Crikey



Gaza conflict re-opens debate: should junkets be junked?

Should journalists go on study tours to the Middle East paid for by partisan lobby groups? And if they do, should they disclose this to their readers?

To many people — particularly those with passionate views on the Arab-Israeli conflict — the first question is highly contentious. Time and again, however, the answer from the nation’s most influential and respected media figures is “yes”.

Each year, the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council organise study tours to Israel and Palestine for Australian journalists. The participants attend briefings with government officials, military advisers and NGO workers. They visit Palestinian refugee camps, Israeli settlements and the areas around the Israel/Lebanon and Israel/Gaza borders. They tour the Israeli parliament and supreme court.

They don’t usually find themselves in the middle of a major military offensive. This year they did.

Among those on this year’s Board of Deputies tour were The Sydney Morning Herald’s Saturday editor Judith Whelan, The Daily Telegraph’s chief political reporter Simon Benson, SBS managing director Michael Ebeid and Sky Business presenter Brooke Corte. According to Whelan, reporters from the Herald Sun, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and The Age were also flown over by the AIJAC.

This year’s tour began on Sunday, November 11 and ended last Thursday, the day after Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari was killed by a guided Israeli missile. At least two reporters — Whelan and Benson — decided to stay on and report.

Whelan, who remains in Israel, has filed news and colour pieces from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Fairfax’s Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard has reported from Gaza. All Whelan’s stories have carried the disclaimer: “Judith Whelan travelled to Israel to take part in a study tour courtesy of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. She has remained to cover the escalating conflict.”

When asked by Crikey whether reporters should always include a declaration when an external party has helped finance a trip, Whelan said: “Yes it should always be declared.”

On Friday, The Tele ran a full-page piece by Benson on life in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, an area that regularly comes under heavy shelling from Gaza. In that piece, Benson declared he was there on a study tour. His subsequent reports — see here, here and here — have not carried a disclaimer.

Benson declined to comment. Crikey understands his and the paper’s view is that further disclaimers were not necessary because he was travelling as a News Limited reporter, not as a guest of the Board of Deputies.

Denis Muller, a former associate editor of The Age, isn’t convinced. ”It’s absurd to argue that he’s there in a private capacity,” said Muller, who now lectures in media ethics at the University of Melbourne. “He’s there as a consequence of a sponsored trip and he should say so.”

Crikey’s Margaret Simons revealed in 2009 that SMH columnist Paul Sheehan had not declared that two of his opinion pieces were based on an Israel study tour organised by the NSW Board of Deputies.

Muller sees no problem, per se, with journalists taking sponsored trips — as long as they declare it.

Editors, however, have a duty beyond just running declarations. They must ensure their publication’s coverage isn’t skewed — especially when the issue is as important and divisive as the Middle East conflict. This can be done, Muller says, by publishing accounts from different locations or perspectives to that of reporters on the study tours.

Muller says accepting sponsored travel can often be the “lesser of two evils”; a view developed during his time at The Age in the early 1990s when sponsored travel pieces were banned. The edict led to a dependence on external copy, meaning editors had little idea whether reporters had behaved ethically while researching their pieces.

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47 Responses

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  1. I guess the sad reality is in that last para.
    Achieving “balance” in such a lop sided conflict is a very difficult act.
    Don’t know what the answer is.

    by paddy on Nov 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

  2. In short, YES!

    The current PM has been on a visit to Israel, paid for by Israel. Of course, it’s no surprise to find her supporting Israel 100%. I find it depressing, and the one sided news coverage makes me angry. Israel ‘has a right to defend ‘herself’ it would seem, but the Palestinians should just put up with being under military occupation; have their homes destroyed their children shot at or imprisoned or heckled at the point of a gun etc, and just cop it on the chin.

    I used to have some sympathy with Israel, but that’s all gone now. I think they’re just as bad as Hitler - but not quite as ‘efficient’ - no big numbers in one go! But the attitude is the same. The west thinks everything they do is OK, and the Palestinians deserve what they get, including being kept in a state of almost starvation by their occupiers. I despair that we are just leading to the next wave of radical young people who are sick of the powerful violence that is condoned by us. Despicable!

    by Liz45 on Nov 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  3. Liz 45: agreed wholeheartedly.

    It’s now estimated by various US mainstream polls that in the US more than 60% of Jews, particularly under 30 years old, no longer accept that Israel has to be right about everything. There are some gr8 coaltions of young US Jews who publicly criticise Isarel continually including CodePink, Muzzlewatch, Not in My Name Rabbis, et al, who are voicing their strong opposition to Israeli apartheid & ethnic cleansing.

    It’s a global phenoma, with say ther UK CHief Rabbi Sacks saying that it was time for Israel to change tactics, after such a long period of unrelenting, unproductive conflict.

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm

  4. I am all for balance and I also ask myself why there are no tours to give an alternative view point? The Mid-East is awash with petro-dollars. Surely it would be just pocket money for one of the oil rich kingdom’s, say the Qataris or the Saudis, to fund an all expenses junket for every pollie and journo in this country to all the he hot spots in The Middle-East. They could get the inside perspective of Hamas and the situation in Gaza for instance (once the current hostilities are over). No need to get on a flotilla as the southern border is under Egyptian control and they let through all kinds of people.

    You can get to hobnob with Mid-eastern royalty, Egyptian and Tunisian politicians. You can also examine in detail the way the Gazan economy works . Over the past year the economy has been booming in Gaza with a growth in GDP in Gaza of 28% ( see - http://www.economist.com/node/21530173) compared to the anaemic growth here in Australia, so there may be many economic lessons for Australian pollies . Their seems to be little impediment to the import of Iranian missiles and a range of weapons into Gaza (and subsequent export via Israel) . There are also cottage industries that manufacture all kinds of associated weaponry and there is no shortage of Mercedes Benz FWD’s that have been converted into rocket launchers. Many useful lessons can be learnt on the economic front.

    Despite all this economic activity around missiles and weaponry there are claims of shortage of humanitarian aid and food which could well be true. If this is the case then thus must indicate a strange set of priorities for both Hamas and their wealthy financiers.

    It is amazing how travel, especially over long distances, can change ones perspective. Could it be that the facts found on such a tour of a place like Gaza would not correspond with the preconceived ideas of the prospective guests and may be particularly counterproductive to the hosts? Could this is be the reason why there are currently no such tours offered? Clearly money is not an issue. Anyone got any other suggestions?

    Journalists from Crikey should take up the Israeli offer and also visit the Palestinian territories (without minders), talk to the locals of all persuasions and in light of my comments above, particularly spend some time in Gaza, if the security situation permits. We might get further excellent articles such as those recently by Matthew Clayfield which illustrated the complexities of the situation and showed that many people on all sides are sick and tired of the conflict.

    Liz45 could join such a tour of the Middle-East and maybe then she might realize that the rhetoric of extremism benefits no-one, particularly those who want to see an end to all this mayhem.

    by Mike R on Nov 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

  5. I agree Liz, Gillard is in the pockets of the Melbourne zionist community and she is brainless.

    But then she just demanded another $1.67 BILLION TO JAIL INNOCENT REFUGEES.

    by shepherdmarilyn on Nov 21, 2012 at 6:10 am

  6. When the British made a TV series called The Promise for channel 4 and was broadcast on SBS the local lobby group for Israel went into overdrive to try and have the DVD banned in Australia and a very detailed complaint lodged with SBS. This type of control over our media by a foreign country is an indication of how well organised the Israel lobby has become.

    by Sanjay on Nov 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

  7. Who pays the Piper calls the tunes.

    by MJPC on Nov 21, 2012 at 7:56 am

  8. Sanjay,
    Correct me if I am wrong but I believe I saw all four episodes on SBS. Did you miss them? It seems that the Israel lobby can be remarkably ineffective.

    If a similar partisan piece was screened on SBS espousing only Israel’s point of view then I would expect a similar outcry from supporters of the Palestinian point of view and a similar response from SBS. That’s democracy for you.

    by Mike R on Nov 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

  9. READ WHAT I WROTE mike r

    by Sanjay on Nov 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm

  10. Sorry Sanjay, did they try to get the DVD banned as well? Again the pro Israel lobby has come up short again. I f you are desperate to see it in DVD form try http://www.sbs.com.au/shop/search/index/keyword/The+Promise/ . It is also available at Readings and If you are really desperate then you can go online and view it on various sites including channel 4. It took a total of three minutes to obtain this information via Google. Do I have do the all the work for you?

