Dr Damian Lataan (SA) responds to Advertiser letter by Aaron Shapiro re Australia-Israel joint issue stamps 15Jul13 July 15, 2013

In a recent letter to The Advertiser (reproduced below), Aaron Shapiro defended Australia Post’s decision to issue a set of stamps jointly with Israel commemorating the October 1917 Battle of Beersheba despite the argument that Israel did not exist at the time of the battle. Aaron Shapiro’s counter-argument in defense of Israel’s right to co-host the stamp issue consists of drawing an analogy between Israel’s role in the stamp issue despite not being a state at the time, and the US issue of a stamp commemorating the Boston Tea Party despite America not being a state at the time, and the joint issue by Australia with Papua New Guinea (PNG) of a stamp commemorating the 1942 Kokoda campaign despite PNG not being a state at the time.

Both of these analogies are grossly inappropriate for one very good reason; people who went on to become Americans played their part in the Boston Tea Party while the people that played a role in the Kokoda campaign went on to become citizens of PNG. Following Mr. Shapiro’s logic by referring to these analogies, one might be forgiven for assuming that Jews who later became citizens of the state of Israel played some role at the Battle of Beersheba.

The fact is that no Jews whatsoever played any part in Australia’s victory at Beersheba. Indeed, it was Palestinian Arabs that were of invaluable help to the ANZACs at Beersheba as they brought up supplies for the troops and intelligence for the planning staff. However, instead of later becoming a part of the new state of Israel in 1948, the Palestinians of Beersheba were forcibly trucked and bussed out of the Negev to become refugees in the Gaza Strip where their descendants remain to this day.

It is remiss of Australia Post to preclude the Palestinian people of the Negev from recognition for their role in the Battle of Beersheba and it is quite wrong to suggest that Israel be a part of the commemoration of the battle when none of Israel’s people played any part in the battle – unlike those that went on to become Americans after the Boston Tea Party or who went on to become PNG citizens after the Kokoda campaign.

Dr. Damian Lataan


Balanced View (The Advertiser, 6 July 2013)

Jane Shepherd is wrong to attack a wholly apolitical stamp co-issued with Israel that commemorates the Charge of the Light Brigade (The Advertiser 6/7/13). When the Battle of Beersheba occurred in 1917 there was no state of Palestine and Beersheba was merely a backward town in the vast Ottoman Empire-that’s whom the Australians were fighting. Furthermore, Beersheba has been part of Israel since the 1949 Armistice following the defeat of the invading Egyptian army in the Negev.
It’s absurd to argue that because Israel hadn’t been established as a country in 1917 , it is not entitled to issue a stamp commemorating an event that occurred within its boundaries before statehood. Was there a protest in 1973 when the US produced a stamp commemorating the 1773 Boston Tea Party? There was no United States back then. Of course there was no objection. Nor was there an outcry when Australia and Papua New Guinea issued joint stamps commemorating the Kokoda campaign in 1942. PNG didn’t exist as a state until World War 11. History is important but unfortunately some people seem to prefer propaganda.

Policy Analyst
Australia/Israel & jewish Affairs Council, AIJAC

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