Gunness Shoots Off

Jamie Hyams

Australian Jewish News – 6 March 2009

Gunness Shoots Off

Media reports during Israel’s Gaza campaign often featured UNRWA head John Ging or spokesperson Christopher Gunness stridently and, dare I say, disproportionately attacking Israel. Woe betide anyone who attacks them though. Gunness took exception to an Abraham Rabinovich Australian article about the revelation that, contrary to widespread reporting, Israeli shells had not hit, nor killed anyone in, the UN school in Jabaliya on January 6. Gunness complained, in a letter that appeared on February 24, “The article infers that the UN’s reporting was misleading and the UN officials failed to ‘dispel widespread suspicions’ about ‘Israeli culpability’ for a ‘school massacre’, ‘even though they knew otherwise’. Rabinovich’s assertion could not be further from the truth.” It is therefore interesting to look back at an interview Gunness himself gave about the Jabaliya incident on the ABC TV program, “The 7.30 Report” on January 7. Asked, “what have your people told you about this strike on your agency’s school in the refugee camp?” Gunness replied, “Well, the latest news is that after an initial investigation, we at UNWRA are 99 per cent certain that there were no militants at that school when this instance took place.” Asked, “What was your initial reaction when you heard that the facility had been struck?” he replied, “Appalled. It’s not the first of our installations to have firing instance of a quite major proportion around it.” While Gunness did not actually say the school had been struck, the questioner Scott Bevan said it had been. By not correcting Bevan, Gunness effectively corroborated his statement, and certainly failed to “dispel widespread suspicions”. On February 25, Rabinovich was also one of the few Australian journalists to report on a comprehensive official Israeli study which found that approximately one third of the Gaza casualties were civilians, not two thirds as widely reported.

Good as Gold

In the February 26 Australian, Alan Gold urged the Australian government to avoid April’s Geneva follow up to the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism. He wrote, “Durban I was a notorious hate-filled gathering that devolved into one of the most racist and prejudiced meetings in the UN’s history. Its anti-Semitism and anti-Israel agenda and hysterical crowds of extremists still send shudders of horror through the corridors of human rights organisations.…Like its predecessor, Durban II has been appropriated by nations that have scant regard for human rights, and whose anti-Western and anti-Israel stance has made the UN Human Rights Council into a forum for the evils it was created to oppose.”

Adams’ Adventures

Visiting Egypt, Phillip Adams wrote in the February 21-22 Weekend Australian Magazine of a demonstration “reminding us that Israel feels free to bomb Gaza because the Arab world remains fractured and factionalised.” Israel bombed Gaza purely in self-defence. He also stated that “with the US changing administrations, the timing for Israel was perfect.” The timing was decided by Hamas ending the ceasefire and raining rockets on Israeli civilians, not the US electoral cycle.

Pot Kettle Black

The February 22 Sunday Telegraph carried an unattributed article that could have been written by Hamas. Laughably headed “Hamas wants peace”, the article featured a quote from a Palestinian Authority spokesman and then continued, “In the Gaza Strip Hamas – the Islamist rulers Mr Netanyahu has vowed to topple – claimed Israel had picked ‘the most extremist and most dangerous’ politician to lead the country. The choice of Mr Netanyahu ‘does not herald a period for peace or stability in the region,’ Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.” Hamas’ terrorism and dedication to Israel’s destruction was not mentioned.