Duncan Shipley-Smith (NSW) writes to Australia Post’s stock response to complaints re Australia-Israel joint issue stamps 27Jun13 June 27, 2013

Dear Mr. Wright,

You are wrong.

The standardised response you provided is misleading and incongruent with the facts.

The $2.60 stamp does not feature Australian Horsemen at the Battle of Be’er sheva in 1917. It depicts a re-enactment some years later; a fact acknowledged on the Australia Post web site. ‘The battle scene, once considered to be a photograph of the actual Battle of Beersheba, is now accepted to be a re-enactment made the following year.’

To suggest that the action of the 4th Light Horse Brigade has not received wide public recognition tends to deny the existence of of a widely distributed 1987 film ‘The Lighthorsemen’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093416/ and, to press the point further, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the most significant military victory by an Australian detachment, and the last cavalry charge in modern warfare’s history, occurred in Palestine.

The Hebrew inscription on the stamp issue is thus misleading. It should be in Arabic. Be’er Sheva was a Palestinian town whose population was betrayed by the British government in whose service the Commonwealth soldiers of Australia were kept, because the British government promised the indigenous Arab population of Palestine an independent state after the conquest of the Ottoman Empire. That promise was not fulfilled.

Thus, the battle of Be’er Sheva may indeed be perceived as ‘leading to the creation of the state of Israel’ some thirty years later but the conflation of the acts of Australian soldiers in the service of Commonwealth geo-strategic interests with the aspirations of the Jewish diaspora may only be taken one of two ways:

1. That the Sinai Palestine Campaign was indeed a vehicle for Zionist territorial ambitions
2. Australian soldiers were a party to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

Either way, the historical evidence pointing to the criminality of either position suggests a disgraceful participation by Australian soldiers in an agenda that is widely held to be in contravention of international law today and thus calls in to question the wisdom of celebrating this aspect of the campaign.

This campaign was intended to liberate Palestine from Ottoman rule. That fact alone should be noted on any Australian postage stamp revenue to, a.  honour the men that gave their lives for a stated objective and b. portray history in a factual manner.

The joint Israel Australia stamp issue is deeply offensive on many levels and should be withdrawn from circulation.


Duncan Shipley-Smith


Dear Mr Shipley-Smith

I refer to your email of 21 June concerning our recent joint stamp issue with Israel Post commemorating the 1917 Battle of Beersheba.

At the outset it is important to observe that joint issue stamp releases between Universal Postal Union member nations are relatively common. Australia Post regularly receives requests and these are all considered under the same framework. Australia Post plans its philatelic schedule at least three years in advance to allow appropriate lead time for development.

To explain the background to this release, and the rationale for the selection of the subject matter I can advise that in 2009 Australia Post was approached by Israel Post with a request for a joint issue stamp release. Whilst the release was initially proposed for 2011, due to the practicality of scheduling, it was delayed until 2013 when it was timed to coincide with the World Stamp Expo in May.

In 2008 the Park of the Australian Soldier was opened in Beersheba. The Park features a statue of an Australian Light horseman by well-known Australian sculptor Peter Corlett. Australia Post considered that this statue recognised the contribution of Australian servicemen and, it featured on a previously planned stamp sheetlet that was sold in Israel and Australia later in 2008.

Accordingly, Australia Post chose to represent the statue on the recent 60c stamp. The $2.60 stamp in the issue features Australian Light horsemen at the Battle of Beersheba in 1917. This battle is widely considered to be the last successful mounted charge in military history and is also the subject of the statue.

Despite the action’s significance, it has not received as wide public recognition as other significant battles of World War I. Accordingly, a commemoration of the Australian soldiers who took part and the commemorative statue was deemed appropriate.

I would like to emphasise that it was not Australia Post’s intention to disrespect the memory of those who served in the engagement and to ensure the validity of the artwork Australia Post consulted with a number of key organisations.

Whilst I recognise that some of your concerns will remain I hope my explanation provides you with an understanding of the context of this stamp issue from Australia Post’s perspective.

Yours sincerely

Nicholas Wright
Board and Shareholder Liaison

Australia Post
Corporate Secretariat & Government Affairs
GPO Box 1777 MELBOURNE  VIC  3001


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