    I will also try the local VideoEzy to see if they have not succumbed to the Zionist lobby. Maybe you are right about the Israeli lobby, I notice that so many video stores in our neighbourhood have closed recently.

    by Mike R on Nov 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

  11. @Marilyn - I’m getting really depressed these days, and part of it is because I feel impotent! What can I do that I haven’t done before. I thought the asylum seeker issue was ‘settled’ when Labor got in (silly me?) and now, we’re back even worse than under Howard. This morning Morrison was on ABC 97.3 and I was itching to ring up, but then thought, ‘then what’? He repeated the nonsense about “illegals” and wasn’t challenged on it! Oh dear!

    Then, I read an article re this sad and shameful issue, and while ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ not one word re Palestinians having any rights at all! Not one! They have to suffer phosphorus bombs and goodness knows what else, and now the damage will only add to their misery. Not to mention the images of those little babies wrapped up in ‘little parcels’ in white. I don’t mind saying that it made me cry - again! Depressing! What made it so acute was I was nursing my little great grand daughter whose beautiful smile was on her face every time I looked at her! She’s ‘that close’ to laughing out loud. such joy! And then those little ones…?

    It’s criminal! Hilary Clinton just launched straight into support for Israel. There’s not even a pretense of concern for the almost starving in Gaza - a deliberate act by Israel - they control every aspect of their lives!

    Imagine if that $1.6 billion was spent on health,education and housing for the homeless! Now those living in the community, unable to work etc, will be given an “allowance”????WTF? What’s this, ALP version of TPV with a ‘human face’? Am I supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy now? I despair! Truly! It’s beyond appalling!

    I must meet up with my friend who takes asylum seekers into her home (those with psychological and/or mental illnesses such as depression) until they get on their feet. An amazing woman!Some will probably require professional assistance for many years, if not for the rest of their lives. I’ve met them and they’re just lovely young men - usually alone, after seeing family members murdered in front of them etc! They arrive here and the treatment via our govt just ‘pushes them over’ re their mental health. They often do the cooking when many of us meet at her house! Yum!

    by Liz45 on Nov 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm

  12. @Mike R - I’m here! Talk to me, I’m just here!

    Funny how it’s only the Palestinians or others in the middle east who are depicted as extremists? Please tell me what autonomy Palestinians have? Really? They won’t even let unarmed people on ships visit them with medical supplies? And the rest of the (western)world keeps its mouth firmly shut?

    I read an article by a journalist in Boston, US, who did her own research about the reporting of ‘incidents’ etc between Israel and Palestine. Her research was most interesting, and it pointed to the bias and lies in most areas of US media. She ended up going there herself, and her report is via 4 videos. She also spoke of the snipers who either kill or maim (blind or render them brain damaged or??) of kids in Gaza. There’s a lot of evidence about the taunting of little kids going to school etc, and there are Israelis who are so appalled by the treatment via their govt on the borders, that they take it in turns to keep watch. There’s lots of evidence about the “extremists” who live in Israel - if you want to educate yourself! In fact, there’s a newspaper in Israel that is more honest and factual than what we read via our biased media and govt?

    There are many Jewish people around the world who are ashamed at the brutal occupation of Israel. It says a lot about the so-called leader who uses the misery as part of his campaign activities????Murdering bastard I call him!

    by Liz45 on Nov 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

  13. Liz45 , Where do I begin. You are clearly a passionate about (some) of the events in the Middle-East. The Mid-East is a clear illustration of what happens when passion displaces reason.

    When Hamas fires missiles within area of the highest population densities of the world then it would surprise no one that it would end badly for the poor civilians of Gaza. If there was one thing they should have learnt from their bitter experiences is that the Israelis would not sit back and twiddle their thumbs if subjected to rocket fire from Gaza.

    Maybe reason has prevailed and they have factored in these causalities and regard them as collateral damage in their propaganda warfare against Israel. If the firing of missiles into Israel is for defensive purpose only then a tactic that entails casualty rates 10 or 20 times greater than that sustained by the opposition suggests that this defensive tactic that has long outlasted its usefulness. Hamas so far with its defensive policy has killed 5 Israelis while also killing 7 Palestinian collaborators.

    Maybe the tactic of not firing missiles might perhaps be more conducive to the health needs of the population of Gaza but clearly the health of the population of Gaza is not the highest priority for Hamas. They have managed to accumulate an estimated 10,000 missiles of varying range by various means. If there have been health crises in Gaza then there appears to be a serious misallocation of resources by Hamas.

    They have also displayed their apparent lack of concern to avoid civilian Palestinian casualties by firing missiles in the general direction of Jerusalem some landing in the fields near Arab villages . East Jerusalem has a large Arab population and other centres with significant Arab populations are Bethlehem which is 3 kms fro the southern edge of Jerusalem while Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority is based is 25 ks from Jerusalem. There are also a number of Arab villages around Jerusalem .These weapons, fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view, are inaccurate. The most conspicuous targets which might be hit by the scattergun approach in Jerusalem (and where you might maximize casualties- unfortunately Palestinian) would be the Dome of the Rock and the El-Aqsa mosque (Jewish places of worship are usually smaller and less elaborate). In addition a stray missile hitting Bethlehem might take out the Church of the Nativity.

    The other issue when passion overrules reason is the resultant total lack of perspective.

    While the events in Gaza and Israel dominate the media ,slaughter continues unabated in Syria. As reported today on ABC online – “In total, 100 people were killed in violence on Tuesday, 64 of them civilians, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.”

    From Wiki- Estimates of deaths in the Syria vary between 35,000 and 51,810. Unicef reported that over 500 children have been killed by early February 2012. Another 400 children have been reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons. Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners have died under torture. In mid-October 2012, the opposition activist group Syrian Observers for Human rights reported the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 2,300.

    Look the civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are horrible but unfortunately in the ME there is so much death and destruction which occur out of the sight of cameras. Liz45 to her credit did condemn Assad in her comments back in April but maybe she could reflect on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 deaths that have occurred in Syria since then. As they say out of sight out of mind.

    by Mike R on Nov 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm

  14. With a pro-human rights, pro-international law focus more than ‘pro-Palestine” the Union Aid Abroad tour may be what you want.
    “We’d also consider a media tour organised by pro-Palestinian Australian groups. But according to several sources contacted by Crikey on both sides of the debate, no such tours exist.”
    I know several people who have been on this tour and come back with excellent reports.
    Also there are frequent tours from the UK and Ireland, organised by a range of organisations, including CAABU, churches, charities and activist organisations - these will welcome Australians.

    by Floccinauci on Nov 22, 2012 at 6:47 am

  15. Liz45:

    believe me, it’s no point trying to reason with bigots. All you get in return is a wall of meaningless words. The more compelling evidence you supply, the greater the wall.

    Sad really..

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

  16. Check out the eminent US/Israeli historian Dr Norman Finkelstein’s take on the real politik of Israel’s current position. It’s on his website just google his name for it:

    November 20 2012

    It cannot be doubted the turning-point in Israel’s latest murderous rampage.

    It came when Hamas leader Khaled Meshal taunted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Go ahead, attack!
    At that moment Netanyahu stood exposed in all his nakedness.
    The bluff had been called.
    Only the ninth-rate hacks at the New York Times preserved until the last second the fiction that the IDF still stood poised for an offensive. Isabel Kershner, the ex-beautician from Sderot Coiffures, whose only known scholarly work is The Complete History of Mah Jong Tournaments in the Catskills, dutifully repeated the party line that Netanyahu held back on the ground offensive because he of course preferred a diplomatic solution.
    Just like Genghis Khan.
    Israel couldn’t attack because the population won’t accept any IDF casualties, while the presence of foreign journalists and the honor of Egypt and Turkey prevented Israel from fighting in its usual style: the scorched-earth destruction of everything and everyone in its path, no questions asked.
    The 2006 Lebanon War ended when Hezbollah escalated its rocket attacks on Israel’s heartland, while Israel dreaded the prospect of a ground invasion on the terrain of the Party of God. So, Israel called on the U.S.to bail it out and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice engineered a U.N. resolution, which she had blocked during the first weeks of the Israeli massacre–or, what this Witch from the Pits of Hell called the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
    This time it’s Scarecrow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is flying in to rescue Israel from another debacle, as Hamas escalated its–albeit, largely symbolic–retaliatory strikes.
    It’s unlikely that Palestinians will win much in the ceasefire–the interests of Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, on the one hand, and the Palestinians on the other, diverge more than they converge.
    But still, the IDF’s Achilles heel has once again been revealed, and consequently, although Tel Aviv’s proclaimed goal in launching the attack on Gaza was to enhance its “deterrence capacity”–i.e., its capacity to terrorize the Arab/Muslim world into submission–in fact, under the supremely stupid leadership of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel emerges with a diminished deterrence capacity.
    No doubt, these Draculas are thrilled at the sight of the rubble and corpses in Gaza.
    But they cannot be pleased that all the world now knows just how cowardly they are.
    In the end, notwithstanding its super-space-age arsenal of death, the IDF trembled at the prospect of engaging the weaponless men, women and children of Gaza.
    It was a prudent move on Netanyahu’s part.
    The Ubermenschen of Israel’s Wehrmacht would probably have been slaughtered”.

