Dr Bill Snowdon AM writes to Dep Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard 20Jun09 June 20, 2009

Dr Bill Snowdon (retired CSIRO scientist)  wrote the following letter to the Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressing his dismay at her decision to lead a 40-member delegation to Israel this month.  He also sent the letter to every member of the delegation.

Julia Gillard

Dear Deputy Prime Minister

It was with great disappointment that I read in the Age (May 26) that you were leading a delegation to Israel next month as part of a bid to strengthen political, business and cultural ties between Australia and Israel. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised when one considers the motion that was moved by Prime Minister Rudd in Parliament last year celebrating 60 years of the creation of Israel in which he lauded Israel and Israeli terrorists, without any mention of the massacres, dispossession and injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians. He was supported whole heartedly by the Leader of the Opposition. I believe it would be far more appropriate to be moving a motion in Parliament to impose a trade boycott and other sanctions on Israel because of the apartheid conditions it has imposed on the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip instead of strengthening ties with it.

Nelson Mandela believed that no evil other than the Nazi holocaust was condemned by the world as much as apartheid. And Australia joined with other countries in an international solidarity campaign of boycott, divestments and sanctions which eventually had a major impact on bringing about the downfall of the apartheid government in South Africa. However, during this period Israel provided succour  to the government of South Africa. In fact Israel and South Africa shared mutual admiration for, and assistance to, each other. South Africa supported Israel in 1973 after Egypt’s rare victory in regaining the Suez Canal and the Sinai, and Israel supported South Africa under Prime Minister, John Vorster, at the height of the sanctions, with weaponry and technology, including naval ships and the conversion of supersonic fighter planes and assistance to build six nuclear bombs and the creation of an arms industry. Vorster had been interned as a Nazi sympathiser during World War ll, but was feted as a hero in Israel and was no longer referred to by the South African Zionists as an anti-Semite.

There was speculation in the newspapers after the announcement of the defence budget that Australia could be acquiring some of its new weaponry from Israel. No doubt this would include weapons tested for effectiveness  in slaughtering the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Perhaps Israel will offer phosphorus and cluster bombs and if the government is sufficiently subservient to Israel even a few  nuclear bombs! They could also advise our relevant authorities on how to deal with Indonesian fishermen straying into Australian waters to the north of Australia as they have had great success in killing innocent Palestinian fishermen trying to do subsistence fishing in the 3 to 6 mile Israeli determined exclusion zone off  the of the Gaza Strip.

It is interesting how Israel has honed the apartheid system in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Whereas the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in 1960, in which 69 civilians were massacred, became the international symbol of apartheid cruelty, Israel quarantined 1.5 million Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip, virtually starving them, then set about slaughtering them as happened in December/January of this year, resulting in the deaths of almost 1400, injuring over 5000 and destroying 14,000 homes. And you as Acting Prime Minister at the time, did nothing to request Israel to desist from its slaughter, but incorrectly blamed Hamas for initiating the conflict and called on Hamas to stop firing rockets into southern Israel.

Since the end of the slaughter Israel has continued the punishment of the Palestinians. It has maintained its boycott of  the Gaza Strip. Six months after the slaughter the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are still being used as pawns in Israel’s determination to make them suffer. The results of the destructive onslaught can still be seen everywhere and the continued blockade means that the Palestinians still have to contend with the trauma of the past, as nothing enters and nothing goes out across the Strip’s borders; neither machinery to clear out the debris nor construction materials to enable rebuilding. This is despite the fact that some billions of dollars have been promised by the international community for rebuilding and rehabilitation purposes.

South Africa never quarantined any of its black populations in their homelands and then attacked them with all the military might it could muster. Instead it funded the construction of impressive administration buildings and established bantustan airlines, even though these actions were only to impress the outside world that they were serious  about so-called “separate development.”

I note that the delegation is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah. You will know that the part of the city of Jerusalem militarily occupied in 1967 and annexed and declared the State of Israel is occupied territory, as recorded and confirmed by the United Nations.  As such all Israeli measures which exceed the power of a belligerent occupant under international law are therefore null and void. The illegal monopolisation and the unilateral judaization of Jerusalem, strangled by settlements, and divided by road blocks  and checkpoints does not seem to worry the delegation. Families are separated by the so-called security wall, residents lose their residency rights, married couples are denied family reunification and homes are demolished. The once  beautiful mosaic of Jerusalem has been shattered under oppression and injustice. And the objectives of your delegation simply encourage Israel to continue its oppression of the non Jewish population.

