Australia Post stamp issue demeans NZ and Palestine
Australia Post stamp issue demeans New Zealand and Palestine
The 60-cent joint Australia Post/Israel Post stamp (one of a two-stamp commemorative issue) with its Tel el Saba inscription implies that the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade took the Turkish hill position. In fact, an attack planned for the Australian Light Horse was being held up until the threat from the Turkish machine-guns on Tel el Saba could be eliminated. It was actually the Auckland Mounted Rifles that took the hill and a photo of them (http://www.nzmr.org/beersheba.htm) can be seen on top of Tel el Saba after its capture from the Turks. The caption explains that the “hill was the key to taking the outpost township of Beersheba – with Turko-German weaponry dug in overlooking all the approaches to the township and its trench defences, it had to be in the hands of the Anzacs before a frontal attack on the town could take place.”
The re-writing of history to suit Israel and its Australia Post propagandists went far beyond implying that it was Australian, not New Zealand, forces that took Tel el Saba. An Australia Post website article referring to the collaboration of Israel and Australia in the stamp issue states: “The Battle of Beersheba is a significant event in the history of both countries and one of Australia's greatest and least-known military triumphs.” The battle took place over 30 years before Israel came to establish itself in Palestine and to imply that the battle was a part of Israel's history is a slap in the face for Palestinians whose forbears fought with ANZAC forces in Palestine. The Palestinians were led to believe that fighting for victory with the allies would help to ensure their independence when the war was over. Australia Post's tribute to the (at the time) non-existent Israel in the fighting is absurd. As Ali Kazak has pointed out, “Jews did not fight with the Australian forces, they were merely 6.8 per cent of the population in Palestine, according to British statistics.” Instead of gaining independence with the defeat of the Turkish empire, the Palestinian people were subjected to merciless terrorism with the Palestinian residents of Beersheba being ethnically cleansed from their city by Zionist forces.
Australia Post's reference to the Battle of Beersheba as being a part of Israel's history implies that the organisation regards Beersheba to be an Israeli town. If Australia Post had any respect for international law it would give due recognition to the indisputable fact that Beersheba is still a part of Palestine and that it is illegally occupied by a foreign power. Israel continues to defy international law by denying the refugees their United Nations-recognised right of return.
Australia Post could have made a more honest stamp issue, jointly with Palestine Post, that recognised the true participants and with the Arabic language included. It is cause for alarm when a government agency (Australia Post describes itself as a 'Government Business Enterprise') allows itself to become involved with a foreign government in such an exercise. It is easy to understand that Israel must, of necessity, attempt to deny history in the promotion of its ideology but the Zionist state should not be allowed to subvert our democratic institutions or undermine respect for international law.
Palestine Human Rights Campaign Aotearoa/New Zealand www.palestine.org.nz