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm

  17. @MIKE R - Israel started it, but as usual the lies are being believed. How damned stupid to think that a country that gets billions of dollars worth of weapons etc from the US; has nuclear weapons etc is NOT the agressor? Honestly! I may look silly but I aint that dumb!

    As Kevin Herbert said - it’s a waste of time! All the West is doing by allowing Israel to murder more Palestinians, is turning traumatised kids into future aggressors? Smart isn’t it? If I saw most of my family blown to bits, I’d probably be the same! I’d be one angry customer waiting until I was big enough to fight back!

    What I find incredible, is the response to the horrors of the Bali bombings, even to the point of looking forward to the death squad taking them out, but side with the aggressor in this situation.

    The same thing happens when ‘we’ lose a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq? And yet we don’t even bother to count the dead in either country! Amazing! Makes me sick! We have no business being there, killing a couple of million, reaping havoc and destruction on the country, and then just pissing off and leaving them with the mess! I believe that per capita, Afghanistan has the highest number of orphans! Now, isn’t that something to be proud of?

    We side with the US, while the President gives permission to murder people in other countries via drones on a weekly basis? Excuse me, but if someone else does that, isn’t it called terrorism?

    People who are ignorant and think what Israel is doing are one thing, so called ‘informed and intelligent’ people who condone Israel’s use of phosphorus bombs and other horrific weapons are positively evil in my view! Might is NOT right!

    by Liz45 on Nov 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

  18. I, for one, am happy that a truce has been declared between Hamas and Israel although I sense the frustration and disappointment in the comments of Kev and Lizzie.

    I am also glad that Dr. Norman Finklestein has fought the next Gaza war in his head with his statement about ubermenschs (are we in Godwin’s law territory here and do I assume he means Israeli soldiers and is not also referring to those running the police state in Gaza?) being slaughtered. If this is case, he neglected to give a final score regarding Palestinian both military and civilian casualties. What score does he have in mind 10,000 all or maybe 75,000 dead Israeli soldiers with 3 dead Palestinians civilians and a another with a flesh wound?

    My particular preference when it comes to the death of civilians is curiously the same as those who yearn for comparable death tolls in their recent engagements. My preference with regard to casualties on both sides, despite it being much more boring with regard to death and destruction, is for the ‘ Nil all’ draw.

    Again this is why we need to have Norman ability to fight Gedanken experiment wars. I am in support for all future wars being fought in Norman Finklestein’s head rather than being fought on the ground. Can we also employ Normans mind to fight the current was in Syria? If he incapable of fighting on two fronts does Kevin have any other suggestions who might fill the role?. Except for those whose passions for blood (not mentioning names again), this is a vastly preferable way to fight wars with no casualties except for possibly Norman’s head (we may have to attach a heat sink and fan to his head to prevent it exploding).

    Franklestein approvingly mentions Khaled Meshal giving Israel the bird (calling bring it on). Khaled Meshal (formerly of Damascus now resident in Qatar) is rumoured to be pulling the strings in Gaza while being safely ensconced some 300 kms or so from the action. In his case calling for further bloodshed is a perfectly reasonable response.

    Look he could so easily achieve his aim (just one phone call) to getting his minions in Gaza to launch another salvo of 100 rockets or so into Israel. This would surely give him the 1000 or so military and civilian martyrs that he craves for without any requirement for personal sacrifice.

    At the conclusion of the last major Gaza war the death toll involved 750 dead Palestinian fighters and police (according to the Hamas interior ministry) while the death toll on the Israeli side was 10 dead. If Norman Finklestein and Khaled Meshal is desperate to see a similar implementation in practice, despite the current ceasefire, they may get their wishes. As they say be careful of what you wish for.

    Liz45 regarding your comments re weaponry. The Israelis could, if they adopted the scattergun approach of Hamas could reduce Gaza to rubble ( akin to Carthage after the Romans finished with it- minus the salt). Nuclear weapons are obviously inappropriate in the context of Gaza as they would render most of southern Israel and maybe large portions of the Mid-East uninhabitable (it would instantly make the Palestinian/Israel question moot as there would be no inhabitants of either ethnicity available to continue the battle - maybe this is the thinking behind the Iranian solution ) . I am not sure why Liz would bother mentioning this other than to provide herself with another cathartic rant. In this light will also not comment on the whether Liz45 is silly or dumb. I leave that to the judgment of others.

    As for phosphorus bombs I believe Liz is referring to 2009. To give some context to their use in 2009 see http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Israeli_military_confirms_the_use_of_white_phosphorus_bombs_in_the_Gaza_Strip. I like any other sensible person condemn the use of phosphorus bombs in a civilian context anywhere and on any occasion and if the Israelis have been using them since then I will condemn them appropriately. I hope unlike Hamas, they have learnt some lessons from 2009.

    Liz45 you are indeed right about the conflict hardening attitudes between the combatants. That’s why firing missiles into each other’s territories is never conducive to feelings of mutual friendship.

    by Mike R on Nov 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

  19. As per usual we have digressed way off topic. Returning to the original topic of why there appears to be no Palestinian equivalent tour of the ME, I note Floccinauci’s recommendation regarding a tour by Union Aid Abroad.

    It is not clear from the Union Aid Abroad web site whether you have to be a journalist or politician to get on board. It is also not clear whether they can provide the funding but maybe my suggested sources of funding such as the Qataris or Saudis could be tapped to fund such a tour.

    I am still waiting , very patiently, for someone to explain why those who are pro-Palestinian are not interested in matching the Israelis in this regard. Surely the more people that see the situation on the ground would re-inforce their agenda. Could such a tour be totally counter-productive to their cause?
    No one seems to be able to provide an alternative explanation for this situation. Their preference seems to be to sidestep this difficulty and launch into another digression. I could die waiting for an answer that is relevant to the original topic from Kevin, Liz or any of the above.

    by Mike R on Nov 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm

  20. Liz 45:

    See what I mean?

    It’s just not worth answering.

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

  21. Yes I indeed recommend continuing that approach It seems to have worked so far. Have a nice weekend. I know I will.

    by Mike R on Nov 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  22. @KEVIN - Indeed! If both sides were on an equal footing, he might have some justification for his nonsensical comments. It is almost too stupid to even respond as you so rightly state. I find it hard to comprehend the so-called ‘even handed’ comments as that certainly does NOT exist!

    I’m better off to spend time responding to Palestinians when they seek support re the murders of their children; the detention of children in adult prisons etc, and the pregnant women who die or their babies die after too many hours of labour on the so-called ‘borders’? I find this disgusting, and how the world allows it to happen depresses me.

    As usual, patriarchal men show their true colours during responses. Can’t help themselves. It’s the same attitude that allows violence towards women to almost go unheeded in some ‘circles’? It certainly happens via Israel to Palestinian women! I rant, he obviously always makes good sense, and is always, always right! No question?

    I will have a good weekend too! I’ll go and cuddle my great grand daughter - she makes the world look brighter every time I see her gorgeous smile! (No, I’m not old enough! Hard to believe I know! I was a teenage mum - and a bloody good one too!).

    by Liz45 on Nov 23, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  23. In reply to the question from Mike R: It is my understanding that the Union Aid Abroad tour is primarily for unionists, (after all it is a union based charity), but I think they take politicians and media people from time to time. I understand participants usually pay their own way, certainly the people I know who have participated did so. They also spoke very highly of the tour which includes visits to refugee camps in Lebanon and meetings with Israelis in addition to the time spent in the OPT.

    The reason there are so many Hasbara tours of Israel is that the state can and does subsidise them. For example, the writer of a travel feature, supposedly about Israel, in the Sun-Herald last year was funded by the Israeli Ministry of Foriegn Affairs.

    Since Palestinians have had most of their land stolen from them, and are very restricted in the ways they are allowed to use the remainder, they don’t have the same ability to fund these junkets.

    by Floccinauci on Nov 23, 2012 at 9:32 pm

  24. Liz, I was hoping to have a quiet weekend. I am glad you are spending a nice weekend as well but maybe you should have heeded Kev’s sage advice (1st time he has provided a modicum of common sense).

