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From: The Australian Editorial, December 11, 2012:
SINCE when did we ban academics according to nationality?
SOMETIMES it helps to ask the obvious question: why did Sydney University establish a centre for peace and conflict studies in the first place? The centre's website, illustrated with a flock of doves, says its role is to "facilitate dialogue between individuals, groups or communities who are concerned with conditions of positive peace". It appears, however, that Israeli individuals, groups and communities are not considered positive peacemakers by the centre, which endorses the BDS movement and its boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign. Director Jake Lynch is trying to stop Israeli professor Dan Avnon studying in Australia.
No objective observer would dispute that Israel seeks peace. The Nobel Peace Prize committee must have thought so when it gave its 1994 prize to then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, his foreign minster Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Hamas, the dominant Palestinian force in Gaza, also seeks peace, after a fashion. Hamas's political leader Khaled Meshaal's hate-filled rhetoric in Gaza on the weekend left no room for doubt about its ultimate aim; the peace Hamas seeks will be achieved only by wiping Israel off the map.
Declaring a moratorium on Israeli contributors but not on Palestinian contributors is blinkered, narrow-minded and prejudiced. The banning of academics according to their country of origin is a highly disturbing development. It has no place in this country. It is sadly common practice in Britain, Dr Lynch's homeland. In Australia, however, where the academic foundations of many of our universities were laid by Jewish exiles, the campaign Dr Lynch supports runs contrary to the fundamental principles of decent society. Sydney University's vice-chancellor, Michael Spence, has made it clear he does not endorse the centre's action. Most academics would be appalled at this illiberal and intolerant stance. The deliberate shutting out of an intelligent contributor suggests that minds at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies are closed to other arguments.
We would urge Dr Spence to use whatever means are available to persuade these wayward academics to drop their discriminatory campaign. Let them imagine the outcry that would occur if a university was to impose a similar ban on Muslim scholars. Academics should be judged by the quality of their intellect alone.
From The Australian, December 01, 2012, by JOSH FRYDENBERG:
THE Middle East is in crisis. Syria is home to civil war and more than 30,000 dead. Egypt's momentary free vote has turned into rule by presidential decree. The US ambassador to Libya has been murdered by a terrorist mob. And Iran, a state actively sponsoring terrorism, is on the brink of building a nuclear bomb. In such uncertain times it is more important than ever for Australia to adopt a firm, consistent and, most important, principled foreign policy.
We have friends who fight for freedom and we need to back them all the way. That is why the government's decision to abstain from the UN vote on Palestine non-member observer state status was so regrettable. It went against Julia Gillard's commitment to vote "no", against Australia's history of bipartisan support for a negotiated two-state solution, and it abandoned Israel soon after thousands of deadly Iranian-supplied rockets rained on its cities. It also comes at a time when Israel has few true friends around the world that will support it against a growing existential threat.
Palestinian observer state status, as approved by the UN General Assembly yesterday is, as former prime minister John Howard has observed, more likely to undermine prospects for peace, principally because it will embolden and legitimise Hamas, which in its own charter calls for Israel's destruction, in the Gaza Strip and give heart to other radical groups in the West Bank that do not favour a negotiated and durable two-state solution. It also seems the lessons of history are once again being ignored. Bad behaviour should not be rewarded.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr led the ambush of the Prime Minister.
His smug and condescending attitude after his pyrrhic victory over Gillard, which saw him praise her as a "model of consultative decision-making" with her colleagues, simply rubbed salt into the wounds.
For a man who has already started writing his own memoir about a job he is yet to finish, Carr's principal preoccupation is on doing what is popular, not what is right. He lacks courage and therefore, like some of his other colleagues, fails the true test of character.
Carr's record of sending a high-level delegation to Iran to win votes for Australia's UN Security Council bid, his writings on his blog describing international intervention in Libya as British Prime Minister David Cameron's "folly", and his lukewarm support for Israel after the Hamas rocket attacks, all indicate he is a fair-weather friend of Israel and of those truly committed to reaching a peace settlement for the Middle East.
