Australia/Israel Review

Noted and Quoted – July 2024

Jul 3, 2024 | AIJAC staff

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Ceaseless prattle about ceasefire

The failure to secure a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas consumed a lot of discussion on the ABC.

Far-left commentator Daniel Levy told ABC TV “News” (June 12) that Hamas is saying, “‘We need assurances that this will actually end the assault in Gaza.’ The other party, the Netanyahu Government, is saying, ‘We are giving you assurances that we will continue with the war.’”

He suggested Gazans are not interested in a ceasefire that is only temporary.

On June 13, ABC Global Affairs Editor John Lyons told ABC TV “News” that “Israel really needs a ceasefire because a lot of the Israeli economy is in trouble.” 

Lyons insisted Israel’s hard right and “elements” of Hamas both want the war to continue.

“If this conflict is resolved, Hamas is out of a job,” he said.

In fact, it’s a certainty that if the war ends prematurely, before Hamas is sufficiently degraded, Hamas will regroup and rebuild and very much have a job – preparing the next October 7.


The Wages of Sinwar

On ABC TV “7.30” (June 12), former US Middle East adviser Aaron David Miller said the failure to reach a ceasefire was “clearly on Hamas”. 

The main impediment on Hamas’ side, Miller said, is “Yahya Sinwar, the architect of the October 7 attacks” who “thinks he’s winning”. 

Miller explained that Sinwar’s goals are “a comprehensive ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and security and safety for his family and the senior leadership of Hamas, and a role for Hamas in the post-conflict environment.” 

But Israel will not give Hamas a chance to do “October 7 again – which [Hamas has] vowed to do over and over and over again,” he added. 

On ABC RN “Breakfast” (June 21), Ambassador David Satterfield, President Biden’s former special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, echoed Miller.

“The problem is not the Government of Israel here,” he said, “it is Hamas, which has not accepted the deal, even though the extremely forthcoming positions that have been advanced reflect, in many ways, positions Hamas itself, at a previous point, wished to see… Reasonable folks must make a decision in the time ahead whether the continued prevarications, the raising or moving of goalposts by Hamas, indicates that, in fact, the group is not serious.”


The bigger picture

Talking of a post-Gaza war future, Washington Institute analyst Gaith al-Omari on ABC TV “7.30” (May 30) said, “It’s very hard to imagine how Hamas can be transformed if someone like Yahya Sinwar, the leader in Gaza, is still in charge because as long as he is in charge, he will be a symbol that violence and terror actually produces political results. So someone like him has to be out of the picture.” 

AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein told Sky News (June 13) that international bodies like the UN “either don’t understand [Hamas’ strategy] or they’re so blinded by their hostility to Israel that they, you know just look the other way because Hamas is clearly, you know, a genocidal death cult. It’s a terrorist organisation. It’s a dictatorship.”


Courting disaster

Reports and analysis continued focusing on International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan’s application for arrest warrants to be issued against Israel’s PM Netanyahu and Defence Minister Gallant as well as Hamas leaders.

In the Mercury (May 29), former Middle East correspondent Peter George endorsed the ICC prosecutor’s actions, writing, “Israel… in retaliate[ng], killing some 35,000 people in Gaza, predominantly civilians, including women and children, also warrant investigation with particular focus on the bombing of densely populated civilian areas and denial of basic human needs such as food, water and medical aid for civilians.”

In a piece published by the Mercury on June 6, AIJAC’s Tzvi Fleischer responded to George, writing, “Hamas effectively turned all of Gaza’s civilians into human shields by lacing its network of tunnels, weapons depots and missile launchers through all residential neighbourhoods, as well as schools, mosques and hospitals.”

Dr Fleischer cited former British Attorney-General Sir Michael Ellis, who “recently noted, ‘the ratio of civilians to combatants killed in Gaza is close to 1:1 – almost unprecedented in urban warfare… and lower than US and British operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.’”

Writing in the Australian (June 10), AIJAC’s Colin Rubenstein elaborated on the various efforts taken by Israel to adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict.

He noted Israel heeded US concerns to minimise Palestinian casualties in its Rafah operation by adopting a “piecemeal” approach to dealing with Hamas’ fighters and assets.

“The Palestinian leadership does not hide its goal of using the UN system to inflict maximum pain on Israel using legal and diplomatic means as an alternative to negotiating a final status peace deal – something it has explicitly shunned since 2014,” he wrote.

“This is why Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s responses to the ICC’s politicised charges, and the unilateral Palestinian statehood recognition drive, have been so disappointing. Unlike the US, UK and Canada, we didn’t condemn the ICC’s baseless manoeuvres,” he added. 


