On Australia’s knee jerk support of Israel

Robert Johnson writes: Re. “Australia’s silence on Gaza killings part of our knee-jerk support for Netanyahu.” (Tuesday)

Correct on all three counts, Bernard Firstly, as you quote B’Tselem as saying, shooting unarmed demonstrators is illegal and, as the IDF says, every death of a peaceful demonstrator was exactly as intended. Secondly, Australia has a persistently hypocritical double standard on Palestine. And thirdly, of course, and as we are accustomed to, Israel enjoys a unique impunity in killing Palestinians. As a UN adviser based in East Jerusalem in 2008/09, before, during and after the Gaza War (Operation Cast Lead), I’d been, amongst other things, collating data on occupation-related child deaths. Over the four-year period 2005 to 2008 a total of 342 Palestinian children had been killed (most of which were not even reported by international media), as had 4 Israeli children (all of which were). And those data did not include the numbers killed in Israel’s leadership-jockeying pre-election attack on Gaza that commenced 27 December 2008.

In total, some 1,440 predominantly civilian Palestinians were killed (431 children) in that war, for a cost to Israel of an ultimately disregarded UN inquiry (for which Israel refused all cooperation) and the death of three civilians and 10 soldiers (four by friendly fire). In January 2009, my work programme in Gaza having obviously been cancelled, I was asked to talk with colleagues in Amman. Upon arrival in my hotel room, international news was giving lengthy coverage to one Israeli not far from the Gazan border where a rocket had landed nearby and a coffee mug had been shaken off a shelf. The news report carried lingering footage of the broken pieces on the floor. That day I was carrying a newspaper from Jerusalem. On the front cover was a photo of the rubble of demolished homes in Gaza, amongst which was the severed head of a young girl; it received no international coverage. It was hard to conclude other than that there was some perverse inequality in the media’s valuing of a broken Israeli cup and a decapitated Palestinian child. Netanyahu has at least abandoned the hypocrisy of pretending to support Palestine’s right to exist. This demands a robust response despite whatever might please the Trump administration. But Australia seems intent on effectively subverting the two-state solution even whilst mouthing support for it whilst once again turning a blind eye to such relentless atrocities. Our notion of diplomacy is misguided, subservient, embarrassing and convenient only in the short term. It will serve us badly.

Vincent Matthews writes: Re. “Australia’s silence on Gaza killings part of our knee-jerk support for Netanyahu.” (Tuesday)

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Shameful and embarrassing the influence Israel has on Australian politicians. No other nation could get away with the brutal injustices Israelis impose on Palestinians without being condemned. But the Israeli lobby here and particularly in the US is so powerful Netanyahu can get away with any atrocity he wants to commit against the Palestinians.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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