The mainstream media should not take free trips to Israel, repeat after me

Following Peter Hartcher’s article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald that allowed Zionist spokespeople yet more opportunities to white-wash their crimes in Gaza, the following letter is published in today’s paper:

Peter Hartcher’s reflection on the Goldstone report fails on a number of counts (”Israel feels tarnished as critics apply apartheid tag”, November 17).

Hartcher repeats the spin of the Israeli Government that vilifies the United Nations, calling it an “international resolution factory”. Second, he fails to give any context for why the rockets were fired. He does not mention the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people; the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails or who have lost loved ones due to 60 years of war; or the lack of resolution for the refugees of the 1948 and 1967 wars.

Hartcher fails to acknowledge Richard Goldstone’s personal journey of discovery during his fact-finding mission. Goldstone cannot be faulted for his unquestioning support for Israel’s security and legitimate right (and moral obligation) to self-defence.

But by visiting Gaza and interviewing Israelis by phone and in Geneva (he was denied permission to enter Israel) he concluded each of the 36 incidents they identified demanded formal investigation by Israel and Hamas.

They included an attack on a mosque that killed 21 people, the demolition of the American School in Gaza (a centre of anti-Hamas teaching) and the attack on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency with white phosphorus. He concluded that the collective punishment of Palestinians by bulldozing greenhouses, farms and destroying sewage treatment works had no military advantage – it was purely punitive.

Hartcher also misrepresents Izzat Abdulhadi, the head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia. Such was my disbelief at what Hartcher said that I called the Palestinian delegation to find out for myself. Mr Abdulhadi told me the Palestinian delegation was disappointed with Australia’s stance on Israel and its rejection of the Goldstone report (not satisfied, as Hartcher says).

Let’s hope Herald journalists can go on trips to Gaza and the West Bank as well as Israel in future, to help present a balanced perspective of this conflict.

Stewart Mills Balmain

The following letter was not published today:

It is a shame that Peter Hartcher, in demonising the UN Goldstone report over Gaza, didn’t actually visit the Strip and speak to the victims of Israel’s bombardment. I did in July and found thousands of displaced persons, mass destruction and devastated neighbourhoods, all in the name of Israeli “defence.”
It’s called curiosity and journalism.

Antony Loewenstein