Australia’s national interests

On Sky News (May 30), the Australian’s Editor-at-Large Paul Kelly warned of the consequences Western nations face if they accept the ICC’s pursuit of Israel’s leaders.

Kelly said, “Leaders of democratic nations that are attacked, that seek to defend themselves in a war campaign and eliminate their aggressor, are likely to be charged with war crimes. Well, if this court had been around in 1944 and 1945, then I think Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman would have been up as war criminals. Secondly, by linking Hamas with the Israeli leaders, essentially you create a sense of equivalence there. This is very damaging to Israel… and it elevates Hamas almost to the status of a nation-state.” 

In the Spectator Australia (June 15), former UN official Ramesh Thakur noted that ICC claims Israel cannot investigate itself ignore the fact that “Israel’s judiciary is so powerful and robustly independent that [Israeli PM] Netanyahu was in deep domestic trouble for having picked a fight with it before Hamas created this crisis.”

On ABC TV “7.30” (May 21), former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a trenchant Netanyahu critic, said, “When I heard about the decision, I said ‘Okay, this is immoral, it is unjust.’” 


Military intelligence

ABC Middle East correspondent Allyson Horn’s (June 19) online analysis of Israeli PM Netanyahu’s decision to dissolve the emergency war cabinet in the wake of the departure of Benny Gantz and his party ignored the view of most informed Israeli commentators. 

Horn wrote their departures now mean “only the far-right voices of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history… will make the day-to-day decisions regarding the war. Two of those extremists are Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who will now have even more influence given their role in the security cabinet.”

But as former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy had told ABC Radio National “Breakfast” the day before, it is generally agreed in Israel that Netanyahu dissolved the war cabinet specifically to block Ben-Gvir and Smotrich from involvement in military decisions.


Burns department

A violent attack by anti-Israel activists on Jewish MP Josh Burns’ electorate office in Melbourne on June 19 caused widespread outrage and concern.

Writing in the Age (June 20), Burns said, “Jewish Australians now constantly question how they present themselves in public, fearful of how other members of the community may respond.” 

On Sky News (June 20), AIJAC’s Jamie Hyams said the attack was the latest in a string of high-profile incidents since October 7 and that clearly not enough is being done to combat attacks on Jews.

“The Jewish community cannot keep on living in fear as we are. I’ve never in my lifetime had to feel like my community is living in fear as we are now. We’re being doxxed, we’re being ostracised… We need the Government to come out more strongly about this… they can’t say antisemitism without saying Islamophobia,” he said.

Deakin academic Greg Barton told ABC Radio “World Today” (June 19) that most pro-Palestinian activism is peaceful but the violent behaviour from the fringe is worrying, especially because of the possible involvement of Hamas supporters and the risk that “neo-Nazi groups [will] opportunistically engage in spontaneous violence at rallies because they can see soft targets and a chance of upping their profile.”

The Anti-Defamation Commission’s Dvir Abramovich told Radio 3AW (June 19), “It’s frightening that this is what Melbourne has descended to… I’m worried that someone is going to get killed.” 


Rafah justice

The ABC repeatedly favoured a disputed interpretation of an International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling that Israel must “Immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

A rare example of hearing both interpretations of the Court’s ruling was Yale University’s Professor of International Law Oona Hathway on ABC Radio National “Breakfast” (May 27), who said, “there’s a lot of arguments being made about how to read this opinion.”

Hathaway said, “the Israelis have been interpreting it to say it’s required only to halt its military offensive insofar as that offensive would inflict [genocide] on the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

However, even she insisted “that doesn’t seem consistent with the best readings of what the court intended in this order” – despite the fact that the four ICJ judges who directly offered an interpretation of the ruling gave it the same interpretation as Israel does.



On ABC TV News (May 28), ABC Global Affairs editor John Lyons seemed to imply that 45 Gazans who tragically died in a fire whilst sheltering in a tented safe zone in Gaza were intentionally killed by Israel during a strike on two senior Hamas terrorists located near the area.

Lyons said, “[Israeli PM] Netanyahu has said it was a tragic mistake. The odd thing about that is that hours beforehand, his defence chiefs were saying this was a precision and targeted attack. It can’t be both. One of them’s not telling the truth.”

In fact, Israel explained that the fire started when shrapnel from the strike on Hamas targets struck a concealed weapons cache located in the camp.

Israeli spokesperson Peter Lerner told ABC TV News (May 29) that the munitions used contained a small payload “which should not have caused this result.”

