Open letter to Judith Whelan (Editor Good Weekend) and Peter Fray (Editor SMH)

November 12, 2010 by J-Wire
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Dear Judith and Peter,

Paul McGeough’s piece on the “motley-crew of cash strapped activists” who took on Israel features a small but significant breakout “FGM movers & shakers” which outlines what “hooked” our heroes towards the Palestinian cause. Two FGM members identify the tragic death of Mohammad Al-Dura. McGeough elaborates “The 12-year old boy died at Netzarim Junction, in his farther’s arms after being shot by the Israel Defence Forces.”

Ten years on, it has comprehensively been proven that Mohammad Al-Dura was not shot by Israel. Many news outlets the world over, including the BBC in June this year, have issued apologies and clarifications for wrongly accusing Israel of this crime.

The image of a boy shot dead in his helpless father’s arms during an Israeli confrontation with Palestinians has become the Pietà of the anti-Israel movement. As the Atlantic Monthly noted, while the compelling evidence will not change pro-Palestinian minds—”the episode offers an object lesson in the incendiary power of an icon”.

This incendiary power goes a long way in Paul McGeough’s mythological world, and no doubt your readers have the smarts to discern this, but shame on the Good Weekend for your part in continuing to promote this libel.

David Faktor



7 Responses to “Open letter to Judith Whelan (Editor Good Weekend) and Peter Fray (Editor SMH)”
  1. David, another basic rule of (international human rights) law is right to life. Those 1314 children lost that right to life. The point made by Gideon Levy is to ignore those deaths only hurts Israel. Tzipi Livni argued that continuing to bring up Mohammad al-Dura regardless of the cause of his death only reminds the world that Israel (in Livni’s words) “kills children sometimes”. [Although “sometimes” averaged out over a decade is one child fatality every 3 days].

    The point is placing young Israelis into situations that results in the death of children multiplies the pain (on both sides) and multiplies the reasons for perpetuating the conflict. It starts ‘fires’ that cannot be stamped out and only adds fuel to a bigger (latent or direct) fire. The Israeli policy of you hurt one of ours we will hurt 10 of yours is no solution. Beating another into the ground only fuels aggression which will be released at another time.

    David, the only durable solution is to acknowledge the pain and suffering of the other and to seek ways to redress that. Demonisation of the other helps noone. Real solutions are based on rehumanising the other and seeing our similarities far outweigh our differences. Let our children marry outside our ‘tribe’. Let them mix and study together. Let them travel and explore the world and see how other people live. Let them be free of our cultural inhibitors. Being critical of government policy is not vilification, it is an appropriate part of democratic thinking. Look at Uri Avnery, a god father within Israeli peace politics. He has lived out his vision for how Israelis (Jewish and Palestinian) and Palestinians can live together as neighbours on this land which is precious to all.

    If Israel indeed wishes to follow the rule of law, then why does it refuse to sign on to the Rome Treaty of the International Criminal Court? How does Israel undermine its credibility by refusing United Nations Fact-Finding Missions to enter Israel (even if it is to meet and interview residents of Sderot)? Why did Richard Goldstone, a proud Zionist, jurist and supporter of Israel call on both Israel and Hamas to account for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity? If you want examples of Palestinian children killed, names, ages, circumstances of death then read the countless reports by various United Nations Agencies and Missions, B’Tselem, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Read my blog, I have links to these. One of the links I include is the one below. Be well.

  2. david singer says:

    # Stewart Mills

    I agree with you that Israel’s greatest protection is the rule of law. One of the basic tenets of the law is that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

    Your letter appears to indicate that you have already acted as judge, jury and hangman.

    You have convicted unnamed Israelis of “arbitrary and punitive acts” and cite with apparent approval a “renowned” Israeli journalist who demands ““[w]hy is the IDF [is] continuing to kill children at such a frightening pace, and why doesn’t Israel take responsibility for this and compensate the families of those killed?”

    If Mr. Levy (or you) has any facts to substantiate his claims then let him (or you) inform the Israeli authorities with names, dates and places and let him (or you) complain if his (or your) information is not acted on. Certainly agitate for the law to take its course but don’t preempt it by scurrilous and generalized statements whose effect is to vilify and condemn people – and indeed a whole nation – before they have been charged, tried and convicted.

    You then state : “Israel has over 6,000 Palestinians in jail for alleged crimes. Palestinians have defacto control of one person”. You insinuate that these 6000 Palestinians have not been tried and convicted for their crimes or are not awaiting trial on offences that will be dealt with by the Israeli justice system. Your professed concern for the rule of law is thus exposed as shallow and self serving and designed to denigrate the Israeli justice system.

    You don’t tell us that the one person under the “defacto control” of the Palestinians is Gilad Shalit – whio is not in a jail, has not been convicted of any offence, is denied any visit by the Red Cross whilst all of this is happening under the authority of the Hamas Government in Gaza which appears to not be the least concerned to track down Shalit’s captors and seek his release after four years in captivity. . Is this how you think the law should work?

