Former NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale wrote an article for the June 20 Sydney Morning Herald explaining her decision to participate in the flotilla which will shortly attempt to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza. She accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, talked of all sorts of privation, including “malnourished children”, and said that she tells people who question her about it that “it’s contrary to international law for Israel to punish Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians, more than half of whom are children, because they had the temerity to elect a government of which Israel disapproves.” The true picture in Gaza is completely different. Even at the height of Israel’s blockade, sufficient food and other essentials were allowed in to prevent malnutrition or other humanitarian concerns.
Hale’s diatribe was responded to brilliantly in the June 22 Herald by advertising creative director Rowan Dean. Dean explained that a ruse in the advertising industry is to put out a “scam ad”. These, he said, are “designed to be highly provocative, to whip up controversy and to make the authors famous. The problem is, they are also fakes.” He described participation in the flotilla as “a brilliant scam ad”. He noted that, with the Egypt border open, “any and all legal goods can now cross freely.” He continued, “The blockade of Gaza by the IDF for the purposes of preventing weapons and munitions being smuggled ashore is, whether we agree with it or not, entirely legitimate under international law. Hamas, who control Gaza, are in a self-declared state of war with their Jewish neighbours, launching 13,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2001. Israel maintains that as soon as there is a credible system of verifying that weapons are not coming in by boat the blockade will be lifted. Pretty straightforward, really… But not good enough, clearly, for those who yearn for drama, violence and possibly death to spice up their political activism.”
Dog of a Story
The June 19 Sunday Herald Sun reported, “A Jerusalem court condemned a dog to death by stoning by children. The rabbinical court suspected the dog was the reincarnation of a secular lawyer who insulted the court’s judges 20 years ago, Ynet website says. The dog managed to escape.” A similar story in the June 19 Sunday Telegraph had the lawyer’s sprit entering the dog’s body as the result of a curse by the court. There was a repeat of the story in the June 20 Daily Telegraph. If this story doesn’t ring true, it’s because it isn’t, and does not accord with Jewish religious law or practice. The truth was that the dog wandered into the court and sat quietly until a city ranger came to remove it. The story was picked up by many international news outlets, but many of these published corrections or updates of the story to correct the record. However, there was no sign of any effort to correct the report in either the Herald Sun or Telegraph.
Shekels and Cents
It’s always good, if all too rare, to see a report on a more positive side of Israel. Alan Mitchell, in the June 20 Australian Financial Review, noted that Australia and Israel both came through the Global Financial crisis reasonably well. However, “Where the Australian government used a combination of fiscal and monetary policy to protect the economy from the global recession, the Israelis relied almost entirely on monetary