Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Haunted Woods of John Howard
By SONJA KARKAR
"There is something worrying about a prime minister of a liberal, democratic country who imposes values on his country's citizens and those who wish to become citizens, yet does not adhere to those values when he regards it politically expedient to ignore them. This is precisely what Prime Minister John Howard has done in accepting the "honour" of having a forest named after him in Israel's Negev Desert and also the Jerusalem Prize for his support of Israel and its "values". And John Howard is in good company: Sir Robert Menzies and Bob Hawke - both former Australian prime ministers - also have forests in Israel named after them, as well as a former governor-general, Sir Zelman Cowen.
The naming of the John Howard forest was arranged by a quasi-private land agency, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) which deliberately discriminates against non-Jews in its allocation of long-lease agreements. This arrangement services Israel's apartheid policies aimed at bringing about the Judaisation of all of the land originally known as historic Palestine. The Israeli government relies on the JNF and international Zionist organizations to bring in Jews from abroad to settle on land forcibly taken from the non-Jewish inhabitants--a practice which is discriminatory and illegal. Already the JNF holds 13 per cent of the land and now is currently advertising its "Blueprint Negev" as "A Miracle in the Desert". Only Jews will have access to the new development in keeping with the JNF's charter, which is focused on looking after Jews globally......
The similarity of conditions between the Bedouin Arabs and black South Africans during the Apartheid era is obvious. Like the white South Africans, Jewish Israelis seek to preserve their privileged position in Israel at all costs, tragically to the detriment of the non-Jewish citizens. All Israel's policies, therefore, are geared to ensure the exclusivity and security of the Jewish state. Thus, mass expulsions followed by home demolitions and razing of villages is a familiar story in Israel just as forced removal was the modus operandi in South Africa. Under Israel's former Prime Minister Sharon, a five-year plan was approved by the Israeli cabinet, to force the Bedouins living in the unrecognised villages to leave......"