How lucky we are to have an account of the Palestinian leg of the KRRS from the Australian Jewish News' Naomi Levin, because the rest of the media pack showed no such interest. As you'd expect, Levin colourfully depicts an Australian delegation that aggressively engages with its Palestinian interlocutors from an Israeli perspective. (NB: Additional details provided by my fly-on-the-wall):
Led by Albert Dadon, property developer and chair of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum (without whom the entire show could never have been staged), and Labor senator Kim Carr, with "senior (of course!) journalists" in tow, the Aussies bore down on the Palestinians like wolves on the fold:
"Sirens wail and blue-and-red lights blink incessantly as a convoy of armoured, five-and-a-half tonne Landcruisers storm through [Ramallah]. The 6 cars take up both sides of the road and go over, rather than around, roundabouts." (Journey to Ramallah, 24/12/10)
"Ramallah is less than half-an-hour drive from Jerusalem. For the convoy, it is a short trip. For others, it can be much longer as they await security checks by the fastidious young Israeli soldiers."
Trans: others=Palestinians; fastidious=fractious.
"Once through the checkpoint, the road snakes alongside the high concrete security wall* - built to prevent suicide bombers crossing into Israel and a huge success."
[* Wall, Naomi? Wall? How many times do we have to tell you, klutz: fence, FENCE, f-e-n-c-e.]
The Oi, Oi, Ois, of course, loved every metre of the grey beast, especially Labor MP Mike Kelly who had, in his former incarnation as a military lawyer, written a legal paper accusing the International Court of Justice, which had dared, in 2004, to rule the aforementioned fabulously successful structure illegal and call for its removal, of "damaging its credibility" (Critical Analysis of the ICJ Ruling on Israel's Security Barrier, Fordham International Law Journal, December 2005). 'It's still standing', he and Albert hummed cheekily as the convoy stormed by.
First stop was the Palestinian Legislative Council where our Aussie Heroes were greeted by four of that body's shiftiest Spawn of Satan. However, armed as they were with only the latest and most sophisticated of Israeli talking points, our boys were more than ready for anything these SoS had to dish out.
Senator Carr, who had already forgotten (if he'd noticed them at all) those "others" still being f****d around by the fastidious ones at the checkpoints they'd stormed past, wanted to know about "progress in the Palestinian territories."
One of the SoS present "described a very bleak scenario in the West Bank," a description, as Levin noted with a raised editorial eyebrow, "that appears to stand in contrast to the neat apartment blocks and full shops."
Yeah, but what about all the flash apartment blocks and full shops we stormed past, mate? shot back one of our True Blues, with a knowing smirk.
The "economic progress was in spite of Israeli barriers and obstacles," replied the SoS, as Albert, who just couldn't help himself, ejaculated, In spite of? Because of, more bloody likely!
Another of our Bronzed Aussies, thinking to sow confusion in the ranks of the SoS and so amuse his mates, wanted to know "whether the 2-state solution was becoming a 3-state solution because of Hamas's dominance in Gaza."
In response, one of the SoS foolishly attempted to crack a joke: "By the time the Israelis are ready to pull out and recognise an independent Palestinian state in pre-1967 borders, the Palestinian conflict will be resolved." (Well, he could hardly have said, By the time the Israelis are ready to pull out and recognise an independent Palestinian state, Hell will have frozen over, being a denizen of the place and all, now could he?) Anyway, it went down like the proverbial lead balloon, sending "small waves of disbelief around the table of Australians." The small waves of disbelief, reported my fly-on-the-wall, took the form of a chorus of soto voce OMGs.
"And what of Jerusalem? Why has the PA produced a research paper... claiming the Jewish people have no real connection to the Western Wall?" one of our Doughty Diggers chipped in, with a roguish wink to his mates.
Er, fact is, it just so happens to be "the Western Wall [of the] Aksa [sic: Aqsa] compound," which belongs to the "Muslim world," responded the one they later Christened, to everyone's merriment, Beelzebub.
Aksa-cuse me, roared our Lovable Larrikins, Wazzat? Bull-shit! ejaculated Albert.
And that was that.
The delegation then "zoomed up the road" to meet with Nabil Shaath, "former foreign minister of the PA and a long-time warhorse of the Palestinian cause."
Predictably, the old warhorse dared to voice "a simplistic [Good one, Naomi!] comparison between the Palestinians and black South Africans under apartheid."
Our Bra Boys were all, like, OMG! Did he really say that?
When Queensland Labor MP Bernie Ripoli, who'd never even heard of apartheid, asked him for "more concrete information on the comparison," the warhorse listed Jews-only roads, evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, and that rabbinical call for a ban on renting homes to Arabs, before explaining that, anyway, a South African delegation had preceded them and declared that the West Bank was deja vu all over again, only worse, so there.
Then the old bugger got real uppity: "We have complaints about your political position. It is too close to the Americans, particularly under the Bush administration*," he said, before compounding his impudence by calling on Australia to follow the lead of Brazil, Argentina and other banana republics in recognising a sovereign Palestinian state. [*PA to OZ: recognise Palestine, Naomi Levin, AJN, 24/12/10]
But that was it, the Likely Lads had had quite enough, thankyou, of his insolence. Kevvie, who had been absent from the earlier Terrorist tete a tete, suddenly manifested, proclaiming, Fair shake of the sauce bottle, mate. Get your cotton pickin' hands off my policy settings and listen to moi: the peace process is a "'step-by-step' prospect" and "Australia [is] not yet prepared to address Palestinian statehood."
Then it was on for young and old, with Liberal senator Scott Ryan wanting to know "why the Palestinian people use the local media to spread hate," and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Mike Kelly wanting the dirt on "the delegitimisation of Israel in the Palestinian media." Of course, they'd been unwittingly primed by the folk over at Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) who'd told them of "a song being broadcast on the official PA TV station calling for jihad against the Israeli 'oppressors'." Jeeehad! Albert had ejaculated, as Scott and Mike furiously scribbled in their notebooks. This information, need I remind you, had been carefully designed to hit home, a fact which the delegation was soon to find out.
Scott and Mike's questions about Palestinian hate speech and delegitimisation proved too much for the old Palestinian warhorse, who, on letting fly an obscene Arabic curse, ending in what sounded like... ya ibn sharmuta, clutched at his ailing ticker, and collapsed in a heap on the floor. Undeterred, but obviously quite pleased with their performance, the Aussie party purloined the Palestinian cutlery as souvenirs, and left, giving the body a wide berth.