Australia/Israel Review

Noted and Quoted – January 2016

Dec 22, 2015 | 


Phillip’s radicalism on radicals

In his Weekend Australian column (Nov. 28) Phillip Adams wrote, “It’s not new for Australian security agencies to keep an eye on radicalised teenagers… The young have always been susceptible to the clarion call.”

This includes “Australian[s] understat[ing] their age to fight in World War I… and… countless young Australian Jews [who] have headed to Israel… to fight Palestinians” but it “seems our increasingly worried, watchful spooks have no probs with this” unlike for “ISIS recruits.”

First of all, contrary to Adams’ ridiculous claim of “countless” cases, the number of Australian Jews who are not Israeli citizens who have served in the IDF is very low. But more importantly, Australian Jews who have served in the armed forces of Israel, an Australian ally with common democratic values, are of little concern to “watchful spooks” because none of them have been known to plot against or murder civilians to fulfil a virulent anti-Western agenda.

Adams and antisemitism

Elsewhere, on ABC Radio National “Late Night Live” (Nov. 26), Adams interviewed novelist and screenwriter Frederic Raphael who has just published a non-fiction book entitled Anti-Semitism.
Raphael said historically Jews were persecuted “partly” because they “wouldn’t think like other people and that is one of their… great qualities” and particularly for the failure to accept Jesus’ divinity.

Adams raised, what he called, the “slightly dangerous territory” of discussing the issue of when “antisemitism morphs into anti-Israelism” saying “you see attacks on Israel as once again a way for people to cover themselves in glory and a form really of antisemitism.”

Raphael said, “the embarrassment of Christians, it seems to me nowadays which is revealed by the fact that not that many of them go to Church or believe in the resurrection… the Jews in some respects turn out to have been right not to have accepted these things… It is perfectly true that Israel has behaved badly. I would now like a list of the countries that have never behaved badly. What happened to the people in Tasmania who were originally there?… The Israelis necessarily have not behaved well… it’s hard to imagine how they could have behaved differently.”

He said, “it is perfectly true that the so-called occupied territories was a mistake… but all these divisions into what is legitimate and illegitimate were wished upon the Middle East by conquerors.”

Raphael blamed the British and the French for creating Middle Eastern states that were “innately and deliberately unstable which has lead to the present situation but all of this has to be laid off… against some other malign force which can’t possibly be the British and the French and it turns out to be, oh my goodness how convenient it’s them Jews again.”

Banking on ISIS

An investigation by journalist Paul Toohey into Islamic State’s finances noted that “banks still operate in areas under ISIS control.”

Toohey quoted former US Treasury terror finance expert and previous AIJAC guest Matthew Levitt (now at the Washington Institute) about how “scores of bank branches are located in areas of Syria and Iraq…including branches of international banks”. However, “most have succumbed to international pressure and closed. The surviving banks are linked to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which on one hand is fighting ISIS while at the same time – as Turkish President Recep Erdogan laid out in a blistering attack on Assad last week – was also buying oil from ISIS,” Courier Mail/Hobart Mercury (Nov. 29).

Saudi spotlight

An Australian editorial (Dec. 11) echoed the concern of the German Government which is openly hostile to Saudi Arabia’s “intention to fund 200 Sunni Wahhabist mosques and madrassas for hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into Germany. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have not resettled a single refugee.”

The editorial noted that “Wahhabism, or Salafism, is the dominant Islamic stream in the kingdom of the House of Saud. It is the religion of al-Qa’ida and inspired Osama bin Laden. Its uncompromising, medieval practices – floggings, stonings and beheadings – are the bedrock of Islamic State fanaticism” and, as German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warned, “many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities.”

Columbia University’s Richard Bulliet argued Islamic State’s “undeclared goal is to overthrow Saudi Arabia[‘s]” monarchy.

According to Bulliet, IS “has defanged potential Saudi opposition by targeting Shi’ites, whom Saudis deem heretical. Indeed, IS has reportedly received financial support from anti-Shi’ite individuals and groups – though not governments – throughout the oil-rich Arabian peninsula. By playing the Shi’ite card, the Islamic State shows its Sunni credentials and buys itself time to consolidate territorial control and organise for a greater objective. And by playing the Caliph card, they challenge Saudi pre-eminence in the Muslim world,” he wrote.

Moreover, “If IS terrorism forces the West to compel Saudi Arabia into becoming its declared enemy… such a step would prove the claim of Osama bin Laden that the Saudi royal family is corrupt and hypocritical, despite its superficial support for the most conservative form of Islam, and is actually the enemy of all pious Sunnis,” Age (Nov. 26).

Elsewhere, former UK Ambassador to Saudi Arabia William Patey argued the “resilience” of the Saudi monarchy is “underappreciated”.

