Morgan Poll: Government Out of Touch on Israel/Palestine

(Link to Friends of Bethlehem on Facebook)

Morgan Poll: Government Out of Touch on Israel/Palestine, APAN, 31 March 2017

A Roy Morgan Poll released this week revealed that the Australian public is much more sympathetic toward the Palestinians than the Turnbull government.

An overwhelming majority of survey participants expressed support for the recognition of Palestinian statehood: 73% (up from 62% in 2011), while a majority (55%) indicated that they regarded the Palestinians’ call for “a boycott of Israeli goods, services, companies and institutions profiting from the occupation of Palestine” as reasonable. Only 8% opposed recognition of Palestinian statehood, while 25% described the call for a boycott as unreasonable.

61% of those surveyed opposed the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and 53% said that they opposed the Turnbull government’s rejection of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed the UN’s opposition to settlements and called upon Israel to halt settlement activities in the Occupied Territories. Only 17% of those surveyed indicated support for Israeli settlements, while 29% supported the government’s rejection of UNSC Resolution 2334.

Despite extensive media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, only 44% of poll participants indicated that they knew either “a lot” or “a fair amount” about the issue.

“Australians might not feel particularly well-informed about the conflict but they’re not stupid,” noted Bishop George Browning, the President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network. “They understand that colonising someone else’s country is always wrong. They support the United Nations in its opposition to Israeli settlements. They also understand that recognising Palestinian statehood and boycotting institutions that profit from the Occupation are both reasonable and non-violent means of promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

Apart from Israel, Australia was the only country to reject UNSC Resolution 2334, which was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on 23 December 2016 (with the United States abstaining). The Turnbull government opposes recognising Palestinian statehood. The Greens support recognition. Labor has indicated that it might recognise Palestine if there is no progress in the peace process. Although individual parliamentarians have expressed support for a boycott of Israeli institutions profiting from the Occupation, no Australian political party supports a boycott.

“The poll indicates that the Australian public is way out in front of the major parties on the issue of Palestine,” noted Browning. “In this regard, politicians need to listen more to their constituents and less to Australia’s Israel lobby in formulating policy.”

34% of those surveyed expressed greater sympathy for the Palestinians, while 26% indicated greater sympathy for Israelis. Only those aged 65 years and older were more sympathetic towards Israelis (37%) than Palestinians (32%). Sympathy for the Palestinians was particularly strong among those with a tertiary education, standing at 41%, as opposed to 23% who indicated a greater sympathy for Israelis.

The poll was commissioned by the following Palestine advocacy organisations:

  • The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network
  • The Australian Friends of Palestine Association
  • Australians for Palestine
  • The Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine
  • Friends of Bethlehem.

View poll results here >


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Duchess of York Visits Bethlehem, Stresses Support to Palestinians

(Link to Friends of Bethlehem on Facebook)

Duchess of York Visits Bethlehem, Stresses Support to Palestinians
International Middle East Media Center
April 12, 2017 4:44 PM

Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, as a part of her charity and human rights work, visited Bethlehem on Tuesday, notably in the healthcare sector, where she met with Palestinian personalities and visited different sites.

Sarah Ferguson, from 2014 (Image Source)

The visit included a tour of the Nativity Church and the Old City district of Bethlehem, in addition to the wall that divides the Cremisan Valley.

Moreover, according to the PNN, the visit also included the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation where she met the medical crews, patients, and stressed she wanted to support the people and th e society build a heart hospital.

In an interview with PNN at BASR, the duchess said that her mission in Palestine is to support Palestinians and the people in the area to be able to build a hospital with the medical crews at BASR, where she praised the doctors and the nurses team, especially Dr. Edmund Shehadeh and Ramzi Khamis.

Duchess of York visits Bethlehem, stresses support to Palestinians, PNN, Published on Apr 12, 2017

For his part, General Director of BASR, Edmund Shehadeh said that the duchess’s visit to Palestine, and to Bethlehem in specific, carries many messages on many levels, especially the human and health sectors.

The Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun expressed her delight to meet the duchess, pointing out that she is carrying a humane message from Palestinians to the world, to highlight the reality in Bethlehem and Palestine.

Baboun also thanked the duchess for meeting Palestinian women who are well achieved and to honour their hard work.

