That was the year that was….in Israel

December 23, 2011 by Emily Gian
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It has been a really big year of highs and lows for Israel, so I thought I would take this time to reflect on the year that was in Israel…writes Emily Gian.

Emily Gian

The year got off to a rocky start with conspiracy theories about the Mossad using animals such a sharks and vultures to spy, and we were concerned that 2011 might be the year of the anti-Israel conspiracy theory.

Early in the year we saw a growing trend of Latin American countries declaring that they recognised a free Palestinian within the 1967 borders, as a result of an aggressive campaign by the Palestine Authority to push through unilateral independence. We were reminded that the future Palestinian state that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas envisioned was completely void of Jews as he declared in late 2010, “we have frankly said, and always will say: if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it” (see more). This set the tone for what was to come in September, when Abbas intended to take his unilateral independence declaration straight to the United Nations.

On 11 March, as I spent a quiet Shabbat with my family in Tel Aviv, a number of lives were shattered in the West Bank settlement of Itamar when five members of the Fogel family were brutally murdered while they slept including three children, the youngest of whom was just 3 months old. One can only wonder how anyone could have so much hatred in their hearts that they could kill defenceless children. The Palestine Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas sought to implicate Thai workers in the crime. When this turned out to be a blatant lie and the Palestinian murderers confessed to the crime, all we got from Abbas was silence.

In the same month, the IDF intercepted a cargo vessel en route to Egypt which had 50 tons of Iranian weaponry. None of the media outlets seemed to make the connection between weaponry being smuggled in to Gaza when a Grad rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel just a few days later. And on the same day that Grads were falling in the south of Israel, Jerusalemites were given a flashback to the post-Oslo era when a bomb exploded next to a bus near the Jerusalem Convention centre killing one and wounding 50 others. Not surprisingly, our local media did not pick up on many of these stories (see more).

Following Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) a fact-finding mission was set up by the UN to investigate, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. In September 2009, the Goldstone Report was released. While the Israelis and the Palestinians were both accused of actions amounting to war crimes, the report was particularly critical of Israel’s role (see more). Jump forward to April 2011, the Washington Post published in article by Richard Goldstone with his declaration that “if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document”. Goldstone’s attempt to step away from his own report raised serious doubt about the report, but the damage had already been done (see more). Interestingly, Richard Goldstone, who was a judge in apartheid South Africa, also published an article in the New York Times in late October entitled ‘Israel and the Apartheid Slander’. What a difference a few years can make for the Judge. However, for others, the slanders still continue.

Another issue which continued to fester was the issue of the racist anti-Israel BDS campaign. Back in January, the Marrickville Council in NSW adopt a complete boycott of Israel. By April, the Australian had published a report stating that the proposed boycott of Israeli goods would cost ratepayers at least $3.7 million to cater for the replacement of Hewlett-Packard computers, Holden cars and changing water-disposal services. Highlighting the sheer hypocrisy of the campaign, the Mayor at the time, Fiona Byrne, stated that “the boycott, divestments and sanctions movement is growing around the world because it can be adapted for local circumstance and that is what can be done in Marrickville”. In plain language, Byrne and others of her ilk would like to be able to pick and choose what they boycott (see more) although they stopped short of boycotting most of the world’s worst serial abusers including the Syrian regime which was butchering its own civilians. Thankfully, Byrne’s bid for election to State Parliament failed and she is no longer Mayor of Marrickville. This month, the NSW Greens also abandoned their official support for the BDS campaign.

In early May we saw the death of Osama Bin Laden, and while many of the leaders of the Western world praised the United States for the removal of the 9/11 mastermind, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza declared, “we condemn the assassination and the killing of an Arab holy warrior. We ask God to offer him mercy with the true believers and the martyrs”. These statements came at the same time as Fatah and Hamas were attempting to sign a unity deal. While the United States expressed outrage at the statements, nobody saw it fit to make any connection between Hamas’ praise of bin Laden and their worthiness for consideration as a serious partner for peace (see more). Despite this there is no shortage of apologists around the world for this despicable regime.

