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Issue #1802      November 8, 2017


War preparations

The Charge of the Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba on October 31, 1917, did not play a significant role in shaping the national psyche as our Prime Minster would have us believe. The battle in this inter-imperialist war is, however, significant because the capture of Beersheba was critical in the UK’s advance into Palestine and ultimately the creation of the Zionist state of Israel.

Only two days later the British government issued a statement, the Balfour Declaration, named after the UK’s Foreign Secretary at the time, Arthur Balfour. It was contained in a letter to a leader of the British Jewish community Lord Rothschild, expressing support for the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. At the time the majority of people living in Palestine were Palestinian.

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country,” the statement said in part. What followed is history now, with the expulsion of Palestinians in the al-Nakba (the catastrophe) from their homes and lands in Palestine in 1948, the partitioning of Gaza and the West Bank, the wall and settlements.

Gaza has been subjected to criminal blockade for the past 10 years – a form of collective punishment which is illegal under international law. The Palestinians in the occupied territories have few freedoms, continue to be driven back within shrinking, fragments of land which are policed by a violent, terroristic Israeli police force and military. There are recurring, persistent human rights violations, including excessive use of force, collective punishment, forced displacement, restrictions on the freedom of movement and cuts to basic services.

On October 26 this year, UN Special Rapporteur, Michael Lynk, was appointed to assess the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Lynk reported that “Israel’s role as occupier in the Palestinian Territory – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza – has crossed a red line into illegality.” Lynk said it was the “longest-lasting military occupation in the modern world, and shows no signs of ending.”

He described it as a humanitarian crisis and called on the international community to take action. Israel is also in non-compliance with more than 40 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and with more than 100 resolutions of the General Assembly, something that goes unaddressed by the international community.

At the centenary commemoration of the Charge at Beersheba, Netanyahu emphasised the strong friendship between Australia and Israel, claiming the two countries share the same values. He and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had just witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the defence departments of the two countries. Netanyahu said the agreement “reflects our commitment to defend our common values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, pluralism – these are the values that are under attack by the various forces.” These values are under attack – not from external sources but from those in power.

What commitments has Australia made in the defence agreement? There will be an upgrade in co-operation on defence and national security, and annual bilateral strategic defence dialogues to discuss strategic priorities and to help Australian officials to better understand Israel’s perspective on developments in the region. The new defence dialogue will complement regular talks between foreign ministers. There will be a focus on acquiring Israeli capabilities such as medium-altitude drones.

Israel is the only nuclear power in the Middle East and has a Hawkish government dancing the US imperialist tune. Iran appears to be the main target for a Middle East war. The Australian government is clearly preparing for conflict, and this may not be limited to South East Asia or the Indian Ocean. Australia has never been so close to the Zionist beast and so distant from its official two-state solution as advocated by the UN.

Next article – The Centenary flag flies atop Perth Trades Hall

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