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Christopher Pyne, Bronwyn Bishop and Tim Wilson: have they no shame ?

By Stuart Rees - posted Tuesday, 29 December 2015

In the week before Christmas, a guest at a wedding in Israel was filmed as he stabbed the image of a Palestinian toddler from the Dawabsha family. Five months earlier, that eighteen month old child had been burned to death by Israeli settlers.

The video film of that apparently joyous event – the wedding not the arson attack – is said to have caused outrage across Israel. What's the reaction from Australian politicians who give unqualified support to an Israeli government whose policies encourage hatred and extremism?

Christopher Pyne, Bronwyn Bishop and Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson should answer that question. In early December they returned from an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. Pyne has enjoyed such largesse on seven occasions.


It also beggars belief that expense-claim-greedy, helicopter-tripping Bronwyn Bishop would still be a privileged traveller on such embedded trips.

Yet the conduct of these three in meetings with Israelis and Palestinians appears to have been far more reprehensible than their fascination for overseas funded journeys.

The Australians apparently absorbed claims about Palestinians made by their Israeli hosts. This is part of a pattern of Australian conservatives happy to be members of the Israel right or wrong brigade, dramatizing Israel's virtues, demonizing Palestinians.

And how do we comprehend the hypocrisy of a Human Rights Commissioner - Wilson - who appears to have been 100% reliant on the word of one side?

The three Australians were making the visit to see how they might 'best support the Jewish state.' They did not say, 'We are interested in justice,' 'We are keen to observe how human rights and international law are upheld, 'We would like to know how the brutal occupation of Palestinian lands, and the associated violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinian youth, can be ended.'

Instead, after briefing by their Israeli government hosts, they met with the Palestinian Education Minister Dr. Sabri Saidam who said that as a result of the Australians being fed 'false information' and 'twisted facts', they were 'not well educated.'


There could be an excuse why the Australians did not know about the suffering of Palestinians. Their Israeli hosts would want to conceal living conditions in Gaza, the violence on the West Bank or the decades of virtual imprisonment in refugee camps. At least one of the 'not well educated' could have raised questions. It's not difficult to discover answers.

In the last three months of 2015, over one hundred Palestinians have been killed in shootings by settlers or Israeli soldiers while 16 Israelis were killed in random attacks by Palestinian youth.

The death toll of Palestinians has included the arson attack in late July on a family home in the West Bank village of Douma when members of the Dawabsha family were burned to death.

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About the Author

Stuart Rees is Professor Emeritus of the University of Sydney and Founder of the Sydney Peace Foundation. He is the former Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation (1998-2011) and of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (1988-2008), and a Professor of Social Work (1978-2000) at the University of Sydney.

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