And on that subject, just over a year after the first flotilla, in early July activists attempted to set sail to Gaza once again. A few of the ships were damaged and the Australian media was more than willing to publish stories without the slightest scrap of evidence suggesting that it was Israel that sabotaged the ships (see more). Most of the media ignored the fact that in late May, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement expressing “his belief that assistance and goods destined to Gaza should be channelled through legitimate crossings and established channels”. He also “called on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotillas, which carry the potential to escalate into a violent conflict… flotillas were not helpful in resolving the basic economic problems in Gaza”.

The flop that was the Flotilla 2 was followed by what pro-Palestinian activists dubbed the “flytilla”, where they planned to fly into Israel on commercial flights and to publicly announce the intention to reach the Palestinian Authority administered territories. Those that did make it through were immediately detained and were given 24 hours to apply through the proper channels to visit the West Bank. The flotilla and flytilla incidents exposed how these activists were not really in it for humanitarian reasons and the money spent to travel either by boat or plane, on lawyers, bail and associated expenses would have been better spent giving direct donations to those they really felt needed the aid (see more).

July also saw the beginning of the social justice protests in Israel where tents were erected all around Israel in protest to the high cost of living. At the height of the protests, over 400,000 Israelis took to the streets. One blog mentioned that in terms of percentage of the population, the equivalent in the USA would be 22 million protesters and in the UK, 4 million. Later in the year, social justice protests would take place all over the world, from Europe to the USA and even here in Australia, but while those became unruly and violent, Israel’s citizens managed to do it peacefully in a way that ignited the whole country.

In August, while Israelis were still sleeping in tents all over Israel, terrorism hit Eilat when a terrorist gunman opened fire on two Israeli buses. A private vehicle travelling on the same road was attacked by an anti-tank missile. In an instant, a while family was killed and the death toll rose to eight (see more).

By the time September rolled around, I thought very little could surprise me, until I heard PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ address to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September. There he declared, “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora…” To deny any historical Jewish connect to the land of Israel and Jerusalem simply goes beyond belief, but Abbas got away with that and at lot more at the United Nations that weekend, as he took his bid to make Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations right to the Security Council. And still, there are apologists around the world and in the media for Abbas’ regime.

At the same time, Prime Minister Netanyahu also addressed the General Assembly, and turning to Abbas he declared, “In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once… If you wish, I’ll come to Ramallah. Actually, I have a better suggestion. We’ve both just flown thousands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today in the United Nations… If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning the negotiations?” This meeting never happened and in the meantime, the Quartet (which consists of the EU, the UN, the US and Russia) released a statement outlining a potential peace deal that could be solved by 2012 which would see comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and substantial progress within six months (see more). As we sit here in late December, we can see that this too did not eventuate.

By early October, we had seen the two extremes of Israeli society. The low point of the first week of October was attacks on three mosques in an Upper Galilee Bedouin village carried out by religious Israeli extremists. This hateful attack was carried out with the graffiti “price tag”, and these attacks have continued through the rest of the year, and the issue was covered again in my update last week. The attacks were appalling, but they were a reminder that in Israel, just like in any other country, there are citizens who take the law into their own hands, and we must trust that the nation has a justice system in which no crime goes unpunished.

In the same week, the news came that Israeli scientist Dan Shechtman had won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He joins nine other Israelis that have won Nobel Prizes in the areas of Peace, Literature, Economics and Chemistry. It was a reminder of the remarkable success story of Israel (see more).

