Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cynical bid for Australian pressure on Israel

From The Weekend Australian, July 05, 2008, by Paul Heywood-Smith and Bassam Dally, chairman and secretary of the Australian Friends of Palestine Association [my own emphasis added - SL]:

IN November 2005, ambassadors representing 25 European countries with missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah submitted a joint report warning that urgent intervention was needed to salvage hopes of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Specifically, the report noted, the ongoing expansion of Jewish settlements in and around East Jerusalem and the construction of a "separation barrier" to physically separate "greater Jerusalem" from the rest of the West Bank would "complete the isolation of East Jerusalem, the political, commercial and infrastructural centre of Palestinian life".

...This March a 26-year-old Palestinian man with no known affiliation with any Palestinian organisation walked into the Mercaz Harav, a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem, carrying a concealed AK47 assault rifle. After killing eight students and wounding 10 others, he was himself killed by one of the students.

Though the exact motives of the massacre are impossible to determine, the target seems to have been carefully chosen. The Mercaz Harav is the ideological centre of the Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) religious settler movement.

.... In March, Kevin Rudd tabled a motion in parliament that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel's establishment and reiterated his support for a two-state solution, yet Australia's silence on the expansion of Israeli settlements has been deafening.

In an interview for the Australia/Israel Review, the Prime Minister presented the most detailed exposition of his views on the Middle East to date. Without once mentioning Israeli settlements and the security barrier Israel is building through Palestinian land in defiance of the UN, he claimed that the failure of the Middle East peace process was attributable to Iran, which was "not only an existential threat towards Israel but also the broader Middle East, Europe and the world".

....As an aspirant to a seat on the UN Security Council and close US ally, Australia is well positioned to play an important middle-power role in the resolution of these issues. Its capacity to do so, however, will not be realised unless it develops a reputation as a sensitive honest broker that is prepared to intelligently engage with all parties to the conflict.

The following is a full first draft of a brief letter that I sent to the Australian in response:

Mssrs Heywood-Smith and Dally (“Rudd must …clamp down...” Weekend Australian 5-6 July) are no “friends of Palestine” if they continue to act as if hurting Israel, and dividing Australians, somehow helps Palestinians.

Instead of justifying terrorist attacks on religious schools and agitating for Australian-government anti-Israel positions, they should be directing their attention to overhauling the failed Arab leadership that has impoverished and tormented the objects of their “friendship”.

Palestinian Arab leaders persecuted their Jewish minority population from the 1920s, and launched a relentless campaign, against the interests of their own people, to obliterate the Jewish national revival.

Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian national movement during the 1930s and 1940s, not only rejected partition of the British Mandate of Palestine, but collaborated with the Nazis' genocidal agenda.

Even after Transjordan (now Jordan) had been formed from 80% of the British Mandate of Palestine, he rejected the 1937 Peel Commission proposal to partition the remaining 20%.

In 1947, the UN partition would have created an even larger Arab state. But for the Arabs' violent attempt to abort the partition, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place.

At the Rhodes Armistice talks and Lausanne Conference in 1949, Israel offered to return captured land as part of a formal peace agreement. Arab rulers refused.

Had Yasir Arafat sought peace and reconciliation, instead of rejectionism and terrorism, a Palestinian state could have been established from the late 1960’s, most recently at Camp David in 2000.

From 1948 to 1967, Israel did not control the West Bank. The Palestinians could have demanded an independent state from the Jordanians but did not. They rejected the offer of Palestinian autonomy in the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations. They scuttled the Oslo process that began in 1993 leading toward the creation of a Palestinian state, by violating their commitments.

In 2000, Arafat also rejected the offer at Camp David to create a Palestinian state.

For sixty years since their self-inflicted, violent and catastrophic rejection of the UN partition, misguided, self-serving Arab leaders have kept the refugees of 1948 and their descendants in squalid camps, fed on hatred and false hope, and squandered repeated opportunities for statehood and economic progress. Hajj Amin and Arafat are just examples of the cynical and self-seeking leaders produced by the despotic Arab political system.

Yet here we are, six decades after the mufti condemned his people to statelessness by rejecting the UN partition, and the latest crop of Arab leaders (including the so-called “moderates”), continue the futile policies of vilifying and de-legitimising Israel and seeking its destruction either openly or covertly.

Similarly our Australian "Friends of Palestine" seek "justice" by vilifying Israel and agitating for its political isolation. Instead they should be clamouring for a new and fundamentally different Arab leadership, and abandoning their adversarial fuelling of the conflict.

Neither Israel, nor Australian friends of Israel are the enemies of the Palestinian people. Their own leaders are.

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