“A very large royal family… reaches into the furthest parts of the country… They have run the country pretty well… promote good technocrats to run it, and [do] not promote members of the royal family into positions of power if they are [in]competent… There is also a kind of pact between the ruling family and the religious establishment. This is a constraint on how fast Saudi Arabia can modernise, but in a conservative Islamic country, it is also a force for stability,” Australian Financial Review (Dec. 11).

Frydenberg fans debate

Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg’s statement on Sky News “Australian Agenda” (Nov. 29) that Australia’s Grand Mufti Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed had shown a failure of leadership in his response to the recent Paris terror attacks, and that the preponderance of global terror attacks are being carried out by Islamists suggests there is a problem “within Islam”, received bipartisan media backing.

Fairfax’s Mark Kenny remarked that if, as in Labor MP Tony Burke’s assessment, Frydenberg’s arguments were “‘needlessly aggressive… illogical… and self-defeating'” then “where was the critique of Labor’s Anthony Albanese who… describ[ed] the Grand Mufti’s contribution as ‘completely unacceptable’ and ‘providing some excuse for this behaviour’,” Age (Dec. 2).

Likewise, the Daily Telegraph (Dec. 2) recommended Burke should “pay heed to Mr Albanese” and noted that Frydenberg had directed his remarks about “‘a minority of extremists’.”

Australian Editor at Large Paul Kelly said “the public (as distinct from the pundits) is beyond the stage where pretences that Islam is not central to the problem or that religion is not the issue are credible any longer.”

Kelly quoted Frydenberg’s assertions that it is not “acceptable in modern-day Australia” that Jewish day schools need armed guards and “regardless of whether he’s Liberal or Labor, anybody who says we have to accept violent extremism as part of contemporary Australia, I believe, is wrong.”

Moreover, Kelly affirmed Frydenberg’s point “that Australians cannot accept the status quo: that equates to a deteriorating domestic security situation. He has touched a nerve. He is calling out politicians who imply this is a new norm. In short, if our society is changing in ways we cannot accept then politicians need to take a stand” Australian (Dec. 2).

Greg Sheridan wrote, “Frydenberg in particular displayed great and admirable courage in his measured comments. It is the attacks on him, which failed entirely to engage with his arguments, that demonstrate a crass desire to make political capital out of this issue,” Australian (Dec. 10).

The Canberra Times editorialised (Dec. 3) that “in claiming that there was a religious element to the terror attacks that was clearly inspired by Islam, Mr Frydenberg has ventured where few politicians have previously dared go. This is to his credit. The refusal of political leaders to question whether IS draws its strength from a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is one of the more puzzling aspects of the spread of jihadist-inspired terrorism in the West. A desire not to foment community divisions or to cause offence is generally believed to be behind the self-censorship. But any reasonable assessment of this ‘three wise monkeys approach’ would conclude it’s doomed to failure.”

Columnist Julie Szego said, “as a nation we are ill-equipped for this high-stakes battle, opting for either nervous silence or bullying and bigotry.”

She questioned Treasurer Scott Morrison’s “reassurance” that “One of the things that happens to religions over time in Australia is they become more Australian and … by that I mean the cultural values of Australia determine a lot more of their local practices.” She continued, “By way of example he noted the experience of Australia’s Catholics, Jews, Anglicans and Pentecostals… Perhaps the most glaring problem with Morrison’s remark is irrelevance – the radicalisation of young Muslims is striking precisely because it contradicts his narrative about religious communities in Australia gradually becoming more liberal. After all, the young recruits to Islamic State don’t tend to come from devout families,” Age (Dec. 3).

Walker’s weird warning

Australian Financial Review International Editor Tony Walker warned (Nov. 28) that despite past claims of “Jewish roots” by Malcolm Turnbull, “Jewish leaders in this country should not necessarily anticipate business as usual.”

Walker warned Turnbull off emulating former prime ministers John Howard and Tony Abbott under whose leadership, he said, Australia “did not allow a sliver to separate itself from US and Israeli positions at the United Nations, even opposing – or failing to abstain – on perfectly reasonable resolutions critical of settlements.”

Asserting that “no issue in Australian domestic politics is as vexed as that of the Arab-Israel dispute, none more sensitive than Australia’s responses to Israel’s provocations on issues like settlements,” Walker “advised” Turnbull “to move Australia back to a more neutral position on issues like settlements and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to be accorded some form of recognition at the UN.”

Wow, so wages, interest rates, deficits, same-sex marriage, climate change, and taxation are all less “vexed” and “sensitive” in “domestic politics” than “settlements”! Seriously?

Israel bashing no spectator sport

In contrast to Walker’s faith in the UN, the Spectator magazine (Nov. 28) editorialised the exact opposite message.

Lambasting the world body’s “corporate hatred” of and “unhealthy obsession” with Israel and the “Jewish people” the editorial noted it is the 40th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s infamous “anti-Semitic” resolution declaring “Zionism is racism” which was adopted on “10 November 1975:the same date that in 1938 saw the climax of the German pogrom against the Jews, Kristallnacht, signalling the start of the holocaust.”

