Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Week - Beyond the pale; Siege mentality

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Beyond the pale

In the Australian (June 24), analyst Paul Monk rebuked governments for cosying up to Iran whilst "vicious anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and virulent anti-Zionism" remains part of its "DNA".

"The unpleasant truth," Monk wrote, "is that Iran officially and unrepentantly continues to peddle pernicious and genocidal propaganda. That is the moral character of the regime."

He cited regime support of Iran's infamous Holocaust cartoon competition where cartoonists are "invited to mock the Holocaust or the idea of the Holocaust, since leading figures in the regime have expressed scepticism as to whether it even occurred."

The 2016 winning entry "was awarded to a cartoon that showed what very much looks like the entrance to Auschwitz sitting on top of a cash register that has $6 million in it. It was drawn by a French cartoonist notorious for his anti-Semitic views."

Monk called the recent claim by Iran's "smooth-tongued, US-educated Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, [who] dances around the question of whether the Holocaust occurred or on what scale" that the competition is not controlled by his government a "barefaced lie".

"Our goal must be not to avert our eyes and tell ourselves that they don't do things like this cartoon competition, or they don't really mean it, but to seek by all means within our power (limited though they are) to...push for change... when we seek to open channels of dialogue with Tehran, this is a matter we must bear in mind. Julie Bishop, take note."

Siege mentality

As noted recently, ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill's report on "7.30" that purportedly focused on a rare opening of the Gaza-Egypt crossing was really an attack on Israel and a demand the blockade of Gaza be lifted.

On ABC Radio "PM" (June 15) McNeill filed a slightly different but no less questionable report.

Host Tony Eastley said Israeli/Egyptian "tight control" of goods and people to and from Gaza is intended to "put the financial squeeze on Hamas."

In fact, the regulation of goods is only meant to prevent Hamas' weapons smuggling and importation of items with potential military application. Most goods are unaffected. And as noted last week, 72,108 Gazans crossed into Israel in the first five months of 2016.

In this version, McNeill described Gaza as a "besieged territory."

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a "siege" is "a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender." No one in Israel supports retaking Gaza and Israel allows through thousands of tons of goods every week. Egypt does not.

Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator of Gaza, was quoted saying that, "unemployment rates are through the roof...we have power cuts, sometimes 16 hours a day, and most Gazans are only accessing water two to three days for a few hours."

These are byproducts of Hamas' disdain for its obligations as a ruling regime by stealing aid and often refusing to pay for fuel to power Gaza's electricity generators.

At the report's conclusion, the punch line came, with Piper demanding Israel end the blockade but of course not calling on Hamas to end its plans for Israel's destruction.

- Allon Lee

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