Some of you may have witnessed scenes of a small group of Australians who are part of the BDS movement walking through shopping centres and protesting against Israeli products such as Seacret and Jericho dead sea products, harassing and intimidating young people running stalls, urging customers not to buy “apartheid” for Christmas and chanting “Free, Free Palestine”.
If you have, you might be asking the same question that I am about what will it take to really “free Palestine” and what exactly is it that Palestine should be freed from?
I agree with Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh who says that “only truth will set Palestine free” (see more).
Those activists who chant “Palestine will be free, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] Sea” tell us that they envisage a “free Palestine” that exists instead of Israel and not alongside it. The BDS Movement did not invent these ideas or slogans, but they are taken directly from both Fatah and Hamas leaders who believe the exact same thing.
Two weeks ago, in a Press Conference in Gaza, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared, “We accept a Palestinian state of the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital”. He referred to the fact that if a referendum was carried out and that was the will of the Palestinian people, he would “respect the results” (see more). These words were comfortably eaten up by a willing world media which was quick to publish articles like that written by Fairfax Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis in ‘Hamas shifts stand on Israel talks’. Koutsoukis did concede (at the end, almost as an afterthought) that what Haniyeh tells the international media is very different from what he tells Arab media outlets (i.e. he would not negotiate with “”an occupying entity that is destructive for the Palestinian people”). Clearly, Haniyeh has adopted the same policy of doublespeak as Yasser Arafat – saying one thing to an international audience and exactly the opposite to the Palestinian people.
Those who were so quick to praise the apparent moderation of Hamas received an almighty slap in the face two days ago at the 23rd anniversary celebrations of Hamas in Gaza where Haniyeh declared, “We said it five years ago and we say it now… we will never, we will never, we will never recognise Israel”. To clarify what he meant by “we will never recognise Israel”, Haniyeh said a truce would still entail “no recognition of Israel and no concessions over any part of the land of Palestine” (see more). The slap in the face to the journalists who misconstrued Haniyeh last month must have hurt because they have been unable to lift a pen to commence an article retracting the lies spread in the publication of their earlier words.
We know that Hamas has “form” when it comes to dishonesty; last month Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad let it slip that during Operation Cast Lead “on the first day of the war, Israel targeted police stations and 250 martyrs who were part of Hamas and the various factions fell”. He added that “about 200 to 300 were killed from the Qassam Brigades, as well as 150 security personnel” (see more). His comments reveal that members of the police force are also Hamas operatives, and secondly and more revealing, they admit the number of Hamas deaths during Cast Lead at well over 700 and not the lowly figures that were claimed at the time of the fighting and accepted by the media and more ominously in view of its outcome by those who compiled the Goldstone Report (see more).
This is the same level of dishonesty that has perpetuated the myth about the blockade of Gaza. While the media was quick to report about a “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, they have been curiously quiet in the months since Israel eased the blockade. An article in late November talked about the economic changes in Gaza which have seen a surge in construction, including a new project by Hamas to build 250,000 new housing units in the city (see more).
The same article quoted a Sudanese official as saying, “There are a slew of products here, and beautiful restaurants. Is this the Gaza we have been hearing about?” He continued, “Where is the siege? I don’t see it in Gaza. I wish Sudan’s residents could live under the conditions of the Gazan siege”.
What is most telling about these statements is who made the statement. This statement did not come from someone that is sympathetic to Israel or has some vested interest in making the situation in Gaza look good, but rather it came from a Sudanese official that was part of a delegation called “Viva Palestina”. This group came to Israel ostensibly with the particular aim of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza. Another lie perpetuated by Hamas, the Free Gaza Movement and their media friends.
So if we’re being honest now about what Hamas really wants, we should understand when people prefer to use divisive methods such as calling for boycotts (which shamefully the NSW Greens have now signed onto) they are serving a terrorist organisation that has a covenant to destroy Israel and kill Jews. They are not interested in supporting initiatives about joint cooperation and bringing about an understanding between the two sides.
I’ve mentioned before organisations such as TULIP, which aims to link the Palestinians and Israelis through practical, on the ground initiatives. A quick Google search will give you hundreds more organisations that are working hard to create an understanding between Palestinians and Israelis on the ground. These are real people, and their rights are not being helped by a group of hysterical middle-aged women ranting and raving in shopping centres in Australia.
I wonder then, what people like that have to say about Ja’ad Sarsur, a Palestinian-Israeli soccer player who has recently transferred to the Israel Football Association and now plays for Beitar Ariel (which is over the Green Line). When he plays, he dons the team jersey with the team symbol, a menorah. In reference to an artists boycott on the city of Ariel he declared, “I plan on coming to Ariel for any positive or sports related purpose… The idea behind the boycott is misleading and negative, people should think twice before they say these things” (see more).
Free, free Palestine? Yes but only by viewing the conflict from a truthful perspective and not by spreading the lies and hatred of the BDS movement.