David Pryce-Jones addresses AIJAC

November 29, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Australian Financial Review editor Paul Bailey was hosted in Israel by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council coincidentally at the time of the 10-day war with Gaza. He joined distinguished British  author/historian David Pryce-Jones in speaking to an AIJAC lunch in Sydney this week…

David Pryce-Jones

Dr Colin Rubenstein told the meeting that AFR chief Bailey was one of  a group of journalists taken on a working tour in association with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Also on the visit under AIJAC sponsorship was Damien Johnson the editor of the Melbourne Herald Sun, Michael Short an editor at The Age and Brendan Nicholson, the defence editor of The Australian. The NSWJBD sponsored Judith Whelan from the Sydney Morning Herald, Simon Benson from the Daily Telegraph, Brook Courtney from Sky Business and SBS chief Michael Ebeid.

Paul Bailey said that he saw the rockets collected and house by the police station in Beersheba and visited a home which had been hit by rocket and the family was too traumatised to see them.

The bus driver shouted at us telling we had to get back to the bus and Tel Aviv “against our instincts as journalists to be heading away from a story”. At the debrief at the hotel in Tel Aviv he experienced an air raid warning. As a result of the trip the AFR published an opinion piece by IDF General Herzog.

He was taken to task by some of the audience who objected to him saying that Israel is expected to behave at a higher standard than Hamas, Hezbollah or the PA but Bailey had said it Israel was a modern democracy underpinned by higher morals and values.

Paul Bailey, David Pryce-Jones and Dr Colin Rubenstein

Vienna-born David Pryce-Jones was on his fourth trip to Sydney. Oxford-educated and former literary editor for the Financial Times Pryce-Jones covered both the 1967 and 1973 wars for the UK Daily Telegraph.

He said that in 1979 an anti-Western and anti-Semitic regime came into power in Iran and has “changed everything”.

There are 57 Muslim countries in conference in Jedda in Saudi Arabia to discuss how to prevent criticism of Islam in the media. He said that the conference had been endorsed by Hillary Clinton. “It would mean people like me would be suppressed”. He added: “They are getting stronger all the time and Iran is clearly capable of engineering a nuclear bomb.”

He said Israel had emerged a local war three times and emerged indecisively  adding “Israel will have take them prisoner, take their rockets and overthrow the regime” as being the only way to deal with Hamas.

Paul Bailey

The fact that that has not happened means that a lot of lives have been saved but Pryce-Jones added “it postpones the day of reckoning”. He said that every Israeli I have spoken to knows that this is true.

He made it clear that Hamas was out to conquer saying “it isn’t much of a choice. Either you are conquered or you conquer them.”

The fact that Israel did not order an incursion into Gaza is not seen by Hamas as compassion and respect for life. He said: “They see it as weakness.”

Speaking on the Arab Spring he said that in Iraq, Libya and Tunisia the old Arab order has been overthrown. “The consequences are disastrous. In Tunisia women did not wear the veil and spoke two languages and the country had a decent economy. There will probably be a showdown between the Islamic and the secular.”

He added: “This is the spread of the Iranian empire. They’ve got Iraq, they’ve got their hands on Lebanon, they think they’ve got Syria and they have aspirations towards Bahrain and they have their eyes on Israel. The Israelis are in the frontline of it and will determine the conditions on which the Arabs and Muslims take their place in the modern world.”

Referring to the recent war he said that “it is very hard to believe that the ceasefire is going to be permanent.”

Pryce-Jones said that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had mate statements saying that Egyptian President Morsi had shown “leadership and responsibility” as opposed to State terrorism.

He intimated that the Egyptians in 1984 had changed from being terrorist to allies with the U.S. saying “that is not possible and that hasn’t changed”.

The Muslim Brotherhood wants Sharia, Islamic law adding that “Morsi has had a coup d’etat” and there will be no room for Jews and Cops in the Islamic state.

Moving to Turkey he said that President Erdogan, elected three times, is also heading towards a long-term coup d’etat and that he had sacked 3000 judges and there are over 100 journalists in Turkish prisons as “they write things the government doesn’t like”.

He said that the gap between Israel and Arabs is widening. “Israel is an incredibly creative country producing things that the world needs and the Arabs are not. It will increase the rab sense of humiliation and they are not stupid people and it is the humiliation which feeds the anger.”

He said that in Europe that there are cities in which Jews are not allowed in.

“It’s not the Arabs who invented the Iron Dome – it was the Israelis and that’s the measure of the gap between them”

He finished off by saying that if a proper strike on Iran which stopped their nuclear program they would have to accept what the balance of power really is between them and the West but “it looks as if Obama would not want to do that”.

He added: “The choice comes down to this for the future. Either we give way and Israel will be told ‘we’ve got a bomb in Teheran – work or what you want to do next’ or Israel has to take its fate into its own hands and come to terms with Iran.”

In Syria, they are incapable of forming a modern society which they need to have to deal with their problems. What they have is  an ethnic racist war with the Sunnis fighting the Shia with Iranian imperiliasm in the background.

“Israel just watches its enemies disintegrate”.

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