Just under two years ago three friends, Tania Fenwick, Ben White and Virginia Snape all from Adelaide, South Australia, joined together to support Israel during Operation Pillar of Cloud. I wrote about it here Daphne Anson Blog.
From small beginnings in November 2012, their non denominational Facebook group ‘South Australians Supporting Israel’ has grown considerably to 407 members.
For those of you overseas Adelaide is a small, really pretty city with a population of an estimated 1.29 million. The Jewish community has dwindled to some 900 people.
It also has a very strong pro-Palestinian presence both in the City and the University, which plays host to rabid Israel haters a couple of times a year. Next week John Pilger is the speaker.
On Sunday August 24th 2014, on beautiful clear sunny winter’s day in Adelaide, they got together once more on the steps of Parliament House with a considerably larger group of people. To support Israel in the Gaza conflict, Operation Protective Edge.
There were round 85 people in attendance from various communities and mailing lists and that for such a small city is quite an achievement. A mixture of all faiths and nationalities, truly multicultural and all lovers and supporters of eretz Israel.
The three main speakers were Ben White, Tania Fenwick, Daniel Ellis and Rabbi Yossi Engel, with other excellent impromptu speakers from the crowd.
Ben spoke with emotion saying that Israel wants peace above all and that the hate must end for the conflict to end.
He told me that he was very surprised by the sheer turn out of people
“I have seen a few protest rallies there over the years that would have been happy with half the numbers that we had there today. It is awesome to see that so many people are willing to stand up for Israel!
It was a huge day, we had way more people turn up than what we expected and we received a massive amount of vocal support from members of the public, several of whom joined in with us. Thank you to all involved!”
Tania opened by saying:
Thank you for being here today and standing with us in support of Israel and peace!
We won’t be singing from the River to the Sea and calling for destruction of the Palestinians, as we want peace for the Palestinians.
We are not here as an anti-group as we are pro – pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-Jew, pro-Arab and pro-peace.
We are here though to debunk some myths and current outright lies aimed at demonising Israel. One thing we are anti and that is terrorism and we are anti-Hamas.
We are here to show historical facts, not baseless propaganda, chronologically accurate data and reasons why the current war began and our hope for a resolution.
In her speech Tania debunked some myths and showed the differences between Hamas and Israel, their goals and their ideologies. She quoted Col Richard Kemp, a retired British Army officer who served from 1977 to 2006 when he made the distinction: Israel is a liberal western democracy and Hamas is a violent, vicious, terrorist organisation. Her entire excellent speech is at the end.
She said :
“There were a couple of stirrers but most people passing by were happy to take flyers and many, including people in cars showed their support.
We have some anonymous supporters who helped fund the signs and flyers and we are most grateful for their contribution. Also for Shirlee Finn who helped connect different groups and is a great motivator.
We also helped to promote the Israeli Film Festival which was starting the week after the rally.”
Rabbi Yossi Engel made sense of the situation and gave some stirring statements. He also reminded everyone that spotlighting absurdities in society is the first step in removing them. If we truly stand firm in our commitment to peace and justice, we must be prepared to stand up to blatant evil – wherever it may exist.
“Civilized men and women around the world stand firm against the ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads,
‘There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!’ [G-d forbid.]
Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold people in Gaza hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.
Some argue that Hamas should be respected as the democratically-elected government of Gaza.”
Have you read about what Hamas did to 22 Gazans this past Friday and Saturday alone? They shot them dead, accusing them of being collaborators with Israel. No trial, no court of justice, just summarily executed by Hamas, in the tradition of ISIS and the world’s ‘finest’ despots and terrorists. Last month they did the same to 30 other accused “collaborators”. Who knows how many countless more they executed without any due process, which wasn’t reported in the media?…
And we will never know if, in fact, they collaborated with Israel. You see, Hamas gets rid of political opponents, and covers up those murders with vicious lies. They recently shot missiles at Israel from a building, knowing Israel will retaliate – which Israel did. But guess who they locked in the building? Political dissenters against Hamas. So, Hamas gets rid of people without ever having to answer to anyone. Instead, they get Israel blamed for… THEIR Atrocities!
He went on to say:
“And there’s another major group being viciously targeted by Islamists: Christians in African and Arab lands. Now Jews are not committing the atrocities so the media sees no reason to dwell on it… But decent men and women around the world must stand up against the “ideologies” of hatred and genocide, reflected in ISIS horrific atrocities activities against Christians in Iraq, but also in Islamists brutal murders of Christians in many other countries. This year alone, no less than 89 separate massacres were perpetrated by Islamists against the local Christian population – some in which a few were killed, others where as many as 1,000 innocent civilians were butchered in cold blood!
I ask you, Ladies and gentlemen: Is the blood of these Christians less precious than mine and yours? Every human being is created by G-d in His likeness and Divine image. Any person with even minimal care for their fellow man, must cry out against these vicious atrocities! “
I especially like this:
Israel is a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. It is the only democratic country amongst a quagmire of autocratic – and often despotic – countries of the Middle East.
In summary Tania said:
Overall it was a “pro” rally – pro-Israel and pro-peace.
We made some great connections and it was fantastic to see all the cheerful supportive faces and the Aussie flags flying with the Israeli ones.
Tania’s speech: – shortened very slightly by me.
I have been involved for a few years now debating (for want of a better word) mostly on Facebook and News agency sites.
I have seen I think all the arguments now and what I have found is that pro-Israel side is quite open to the suggestion that Israel is not perfect and that there is room for change.
The anti-Israel side excuses any action by the Palestinians and blames Israel – for everything.
The present war – the anti-crowd believe Israel started it, despite the fact that hundreds of rockets were being sent from Gaza to Israel. And this was before Israel responded.
They rely on conspiracy theories instead of facts.
They ignore the thousands of rockets in total and the presence of underground tunnels.
Why did Hamas store thousands of rockets? They weren’t as a means of preventing a war, but there as a means of starting and continuing a war.
The tunnels were not for goods, the tunnels were for terror!
Over the last few days, Hamas again broke a ceasefire and hundreds of rockets have again been sent from Gaza to Israel.
More than 100 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel yesterday from Gaza and two katyusha rockets from Lebanon.
I won’t discuss all of the arguments, we would be here all day – but the other side will argue from Israel having no right to be there at all, all of Israel are “white settlers who have no rights” to conspiracies such as Mossad were responsible for 911, even that the recent beheading of the reporter, ISIS, Syria and Boko Haram are in reality “zionists!”
I kid you not, you would be horrified what the anti group actually believe and promote.
We have some information sheets which may help if you are having to deal with anti-crowd and for people who really have only heard that crowd and would like to know more.
The anti crowd will also say that Israel is a country which takes away the freedoms of the Arabs living in Israel but they ignore the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle which provides:
Freedom for minorities
They ignore founding documents such as –
The 1948 Israeli Declaration of Statehood, which reads:
“It [the State of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”