For those who celebrate the Western/ Anglican calendar, a very happy 2016 and we hope that for you personally, for your communities, for the Jewish people and for Israel that this year brings only good things and peace.
This particular newsletter/ blog is quite long, but I felt that it was worth sending and letting people decide if they wanted to read, but I feel that it is important to do so.
This year started off with a two interesting incidents in New Zealand, the first was a grotesque piece of misinformation and deliberate lies put out by an unidentified person or organisation in the form of a billboard overlooking the Southern Motorway by Ellerslie train station. Due to the great work of a few individuals, the billboard was taken down on the very day it went up as it contravened several of the Advertising Standards Association’s codes and regulations (see http://shalom.kiwi/2015/12/ellerslie-advertisement-an-old-lie/ and http://shalom.kiwi/2016/01/update-the-lie-was-up-for-one-day/ for more information)
The second refers to a post on the Kia Ora Gaza (KOG) Facebook page. The original post questioned the motives of KOG, to which they duly replied. Reproduced below is a copy of the original post, the KOG response and our breakdown of thier response which was done in conjunction with one of the editors at shalom.kiwi. The full post can be found at https://www.facebook.com/KiaOraGaza/posts/979614545418175.
Finally, Kol HaKavod to Heather Briarwood
to Kia Ora Gaza
January 7 at 1:02pm ·
I am someone who hopes that Palestinians will one day be able to live in peace, coexisting side by side with their Jewish/Israeli neighbours. I'm sure that people here who claim to be humanitarians would wish the same and that there would be an end to bloodshed on all sides.
I was wondering what Kia Ora Gaza (and Roger Fowler's) opinion is on Hamas and the Palestinian authority. There is a lot of blame being pointed at Israel. Some of it might be fair, but I see a lot of lies and misinformation as well. For example, at least one article here trying to tell everyone that Israel has a ban on Muslims, which is an outright lie and we all know that. Israel is full of Muslim citizens who can vote, have seats in parliament, work in any job including being a judge for the supreme court, and they can get an education wherever they like.
While I see misleading an inflammatory articles like this here (which by the way does nothing to help the Palestinians, but just pours more fuel on the hatred that is burning any chances of peace, and therefore HARMS the Palestinians), I am yet to see any remarks about the oppressors AMONG the palestinians. Hamas rules its people with apartheid laws. It oppresses its own people, intimidates them, executes them without trial for "sins" such as homosexuality, and throws political opponents of rooftops. The official charter that Hamas operates by has a very explicit clause demanding the genocidal eradication of all Jews from Earth. Do Kia Ora Gaza, Roger Fowler and the others on this page truly support this ideology of genocide? Do you believe that peace can be achieved when this is a top priority of Hamas? Yes, Israel has done bad things, but is seeking genocide against all the world's Jews a legitimate response? I am only trying to show how it is not as simple as Israel being pure evil and the Palestinian side being pure good.
Palestinians feel frightened to share their true stories with the world because they know they are putting themselves and their families at risk of being killed by Hamas if they say anything against them. I know this because I have heard some Palestinian speakers who came to New Zealand to expose this. Funnily enough, as much as Kia ora Gaza claims to love Palestinians, they never actually wanted to hear from these particular ones, but only the ones who share stories that paint Israel as an evil villain and the Palestinian side as purely innocent with no wrong doing.
Why is that? Again, I am for Palestinians finding peace, but I don't see that motive here on this page when all I see is hatred being spouted with no actual direction towards finding peaceful solutions.
Both sides have problems and both sides need to make big changes to the way they think and act. It is unrealistic and even childish to believe that one side is pure evil and the other is pure good.
Does KoG support Hamas? Can we please get KoG's opinion on Hamas? Most of the world has a consensus that Hamas is a Jihadist terrorist organisation which oppresses its own people and stands as a great obstacle in the path of Israel and Palestinians ever being able to come together and bury the hatchet so that everyone can live in peace.
I'm thinking back to the "Freedom Flotilla" that Ruwani Perera was on, sponsored by KoG with donations taken from Kiwis who thought their money was going to a charity (which KoG is not) and directly help Palestinians. The fuel and the ships cost a lot of money which these donations provided, but when they were searched, the only "aid" that could be found across all of the ships was one solar panel and one nebuliser.
Was this flotilla that KoG sponsored with donations from Kiwis an attempt to help the Palestinians, or was it just another front to get media attention and to pour more fuel on the very hatred that is causing war and violence instead of discussion and peace?
I believe, and I know many others do as well, that if it was in the interests of those on the flotilla to send as much aid as possible, they would have spent all the donations on sending thousands of solar panels and Nebulisers into Gaza via the Israeli or Egyptian crossings, instead of wasting almost all of the money on ships and fuel and media fanfare.
