“Will the Australian government ever stop using the line ‘Israel has the right to defend itself?”

PROUD TO SAY NO TO THIS U.N. JEW-HUNT

Be proud. Australia and the United States were alone in voting against the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution that Israel be investigated for killing 62 Palestinians protesting at its border with Gaza. Sadly, 16 others, such as Britain, Germany and Japan, abstained or went missing rather than denounce the investigation as a fraud.

SHARRI MARKSON: ON THE ABC’S LATEST ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS

Watch: Sharri Markson on the latest ABC bias in discussing Israel – letting a Muslim academic rant for minutes on end about Israel’s evil, and then cut off Greg Sheridan when he tried to put the other side.

 

Transcript below the fold.

AMIN ABBAS

Thanks, Tony. Palestinians are often held accountable for crimes committed against them. Last week, the Israeli Army killed 60 unarmed protesters, including many women and children, and injured 2,000, all in a single day. The UN Human Rights Council called for an independent investigation, in which only two countries voted against it – Australia and the US. When will the Australian government stop using the line that Israel has the right to defend itself? And will it, for once, call for the Palestinians’ human rights to be defended?(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES

Greg Sheridan.

GREG SHERIDAN

Thanks, Tony, for coming to me first on that question.(LAUGHTER)

GREG SHERIDAN

So, look, this is a very emotional and difficult issue. The death of 60 people is a terrible tragedy. And there’s plenty of moral blame to go around. I’ll make a couple of points to you. The United Nations Human Rights Council… Depends where we want to start in the debate, but the United Nations Human Rights Council has zero credibility. It never investigates its members such as Cuba or China, and it has had more resolutions against Israel than against all other nations on earth put together. Now, even if you are a critic of Israel, you cannot believe that it is responsible for more human rights abuses than all the other nations of the whole earth put together – the North Korean labour camp, gulag, 400,000 dead in Syria and so on. So as an organisation, it has zero credibility. And therefore, I think the Australian government was right to refuse to endorse that investigation. Now, the business of the demonstrations is tremendously contested. We’re not going to have time to go through all the detail. If it is the case that the Israelis used unnecessary force, that should be investigated. And I would have faith in the Israeli legal system to investigate it.(AUDIENCE MURMURS)

GREG SHERIDAN

Because it has done so and it has convicted and sent to jail its own soldiers in the past. However, a few things are important to bear in mind. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is a designated terrorist organisation under Australian law, under European law, throughout the states of the European Union, under American law.

TONY JONES

Greg, we’re going to come to a question on Hamas in a moment, so… But just… Australia was one of two countries. The United States and Australia.

GREG SHERIDAN

Yeah, many countries…

TONY JONES

Why did Australia choose to side with the United States?

JANE HUME

Three abstained.

GREG SHERIDAN

Well, I think a number of countries abstained. And in the United Nations…in a similar resolution in the United Nations…

TONY JONES

It makes a point when you vote against something. Abstaining is, “We don’t want to get involved in this argument.”

GREG SHERIDAN

Well, I think we were right to vote against it, because it was…the organisation has no credibility. But, look, a couple of critical points here. In the United Nations General Assembly, many nations, many like-minded nations to us, abstained from the UN Gen…as we did, in the UN General Assembly room. But, look, I just want to continue this thought about Hamas for a second. It’s terribly important.

TONY JONES

No, no. Come back to it, Greg. ‘Cause we are going to have a question on that, I promise you.

GREG SHERIDAN

OK.

