Claims Aussie Diggers fought for Zionism 'insult to dead'

AN Australian advocate for Palestine has rejected claims that Australian Diggers' blood was shed to pave the way for the freedom of Jews.

South African journalist Stan Goodenough, who has covered the Middle East peace process for 25 years, told a Sunshine Coast church on the weekend that just six weeks ago he was at Beersheba, in the Negev desert, where the sacrifice of ANZACs in 1917 was being applauded as pivotal in paving the formation of the Israeli state in 1948.

Some 800 light horsemen captured Beersheba from the Turks, opening the way for the liberation of Jerusalem, taking it out from Islamic control, and freeing it up so the Jews could come home, he said.

But Prof Bassam Dally, an Australian-Palestinian advocate who is an executive member of The Australian Friends of Palestine Association and Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, said the claims were an insult to the memory of those who fought and died in WW1.

Here is his full response to Mr Goodenough's comments

Over the last couple of decades, Zionist sympathisers have tried desperately to link the deployment and sacrifices of the Australian soldiers in the Middle East with the establishment of the state of Israel.

This cheap attempt to link our involvement during WW1 in Palestine is not only historically wrong but is an insult to the memory of those who fought and died during the war.

While Zionism has emerged in the late nineteenth century, its exposure and propagation did not happen until the 1930s and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

The Balfour declaration was not given to the Zionists until after the war in Beersheba. And it is a fact that none of the Australian soldiers or those who conscripted them in 1914 had any knowledge of the Zionists plans to colonise Palestine before they joined the war effort in the Middle East.

The truth is that Australians had strong allegiance and link with mother England and their participation in WW1 was in this context.

They fought alongside the Arabs in Palestine to defeat the Ottomans who ruled over Palestine for the previous 400 years. The attempt to distort and rewrite history should be condemned and refuted in every forum.

Kelvin Crombie is one such individual, who never hides his love and affinity to the Zionists and their ideology, and has spent a good part of his life propagating this falsehood to serve the interest of a racist ideology on the expense of our diggers' sacrifices.

Others, including Stan Goodenough, seem to have similar affinity to the Zionists' agenda with an apparent hate for Arabs and Muslims.

While they are free to express their opinion in this country as everyone else, they cannot distort history and promote falsehood to serve their won ideology and beliefs.

The facts are clear and the evidence is plentiful and it all contradicts their accounts.

The facts are that the Palestinian issue has nothing to do with either religion or Islam.

It is a struggle for justice, freedom and the application of international law.

Those who propagate hate of the Palestinians, selectively point to specific acts of violence to justify their support for a brutal and long military occupation by Israel.

They ignore the fact that Palestine is occupied since 1948 and that there are 6 million Palestinian refugees registered by the UN.

They ignore the fact that Israel killed two kids every week since the year 2000.

They ignore the fact that since 1967, Israel detained 60% of the adult population in Palestine.

They ignore scores of UN and human rights organisations' reports, over many years, which have documented unprecedented and sustained attacks on the Palestinian population in contravention of International law and Human Rights conventions.

It is only when the Palestinians resist the occupation that their memory registers any event.

Within the borders of historical Palestine live today 6 million Arabs and 6 million Jews.

Twenty percent of those Palestinian Arabs live in Israel and have Israeli citizenship. They don't have full rights and 65 basic laws discriminate against them.

The rest live in the Occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which make up 22% of the area of historical Palestine.

Since the 80s the Palestinians have accepted the 22% as the land where a future Palestinian state can be established, with East Jerusalem as the capital.

This land was occupied in the 1967 war and hence it is known as the 1967 borders.

The Oslo Peace Accord in 1993 had these borders as the basis of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

This position is endorsed by president Obama, the EU and the majority of countries around the world including Australia.

UN security council resolutions 242 and 338, which were adopted unanimously, call on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In fact Israel has ignored 56 UN Security Council resolutions thus far with no consequences.

In 2002, the Arab League during a meeting in Beirut, issued what is known as the "Arab Peace Initiative". In this peace plan, the whole Arab world offered to sign a peace deal with Israel in return for Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 war lines.

This peace deal would also pave the way for a peace deal with the whole Muslim world as well. Israel has rejected this offer and maintained its illegal occupation of Palestine.

Since 1967 Israel has built new Jewish only settlements in the Occupied West Bank on land it confiscated from the Palestinians and has moved more than 600,000 Jews into these settlements in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention.

Those settlements zigzag all over the West Bank with Jews only roads while the Palestinians are restricted to smaller and smaller enclaves surrounded by an eight metre concrete wall.

The emerging reality in the West Bank is not dissimilar to the Bantustans of Apartheid South Africa.

The Gaza Strip is under siege for the last seven years and only last July and August more than 2200 Palestinians were killed in a 51 days war by Israel.

Today 100,000 Gazans are homeless and the building material for reconstruction is blocked by Israel.

The Palestinians want to live in peace and freedom like anyone else in the world.

The Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas have made numerous concisions in order to secure a peace deal for his people.

He offered to do a land swap for the large settlement blocks, to have a demilitarised state and to have an international peace keeping force to control the borders.

The Americans have tried over a long period to negotiate a peace deal between the parties and have put the blame on the Israeli government who are not serious about ending the occupation of Palestine.

In the next few weeks the Palestinians will submit a new resolution to the UN Security Council to fix a date for the end of the occupation of Palestine.

They have given up on any hope that a peace deal with Israel is possible without external intervention of the international community.

On Monday, Maria Vamvakinou MP from the Labor party and Craig Laundy MP from the Liberal party have submitted a motion to the Australian Parliament urging the government to recognise the state of Palestine.

Indeed, a survey two weeks ago by Ray Morgan and published the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network has shown that 57% of Australians support the establishment of a Palestinian State and want the government to vote for it in the UN.

It is clear that Islamphobics, Arab haters or Zionists' sympathisers want to see the occupation of Palestine continue for eternity.

They are so blinded by the Zionist ideology such that the human rights abuse of 6 million people does not even register in their radar.

The rest of the Australians are peace loving, believe in fair go and want justice and humanity to prevail. They also want the memory of our diggers to be respected and not used falsely to serve the interest of the Zionist ideology.

Bassam Dally is an Australian-Palestinian advocate who is an executive member of AFOPA and APAN.