Palestinians are the most educated people in the Arab world. Although the majority are Muslim, the first democratically elected PA government appointed a Christian female (Dr Hanan Ashrawi) to head its sensitive education ministry.
Anti-Palestinian racists have tried to paint Palestinians as nasty blood-thirsty terrorists. In 1989, still in 2nd year uni, I saw a Palestinian student at Orientation Week harassed for displaying a symbol of terrorism (the chequered kefiyyeh or head dress). At the time, I presumed his opponents from the Union of Jewish Students had a point.
The 1993 Oslo Accords changed all that. It suddenly became respectable to wear a kefiyyeh and support Palestine. The two-state solution which had been maligned for all those years became political orthodoxy.
Sadly, there are still Arabs and Muslims trying to vilify Israel and Jews trying to vilify Palestinians and Muslims. I’m sickened that major Jewish organisations could invite people like Raphael Israeli and Brigette Gabriel to speak at the functions.
Gabriel doesn't hide her pathological hatred toward anyone even marginally Muslim. It seems strange that organisations such as the JNF would provide legitimacy to someone who is really just another Nazi xenophobe. Does it not play on the conscience of Aussie Jews that some of their organisations are promoting the same kinds of hatred that sent millions of Jews to the death camps?
To get an idea of this mad woman's views, here is what Bodgy Brigette told Jason Frenkel from the Australian Jewish News ...
FRENKEL: I find it astonishing that you've never met a practising Muslim one who thinks that he's adhering perfectly to the tenets of the religion -- who doesn't espouse hatred and have extreme views of the world.What’s the difference between what Hilaly said about Jews at a seminar at Sydney University in 1987 and what guest speakers say about Muslims under the auspices of some Jewish organisations in 2007?
GABRIEL: Does he drink?
GABRIEL: That tells me everything. He can tell you whatever line he wants to tell you. I asked you earlier, do you know what the word "Taqiya" is and you said no. And you've never read the Koran so you do not know what the Koran says about Jews and Christians.
No practising Muslim looks at you as a Jew -- if he knows you are a Jew -- looks at you in any way other than you are the enemy. He can give you any line, he can tell you, he can lie…
Under the practise of Islam, Taqiya is lying under Islam in order to advance the cause of Islam. And the way you advance the cause of Islam is lying to the Jews under Dawa, and I know this is another word that you have never heard. Dawa is literally "the call" -- when Muslims must befriend the Jews in order to win them over.
FRENKEL: What are the implications then for interfaith dialogues that are happening in Australia and everywhere else?
GABRIEL: Nonsense. All the interfaith is where the Jews are running to the Muslims to offer dialogue, it's not the other way around. And it's actually welcomed by the Muslim communities because they know the Jews are so ignorant and so gullible they are willing to hang on any strings of hope that lets them know "hey, we can be friends with our enemies".
I’ll tell you the difference - 20 years!
It also disturbs me that an umbrella organisation of religious congregations (as opposed to a Zionist political organisation) opposes Marrickville Council’s proposal to establish a sister-city relationship with the Council Beyt Lahm in the West Bank.
Beyt Lahm, of course, is the Aramaic name of that city we sing about in Christmas carols. Remember? The manger? The star leading the three wise men etc?
Now, a lot more is happening in this nominally Christian town. But if we believe what the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies tells us, you’d think Bethlehem has become a hotbed of suicide terrorists.
In a speech to Marrickville Council, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff effectively transformed Bethlehem’s Mayor Victor Batarseh into a HAMAS man. How? Does he hold a HAMAS membership card? Has he converted to Islam? Apparently it’s because he opposes the two-state solution. But things aren’t as simple as they seem.
Using this standard, many Israelis have also joined the HAMAS jihad against the two-state solution. Many Israelis want to expel Palestinians en masse. Many Israelis want to see Palestine wiped off the world map (or at least eliminate it before it appears).
Even if HAMAS controls 4 seats on the Council, what possible impact could they make when HAMAS activists are being hunted down across the West Bank? And more importantly, is a sister-city partnership between political parties? Or is it between cities?
Bethlehem is the birthplace of Christ. That in itself should be enough to deter some Jewish leaders from opposing the sister-city arrangement. Some Jewish leaders have alienated even the most nominal Muslims by their choice of guest speakers. Are they now intent on alienating nominal Christians?
(An edited version of this was published in the Crikey! daily alert for 18 June 2007.)
Words © 2007 Irfan Yusuf