22 August 2016

WA Liberal Party Rejects the BDS Movement

The WA Liberal Party unanimously passed a motion at its annual State Conference rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The motion specifically called on the Federal Government to
"condemn any attempts by Australian organisations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement at home or abroad as well as take measures to prohibit such organisations from receiving support from or be associated with public agencies or government departments". 

State Vice President Anthony Spagnolo applauded the motion stating: 
“The BDS movement hurts Jewish businesses and further divides people instead of working towards a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The unanimous passing of this motion is testament to the WA Liberal Party’s longstanding support for the State of Israel.”

18 August 2016

Repeal of 18C would send 'worst possible message'

Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said if the Coalition backed a bill by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to remove “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the RDA, it would be the worst possible message.

“The removal of the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from section 18C would send a signal from government that the public promotion of racism will be tolerated in Australia and will no longer be considered to violate community standards...That would be the worst possible message to send at a time of increasing fear, insecurity and polarisation. It would be a serious abrogation of principled leadership by government.”

Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’
Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’ Photograph: Stefan Postles/AAP

Repeal of 18C would send 'worst possible message'

Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said if the Coalition backed a bill by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to remove “offend” and “insult” from section 18C of the RDA, it would be the worst possible message.

“The removal of the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from section 18C would send a signal from government that the public promotion of racism will be tolerated in Australia and will no longer be considered to violate community standards...That would be the worst possible message to send at a time of increasing fear, insecurity and polarisation. It would be a serious abrogation of principled leadership by government.”

Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’
Cory Bernardi: ‘While some want to abolish [18C], a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act.’ Photograph: Stefan Postles/AAP

16 August 2016

GetUp! ...and "force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety"

From The Australian, 16 Aug 2016, by Sharri Markson:
A director of activist group GetUp! supports a boycott of Israeli products and wants to “force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety”. 
Fresh from revelations GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison campaigned for the Greens during the federal election, comes news that another board member, Sara Saleh, publicly supports the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement on Twitter.

Sarah Maddison & Sara Saleh
In a speech in March, Ms Saleh said the media fabricated news in support of Israel and claimed Israeli soldiers were banned from taking their phones into Gaza so they could not post to Facebook photos of them doing unspeakable things to dead Palestinians.
“It would come then as no surprise that after years of indoctrination, most Western news outlets are biased in favour of Israel, skewed at best, one-sided at worst in their media reports,” Ms Saleh said, adding this included “fabrication of news”.
...At the Australians For Palestine forum in March, Ms Saleh also said:
“We must crack their ethno-nationalist supremacy to the very core. We must go further than resisting through remembrance alone, we must force Israel into a perennial state of existential anxiety.’’
During the federal election, Ms Saleh was involved in the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network’s IvotePalestine campaign, which had the support of all 51 Greens candidates.
GetUp! told The Australian it represented “mainstream issues important to a majority of Australians” including “economic fairness, human rights and environmental justice”.
Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, whose seat of Higgins was also targeted by GetUp! during the election campaign, said it was “very clear” the group had a “very political agenda to support the Greens”.
“It’s disappointing that organisations like GetUp! pretend to be non-partisan but are hyper-partisan and hyper-political,” she said.
“I think any person who has supported GetUp! on the basis that it wasn’t a political organisation, should reassess. GetUp! needs to be much more upfront as to where the funding actually goes and whose campaign they are supporting.”
The federal Labor MP for inner-city seat of Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, said his support for Israel was one of the reasons the Greens campaigned against him.
Ms Saleh refused to comment yesterday. GetUp! released a statement saying: “Our board consists of experienced people with diverse interests and affiliations.’’

10 August 2016

World Vision has seriously betrayed donors' trust

From The Australian, Editorial, August 8, 2016:

$56 million of donations used to fund terrorism

... Investigations that led to the arrest of World Vision's Gaza director Mohammed el-Halabi, [an estimated $56 million of its funds were allegedly diverted to help Hamas terrorists in Gaza], revealed "an abysmal lack of monitoring of donations and projects".

That criticism demands urgent action by World Vision in Australia and the other 100 countries in which it operates.

It would be hard to imagine a more egregious betrayal of trust than for money donated to a charity in good faith to end up serving the cause of murderous terrorists who concentrate on killing innocent civilians.
That is what the Gaza-born Halabi stands accused of by Israel's internal security service Shin Bet. It says he has been a lifelong member of Hamas and received military training in the early 2000s before Hamas leaders ordered him "to infiltrate" World Vision in 2004.
According to Shin Bet, he rose through the ranks until he became World Vision's Gaza director, financing weapons and military bases and providing materials for Hamas to construct the maze of tunnels it uses with deadly effect to attack Israel. According to Shin Bet, a project for the "rehabilitation of fishermen" was a cover to equip the terrorists' military marine unit. As Dore Gold, director-general of Israel's foreign ministry says, Hamas works hand in glove with Islamic State terrorists in neighbouring Sinai and is an integral part of Iran's actions in the Middle East.

