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When lives count for nought

By Vic Alhadeff - posted Monday, 2 November 2015

Commisioner Andrew Scipione joined the NSW Police 35 years ago and has witnessed numerous acts of bravery during his career. Yet after the teenager who murdered Curtis Cheng was shot by police, Scipione was moved to comment: “I don’t think I’ve seen a greater act of bravery than I saw last night.”

The sentiment was broadly endorsed by the Australian public, which recognised that had it not been for the response by police, the toll could have been higher.

Addressing a vigil for Cheng, Parramatta MP Julie Owens also commended the policeman. “Nobody expects to be shooting a 15-year-old,” she observed. “Can we all keep that special constable in our hearts.” And reported that the constable may be nominated for a bravery award.


Compare the above to the reaction which Israel and Israelis are overwhelmingly having to wear as a result of their collective response to the wave of stabbings and shootings they have endured in recent weeks.

US State Department Spokesperson John Kirby accused Israel of – you guessed it – using “disproportionate force” to stop the stabbings. “We’ve seen reports of what many would consider excessive use of force,” he pontificated. “Obviously, we don’t like to see that … We’re concerned about that.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry was similarly quick to “strongly condemn” Israel’s “provocative and arbitrary practices” and use of “disproportionate force”, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opined that Israel’s response “added to the already difficult challenges of restoring calm”.

Compounding the opprobrium has been inexplicable media coverage, one of many low points being the headline the BBC concocted for its online report of an attack in which Rabbi Nehemia Lavi and Rabbi Aharon Bennett were stabbed to death and three others, including Rabbi Bennett’s wife and baby, injured. The terrorist, a 19-year-old law student and member of Islamic Jihad, had then seized a gun and opened fire on police, who shot him. Rabbi Lavi leaves a wife and seven children.

The BBC report was headlined “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.” Following uproar on social media, it altered the heading to “Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in Old City”. Even former BBC chair Lord Michael Grade felt compelled to take issue with the network for its coverage of the wave of attacks, while Al Jazeera found it necessary to express regret for a tweet which misrepresented the facts of the incident.

The difference between the reaction to the response to the Parramatta attack and the reaction to the responses to the wave of attacks unleashed on Israeli civilians could not be more telling. Whereas Parramatta was widely interpreted as an act of terrorism underpinned by extremist ideology, a disingenuous web has cloaked and distorted much of the reporting of the attacks on Israelis, notwithstanding the reality that they are motivated by a parallel ideology.


Repeated ad nauseam has been the canard that Israel plans to deny Muslim worshippers access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas irresponsibly perpetuating the myth. If that were not damaging enough, he also stated: “Each drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid (martyr) will be in Heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded by Allah’s will.”

Making matters worse, Abbas declared that Palestinians would never surrender to the “Israeli aggression” against them and their holy sites or to the “executions of children like Ahmed Manasra”, referring to a 13-year-old Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli child. Displaying a photograph of Manasra sprawled on the ground, he omitted to inform listeners that Manasra was alive and being treated in an Israeli hospital. International media ran with his spurious claim.

All this from Israel’s so-called peace partner and despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated assurance that his government will maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount which has been in place since 1967.

The responses to the attacks from some quarters have been almost as reprehensible as the incidents themselves. Indiscriminate stabbing and shooting of Israeli children, women, rabbis, elderly civilians and soldiers are brushed aside, viewed by some as legitimate targets, whether they are passengers on a bus or 13-year-olds cycling home from school – and ignoring the desperate defence measures to which Israelis have resorted, such as leaving home carrying pepper-spray and kitchen utensils.

A rally in New York saw participants expand on the mantra of rendering Palestine free “from the river to the sea” with “by any means necessary”. “Bombs, guns, knives – resistance is resistance,” chimed a participant. And a march in London included this advice: “Thieving, murdering ‘Israelis’ go home to Poland, Germany, USA.”

It’s a sad commentary on humanity when the lives of people murdered in cold blood can seemingly count for nought.

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About the Author

Vic Alhadeff is Chief Executive of the Jewish Board of Deputies and a former Chair of the NSW Community Relations Commission.

Other articles by this Author

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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