Australia's national interest is best served by constancy in the upholding of democratic principles and supporting those who do the same. On each count Carr fails this test. If this episode over the Palestinian vote is a sign of what is to come from Labor's fence-sitting approach to global security issues, then our friends around the world and all those who share our democratic values have much to be concerned about. If Gillard and Carr want Australia to be on the right side of history, a goal they often talk about, then morality and principle in the practice of foreign policy is the best path towards this end.
From The Australian, December 06, 2012, by Christian Kerr:
THE Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, which has thrown its support behind controversial Palestinian leaders, has cited its boycott of Israel for refusing to help an Israeli civics teacher who has designed programs for both Jewish and Arab children.
Hebrew University of Jerusalem academic Dan Avnon is credited with developing and implementing the only state program in civics written for joint Jewish-Arab high schools. He approached the head of the Sydney University centre, Jake Lynch, for assistance with studying civics education in Australia under a fellowship agreement between the two institutions. But Associate Professor Lynch rebuffed the request, citing the centre's support for the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The centre helped establish the Sydney Peace Foundation, which awards the Sydney Peace Prize. Past recipients include the controversial Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi. The centre's website says it "promotes interdisciplinary research and teaching on the causes of conflict and the conditions that affect conflict resolution and peace".
Professor Avnon contacted Associate Professor Lynch, expressing interest in spending time at the centre and meeting him. Associate Professor Lynch emailed in reply: "Your research sounds interesting and worthwhile. However, we are supporters of the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and that includes the call for an academic boycott of Israeli universities." The BDS movement explicitly equates the Jewish state with apartheid-era South Africa.
The campaign was started in 2005 by 171 Palestinian non-governmental organisations as a form of "non-violent punitive measures" against Israel until it "complies with the precepts of international law". The BDS campaign has included protests outside the Max Brenner chain of coffee shops, which are Israeli-owned. The boycott was led in Australia by Greens council members in Sydney's inner-west, including former Marrickville mayor Fiona Byrne, whose council voted to support the boycott in 2010. It was dropped after widespread criticism from the federal and state governments, business leaders and the Jewish community. In 2003 the awarding of the Sydney Peace Prize to Dr Ashrawi provoked fierce debate and protests, arising from her role as a Palestinian spokesperson in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
... Professor Avnon... "One common tendency that must be changed if we ever want to live sane lives is to debunk categorical and stereotypical thinking when dealing with human beings." He received no response from Associate Professor Lynch.
University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence rejected a call from Associate Professor Lynch in 2009 to cut links with the Hebrew University and a second Israeli institution, the Technion, in the city of Haifa. "I do not consider it appropriate for the university to boycott academic institutions in a country with which Australia has diplomatic relations," he wrote in response at the time. A spokesman for Dr Spence said his position had not changed.
The spokesman said Associate Professor Lynch was "entitled to express a public opinion where it falls under his area of expertise", but added, "on this particular matter he does not speak for the school, the faculty or for the university". The Australian was unable to contact Associate Professor Lynch yesterday. Professor Avnon said he had received "heart-warming, collegial and positive responses" from other staff at Sydney University. "I look forward to associating with them and learning from and through them about Australia's policies in civic education and other issues," he said.
From J-Wire, December 5, 2012 by J-Wire Staff:
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has responded to the summoning of Israel’s ambassador Yuval Rotem to the Department of Foreign Affairs over the announcement that Israel plans to go ahead with the building of new settlements…
President Dr Danny Lamm said: “It is disappointing that the Foreign Minister is so one-sided in his public statements about where the obstacles to a two-State solution really lie.
When are we going to hear him call for an end to the racist incitement against Jews in Palestinian schools and media?
When will he demand that the Hamas Charter, and for that matter the PLO Charter, be scrapped once and for all?
When will he publicly express his impatience with the string of excuses invented by Abbas for refusing to return to negotiations?
