Official statement from the President of the ZFA, Philip Chester

11 February 2014

Comment from ZFA President, Philip Chester, on 4 Corners/ The Weekend Australian investigation on the Israeli justice system.

The Four Corners program aired on ABC was highly emotive and one-sided. It only depicted the allegations in line with the Palestinian position but made absolutely no attempt to report the facts presented to the court or the difficult legal realities on the ground.

The disputed territories have many legal, social and moral complexities with which Israel is continually trying to grapple. John Lyons and Four Corners did not acknowledge these difficulties in dealing with Palestinian “child terrorists” who are caught throwing rocks. Lyons’ attempt to belittle the lethal repercussions of this terrorist activity proves that this investigation is partial.

The issue of the treatment of Palestinian juveniles in the military court system raises a more fundamental question of child abuse. Why have these teenage boys been recruited to participate in armed conflict?  Should they not be attending school, instead of being exploited to use rocks as dangerous weapons, often with deadly repercussions? A Palestinian elder recruiting their own son in terrorist activities signifies abuse of the highest order.

A special juvenile military court operates in the West Bank as until the final status of this area is determined, it is subject to Israeli military jurisdiction. Contrary to Four Corners positioning, the two legal systems are divided between Israeli citizens (including Jews, Arabs, Christians and others) living and offending in Israel and non-Israeli citizens in the disputed territories. This is not a division based on race, ethnicity or religion but rather, the Israeli justice system cannot be applied to Palestinian youth in the West Bank as it is still a disputed territory. To apply Israeli civil law to this region would signify annexation, undoubtedly causing international outcry and accusations of a breach of international law. The Australian’s editorial today stresses that the dual legal systems are an administrative and legal requirement rather than any sort of racism.

Contrary to Lyons’ allegations the system in place is independent and open presided over by professional judges. The fact that Lyons has access to these courts demonstrates the openness of the system.

It is important to note that Israel takes these issues seriously and analysis of the Israeli version of events would have shown this to be the case. After consultation with bodies like UNICEF Israel implemented vast improvements and this was even noted in the organization’s most recent report issued in October 2013. A special juvenile court has been established to ensure appropriate care of youth in custody. These are important developments that have been excluded from Four Corners’ expose.

If it is objectively established that youth in detention are not being appropriately treated then Israel should improve its practices. This is something the Israel justice system is emphatically committed to.

It is important to emphasize that neither the information nor interviews presented are new, but are simply recycled from an old campaign and in particular an article Lyons wrote for The Australian newspaper back in 2011.

The program has presented disturbing images, selectively juxtaposing Israelis with extreme views who represent a very small minority with the testimonies of youth who have allegedly been the subject of mistreatment. In ignoring the context, the violence perpetrated by these youths and those who recruit and incite them, the program severely lacks integrity and balance.

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  1. annexation now!

  2. Leon Poddebsky

    John Lyons’ credibility on Israel is the equal of Saeb Erekat’s and Yasser Arafat’s.
    The ABC’s institutional but unstated policy is in line with that of Lyons.

    • Leon I don’t know if you’ve been around all the sites which are discussing this or not. If not I can tell you it is hateful. I feel ill. The mis-information out there is just awful. I am sick of trying to put people right.

  3. Leon Poddebsky

    The “Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights” has just published a report about the monstrous violations of human rights committed by the PA ( you know, the peaceloving, democratic partners for peace.)

    No one in the West is interested because it cannot be used against the Jews (though, given the irrational, obsessive, psychotic spirit of the times, even that might be laid at Israel’s doorstep by some progressive, humanitarian journalist such as the one who confessed to lying about Israel but declared that he had done it “in the name of a higher truth.”

    Details of the report are in the “Gatestone Institute” website.

  4. Leon Poddebsky

    Let’s not hold our breaths waiting for “The Australian” or the ABC to do an investigative piece on “Palestinian” Arab youths who slit the throats of sleeping Jewish babies then boast about it and declare that they would repeat it.
    Their mums are sure proud of them.

    Remember Tony Blair’s wife, on hearing about homicide bombings by “Palestinian” Arabs, declared that they must have been treated badly and that’s why they murdered Jews.
    That’s the Western progressive mindset today.

  5. ZFA’s reply is the expected argument and for most of its content one cannot make any negative comment. What is totally unacceptable is the notion promoted here by Chester that, ACCORDING TO UNICEF a mob anything BUT affable to Israel, “Israel implemented vast improvements” in the manner in which criminal children are “now” treated by Isareli (still) military Courts.
    The very notion of “improvements” , one which Philip Chester is not arguing against, is a calculated offense by UNICEF againste “previous” legal methods used by the Israelis against juveniles. Here UNICEF are congratulating themselves for something which they reckon they “achieved” against an Israeli legal system which, by them, would have inherently WRONG methods, hence, the need for UNICEF – and others – to keep an eye on the”abusive” Isarelis.
    Here we are also faced with the same, and even worse, monstruosities peddeld by NIF, who have jumped , after a fairly long quiet spell, to criticise Isarel for the treatement of the same born/bread criminals REGARDLESS of age.
    Israel did not need to improve anything. The mere change of a name to “juvenile” makes no difference. If the LAWS themselves would be different in that “different” court then yes, we are dealing with something different. This is just another oportunity for these dedicated enemies of decency and true peaceful resolutions to rant their sickening rubish against an Isarel under siege from people who stage and profit from the lies propagated and the less than astute communal leaders who should know better !!!

  6. ….or, why not say it again, the “efforts” of tired and redundant blokes who ought to have retired long ago and give new blood a go.

    • Problem is Otto, there isn’t anyone. Though in saying that a whole new group of young Deputies joined the Board this week, so there is some hope. I think there are no lefties there either.

  7. Shirlee, as soon as pressed “send” on me last comment I realised precisely what you just said….

    Sad and one does not know where to start. I look at entire groups of wonderful kids leaving for Israel on one programme or another and hope that right there would be someone coming back and take forward your thoughts and mine……..