Watching all the hype associated with the situation near Gaza has caused me some concern due to the hypocrisy being portrayed.
Having lived in Israel for 24 years I will be the first to admit that Israel is not perfect. But please tell me: which country is?
Yet one thing did become apparent to me during those years: there is no other country in the world which is under the microscope as is Israel. And more than this: there is no other country under the continual danger to its very existence as is Israel.
In 2005 Israel unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip. There had previously been an accusation against Israel that ‘settlements were a hindrance to peace.’ So Israel dismantled the settlements. Was there peace thereafter? No there was not. More rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza in the period after the withdrawal than before.
So much therefore for the ‘peace = withdrawal of settlements’ equation.
This I know from first hand experience. Part of my work was to guide groups of Australians in the footsteps of the ANZAC Light Horse Brigades. On several occasions I could not enter the region of Sderot, near to the Gaza Strip due to the threat of rocket attack, or because rockets had been fired. And on numerous occasions I could not even get to the Anzac Memorial which was closer still to the Gaza Strip because of such a situation.
And this was after the dismantling of the Israeli settlements as well as before.
There is probably no other country in the world which has to live under such an intolerable situation.
To add insult to injury, the current Hamas regime (Islamic Resistance Movement which is condemned as a terrorist organization by the United States State Department, the European Union, Canada and Australia), which controls Gaza, is implacably committed to the complete destruction of Israel – a member state of the United Nations. Here is part of the Hamas Covenant:
- 'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)
- 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.' (Article 7)
- Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion… For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. (Article 14)
- 'Palestine is an Islamic land... Since this is the case, [the] Liberation of Palestine is then an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be.' (Article 14)
As it is a stated goal of Hamas to obliterate the existence of Israel, a member state of the United Nations, it is thus clear that the issue is not about the perfection or imperfection of Israel; not about how much humanitarian aid Israel does or does not convoy through to Gaza. In fact Israel does allow large quantities of humanitarian aid through to Gaza, and often personally delivers it.
One could argue that the situation in Gaza is intolerable for many ordinary citizens. That may be so. But this has little to do with the amount of humanitarian aid that Israel permits through to Gaza.
The fact is that those ordinary citizens in Gaza are living under a totalitarian regime which shows very little compassion and concern to those citizens. This is especially so for those who do not fully endorse the ideology of Hamas, which is an Islamic fundamentalist regime.
If the citizens of Gaza want to live a normal life then they need to have a new and tolerable regime in control, not adherents of a recognized and acknowledged terrorist organization which is dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
In view then of this reality, why should ordinary Israeli citizens have to suffer the hardship of being under daily threat of being bombed? And this is the ongoing case. Thousands of rockets have been launched onto Israel from Gaza over the last few years. Australians would not condone anything like this.
How then do the terrorists in Gaza continue to manufacture rockets? From where do they obtain the raw materials? The answer: from illegal tunnels into Egypt – and from illegal landings from the sea. Israel therefore has every legitimate right to protect its own citizens by ensuring that no such raw materials find their way into Gaza. Hence the sea-blockade. The sea-blockade prevents more – in quantity and quality – arms entering Gaza.
Incidentally, no illegal materials may actually be discovered on this flotilla. This would not be surprising as this flotilla was probably nothing more than a well-orchestrated ‘set-up.’
In short, that flotilla had absolutely no right to attempt to break through the Israeli blockade. They should have complied with Israel’s rightful demand that they offload in the port of Ashdod. There would have been sufficient international and media exposure to ensure that all lawful humanitarian aid would have been transferred to Gaza – after the standard weapons check.
It was very clear that the entire motive behind the flotilla was provocative. In such a situation it was inevitable that the Israeli commandos would make ‘mistakes’ due to the pressure of the situation. Australian soldiers in Afghanistan have also made mistakes resulting in civilian casualties.
It was a provocative and tense situation and it was inevitable there would be casualties if the flotilla did not comply with the requests of the Israeli government.
Those people on the flotilla, including the Australians, had absolutely no right to be there. They should have had more sense. In such a confined area I cannot see how journalists and the media could have been separated and kept safe from injury.
I lived through many problematic times in Israel, and my children endured periods of bus bombings in Jerusalem which were not pleasant. If anything happened to us then I had to own responsibility for it: no-one forced me to live there, it was my choice.
I feel the same should apply here. Israel should not be condemned. Those people on that convoy should be getting roundly scolded for their irresponsible actions. Those people must have fully known that Israel would not back down and allow that flotilla through.
It was irresponsible behaviour, and a complete set-up by the organisers. Australians should not be hood-winked by this situation.
Besides all this, there is absolutely no way that Australia would tolerate such a situation here. What total hypocrisy therefore if our government and people expect of Israel something which they themselves would not condone here on our own shores.
May I conclude by suggesting that our Prime Minister and Foreign Minister could actually apologize to Israel for the involvement of any Australian citizens in this senseless and provocative venture; a venture which was intended not for the humanitarian benefit of the citizens of Gaza, but to further the call for the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel.
*Kelvin worked for twenty years as a guide, researcher and writer with CMJ, an Anglican-based society based at Christ Church in Jerusalem. His book Anzacs, Empires and Israel’s Restoration is regarded as the foundational book relating to the role of the Anzacs in Israel. He guided and lectured numerous Australian government, trade, military and Christian groups on the role of the Anzacs and Light Horse in the Middle East and particularly relating to Israel’s modern restoration.