Hundreds of trucks full of aid travel into Gaza from Israel each day. Most of this aid is provided by Israel, but a lot comes from other groups like the Red Cross. It would have been cheaper, easier, and LEGAL for groups like KoG to send aid this way, rather than trying to illegally breach a blockade and give aid directly to terrorists (aka Hamas). The legal option would have helped the Palestinians immensely, while the option of the flotilla did not, and only helped groups like Kia Ora Gaza get some time in the spotlight.
I would like to know KoG's stance on Hamas, and I know many others would also like to know.
I hope I will not get banned for asking KoG these questions. I want to stress again that I stand for Palestinians and their neighbours coexisting peacefully. It would be sad and very concerning if I was gagged and banned from this page for expressing my views just because they differ from KoG's, and I would have to say that it would remind me of those poor Palestinians that were thrown off rooftops for having different views from Hamas.
I look forward to an intelligent response from Kia Ora Gaza, and/or Roger Fowler.
The response from Kia Ora Gaza (as is posted on their Facebook page. Apologies for the lack of paragraph spacing, apparently this basic form of grammar is beyond them!)
Kia Ora Gaza Thanks for your comments Heather. We share your hope that 'Palestinians will one day be able to live in peace, coexisting side by side with their Jewish/Israeli neighbours.' However Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine made that desire impossible. People of the three great Abrahamic faiths have co-existed as good neighbours in Palestine for thousands of years. When Israel's occupation, killings & siege ends, there is no reason this history of coexistence can't prevail once again. Fanatical adherents of the Zionist ideology have inflicted a reign of terror on the region enforcing a cruel racist regime since ousting British rule in 1948 and forcing the Palestinian population into mass exile. 7 million remain refugees camped around the region today. In recent times Israeli forces have set up countless military check-points and built hundreds of miles of high concrete walls to isolate Palestinians from Israelis and each other. Defying repeated UN condemnations they have forced vast settlements across historic Palestinian lands - demolishing homes & farms in the way. Periodic bombing raids have slaughtered thousands of the largely defenseless residents of Gaza - 0ver 2100 were killed in the 50 day attacks in 2014 alone. Gaza has no army, no navy & no airforce - their sole airport was bombed to rubble by Israel years ago. The tight Israeli/Egyptian siege & naval blockade on Gaza (pop: 1.8 million) has rendered the tiny enclave an impoverished 'open air prison'. The US props up the Israeli occupation with over US$3 billion of mainly military aid each year, to retain a foothold in the oil-rich region. This is not a good recipe for peaceful co-existence - and has a devastating and pivotal impact on the whole region: 'Until there is peace & justice in Palestine there can be no peace in the Middle East - and until there is peace in the Middle East, there can be no peace in the world.' That's why its imperative we all seek to end this intolerable occupation - even us here in NZ. Regarding your other queries - Kia Ora Gaza is a registered charity that has sent thousand of donated dollars on mainly medical & education & relief aid projects in Gaza, including participating in humanitarian aid convoys which are also real expressions of solidarity. The main purpose of the international freedom flotillas is to highlight & challenge the illegal naval blockade on Gaza - aid was never the primary purpose of the flotillas - which have been repeatedly attacked and hijacked by Israeli forces in international waters. Offering aid without trying to change the situation is pointless. Kia Ora Gaza is neither for nor against the Hamas authorities in Gaza. Our support is for the people bravely withstanding the Israeli occupation, siege, walls and bombings.
Our breakdown of the KOG response
Thanks for your comments Heather. We share your hope that 'Palestinians will one day be able to live in peace, coexisting side by side with their Jewish/Israeli neighbours.'
A good start
However Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine made that desire impossible.
Putting blame for the situation on one side already. The word “brutal” is debatable. Palestinians, under Israeli occupation reached the highest levels of health and prosperity than under Jordanian or Egyptian occupation (http://fathomjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Has-Israel-damaged-Palestinian-health.pdf). Further, there is no clarity around what “occupation of Palestine” means; does KOG think the so-called “1967 borders” are the solution or do they want to see the only Jewish state in the world become another Islamic nation?
Also, what exactly is impossible, it is peace? A two state solution? Co-existing side-by-side? What does KOG want to see if it believes peace as described by Heather is impossible?
People of the three great Abrahamic faiths have co-existed as good neighbours in Palestine for thousands of years.
This is misleading. First, Islam only came to be 1,400 years ago so “thousands” is incorrect. If we allow this poetic license then we must also allow the poetic license that “co-exist as good neighbours” means that dhimmitude is something that KOG endorses. Jews have never been seen as equals in Muslims states and have always been persecuted (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MFtreatment.html#n3), just like Christians are today (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29899571). In fact, Jews are not allowed to buy land controlled by the Palestinian Authority today (http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Left-wing-Israeli-says-he-helps-kill-Palestinians-who-sell-land-to-Jews-440940).