Rightly, the Australian government has suspended its funding of World Vision projects in Gaza, for which DFAT provided $5.7m in the past three years. While Halabi has reportedly confessed, it would be unthinkable to resume such taxpayer funding until the case against him has been concluded. World Vision's website, shows 71 per cent of its funding in Australia comes from the community and 12 per cent from government.

As Colin Rubenstein wrote in The Weekend Australian:
"diverting humanitarian aid is despicable; diverting it to a militant organisation that carries out attacks on civilians is simply evil."
World Vision, which spends so much time appealing for donations on television, must do better in supervising how its funds are spent.


08 August 2016

ABC's Sophie McNeill: biased Israel basher with a blind spot for Hamas


Hamas again largely missing from Sophie McNeill's latest Gaza expedition

Allon Lee

August 8 2016

On ABC TV, Radio and the national broadcaster's website (July 30), Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill returned to what is clearly her favourite type of story - a one dimensional narrative focusing on Palestinians suffering in Gaza, where only Israel is deemed culpable for their plight.

Her hook was to focus on the challenges of rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed in Gaza during the 2014 conflict.

...On ABC TV "7pm News" in Victoria, newsreader Ian Henderson's introduction said rebuilding is "painfully slow as Israel tightly controls the importation of building materials," omitting from responsibility Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza over which Israel has no control.

...reports began with McNeill's favoured style of opening - introducing viewers to the travails of ordinary Palestinians who are just trying to live their lives but are being unreasonably oppressed by Israel.

According to McNeill, Fida Mosabeh's home was damaged when hit during an Israeli airstrike on their neighbourhood on "the outskirts of Gaza".

It is disappointing McNeill didn't name Mosabeh's neighbourhood. This is important because most of the damage that occurred in Gaza happened in the outer suburbs, such as Beit Hanoun and Shuja'iyya, which are Hamas strongholds and were the scenes of some of the fiercest fighting during the 2014 war.

This is not incidental because Hamas deliberately based its fighters and military infrastructure in residential areas, using civilians as human shields.

The TV report said Israel restricts many building materials with Israeli spokesman Adam Avidan quoted vaguely explaining that Hamas diverts these materials for "military needs."

...On the website, she wrote that "the issue of importing concrete into the besieged Strip" is now "the newest battleground between the people of Gaza and Israel."

McNeill said one Palestinian, Abdel Rahman, who is currently rebuilding his home, told her it was "humiliating that Israel first destroyed his home; and now he needs their approval to rebuild it" under the GRM arrangements.
Maybe she could've asked Abdel Rahman if Hamas' military doctrine of fighting from within residential areas means it therefore holds even a modicum of responsibility for the damage to his home. Indeed, almost completely missing from the report was any sense that Hamas could have any responsibility whatsoever for either the destruction in Gaza or the slowness of Gaza reconstruction - even though it is the governing authority of the territory - and even the UN has admitted that Hamas is stealing cement intended for civilian reconstruction.
...the "AM" intro failed to acknowledge that in addition to needing to neutralise rocket launches from Gaza, much of the damage was a by-product of Israeli forces needing to destroy terror tunnels whose entrances were inside houses, as well as contending with houses that Hamas had booby-trapped.

...Robert Piper, UN Gaza humanitarian coordinator, was quoted ..On TV ... "we need to call it what it is which is the collective punishment on 1.8 million Gazans."

The "collective punishment" allegation was given special prominence in the online article, appearing both as a bold headline, and as a pull quote, screaming out to readers the message that the blockade is inhumane.

Unsurprisingly, McNeill didn't ask how Piper can guarantee that lifting a partial blockade won't lead to further attacks by an entity that has spent 25 years carrying out terror attacks against a country it has repeatedly vowed to destroy - because implying that Hamas has any responsibility for the Gaza situation was apparently out of the question.

The reasoning for the omission of such an obvious question is apparent when one considers how McNeill's July 14 "AM" item
reporting on the discovery of newly built terror tunnels had concluded.

In that instance, McNeill decided to end the report with quotes from Sabah Udar, whose son had died whilst excavating a tunnel. Udar said, "If there was no occupation, our children wouldn't do such a thing."

In other words, the message was that Hamas' terror is an understandable reaction to occupation. Of course, Israel ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005 - something not pointed out.
In fact the assumption that Gaza is occupied territory is clearly an accepted convention of the ABC. The "7:30" website abstract for McNeill's June 15 report called Gaza "occupied territory".

Moreover, the ABC website has a
dedicated page called "Palestinian Territory, Occupied" under which stories about Gaza are filed, including the latest McNeill effort.

Nor does McNeill ever pay more than lip service to Egyptian enforcement of the blockade in assessing whom to hold responsible for Gaza's situation.

McNeill made the initial note of Egypt's participation in the blockade on "AM" and the online article - but not on TV - but it went no further than that.

Based on McNeill's past practice this was not an accident.

