"Israel has foreshadowed a dramatic overhaul of its military justice system in the occupied West Bank, following several years of international criticism of its treatment of Palestinian children." (Israel in U-turn on child justice, John Lyons, The Australian, 8/2/14)
Yeah, adult prisons; cages out in the snow; solitary confinement; 'A lawyer? You must be joking'; and 'If you don't cooperate, we're gonna hurt you and/or your daddy real bad, terrorist spawn' - definitely not a good look for Godzone.
Still, a nip here and a tuck there, and hey, no more bad PR (at least on that front).
But check this out:
"The announcement of the need to change has come during a joint investigation of the system by The Weekend Australian and the ABC's Four Corners to be broadcast on Monday night."
That's right, folks, the ferociously Zioconservative, BDS-bashing, ABC-hating Murdoch press in bed with one of the many objects of its fear and loathing! What gives? Is Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan losing his grip?
Something to do with The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons it seems. Maybe he's just big on fatherhood. (For the investigation's genesis see my 18/4/13 post The UN Goes to Water.)
For the time being I'll confine my comments to Lyons' accompanying feature, Palestinian children pawns in an unjust system, in The Weekend Australian.
As you'll appreciate, not many features on the subject of Israel begin thus in Murdoch's Australian flagship:
"Sitting in the heavily fortified headquarters of the Israeli army in Tel Aviv a few months ago, we were surrounded by some of the world's most advanced military technology. Yet it was not the equipment of the most powerful military in the Middle East that went off but my early warning bulldust detector."
Now bulldust detectors are not what you'd normally expect a journalist who reports for Australia's equivalent of The Jerusalem Post, but we press on:
"The subject of discussion was the military's treatment of Palestinian children... It was all going well until one officer made an absurd comment. Every so often in journalism you hear something that makes you wonder about everything else that person has said."
Stone the crows, is this the very first time Lyons' bulldust detector has gone off in all those years of listening to and parroting Israeli officials? But I digress:
"My question had been simple: how many Palestinian children go through Israel's military court each year? 'Unfortunately our computer software cannot distinguish between children and adults,' the officer said. 'Maybe 200.' The answer was ridiculous: Israel's army and intelligence service know every kilometre of the West Bank. My assessment, based on reliable sources, is that Israel has as many as 20,000 paid Palestinian informants in the West Bank. Israel is also a leader in technology; the notion that its computers were unable to distinguished between detained minors and adults was absurd. I replied that UNICEF estimated it was about 700 children a year. 'That would be right,' he agreed instantly."
Lyons outlines UNICEF's findings on the matter before writing that:
"At the heart of the issue is that Israel enforces two legal systems in the West Bank, one for Jews and one for Palestinians... Palestinian children appear before the military court, while Jewish children face a civil court with full legal protection."
Yes, it's called apartheid, John.* And here's where my own bulldust detector began humming a merry tune:
"Typically, a Palestinian child is taken by the army in the middle of the night and blindfolded, handcuffed and transported to an unknown location. Unlike Jewish children, they are not allowed to have a parent or a lawyer present; often their parents do not know their whereabouts for weeks. Palestinian children from the age of 12 are often sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment while a Jewish child cannot go to prison until 14 and jail for them is rare."
Jewish children? What Jewish children? Find me one - just ONE - instance of any of those settler darlings EVER ending up in an Israeli court!
Still, credit where credit's due. I guarantee that there are more instances of the 'O' word in the following Lyons' paragraph than in all editions of The Australian stretching back decades:
"While Israel is under pressure over the issue, at its heart is the occupation. When it began occupying the West Bank, there were about a million Palestinians there. Now there are 2.5 million. Central to the conflict is that the Palestinians wake up each day under an occupation they do not want."
That has to be worth something.
[*The 'A' word actually appeared in a Lyons' headline back in 2012, occasioning much wailing and gnashing of teeth at The Australian. For which, see my posts Consensus at Last (7/5/12) and Down the Memory Hole (10/5/12).]