Ray Bergmann (QLD) writes to Foreign Minister Bob Carr to intervene in the case of Palestinian Ridha Khalid (abu Anwar) abducted by Israeli soldiers 28May12 May 28, 2012

Dear Mr Carr

You have received an excellent letter from David Albuquerque about the abduction by 25 – 30 Israeli soldiers of Ridha Khalid of Ein Beit el-Mai Refugee Camp No.1, Nablus (Cnr of Nablus and Jenin Roads and the Camp main road. – Under the unit are three shops and Ridha, wife Weam and their children live on the third floor. The unit is approx. 1 kilometre north-west of  Nablus CBD.) Ridha Khalid (abu Anwar) is well known in the area as Ridha is employed by UNRWA in Nablus. 

This is the second time Ridha has been abducted. In 2001 a similar arrest without charges occurred  with inhuman beating that almost cost Ridha his life.  With the help of the Red Cross we were eventually able to locate Ridha in a military hospital in Haifa, his wife Weam Mohammed Khalid  and children were able to visit him and eventually with some help from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra Ridha was released without charges.

This shows that, despite an often indifference to how the outside world views the occupation and annexation of Palestinian territories, Israel does respond to diplomatic concern by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

What Mr Albuquerque has written is true: Australians do not support the indefinite siege on the hapless, starving population of Gaza and nor do we support the practice of apartheid as it is practiced in the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem. And sadly it is correct that due to the pressure brought to bear by the most extreme of the Israeli lobbies in Australia, both Labor and LNP governments have ensured we often stand diplomatically with Israel, US, Guam, Palau, Micronesia and Palau against the rest of the world in ensuring that Israel suffers no sanctions for outrageous human rights abuses, and remains unhampered in its goal of ethnically cleansing Palestine of the Palestinians. Mr Albuquerque expressed it well: “IDF abductions, assassinations, torture, bulldozer demolitions, annexations, apartheid, checkpoints, a siege and an Iron Wall are the order of the day in Occupied Palestine– all effectively condoned – judging by our votes in the UN”.

This has long been a shameful aspect of Australian foreign policy and I was amazed when Kevin Rudd secretly spent millions of dollars on Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council against the more likely candidates Finland and Luxembourg whose histories in Global  Affairs are much more respectable and independent than ours!  And I recall that just a few months after 1,400 Palestinians (600 of them children) in Israel’s attack on Gaza the then Deputy PM Julia Gillard led a delegation of pro-Zionist Australian MPs to Israel, that while mildly critical of elements of its settlement policy in the West Bank, she was forthright, strong and effusive about Australia’s friendship with Israel. Hardly likely to be seen in Israel as truly critical of Israeli Apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies!

If the Australian government was truly a friend of Israel and of the Jewish people, then a more critical look at the damage Zionist ideology does to Israel and to Judaism would cause us all to counsel Israel to ascribe to international law and human rights values in addressing the plight of the captive Palestinian population living under oppression in Israel and its occupied Palestinian territories.

Since 1967, Israel has implemented a policy of demolishing and sealing houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a punitive measure against the Palestinian population: see B’tselem report

Israel’s use of administrative detention blatantly violates international law and human rights. It is carried out under the thick cover of privilege, which denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defence. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinian for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence, making a mockery of the protections specified in Israeli and international law to protect the right to liberty and due process, the right of defendants to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.

Ridha Khalid (abu Anwar) is just one of these detainees, but representation on his behalf by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs would be a step towards bringing Israel back from the brink of self-destruction.  I know well, my father and his sister being the only survivors of Nazi extermination policies towards Jews in Germany and my mother being born safely in Australia after her mother smuggled herself and two children out of Palestine in 1919 when sectarian violence there first started taking its toll, that ascription to  international law and human rights is the path to non-violent outcomes and a future where Palestinians and Jews can live together constructively in Israel-Palestine.

Please do all you can through diplomatic channels to assist the Red Cross / Red Crescent / Magen David Adom to locate the detention centre where Ridha Khalid (abu Anwar)  of Ein Beit el-Mai Refugee Camp No.1, Nablus is being held, so that  his wife Weam Mohammed Khalid  and children will be able to visit him.  Just the fact that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has shown an interest in the administrative detention of one Palestinian who has a brother-in-law who is an Australian citizen will send a constructive message to the Israeli occupation administration that there is a diplomatic cost to pursuing inhuman treatment of people living under occupation.

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