On June 7, John Lyons claimed US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller “questioned the credibility of Israel’s account” of an air strike on a UN building that included a school but where 30 Hamas terrorists were hiding. Hamas claimed 14 children died in the strike, too. Yet what Miller actually said was, “If that is accurate that 14 children were killed, those aren’t terrorists. And so the government of Israel has said that they are going to release more information about this strike, including the names of those who died in it. We expect them to be fully transparent in making that information public.”

Discussing the progress of Israel’s Rafah operation in southern Gaza, United States Studies Centre fellow Bruce Wolpe told ABC News Radio (May 29) that although US President Joe Biden is “frustrated” that the war is continuing, the White House doesn’t believe Israel’s operations in Rafah have crossed any red lines and isn’t a “massive ground invasion”.


Hostage to bias

ABC reporting of the remarkable rescue of four hostages – Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv – by Israeli special forces from Nuseirat, Gaza was underwhelming. 

The ABC seemed to implicitly accept Hamas’ claim 284 innocent Palestinians died during the operation, rather than Israel’s claim the toll was under 100 and included many terrorists.

ABC Middle East correspondent Allyson Horn’s “AM” report (June 10) noted that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell labelled the operation “a massacre”, but Israel said, “Hamas hid the captives in a civilian area, knowing any rescue attempt would be impossible without civilian casualties.” 

On the same program, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s Alex Ryvchin said, “I think every decent human being views this… as something to rejoice in. Of course, civilian casualties are a tragedy. This is the nature of the operation. If it could have been carried out with no civilian casualties, it would have been.”

ABC Radio National “Breakfast” (June 10) interviewed Israeli Sharone Lifschitz, whose elderly parents were taken hostage on October 7, welcoming the news.

Lifschitz said, “Hamas ultimately holds the responsibility for the [civilian deaths]. But of course, as a human being, I totally lament the death of innocent civilians.”

In contrast, extreme anti-Zionist activist Sarah Schwartz told ABC RN “Breakfast” (June 10) the release of hostages was good but the operation was “horrific”.

Schwartz said, “This obscene spectacle of Israeli soldiers entering the camp under the guise of humanitarian aid, when we know that Israel is using starvation as a weapon of war… this is a complete disjuncture from Jewish teaching, that every life is precious.”

On ABC Radio National “Drive” (June 10), Israeli opposition politician Shelly Tal Meron said, “You know that the four hostages… were kept in a family’s home? Can you imagine that? Right next door to the kids and the mother. And you know, the father was a journalist from Al Jazeera… That’s crazy.”

On ABC Radio “PM” (June 10), host Samantha Donovan sensationalised the unverifiable [Hamas-run] “Gazan Health Ministry” casualty figures from the rescue operation, adding: “If accurate, that’s almost 70 lives lost for each of the hostages liberated.”


Levy breaks

On ABC NewsRadio (May 29), far-left Israeli journalist Gideon Levy was asked if there’s “fatigue” or “war weariness creeping” in the Israeli public’s support for the war against Hamas. 

Levy replied, “Unfortunately not… most of them are still bloodthirsty.”


Bad education

On the ABC “Religion & Ethics” website (June 17), Teachers and School Staff for Palestine Victoria’s Rachel Coghlan lamented the expectation that schoolteachers must be apolitical when discussing the Hamas-Israel war in class.

Dr Coghlan referenced an open letter released in December 2023 addressed to the Victorian Government “affirming that: In this humanitarian crisis, teachers are trusted adults that students speak with and seek support from, particularly while they witness violent and fatal injustices. It is within our professional and ethical duty to model an anti-violence position, advocate for human rights, and foreground the wellbeing of children and young people.”

In fact, the open letter was a one-sided anti-Israel polemic that made no mention nor condemnation of Hamas’ October 7 massacre of more than 1,100 Israelis, nor the 250 Israeli hostages Hamas kidnapped. 


Not ok, PK

In June, ABC Radio National “Breakfast” host Patricia Karvelas made two major factual errors. 

Whilst discussing increasingly violent pro-Palestinian protests in a June 7 interview, Karvelas said, “I think there is a big concern, actually, in the community for what’s happening to people in Gaza… I think it’s, at last count, 36,000 people murdered. That’s alarming.” 

Not even Hamas claims all Palestinians who have died since October 7 are “murdered” civilians. 

The ABC edited out the claim after AIJAC inquired if Karvelas was aware of what she had said. 

During an interview on June 21, Karvelas claimed that “while the majority of the protests in Australia have been peaceful, there has been violence. A restaurant owned by a Palestinian man was firebombed. The Melbourne office of a Jewish MP was smashed up.”

Later that day, an editor’s note appeared on the ABC website apologising and noting that Victoria Police had found no evidence the attack on the Palestinian-owned restaurant “was religiously or racially motivated.”


