Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Microscope: Anniversary Presents

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Allon Lee

 

Much pro-Palestinian propaganda appeared in the media surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War - ignoring facts and history to rationalise as understandable the Palestinian refusal to make peace.

In Fairfax's papers (May 29), Tony Walker said the war was an "extraordinary military achievement," but suggested Israel should have "pull[ed] back to defensible boundaries" because the "smashing victory... did not entitle Israel... to be a permanent occupier of territory."

Walker overlooked how Israel immediately offered to return the Sinai, Golan Heights, and most of the West Bank in exchange for peace as well as Israel's three offers since 2000 to create a Palestinian state, as well as the Sinai and Gaza pullouts.

On ABC Radio National "Late Night Live" (June 5), International Crisis Group analyst Nathan Thrall argued that since 1967 the Arabs have been willing to make peace with Israel so long as it withdrew from territories captured in the war. He dismissed the infamous three noes of the Khartoum Conference in 1967 and seemed to imply that the Palestinians should employ more violence to win a state.

ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill's contribution (June 6) was an immersive online multimedia experience, titled "Occupied Lives" designed to impress upon viewers Palestinian suffering under occupation, containing only brief and tokenistic mentions of the Israeli perspective.

On June 13, the Courier Mail ran Australia Palestine Advocacy Network President George Browning's article which included a slew of factually challenged claims. He asserted that Palestinians were denied statehood in 1948 when 750,000 were expelled.

Utter nonsense. Palestinians violently rejected the partition that would have given them a state in 1948. The majority of Palestinians fled during the fighting their leaders instigated. Browning tried to bury Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's 2008 offer of a state by calling it "semi-serious".

ABC Radio National "Counterpoint" (June 19) featured ANU Professor Amin Saikal at his unfiltered worst. 

Saikal traced the Six Day War "back to the creation of State of Israel in 1948... Israel took more of Palestinian land and territories which had been allocated... under the UN Partition Plan... Arab countries always really demanded the return of the Palestinian land and self-determination for the Palestinians."

On the events of 1967 itself, Saikal said Egypt, Syria and Jordan "decided to impose a blockade of Israel in order to pressure it to negotiate... a resolution to the Palestinian problem and the Israelis launched a pre-emptive strike and they took more land." 

The Arab resolution was Israel's destruction, which Saikal forgot to say.

The ABC website promoted the segment with the woefully biased blurb "Shameful anniversary: 50 years of aggression."

One of Saikal's many half-truths included the oft-disproved fabrication that Gaza is the "most densely populated piece of land on earth". Gaza City is in fact ranked only 40th for most densely populated.

On the positive side of the ledger, AIJAC's Colin Rubenstein wrote in the Courier Mail (June 9), that recently opened Israeli state archives show "conquest wasn't on the mind of Israel's leaders. Survival was."

Moreover, he wrote, "the 1967 war was the product of the refusal of the Arab world to accept Israel's right to exist. Yet, since then, many have come to assert that Israel's presence in the West Bank as a result of the 1967 war is the root cause of the conflict. This ignores not only what happened before 1967, but the fact that Palestinian leaders have since rejected out of hand at least three different far-ranging peace offers from Israel that would have given Palestinians a state in virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza."

A shorter version of Rubenstein's article ran in the Advertiser (June 9), whilst AIJAC's Sharyn Mittelman ran in the Daily Telegraph (June 8).

Israeli historian turned MK Michael Oren detailed the efforts of Israel's leadership to communicate through back channels to "Arab rulers not to begin a war nobody wanted. Their appeals went unanswered."

Even after the war started, Oren wrote, Israel only wanted to neutralise Egypt's air force but was compelled to act elsewhere by Syrian shelling of Israel from the Golan Heights and Jordanian troops firing artillery from east Jerusalem into Israeli controlled west Jerusalem, Australian (June 11).

On ABC Radio National "Religion and Ethics" (May 31), Israeli Rabbi Daniel Gordis slew many myths, including on settlements, the legal status of the West Bank, and Israeli popular support for peace.

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