Posts Tagged ‘Australia’
As new reports of anti-Semitism continue to flood the media, an especially troubling attack in Sydney, Australia has made headlines around the world.
A group of Jewish children and their parents were traumatized Wednesday by an attack by a gang of eight anti-Semitic teens who boarded a government school bus.
Dozens of the children were trapped in the school bus when the gang started hurling anti-Semitic threats and other verbal abuse at the children on Wednesday.
As the bus traveled towards the Sydney suburb of Bondi, drunken gang members yelled, “Kill the Jews,” and “Free Palestine,” “Palestine, Palestine, You’ve taken over our country, what do you want with our country,” and “Heil Hitler.”
The children, ages five to 12, were all from Jewish schools in Sydney’s eastern suburbs – Mount Sinai College, Emanuel School and Moriah College. They were not physically harmed but all were badly traumatized.
The bus is not open to members of the public, officials said. Parents picked up their children from Rose Bay and gave statements to police. But the bus driver cursed at a parent who questioned why he allowed the gang members to board in the first place.
Jackie Blackburn, the parent who questioned the driver, spoke with several members of the media. She told the Daily Mail Australia, “He was very rude to me, he swore at me and he wouldn’t give me any information. I said: ‘Mate, the police are onto you, they are all over the roads.’ He told me to f— off.’ “ The same gang had apparently targeted an earlier bus traveling from the same three Jewish schools, Blackburn said, and had kicked at the door, but were not allowed to board.
Blackburn told Channel 9, that her eldest daughter, age 12, was distraught and said the gang members were threatening to slit the children’s throats. The group knocked the phone out of her daughter’s hand, she said, but a friend found it and called her.
She raced to the scene, she said, and was “actually chasing the bus, I was just saying to the kids, ‘Where are you? Where are you?’”
The offenders got off the bus on Bronte Road at Bondi Junction, police said; they were identified after officers reviewed the CCTV footage on the bus.
Victor Dominello, Minister for Citizenship and Communities, made it clear government officials would pursue the case. “The people of NSW will never excuse it,” he said. “We are lucky to live in one of the most harmonious multicultural societies in the world but we must never be complacent. It is incumbent upon all citizens to expose those whose actions are based on racial hatred and who seek to import overseas conflict onto our streets.”
Five of the teens, ages 15 to 17, were arrested by New South Wales state police early Thursday and questioned in connection with the attack. A sixth is still being sought, police said.
The five were later released into their parents’ custody without being charged, pending further investigation, according to Associated Press.
The youths were “too drunk to be interviewed at the time,” according to police superintendent Jason Box, the Eastern Suburbs local area commander, who spoke with The Sydney Morning Herald.
“I’ve been informed that some of the six juveniles had bus passes and were in partial school uniform and I can only assume that the bus driver believed that they were school children due to their age and what they were wearing and that bus passes were produced,” Box told local media.
Even as Israelis and Jews the world over engage in practically nothing other than prayer and whatever else they can do for the three Hamas-kidnapped teenagers, it appears that for the international political arena, it’s business as usual.
Two examples come to mind. U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki’s comments over the past few days on this painful issue can be summed up in one sentence: “We urge the sides to exercise restraint.” This, even as Israel knows it must do whatever it can before time runs out.
Ms. Psaki confirmed that one of the kidnapped boys – Naftali Frankel of Nof Ayalon – is an American citizen, but most she did not even take the trouble to learn his name. “I believe his name has been reported,” she said in a Wednesday press briefing, but “I don’t have it in front of me right now.”
Asked if the U.S. bears any responsibility for the kidnapping, given its support for the new Fatah-Hamas government, Psaki allowed that Hamas is a terrorist organization, but that “we do not believe that Hamas plays a role in the government.” After further “nudging” by reporters, she finally acknowledged that “if we again were to find that an entity that we work with does not abide by the [Quartet’s] principles, we would re-evaluate our support and relationship.”
The second example of business as usual concerns Australia’s stance on Jerusalem. As recently reported, Australia had announced it would no longer term eastern Jerusalem an “occupied” area. Foreign Minister Julia Bishop said she knew of no law rendering the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria illegal, and other Australian politicians echoed these sentiments. Calling the communities “illegal” does not help the peace process, Liberal MP Wyatt Roy stated, and even more significantly, Attorney General George Brandis refused, even under strong questioning in the Senate, to say that eastern Jerusalem is ”occupied” by Israel.
Crystallizing the Australian stance was Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who did not hesitate to advise his American hosts this month that it would be advisable for them “not to use terms which suggest that matters have been prejudged.… The truth is they’re disputed territories.”
Abruptly, however, in the midst of the terrorist kidnap crisis, Australia “clarified” last week that actually its position on “the legal status of the Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem,” had not changed. This was clearly the result of heavy pressure from Arab countries, including an implied threat of a boycott.
Foreign Minister Bishop met with Islamic and Arab national ambassadors, and said afterward that her country’s position is “consistent with relevant UN resolution adopted over many years, including UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.” She also wrote that the idea of not referring to Jerusalem as occupied is “about nomenclature, and not a comment on the legal status of the Palestinian territories.”