    Your comments regarding patriarchal men make sense in the context of Middle-East. It may require a Golda Meir to or some of her standing to break the impasse of violence.

    If these comments were addressed to myself, I believe we may covered this material on a previous occasion. To paraphrase these comments. I am an equal opportunity deliverer of condescension as can be seen from my futile exchanges with Kevin (assuming he is not using a nom-de plume al a George Eliot, myself likewise). I don’t care whether you are male, female or an hermaphrodite. I call them as I see them.

    Like Bob Hawke, your wear your passion on your sleeve . The conflict between the Palestinians and Israel’s sitting on a powder keg of passion where reason plays little part ( You might know the story of the frog and the scorpion on the back crossing a waterway often used as an analogy of the conflict – if you don’t look it up on Google). I am afraid that the passionate partisan rhetoric that you are fond of can only increase the likelihood your great grand children ( and possibly theirs as well ) will also be writing passionate letters lamenting the loss of life in The Mid-East.

    If given the choice between irrational passion and reason I will always choose reason. This is probably why our discussions are so futile.

    by Mike R on Nov 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  25. Dedicated to Liz, Sorry about the cut and paste job.

    From Wiki-

    Palestinian medical tourism
    A significant number of residents of the Palestinian territories seek medical treatment in Israel, often for sophisticated tests or treatments not available at Palestinian hospitals. Their treatment is paid for under a financial arrangement with the Palestinian Authority, or in some cases, at their own expense. Palestinians who apply for medical treatment in Israel must first obtain a humanitarian entry permit from Israel, of which thousands are issued annually. In January 2009, following the Gaza War, the Palestinian Authority canceled financial coverage for all medical care for Palestinians in Israeli hospitals, including coverage for the chronically ill and those in need of complex care not available in the Palestinian territories.[13][14] In 2012, The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Health reported spending approximately $42 million in 2011 to finance medical coverage of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals and the Arab World. [15] Arab citizens of Israel belong to the same health care system as that of all other citizens of the country.

    Gaza Strip resident giving birth to quadruplets at an Israeli hospital, 2008
    The quality of medical care in Israel is significantly better than anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza. Irwin Mansdorf, a member of Task Force on Medical and Public Health Issues, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East wrote about routine care that Palestinians continue to receive in Israeli hospitals and from Israeli physicians.[16]
    Saving Children, established by the Peres Peace Center, enables hundreds of Palestinian children to receive free medical care, in particular cardiac surgery, from Israeli surgeons.[17]

    Save A Child’s Heart” is a program in which any child with heart problems can receive free medical attention and surgery from select doctors and hospitals within Israel. From 1996 to 2007, 4,591 children had been examined world wide, of the 1848 children treated 828 (45%) were Palestinian.[18]

    by Mike R on Nov 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm

  26. For this article, there are many others to the contrary. In fact, it’s the contrary situation that created the need for some Israeli people to supervise the borders! At best, it often takes Palestinians hours to get through to work etc. In fact the illegal Wall not only exaccerbated this, but actually placed Palestinians into unemployment and poverty! Some lost their fields etc for either their living or even sustenance for their families.

    One or two articles won’t change my view? More importantly, it doesn’t change the daily living experiences. Also, Arabs do NOT share all the rights of Jews, even in Israel? You need to read some more! Perhaps change your regular resources!

    Israel DOES arrest children often in the middle of the night, locks them up in adult prisons, won’t let parents even lawyers attend them. Most of what Israel says it does FOR Palestinians is bs! If they’re so even handed, so diligent about human rights and equality, why the need for borders? That is a contradiction that puts paid to your assertions? Why do they prevent ship loads of basic needs to reach Gaza? Too many contradictions for me to swallow, but you go right ahead! As Ken asserts, there’s no point in debating with you!

    by Liz45 on Nov 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm

  27. Liz45:

    all power to you !!!!

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm

  28. For a scholarly summary of how particularly young US Jews are withdrawing their support for Israel, check out Dr Norman Finkelstein’s latest book “Knowing Too Much - Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End”

    by Kevin Herbert on Nov 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

  29. @Kevin Herbert - My last post is still with the moderator? Why is that I wonder. I just stated the fact that it’s Israelis who are supervising soldier’s ‘dealings’ with Palestinians at the border. Those Israelis are horrified by the inhumane manner that they’re being treated.

    Mike R obviously only wants to cling to his ingrained ‘rational’ views! Sad really! Oh well, my head has stopped having that ‘patted feeling’? Why do some men resort to such patriarchal and pompous behaviour! On WRD too!

    MIKE, you referred to Bob Hawke! I lost all respect for him when he went against ALP National Policy and gave the go ahead to the third Uranium mine? Such passion for Israel, no passion to stop even more bomb making materials in the world! I have not been back to an ALP meeting, nor have I given them my primary vote! He did several anti worker things, like the pilots dispute by bringing in scabs, and in 1975 by hosing down the anger of protesters re the sacking of Gough Whitlam - who I voted for! Funny how the Coalition didn’t scream about the sacking of that PM? Bunch of hypocrites!

    Good rallies around the country yesterday supporting Palestinians - including Jews! Hope those poor people in Gaza have been energized by these rallies!

    by Liz45 on Nov 25, 2012 at 10:37 am

  30. Liz45 , Congratulations you have managed to divert the discussion away from the topic of junkets . I was not unduly perturbed by your gender war claims until now, as I made it abundantly clear that your moniker could be Arthur or Martha and I would treat all irrational and highly partisan comments equally, as witnessed to the bucket loads I pour onto the hapless Kevin. My sole criterion is whether your arguments either make sense or they don’t. If you are worried,change your nom de plume to Leon45 and then repeat the same arguments and see how far that gets you.

    What really disturbs me is your attempts to ‘verbal’ me with your ‘Have you stopped bashing your wife?’ approach. What evidence do you have other than Sweet F.A for your conclusions? Additionally you have managed to accomplish what I previously thought impossible, to make me sympathetic to that piece of ….. (insert what ever you think is appropriate, my preference is scatological) commonly known as Tony Abbott, with your attempt to tar me with the same brush. This is truly an appalling state of affairs. I will need to listen to the House of Reps question time or watch the news to remove any residual stain of sympathy for Abbott, Bishop and the rest of the motley crew.

    Likewise Marylyn detests, and would like to see the back of, Julia Gillard because she regards Julia as a Zionist puppet. She may get her wish but the likelihood of an Abbott or any other leader Liberal or Labor assuming power would unlikely to further the cause of anti-Zionism. Again be careful what you wish for.

    by Mike R on Nov 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  31. Thanks Kevin, I will!

    by Liz45 on Nov 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm

  32. Further to my comments above. Apologies to Liz for posting comments on Saturday the day before White Ribbon Day something that might be critical of her opinions. I should have waited until at least today. By the way, neither my wife or my daughter who attended the recent October ‘Reclaim the Night March’ were aware of the day.

    However I have just sworn the White Ribbon online oath (I was no. 66153) so can I now subject your comments to the mildest form of critical evaluation?

    Liz45 is incessantly cataloguing the injustices and suffering of the Palestinians which is useful as a reminder of how serious the problems in the Mid-East are, but rather than listing the numerous past wrongs it always more useful to look at a means to rectify the situation. This may require each side to re-examine their own past actions rather than only focusing on the misdeeds of their opponents. Contrary to what either side wants you to believe, neither side has the mortgage on the moral high ground. Partisan commentary does little to encourage introspection but only serves to inflame the debate by encouraging the rejectionism and extremism of one side while reinforcing the extreme paranoia of the other.

    With friends like Liz and Kev the the Palestinians clearly don’t need the Israelis.

    by Mike R on Nov 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm

  33. Floccinauci provides details on Friday regarding Union Aid Abroad and points out that the Palestinians are unlikely to be in a position to fund such tours.

    There are however many Arab states that support the Palestinians that are awash with money and, if the will was there, they presumably could come to the party and provide funding for junkets. They are clearly not short of largess. Qatar , whose Emir recently visited Gaza with a donation of $400 million, provided desperately needed funding to a relatively unknown mendicant football team (Barcelona FC ) with $125 million for a logo sponsorship on the team shirt. Qatar also has other problems spending its money (50 towers are being built in Doha at the present including a 400 meter high skyscraper). If this source of funding fails then any of the 7000 Saudi princes who are clearly not short of a quid or two could be tapped for funding. On the subject of tapping ,one of the Saudi princes could forgo a gold tap or two in their palaces to support such a venture.

