“ONE of the most profound experiences of my life” is how Sky News political contributor Peta Credlin described being part of a Rambam study tour of Israel early last month, organised by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).
“I’d never been to Israel before, and Jerusalem had me at hello – but there’s no doubt you could feel a sense of tension there,” Credlin said at an AIJAC luncheon in Sydney last Wednesday.
On just the third day of the tour, UNESCO passed a controversial resolution to refer to Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site.
“Israelis are very bruised by that,” said Credlin, who served as chief of staff to former prime minister Tony Abbott.
“One of the things I’m going to be writing about is the dereliction of international agencies and bodies – like the United Nations – and their lack of balance.
“And there’s no sense of balance in much of the media’s coverage, and this can’t continue, particularly when the ABC in Australia is getting a live feed from Al Jazeera.”
During a visit to Palestinian towns in the West Bank, Credlin recalled seeing “posters glorifying the latest martyr who committed terrorism against Israeli civilians”.
“This stuff is horrific, but you can’t explain that [to others], and fight it, unless you can say ‘I was there and I saw it’ – that tells me a lot more than reading a report could.
“I think you can only ever get peace if there are two parties to the deal, and I’m yet to be convinced the Palestinian Authority is all it says it is.”
Fellow participant James Morrow, the Daily Telegraph’s opinion editor, said he hadn’t realised “just how technologically advanced and savvy Israel has become”.
“When we landed [in Israel] there was huge excitement about Mobileye selling their technology to Intel for $15 billion – I think that positive side of Israel certainly hasn’t been told enough in the Australian press,” Morrow said.
On the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, he said “from seeing and hearing from people on the ground [in the West Bank], there was a sense that much of the immiseration of the Palestinians is the result of the failure of their leadership.”
Other participants of the July Rambam study tour of Israel included Nick Butterfly from the West Australian, the Courier Mail’s Kelvin Healey, The Age’s Nassim Khadem and Daniel Wills from the Adelaide Advertiser.