NSWJBD-Honest Reporting Advocacy Mission – Day 2
Twenty people – mostly members of Sydney’s Jewish community, plus a number of West Australians and Americans - are currently participating in the inaugural NSW Jewish Board of Deputies-HonestReporting Advocacy Mission in Israel – Day Two from Mike and Myrna Machet.
The first speaker this morning was Itamar Marcus on monitoring Palestinian media. He began by discussing the motivation behind the organisation Palestinian Media Watch, a watchdog group that monitors Palestinian media in order to find out what Palestinians are really saying. They analyse the television station funded and controlled by the PA, examine schoolbooks, sports events, newspapers and magazines.
Sport could be used as a bridge to normalise relationships between Israeli and Palestinian youth. However, when Canada invited Israeli and Palestinian youths to participate in a soccer tournament, this was reported negatively in the Fatah media and disciplinary action was taken against the participants. They further found that many sports events are named after terrorists, who are used as role models.
Many of the songs on Palestinian TV claim that all the territory belonged to the Palestinians and envisages a world without Israel. Children’s programs show maps of Palestine with no Israel and children reciting poems in which they glorify terrorism and look forward to the day that Jews are eliminated.
There is a trend in favour of Sharia Law, and in recent polls 85% of the Palestinian population indicated that religion plays an important role in their lives. The defeat of Israel and the Jews is portrayed as a religious war where “Muslim” territory will be reclaimed and the defeat and elimination of the Jews will lead to resurrection.
The conclusion is that they are not preparing people to live in peace with Israel; rather, it appears that duplicity is built into the system in terms of what they say to the world and what is said to their own people. In particular, terrorism is glorified and Jews are demonised, for example referring to them as ‘Satan with a tail’. Conspiracy theories abound such as that Jews spread AIDS and are trying to destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The second speaker was Yoram Ettinger on ‘Debunking the demographics scare’. The demographic data in 1997 indicated that the Palestinian population would overwhelm the Jewish population. However, analysis of the data indicated otherwise because of various anomalies, such as double counting, including people who were non-resident, over-estimation, immigration and under-estimation of emigration. Birth rates which were high at the time were also projected to continue at those levels. However, recent figures indicate that Arab birth rates have declined and Jewish birth rates have increased. In addition, there is increased emigration from the West Bank.
Our final visit of the day was to the security barrier, where we were briefed by Captain Barak Raz, who explained that the IDF’s concerns are focused on security and that political issues are left to the leaders of the Palestinian and Israeli people. He told us that the security situation had improved and largely stabilised for reasons such as the security fence, intelligence, co-operation with the PA police and that Hamas has not been able to take control of the West Bank.
He emphasised that sensitivity is needed when dealing with protests, although it is important that these be controlled. He explained that the fence follows the topography of the area and security needs are prioritised. The walled section has been re-routed where possible to enable villagers to have easier access to their olive groves; however, there are still protests every Friday, although these are much diminished. We acquired a far clearer picture of the challenges facing the IDF in the protection of Israeli citize
Mike and Myrna Machet are participants on the mission and are TAI graduates.