On the 12th of October we were woken to the news that a deal had been struck for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years in terrorist Hamas captivity. 1,027 Palestinians were to be released from Israeli prisons, many that had Israeli blood on their hands. The deal took place in two parts, with Gilad being released on the 18th of October along with 477 Palestinian prisoners. Just a few days ago, the second stage of the deal went through and the remaining 550 prisoners were released. I have written extensively on my elation of Gilad coming home after 5 years of campaigning for his release, and I am so glad that this chapter in his life is over. In the meantime, just a few days ago, PA Chairman Abbas continued his campaign of glorifying terrorists by meeting with 11 terrorists that were deported to Turkey as part of the first stage of the deal.

The final week in October saw an escalation in the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, putting one million Israelis in the firing line. Terrorist group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks and released footage of their terrorists firing rockets from a portable rocket launched installed on the back of a pick-up truck. Prime Minister Netanyahu sent out a direct warning to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all other organisations “not to test our determination to actualise the two principles” which were “kill or be killed” and “he who harms you should bear the blood on his head” (see more).

In late November, as we celebrated 64 years since the passing of UN Resolution 181, Lebanon celebrated by firing rockets from Southern Lebanon in to Israel, in direct violation of UN Resolution 1701. The Australian media responded with some very poor reporting on the situation (see more).

At the same time, the Australian media ran a story of a UN report that found that 250 children had been killed by Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime in Syria since March. Interestingly, just a week before, a story emerged about UNESCO’s executive board (which among other countries includes the US, France and the UK) unanimously elected Syria to a pair of committees, one that deals directly with human rights issues. At the time I wondered whether a country is more qualified to discuss human rights matters when they are constantly violating the human rights of their own people.

Last week I reported that Hamas, with its genocidal Covenant, had celebrated its 24th year anniversary. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh boasted that they would “liberate Jerusalem and Aksa Mosque very soon”. Hamas also boasted some terrible figures from its 24 years of existence – Hamas has killed 1,365 Israelis, wounded 6,411 others, carried out 1,117 terrorist attacks and have fired 11,093 rockets and missiles at Israel (see more).

Fatah and Hamas met in Cairo a few days ago and attempted to reconcile for the 5th or 6th time this year (I have lost count of the exact amount). PA Chairman Abbas declared, “We laid down the basis for an eventual agreement. Firstly, Hamas has come around on the following points: peace and calm must be established in Gaza as in the West Bank; resistance must be population-based and not with weapons – frankly, this was a point we agreed on; the solution is a state based on the 1967 borders – there again Hamas agreed”. What a difference a week can make in the life of Ismail Haniyeh. But I would not be cracking upon the champagne just yet, and I would be careful before trusting anything Hamas has to say.

Today’s news that UNESCO is funding a Palestinian magazine that glorifies Hitler bears sad testimony to the way in which the ugly nature of the anti Semitism espoused by the Palestine Authority’s propaganda machine has prospered in 2011 and made the attainment of peace in the region an ever more distant prospect. But do not hold your breath waiting to read about this in tomorrow’s Age – I don’t believe this sort of news is particularly palatable to its foreign editors. It would seem that the editor’s of the Age in general would much prefer to run with stories with very little factual information, such as yesterday’s article by Daniel Flitton, entitled ‘Israeli relations warm as intelligence returns’. I am concerned that the Age accidentally omitted a paragraph or two that actually contained facts, because I cannot find any within the piece that went to print!

To end on a positive note, the year has been filled with wonderful success stories from Israel, from the development of revolutionary new treatment for cancer by Israeli scientists which could be applied to 90% of cancers, to a story just this week that technology giant Apple will establish its first R&D centre outside of the US in Israel, and that they also purchased Israel’s Anobit (a company that develops flash storage technology) for up to $500 million! Such achievements show how much Israel has to contribute to the world and shows just how ridiculous the BDS movement is. But hey, do not let me stop you from continuing your crusade against life-saving medical treatments. So just turn off your iPhones, iPads and personal computers, dear BDS movement, and let us focus on finding ways to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians closer, not further apart.

It has been a huge year where we have seen the fall (in a number of ways) of many tyrants and dictators. We have celebrated the highest of highs in Israel, and they have been contrasted by the lowest of lows. Here is hoping that 2012 brings us a lot more to celebrate.