McNeill's June 15 "7:30" report was
ostensibly about an extremely rare opening by Egypt of the Rafah crossing straddling its border with Gaza. But Rafah's opening was merely the pretext that was used by McNeill to focus on alleged Israeli responsibility for the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

Significantly, in that June 15 "7:30" report, Piper had explicitly told McNeill that, "Our focus really is on that Israeli border and on the imposition of a blockade on Gaza," not the Egyptian border.

She apparently has the same skewed preoccupation - which is why it is unsurprising that McNeill did not probe or push Piper to justify or explain the rationale behind this policy position by elements of the UN, which expects Israel, under threat of genocide by Hamas, to throw open its borders, whilst Egypt is given a free pass.

Moreover, in her latest report McNeill was once again typically vague in outlining the nature of the blockade.

The website article stated, "For nearly 10 years Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip. Movement in and out is heavily restricted and so is the entry of many goods essential for construction."

As noted in the latest edition of the Australia/Israel Review (see "Reporting by Numbers" in Noted & Quoted), a parallel report on Gaza produced by SBS TV "Dateline" (July) at least had the professionalism to include on its website a statement by the IDF which
contained the following vital and relevant information:
Every day, over 850 trucks loaded with medical supply, construction materials, food and so on into Gaza. As of today, over 2 million tons of goods enter Gaza since the beginning of 2016.

You can see expansion of our civil policy towards Gaza over the course of 2014, 2015, 2016:

2014: 1,017,628 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 143,264 crossings were registered
2015: 4,314,941 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 361,891 crossings were registered
2016: 2,222,392 million tons of goods entered Gaza as 151,841 crossing were registered
The Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM) as agreed upon by the UN, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, works effectively as the numbers speak for themselves.
Since October 2014, over 5.2 million tons of construction material have entered Gaza for international projects, house repairs and road construction.
Over 100,000 houses are in different stages of the reconstruction process out of 130,000 houses damaged, according to the UN assessment.
Many international officials, including the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, have expressed their impression by the progress of the reconstruction.

In the many reports McNeill has filed she has rarely if ever felt it necessary to actually state the figures of either people or goods entering and exiting Gaza.

...as always, McNeill chose not to include a spokesman from Hamas the provocateur that ignited the spark of the last war and the governing authority in Gaza, to explain and justify why Gaza reconstruction is so slow.

For over a year she has consistently refused to ask hard questions about Hamas. This story was a classic example of how McNeill's reporting typically operates - ordinary Palestinians suffering are presented. The story is framed to imply that Israel is the sole cause of that suffering. An Israeli spokesperson is briefly allowed a sentence or two in defence so that the story can be said to have "balance." The Palestinians are given the last word supported by McNeill's largely sympathetic commentary. Hamas and other Palestinian leaders barely exist unless the Israeli spokesperson mentions them.

McNeill's stubborn refusal to expose Hamas' rightful place in the firmament of terror and destructive effect upon the welfare of Gazans in the story on July 30 was starkly laid out by Israel's arrest of Mohammad El Halabi, the head of World Vision in Gaza.

As her own report on "AM" last Friday stated, El Halabi is "charged with giving millions of dollars of World Vision funds to Hamas to pay fighters, buy weapons, and build fortifications in Gaza." In other words, here is more evidence Hamas is stealing much of the aid Israel is facilitating getting into Gaza - so no wonder Gaza's reconstruction is going slowly and ordinary families are suffering. Ideally, this should be a wake-up call to McNeill.

 ...McNeill's reporting raises serious questions of whether she meets the statutory requirements as the ABC's Middle East correspondent of her professional obligations, as laid out in Section 4 of the ABC Code of Practice, which includes the following:
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.

And also
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.

Considering the numerous stories filed by McNeill on Gaza that have virtually never included a Hamas spokesperson nor an independent expert to talk about Hamas, her blind spot on Egypt's blockade and simplistic assumption that Israeli security measures are a reason for terror and not the other way around, one would have to entertain serious doubts.

Australia cuts funding to World Vision over Hamas ties

From A7, 4 August 2016, by Rachel Kaplan:

Australia has suspended funding to humanitarian NGO World Vision, pending investigations into the nature of its funding to the Hamas terror organization in Gaza.

Israel exposed World Vision's Gaza branch leader Muhammed al-Halabi for funneling 60 percent of his annual humanitarian aid budget into Hamas' military wing. Although al-Halabi has already been arrested, the extent of the damage, both to security and to humanitarian causes, has yet to be assessed.

Israeli legal organization Shurat HaDin says it blew the whistle on World Vision years ago - but no one was listening:
"In 2012 [we] notified the Australian government that its aid money being administrated by World Vision was being transferred to front charities of Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. Both the Australian government and World Vision denied [our] warning."

According to Shurat HaDin President Nitsana Darshan-Leitner:
"World Vision has repeatedly denied our charges and refused to seriously investigate where its funds are going. They assured us that the organizations they fund had been vetted and were not engaged with terrorism.

"Who knows how many of Hamas' missiles and stabbing attacks were funded by World Vision after they were put on notice that there were financing Palestinian terror? The assistance to Gaza by foreign aid organizations is directly responsible for the murder of scores of Jews in Israel."