Fast-forward to November 2015, and “in the midst of the ongoing Palestinian knife intifada” the EU is replicating this “vilification” by insisting that Israeli settlement goods be labelled “not made in Israel”, even as “around the world there are literally hundreds of similarly disputed areas… no other territory is subject to the EU’s virtuous country of origin laws.”

According to the Spectator, “the most disturbing thing about these rules is that they intend to shame and stigmatise consumers… who, specifically, does the EU think might be major European consumers of Israeli products? Especially Kosher wine and foodstuffs from the agricultural regions of the territories? A year after Kristallnacht, the Jews of Nazi Europe were marked with a similar label of shame, the yellow ‘Jude’ Star of David.”

The federal government should follow the path set by its predecessor “in 1975 [when] we proudly voted No to the ‘Zionism is racism’ UN resolution,” the Spectator urged.

Paris and the Palestinians

In the Australian (Nov. 20), Wall Street Journal analyst Bret Stephens argued one of the reasons the Paris terror attacks happened was because of the world’s “willingness” to indulge “political and religious furies we dare not name or shame, much less confront.”

A good example of this includes the reaction to the “rumour… fanned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas… that Israel intended to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. This was a story the Israeli government denied and every serious person knew was false. Yet no senior Western leader dared call out Abbas. Palestinian tantrums are sanctified tantrums. The violence they breed might be condemned, but the narrative on which they rest has the status of holy writ.”

Compounding this indulgence was the response by “Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom [who] said hours after the Paris attacks, ‘we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East in which … the Palestinians see that there is no future…’ Here was the sanctified tantrum par excellence: People murder and maim because they have been put (by Israel) to a bleak choice. Rage is not to be condemned but understood, mitigated and mollified.”

In the Hobart Mercury (Nov. 23), rabid Israel critic Greg Barns claimed the West cares more about the Paris terror attacks than a recent deadly bombing in Beirut because “the European looks at the Arab, Asian or African world” as “‘the other’.”

Amongst this drivel, Barns stated that, “in Hebron, a city the Israelis occupy on the West Bank, a Palestinian patient in a hospital was executed by Israeli soldiers wearing disguises, including one pretending to be a pregnant woman. The man was shot as he emerged from a bathroom.”

Wrong. The Palestinian patient was alleged Palestinian terrorist Azzam Shalaldeh. He was not executed but arrested. The man who was shot as he emerged from a bathroom was Shalaldeh’s cousin, there acting as his bodyguard. When the Israeli agents attempted to arrest Shalaldeh, his cousin attacked them.

Meanwhile, in the Daily Telegraph (Nov. 18), Australian Grand Mufti Dr. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed’s controversial statement on the Paris attack saw Matthew Benns and Miles Godfrey write, “Three years ago the Mufti led a delegation to meet leaders of Hamas in the Gaza strip and said he was pleased to be ‘in the land of jihad’. But unlike the Grand Mufti, even the leaders of Hamas denounced the Paris attacks.”

Sophie’s incitement indictment

ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill finally reported on the role of incitement in fuelling Palestinian violence.

The report began with the stabbing murder of Israeli Richard Lakin on a bus.

According to McNeill, Lakin’s son Micah “tried to make sense of it all, scouring Palestinian social media. He was horrified by what he found.”

To McNeill’s credit, Micah was given time to discuss incitement and viewers saw some sick propaganda, including children posing with knives.

However, it actually appeared that incitement was the “fall guy” the story was set-up up to debunk with no fewer than three Palestinians interviewed insisting the violence is wholly Israel’s fault because of “occupation”, nothing to do with incitement.

Ahmed Yousef who works for a web-based Palestinian news service that has nearly four million followers said, “Facebook isn’t helping to incite… it helps bring the picture to the people, to show them what’s happening… This is the situation of Palestinians resisting Israel for the past 67 years.”
Next up, Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghouti, said, “the main cause is occupation and the continuation of occupation.”

And finally, the mother of 14-year-old Palestinian Hadeel Awaad who “left her home in the occupied West Bank and went into Jerusalem with her 16 year-old cousin… [where] they started trying to stab pedestrians with their school art scissors. Hadeel was immediately shot dead at the scene.”

McNeill said Hadeel “had the latest smartphone, but her mother rejects the idea she was radicalised by online content. Two years ago, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Hadeel’s elder brother during a protest near their home. It was an event that greatly affected the young girl.”

The report ended with a voiceover reading a Facebook post written by Richard Lakin shortly before his death that McNeill said was “directly addressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”. The post said, “It’s time to wake up and seek a common ground with our Palestinian neighbours. Stop all provocation in the West Bank. Enough with the non-negotiations.”

So, there you had it, the victim of Palestinian violence speaking from beyond the grave and accusing Israel of responsibility for the lack of peace and provoking Palestinian violence (never mind that it is the Palestinian Authority that constantly rebuffs Israel’s offers for negotiations without preconditions) ABC TV “7.30” (Dec. 3).




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