    Israel has and will continue to prosecute soldiers it considers should be charged with crimes or other offences. For you to suggest otherwise is factually untrue and unsustainable.

    You do make the observation that the killing of Mohammad al-Dura is “inconclusive”. That is a fair summation and should be the language used to describe this tragic incident. As David Faktor points out the Arabs still believe he was shot by the Israel Defence Forces. No doubt whilst this canard is repeated it will assume a reality of its own and serve to incite and inflame.

    Think again about the language that people use and the inferences that can be drawn from factually incorrect statements or deceptive and misleading staements. It is called propaganda. Eliminating it is the surest way to bringing about a common understanding to end the conflict between Arabs and Jews that has raged for the last 130 years.

  3. Mr Alhadeff, ignores the situation of the children of Gaza at the peril of both Palestinians but Israelis (GW Letters 27 November). The origin of Mr Alhadeff’s claim of Palestinian involvement in the killing of a Palestinian boy, Mohammad al-Dura, is Karsenty v Enderlin, decided in a Paris Court on 21 May 2008.[1] It is irresponsible to conclude that a defamation suit in Paris provides conclusive evidence for conspiracy theory claims about the death of Mohammad al-Dura. All that case established is Mr Karsenty, according to the Court, was acting in good faith in his critical attacks of French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin. The question of who killed al-Dura was inconclusive.

    Further, Mr Alhadeff fails to mention that a Tel Aviv Magistrates Court in another defamation case described the quality of the research carried out by another conspiracy theorist, Yosef Duriel, as “[a]mateurish, not meticulous, not objective and unprofessional”. In this case Duriel, who for a short time (before his dismissal) volunteered to investigate the al-Dura killing. After his dismissal, he made his findings public which Ron Hauftman published in the Haaretz as unprofessional. Duriel sued Hauftman fior libel. Duriel lost. [2]

    Instead of wasting time on conspiracy theories over the death of Mohamed al-Dura greater questions should be asked, like who should be accountable for the 1314 Palestinian children who have been killed since the tragic death of Mohammad al-Dura in 2000. I am sure Mr Alhadeff would agree that it is improbable that those 100s of deaths were staged too? Renowned Israeli journalist Gideon Levy rejects conspiracy theorists about the death of al-Dura as a red herring. Levy says the real question of those that seek peace for Israel should be “[w]hy is the IDF [is] continuing to kill children at such a frightening pace, and why doesn’t Israel take responsibility for this and compensate the families of those killed?” Tsipi Livni speaking to Philippe Karsenty (who has led the conspiracy theorist campaign to discredit French-Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin for his reporting of the death of al-Dura) freely admits that Israel “kill kids sometimes. So, it’s not good for Israel to raise the subject again [about Mohammad al-Dura]”.

    If Mr Alhadeff wants to provide real security for Israelis then we need a situation where the rule of [international] law applies. That is both Israeli and Palestinians must be held to account for war crimes or crimes against humanity. This is what eminent jurist Richard Goldstone in his UN Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza called for.

    Israel’s greatest protection is the rule of law, not arbitrary and punitive acts. These only provoke violent responses. Paul McGeough, like so many before him has identified the siege on Gaza hurts Israel. Rocket attacks on Israel (no matter how primitive they are) hurts the Palestinian struggle for independence and is war crime against Israelis. Israel has over 6,000 Palestinians in jail for alleged crimes. Palestinians have defacto control of one person. Who is the victim here? People who want real and sustainable peace for all sides must call on all sides to account not just some.

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    I was certain Peter Fray would deal with this issue.
    Peter Kerr, the Executive Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald contacted me saying it had corrected what had been written and published a clarification on Friday November 12, after it had been notified of the information in the Good Weekend and a similiar correction was made in the Age on Tuesday November 16.
    He also understands Good Weekend will also publish a number of letters concerning the panel in an upcoming issue. That is not possible immediately, because of the longer lead time involved with preparing and printing a magazine.
    I appreciate their follow up on behalf of this story.

  5. Rita Liddle says:

    I have long ago discontinued to read the SMH, which has as much credibility as the UN and seems to vilify Israel and the Jewish people whenever possible just as much, consequently I have not read the piece in question.

    As to Paul McGeough’s articles, rumour has it that it is his arabic/Muslim? girlfriend who dictates his “stories” to him these days. Was she also at his side, when he joined the jihadists on the so-called “Peace Boat” that was sent from Turkey and financed by – to say the least – shadey sources, to provoque Israel?

    You write that readers (of the Sydney Morning Herald) have the smarts to discern anti-semitic propaganda? I’m not so sure. In fact, I would disagree: too much bad faith can contaminate the best smarts.

  6. Lynne Newington says:

    I know Peter Fray from years back during the Bosnian war and it isn’t like him to get something like this wrong.
    Maybe he will explain this misunderstanding, I have asked him to check his information.

  7. Rod says:

    Well said!

    Enough of this Israel bashing.

    Lets start talking and hearing facts and only facts!

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