Sunday, July 29, 2007

One Year On. Lest We Forget.

Just over a year ago, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was kidnapped from within the borders of Israel. Hamas were responsible for the kidnapping of Schalit by digging a tunnel under the border between Gaza and Israel and encroaching Israel's sovereign territory in an unprovoked attack.

Not long after, and in similar circumstances, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were kidnapped by Hizballah inside Israel's internationally recognised borders near Lebanon.

Israel did what it could to rescue these young men, which escalated to the point of going to war with Hamas in Gaza and Hizballah in Lebanon

Nothing has been heard from them for over a year. The Red Cross has not been given access to them. No word for their family and friends to provide any comfort. Let alone the fact that kidnapping soldiers from sovereign terrority in an unprovoked attack contravenes the laws of war.

This blog has mentioned the three kidnapped soldiers a number of times, including here, here and here.

This morning, in central Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, a rally was held by the Sydney Jewish Community to remember these three young men, and to demand their release.

People initially gathered in Martin Place.

A poster for each kidnapped soldier: Udi (Goldwasser) and Eldad (Regev).

One for Gilad (Schalit).

And also remembering the many other kidnapped Israelis over the last twenty-five years.

Soon after, the rally group - probably around one thousand in number - made their way down Macquarie Street towards Hyde Park.

Plenty of signs all with a common message. The soldiers should be set free.

Not sure about this one.

Peace as an end, yes. As a means, not until it is offered and committed to first by Israel's neighbours.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Images evoke thoughts of the crossing of the Red Sea.

The police kindly parted the sea of cars and traffic, since Moses wasn't available.

Video of the rally attendees entering Hyde Park.

More signs.

Assembling in Hyde Park.

In front of the podium, adorned with the signs carried from Martin Place.

Yet more signs. This one making it real just how long these men have been held hostage simply because of someone else's hatred.

Plenty of the lay leaders of the community were there. Jeremy Jones, former president of ECAJ.

Ron Wiseman (Vice President of the State Zionist Council of NSW) opened the proceedings.

The Australian flag always stands proudly and prominently at such rallies.

And so does the Israeli flag.

Religious leaders were also there, including Rabbi Benzion Milecki.

Recognition was given to religious leaders of other non-Jewish communities later in the rally, to the sound of a very appreciative audience.

A Zionist Youth Council representative spoke in more depth about Gilad Schalit, a shy yet determined man who didn't have to join a combat unit due to a low health profile but wanted to do his part in defending the country.

She is probably around the same age as Gilad.

The Australian Union of Jewish Students representative told the crowd more about Ehud Goldwasser, and his family and friends who impatiently wait for his return. And his love of pets, including two cats and a stray dog.

A representative from one of the Jewish day schools spoke about Eldad Regev. A confident young man who is accomplished in more than one sport.

These short speeches probably personalised the kidnapped men more than any of the mainstream media have done collectively in the previous twelve months.

The crowds' thoughts were on the three young men.

And their prayers.

Waverley Mayor George Newhouse gave an excellent, thought-provoking speech.

Here's a video excerpt from this speech:

George went on to contrast the efforts of the Western world to obtain the release of BBC journalist Alan Johnston with the silence about these three men.

Next was Anthony Roberts, MP for Lane Cove and Parliamentary Secretary to the NSW Opposition Leader.

A video excerpt from this speech.

He gave a strong speech, re-affirming the bipartisan support to the State of Israel, and the demands by all Australians for the men to be returned.

The crowd sang O'se Shalom Bim'romav.

Sung in solidarity and comfort with others.

A moving speech from former soldier and Hineni Shaliach, Chagay Meyer.

Chagay served in the same location alongside the unit that lost Gilad. He saw Gilad's kitbag on the bunk bed and wondered how the unit and all soldiers could go on. The answer came from an officer: because of what all my fellow soldiers and Israelis would do if I was in the same situation as Gilad.

Former Zionist Federation of Australia president Ron Weiser, now on the board of governors for the Jewish Agency, spoke next.

Ron made a powerful case for the outrage Israelis and Jews around the world should feel about the kidnappings, and our determination to demand their release, and the defense of the State of Israel.

The rally closed with a prayer in Hebrew and English given by the Habonim Shaliach and Vice President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies respectively.

And the two national anthems, sung by a young Australian Jew.

Here's an excerpt of the Australian national anthem being sung by the crowd.

And the Israeli national anthem.

May these three men - along with the other missing Israelis - be returned to their families soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

When Is An Occupation Not Newsworthy?

According to the ABC, when Syria occupies Lebanese land.

This article from Bret Stephens in Opinion Journal:

As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.