    I now note the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Palestine’ and ‘Australians for Palestine’ both offer tours of the Mid East . I am now not sure what the whole fuss is all about regarding the absence of such tours. I however would be interested in the funding sources for these tours . Do they avail themselves of the possible funding from the Gulf states? The parliamentarian tours may have been funded using their personal parliamentary expense accounts maybe? For the other tour mentioned where do I sign up?

    For the sake of balance I think all politicians, journalists in fact anybody who can, should take both the Israeli and Palestinian tours and then make up their minds. I am fed up by those who are firmly ensconced in their arm chairs pontificating and delivering judgments from 20,000 kms away from the dispute, relying on whatever version of truth they choose to believe that can be extracted from their favourite media and internet sites. Being on the ground talking to everybody on all sides, you might learn of the complexity of the situation and that no side of this debate has a mortgage on the truth.

    by Mike R on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:15 pm

  34. @Mike R - Can you tell me what was the point of telling me that your wife and daughter didn’t know about White Ribbon Day? If you didn’t know, why not? And, if you and they didn’t know, than one can assume that you don’t know about some other things either? Are you trying to assert, that if they didn’t know, then it isn’t a reality? And then one can safely say, that patronising and insulting handling of another person’s views shows that you aren’t aware of how this type of behaviour is not acceptable in 2012 either?

    And further, what makes you think that just by taking the Oath ( as indeed I have also - a few years ago now?) you can then resort to ‘as you were’ type of attitude?

    I won’t speak for Kevin, because he’s already articulated his views, so I’ll just repeat mine and answer yours. The fact is, that the issues re my ‘criticism’ of Israel are not JUST about things they have done in the past, but of things that are continuing today. For you to assert that these actions are of long ago has about as much credibility as Pell’s attitude, that all the ‘sins’ of the cc happened in the past, and things are different now - or last year? Too many people have asserted that he and his mates have treated them with disdain (to put it mildly) and that they were thwarted by all and sundry when they reported abuse! In short, they accuse Pell of being a liar!

    Interesting how 40 odd bishops can come together now, when a Royal Commission is just around the corner, but couldn’t get together when they realised the horrific trauma their colleagues had subjected little kids and adolescents to for decades/centuries even?

    Fancy you castigating and/or asserting that discussions about the ‘sins’ is not productive? There have been passive and active responses to my claims of DV, and yet others want to silence me and so protect the perpetrator? They believe that I should ‘get over it’? Of course they do! If I keep on talking about it (only really challenged him once in front of his partner) or claiming criminal actions against my ex, it makes his partner feel uncomfortable, so she sides with him, even gives an assessment of my ‘faults’ and then decides that I was also to blame? Clever isn’t it? She finished by asking me if I thought I was the only woman who was ever abused? Clever again isn’t it?

    What was happening to the Palestinians decades ago is really only got worse since? Not better! How would you feel if the military from Indonesia or the USA invaded this country, turfed you out of your house - with nothing, and took up residence in said house? And then, while you and other families were squashed into a small town/city, kept essentials from being delivered and subjected your kids to verbal, physical and military harassment? That’s the reality of what’s happening to Palestinians, today!

    Israel will NEVER agree to any treaty or?? with the Palestinians. They have too much invested in remaining the provocateurs - in a military sense also! They continually oppose the demand that Palestinians forced to flee 40-60 years ago are allowed to come home? They wouldn’t get the billions of dollars in military ‘toys’ from the US either probably!

    The Palestinians only have pretty basic ‘weapons’ while Israel has very sophisticated weapons including 200 nuclear bombs? Actually, it only takes one to cause annihilation! It’s not a level playing field, so all your utterings are just nonsense!

    Correction - the Palestinians have never NEEDED Israel!

    by Liz45 on Nov 27, 2012 at 12:10 am

  35. Liz45 , I do not understand how I got enmeshed in a debate regarding white ribbon day whose relevance to the Mideast is somewhat limited. I will however endeavor to make sure that I will keep an eye out for it in future. I however cannot speak from my wife and daughter who may have to sign up with Crikey to share their opinions regarding your comments.

    I also share your distaste for Cardinal Pell but again the exact relevance to the Mid-East is again unclear.

    A for your last point . You yearn for an equivalence in weaponry between the Palestinians and Israel. You think arming Hamas with nuclear weapons would be a good Idea? My preference is a demilitarized Mid-East (and also Near East, Far East and in fact anywhere) but this would require both massive de-escalation of the conflict though presumably a negotiated settlement.

    Anyway the use of nuclear weapons in the confines of the Palestine/Israel conflict is absurd beyond belief. I am afraid I have to repeat again that the detonation by Israel of a nuclear weapon in Gaza would make Israel also totally uninhabitable and only satisfy the Messianic desires of all religions ( I can see David descending from heaven on a white steed schlepping a cross.

    Finally getting back to the original topic (what was it again?). I hope that Liz45 takes a tour of her choosing and gets a realization of the issues at the coal face. It may temper her doctrinaire, never give an inch attitude, to the conflict.

    With regard to the tours , I note that Julia Gillard has been rolled and that Australia will abstain from the imminent vote in the UN reading Palestine.. As the Fairfax reported there was also concern that the vote in caucus may have been influenced by the ‘Labor’s precarious prospects in Western Sydney electorates with a high concentration of people with a Mid-Eastern background’ This demonstrates the limitations of Israeli junkets and the Israel lobby in general. Now that is democracy for you.

    As a supporter of a two state solution I am not fussed by the change of heart of the government. I am hoping that the vote in the UN may cause a rapprochement between Hamas and the Palestinian authority so that Israel will have a single (and hopefully) responsible negotiating partner. It also may encourage the factions of the Palestinians to start assuming some responsibility for their actions such as firing missiles from within the midst civilian populations.

    Finally on a personal note, it appears our debate is a metaphor for the exchange of missiles in the recent conflict. Liz45’s anger may have induced, by counter transference, feelings that I usually manage to suppress and I am sorry if I have offended Liz45. But the origins and nature of my comments may also be more obvious. Liz45’s introductory comment included a reference to Israelis acting like Hitler. References like this (likewise for Kevin’s concentration camp references) do not engender calm and rational debate (moderator please take note). Australia has the highest number per capita of holocaust survivors outside of Israel. Accordingly there are many people in Australia , even readers of Crikey, that have less than one degree of separation from those that have more intimate knowledge of the consequences of Hitler and concentration camps, than either Liz45 or Kevin. It is clear that boiling blood does little to enhance rational debate.

    by Mike R on Nov 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

  36. Look, there are plenty of people who agree with my views re who’s the aggressor etc in this instance. I don’t need your approval or anything else. I won’t change the basic premise of my assertion, that Israel is the oppressor/aggressor and is supported by most western countries. I am quite comfortable in sharing solidarity with people like Kevin Herbert and millions of others.

    If I wrote thousands of words about feminism etc you still wouldn’t get it, because you don’t want to. End of story! I’ve not turned my computer on as I’m sick as a dog with the flu/head cold whatever! Feel lousy! Not in the mood for argument.

    I disagree with the PM’s position re the UN resolution. Funny how neither she nor others insist that Israel abide by UN Resolutions - to date about 60 odd! Most depressing!

    I do NOT move away from my assertion that Israel is now the oppressor of peoples like Hitler was to the Jews! I’m not alone in this view either. I find it amazing, that the West is quick to call anyone or any country a terrorist who do NOT agree with them. And then they wonder why people in the middle east hate America! Stupid or deliberately obtuse? Result is the same!

    I also agree with many of the views of Marilyn! As to bombs, nuclear or otherwise? Israel has used cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs etc while all Gaza has are rockets that JUST make it sometimes! If you look at the death toll, there’s heaps more dead Palestinians, particularly kids than in Israel - always has been. We won’t even mention Ariel Sharon or Kissinger etc?

    I don’t have anything further to share with you!

    by Liz45 on Nov 28, 2012 at 5:52 pm

  37. “Look, there are plenty of people who agree with my views re who’s the aggressor etc in this instance.”.
    Yes you can get agreement from loads of web sites from all shades of the spectrum. From the http://www.stormfront.org (have yo got life memebership yet?) to the usual supects such as Antony Loewenstein..

    “I don’t need your approval or anything else.”
    - good.

    “ I won’t change the basic premise of my assertion, that Israel is the oppressor/aggressor and is supported by most western countries.”
    -How unusual, it demonstrates the difficulties in prising open a mind that is that closed like a steel trap.

