By Hal G.P. Colebatch PhD
(Winner, Western Australian Premier's Prize for Poetry, Australian Prime Minister's Prize for History)
At home in Australia, we cannot be backwards in confronting enemies of Israel and anti-Semites, such as the Catholic Bishop Pat Power and many church, “aid” and “peace” organizations so-called, as well as the outright political extremists. Confront them, challenge them, put them on the spot! We and our friends can complain, not once but repeatedly, about the blatant anti-Israel bias of the ABC. One complaint will make no difference, but hundreds might. Any of you can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr said: “When people criticize Zionist(s), they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism... Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity... Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Present American policy has sought to straddle the motivations of all major parties in the Middle East and America is therefore losing the ability to shape events.
The U.S. is now opposed to, or at odds in some way or another with, all parties in the region: with Israel over its insults to the Prime Minister and its Munich-like nuclear agreement with Iran, with Egypt on human rights; with Saudi Arabia over Yemen; with each of the warring Syrian parties over different objectives. It treacherously refuses to help or support almost its one desperately-threatened true friend in the neighbourhood apart from Israel – the ancient Assyrian Christian community.
The U.S. proclaims determination to remove Mr. Assad but has been unwilling to generate effective leverage—political or military—to achieve that or any other aim. Nor has the U.S. put forward an alternative political structure to replace Mr. Assad should his departure somehow be realized.
Russia, Iran, ISIS, El Qada and various terrorist organizations have moved into this vacuum: Russia and Iran to sustain Mr. Assad; Tehran to foster imperial and jihadist designs. The Sunni states of the Persian Gulf, Jordan and Egypt, faced with the absence of an alternative political structure, favour the American objective but fear the consequence of turning Syria into another Libya…
There are some signs that give grounds, very cautiously, for hope. Russia seems to be awakening to the threat Islamism poses toi itself. The atrocities of the abominable ISIS, ISIL, Da’sh or whatever it is called, have caused Egypt and Jordan to move closer to Israel, in military co-operation, and perhaps later to co-operation in other matters as well.
These countries recognize Islamic extremism is a threat to themselves as well as Israel.
Israel, Jordan and Egypt have recently carried out combined air-exercises. The extremist Egyptian leader Morsi, a member of the Moslem Brotherhood, was thrown out by a popular Egyptian majority uprising, despite President Obama’s incredibly stupid efforts to prop him up, and to oppose help to the moderate El Sisi regime.
Egypt’s present President El Sisi has very bravely denounced Islamic extremism, taking his life in his hands by doing so – he can hardly have forgotten his heroic predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was murdered for doing the same thing and for signing a peace treaty with Israel.
Egypt has flooded nearly all the terrorist tunnels leading from its territory into Gaza, through which terrorists smuggled weapons and rockets. But now there is a significant sign things have moved beyond mere military co-operation: For the first time since Egypt voted for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Arab State has voted in Israel’s favor at the United Nations, this time to support Israel’s bid for membership of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs. The bid passed, admitting Israel to the committee, which governs the exploration and use of space for peace, security and development. One hundred and seventeen UN member states voted in Israel’s favor, 21 countries abstained, including many Arab states, and only one country – Namibia – voted against.
I also feel hope because Israel is well-supplied with a natural resource more precious than any other in the world – human capital. The achievements and quality of its people are a beacon to the world
If I were to read out a list of this tiny country’s scientific and technological, and artistic and cultural, achievements, and add perhaps the names of the Jewish Nobel Prize winners, in the hard subjects, we would be here a very long time. Let me quote one small example of Israel’s achievements, a story from The Australian of September 15:
“Israel’s saline Arava Valley receives only 20-50 of rain per year, yet 90% of its 3,500 residents are farmers growing capsicums, eggplant, dates, figs, tomatoes, melons, flowers, grapes and fish, producing up to 60% of the country’s agricultural exports.” Those of you who have been to Israel will have seen the farms and lush orchards created from howling wilderness. It is a real-world miracle. My son, and I thought this rather amusing, worked on a kibbutz raising pork. Israeli desert techniques could feed the world. They could certainly multiply Australia’s food production.
Last year, six of the 10 companies on Forbes’s Top 10 Health Tech Changing the World were Israeli. The country, already known as an incubator of high-technology businesses, is a strong player in a growing global medical devices market, which is expected to grow by billions of dollars in the next few years, according to market research companies. Investment in startup tech companies in Israel has grown to more than $5-billion (U.S.) in 2015,
There is a stream of innovation coming out of Israel, in all disciplines but perhaps most dramatically in medicine, potentially to the benefit of all the human race. In medical technology and invention this tiny country leads the world. One cannot help noticing that its enemies have invented nothing in all the centuries. Instead of engaging the modern world and the wonderful, truly miraculous, possibilities of modernity, they remain sunk in hatred, self-pity and medievalism.
None of us can forget for one moment that Israel is a tiny country surrounded by enemies sworn to its annihilation, with whole populations brainwashed in blind hatred from birth. It cannot afford to relax its security and strength for one moment.
How totally shameful it is that some Western Universities have banned Israeli scholars or refused publication of Israeli-authored scientific papers! I know this has happened in Britain and Europe and even at some universities in the US. I don’t know if it happens in Australia, but if it does, then the universities concerned should be subjected – by people like you – to a relentless and unremitting barrage of protests. I know universities. I know that many are run by politically-sensitive cowards – Vicars of Bray on princely salaries, and they will cave in when pressure is applied or when their actions bring them the sort of publicity they do not like. I repeat those words of Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.
Talking of which, much of the media is not, I think, prejudiced. Much of it is too stupid to be prejudiced. But it will support those who use it most cleverly. As a professional journalist of many years’ experience, I will be happy to make that experience in dealing with the media available for our cause.
Israel is the point-soldier of Western civilization, the one ahead of all the rest at the sharp end.
I say from the bottom of my heart, to Jews and to my fellow Christians, and to atheists and agnostics too: If Israel stands, we may have a bright future on Earth and even perhaps in the stars. But if Israel falls or fails, we are all lost. There is nothing more certain.
As a Christian, I conclude with the words of Ruth: “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.’ ”