In Parliament

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (ALP, Grayndler) – June 5 – “It is unacceptable that misinformation is being… spread by some Greens… All of us have a responsibility to prevent conflict in the Middle East from being used as a platform for prejudice here at home. There is no place for antisemitism, prejudice of any sort or Islamophobia.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton (Lib., Dickson) – June 5 – “… after October 7… the Greens… were out there condemning the Israelis immediately… And now we see on university campuses the hatred directed towards people… because they are of Jewish faith. It is completely and utterly unacceptable…”

Julian Leeser (Lib., Berowra) – June 6 – Moved a motion to suspend standing orders to allow debate on a bill establishing a judicial commission into antisemitism at universities.  

Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts Paul Fletcher (Lib., Bradfield) seconding: “If antisemitism is allowed to fester unchecked, it can lead to very… dangerous consequences…particularly so when such antisemitism is being encouraged and fostered by the… Greens.”

Minister for Health Mark Butler (ALP, Hindmarsh): “It breaks all reasonable-thinking Australians’ hearts to see the appalling hatred and… slogans… that openly contemplate the destruction of… Israel.”

An ALP motion to adjourn the debate passed, with the ALP for, the Coalition and independents against and the Greens absent.

Helen Haines (Ind., Indi) – June 6 – “I want… a stronger [government] stand against the actions of the Netanyahu government… There must be consequences for this ongoing violence which has claimed the lives of more than 38,000 people.”

Zali Steggall (Ind., Warringah) – June 6 – “Many Australians have grave concerns of impending levels of catastrophic food-and-water insecurity and that a famine may soon be declared… in Gaza.”

Julian Leeser – June 5 – “Since 7 October, the [Human Rights] Commission has failed to call out antisemitism despite a 738 per cent increase… There is systemic racism against Jews at the Commission, as evidenced by the statements of their staff and actions of their contractors.”

Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts (ALP, Gellibrand) – June 5 – “The human suffering we have seen in Gaza… is intolerable. The war must end…”

Nola Marino (Lib., Forrest) – May 30 – “Hamas has made it very clear that it will continue these attacks to annihilate the Jews.”

Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney (ALP, Cooper) – May 29 – “The Netanyahu Israeli government has unleashed a horrific bombing campaign on Rafah. Areas crowded with refugee tents have been flattened.”

Greens Leader Adam Bandt (Melbourne) – May 29 – Moving a motion to debate recognising the state of Palestine: “36,000 civilians… have been slaughtered. A health system has been destroyed. There are mass graves in hospitals, aid has been blocked… human-engineered famine… We want to see sanctions imposed on this extreme war cabinet and… the ambassador expelled until this slaughter ends.”

Max Chandler-Mather (Greens, Griffith) seconding: “How many kids does Israel have to burn alive before Labor will literally take any action against Israel?”

Julian Leeser: “A Palestinian state should only be recognised by Australia after a peace agreement… after negotiations… Key to that recognition is for Palestinian leaders to recognise Israel’s inherent right to exist, which many of them simply don’t… The motion… sends a message that Hamas’s violent terrorist attacks… should somehow be rewarded.”

Only the Greens and Andrew Wilkie (Ind., Clarke) voted in favour.

Bob Katter (KAP, Kennedy) – May 29 – Moved to suspend standing orders to move “That the House: (1) express its strong support for the people of Israel…; (2) condemn the antisemitism being fuelled relentlessly by the Australian Greens…”

Andrew Wallace (Lib., Fisher) seconded: “… It is Israel’s right to defend itself. Think about what we would do… if another country did that to us.” 

Daniel Mulino (ALP, Fraser) – May 28 – “The leader of the Greens couldn’t even bring himself to state that Israel has a right to exist.” 


This placard expresses the ultimate purpose of the anti-Zionist movement – a world without the collective Jew (Image: X/Twitter)

Essay: The Placard Strategy

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
A far-right graphic makes caricatured Jews responsible for everything the far-right hates

Deconstruction Zone: The conspiracy trap

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
The “encampment” at the University of Sydney (Image: X/Twitter)

The Last Word: What is a university?

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: Threatening not only Cyprus but all maritime activity in the Eastern Mediterranean (Image: X/Twitter)

Cyprus and the Hezbollah maritime threat

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
IDF Lt. Col. Dotan Razili, a home front brigade commander, guarding the evacuated northern community of Kibbutz Eilon (Image: Charlotte Lawson)

On the frontlines in Israel’s north

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens speaking to AIJAC in Melbourne: “There will never be any long-term peace in the region as long as the Islamic Republic rules Persia”

Bret Stephens on Israel’s War for Survival

Jul 4, 2024 | Australia/Israel Review