The Gaza Flotilla Incident – Michael Danby
Federal Labour MP Michael Danby’s informed update on the Gaza Flotilla Affair.
Due to the poor coverage of the flotilla fracas by the mass media particularly the scandalously biased front pages of the Melbourne Age, I am writing to you outlining some of my comments and actions attempting to inject some balance in this latest hysteria.
Firstly, let me focus on the Australian Government’s policy
I hope it is clear that Australia is supporting an independent Israeli inquiry into the flotilla fracas. Australia does not support another UN Goldstone ambush. The Foreign Minister and Prime Minister’s words condemned all violence and these two policies are appreciated by the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in his phone conversation with Kevin Rudd on Wednesday. Australia’s policies are considered more friendly than other Governments by the Israelis.
Furthermore, Australia supports humanitarian assistance to Gaza but has not called for the end of a military blockade preventing shipments of Iranian or other armaments ( ala the Karine A incident see attachment 1, also see attachment 2 on the Francop shipment stopped in the Mediterranean )
These views were outlined by Prime Minister Rudd’s comments on Israel in Question Time (Wednesday 1st of June). Click here
On Tuesday, I met with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to discuss a number of measures that would establish clearly Australia’s on going partnership with Israel. So a group of senior Australian Jewish leaders including Robert Goot (EIJAC), Albert Dadon (AICE), Mark Leibler (AIJAC) and Philip Chester (ZF) attended with myself and Mark Dreyfus a meeting at the Lodge with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. A number of other positive suggestions were made and will be revealed in time.
Undoubtedly the serious position of the Australia Government were not reported in the AJN. Further my other comments to the AJN were severely abridged and I enclose them in full:
‘I condemn the failure of the Turkish-Islamist association IHH to use the peaceful means of distributing their aid via Ashdod or Egypt. It is astonishing that virtually none of the news media organisations seem to know that 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid is ferried across the check points from Israel to Gaza every week.’
‘Kerry O’Brien’s ABC’s 7.30 Report interview with Israeli Spokesman Yigal Plamor was unprofessional and hysterical, particularly given O’Brien’s lack of knowledge of the events which had just occurred. They were a marked contrast to the professional and balanced interview by Leigh Sales with Mark Regev on Lateline that same night.’
On Irish citizen Paul McGeough, former SMH editor and now senior writer, who (with Fairfax photographer Kate Geraghty) joined the flotilla which was trying to breach the blockade of Iranian sourced arms previously ferried to Gaza…
‘I realise Mr Paul McGeough’s current career is based on the thesis of his book, ‘Kill Khaled’, that Hamas and Kahled Meshaal are moderate and the Western world and Israel should negotiate with it. His decision to go into detention rather than be deported is very strange.’
Thirdly, I wrote the editor of Age a private letter.
‘I am surprised that your Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis has not reported facts as reported by Ron Ben-Yishai.
I would have thought this editorial in the Washington Post (B) , was more balanced and note the anti-Israel propagandist responsible for the deliberately mixed (concocted) images on the front page today. By minimising the night vision pictures of the Israeli sailors being beaten and juxtaposing with a much bigger colour picture of the Greek police beating demonstrators. most Age readers will conflate the image. This would have had the effect of emotionally neutralising the two images from the Youtube footage of the Israeli soldiers being beaten and stabbed as they landed (attachment A). If they had seen only the night vision pictures unadulterated they would have had the opportunity to see what is counter intuitive to the drum-beat of media hatred of the Jewish State.
Special Report: A Brutal Ambush at Sea – Ron Ben-Yishai.
However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests. One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandos were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
The Navy commandos were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.
At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost consciousness. Only after this injury did troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralised them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back. “I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him.”
Read the rest of the article a this link. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896796,00.html
- The Flotilla Fiasco – Editorial- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/31/AR2010053103160.html?nav=rss_opinions