Context is king and without it the most outrageous slurs can be given legitimacy.
Unfortunately, some pro-Palestinian activists are prone to only offer facts in isolation to give their false allegations the air of authenticity and aid the ongoing campaign to delegitimise Israel.
The most recent example of this appeared on Tuesday in an op-ed hosted on the ABC “Unleashed” website from Professor Stuart Rees called “Palestine matters, not Gillard-Rudd soapies”.
Rees, the Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, earned notoriety during the kerfuffle in 2003 over the award of the Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi. He famously complained, after Jewish groups criticised the prize, that they were challenging “the health of Australian democracy” by using their “formidable financial power” to engage in a campaign of “deceit, bullying and intimidation.”
In his latest effort, he offered the gullible a steaming cauldron of platitudes and distortions to depict Israel as evil incarnate and the Palestinians as their innocent playthings who are only seeking to be acknowledged as “human”.
Thus readers would not know the circumstances surrounding the undeniably tragic story cited by Rees of the deaths of Palestinian civilians Najah and Nidal Qdeh in Gaza on April 8, 2011.
What Rees declined to tell Unleashed readers was how the period between April 6-12 2011 was a bloody time with 120 rockets and mortars fired by Hamas forces into Israel. This webpage has all the facts and figures. Scroll down and you will see a graph with all rockets and mortars fired for April 6-12, 2011.
On April 7, 2011, Hamas soldiers fired 26 rockets and mortars from Gaza to Israel, including an anti-tank missile which was deliberately targeted at a school bus in the Negev.
Fortunately, all but one of the students had already disembarked from the bus.
However, the remaining student, 16-year-old Daniel Viflic, eventually died from his injuries and the bus driver was also seriously wounded.
The paramedics that arrived on the scene came under fire from mortar attack as they were treating the injured pair.
The Israeli Air Force launched retaliatory raids on suspected Hamas targets and infrastructure. Many of these targets were located in and around where civilians live.
This completely immoral policy by Hamas constitutes a war crime but Rees fails to acknowledge this.
On April 8, 2011, 49 rockets and mortars were fired. During the course of the day Israel responded at Hamas targets. It was at this time when Najah and Nidal Qdeh were regretfully killed.
In his essay, Rees also mentions the deaths of Bahjat and Ramdon Zaalan last December, which occurred in similar circumstances, once again as a consequence of the criminally irresponsible behaviour of Hamas.
Rees further references the sad death of Mustafa Tamimi. But Rees made no mention that Tamimi was one of 100 Palestinians rioting on the West Bank and throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
In photos Tamimi can be seen chasing Israeli soldiers retreating in a van. He died after a gas canister fired by an Israeli soldier on the vehicle accidentally hit him in the head. A slingshot was later found in Tamimi’s pockets. It was a tragic accident, but the Israeli security forces were engaged in non-lethal crowd control of the same kind Australian police would likely employ in a similar situation.
As Australians know full well from the many local media reports of rocks deliberately being thrown at cars from overhead pedestrian crossings above our freeways, rocks do kill. But then, a person who claims to be committed to human rights and justice should tell people all this.
Rees wrote of the difficulties he claims to have experienced trying to enter the West Bank from Jordan and then from Israel into Gaza:
…the science fiction horror movie scene of walls, wire, guns, cameras, microphones, x-ray machines, heavily armed black clad secret service personnel plus the almost three kilometre Erez walk of shame between walls of wire and concrete which eventually gains you entry to Gaza and to the brief check from Hamas officials at the end of that crossing.
We should expect such checks because ‘the enemy’ are on the other side. Those dangerous people are a defenceless population which includes 800,000 children.
Rees apparently feels that Israel has no reason to treat Gazans as an “enemy” – apparently he hasn’t heard of the 8,000 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel over the last decade? Or of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped from Israel and held hostage in Gaza for five years? Or of Hamas’ (whose only mention in his whole article is the ‘Hamas officials” mentioned above) open calls for genocide of all Jews in its Charter? Or he hasn’t been made aware of the stabbing attack on Gaza human rights activist Mahmud Abu Rahma for criticising Hamas and the other resistance groups?
As I blogged in January, an opinion piece that Rahma wrote for the Palestinian website Ma’an revealed that the “resistance movements” are so entrenched and widespread in residential areas that civilians are suffering frequent injuries because of their activities. As Rahma wrote:
“There is a training site in the town of Beit Lahiya that threatens people every day, including a girl who was injured inside her school when an explosion occurred in this site on September 20, 2011.
Explosions also occur frequently in densely-populated areas around Gaza and have their victims; many of whom are children. Shootings occur by mistake inside homes from weapons owned by the resistance. Military training sites function and are located in places very close to neighbourhoods and/or schools, from where acts of resistance; including firing rockets, also occur.”