    “ I am quite comfortable in sharing solidarity with people like Kevin Herbert and millions of others”
    – ibid..

    “If I wrote thousands of words about feminism etc you still wouldn’t get it, because you don’t want to. “
    - I am not sure how I was manipulated into getting involved with a subject so way off topic.

    “End of story! I’ve not turned my computer on as I’m sick as a dog with the flu/head cold whatever! Feel lousy! Not in the mood for argument.”.
    - Hope you are feeling better soon.

    “I disagree with the PM’s position re the UN resolution.”.
    - So do I.

    “ Funny how neither she nor others insist that Israel abide by UN Resolutions - to date about 60 odd! Most depressing! “
    Only 60? The sausage factory must have slowed down. Fancy being condemned by Syria, Sudan etc regarding human rights, It is almost a badge of honour to be condemned by a bunch of serial human rights abusers. It is unsurprising that 49 Islamic can carry a vote in the General assembly of the UN considering the enormous wealth of the Saudis, Gulf states that can buy as many votes if necessary. I also seem to recall that the Arab states opposed the formation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel in 1948 (UN resolution 181- the grand daddy resolution of all resolutions regarding the ME)

    “I do NOT move away from my assertion that Israel is now the oppressor of peoples like Hitler was to the Jews! “.
    - And any wonder why I have been condescending? Your hatred of the Israelis (not the Arab ones, you know the other ones) illuminates more about yourself than anything else. Have you had an unfortunate experience that has led you to express your intense hatred of the Jewish state? Could your first family doctor been Eduard Bloch by any chance?

    “I’m not alone in this view either. I find it amazing, that the West is quick to call anyone or any country a terrorist who do NOT agree with them. And then they wonder why people in the middle east hate America! Stupid or deliberately obtuse? Result is the same! “
    -Yes I agree anyone who unjustifiably calls the other side a terrorist should be condemned. It should only be used when it is deserved.

    “I also agree with many of the views of Marilyn! As to bombs, nuclear or otherwise? Israel has used cluster bombs, phosphorus bombs etc while all Gaza has are rockets that JUST make it sometimes! If you look at the death toll, there’s heaps more dead Palestinians, particularly kids than in Israel “
    -If your goal is equality of deaths on all sides then is your suggestion to arm the Palestinians with nuclear weapons, cluster and phosphorus munitions?. How many casualties would satisfy you lust for blood? . As I have said before my preference is equality via zero casualties on both sides. The firing of missiles from within the confined space of Gaza was not likely to achieve this aim and I am sure Hamas knew that it was all going to end in tears for the surrounding civilian population. Next time I have a wasp nest in the backyard remind me not to get the local Hamas militant around to get rid of it.

    .“always has been. We won’t even mention Ariel Sharon or Kissinger etc?”
    - Does the etc above , include Sheik Haj Amin El-Husseini? This all getting silly.

    “I don’t have anything further to share with you!”
    - Excellent news! Made my day.

    by Mike R on Nov 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  38. Of course we can always take the side of the US? the upholder of democracy and freedom around the world??????NOT!

    by Liz45 on Nov 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

  39. Liz45, glad you are feeling better. I should know better to resume debate, as we are off on another of your now famous tangents. I will, as I am feeling a bit argumentative, fall for the bait ( maybe just this once for old times sake).

    You appear to not be a great fan of US policy. I note however that you are a great fan of generalizations. As they say never ever argue with a generalization.

    I am also not a fan either of many aspects of recent US foreign policy (the debacle in Iraq was a prime example) but my preference , rather than generalization, is to look at each context and examine the details and relevant facts. I am such an old fuddy-duddy.

    If the US does not meet your meet your needs with regard to freedom and democracy do you have a preference between to other major superpowers?

    Do you prefer your democracy and freedom, Russian or Chinese style ?

    In both cases the democracy in question has unique characteristics. For Russia – Putin style democracy and for China the democracy extends only down to the Politburo.

    Depending on your preference we can also go on a geo-political junket visiting the north Caucuses (Chechnya, South Ossetia, Georgia, Dagestan etc.) and discuss Russian foreign policy. If China is your preference we could likewise visit Tibet and various regions of China and discuss the treatment of ethnic minorities.

    But saving the best for last, there is the Russian and Chinese support for the murderous Syrian Assad regime (for Russia ,weapons shipped in and political support via UN vetos ) and political in the case of China(also UN vetos).

    With regard to UN vetos who said that the UN is morally bankrupt due to the predominance of serial abusers of human rights among its members?

    Surely the UN is the embodiment of truth, justice and the ..….. (insert what ever you prefer, I have left enough space for Syrian) way of life?

    by Mike R on Nov 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

  40. I think that most of the so called super powers are in reality dictatorships? The US has invaded/interfered with about 50 countries since the end of WW2? Some of them like Iraq, twice! At present Obama is selectively killing people via drones. He used them heaps more than the Bush Administration had in 8 years. Obama passed that mark a year or so ago? What’s that got to do with democracy?

    Russia under Putin isn’t much better than the old Soviet Union. He’s a former KGB operative and is operating in the same manner. These are oversimplifications I know, but the basic reality is awful for those affected. Imagine if another country did what the US is, and why are they so quiet about Putin? Or dictators in Africa etc, except of course for Mugabe?

    There’s the PATRIOT Act; illegal invasions and interference. Down on some countries in the Middle East, but turns a blind eye to others? If they’re pro US they can do as they please? Look at how long Saddam Hussein was a buddy of the US, Britain and the rest of the West? Most depressing!

    Then there’s central and south America? Diego Garcia? On and on it goes. The multinationals can do no wrong, and it’s corporations/military that dictate foreign policy. I don’t have any respect for the US. In fact, when I hear Hilary Clinton carry on it makes me sick? The hypocrisy is so blatant. People around the world fear the US more than say China? Surveys undertaken during the Bush years? I don’t think much has changed. Australia sucks up to any country the US says is OK?

    It’s very depressing. Look at Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Chile for other examples? Sometimes I wish I’d just watch the crap on channel 10 and forget the rest? I don’t have much hope for things to change, not in my lifetime anyway!

    I was hopeful about Obama, but he disappointed also. I kick myself for being so naive. IF he had done even a little bit of what he asserted, he’d meet the same fate as JFK?

    OF course you omit to mention that the US supported Assad, Egypt and in recent times Gadaffi? Why? Because they suited them. The US supports Sudan, Bahrain and others for the same reason. Oil, Oil Oil! OK to cut peoples’ hands/heads off if they ‘play the main game’? Venezuela told them to f off, and so they’re demonised by the US, even though there’s no evidence to show even remotely, that all elections of Chavez have been free and fair. The people are benefiting and better still, are involved in the changes, which includes the writing of a brand new Constitution! People power, a referendum on it, and then an election on the finished product! Most impressive! People’s incomes increased each year; housing, health and education are improving all the time. I’m impressed!

    Of course, western media demonizes Chavez and implies lack of democracy which is a huge joke by comparison to the US treatment of their own citizens! White, male and rich, OK? Others lesser mortals, finishing with black people! As I said, most depressing! I read an article yesterday that stated that in ?? State in the US, you can be jailed for not saying you’re a christian with your allegiance to little people in the sky? How on earth did that happen? Why do the people allow it to happen? Dumb or lazy or both?

    I’ve just been reading (Jewish person who’s just visited Gaza)about the topic under discussion here and feel quite depressed. The article also showed the loss of Palestinian land since 1947? I don’t know how anyone can think that is OK? A woman also told how her father died of cancer due to Israel not allowing him to receive treatment? He was only 60 which is young for a man these days. I reject your assertions re health care, and this is NOT the only story that I’ve read/heard about. Israel is oppressing these people and they’re just ahead of starving in Gaza? In fact, young children’s growth is stunted due to lack of nutrition. I thought that myself just by some of the footage during the bombing etc. The kids’ size did NOT fit their age. I noticed it, just as a mother etc? 2 yr old kids should have a larger head than a 6 month old baby? I’ve just been to a Forum (Monday) about the formation of a baby’s brain and how it’s ‘damaged’ by abuse to the mother even before their birth! That’s what has also happened in Gaza via trauma via bombings, shootings etc!
    65& of a baby’s calories go to the development of their brain. The brain is the only organ that is not complete at birth - only the brain stem is! All that is ‘working’ is that needed to breathe, eat, move etc. The rest develops from the bottom up, and is not complete until the mid 20’s - 25 for males, and less for females. Depriving a baby sufficient calories inhibits growth! Trauma and lack of food to the mother during gestation also damages the foetus. That’s before they’re even born> I know that good doctors in Israel know this, and try to do their best, but they’re impotent against the military etc. As I said, depressing!

