The Guardian October 29, 2003


Editorial:

Let us welcome Dr Hanan Ashrawi

The decision of the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Lucy Turnbull to 
withdraw from events at which the Sydney Peace Award to Dr Hanan 
Ashrawi will be presented has highlighted a sickness in 
Australian society and it is not anti-Semitism. It is the racism 
of many who pursue the Zionist objective to occupy Palestinian 
lands and conquer its people. It is part of the hate campaign by 
some Australian politicians and sections of the media towards the 
Palestinian people. There is a strong Zionist lobby in 
Australia.

The Lord Mayor claimed that Dr Ashrawi "is on record as one of 
the few members of the Palestinian National Council to vote 
against the Oslo peace accord and a two-state solution in the 
Middle East". It appears that the Lord Mayor was misinformed and 
overstepped her authority. She had not received the backing of 
the Sydney City Council when she withdrew her support for the 
award presentation.

The Australian Jewish News backed her stand, as did the 
Deputy leader of the NSW Opposition Liberal Party who said, "The 
fact is that, as documented, Ashrawi is neither a moderate nor a 
peace activist."

The fact is that Dr Ashrawi was one of the negotiators of the 
Oslo Accords, acting on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. She 
has condemned attacks that kill innocent Israeli citizens and 
supports the formation of a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

Professor Stuart Rees, the Executive Director of the Sydney Peace 
Foundation said the Foundation's jury was unanimous in supporting 
her selection. Professor Rees strongly refutes claims that Dr 
Ashrawi is opposed to peace. He has come under enormous pressure 
to withdraw the prize and cancel Dr Ashrawi's visit.

The Jewish Board of Deputies has formally called on NSW Premier 
Bob Carr, who has agreed to present the award, to reconsider his 
decision.

The Zionist lobby has for many years accused anyone who makes a 
criticism of Zionism or the Jewish state of Israel of being anti-
Semitic. This ploy is nothing more than a cover by which to 
smother and silence any criticism of Israel and the extremely 
reactionary, aggressive and racist policies and actions of its 
government.

The extreme right Zionists claim to have a god-given right to 
seize the lands of Palestinians who have lived in Palestine for 
many generations, just as some Jewish families have also done. 
Their objective remains the creation of a Greater Israel  at 
the expense of the many thousands of Palestinians who have lived 
peacefully side by side with Jewish families for generations  
until the Zionists created a racist and religious divide that led 
directly to the present conflict. The former British colonialists 
helped to create these divisions by promising the land to both 
Jews and Arabs.

A statement by the Australian Palestine Human Rights Campaign 
says, "The reality is that the pro-Zionist lobby is opposed to 
any recognition of [the] positive Palestinian contribution. It is 
apparent from the vitriolic attack levelled against Ashrawi that 
they seem to struggle with any recognition of our humanity, of 
our achievements and of our commitments to the notion of peace."

The state of Israel has been the aggressor in the region, 
launching the 1967 war against Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. The 
military forces of Israel invaded Lebanon for a second time in 
the 1980s. The present Israeli Government has renewed threats 
against Syria and recently bombed Syrian territory. It is the 
state of Israel that instigated a policy of assassinations of 
Palestinians and during frequent military incursions, killed many 
Palestinian civilians.

This does not excuse the use by the Palestinian resistance of 
tactics that are aimed at Israeli civilians. Resistance against 
occupation and invasion is fully justified but tactics must be 
used that weaken the invaders rather than providing justification 
in the eyes of many for Israeli aggression and assassinations.

Zionist racism must be exposed and opposed just as racism from 
any other quarter. The award to Dr Ashrawi is fully justified and 
her pending visit to Sydney to receive the award needs to be 
supported.
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