My 19 June post - Australia Post Issues Israeli Propaganda Stamps - seems to have gained some media attention since being posted on the Australians For Palestine (AFP) website. As a result, a News.com.au journalist, Daniel Piotrowski, has written a report, Australia Post 60c stamp accused of being 'disgraceful' attack on racial group. Unfortunately it contains several errors and other problems:
1) The headline is quite misleading. More accurate renderings would have been: AP stamp accused of insulting Palestinians/ appropriating Palestinian history/ appropriating Palestinian-Australian history.
2) Piotrowski incorrectly attributed this blog to the AFP's Sonja Karkar. A simple read of the post on the AFP website would've cleared the matter up had he bothered to access it.
3) If this isn't a sentence on the run, I don't know what is: "The stamps feature World War I near the town of Beersheba where Australians fought the Turkish."
4) Piotrowski concludes: "An Australia Post spokeswoman said it received its information from sources including the Australian War Memorial. And the facts were fact-checked by war historian Peter Stanley."
Yes, Beersheba, in 1917 an Arab town in Ottoman Turkish Palestine, fell to Australian troops after a famous mounted charge.
This fact, however, has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the creation of Israel decades later in 1948 as Mr Stanley would be the first to confirm.
If the stamp had been a purely Australian issue, no one could possibly have objected. But it wasn't. It was a joint issue with a country that simply did not exist in 1917, which raises the question of why it was issued if not to suggest that Australian troops somehow had a role in the creation of Israel. This view is corroborated on the card which accompanied the stamp, the text of which Piotrowski could have read in my post: "... a chain of events which eventually culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948."
This last is not an historically neutral statement. For it to have been so, it would have to have been written as follows: '... a chain of events which eventually culminated in the the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the ethnic cleansing and exile of the Palestinian people.'
The simple fact of the matter is that Australian troops did what they did for king and country, most emphatically not for a future Jewish state of which they could not possibly have been aware and quite possibly not have approved.
Australia Post owes the Australian public a full and frank explanation of how these two stamps (yes, there's a second $2.60 international version which should go down a treat in the Arab/Muslim world especially) came into being and why.