Wishing you all well over the festive season!

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne


14 Responses to “That was the year that was….in Israel”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Not that silly this Aaron at all !!
    So far the palestinian PR strategy has embraced, prommoted and succeeded in havinbg accepted an Israel:

    – colonialist
    – oppressive
    – racist/apartheidist (sic)

    Soon enough the trumpets of street marches, media releases, chocolate parlour demos ( that chocolate that spreads all of the above political “flavours” ) shall parade banners calling “Israel Child Murderers !!”.
    And guess what, the idiocy of it shall turn into a most effective propaganda trick.
    Arguing against the “substance” of this farce gives only temporary satisfaction to the decency of Jewish retort.
    The entire palestinian construct, in all its repugnant aspects, is based on engaging readily available “moral” hysteria of the trotzkist, fundamental islamic, boutique mentally deranged bludgers,moral fascists and ordinary anti Semites and, more evident, Governments of no ethical standards in the concerted campaign of brandishing visceral hatred as legitimate State identity, your palestinian venom charged UNESCO new members!! This beacon of intellectual purity,this colossal horn of cultural abundancy , the rare purvue of dedicated illiterate criminals enjoying their macabre dance of terror and destruction !!!
    But, hey, this Aaron bloke loves them ! Say no more.

    Daniel, good to see you !

  2. Michael Burd says:

    Another excellent article Emily.. Keep up the good work

  3. Michael Burd says:

    Another excellent article Emilly .

    Aaron asks why so many Palestinian children get killed. Perhaps Aaron it could be unlike Israelis Palestinians use their youth as cannon fodder and even celebrate and use terminology such as Martyrs when their kids get killed.
    Perhaps more Palestinians who are the instigators of the violence get killed because they are not as skilled in battle as the Israelis are.
    Aaron I would be more concerned about the the Palestinians getting along with each other and how they treat their Christian bothers and sisters .If the palestinians cant get along with each other how the hell will they ever get along with their Jewish neighbours.
    The Israelis have as much chance ever entering into a Peace Treaty with the Palestinians as the Arabs and Muslims ever getting along peacefully amongst them selves.

  4. Jack Chrapot says:

    Aaron. kindly refrain from trying to put words in my mouth.

    Only a propagandist with poor comprehension skills would come up with such drivel.

    I can see Emily’s put you in your rightful place but if you really want to do a good deed, please tell your friends in Hamas to stop firing at Israeli civilians from schools and stop storing their weaponry in civilian areas.

  5. Ben Derusai says:

    Aaron .. since when has this purely been a numbers game? Would you be happy if an equal number of Israeli children have been killed?

    Surely the facts of the situation demand more attention than keeping a scorecard, but I suspect if that it came to discussing facts, you wouldn’t have much to say.

  6. Daniel Lewis says:

    Aaron, you’re kidding aren’t you? More Palestinian children die for two very simple reasons:
    1) Hamas uses them as human shields. Dead Palestinian children make great anti-Israel propaganda (and congratulations, you’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker).

    2) Palestinian children are actively encouraged to Die for Allah and taught that it is good to kill Jews. Israel children simply aren’t. There’s a reason why Palestinian mothers celebrate when their children attain ‘martyrdom’.

    Bodycounts are a very naive way of assessing the difference between good and evil. Moreover, if you look at historical statistics, more Palestinians and Arabs (including children) have been killled by other Arabs than by Israel. Theirs is a society which worships death. Is that also Israel’s fault?

  7. Emily Gian says:


    I will preface my response by saying that as a human being, I find the loss of life of any person, particularly defenceless children, devastating. I guess that already puts you and I on a different level of morality, as you have justified the brutal murder of one child (three-month-old Hadas, who was deliberately decapitated) by trying to compare it to the death of others.

