Something is rotten in the almost-state of Palestine. Hamas forces have taken over Gaza. The ruling Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas now controls the West Bank. Meanwhile, ordinary Palestinians are caught in the crossfire.

Sadly, there are still Arabs and Muslims trying to vilify Israel and Jews trying to vilify Palestinians and Muslims. I’m sickened that major Jewish organisations could invite people like Raphael Israeli and Brigette Gabriel to speak at functions.

What’s the difference between what Hilaly said about Jews at a seminar at Sydney University in 1987 and what guest speakers say about Muslims under the auspices of some Jewish organisations in 2007? I’ll tell you the difference — 20 years!

It also disturbs me that an umbrella organisation of religious congregations (as opposed to a Zionist political organisation) opposes Marrickville Council’s proposal to establish a sister-city relationship with the Council Beyt Lahm in the West Bank.

Beyt Lahm, of course, is the Aramaic name of that city we sing about in Christmas carols. Remember? The manger? The star leading the three wise men etc?

Now, a lot more is happening in this nominally Christian town. But if we believe what the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies tells us, you’d think Bethlehem has become a hotbed of suicide terrorists.

In a speech to Marrickville Council, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff effectively transformed Bethlehem’s Mayor Victor Batarseh into a Hamas man. How? Does he hold a Hamas membership card? Has he converted to Islam?

Apparently it’s because he opposes the two-state solution. But things aren’t as simple as they seem. Using this standard, many Israelis have also joined the Hamas jihad against the two-state solution. Many Israelis want to expel Palestinians en masse. Many Israelis want to see Palestine wiped off the world map (or at least eliminate it before it appears).

Even if Hamas controls 4 seats on the Council, what possible impact could they make when Hamas activists are being hunted down across the West Bank? And more importantly, is a sister-city partnership between political parties? Or is it between cities?

Bethlehem is the birthplace of Christ. That in itself should be enough to deter some Jewish leaders from opposing the sister-city arrangement. Some Jewish leaders have alienated even the most nominal Muslims by their choice of guest speakers. Are they now intent on alienating nominal Christians?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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