The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.

In meticulous detail--supplemented by photographs, satellite images, archival material and Lebanese military maps predating Syria's 1976 invasion (used as a basis of comparison with Syria's current positions)--the authors describe precisely where and how Lebanon has been infiltrated.
Near the conclusion, Stephens opines:
It would also be nice to see the media report this story as sedulously as it has the controversy of the Shebaa Farms.
So how does our ABC stack up as one of the media?

A search of their website for the term Shebaa Farms yields 24 articles.

The ABC's Lebanon articles do not mention anything to do with Syria's occupation of 4% of Lebanon's sovereign land.

Looks to me like a 24-0 drubbing.

Perhaps the ABC doesn't necessarily report NGO declarations?

That rule doesn't seem to apply when it's an NGO declaration smearing Israel:
Israel, Lebanon 'ignoring war crimes'

Two major human rights groups say Israel and Lebanon have failed to act on war crimes committed during the war that broke out a year ago.

In scathing reports, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both called for an arms embargo on Israel and the Hezbollah Islamist guerrillas until steps are taken to ensure human rights violations are not repeated.
Set aside the fact that the ABC confusingly interchange Hizballah with Lebanon in the article.

It does appear that an inconsistent set of rules apply to what the ABC considers newsworthy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hamas Justice Needed or Already Delivered?

In one of those "you couldn't make this up" situations, check out the two most recent palestinian-territories news articles on the ABC News website:

Hamas creates 'judicial committee' in Gaza

Islamist movement Hamas has announced the formation of a judicial committee whose work will be to administer justice in the Gaza Strip, which they took over last month.

Hamas' Executive Force militia spokesman Islam Shahwan says the committee was formed to "overcome the paralysis in the judicial system since the June 15 takeover".


It was not immediately clear whether the committee will base its procedures and rulings on existing Palestinian legislation, employ Islamic law, or use a mix of both.

'Tortured' bodies found in Gaza

Medics say the bodies of three women bearing signs of torture have been found in a street in the central Gaza Strip.
Will Hamas 'justice' get to work in punishing the perpetrators of this barbaric act or is the fox guarding the chicken coop?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Double Crossing Standards

Melanie Phillips takes up where this blog left off in an earlier posting concerning Gaza and the crossings.

Her lengthy posting is titled Guns and Butter, which discusses the looming humanitarian disaster awaiting Gaza supposedly because Israel is not allowing food through the crossings.

For those with a long enough memory, this warning of a looming humanitarian disaster comes on the heels of prior warnings of looming humanitarian disasters in Gaza.

These warnings were given by various interested parties (Hamas, UN staff, NGOs, fellow travellers) blaming Israeli actions. For example, 'the occupation', checkpoints, boycotting Hamas after their election win, last summer's conflict after Corporal Gilad Schalit's kidnapping
to name a few.

Phillips really hits it out of the park (that's 'a six' for Aussies and Brits, and 'a home run' for Americans) about halfway through her piece:
So while Gazans are reportedly starving in a humanitarian crisis (caused by the fact that they themselves are preventing the arrival of food and essential supplies) they are nevertheless managing to supply themselves at the same time with ‘import’ dimensions of weapons with which to murder Israelis (and each other). And how are they managing to do this, since the crossing point from Israel is shut? Why, across the other border with Egypt (despite the fact that that crossing point is also officially shut). So if they can import the means to kill people from Egypt, why can’t they import the means to feed them by the same route? Why aren’t Mr Erlanger, the York Times, the UN and all the rest of them demanding that Egypt ensure that essential supplies go through? Why isn’t Egypt being accused of turning Gaza into a ‘prison’?
With that in mind, how timely is it to see Ha'aretz report the words of the one and only Palestinian spinmeister Saab Erekat:
Palestine Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said over the weekend that all options must be examined for resolving the issue of thousands of Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.


Erekat said he personally asked Egypt's Assistant Intelligence Chief Mohammed Ibrahim to reopen the crossing, saying his request was denied on the grounds that Egypt cannot reopen the crossing without Israel's consent.
Erekat blames Egypt. Egypt blames Israel. Nothing unusual so far.

Until one reads the next couple of paragraphs:
On Tuesday, however, Haaretz reported that Palestinian sources said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas asked Israel and Egypt to prevent the movement of people from Egypt to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, after Hamas' mid-June takeover of the coastal strip.

The sources said that Abbas said if the crossing is opened, Hamas will be able to let in thousands of people without supervision into Gaza - including activists who could strengthen the group, which rival Abbas' Fatah movement.
So for Hamas, weapons to kill Jews trumps food for its own people.