Settlements are not the barrier to peace. Israel dismantled all the settlements in the Gaza Strip in the pursuit of peace and it merely spurred Hamas and other groups to higher levels of aggression. Every peace offer Israel has made has been rejected and followed by renewed Palestinian violence . The settlements issue will be resolved when borders are agreed. The Foreign Minister should instead be insisting on the Palestinians repudiating the so-called ‘right of return’ which, of all the cores issues, makes peace impossible.”
From The Australian 30 November, 2012, by Michael Danby*:
I was disappointed with the government's decision to abstain from the vote in New York yesterday for an upgraded Palestinian UN status. Emotions run high on this issue, but it is important to soberly assess the real world consequences of the UN vote.
There is no question that people of goodwill have supported the UN resolution because they believe it will hasten an end to the destructive conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Certainly most reasonable people, including most Israelis, support the right of Palestinians to live in peaceful coexistence with Israel inside their own sovereign state. I share this desire and that is why I believe Australia would have been better to cast its vote in the UN against the resolution.
The entity called Palestine already had observer status at the UN. The key issue with the resolution is the reference to Palestine as a state. It is wrong to refer to Palestine as a state when it hasn't attained that status under international law. There are significant divisions within Palestinian society about who is in control and the nature of a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority is using this for political purposes and to avoid confronting and negotiating with Israel on the real issues of statehood. This premature quasi-recognition of statehood will only inflate and then dash Palestinian hopes.
The sentiment in favour of the vote among many concerned Australians is based on vague notions of what it might achieve. I prefer to look at what it certainly cannot achieve, and tragically that analysis presents the likelihood of unintended consequences.
Giving the Palestinians "observer state" status cannot address the vicious schism between the Palestinian Authority, in control of the West Bank, and Hamas, in control of Gaza. Until this is resolved by the Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah, Israel has no representative Palestinian party with which to negotiate.
The UN resolution presupposes such a representative Palestinian body where none exists, and cites borders that include Gaza and the West Bank as a single Palestinian state.
In fact, the international quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia does not even recognise Hamas as a prospective representative body for Palestinians. In this regard the resolution is a dangerous expedient that does not demand, as it should, that the Palestinians first take responsibility to resolve the internal chaos of their warring factions. The resolution is not based on any commitment of the Palestinian Authority to open negotiations with Israel, although many countries have pleaded with the Palestinian Authority to do so.
The resolution cannot address any substantive issue: borders, sovereignty, water rights, settlements, Jerusalem, security guarantees and refugees. The harm in this is real; it has raised expectations by Palestinians and their supporters that are beyond the powers of the UN. The resulting tensions, and the inability of the Palestinian Authority to control the reactionary forces of Hamas and its supporters in Gaza, are likely to obstruct the real progress that has been made in the removal of Israeli checkpoints and increased Palestinian security control in the West Bank, and the significant economic progress for Palestinians that has resulted.
The UN cannot give the Palestinians a virtual state that has not been achieved by way of direct negotiation with Israel. The UN official website makes it clear that it "does not possess any authority to recognise either a state or a government".
As he admitted in a New York Times opinion piece last year, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has promoted the UN resolution to create leverage with Israel. Despite European nations voting no or abstaining, Abbas hopes that the UN and Europe will act as a bulwark against the influence of the US, where the public maintains an overwhelming support for Israel.
This calculation is doomed. Only bilateral negotiations between the parties, backed by guarantees, can satisfy Israel's legitimate need for secure borders. Worse, if Abbas uses the authority of the resolution to launch indictments against Israeli citizens at the International Criminal Court, he will face the outrage of Israelis who live under the continuing war crime of civilian rocket attacks and overt threats of terrorism.
Most of all, the resolution cannot change the psyche of ordinary Israelis desperate for a functional peace process with a single representative Palestinian negotiator. Hamas is constitutionally bound to the destruction of Israel. In the West Bank, Abbas refuses to recognise a Jewish state. Last year he said, in response to demands by the international quartet, "Don't order us to recognise a Jewish state, we won't accept it." In contrast, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the US congress and stated: "I will accept a Palestinian state."
