MERC: Australia Post issues Israeli propaganda stamps 19Jun13 June 19, 2013
Editor’s note: Unbelievable is what comes to mind about this latest effort to conflate Australia’ Palestine Campaign with Israel. Not only is this a deliberate obfuscation of history – Israel didn’t even exist in 1917 – but it is insulting to the memory of Palestinians who were terrorised into leaving their city Beersheba when the newly-created Israel captured it in 1948 and who have never been allowed to return to their homes.
The Palestine Campaign of 1917 saw the celebrated charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade on the unsuspecting Turks. It was a battle that turned the tide of that campaign and led to the subsequent end of Ottoman rule in Palestine. Beersheba at the time had a population of some 4,000 Palestinians and was described by the New York Times of 1 November 1917 as an “ancient Palestine city, having much strategic value”. During the British Mandate, it remained an administrative centre providing work and services for the Palestinians living there. It was never intended to become part of Israel under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Gaza is barely 50 kilometres away from Beersheba and endured some of the heaviest fighting when ANZACs and Palestinian soldiers fought the Turks. Now, the Palestinians are prisoners of Israel – not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while a theme park has been set up in memory of the Australian soldiers in what Israel now calls Be’er Sheva. The Pratt Foundation in Australia commissioned a statue to commemorate what many regard as the most significant victory of Australian military history and our Governor-General travelled to Israel for the unveiling ceremony. The irony of it all is that the Israelis living there had for decades been totally ignorant of the site’s significance and wilfully neglected its heritage, so much so, that in 2008, the Australian government was forced to order an investigation after the precious water wells, which the Australian soldiers had so bravely fought to secure, were found to be in a shocking state of disrepair and a virtual rubbish tip.
War memorials everywhere show Palestine etched in stone. Graves in Gaza honour our soldiers. But even more telling, are the nearly six million Palestinians who live in that land under Israel’s brutal occupation and siege and some 5 million refugees who are waiting to return home. They will not forget. It will take more than Governor-Generals, statues and stamps to expunge the history and memories of the ANZAC-Palestine connection, try as Israel might.
You can take a stand by refusing to purchase these particular stamps.
Middle East Reality Check - 19 June 2013
Just the other day I needed a postage stamp. I duly handed over my 60 cents at an Australia Post outlet and received far more than I bargained for – nothing less, would you believe, than a dollop of Israeli propaganda.
There on the stamp was the sepia-toned image of a statue of an Australian Light Horseman leaping the Turkish trenches ringing the town of Beersheba in southern Palestine in 1917. In the bottom left hand corner were the words ‘Beersheba/ AUSTRALIA/ Joint Issue with Israel/ Australian Light Horse‘. In the bottom right corner, in blue, were the same words in Hebrew.
For $3.60 you can buy a laminated, folded card bearing the same image beneath a scroll containing the words ‘JOINT ISSUE WITH ISRAEL/ THE BATTLE OF BEERSHEBA‘. Below the scroll, the same words appear in Hebrew.
Inside, the scroll reappears with the same words superimposed on an antique map of Beersheba and its environs. Again, the same Hebrew words figure prominently. Two stamps, the second with a different design, are enclosed in a protective plastic sheath.
On the back the following text appears. (The highlightings are mine):
“The Battle of Beersheba, which took place on 31 October 1917, was part of a wider British offensive known as the third Battle of Gaza during World War I. The final phase of this day-long battle was the famous mounted charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, widely considered to be the last great mounted charge in military history. Although heavily outnumbered, the 4th Light Horse Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force seized the strategic town of Beersheba from the Turks. 31 Australian light horsemen were killed in the charge and 36 were wounded, while the Turkish defenders suffered many casualties and between 700 and 1,000 troops were captured. The capture of Beersheba allowed British Empire forces to break the Ottoman line near Gaza and then advance into Palestine, a chain of events which eventually culminated in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
“The 60c stamp features a statue of an Australian Light Horseman in the Park of the Australian Soldier at Beersheba (Be’er Sheva), Israel. The statue is the work of Australian sculptor Peter Corlett and was erected with the support of the Pratt Foundation in 2008. The park features a landscaped recreation park with an innovative playground catering for the needs of children with disabilities.”
I’ve covered the story of the shameless Zionist appropriation of this particular slice of Palestinian/Australian history – where the AIF are falsely portrayed as actors in the grand Zionist narrative of the Jewish ‘return’ to Eretz Israel – in several posts. For the details, simply click HERE, scroll down to Anzac Day Special: The Diggers Who Died for Israel (25/4/08), and read the lot in chronological order.
Perhaps the next time you buy stamps from Istralia Post, you could decline these two.