When Israel's occupation, killings & siege ends, there is no reason this history of coexistence can't prevail once again.
The “coexistence” that KOG is advocating for (http://www.dhimmitude.org/) leaves out a massive amount of context and is once again misleading. The “killings” are presumably the response of Israel to Palestinians terrorism – just like Parisian police killed the terrorists and other countries would not stand for the targeting of civilians. The words “siege” is inflammatory. There is no area that Israel is besieging. If any were to come close it would be Gaza, where this week alone there were 1,689 people moving across the border and 32,740 tonnes of goods (http://www.cogat.idf.il/Sip_Storage/FILES/7/4477.pdf).
What does KOG feel about the “killings and the siege” that both the PA and especially Hamas inflict on their own people? Are KOG referring to both the West Bank and Gaza, as Gaza is completely ruled by Hamas and not the Israelis and ruled with an iron fist?
Fanatical adherents of the Zionist ideology have inflicted a reign of terror on the region enforcing a cruel racist regime since ousting British rule in 1948 and forcing the Palestinian population into mass exile.
What inflammatory and unfounded language. Zionism is the belief that Jews should have self-determination in their historic homeland. There is nothing “cruel” or “racist” about that, just as there is nothing cruel or racist about Maori seeking tino raratingatanga. The mass exile of 1948 was two-ways; Arabs left Israel as the surrounding nations promised a return once the Jews were exterminated and the Jews were forced from Arab lands to find refuge in Israel (http://www.meforum.org/263/why-jews-fled-the-arab-countries). Similar mass migration, only on a larger scale, occurred at the same time between India and Pakistan (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417575/why-pakistan-more-legitimate-israel-dennis-prager).
The word Zion is also an ancient term to describe the area of Jerusalem, which has been used by Jews for over a millennia in prayer and in ancient scriptures, showing our long connection to the land.
7 million remain refugees camped around the region today.
It is worth considering why the Arab states who have “Palestinians” do not make them citizens and why those who are citizens are still counted as refugees by UNRWA. This special treatment of “Palestinian” refugees is different to all other refugee groups and perpetuates the problem (http://fathomjournal.org/unrwa-an-obstacle-to-peace/).
In recent times Israeli forces have set up countless military check-points and built hundreds of miles of high concrete walls to isolate Palestinians from Israelis and each other.
This is partly true. The fence was built to stop Palestinian terrorism following a spate of suicide terrorist attacks which killed and maimed 100s of men, women and children, and the checkpoints are in place for the same reason. However, there is only 10 miles of concrete wall
(http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/fence.html). The rest is simple chain link fencing. Egypt has also built a fence to protect itself from the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/189716#.VpHf__FhPoU) and, unlike Israel, they do not allow so many people or goods to cross. There are also fences between other countries to protect civilians (http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/01/daily-chart-5).
Defying repeated UN condemnations they have forced vast settlements across historic Palestinian lands - demolishing homes & farms in the way.
The settlements have not increased in land area over the past 15 years and they make up 2% of the West Bank land (http://www.aijac.org.au/news/article/factsheet-myths-and-facts-about-the-growth-of-is). Further, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, forcing all settlers out of their homes in 2005 in hopes of peace, as they also did in Egypt – they have shown that such settlements are not a barrier to peace at all (http://www.cija.ca/resource/milestones-in-the-quest-for-peace/2005-israeli-withdrawal-from-gaza/).
Periodic bombing raids have slaughtered thousands of the largely defenceless residents of Gaza - 0ver 2100 were killed in the 50 day attacks in 2014 alone.
The “bombing raids” occur in response to rocket attacks from Gaza and tunnel infiltration (http://unitedwithisrael.org/new-terror-tunnels-and-rocket-attacks-prompt-gaza-border-closings/). The defensive attacks of Israel are also preceded by warnings to protect civilians and have been aborted to save civilian life (http://www.high-level-military-group.org/pdf/hlmg-assessment-2014-gaza-conflict.pdf). Once again, KOG does not mention Hamas and confuses retaliation for aggression. No other country in the world would accept the same level of bombings and not feel well within their right to respond to those who are attacking it.
Gaza has no army, no navy & no air force - their sole airport was bombed to rubble by Israel years ago.
This is not entirely true. Hamas rule the Gaza strip and have an armed wing (an army) of 15,000-20,000 men (http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/07/hamas-terror-organization-recruit-army-gaza-is-idf-tunnels.html). It is true that they have no navy and no air force. If they had then many more civilians would be killed, especially on the Israeli side – perhaps this is what KOG would like?
The tight Israeli/Egyptian siege & naval blockade on Gaza (pop: 1.8 million) has rendered the tiny enclave an impoverished 'open air prison'.