    Off to vacuum - not doing much as I still feel crook? Bit of exercise and I’m short of breath and yuk! (Maids day of???Lol) Won’t go near the baby either, so that doesn’t make me feel any happier! Don’t want her to get sick as she’s already got bronchialitis and has for a couple of months- will grow out of it apparently! So my germs are staying right here! Even avoiding the supermarkets as much as possible! Don’t want to make other babies sick either!

    by Liz45 on Nov 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

  41. Liz45:

    Gr8 summary which deals with the established facts, not the musings of bigots.

    Next target: the Liberals under Abbott.

    by Kevin Herbert on Dec 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

  42. Look Liz I am not going to argue the virtues of US, China or Russian foreign policy ( I have a limited lifetime). Each of the superpowers has been culpable and produced numerous disasters. You are indeed right about oil. The Arab oil lobby on the US tries to offset the Jewish lobby.

    The following letter that appeared in today’s Age is relevant to China’s human rights record and to the UN vote re Palestine.
    Nigel Hungerford pointed out with regard to Tibet.” The Montevideo convention sets out criteria for statehood under international law. Tibet clearly has a much greater claim to statehood then Palestine based on the historical facts: a permanent population; it had a fully functioning government before the Chinese invasion in 1950 (and has such a government in exile in India) and it had the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Sadly no member states will challenge China’s occupation of what was once an independent state”.

    Now with regard to the situation in Gaza, I have gone over this with Kevin elsewhere and in this thread on November 20. Do I have to repeat them verbatim? You know that the debate has gone on way too long when you start repeating facts (possibly ad- nauseum) so I apologize if you have read this before.

    The following are the Wiki entries suggest the conditions in Gaza are not as bad as some would like us to believe.

    These describe facilities found in Gaza. Beach resorts ( seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Bustan_resort), shopping malls (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza_Mall ) , equestrian centres (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faisal_Equestrian_Club) and aquatic theme parks en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Water_Park .

    These type of facilities, which appear to be owned by the leadership of Hamas, suggest the crisis in Gaza is more due to deprivations in some luxury goods. The Gazans do appear to have a very high demand for Iphone 5s that can only be satisfied by passage through the smuggling tunnels ( see http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/10/16/244132.html). Such suffering!

    The utter gall of people claiming that Gaza has a major humanitarian crisis is amazing. Also if Hamas being the authority in charge on the ground is supposed to have the interests of the local population at heart it is very strange, to say the least ,the fact that they can import 6.5 meter Fajr long missiles into Gaza and Mercedes Benz 4WD but somehow cannot get humanitarian aide through. What a joke!

    Further evidence as to the true state of the Gaza can be found from the report of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) with regard to Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 2011 (see http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/mpi/).

    The Palestinian territories scored an MPI of 0.005 ( the larger the number the worse the poverty). Of the 110 countries surveyed, 10 were better off than in Palestinian territories and 99 were worse off according to the Poverty index. Interestingly Argentina and Brazil’s indices were over twice as worse (0.11 ) . The worst was Niger which scored 0.64 (some 120 times worse poverty than found in the Palestinian territories .

    I know that the Palestinian Territories include both the West Bank and Gaza, but according to the world bank, Gaza achieved growth rates of 28% for 2011 compared to only 4% for the West bank so if there is a discrepancy it is,in the absence of direct conflict with Israel, obviously narrowing.

    The commonly held view that the standard of living in Gaza is horrific is clearly a misrepresentation by those whose agenda is obvious.

    You mentioned the 60 year old cancer patient who died after refusal of medical treatment in Israel. You mention his premature death which, because you provide no other details,I cannot dispute. However I would have been interested in the form of cancer he had ,as some forms such a s pancreatic normally result in death within months (unless you have the resources of a Steve Jobs). Look such anecdotal evidence is almost useless as it can be so easily contradicted by other anecdotes for instance the following anecdote is a beauty.

    Earlier in 2012, Suhila Abd el Salam Ahmed Haniyeh, the sister in law of the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied her critically ill husband to the Rabin Medical Centre in Petah Tikva, Israel, for emergency heart treatment. After successful treatment and care, the couple returned to Gaza without incident.

    Lastly after much information about the effects of malnutrition on brain development Liz states “The kids (in Gaza) size did NOT fit their age. I noticed it, just as a mother etc? 2 yr old kids should have a larger head than a 6 month old baby?”.

    I gather in the absence of MRIs to showing brain development of a particular Gazan child, did you judge this on the size of the 2 year child’s head relative to the body? This is probably the only realistic way this could be done.

    The only other way you could have ascertained this is a direct comparison of the 6 month old with a 2 year old in the same video still and then made precise measurements of heads of both . Did you do this ? What software package did you use? Photoshop perhaps.

    What you have stated is totally contradicts the normal signs of malnutrition in a child, which is an inordinately large head compared to the wasted body of the child. You obviously have turned off the TV when SBS shows the malnourished children in places like Ethiopia and Sudan.

    Apologies to Liz for re-introducing facts into our interminable debate.

    by Mike R on Dec 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

  43. @Mike R - The standard of living in Gaza is horrific. they are denied even the most basic of food stuffs (unless they can grow it, and with Israel destroying many ‘gardens’ that were either businesses or just for personal needs, together with the growing population and less and less land, the amount getting in to Gaza just keeps the 1.5 million above poverty. Every time there’s damage via Israels bombings, there’s even more entrenched poverty and medical/human suffering. I can NOT see how anyone can deny this. To do so is to have an agenda so pro Israel that blinkers are left strongly in place! Amazing!

    While I’m not a professional person, I’ve been to many forums about domestic violence, problems in aboriginal communities, why some kids don’t function at school - either they can’t afford breakfast or they have to leave too early, or both. In some areas/schools serve breakfast to these children (I know of at least one close to me - a 20 minute drive?). They don’t look malnourished to an inexperienced onlooker, but their ability to focus, concentrate and perform even simple tasks is reduced if they haven’t had any food that morning! Poverty is present in this country. Some families can’t afford to eat 3 times a day. The kids in that family will NOT flourish physically, scholastically or mentally/emotionally if they are under nourished. An experienced eye can see quite easily what kids are malnourished!

    As stated earlier, a newborn and older baby’s brain requires 65& of their daily calories. This decreases as the child ages, and adults only require about 15%, but during those early years when the brain’s development is really huge, those calories or lack of will shape that baby’s future. If the child from birth to 5 is confronted with violent behaviour (even if they’re not physically assaulted themselves) damage is done to the developing brain. If that child is also being deprived nourishing or inadequate food, the damage is done via a dual problem. It’s this knowledge that I used in my assertions about the children in Gaza! Too small for their age, which obviously follows, damage to their brain/s! The last Forum re this issue was on Monday at my local city hospital!

    This is what an Israeli military person said about Palestinians re the latest military invasion - “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages”. Interior Minister Eli Yishai said. Transport Minister Israel Katz called “for Gaza to be bombed so hard the population has to flee into Egypt”.

    The prominent military-political analyst Yorum Peri wrote with disgust that the army’s task is not to defend the state, but “to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim (“niggers”, “kikes”) living in territories that God promised us.” (Green Left Nov 28/12 - page 12/13). (Noam Chomsky visited the Gaza Strip over October 25-30. His (abridged)article was written by him. It’s in full on his website at Chomsky.com

    There are varying degrees of malnutrition. Those showing awful pictures of toddlers the size of newborns are obvious - they’re usually days if less from death. But as I maintained in my comments, Israel is cleverly providing sufficient food to NOT cause such babies, but there is damage. When this is combined with psychological damage of both adults and children, the health problems are immense. Nothing is done to initiate any awareness of this let alone help for the suffering. It is IMPOSSIBLE for a child to achieve full potential if they’re malnourished. Thankfully they are hydrated (as long as access to water hasn’t been demolished/poisoned via bombs etc - as what happened in Iraq - and as far as I know, is still a reality. Iraqi children have the same health problems?.) The awful sights re those poor little cherubs near death is quite different. It amazes me what a tiny little person can endure, and how long it takes for death to come! Just horrific! (Of course everyone knows that kids with chocolate or black skin aren’t really like our kids, so there’s no real worry is there?) People like you don’t even mention it unless challenged, and then point to a situation even more shameful as proof, that what the oppressors (in this case Israel - AND THE REST OF US) are implementing isn’t all that bad. I don’t buy it! never have! The rest of the world has immense wealth - there is plenty of food and water for the world’s peoples. The reason why there’s poverty anywhere is political! The will to intervene isn’t present! See what you’re a part of? If you defend it you’re part of it? Part of the gut wrenching human misery affecting the most vulnerable! I do NOT understand how anyone, man or woman can defend such behaviours! I’m also sick of being called soft, or a do-gooder or what people like condescendingly imply, my inability to debate or face the reality. That is patronising bs and you know it? There are many men who also feel and act as I do! While they face opposition re their comments, the ‘need’ to use patriarchy and patronising language is absent! You’re the one who is deficient, not me!

