Saturday, September 01, 2007


The mayors of the West Bank city of Bethlehem and the municipality of Marrickville have signed a sister-city agreement. The week-long visit to Sydney of Bethlehem's Mayor Victor Batarseh was intended to spread goodwill but, as is often the case with officials from his part of the world, the word "goodwill" is certainly not synonymous with "peace" and "reconciliation" with neighbours.

Batarseh spent most of his time here telling fibs about Israel that would even make Joseph Goebells blush. Fibs like the one about Israel's security barrier, which he claims is intended to steal Palestinian land rather then keep out suicide attacks. Indeed, despite statistics which show a dramatic decline in Palestinian terrorist attacks since the barrier's construction, the good mayor denies that what he calls "the wall" (which for the most part it isn't) has "really, diminished the attacks inside Israel." - (ABC interview here).

At a meeting held last week at the University of Sydney, Batarseh repeated this claim and the 90-strong crowd (who, no doubt would like to be tagged as 'peaceniks') "applauded when a member of the audience called for 'the complete destruction of Israel'."

We see the same same sort of bluster in neighbouring Leichardt municipality from a "Friends of Hebron" group which is seeking to establish a twin city relationship with that West Bank city. The FOH were recently scheduled to meet with a Jewish group as part of a council brokered conciliation initiative but they stunned that group by pulling a proposal for funding joint Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives off the agenda.

These things should not come as a surprise. Peace is not on the agenda of those seeking to establish these twinning arrangements. They might be marketed as peaceful initiatives designed to do something about the plight of the Palestinian people but instead the agenda is to encourage and promote the hatred of Israel and the Jews that the corrupt leaders of these poor people have adopted over decades and which have brought about the tragic situation in which they find themselves today. The applause of the ninety people in the crowd at Sydney University at the suggestion that Israel should be "completely destroyed" stands as testament to that fact.

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