Uppermost in the mind of Israelis are the failed bids for peace, notably in 2000 at the Camp David summit, an offer that any reasonable Palestinian representative should have accepted but was instead met with a terrorist war that killed a thousand Israelis and injured thousands more.
In 2005 Israel left Gaza only to find itself with a terrorist dictatorship on its border and millions exposed to a daily barrage of missiles. In 2008 then prime minister Ehud Olmert made generous offers to Abbas, effectively to establish a Palestinian state on 93.6 per cent of the West Bank plus land swaps that would account for 100 per cent of the Palestinian area of the 1967 borders. This was refused.
I hope I am wrong and the UN resolution turns out to give the Palestinian Authority the confidence to begin direct talks with their neighbours, the best outcome that might result.
Most likely it will do real harm to the prospects for peace.
Labor leader Herbert "Doc" Evatt cast the first vote to establish Israel and an adjoining Arab state of Palestine. Let us hope the events of the last week do not undermine that longstanding support of Australia for a free and democratic Jewish state. But that story is for another day.
*Michael Danby is the federal Labor member for Melbourne Ports.
The enhancement of the Palestinian status at the United Nations might look like a step towards resolving tensions with Israel, but it is likely only to delay a serious resolution of the intractable Middle East conflict.
The UN General Assembly has long been overwhelmingly tilted against Israel so the likely strong support for giving the Palestinian delegation non-voting, non-member status hardly represents a balanced judgment on how to achieve a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The change in status may give some support to the beleaguered President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the face of the destructive challenge to a peaceful resolution coming from the terrorist Hamas leadership in Gaza. But Hamas may equally see the vote as legitimising its latest resort to violence.
So Mr Abbas needs to strongly acknowledge that the only route to a resolution is via good faith negotiations with Israel and not via the increasingly menacing approaches being seen in the Gaza, Iran and Egypt under its new president. This should involve agreeing not to use the new position to threaten Israel with action before the International Court.
The federal government’s decision to abstain in the UN vote after the cabinet showdown on Monday is a significant policy change from its opposition last year to granting Palestine membership of UNESCO. It is disturbing if this change mainly reflects an increased Muslim population in marginal Labor seats in Sydney, because that is not the way to make a policy change on such an intractable issue, or was promised to get support for the UN Security Council seat.
...The divided Palestinian territories are still far from a functioning state. So the government should be explaining clearly how its new policy will advance constructive movement towards a two-state solution rather than only giving its pro-Palestinian domestic supporters the same false hopes that many people in the Middle East will take from a pyrrhic UN victory.
From The Australian, November 28, 2012, by Mark Leibler*:
BARRING a last-minute change of heart, tomorrow the UN General Assembly will vote on upgrading Palestine's representation in the forum to the status of non-member "observer state".
On these pages, former foreign minister Gareth Evans (November 24) encouraged Washington, and by implication Australia, to support the measure.
Evans notes, correctly, that the resolution will certainly pass, given the automatic pro-Palestinian majority in the General Assembly, and that it contains little extreme language.
Yet no matter how you sugar-coat it, this resolution is a poison pill for the peace process. It should not be supported by any country that supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure Israel.
Upgrading the Palestinian delegation's status is not an innocuous technicality. As Evans himself admits, the true purpose of the move is to enable the Palestinians to launch a new campaign of diplomatic and legal attacks against Israel in various UN forums and elsewhere, particularly the International Criminal Court - and to do so as an alternative to direct negotiations with Israel.
To do this, the Palestinians need more than the simple UN majority they get routinely, but support from major Western players, so as to achieve their aims while preserving much-needed foreign aid.
Any fair-minded person would agree that the UN has a built-in bias against Israel, a country subject to more UN censure than every other country combined.
Evans reassures us that Israel would get a fair go in the ICC. Given that Israel clearly doesn't get a fair go from the UN, or from Evans himself for that matter, this hardly instils confidence.