Rahma’s revelation makes doubly impressive Israel’s achievements in Gaza over the year 2011 where Israeli retaliation reportedly killed only nine civilians as opposed to 91 combatants, numbers almost unprecedented in modern asymmetrical warfare. As Yaakov Katz noted, that makes a “civilian-combatant ratio of nearly 1:10. The UN says world average is 3:1”.
Now lets also look at Khader Adnan, of whom Rees wrote:
“Palestinian father Khader Adnan has been in Israeli administrative detention since December 17th. To protest against all arbitrary and illegal imprisonment he engaged in a hunger strike which lasted for 66 days and ended only with his near death. But Adnan, in common with more than 300 other Palestinians imprisoned under similar circumstances, is still detained even though he has not been charged with any offence and has not been implicated in any violence against civilians.”
Adnan, that “Palestinian father”, is also a long time senior Islamic Jihad commander and spokesperson, as has been widely reported, and one who openly recruits others for suicide bombings.
The US Council on Foreign Relations writes of Islamic Jihad: a Palestinian nationalist organisation that violently opposes the existence of Israel. Designated as a US State Department terrorist organisation in 1997, the PIJ targets Israeli civilian and military personnel in its commitment to the creation of an Islamic regime in “all of historic Palestine”.
PIJ is also a banned terror organisation in Australia.
On June 10, 2005, the Associated Press called Adnan “a top Islamic Jihad leader” advocating on behalf of two comrades who had been jailed by the Palestinian Authority for their part in a suicide bombing in Israel.
Two weeks later in a West Bank rally AFP reported that Adnan denounced the Palestinian Authority’s call for Islamic Jihad to disarm.
In September 2010 the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights condemned the Palestinian Authority for arresting Khader Adnan. On this occasion too he began a hunger strike.
Perhaps nothing exposes the peace loving Khader Adnan more than this YouTube video where he calls for suicide bombers at a funeral of an Islamic Jihad commander in October 2007.
Adnan exhorts the crowd:
O Quds Brigades, strike a blow. O Quds Brigades, shake the earth. Who among you is Hasan Abu Zeid? (Suicide bomber who murdered 5 Israelis in Hadera in Oct 2005). Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt? Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?
Rees also quoted claims made by the Mayor of Bethlehem Victor Batarseh that his city is economically struggling and denied access to water.
I would recommend Rees make it part of his daily habit to read more, such as this New York Times story that we drew attention to.
The stock market that has most consistently ranked as a top performer in the Arab world over the past few years has not been that of Dubai or Cairo, but the Palestine Securities Exchange in Nablus on the West Bank. During the Arab Spring uprising last year, the financial crisis in 2008 and the regional boom year of 2005, the exchange outperformed most regional rivals as listed Palestinian companies reported hefty profits.
Analysts say investor interest in public Palestinian companies has grown over the past two years, with many new listings on the exchange at a time when initial public offerings have remained at a standstill elsewhere in the Middle East. New venture capital funds are investing in companies in Palestinian territories that have turned profits despite the challenges of their operating environment.
And as for the latest delegitimisation tactic by pro-Palestinian activists to accuse Israel of depriving Palestinians sufficient access to water, as has been widely noted, this is false.
AIJAC’s Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz blogged recently how the Palestinian Authority has been failing to build water infrastructure that has been approved by the joint Israeli-Palestinian water commission, which largely accounts for any existing discrepancy in water supply. And as Missing Peace’s Yochanan Visser and Sharon Shaked in a Jerusalem Post article last August:
In 1993 the Palestinians could pump up 117 million cubic meters and Israel would provide an additional 31 million. In 2007 200 million cubic meters were allocated to the PA, of which Israel provided 51.8 million.
However, of those 200 million cubic meters, only 180 million were actually used.
The main reason for this is that the PWA did not implement projects in the Eastern aquifer that would have solved much of the Palestinian water crisis. More than half of the wells approved for exploitation of the Eastern aquifer have still not been drilled. The permits were issued in 2000.
In a letter written on April 4, 2001, the civil administration urged the PWA to execute these projects. A letter from June 8, 2009 repeated that request.
Meyerowitz-Katz also noted that 33% of water in the Palestinian system is lost due to poorly maintained infrastructure by the Palestinian Authority and that “Rather than cynically exploiting this issue for PR points, the Palestinian leadership would much better serve their people by investing in pipes and wells”.
There are many more similar distortions in Rees’ piece, too many to respond to.
So long as such tripe is offered up as gospel truth, Australians will remain consumers of the soap opera of Australian politics, rather than the factually dubious claims and half-truths in the service of a good and evil morality play painted by the supposedly “sophisticated” academic Rees.
As for Rees, a Winston Churchill quote seem apropos: “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on”.