Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Man in Tel Aviv 2

I always thought an ambassador's role, at least in part, was to spin for his country, not the country to which he's been posted.

So how is the appearance in this weekend's Australian of the following blatant pro-Israel propaganda by Australia's new ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, to be explained?

"[I]n the town of Safed in the north of Israel, better known as one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, the frontline of the conflict in Syria feels very close. At Ziv Medical Centre, without fanfare or publicity,* they are treating a steady and growing stream of wounded Syrians from the conflict. About 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Centre since February. When I visited earlier this week, 15 hospital beds were being used to treat such victims, the youngest a girl of only 8.


"They have harrowing stories and horrific injuries. Suffering from shrapnel and bullet wounds, burns and crush injuries, they have somehow managed to limp to the border with Israel, from where they are then transferred to Ziv Medical Centre. On admission they are malnourished, fatigued and traumatised. Many have lost family members, but they are immensely relieved - if they had stayed in Syria, the extent of their injuries means most would have died or been permanently incapacitated. At Ziv Hospital they get all the best medical care on offer to any Israeli from surgeons and physicians who are the best in their field. On the day I visited, I saw how doctors had managed to save the leg of an 8-year old girl from amputation by use of some of the most advanced surgical techniques and injury treatment protocols. A 15-year old girl whose leg was amputated in Syria had been fitted with a prosthetic limb. Against the odds, the doctors at Ziv had managed to save her other leg. This girl was learning to walk again, taking her first steps.

"Arabic-speaking doctors, nurses and social workers are all available to communicate with the Syrian patients and help ease their anxieties. They are provided time and space to recover and rehabilitate and supplied with basic provisions, including clothes and toiletries donated by generous residents from Safed. The multi-ethnic staff at Ziv Hospital - drawn from the Jewish, Arab and Druze communities - reflect the diversity of Israel.* They do not stop to ask the patient's nationality or religion* as she is wheeled into theatre in a critical condition. They simply do their utmost to save life and treat injury.

[*Viva Israel's diversity - just so long as it has an overwhelming Jewish majority;**Unlike Israel's ruling ideology and apartheid laws which do.]

"Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges." (Origin no bar to Israel lifesavers, 31/8/13)

So let's get this straight: while Australia's ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, is "clearly and directly convey[ing] the Australian government's views on the human rights situation in Tibet,"* our ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, is not only not doing the same with regard to Israeli human rights abuses in occupied Palestine, but instead unashamedly propagandizing for Israel in the Murdoch press.

[*Australian ambassador pulls no punches on human rights concerns after rare visit, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/8/13.]

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