In fact, Evans's entire essay is a construct of misrepresentations and distortions.
First, he quotes an Israeli resident near Gaza who calls upon Israel to negotiate with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Yet Evans never acknowledges that it is Abbas who has been steadfast in his refusal to negotiate with Israel - nor that Abbas holds little influence over Gaza's Hamas rulers.
In fact, Evans appears to deliberately obscure Abbas's rejection of talks, asking how can Palestinian leaders "be left with any credible capacity to negotiate if talks cannot begin until, as Israel insists, they retreat on their minimum condition of a settlement freeze in the Occupied Territories?"
Israel has of course not insisted on any thing of the sort, it has simply repeatedly requested immediate talks without pre-conditions.
Furthermore, Israel essentially met the Palestinian precondition of a settlement freeze for 10 months in 2009-10, yet the Palestinian Authority still refused to engage in substantive negotiations.
Evans goes on to claim bizarrely that "the lesson of the past two decades is that rockets stop, and intifadas don't start, when there is a prospect of peace".
Here's some basic history Evans should know. Prospects for peace were never closer than in late 2000 and early 2001 when, under prime minister Ehud Barak, Israel offered realistic two-state peace terms at Camp David, and accepted the Clinton parameters. Yet it was precisely at this time that Palestinian president Yasser Arafat launched the second intifada, a multi-year terror war which took more than 1000 Israeli lives.
And it was at the height of Oslo process in the mid-1990s that Hamas launched a massive campaign of suicide bombings on Israeli buses designed specifically to scuttle progress toward peace. And Hamas launched a major rocket escalation after Ehud Olmert made a comprehensive peace offer in 2008.
Evans warns of the demographic threat that awaits Israel should it abandon the two-state solution, but ignores the fact that all leading Israeli political parties have endorsed the two-state paradigm today.
And the polls show that a healthy majority of Israelis do so as well, providing the context is a lasting peace. - according to polls.
The voices calling for a one-state outcome - meaning Israel's demographic destruction - are still coming overwhelmingly from extremists on the Palestinian side. And it is the Palestinian side which is hopelessly divided, with the rejectionist terrorists of Hamas both controlling half the future Palestinian state and gaining new regional allies and legitimacy.
Evans would have us believe that a vote for the upgrade would simply represent another show of support for the two-state outcome that Australia supports.
But the UN can and does express such support all the time. There is no reason to do so by creating a new status - fraudulent under international law - for a Palestinian state which does not yet exist, especially when we know that the purpose of this status is to facilitate an unhelpful and distracting international campaign to delegitimise Israel and avoid genuine negotiations.
Washington recognises this, which is why it is opposed, along with Canada and much of the EU.
These stakeholders know that the only way forward is for the Palestinians to first negotiate peace with Israel and then get their state - and to do otherwise only guarantees a future of conflict in perpetuity.
Australia is right in refusing to support Palestinian "virtual statehood" (a principled "no" vote would have been even more appropriate than the abstention reportedly planned) - and not primarily because of our concern for Israel's security.
It is the Palestinian people who will ultimately pay for this diversionary ploy by their leadership with further delays to the realisation of their aspirations for actual statehood; aspirations that can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel.
*Mark Leibler AC is national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
From the offices of the PRIME MINISTER and MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS on PALESTINIAN UN OBSERVER STATUS, CANBERRA, 27 NOVEMBER 2012:
This week, the member nations of the United Nations are expected to vote on the Palestinian observer status resolution.
Should the Question of Palestine resolution come forward, Australia will abstain.
The Government’s position balances our long-standing support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and their own state with our concern that the only durable basis for resolution of this conflict is direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
This draft resolution, if passed by UN member states, will accord non-member Observer state status in the UN to the Palestinian Authority.
It reaffirms the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination but does not confer statehood.
Australia strongly supports a negotiated two-state solution that allows a secure Israel to live side-by-side with a secure and independent future Palestinian state.