As above, the word “siege” is inappropriately used here to distort the truth and appeal to emotion rather than fact. While there is certainly need for rebuilding and aid, there is also a luxurious side to Gaza that KOG would rather ignore (http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3308/gaza-millionaires and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnBVFv7voK8). If Gaza were “impoverished”, they wouldn’t have one of the highest rates of obesity in the world (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=238_1406451164). In addition, if Hamas has spent the money it received in international donations on building its economic infrastructure, transport and housing instead of spending it on weapons and tunnels into Israel, the population of Gaza would be in far better off financial rather than those few in privileged who have benefitted immensely.
The US props up the Israeli occupation with over US$3 billion of mainly military aid each year, to retain a foothold in the oil-rich region.
The US realises that without military aid, Israel would be wiped off the map by the Islamists who surround them. The US also provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians (http://israelipalestinian.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000592). The Palestinians receive more aid per capita than any other group on earth (http://besacenter.org/uncategorized/aid-palestinians-case-flagrant-discrimination/). Sadly, most of it is stolen or used for terror campaigns (http://www.thetower.org/article/terrorists-kleptocrats-how-corruption-is-eating-the-palestinians-alive/).
This is not a good recipe for peaceful co-existence - and has a devastating and pivotal impact on the whole region: 'Until there is peace & justice in Palestine there can be no peace in the Middle East - and until there is peace in the Middle East, there can be no peace in the world.'
This is a nice sounding quote but it may not hold completely true. The unrest in Syria and Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people are being killed (or worse) has nothing to do with Israel or the Palestinians. Assad can stop killing civilians and Islamic State can stop selling sex slaves without peace for Israel. Nevertheless, we all want there to be peace. The point is that it takes two to tango and KOG seems to ignore the Palestinian contribution to failed peace initiatives (http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-admits-he-rejected-2008-peace-offer-from-olmert/, http://www.thetower.org/2316-palestinians-reject-netanyahu-offer-to-restart-peace-negotiations/, and http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=7&x_issue=83&x_article=2116).
That's why it’s imperative we all seek to end this intolerable occupation - even us here in NZ.
Everyone wants there to be peace but, as above, it takes two to tango. Israel needs to ensure the safety of their civilians before withdrawing from the West Bank so they don’t repeat the mistake of Gaza. Golda Meir , former Israel PM, said “peace will come with the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us” (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Golda_Meir). Perhaps this is true of KOG also – peace will come when KOG love all people more than they hate Jews.
Regarding your other queries - Kia Ora Gaza is a registered charity that has sent thousand of donated dollars on mainly medical & education & relief aid projects in Gaza, including participating in humanitarian aid convoys which are also real expressions of solidarity.
There is no record of KOG being a registered charity, according to the charities office. This needs some more explanation from KOG. Can they also enlighten us more on the “thousand of donated dollars on mainly medical & education & relief aid projects in Gaza”
The main purpose of the international freedom flotillas is to highlight & challenge the illegal naval blockade on Gaza - aid was never the primary purpose of the flotillas - which have been repeatedly attacked and hijacked by Israeli forces in international waters.
The blockade is legal, according to the UN (http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/middle_east/Gaza_Flotilla_Panel_Report.pdf). It is illegal, under international law, to allow anything through the blockade (https://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/7694fe2016f347e1c125641f002d49ce). If aid is truly what KOG wants to provide then why not do it through Israel, like so much other aid (http://www.cogat.idf.il/)? The Palmer report also showed that Israel did not attack the flotilla without provocation (http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/middle_east/Gaza_Flotilla_Panel_Report.pdf).
Offering aid without trying to change the situation is pointless. Kia Ora Gaza is neither for nor against the Hamas authorities in Gaza. Our support is for the people bravely withstanding the Israeli occupation, siege, walls and bombings.
Such ambivalence about a terror organisation speaks volumes. Not being for or against a group who are committed to killing Jews (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp), who kill dissidents (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/collaborators.html), kill children to make terror tunnels (http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/180400/hamas-killed-160-palestinian-children-to-build-terror-tunnels), uses civilians as human shields (http://www.thetower.org/1067oc-hamas-admits-to-using-civilians-as-human-shields/), and certainly committed war crimes (http://www.standwithus.com/flyers/pdfs/HamasWarCrimes.pdf and http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4706/gazan-hamas-war-crimes) shows exactly how much KOG is a hate group!
KOG have delusions that defy fact! They distort the truth to mislead and demonise Israel.
Unfortunately Kia Ora Gaza, as we know, are not alone on their one-sided and anti-Israel views. Nor do they or others truly wish for dialogue or a peaceful solution which includes the State of Israel as a Jewish State. The ZFNZ will continue to work with others to bring about dialogue and challenge these groups where we can by advocating on behalf of Klal Yisrael.
President of the ZFNZ