In the 1930s Arab fighters , in their conflict with the Jews, attacked with the knife, the bludgeon and the fuel dosed rag, but the Jewish response was the development and introduction to the conflict of the standard equipment of modern terrorism—the camouflaged bomb in the marketplace and bus station, the car and truck bomb and the drive by shootings with automatic weapons. Now it is interesting that your meetings with the Israelis are being held in the historic King David Hotel. This, no doubt, is a location you will be able to celebrate. It was at the King David Hotel in 1946 that Jewish terrorist gangs demonstrated their modern terrorism skills that have since been emulated  by many other terrorist organisations around the world. Using milk cans full of explosives , which were smuggled into the basement of the hotel, the terrorists destroyed an entire wing of the hotel killing 91 people including British, Arabs and Jews and injuring many more. There surely would be a plaque somewhere in the hotel that not only commemorates this event, but also the role of Menachen Begin, who was leader of the terrorist gang which took the lead role in the bombing. And of course Menachen Begin, who subsequently became Prime Minister of Israel, was one of the terrorists that Prime Minister Rudd eulogised in his motion to Parliament, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the creation of Israel. So seeing a plaque to one of your leader’s heroes should make you feel doubly proud.

As reported in the Herald Sun in early March of this year, Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation, received the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee in New York. and added his voice to Israel’s long running campaign to join the NATO Alliance. He said that the Jewish state should be welcomed into the fold to step up the fight against terrorism. “In the end,” he said, “the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace, who reject freedom, and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb, and the human shield.” Perhaps we  should be asking, what is the real reason that Murdoch is supporting Israel’s long running campaign to  join NATO? All we have to do is remember Kosovo.  NATO’s intervention against the ethnic cleansing by Serbia in Kosovo in 1999, was opposed by the Israeli Foreign Minister, Ariel Sharon, who said at the time that the moment Israel supports the type of NATO action in Kosovo, Israel would likely be the next victim. Imagine, he said, if one day the Arabs in Galilee demand that the region in which they live be recognised  as an autonomous region connected to the Palestinian Authority. I think it is clear that Israel is still suspicious of NATO and wishes to be in a situation where it might be able to influence its decisions. It probably doesn’t need to worry, with the US being such a powerful force in NATO and how it blindly supports Israel, along with Australia, in the UN and regularly vetoes resolutions of the UN  Security Council that condemn, deplore, and denounce Israel and demand and urge it to obey the world body.

Now you have collected together a cabal of Israel lovers, including some shock jocks from News Corporation, to accompany you on your visit. The catergorisation of Palestinians as cold blooded killers, and the unquestioning support of Israel, is reflected in Murdoch’s newspapers and the Jewish lobby in Australia has rewarded one of its senior journalists, Greg Sheridan, with one of its awards for toeing the Jewish line. And you, by leading the proposed delegation would also be in line for an award. After all, Israel established a forest in honour of former Prime Minister, John Howard, for his years of uncritical support for whatever it did. It was to be established on Bedouin land from which the Bedouins had been expelled, their houses demolished and their land expropriated. The Bedouins, who once owned 94% of the land had it declared the state property of Israel. Of course Howard was in good company, Sir Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke also had forests in Israel named after them. Forests located on the sites of former Palestinian villages before the Palestinians were dispossessed and their homes demolished.

The incestuous relationship between your government, the Opposition and News Corporation is to be deplored. Symbolic of this incestuous relationship was when Mr Rudd and one of his future ministers, were entertained by  a News Corporation representative on a romp at a less than formal night spot in New York a couple of years ago.

I implore you to rethink your leadership of this delegation which sends the wrong message to Israel. But it is even more important not to be supporting Israel’s policies at this time when the US, under President Obama, is attempting to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. All your visit will do is bolster the will of Israel  to maintain its hard line stance against any peace agreement. This would be a tragedy. However, should you still be determined to lead the delegation, you could ameliorate some of the ill effects of your visit by visiting the Gaza Strip and see for yourself the deplorable conditions to which the people are being subjected and the carnage that was wrought in January. You could do no better than to arrange a visit to Khan Younis  and meet up with that inspirational Australian, Dr Jean Calder AC, who has been working for  the Palestinian Red Crescent Society with children with disabilities for close on 30 years, and has had to suffer the oppression and constraints imposed by Israel. Then again, I don’t think even you would be granted a permit by Israel to visit the Gaza Strip.

Yours faithfully

Bill Snowdon

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