TONY JONES

Uh, Randa.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

Where do I start? Let’s start with why Palestinians are protesting in Hamas…in the Gaza strip. I think it’s important to put this into context if we’re really to make sense of this conflict. They are protesting a brutal siege. They are an open-air prison – the largest concentration camp in the world, as it has been described by a prominent Israeli sociologist. They are about 1.8 million people in a size of about 355 square kilometres. There’s about 41km by 10-12km. They have a blockade for the last 11 years. Israel described it as economic warfare, where they were calculating the number of calories that Palestinians could live under, just short of starvation. They have a population of 75% under the age of 25. 51% of those are children. 97% of the water is poisonous. It is undrinkable. And why is that? Because Israel denied them a water desalination plant and bombed their water treatment facility in the 2008 and 2009 siege.It is an area that is trying to send a message to the world that, after 11 years of being besieged, of being traumatised, of having no sense of dignity or hope and being trapped – they’re not even allowed to leave – they’re trying to tell the world, “Wake up. It’s been 11 years now. What more do we have to do for you to take notice?” And they did it in a non-violent protest. And what were they met with? Nuclear-armed state drones. They were met with live fire by snipers. They were met with people who… The IDF tweeted and then quickly took it down, tweeted that they acted precisely, that they knew exactly where those bullets were landing. And as Lieberman said, he said that every person there at the protest was a Hamas operative. Was Leila Ghandoor, an eight-month-old baby who died, a Hamas operative? He said that there were no innocent people in Gaza.And this is the dehumanising rhetoric that we get when it comes to the Palestinians. That when they protest against something that we would all protest against, they are considered terrorists, and they are blamed for their own murder, as Julie Bishop implied in her tweet, where she put first, before any criticism of Israel, that the Palestinians should exercise restraint. So she is clearly siding there with people who are using expanding bullets on children, on people who are protesting, people who are 700m from a perimeter fence.So, yes, I’m angry on behalf of Palestinians that it takes us this long for the world to wake up. Wake up to what’s happening to Palestinians under our watch. It’s a shame. It’s a disgrace that Australia voted against something that doesn’t even need an investigation. It’s no mystery. It’s no mystery what happened. There’s live testimony. There’s video evidence. There’s photographic evidence. We don’t need another investigation, and then what’s going to happen after that? Nothing. Nothing.

TONY JONES

Greg, I’m going to bring you in because…(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES

OK. Thank you very much. Greg? I think that, like some of the audience, you reacted when Randa said it was a non-violent demonstration. I presume that’s because there were stone-throwers among the crowd?

GREG SHERIDAN

Uh, well, no. Tony, I don’t want to say anything which I haven’t said, if you know what I mean. So, look, you’ve gotta give me a couple of sentences of context if I’m to answer this. The Israelis withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and they said, “Make this place work and we’ll have a partnership together.” They had six open points. They thought a lot of people from Gaza would come in and work in Israel. They left behind their agricultural industry, and so forth. Now, because of Hamas, which took power and murdered many, many Palestinians…

TONY JONES

OK, Greg, I’m going to interrupt you, only to go to…

GREG SHERIDAN

No, you… No, look, you’ve got to let me…you’ve got to let me give context.

TONY JONES

I will, I promise you.

GREG SHERIDAN

It’s not fair…

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAHBut that’s not what it’s like.

GREG SHERIDAN

It’s not fair to allow all this emotion…

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

If you have a fish bowl…

GREG SHERIDAN…and then to prevent me from having any…

TONY JONES

I’m not preventing you. I’m going to the audience.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

If you have a fish bowl and you control…

TONY JONES

Both of you, if you just hang on for one second.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

…you control the food that you can give it, don’t you control that fish bowl?

TONY JONES

We’ve got a question from Josh Gladwin. Go ahead, Josh.GAZA00:47:32

JOSH GLADWIN

Hi guys. Um, cool story, Randa. According to American lawyer and academic Alan Dershowitz, the most recent Hamas provocations, having 40,000 Gazans try and tear down the border fence and enter Israel with Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons, are part of repeated Hamas tactics that he has called the Dead Baby Strategy. Hamas’s goal is to have Israel kill as many Gazans as possible, so that the headlines always begin and often end with the body count. Do you agree?

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

Oh, poor Israel. We’re forcing it to murder us. And look at what the Palestinians are up against. And I don’t even need to make this up. The IDF tweeted a pictorial inventory of Hamas weapons of war. Let me explain what was on that inventory – arson kites, Molotov cocktails, wire cutters, rope for fence, disabled civilians, children. So that’s basically telling us, in the IDF’s eyes, these are weapons of war – children, disabled civilians – and they are therefore legitimate targets. So instead of blaming Hamas and blaming Palestinians for being murdered, how about we actually look at the people who are actually shooting people and killing babies?(APPLAUSE)

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

And not just that – what I find so contemptible about this is the dehumanisation of Palestinians. The way that we, in a very racist way, assume that they are puppets and pawns of Hamas. They are human beings with free will.

JOSH GLADWIN

Human shields.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

No. Oh, excuse me. Not human shields. They have dignity, they have free will, they have agency, and they are not some monolithic mass of Arabs. Each one of them there is there for a purpose – to protect and to defend themselves. And they haven’t given up on their right to freedom. And this is what frustrates Israel so much, and its apologists – that we are still there. This is the circle that Israel cannot square. That it wants to maintain and establish an ethno-racial exclusive Jewish nation, but the Palestinian people are there, and we won’t disappear.