Interestingly, rather than bemoan the apparent Arab success in influencing Australian policy, we might be encouraged that the Australian cave-in appears to be quite minor. If, as Minister Bishop explained, the Australian position is limited to “nomenclature,” and Australia makes sure not to refer to “occupied East Jerusalem,” supporters of a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty have reason to celebrate. For “nomenclature” is truly the name of the game. The choice of words used by the media and public officials in describing current events is critical on the public relations battlefield, as even occasional news consumers are well aware.
As evidence, note the strenuous efforts of Islamic terrorists to ensure that the world media refer to them merely as “militants.” They have been quite successful: A Google search of the term “ISIS militants” – referring to the soon-to-be conquerors of Iraq who have been described as more cruel than al Qaeda – brings up 4.37 million instances, nearly 50 times more than “ISIS terrorists.”
Journalists around the world are expressing outrage in the wake of an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence three Al Jazeera journalists to prison for seven years.
The three were taken from their hotel room in Cairo in December 2013 and charged with conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to tarnish Egypt’s international reputation. Australian ex-BBC reporter Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, and local Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed were among 20 accused in connection with the charges.
Al Jazeera has denied the accusations and journalists around the world have condemned Egypt for conducting what is seen as a direct campaign by Egypt’s new president to snuff out freedom of speech.
In the United States, the issue was also perceived as a diplomatic slap to the White House, which condemned the sentence. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri to express his government’s “serious displeasure” over the matter.
The court decision had come just one day after Kerry’s unannounced visit to Cairo in which he announced that Washington had unfrozen billions of dollars in military aid to Egypt. He also vowed during his visit that the U.S. would deliver 10 Apache attack helicopters for use in the fight against terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.
Newly-elected President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi refused to “interfere in the judicial verdict,” setting off an international firestorm.
“Egypt should review its unacceptable sentences against Egyptian and international journalists, and show commitment to freedom of the press,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Al Jazeera reported.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott added that his government would work to get the imprisoned journalists out of the country “quickly.”
Leaders from various other international groups said that they, too, would work to free the journalists.
Jordan has summoned the Australian charge d’affaires to express “concern” over Canberra’s decision to drop the word ‘occupied’ from its references to Jerusalem.
“The ministry summoned [Australian charge d’affaires John Feakes] and informed him that the kingdom is concerned about the Australian government’s decision to stop referring to east Jerusalem as ‘occupied,’” Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Sabah Rafei said in a statement.
“The Australian government’s decision violates international law and resolutions that consider east Jerusalem to be an integral part of all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967,” the statement continued.
Australia’s government decided last week to drop the word ‘occupied’ in references to areas of Jerusalem restored to Israel’s capital by IDF soldiers during the 1967 Six Day War. Israel annexed the area shortly after, despite international refusal to recognize the move.
The territories referred to by Amman were actually occupied by Jordan in 1948 during Israel’s War of Independence – a fact conveniently omitted in all references to the issue by Arab statements on the matter.
The Palestinian Authority has summoned Thomas Wilson, Australia’s ambassador to the P.A., for a dressing down over Canberra’s decision to remove the word “occupied” from eastern Jerusalem.
According to Rotter, the Palestinian “foreign ministry” told the ambassador that the international community recognises the “fact” that the Palestinian capital is occupied.
PM Netanyahu slammed members of the international community who have rushed to support the Palestinian Unity Government with Hamas, at his Sunday cabinet meeting. Netanyahu said that anyone who thinks that Hamas will be moderated is mistaken, clearly hinting at US Secretary of State John Kerry, who reportedly, secretly offered Hamas financial aid in exchange for moderating their public positions against Israel.
Netanyahu reiterated that PUG president Mahmoud Abbas’s first obligation is demilitarizing the areas under his control. No one in the international community is even bothering to demand that Hamas’s independent terrorist army be disarmed.
Netanyahu also singled out Australia with exceptional praise for clearly stating the truth about Jerusalem not being occupied territory.
The text of Netanyahu’s speech follows:
“Over the weekend, the leaders of Hamas reiterated their intention to destroy the State of Israel. Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken. Instead of the Palestinian authority taking over Gaza, the signs are being more and more seen that the complete opposite is taking place, i.e. that Hamas is increasing its control in the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria. Therefore, international pressure must be applied on Abu Mazen to dissolve the partnership with Hamas. This touches on the roots of the conflict and the roots of a solution in which peace is achieved between us and the Palestinians.
In any case, Abu Mazen promised to uphold all of his previous commitments, and the first of these is honoring the commitment to demilitarize the areas under the control of the Palestinian government, including – of course – the Gaza Strip.
Over the weekend we also heard an interesting declaration from the Australian government of a kind that we do not always hear. It simply said that eastern Jerusalem is not occupied territory; the minimum is that is an area in dispute.
To say this sharply and with such clarity and, I would say, courage, is refreshing given the chorus of hypocrisy and ignorance, ignorance not only of ancient history, but of recent and current history. What has really happened here? Who invaded who? Who occupied what? What is subject to negotiation? What is the area in dispute? These are new things. I certainly appreciate this stand by the Australian government and I am certain that all those who want to see an agreement here based on peace, justice and truth – and it is impossible to build peace based on historic lies – would agree. There is truth and it must be embraced. It requires many, many conclusions and steps, but it certainly does not require the sanctification of lies.”