Whereas for Abbas, stopping Hamas trumps food and his own people.

But for the UN, the New York Times and Australia's ABC, it still remains Israel's fault.

Why Terrorism Works - Part 1

Via Little Green Footballs, this Jerusalem Post article:

Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday the international diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East should find some way to talk to Hamas.

“I don’t think you can just cast them into outer darkness and try to find a solution to the problems of the region without taking to account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community,” Powell said in a radio interview.

He said Hamas, which controls Gaza, is not going away and enjoys considerable support among the Palestinian people.

“They won an election that we insisted upon having,” Powell said. “And so, as unpleasant a group they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think through some means, the Middle East Quartet ... or through some means Hamas has to be engaged.

Terrorism works, because the will of the West does not outlast that of the terrorists.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Terrorism Deterrence?

Via Tim Blair's website, brutal methods employed by British prisoners:

LONDON (Reuters) - A man serving 30 years in jail for planning "dirty bomb" attacks in Britain and plotting to blow up U.S. financial institutions has been scarred for life after an attack in prison, his lawyer said on Monday.

Dhiren Barot, 35, considered by British and U.S. officials to be one of al Qaeda's most senior operatives in Europe after admitting conspiracy to murder last year, suffered a "horrific assault" last Friday, according to his lawyer Muddassar Arani.

She said a prisoner at the maximum security Frankland Prison in Durham had thrown boiling water on Barot's back which had led to a "physical punch up". Later while attending to his burns, another inmate poured boiling oil over his head.

"Eesa (Dhiren) Barot has suffered various burns to his hands, forehead, head, neck and back. Eesa Barot as a result of the boiling oil having been poured over him has lost all of his hair," Arani said in a statement.

"Barot is suffering from extensive pain and has been scarred for the rest of his life."

Crude and unlawful. But probably more effective than ordering cabinet ministers to not utter two words in the same sentence.

Makes Gitmo seem like a holiday camp.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hamas, The UN And The ABC

Hamas has decided that avoiding the purchase of fruit and vegetables from Zionist pigs and monkeys is more important than the health of the general populace in Gaza.

From Jerusalem Post:

Hamas's Finance Ministry on Monday barred Israeli fruits and vegetables from entering the Gaza Strip on Monday, according to the spokesman for the Fruit Growers Association.

The move is likely to cost Israeli fruit growers NIS 3-5 million a day, according to the association.

The Hamas decision will also make it harder for Palestinians to keep fruits and vegetables in their diet, particularly those items not grown in Gaza, according to Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

This is yet another example of Palestinians - Hamas members in this case - readily sacrificing the well-being of their own for attempted political gain.

How long before we see a headline on the ABC news website to the effect that 'Israel stops delivering fruit and vegetables to Gaza', with the reason buried deep within the article, if at all?

But more interestingly, the article continues (emphasis added):

Upon hearing that Palestinian private contractors on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing planned to adhere to the prohibition, Israeli businessmen did not send out the scheduled 60 trucks of produce, Dror told The Jerusalem Post. The fruit and vegetable ban is the latest in a set of anti-Israel moves by Hamas, including continued mortar fire on the crossing, to keep Kerem Shalom closed.

On Saturday, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, "We are against opening the Zionist-controlled crossing of Kerem Shalom." He added that its use was part of a conspiracy by Israeli and pro-American Fatah leadership in Ramallah against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Setting aside the tin-foil hat conspiracy spouted at the end of the above paragraphs, it's worth revisiting this article on the ABC's news website:

Israel fails to stem Gaza food crisis: UN

Aid agencies say food stocks could run out in the Hamas-held Gaza Strip within two weeks, creating a major humanitarian crisis if Israel does not ease a cargo blockade further.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) says goods can only trickle through Kerem Shalom crossing, whose capacity is 15 trucks a day.

The words 'fails' and 'cargo blockade' directly accuse Israel as being the perpetrator. Spoken by the UN. Transcribed by the ABC. Written by Hamas, perhaps?

And yet, we now have direct from the mouth of the Hamas spokesman undeniable proof that they wish the Kerem Shalom crossing closed. It is reasonable to assume that Hamas applies the same Zionist-controlled label to the other crossings and wishes them closed too.

The UN have been dishonest in accusing Israel when it is clear that Hamas is the reason the crossings are closed.

This is not surprising, for the UN World Food Programme is more likely to side with the enemy of Israel. Every other UN-affiliated committee, council and organisation does, so why would this one be different?

The ABC - in its continued fawning to everything blue-helmetted - has either been fooled yet again or knowingly complicit in this falsehood.

Unfortunately, this is also not surprising. Not the first time, and unlikely to be the last.