We urge both sides to return to negotiations in good faith.
From the office of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop, 27 November 2012:
Labor decision to abstain on Palestinian UN vote
The Coalition is disappointed that the Government has decided to abstain from voting at the United Nations on the matter of Palestinian Observer Status.
The Coalition believes Australia should vote against this bid as we do not believe that this is the path to peace and reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Our concern is that the drive for greater recognition at the United Nations is an attempt by Palestinian leaders to enable them to bring action against Israel through the international courts.
It also risks conferring increased international status on the militant group Hamas which governs Gaza.
This action is likely to escalate and prolong the conflict, rather than lead to a resolution of disputes.
The path to peace is for the Palestinian leadership to officially recognise the right of Israel to exist and to halt the firing of rockets and mortars as part of a campaign by militants to terrorise and kill Israeli civilians.
Australia has long supported the two-state solution and the right of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live peacefully and in safety within internationally recognised borders.
We urge both sides to resume negotiations towards a lasting peace in the region.
Click here to hear Peter Wertheim on ABC Radio National Breakfast program, 28 Nov 2012 on this subject.
Your committee has prepared a succinct brochure for handout at public events, especially where those useful-idiot "activists" take to the streets to undermine Israel's right to self defence while hypocritically ignoring gross wanton massacres and destruction by their mates in Syria and throughout the Arab world.
It is based on our previous posting on this subject: MYTHS AND FACTS about CURRENT HOSTILITIES IN GAZA, which is in turn from a statement by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).
We will print a batch for use by FOIWA members, but feel free to disseminate the links below to friendly organisations and communities who may wish to print some for themselves....
Hamas and Gaza conflicts
Thursday 22 November 2012: The Rev Fred Nile MLC leader of the Christian Democratic Party successfully moved a motion in the upper House that pays tribute to Kelvin Crombie.
Our Kelvin....good onya mate!!!
In his speech to the NSW Parliament on Wednesday 21 November 2012, Mr Nile stated the following:
TRIBUTE TO KELVIN CROMBIE
Motion by Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE agreed to:
1. That this House notes that:
(a) had the German-led forces won at El Alamein in 1942, there is a strong likelihood that the Nazi regime would have brought the Holocaust into the Middle East and attempted to murder some 600,000 Jewish people living in Egypt and the land of Israel, or British Mandated Palestine at the time,
(b) there was an official German plan to attach a specialised murder squad to Rommel's Panzer Army Africa,
(c) following the victory by the allies, led by Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, the Jewish Government in Israel, before May 1948, presented Field Marshal Montgomery with an official gift of gratitude for his role in saving the Jewish community in Palestine from the impending conquest by the German-led forces commanded by General Rommel, and that gift was a Bible, and
(d) the words on the inscription, attached to the Bible which is the Tenach, or Old Testament, and encased on the cover in silver and mother of pearl are: "Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery, GCB, DSO, the gallant leader of the victorious forces by whose hand God has placed salvation in Zion in the days of El Alamein presented in token of the everlasting gratitude of Palestine Jewry by the Vaad Leumi, General Council of the Jewish Community in Palestine".
2. That this House:
(a) congratulates Kelvin Crombie for discovering the location of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery's Bible in England, bringing it to Jerusalem, and for being custodian of this Bible on a long-term loan during this period of the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein,
(b) extends its thanks and congratulations to Kelvin Crombie, an Australian historian and author, who has spent much time researching and documenting the above information in his soon to be launched book, El Alamein – Halting a Possible Holocaust in the Middle East,
(c) acknowledges the work and dedication of Mr Crombie in documenting the vital facts concerning the relationship between various battles in the Eastern Mediterranean between 1940 and 1942 and the welfare of the Jewish people, and
(d) extends its congratulations to Kelvin Crombie on his book's initial launch in the House of Lords in London on 7 November 2012, and on the Australian launch in Sydney in the New South Wales Parliament House Theatrette on 26 November 2012.