    Again – the loss of any child’s life is so regrettable, and all loss of life during Operation Cast Lead 2008-2009 could have been avoided had Hamas not fired rockets unrelentlessly on Southern Israel from exactly that same period which you mentioned. Not to mention that way that Hamas operates, which is from highly populated civilian areas making loss of life unavoidable. Perhaps you should be asking Hamas operatives what they are doing to avoid the deaths of their children? I can tell you the answer – they use their children as pawns in what they believe is just a game. And I guess you think it is just a game too because the comparison of numbers is just ridiculous and absurd.

    But perhaps I can explain why I believe there has been more loss of life in Gaza. We’ve seen Hamas terrorists taking weapons and storing them in places of learning, places of worship and places intending to heal the ill. When they do those, I can tell you that they are demonstrating clearly, to me at least, that they do not care for the children, the religious or the sick. In fact, they operate from these areas specifically to put these people directly in harm’s way, and the more people who are harmed, then the more newspapers will splash these appalling pictures and headlines; the better it is for their cause.

    Check out these videos:
    Hamas booby trap school and zoo –
    Hamas terrorists grabbing a child to use him as a human shield – (whose fault is it that this child ended up as one of your statistics?)
    A little bit more of Hamas exploitation of children –

    But if you don’t believe me about how little your precious Hamas cares for the children, you can hear it directly from Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, who admits that it is one of his group’s strategies to conduct terrorist activity from civilian areas:
    In his own words – “We desire death like you desire life”

    In answer to your question, who operates with the most hatred in their hearts, I would probably say you, Aaron. It’s obvious that you have too much hatred in your heart to feel any sort of sympathy for the death of a child. Sad.

  8. Jack Chrapot says:

    Hi Aaron (or whatever your real name is) – thanks for bringing up an important distinction between how the IDF and Palestinian terrorists operate.

    • Palestinian terrorism deliberately targets Israeli children – they are invariably not innocent bystanders. The terrorist groups who murder these children never show any remorse, rather they celebrate the deaths,

    • while the deaths of Palestinian children are regrettable and Israel often does express its regret when they are accidental, many of the deaths of persons classified as children have been shown to be cases of –

    * child combatants often used or recruited by Palestinian terror groups. Most are armed and therefore become legitimate targets under the laws of combat, and

    * there have been numerous documented instances of Palestinian terror groups placing children and other civilians in harm’s way – this is indeed a war crime on the part of those terror groups – one which I would hope you don’t condone.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure about this because you express no concern at the deaths of Israeli children at the hands of murdering terrorists.

    • Aaron says:


      Killing children is *always* wrong Jack, christian, jewish, muslim, or other.

      It’s just a short hop from justifying the killing of Palestinian children to saying “why not just kill them all?” That is the track you’re on.

  9. Aaron says:

    “One can only wonder how anyone could have so much hatred in their hearts that they could kill defenceless children.”

    Emily – perhaps you’ll venture to explain why Israel killed 320 ‘defenceless children’ during the bloodbath in Gaza in 2008/2009?

    Perhaps you’ll also tell us why, in the decade from 2000 to 2010 Israel killed 1371 Palestinian children, whereas Palestinians killed 124 Israeli children? (Data comes from B’Tselem press release 27/10/2010 titled ’10 years to the second Intifada – summary of data’).

    When Israelis kill TEN TIMES AS MANY Palestinian children as vice-versa, just who it it that is operating with hatred in their hearts?

  10. Norman Trubik says:

    You forgot to mention the ‘Palmer Report’ which justified the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza.

    • Emily Gian says:

      Unfortunately I did not get the chance to cover everything that happened over the year but thank you for pointing the Palmer Report out as it is extremely significant, particularly in light of the farce that was Flotilla 2.

  11. Matt says:

    The year is not over yet, it is only the 23rd, as proven in 2009.

    • Emily Gian says:

      Hi Matt,
      You’re right. Let’s hope the next week passes without incident.

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