Uni scholars miss the mark
ANU PhD scholar Lee Schrader writing in the Canberra Times (22/7) doubted “whether any compromise is possible under the Netanyahu leadership, regardless of regional developments.” Schrader’s assessment is unduly harsh considering Netanyahu implemented a ten-month unilateral settlements building freeze in 2009 as a gesture towards restarting peace talks. With one month left of the freeze Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took up the invitation but then only wanted to discuss extending the settlement freeze.
Also in the Canberra Times (28/7), ANU Professor Amin Saikal acknowledged the increasing probability of Egypt’s Islamist parties winning a majority of seats in upcoming parliamentary elections, an outcome that must be “embraced” by Israel and the US. He wrote, “one must not look overlook the manner in which Israel and the US called for democratisation of the Palestinian politics, but when the Palestinian Authority held a general election in January 2006 and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas won it democratically, Israel and its supporters rejected the outcome.”
Israel and the US never disputed the outcome but certainly made it clear that Hamas would not be embraced until it accepts Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence and honours past agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority. Five years later, Israel and the US are still waiting.
None so blind…
Australian-born Palestinian-Egyptian lawyer and author Randa Abdel-Fattah was interviewed on ABC News 24’s “One plus one” (22/7) by Jane Hutcheon, who asked her why world leaders can’t come to an agreement on the conflict. She replied, “Those leaders, particularly in Australia who do insist on standing by Israel and offering blind support are really out of touch because there is a wave of people around the world, including Jews, who are against the occupation and want to see a just solution.”
When she says they want a just solution, presumably that would be what the Palestinians were offered three times and refused, which may be a reason that our leaders support Israel.
She referred to the separate roads in the West Bank built to keep Israelis away from Palestinian gunmen as “roads preserved only for settlers”. In fact, all Israeli citizens of all races can use these roads. She accused anyone who disagrees that Israel is an apartheid state of “wilful blindness” and “not wanting to see it or ignoring the reality.” This is truly ironic, given the number of false claims in her interview.
All at sea
The Age and SMH (28/7) ran New York Times Middle East correspondent Ethan Bronner’s story about a group of Israeli Jewish women who illegally smuggled into Israel a group of West Bank Palestinian women for a day trip to the sea. Bronner quoted one Israeli activist who said she was motivated to break the law because “One day … people will ask, like they did of the Germans, ‘Did you know?’ And I will be able to say, ‘I knew. And I acted.”’ Comparing security measures that helped end the Second Intifada, and thereby Israeli deaths, to Nazi Germany is both offensive and likely to hinder, not promote, the intended message.