    If I hear one more time that Israel has a right to defend itself, I’ll scream! Obviously, for reasons stated previously, Palestine doesn’t! Like our (Australian govt/opposition)attitude to asylum seekers. They should just stay immobile (in Iraq or Afghanistan of Sri Lanks or???)and die via sophisticated weapons, not protest or fight back. We’re worried about ‘boat people’ dying at sea (bollocks) when what we really mean is, ‘die at home where we can’t see you, and the blood and the babies and ???’ If via our guns, then so be it! I totally reject that form of hypocrisy too!

    What I state are facts - and not just via people who write, but by people who live there and/or are Jewish! The media in the west is so biased it’s criminal! You only have to look at the reporting of the invasion of Iraq! The US learned their lessons via Vietnam. Never again were they going to allow the ‘ordinary man in the street’ access to the reality of their actions. I can still recall the awful images in the late 60’s? I vowed then that my sons would never join the military and kill other mothers’ babies. My late father in law, who lost his leg in Tobruk in 1941? agreed with me. He was my first anti war supporter! He’d wink at me or give me the thumbs up from the other end of the table each time I’d state this - usually after being reduced to shock or tears about some awful vision - like the little girl whose clothes were burnt off, running crying in pain, looking for her mother? or someone? He never spoke of the war or even much about how he lost his leg. I do know that he suffered every day for the next 60+ years! But he frequently told stories against himself, or sometimes other peoples’ stupidity, but never complained! My sons did NOT join the military. Thank goodness!

    I have seen many documentaries/news items about the plight of children in poverty, war zones etc. I also remember quite clearly the comment Madeline Albright said about the 500,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of the sanctions of the US re supplies, food etc plus medical treatment for cancers etc. ‘When you think of the outcome, I think the result was worth it’? Or words to that effect’? Now 1.5 million deaths later, she’d probably say the same thing???Suffice to say that at least two people employed via the UN to implement the ‘food program’ read starvation diet? left the job in disgust! The US only changed their behaviour a little, when the Congress found out that vital immunizations were prohibited? I clearly remember hearing about this via ABC’s The World Today.

    I don’t kiss the US’s bum! I don’t agree with Australia’s foreign policy on many matters, and I will NOT slavishly support the Zionist aspirations of Israel. I wouldn’t care if I was the only person in the world who disagreed, but I know I’m not! Even the major newspaper in Israel is more even handed in its reporting than many msm in the West, particularly in the US/Britain and Australia. It’s shameful!

    by Liz45 on Dec 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

  44. Liz45,I am glad you got that off your chest. If your definition of patronising is debating rationally then I plead guilty your honour and I throw myself at the mercy of the court. When my children used to throw tanties I was indeed patronizing. It is par for the course when dealing with irrationality.

    Getting back to calm and considered thought. Liz, your line “I can NOT see how anyone can deny this” is again truly remarkable. We can start with the UN agencies that seem to disagree strongly with your assertions such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which I referred to in my previous comment. Now with regard to childhood malnutrition the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (ESA) provides some relevant information such as for the infant mortality in the Palestinian territories and world wide at http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/mortality.htm.

    With regard to childhood malnutrition, the following data provide by the UN ESA is illuminating. The infant mortality ,which I would assume be an indicator of such matters, ranks the Palestinian Territories (22/1000 live births) at well below the world average (49/1000 live births). It ranks between China and Lebanon. It is much better than countries such as Brazil, Turkey , Egypt and Iran. Again the Palestinian Territories incorporates both the West Bank and Gaza so these figures may be skewed somewhat. If we assume that the west bank Palestinians has a infant mortality rate as good as Australia (5/1000 live births) and assuming roughly equal populations in the West bank and Gaza, the infant mortality in Gaza, as a worst case estimate, is about 39/1000 live births. This is still well under the world average.

    Liz do you disbelieve these figures or do you have alternative sets of figures or interpretations? Are these organizations just fronts for the Zionists and CIA.?

    The picture you draw so colourfully of Gazan children etc., is contradicted by those nasty things, commonly referred to as data. Liz, when the tide of facts washes in, you can rail King Canute style against the facts until you run out of breath.

    A cursory look at the Internet does however reveal that there are indeed relevant health issues regarding the water supply of Gaza that needs to be sorted out. I would think this would be the number one priority for Hamas ( rather than ranking, who knows where, below missiles and associated weapons, shopping malls beach resorts etc.). The Gazans, who are clearly industrious people have accumulated, some 10,000 missiles , many manufactured within Gaza. If some of that industriousness could be harnessed to build or rebuild sewerage facilities it indeed would be a wonderful thing. The importation of materials would not necessarily be difficult as there were sufficient plumbing to build an aquatic theme park in Gaza.

    Likewise if the propellant and war heads of the Fajr missiles were removed then, in terms of humanitarian use, they would be much more usefully applied as sewerage pipes. The thousands of home manufactured missiles could also be used in a similar manner. If fact if all future efforts were aligned with the health needs then the Gazans themselves could clearly the solve the water crisis. If there was only the will to do so.

    Do the Gazans have the right to fire missiles into Israel? If they do then they should have right to expect a response from Israel. Don’t tell me that they had no idea they would have expected a response of the type they duly received.

    If they desist from firing missiles they similarly have the right to not expect a response.

    Liz, if you believe the missiles leaving Gaza were defensive measures, then they were totally counterproductive. As a reminder, the Palestinians killed 6 Israelis and executed 7 Palestinians while sustaining 150 killed on the Palestinian side ( combatants and non-combatants) If this a defensive measure, then it is the most ridiculously ineffective method and why would it take 8 days to work this out?. A much more effective defensive measure would be to NOT fire missiles.

    This is verging on a chicken and egg style argument but in this case the chicken has well and truly long bolted with 600 or so missiles fired into Israel before the latest conflagration.

    Look I am glad that your father in law was batting for our side during world war 2 because I suspected, wrongly from some of your comments, that this may have not been the case. Due to the efforts of people like your father in law ,which I am eternally grateful , I am around to debate the Middle-East with you.

    by Mike R on Dec 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm

  45. As far as I’m concerned and lots agree with me, the situation in Gaza can be likened to SA under Apartheid - with Israel the oppressors! That’s the way it is as far as I’m concerned. I’m not throwing a tantrum at all! I just passionately believe it to be so!

    The votes at the UN had hardly been recorded, and what was Israel’s response? They announced they’re going to build several THOUSAND homes in the West Bank? Now if that doesn’t tell you what they’re like, I’ll eat my hat? (as my little Mum would say!). They just can’t help themselves! Attack! Attack, demonise, oppress - is all they know! And we let them get away with it!

    The issue with the water is like that with fixing up damaged buildings etc is that Israel will NOT allow the necessary materials in to do it! That’s why the ships with supporters were going there - with much needed medical, building and other supplies that Israel is NOT allowing in to Gaza! That’s the problem with food requirements.

    Re my wonderful father in law! I’m glad too! And I don’t think he’d be happy with what’s going on now! He didn’t suffer so much for other countries to behave like Germany or Japan? Nor did he want the US to go storming around the world, killing people willy nilly, stealing countries’ resources and generally behaving in a manner that he hoped was just a memory!

    As I said before! The violence was NOT started by Hamas - but by Israel! Even after the ‘truce’ Israel tried to provoke by killing a Palestinian who was on the border! They wanted an excuse to bomb some more, but knew that they couldn’t lie indefinitely or keep on killing as the world was watching!

    IF Israel behaved like they should as Occupiers (under the Geneva Conventions) there’d not be the build up of aggression etc. They’ve learned well from the US, and how they did NOT behave in the proper manner after invading/occupying Iraq! On the contrary! Israel does as it pleases because they know they can get away with murder (literally)? Look at the stats of every violent uprising? Nowhere even resembling equality!

    by Liz45 on Dec 3, 2012 at 7:18 pm

  46. @Mike R - Cat got your tongue?

    by Liz45 on Dec 4, 2012 at 5:53 pm

  47. Comments on this article are now turned off.

    by Jason Whittaker on Dec 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm

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