The nihilism underpinning the campaign of dehumanisation directed against Israel and anyone dealing with it was unexpectedly spotlighted via media reports of threats made against Sydney doctor Jamal Rifi. Dr Rifi is a board member of “Project Rozana,” an Australian charity run by Jews, Muslims and Christians that raises money to ensure sick Palestinian children can access Israel’s health care system.
“Putting humanity before politics” were the concluding words from SBS TV “World News” (May 25) reporter Amelia Dunn in a feel good story about a Project Rozana fundraiser that included supportive comments from both Izzat Abdulhadi, the chief of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, and Ron Gerstenfeld, Israel’s deputy ambassador to Australia.
But a few days later the Daily Telegraph and the Australian (May 31) shattered the bonhomie, reporting that Dr Rifi had been denounced by pro-Hezbollah elements as a “collaborator” here and in his birthplace, Lebanon. In the latter, he risks a military court prosecution should he visit.
Natalie O’Brien’s Telegraph story said NSW Police had advised Dr Rifi to “vary his routine and change his place of worship.” It also noted that separate threats were made against “Muslims who attended [NSW] Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Iftar dinner… and were seen fraternising with Jewish leaders.”
Bernard Lane’s Australian report (May 31) illuminated the subtleties of the anti-Israel discourse, as Dr Rifi explained, “‘Any initiative like Project Rozana is a threat to the ideology (of Hezbollah in Lebanon and their Iranian controllers) because they want everyone to feel that all Israelis are the enemy and devoid of any humanitarian qualities, and we all know that is not the reality.’”
Dr Rifi’s op-ed in the same edition lauded Project Rozana for also training Palestinian doctors which “builds bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.”
Dr Rifi slammed the “breathtaking hypocrisy” of anti-Israel boycotters, noting, “In the West Bank city of Nablus, parents of a beneficiary of Project Rozana’s initiatives described to me the hypocrisy of some rich and influential Palestinians who decry any association with the Israeli healthcare system while privately using that system for themselves and their families when it suits them… I have yet to read any criticism from my self-serving critics about this fraternising with the enemy.”
He said, “Project Rozana’s mantra of train local, stay local… is having a profound effect on the medical landscape” and counters a trend of Palestinians who train overseas to become doctors but don’t return.
On June 5, Beirut-based ABC Middle East correspondent Adam Harvey’s online and ABC Radio “World Today” reports put a face to the hate campaign against Rifi in the guise of journalist Lea Azzi, who had denounced him in the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese paper Al Akhbar.
Azzi condemned Project Rozana because through it “the enemy becomes a human who helps and serves us.”
Azzi told Harvey, “Arabs should not be involved with any projects in Israel – even medical charities” and this “‘doesn’t only concern the geographic land of Palestine, we should be all concerned and not allow any collaboration with Israel.’”
The article quoted Dr Rifi saying, “‘Shame on her… We are all human beings. The prophet Mohammed, his next-door neighbour was Jewish. The prophet married a Jewish lady… This lady wants to stop Muslims and Jewish [people] interacting.’”
The pathological refusal to recognise Israelis as human as part of the Arab-Israel conflict was also coincidentally examined by Daryl McCann in Quadrant (May edition).
His monograph opened with a remark made by a friend that there is “not an ounce of humanity in [Israeli’s] evil hearts.”
McCann said Palestinian leaders have relied on fabricated Jewish plots against Jerusalem’s Islamic holy sites, which legitimises violence, to demonise Jews.
He wrote, “it is the ideology of ‘the settler-colonial narrative’…that shapes the thinking of progressives in the West,” he argued, which “mean[s] Palestinian Arabs can never do wrong because they have been accorded the role of indigenous victims of white supremacism.”
He added, “Hamas, like the Palestinian Authority, is very good at convincing Westerners of the true lie that there is not ‘an ounce of humanity’ in the Israelis” but the two groups have “brought nothing but suffering to the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank.”
This is a delusion which Dr Rifi has clearly woken up from.