Article shows thorough misunderstanding of issue
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Article shows thorough misunderstanding of issue

Bishop Power is an unwitting pawn in an elaborate PR campaign, EINAT WEISS argues

To represent Israel is to frequently combat fictitious and unfair claims. In this light, Bishop Pat Power's aggressive portrayal of Israel on this page last week was nothing original. His insight was emotive and powerful, but also incorrect.

By his own admission, Bishop Power's opinions were pieced together from shreds of sparse information, irregular visits during wartime and words gathered from local religious fanatics. It shows.

Bishop Power begins by depicting an Israel where ''armoured vehicles rumble up and down the streets''. Unfortunately, this was life in Jerusalem at the time of his visit in 1988. Bishop Power arrived at the height of the ''intifada'' - a Palestinian armed resistance which aimed 3600 Molotov cocktails, 100 hand grenades and 600 explosives at Israeli civilians. It was a conflict that saw more than 1000 Palestinians killed by the hand of their own people.

It is difficult to tell if Bishop Power is deceiving his audience or is a victim of deception. What is clear is a thorough misunderstanding of the conflict on which he deems himself an expert.

He writes about attending a peace summit in Doha, where he met some simply ''fascinating'' characters. But Bishop Power didn't stumble into any ordinary talkfest. He participated in one of those unique ''peace summits'' that suggest the ethnic elimination of a people as a tool for conflict resolution.

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Gathered at the International Conference on Al-Quds was an unprecedented coalition armoured against Israel.

At the conference, Bishop Power would have had the opportunity to meet leaders of Hamas - a terrorist organisation. He may have heard speakers deny the Holocaust and deny the foundations of Jewish history. By attending, he dignified debates that do disservice to peace.

Bishop Power's intentions were honourable, but his teachers were not. He has become an unwitting pawn in one of the world's most elaborate PR campaigns, which pits the Middle East's only democracy against a legion of conferences, NGOs and talkfests all funded by activists and autocrats urging a world without Israel.

That someone so learned as Bishop Power could attend such a conference and not realise its true intent speaks to their skill.

At the ''conference'', Bishop Power was even told that Iran would trim its appetite for nuclear weapons if the Palestinian people were ''justly treated''.

This is folly - the sort of thing you hear when you wander into a sanctuary of extremists. The very idea stems from a world view that deliberately isolates a tiny democracy, unique among all nations, as the sole aggressor in international conflict. In any case, Bishop Power should know that Israeli policy is not a trigger for Iranian nuclear hostility. Israeli existence is.

There are other facts the conference Bishop Power attended conveniently overlooked. It may surprise him that Israel, too, is appalled by the plight of a Palestinian people led by men who reject Israeli peace deals, avoid meaningful negotiation and form alliances with terrorist organisations. It's not from any lack of Israeli effort that the Palestinian people cannot yet call a country home, but from two decades of gestures and peace offers to Palestinian leaders, most rejected and ignored.

Bishop Power concluded with his remarks made in a paper to the conference, where he pleaded for ''patience and restraint'' and ''practical peace-making''. But did he plead for Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table when they ceased all peace talks? Did he plead for those leaders to accept, not reject, the peace plans offered by Israel that met Palestinian demands? Did he plead for ceasefire when, once Israel withdrew its own citizens from Gaza, Hamas responded by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians?

He doesn't plead that Hamas rejects the scourge of terrorism, or stops repressing Christians, gays and women, or stops using children as human shields. In fact, he doesn't plead anything that impugns any country other than Israel for the deterioration of ''peace and justice'' worldwide - not even our neighbours in Syria who, as I write, are shelling their own citizens. Blaming Israel for another nation's atrocities is unoriginal, it's easy, and it's lazy. A calendar of dishonest conferences and a dozen Arab despots have gotten away with it for years.

If a man of faith must wade into the harsh affairs of state, he should stand up for atrocities committed against men and women of their own cloth. Christians in the Palestinian Territories face constant discrimination. They have fled Gaza in record figures while their leaders curry favour with Hamas.

Meanwhile, Bishop Pat Power is busy hobnobbing overseas with anti-Semitic extremists and learning friendly new words like ''Judaization''.

We only plead that, in the future, he looks beyond his conference agenda and learns to recite fact.

Einat Weiss is a spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel in Canberra.

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