JOSH GLADWIN

So why does Egypt have a blockade against Gaza?

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

It’s disgraceful. Egypt’s complicity…

JOSH GLADWINWhy not blame Egypt as well?

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

OK, Egypt, it’s disgraceful. You are complicit. But the problem is Israeli occupation and the siege. (APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES

OK, now, I’ll stop… Greg, that is a question about Hamas. You can talk about Hamas now.

GREG SHERIDAN

OK. OK.(LAUGHTER)

TONY JONES

But I do want to hear from the other panellists.

GREG SHERIDAN

So, very briefly, look, I would honestly urge people to read about this. It’s very difficult to deal with properly in a few sentences in a TV panel. Let me just give you a few points of context. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and said, “Let’s make this work together. If you work together, you can have a very prosperous economic future.” The situation of life in Gaza is terrible, almost entirely because of the actions of Hamas, which murdered…when it took power, murdered hundreds of other Palestinians. Murdered dissidents, threw homosexuals off the rooftop, murdered Fatah and Palestinian Authority people. One of the reasons conditions in Gaza are so bad today is because the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah decided to sanction Hamas in Gaza and stop paying the salaries of Palestinian Authority workers in Gaza.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

Greg, this is just nonsense. Was Hamas behind Operation Protective Edge, in which 2,200 Palestinians in 2014 were killed? In which 6,000 airstrikes, 50,000 artillery shells, 18,000 homes destroyed, 56 medical clinics destroyed, seven UNRWA schools destroyed, 17 medical clinics? Don’t believe me. Look it up.

GREG SHERIDAN

So…

TONY JONES

Sorry, I’m going to interrupt both of you just for a minute…

GREG SHERIDAN

You’ve got to let me…you’ve got to let me get my defence in.

TONY JONES

Yes, Greg. It’s a flowing discussion, and we’ll come back to you.

GREG SHERIDAN

Yeah, but, I mean, somehow or other, the TV and the people who hate Israel hate this essential context. They hate the context. Now, Hamas is a terrorist organisation, which has murdered many, many, many Palestinians. Don’t believe me. Just google the Hamas Charter and you’ll see it is rank, vicious, foul anti-Semitism. It incites murder. Every time it gets across the border, it kills Israeli civilians. Major General Jim Molan of the Australian Army…

TONY JONES

Greg, he’s on next week and he can talk for himself.

GREG SHERIDAN

…he’s investigated… No, no. Let me finish this sentence.

TONY JONES

No, I have to let the other panellists speak.

GREG SHERIDAN

Let me just finish this sentence.

TONY JONES

OK.

GREG SHERIDAN

He investigated the Israeli Defense Force in detail, and said that it exercises the same moral restraint and the same ethical practice as any Western army would.

TONY JONES

OK. Thank you.(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES

Now, Peter Singer, you’ve been critical of both Hamas and Israel. So let’s hear your…

PETER SINGER

Exactly. I am critical of both of them, and I think the situation is a tragic one and it has resulted in the tragedy that we’re talking about this time. But clearly there are extremists on both sides. And, you know, there was hope some years ago, when Rabin was prime minister, for example. But, sadly, he was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli and hopes for peace went down. And since then, I think, both sides have gone to extremes. Certainly, the Israeli government has gone to extremes and has not shown signs of really being interested in negotiating peace or stopping settlements. But on the other hand, you have to say, as far as Hamas is concerned particularly, Greg is right – they are a terrorist organisation, they are firing rockets into Israel, they are openly trying to kill Israelis where they can, and they did reject offers of cooperation back when Israel left Gaza. So that’s a tragedy for the people of Gaza. And it’s very hard to see a way out.

TONY JONES

Let’s go to the original question, which was asking about Australia’s vote to reject the investigation into an incident which killed a large number of people and wounded thousands. What’s your view on that?

PETER SINGER

I would have liked to see an investigation, both into why Israel used live fire and could not find a less lethal way of preventing people from attacking and cutting through the fence, but also why Hamas was inviting people to go to the fence when Israel had made it clear that it was going to use force to prevent people, that there clearly was a risk of live ammunition, of people being killed. And why people would go there with their children and babies actually, you know, is mind-boggling to me. What kind of a person would you have to be to say, “I’m gonna take my baby to this area where there’s likely to be firing.”(APPLAUSE)

TONY JONES

Jane.

