COMMUNAL leaders have condemned a diatribe by Adelaide media personality Peter Goers, demeaning Israel as “guns and Moses … one long persecution of Palestinians”.
In an attack in Adelaide’s Sunday Mail, the ABC Radio Adelaide 891 host claimed Israel “perfected apartheid”.
“Other people go on a holiday to sit on a beach. I go to Jerusalem where three people were shot by trigger-happy Israeli soldiers in the street while I was there, including one unarmed child who raised his arms and said ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is great. Israel’s God is greater. His people are armed.”
Goers claimed Israel neglects Australian war graves, while promoting ties between World War I Anzacs and the Jewish State.
“Modern Beersheva – with its 350,000 souls – is the ugliest place I’ve ever seen. I managed to hire the world’s worst tour guide/driver. At the cost of $750, he was boorish and inept.
“He used Google Maps to find the Park of the Australian Soldier – which was an ego trip funded by Visy Industries founder Richard Pratt … the toilets are broken and there’s trash around the plinth of an awful statue of a lighthorseman,” he claimed.
“The Israelis pay Australia a lot of lip service, yet much needs to be done to exhume battlefields from rubbish dumps for the centenary of [the Battle of] Beersheva next year,” he continued. “The Israelis couldn’t care less about Beersheva and, if you think that’s sad, try being a Palestinian and being a prisoner in your own land.”
However, asked about the preservation of Australia’s wartime heritage in Israel, Australian ambassador Dave Sharma told The AJN this week the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries (CWGC) at Mount Scopus, Beersheva, Gaza and Ramle “are all maintained in excellent -condition”.
“I have met with the CWGC staff … They are rightly proud of their role in preserving Australian heritage,” he said.
On next year’s Battle of Beersheva centenary, the envoy said Australia “is working closely with Israel” to ensure it will be commemorated “in a significant and dignified manner”, with key roles for PMs Malcolm Turnbull and Benjamin Netanyahu and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Sharma added, “We greatly appreciate the cooperation and assistance we receive from Israel’s government in preserving and promoting Australia’s wartime heritage in the Middle East – it is a productive and essential partnership.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim, who attended the 2008 dedication of the Park of the Australian Soldier, condemned Goers’ comments as “an ignorant, bigoted rant that denigrates Israel, and also unwittingly trashes Australia”.
Wertheim lamented Goers’ claim about an “unarmed Palestinian child”, in reality a knife-wielding youth, as “shockingly dishonest”.
Zionist Federation of Australia president Danny Lamm said: “Israelis have tremendous respect for Australian efforts in Beersheva and this is highlighted by their annual participation in a full military ceremony at the Commonwealth Cemetery, which also includes participation by hundreds of Australian youth.
“I have been to the park myself and found it to be in immaculate condition,” he said.
Describing the article as “shameful”, B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said it “does not belong in any mainstream newspaper”.
Noting that on Israel bashing, Goers had form, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said: “Surely it is time for ABC management to remind Goers that it is completely inappropriate for ABC comperes to publicly pledge their support, and campaign for one side on any issue of public controversy, much less repeatedly allow their campaigning to degenerate into slurs against whole groups.”