March update from Ron Weiser

News and Views

I was really hoping that on International Women’s Day recently, some of the good friends of our community would use the opportunity to condemn the rape and sexual mutilation of young and old, that took place on 7 October and which continues to be used as a weapon of humiliation and intimidation and dehumanisation, on those held hostage by Hamas.

However, the silence was deafening.

This was all the more disturbing in that the barbarism on 7 October and the refusal to release the hostages are the core reasons that Gazans find themselves in the situation they are in today.

International Women’s Day would have been the perfect opportunity to have made this clear.

Even the United Nations Secretary General’s representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, was able to admit that, “We found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualised torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, has been committed against hostages and we have reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may still be ongoing against those in captivity.”

From some of our good friends though, nada.

In terms of aid, there is little problem in getting aid to Gaza, the issue is what happens to it once it gets into Gaza itself.

There are simply no reliable distribution capabilities.

Hamas inevitably hijack the aid by use of force, take most of it for themselves and their collaborators and then sell what remains of the donated aid at exorbitant prices to the general population.

Whether by truck, air drop, seaport or any other idea, the critical problem of distribution remains.

UNRWA is certainly not the answer.

Friends of Israel, looking with Western eyes, are just naïve.

John Spencer, who is the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point lays it out clearly.

Spencer says, “Hamas’ strategy is not centred on territorial gains or on defeating Israel militarily. But rather on leveraging time as a political tool, by prolonging the conflict and garnering international attention through the use of human shields and allegations of war crimes.”

That is, that Hamas has as its fundamental aim, to maximise the suffering of the people of Gaza, whilst exaggerating it as much as possible to a gullible Western audience.

Hamas’ strategy is working.

Israel’s Western allies are increasingly falling into Hamas’ trap.

It is convenient for Israel’s allies to want to hold Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu solely responsible for Israel’s Gaza policy.

After all, there are constant calls in Israel for his resignation and increasing demonstrations against him.

But these calls and protests are about a whole lot of issues, not primarily against Israel’s united desire to live in security and safety from an enemy that perpetrated the 7 October atrocities, continues to torture Israel via the hostages and publicly states its desire to repeat 7 October again and again.

We must constantly remind Israel’s allies that Israel’s security concerns are real and based on experience, as well as Israel’s complete loss in international platitudes and unrealistic assessments.

Moreover, they are justifiably multiplied by the incontrovertible fact that across Gaza and the West Bank/Judea/Samaria, 7 October was and continues to be celebrated by the majority of Palestinians.

Israel’s policy in Gaza is the one thing that unites Israel and that has endorsement across the unity cabinet.

Making it about Netanyahu is, once again, to play into Hamas’ hands.

It cannot be stressed enough that Hamas started the war, and that the end to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which Hamas deliberately created and perpetrates, is to release the hostages and to surrender.

Deviation from this basic aim only extends Hamas’s control and causes more Palestinian suffering.

This week, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said, “October 7th was a terrorist attack and the world was rightly very sympathetic to and in solidarity with Israel at that time.”

But then, as if the two matters were somehow unconnected, she continued, “I think the world is horrified with the current situation…and I would say that unless Israel changes its course it will continue to lose support.”

This represents the cognitive dissonance—the disconnect—that allies of Israel imagine, between 7 October and today’s situation.

Yes, the world should be concerned with the current situation, but the blame lies with Hamas and the Palestinian leadership.

When Israel’s allies recognise this and act accordingly, a better day will arrive for both Israelis and the Palestinians.

Am Yisrael Chai.
Dr Ron Weiser AM

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