Post script (by Stewart Mills)

Sarah Ferguson Twitter

Curiously Sarah Ferguson, on 12 April, tweeted :

“For Harry Sadler from the birthplace of #Jesus in #Bethlehem. RIP and with love for an exceptionally brave man @TeenageCancer #Israel”

Whilst this is a beautiful sign of respect and awareness raising for Harry Sadler and for Teenage Cancer, it would also help if Ms Ferguson included the hashtag #Palestine (as well as Israel, given Bethlehem is technically in Palestine i.e. beyond the 1967 Green Line).


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We say “No” to Netanyahu Visit to Sydney (Manning)


By Executive member Peter Manning

Ten members of Friends of Bethlehem’s membership turned out last Thursday evening to protest the presence of the Israeli Prime Minister’s presence in Sydney.

The banner flew high, held by President Peter Jennings and Treasurer Peter Manning, throughout the protest at Sydney Town Hall Square, attended by about 1,500 people. Many Palestinian flags fluttered in the breeze.

There were 10 speakers, most focussing on Benjamin Netanyahu’s record of being the “champion” of illegal settlement-building on Palestinian land throughout his period as Prime Minister. He was also condemned for his crimes in Gaza where the Israeli Defence Force killed more than 2,200 civilians in a month of bombing during the Operation Protective Edge attack.

His statements before the last Israeli election that there would never be a Palestinian state while he was Prime Minister was repeated and his racist election campaign demonising Arabs as a race was decried.

Speakers like Mona Abu Zalaf (chair), Randa Abdul-Fattah (novelist) and David Shoebridge MP (Greens, NSW) spoke with passion about Netanyahu’s drive to kill the two-state solution and make Israel a “Jewish” state (not secular).

After the speeches, the crowd marched down George and Pitt streets in Sydney’s central city to get as close as possible to the Hotel Continental where Netanyahu was staying and let him hear how un-welcome his visit was in Sydney.

Throughout, there was a high police presence with battle-dressed police, police horses and several police helicopters overhead.

Friends of Bethlehem members Ken and Sarah Enderby (see pic. above) took over the banner during the march. Members Marcia Corderoy, Carole Lawson, Peter Griffin, Melanie Morrison and others – all from the Marrickville-Leichhardt area – wore Palestinian scarves during the protest and march.

A large media contingent turned up and Friends of Bethlehem’s banner was photographed many times.


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Br Peter Bray speaks at Sydney on life in Bethlehem

(Link to Friends of Bethlehem on Facebook)

Br Peter Bray speaking at NSW Ecumenical Council
23 February 2017

On Thursday evening, whilst protests were held in the Sydney CBD to the visit of Prime Minister of Israel’s visit to Australia, another group met to hear Br Peter Bray speak on life in Bethlehem.

Brother Peter Bray, FSC, EdD is the 8th Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, the first university established in Palestine and the only Catholic university in the Holy Land.

Br Peter is a De La Salle Brother.  The De La Salle Brothers specifically are concerned with  meeting the educational and welfare needs of young people, especially the poor.

Brother Peter assumed leadership of Bethlehem University in February 2009 and brings more than 30 years of Catholic education experience as a teacher, consultant, administrator, and expert in leadership and educational systems.

A New Zealander by birth, Br Peter has spent the last x years in Bethlehem helping lead what some call an ‘oasis of peace’ for a community living under the military control of Israel.

The event was organised by the Palestine Israel Network and hosted by the NSW Ecumenical Council.

For further information

Greetings from this holy city of Jerusalem at Easter!, 26 March 2016

Greetings from Bethlehem at Easter, 6 April 2015

Br Peter Bray – Bethlehem University: A beacon of hope, 16 March 2014

ABC Local, ‘The Interview: Peter Bray, Vice-Chancellor of Bethlehem University’, Sunday Nights, 11 August 2013

Easter message from Bethlehem 2012

Bethlehem University head meets Marrickville supporters, July 2012

Peter Kirkwood, ‘Good news from Palestine‘, Eureka Street, 19 May 2011

Jewish Voices for Peace, ‘Israel and Palestine an introduction (animated video)‘, 28 November 2012

Vice Chancellor Brother Peter Bray, FSC, Addresses Pope Francis at World Congress, 21 November 2015

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