalom by the way was attacked on the 4th of May and then after repairs by Israel, was again attacked by Gazans and damaged more badly on the 11th of May.
Kol hakavod to Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Bishop for acting on behalf of Australia in their principled stand, in being one of only two countries in the world to vote against the UNHRC’s (United Nations Human Rights Council) faux inquiry.
The UNHRC, or as Prime Minister Netanyahu calls it “The Council for Resolutions Against the Only Democracy in the Middle East” regularly passes more anti-Israel resolutions than resolutions about all other countries combined.
The UNHRC is a body dominated by some of the worst human rights abusers in the world today. Its resolution did not even mention Hamas and its inquiry will neither be independent nor fair.
As US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said: “When the Human Rights Council treats Israel worse than North Korea, Iran, and Syria, it is the council itself that is foolish and unworthy of its name.”
Even Canada, which to its own discredit only abstained instead of voting against the resolution, said:
“We cannot support the resolution before the Council today, as it clearly prejudges the outcome of such an investigation. The resolution is one-sided, and does not advance the prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to this conflict. The resolution also singles out Israel, without any reference to other actors. Canada’s long-stated position is that we expect all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law, and this is not reflected in the resolution.”
And yet Albanese is happy to call the UNHRC investigation independent and say: “Certainly, I think the (Australian) government needs to explain why it has opposed this independent investigation.”
No, it really does not.
The answer is quite obvious to all fair minded people.
Sure, Israel needs to constantly examine and re-examine itself to determine if it can do better, and how to defend itself and at the same time minimise further, the loss of life, even on the aggressors’ side.
And it does.
After Yom Tov I sat down to watch Q&A on the ABC. With Randa Abdel-Fattah on the panel there was some inkling that we were to expect an ideologically filled mish mash of emotion and inaccuracy. I had had my own encounter with her on Triple M’s The Grill program.
What was not quite expected was the lack of oxygen given to Greg Sheridan as he vainly time and again tried to inject some context and fact into the debate, only to be shut down by host Tony Jones.
It was Peter Singer who posed the moral question: “Why Hamas was inviting people go to the fence… Why people would go there with their children and babies actually is mind-boggling to me. What kind of person would you have to be to take their baby to an area where there’s likely to be firing?”
IDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Monday. He is well worth quoting.
Manelis described the protests as “Hamas-orchestrated theatrics” targeting the international audience.
He continued “The IDF had precise intelligence that the violent riots were masking a plan of mass infiltration into Israel in order to carry out a massacre against Israeli civilians. Hamas called it a ‘peaceful protest,’ and much of the world simply fell for it.”
On May 13, Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, said in an interview with Al Jazeera: “‘When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we are deceiving the public,’” Manelis wrote.
Manelis also posed the question: “On April 6, the Hamas political leader, Yahya Sinwar, stated: ‘We will take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies.’ On Facebook Hamas posted maps for their operatives showing the quickest routes from the border with Israel to Israelis’ homes, schools, and day-care centers near the border. Does that sound like a peaceful protest to you?”
Well apparently, to many commentators on the ABC, it does.
We are in a battle, and it is the battle of the narratives.
The problem is that the Palestinians tell a story that is consistent, ongoing and unified. And each and every time they make up ‘facts’ to fit their narrative.
They can say black is white and western media laps it up.
They can fall back on anti-Semitic tropes and many world leaders are all too happy to repeat them.
Our narrative is nuanced, with shades of grey and many contradictory views expressed from within – which is positive and democratic – just much harder to promote in snappy soundbites.
Ironically as middle Israel’s tent becomes much wider and the vast majority of Israelis coalesce around a more unified consensus with disagreements on tactics but not direction, diaspora Jews, especially in the USA, are becoming more polarised and are moving to both left and right extremes.
The people who set out to ‘save Israel from herself’ as it were, ironically, are in fact ultimately damaging our narrative the most in their naiveté.
The distinction between helping Israel grow and improve herself from a positive starting point, as opposed to the need to ‘save’ her from some sort of fanciful internal moral decline and implosion is important. Very important.
And ultimately will determine how our narrative is seen and understood.
Views for and against President Trump serve to amplify the internal divisions.
But Trump is not Israel. And whilst of course it is better to have the USA as a friend than a critic, it should be understood that it is Israel herself that has navigated a path these 70 years that has led to a country, the extent of whose achievements, no-one honestly could have really envisioned.
And especially in such a short time. And even more so against the background of such a troubled region.
Dr Ron Weiser AM
Dr. Ron Weiser AM is the Zionist Federation of Australia Public Affairs Chairman and the Hon Life President of the Zionist Council of NSW.