By Vacy Vlazna
ANZAC, a single word so powerful in the Australian vocabulary that it can bring a tear to the eye, a lump in the throat and a feeling of pride, just to be an Australian…The ANZAC tradition began on the 25th of April 1915 on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey. The ANZACs, [was] a name given to the united Australian and New Zealand Army Corps” (The Returned Services League of Australia.)
In Israel, on 31 October, members of the Australian Light Horse Association will re-enact the 3 kilometer charge of the Battle of Beersheba to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the victorious WW1 battle in 1917.
A wreath will also be laid at the Pratt Foundation-funded Park of the Australian Soldier in the Negev.
The courage and battle victories of the young Australian men of the ANZAC Mounted Division who served in the Palestine- Sinai campaigns in WW1 deserve to be honored but that honor is undermined by its co-opting to Israel’s normalization campaign of its illegal occupation and oppression of Palestine and her peoples.
“The normalization of Israel – normalizing the abnormal – is a malicious and subversive process that works to cover up injustice and colonize the most intimate parts of the oppressed: their mind. ” (+972 Blog 27-11-11)
Normalization doesn’t stop at the colonization of the Palestinian mind, it extends to the stealthy indoctrination of the international community, in this instance, Australia, through deceptive and innocuous projects that bring Israelis and unwitting Australians together to sanitize Israel’s criminal (under international law) status quo.
The Park of the Australian Soldier is a case in point. It is funded mainly by The Pratt Foundation as well as Keren Hayesod, the fundraising arm of the Zionist movement. The supreme goal of Zionism is the appropriation of the whole of historic Palestine; a goal that is alarmingly close to completion now that a mere 20% of their country, strangled by the illegal Annexation Wall and military checkpoints, remains for Palestinians.
The Pratt Foundation was set up by Zionist Richard Pratt, the Australian Visy Industries billionaire who was charged with breaching the Trade Practices Act by fixing prices and market sharing with the rival Amcor group. Pratt was fined $36 million and returned his Officer and Companion of the Order of Australia awards.
Visy’s underbelly has been linked to the Hells Angels reputed to have ties to criminal organizations in Australia and overseas. In 2007, The Age reported “it’s said the bikies were using Visy trucks to traffic amphetamines around the country. Patched Hells Angels members on bikes also used to ”buzz” picketing workers at factories. Others rode shotgun in trucks, and another bikie is said to have threatened the family of a union official during a dispute at the Smithfield plant in Sydney.” And in May 2012, The Herald Sun reported that according to police intelligence the “multi-billion dollar Visy packaging company is allegedly using the Hells Angels to collect bad debts and act as “problem solvers”.
The Pratt Foundation supports an array of charitable programs in Israel and the funds for some are channeled to the Jewish Agency which is in charge of immigration and absorption of diaspora Jews in Israel.
The Jewish Agency was established by the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1929 “It acts as agent of the government in assigning land to Jewish colonists in the Israeli-occupied territories.” Its subsidiary, Hermanuta works closely with Elad the right-wing hardline colonist organization and militia that advocates illegal Jewish colonial settlement in Palestinian East Jerusalem acquiring Palestinian properties often through threats, false depositions, forged documents, posthumous witness signatures and militant house takeovers.
The Park of the Australian Soldier is included in ‘The Anzac Trail from the Be’eri Badlands to Be’er Sheva’ which is a project of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) that was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in historic Palestine for Jewish settlement with the proviso only Jews can purchase JNF land. All Jews have the right of return to Israel. Palestinian refugees, however, are refused the right of return by Israel.
JNF has drawn protest from human rights groups for seizing Palestinian properties and evicting Palestinian families in East Jerusalem as well as for its afforestation program in the Negev which is a cover for the theft of Bedouin land. The Bedouin village al-Araqib has been razed by Israeli bulldozers for the JNF project 43 times and defiantly rebuilt by the impoverished Bedouin who assert the land is their ancestral home. A coalition of American Jewish and Israeli NGOs stated that JNF “must no longer serve as an accomplice to the discriminatory policy” of evicting Bedouins.” which is out and out ethnic cleansing:
“There is a grim familiarity about new efforts by Israel at expulsion – during the Nakba in 1948, the vast majority of the Negev’s Bedouin population were expelled, while those who remained were forcibly relocated to an area known as the “Siyag” (“fence” or “closure”). Sixty four years later, the Nakba continues. In a 1993 article for Foreign Affairs, a “general” definition of ethnic cleansing was offered: “the expulsion of an “undesirable” population from a given territory due to religious or ethnic discrimination, political, strategic or ideological considerations, or a combination of these”. This is the ugly reality of the Israeli government’s “development” of the Negev, and international governments and civil society need to take appropriate action before it is too late.” (AlJazeera 22-10-12)
The demeaning of the spirit of ANZAC is unmistakable in the Pratt Foundation’s associations with the Jewish Agency and the JNF and particularly in the telling act of Israeli normalization of the The Park of the Australian Soldier’s hijacking of Australian history and heroism reported in the Middle East Reality Check (MERC) blogspot in April 2008:
“In the previous issue of Rhapsody [a magazine inserted bi-monthly in The Australian Jewish News], editor Dan Goldberg expounded on the true significance of the above: “The ties that bind Jerusalem and Canberra were further cemented with the commemoration last November of the 90th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Horse Brigade, when brave Aussie Diggers trounced the Turks at Be’er Sheva, paving the way for the capture of Jerusalem…And it is in Be’er Sheva that Richard Pratt is ploughing funds to build the Park of the Australian Soldier – a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state.”
Yes, that’s what it says: “… the Park of the Australian Soldier – a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state.”
MERC points out the irony of Israel’s “rewriting of history such that Australian troops, who thought they were fighting and dying for King and Country, were actually fighting and dying for a state that still had 31 years to go before it came into being!”
In 2009, then Deputy PM, Julia Gillard gushed normalization after visiting the Park of the Australian soldier at Beersheba, “It is a wonderful reminder of our shared history and one more part of the legacy of the late Richard Pratt.”
Australia’s pro-Israel policies come as no surprise when one considers the incestuous nature of the pragmatic couplings of Australian political luminaries and the Pratt family. Ex-PMs Kevin Rudd and John Howard have attended fundraisers at Pratt’s Melbourne mansion, Raheen, Bill Shorten- now a Minister in the Gillard government- was married there, and others such as exPM Bob Hawke, exPM Gough Whitlam, exPM Malcolm Fraser, ex state premier Nick Grieiner, former police commissioner Mick Miller have been on the Zionist’s lucrative payroll as consultants. Anthony Pratt, Richard’s successor hosted in July 2011, an Australian speaking tour of Tony Blair the supposedly neutral envoy for the Middle East Quartet.
Ergo, in Israel and Canberra, realpolitik eclipses the rising sun that symbolises the ANZAC spirit of justice and freedom.
– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters. She was Human Rights Advisor to the GAM team in the second round of the Acheh peace talks, Helsinki, February 2005 then withdrew on principle. Vacy was coordinator of the East Timor Justice Lobby as well as serving in East Timor with UNAMET and UNTAET from 1999-2001. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.