...................................................for Australian friends of Israel.
10 October 2016
The Australian’s Khalik spins women’s flotilla report
On October 7, 2016, The
Australian featured a report by Jennine Khalik about the
recent interception of a boat of anti-Israel activists attempting to
reach Gaza –“Israel picks up boat captained by Tasmanian out to break
While the printed edition of the paper contained a shorter and
straight report on the events, the longer online version was highly
problematic. It lacks context and is rife with inaccuracies and
omissions. We will examine those, but first the question must be
asked why Khalik was assigned the story in the first place. Surely
the editors of The
Australian, a publication that is usually nuanced and
balanced on matters relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
would have thought to assign this story to a journalist who hadn’t
previously declared the following on the ABC’s Q and A
“I am of
Palestinian descent. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents
were refugees. The state of Israel was established on the ethnic
cleansing of Palestine and displacement of three-quarters of
Palestinians in 1948. Palestinians since have been subjected to
apartheid, a military occupation and the continued confiscation and
dispossession of their land and resources. How can we confront the popular
pro-Israel narrative that it is a democracy?”
On to the issues with the story then:
has intercepted a boat captained by a Tasmanian woman attempting to
break the blockade on Gaza. The Women’s Boat
to Gaza, with 13 women on board including Hobart local and
professional sailor Madeleine Habib, was intercepted in international
waters this morning once they entered what Israel deems a “military
exclusion zone” 100 nautical miles within the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Khalik omits here that the United Nations Palmer Report, the
result of an investigation into the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in
which nine Turkish militants were killed while trying to attack
Israeli forces who boarded their ship as it was attempting to reach
Gaza, found that Israel has every right to enforce its military
blockade of Gaza in international waters. The omission of this piece
of context falsely paints Israel as an aggressive and rogue state
with no regard to international norms.
Among the 13
woman on the boat were 1976 Nobel Peace laureate from Northern
Ireland, Mairead Maguire, and retired US army colonel Ann Wright.
Jordan-based Ola Abed
is one of the people behind the video game Gaza Man, in which
players shoot as many Israelis as they can, with extra points
given for headshots
Malaysian Norsham Abu Bakr
is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood who has accused the
Mossad of being behind recent terrorist attacks in Munich and
Canadian Wendy Goldsmith has
featured as a guest on conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett’s Truth Jihad
radio show, which promotes the idea that Israel was behind 9/11
and other attacks
Also Malaysian, Fauzia Hasan
has called to ban Sisters in Islam, a Muslim women’s group
working for gender equality.
In 2010, nine
activists were killed during Israel’s military raid on a flotilla to
Gaza in international waters on the Turkish ship MV Mavi Marmara,
which led to a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Israel and
Khalik leaves out the much needed context – that the Israeli soldiers
were attacked with baseball bats, steel bars,
and live fire, and acted in self-defence – to leave the
impression Israel was the aggressor. Also, as above, the UN Palmer
Report found Israel was in its rights to intercept the Mavi Marmara
in international waters.
Gaza, which is
inhabited by over 1.9 million Palestinians, is under a land, air and
sea blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt since 2007, following the
election of Hamas.
Khalik’s vague description here may leave the reader understanding
that Israel’s military blockade was imposed merely in reaction to an
election. Israel did not commence its blockade until a year later,
when Hamas seized control of Gaza in a violent coup that saw many
opposition Fatah members murdered, and then increased the frequency of its rocket fire
aimed at Israeli civilians. The blockade is intended to stop arms and
military material falling into the Hamas’ hands.
officials have continually called for the blockade to be lifted, and
have said conditions are deteriorating in Gaza.
There may well be UN officials who have called for this but the UN’s
own Palmer report has found the blockade to be legal. Khalik also
joins two separate elements in this sentence to give the impression
the blockade is the reason conditions might be deteriorating in Gaza.
If conditions are so bad, why did Hamas release a video recently portraying
Gaza as a paradise, featuring beautiful mosques, modern apartment
buildings and shopping centres, and glittering beaches? And if they
are, Khalik completely absolves Hamas itself of any responsibility.
The same Hamas that diverts cement and other building
materials meant for civilian projects to its military infrastructure,
that faces allegations of diverting international aid money into
its own coffers, and commits systematic human rights violations such
as suppressing free speech, executing citizens suspected of
“collaborating” with Israel and using Palestinians as human shields.
Porzsolt, who was on a flotilla to Gaza in 2011 with former Greens
parliamentarian Sylvia Hale, said the boat to Gaza belonged to a
“long line of efforts to break the illegal blockade of Gaza”.
Khalik uses Vivienne Porzsolt’s quote to repeat the false claim that
the blockade is illegal, a falsehood that we’ve already pointed out
is at odds with the Palmer Report. It is also questionable why
Porzsolt is the only Australian source quoted. She has a long history
of anti-Israel activism, including participating in rallies, speaking
at events and supporting the anti-Israel boycott movement. In a 2010
speech at a rally following the Mavi Marmara incident, she called the
activists who attacked the Israeli forces “brave”.
because the people elected the Hamas government, which is not accepted
by Israel, the US, and the rest of the quartet,” Ms Porzsolt said.
Also as above, the blockade was imposed not to punish the Palestinian
people for voting for Hamas, but to limit weapons reaching the terror
group after it increased its rocket fire at Israeli civilians in
2007. But why not repeat this blatant inaccuracy?
government, opposed to Hamas, has said if it lifts the blockade it
would allow Hamas fighters to smuggle weapons.
Finally the last line of the story actually addresses the real reason
for the blockade. But it’s not all hunky-dory. Khalik says the
Israeli government is opposed to Hamas. She doesn’t tell the reader
why this is so, but we will. Hamas, a genocidal terrorist
organisation, is sworn to the destruction of Israel, advocates the
murder of Jews and is constantly trying its hardest to achieve both.
That little tid-bit might explain Israel’s opposition some.