JANE HUME

The reason why Australia voted against this inquiry was because we believed that it was already being prejudged, that the UN Human Rights Council had already prejudged the outcome. And you could tell that from its language. It didn’t include Hamas in any of the terms of reference of that inquiry. It only included Israel. It included not just Gaza, but also Jerusalem and the West Bank, which weren’t necessarily involved in this particular incident. In fact, it didn’t cite this particular incident at all. And it had an unlimited time period over which it wanted to look at Israeli behaviour. So we felt that it was inappropriate, the way that it had been…the way it had been phrased. Now, Australia has supported these independent inquiries in the past. It supported an independent inquiry into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. So it wasn’t necessarily that…the idea of an inquiry that was the problem. It was the fact that we felt they were already had…had already come up with an outcome.

TONY JONES

OK, we’ve got someone with their hand up over there. I’m going to get a microphone to you. Just hang on. For a comment, hopefully. Go ahead.

MAN

Just a very quick question.

TONY JONES

OK.

MAN

To Greg in particular, but to others. If you were a young man in Gaza, what would you do?

GREG SHERIDAN

Well, uh, look, the quality of life in Gaza desperately needs to be improved. That should be the number one priority of everybody. And it would be improved if Hamas would cooperate with the Palestinian Authority, if it didn’t misuse aid to make attacks on Israel and so on. But the whole… Egypt itself maintains its own blockade with Gaza, because Gaza is constantly threading terrorists back and forth into the Sinai. It is a terrible tragedy for the poor, innocent people of Gaza that they have such a shocking group of terrorists ruling them.

MAN

But what would you do? What would you do if you were there as a young man now?

GREG SHERIDAN

Try to get Hamas out of government. And the courageous Palestinians who have tried to do that have mostly ended up dead.

TONY JONES

OK, Julie, we haven’t heard from you

.JULIE COLLINS

Well, I think the whole…the deaths recently was a bit of a tragedy and, you know, I think the arguments that we’re hearing here tonight at the table show how complex an issue this is. I mean, Labor yesterday called for the government to explain its vote in the UN. We were very concerned that we were one of only two countries to actually vote against it. As we’ve heard, some countries did abstain. But the question would be, well, why didn’t Australia abstain? Why didn’t we talk about, perhaps, supporting another investigation with a differently-worded motion? I mean, we’re not in government, we don’t know what the negotiations around that were. But, clearly, I think both sides, if there was an investigation, would welcome it, so that we can actually get to the bottom of what happened. Let’s not forget, 60 people died. I mean, it is heartbreaking that this continues to happen. This conflict has been going on for a long time. A two-state solution is the only solution, and we need to de-escalate things, not keep inflaming them.

TONY JONES

Randa, I’ll come to you, and you can perhaps answer the question, because I saw you nodding when that gentleman said, “What would you do?”

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

I think it’s an excellent question, because what would the international community have the Palestinians do? They have tried armed resistance in response to occupation, they have tried peaceful, you know, non-violent resistance in the first and second intifada, which was brutally, brutally shut down. They have tried poetry – a poet last week was imprisoned for her poetry. They try peacefully protesting, and they are shot down. So how…what would you have the Palestinians do? There are countless United Nations resolutions that Israel is clearly violating and flouting. The idea that this conflict is complex is something people use as a way to sort of…to deflect attention from what is really a very clear issue here, which is that you have an illegal occupation. You have Israel, which has made the possibility of a two-state solution impossible. There is no viable, contiguous Palestinian state for the Palestinians because Israel has, in violation of international law, transferred 750,000 illegal settlers into the West Bank, taken 80% of the water aquifers. I’ve been on the roads that go through the West Bank that are only allowed for settlers, so that settlers never have to meet those pesky Palestinians. They can live in their own little bubble, in their little West Bank colonies. Then you have Israeli Arabs…

TONY JONES

Randa, we’ve got to come to a final question, so I’ll get you to sum up quickly.

RANDA ABDEL-FATTAH

What would you have the Palestinians do? They… What broke me about this protest is not that they were resisting Israel. It’s not that they were sending a message to Israel. They were sending a message to the world. “This is our cage. We’re rattling this cage. Help us, because we are besieged and no-one is coming to our aid.” So that’s what, for me, is the message here. Listen to Palestinians. Don’t believe Greg. Go and read what you can see. Go on Twitter. You’ll see photos, you’ll see video testimony and evidence, and that’s all you need to make a moral decision.

TONY JONES

Alright.

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