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Media Week - Delusional on Damascus; Major doubts; Holey claptrap

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Delusional on Damascus

Joseph Wakim revealed on ABC "Unleashed" (27/6) the true cause of internecine violence that has roiled Syria since February 2011 and blackened the good name of the Assad dictatorship:

There is nothing civil about the war in Syria - it is a proxy war to protect Israel from a nuclear Iran. This was confirmed when Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak declared that toppling Assad 'will be a major blow to the radical axis [Iran] ... It's the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world ... and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza'.

But this hardly amounts to a smoking gun for proving Israel is fomenting civil war in which more than 13,000 people have been killed; more a desperation to blame shift onto the usual scapegoat.

Major doubts

Ruth Pollard in the Age/Sydney Morning Herald (28/6) reported on allegations by a group of British lawyers that Israel breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its handling of West Bank Palestinian minors who allegedly stone throw.

Without noting the injuries rock throwing can elicit, Pollard wrote Israel is "again in the spotlight" on the issue. This is unsurprising given that the lawyers' allegations largely rehashed earlier claims from NGO "Defence for Children International - Palestine Section" (DCI-PS) that were based on anonymous testimonies.

According to NGO Monitor, DCI-PS supports and promotes "boycott campaigns against Israel", "supported the Goldstone Report" and published a list of "352 children who died during Operation Cast Lead but some of them have been identified by B'Tselem as combatants...continues to promote the libel of a ‘Jenin massacre' on its website" and "calls for Israel to recognise the ‘right of return' for Palestinians".

An SBS TV (27/6) report on the issue included what it said was "rare footage of a 14-year-old interrogated by Israeli officers". The youth is seen crying but if a translation had been included viewers would know his tears are not due to torture but because he feared missing some school exams.

In recent years, NGOs have condemned Palestinian armed groups for encouraging minors to perpetrate terrorist acts, while at the same time condemning Israel for jailing the same minors engaged in such activity.

Holey claptrap

Guardian reporter Harriet Sherwood in the Age (29/6) covered the Palestinian Authority's push to have Bethlehem‘s Church of the Nativity included for emergency listing as a UNESCO world heritage site, despite UNESCO's own experts dismissing the petition.

Sherwood noted the reasons advanced for listing, including "the urgent need for renovation and restoration work to the church. Many of the roof timbers, last replaced more than 100 years ago, are rotting" but ignored how infighting by the three Christian denominations administering the church has prevented repairs proceeding.

The main cause for "the economic strangulation of once-thriving Bethlehem", Sherwood wrote, was the "eight-metre-high concrete separation wall...Israel began building 10 years". A security barrier that was necessitated by the wave of violent terrorist attacks coming from the West Bank that Israel suffered during the Second Intifada.

- Allon Lee

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