Israel’s ongoing challenges in a fraught region

Israel’s ongoing challenges in a fraught region

I expect our readers will all be looking forward to moving to lock-down level 2 and hopefully returning to some sort of normalcy. Many of you may have noticed that fellow director Dr David Cumin has not written for some time. That is due to a wonderful new addition to his family, which occurred early under lock-down and made national news. Congratulations David and Dana on the birth of your daughter!

As Israel has just celebrated its 72nd birthday, it is timely to remember the role that New Zealand’s Labour Prime Minister, Peter Fraser  played in supporting the establishment of the state. In fact he was so enthusiastic, he was labelled an ‘exuberant Zionist’.

With the world in the midst of a global pandemic, there has been a vast amount of information to process and digest, from the latest health data, to the latest conspiracy theory.  In these days, it’s more important than ever to be discerning in the sources we listen to. It’s a concern that the WHO, which is looked to as a health authority, appears to be politicising the data, in the way it is collating information regarding Israel and the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately UN bias against Israel is well known and ultimately detrimental to the Palestinians as well as to Israel.

It is encouraging to see Arab states, UAE, Bahrain, and more recently Kuwait, actively engaged in cooperation with Israel’s health system in the battle against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues to censure those who seek to normalise relations with Israel. On April 6, 2020 Hamas arrested peace activist Rami Aman for the crime of discussing life in the Gaza Strip, amid the Covid-19 threat, in a Zoom conference call with Israelis. Aman has not been heard from since.

Any attempt to improve relations with Israel comes under attack by strident anti-Israel activists. For example, a major Saudi TV network, MBC, produced two dramas which appeared to normalise Israel as a state. This, in the minds of Palestinian activists, amounted to treachery. Predictably, they are calling for a boycott of the programmes.

Unfortunately, until the Palestinians come to terms with the existence of the state of Israel, skirmishes large and small will continue. Faced with the challenge of changing a culture that glorifies martyrdom, Israel ordered the closing of bank accounts held by terrorists imprisoned in Israel and those of their families. These accounts are replenished by the PA who financially rewards terrorists and their families. Predictably, Palestinians reacted furiously with a series of violent incidents.

On a more positive note, it was pleasing to see Germany take a stand against terrorism by outlawing Hezbollah — the whole organization, not only its military arm — as a terrorist entity. Sadly, New Zealand still chooses to see the military and political arms of Hezbollah as distinct, even though the organisation itself declares its unity. In fact the Lebanese themselves are rising up in protest against Hezbollah, taking to the streets in violence in the past week. Given that Hezbollah is dedicated to the destruction of Israel we are urging the government to follow the examples of Germany, the UK and many others, to proscribe Hezbollah in its entirety. We also urge you to contact your local MP and make your views known.