Editor-In-Chief: Charbel Baini

Wolves of the mountainous cottage

Short Story
Translated by Mahmood Shebat

Whispers of sweet breeze was floating nicely through that late afternoon, thereby marking twilight and evening fall, followed by drowsy calmness dominated the foot of the mountain that embraced the knoll, where a grape grove cottage falls asleep with its ancient stone walls, which poor standards of construction left it with hundreds of holes among the stones, and the so called roof was made of twigs of oak .

While the daytime light was receding gradually giving way to sunset and darkness, the young boy was trying to trace the figure of his grandfather, back from the village on his donkey with the next day supply, in his way up to the cottage. 

Yet, Jawad could not see the veteran farmer within eyeshot, which further aggravated the already abrasive situation, thus, he went back inside the cottage seeking safety to hide himself in the cold mattress. He occasionally, cautiously was moving from one corner to another, anxiously awaiting for the return of his grandfather.

Abu Saif was supposed to come back from the village two hours earlier, while his grandson is suffering that remote location.

Amid night has began lowering its black curtains, pieces of different-sized pearls began to flow in the dark blue sky,  the  small ones flickered as far as long distant galaxies, while the nearest were leaning upon the mountain's shoulder.

Noticing that the door of the cottage is still open fueled the boy's horror, where , with such a panic, he rushed and closed it, blocked it with the thick wooden bar as he had seen his grandfather does when the night falls, and then quickly returned to his  six-square-meter "fortress" , and wrapped his body with his "Majinot Defensive Line", the cloak of his grandfather.

Jawad sat scarily staring around him, he saw nothing but black and black, he then heard yowling of wolves and shouts of shepherds on the opposite tip of the valley.

 Such a state of scare recalled the tales of his mother in the chilling winter nights about the one-scarlet-eyed wolf, and the hyena who traces disobedient, unruly, and riotous children,  where the beast urinates on its tail and sprays its "anesthetic liquid" on their faces, once they are narcotized, they unconsciously follow him to its cave, where he proceeded in tickling them until they die of laughter.  The boy also remembered the stories of his grandmother about the golden-horn-rattle snake which “can swallow a huge cow”. 

The worried boy began to invocate so as his grandfather come soonest, or a winged fairy to land and save him from his predicament. He rewrapped the cloak tightly around his body, biting its tip to put an end to his trembling teeth. He then covered his mouth with one palm, and his eyes with the other, engaging in his silent weeping, making his utmost not to release any sound which may signal wolves,  hyenas, or snakes to his brittle "shelter".
Escalated fear attributed to loneliness and darkness increased the boy's confusion in what he had to do, he was afraid of that black space, "a bit of light might put him in relative rest", he thought,  he tiptoed to the shelf where his grandfather deposits the kerosene lamp, lit it,  kept it next to him, and wrapped the cloak again to cover him from his head to his soles, intending to absent himself, soul and body, anywhere else. Yet, not a bit of rest or tranquility.

Jawad stood up, headed to the thick wooden door, stuck  his ear to it to detect and secure that there are no wolf, hyena, or rattle snake outside waiting to ambuscade him. instead, he thought that he  heard hooves clattering of his grandfather's donkey knocking the gravel of the mountainous road ."No!", He was disappointed. He heard nothing but a distant wind blowing from the mouth of the valley.

The night landed with its whole thick darkness, still the old man did not return. The boy felt sneaking drowsiness, through which he  was immersed floating in that vacuum, during which, bits of tales of his grandfather about fierce beasts were interruptedly displayed. 

The boy's hearing caught barking, emanating from the other side of the valley, followed by two gunshots that repeatedly echoed through the valley space and faded away in the darkness of the night. The dogs barking  became louder and louder simultaneously with new shots : "Most probably fired by shepherds", he guessed, followed by dozens of gunshots. The boy realized that the shepherds were shooting at the wolves aiming on getting them away from their flocks. 

The little boy resumed praying and invocation so as to direct the wolves toward any destination, except for his cottage, he put off the lamp, rewrapped the cloak around him while the black obsessions were biting his hopes, pictures of colored ghosts were frequently changed, re-changed and recopied themselves on his childish screen, then replaced  by a ghoul with red eye and huge jaws. All those horrible views, including the horned serpent were showing in such a  problematic format which only meet in a fearful show in front of eyes of such a little boy, unintentionally left alone in that remote isolated place.

Three or more wolves arrived next to the cottage. They stopped there, started to turn around it,  scribbling fiercely at the door and walls, panting and breathing quickly, after ages of breath held, he heard them yowling and moving away, but his fear of them prompted him to suspect that they did not leave all. He stuck his ear to the wall, horribly surprised by warm breaths accompanied by nasty odor: "It is the wolf !!!" he assured himself, he started shaking like a light twig in a stormy night , he was no longer able to move when the wolves resumed scribbling at the door and walls from all sides.

During that critical and vital instance, the boy's tribulation came to peak, and further exacerbated when he heard the wolves scratching and digging underneath the doorstep, his fear told him that the fierce beasts are about to enter for tearing him up and share his flesh, he faintheartedly  cried out and jump off his nightmare, covered his mouth with his left palm,  holding his trembling  jaws with the other, weeping silently, fearfully and…. hopefully awaiting the gleam of his grandfather return.

INVITATION to Gala 2017 Mirath In Mind

We are once again pleased to announce this year's new exciting project of
"Mirath in Mind", which will culminate with a Gala Day to take place on Friday
This is the 7th year since the inception of Mirath in Mind and these have been
seven years of success after success, with the number of participating
students exceeding one thousand in 2016.
The main aim of the project this year is for each student to celebrate the
traditions and customs of his/her village or region. This will involve students in
researching and learning about their own place of origin. On Gala Day
students will present Theatrical Scenes from a selection of famous musicals
and Duets where they will perform by acting, singing and dancing in front of a
large schools' community and professional judges of local artists.
Bankstown Sports Club: Greenfield Parade.
9:30 am - 12:30 PM
Primary School students
1:00 pm - 4:00 PM
High School students.
As usual, prizes will be given for outstanding work in each of the categories.
We take this opportunity to thank you for your cooperation and support and
we look forward to your presence with us on Gala Day.

Morning Tea in support of the campaign of the Coalition for Marriage

Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay
Maronite Bishop of Australia
along with
The Coalition for Marriage
invite you to a
Morning Tea
in support of the campaign of the
Coalition for Marriage
Guest Speaker
The Hon. Tony Abbott MP
Member for Warringah

Saturday 2 September 2017
St Charbel’s Multi-Purpose Hall
142 Highclere Ave, Punchbowl
The Coalition for Marriage is a grassroots effort powered by ordinary, mainstream
Australians who want to defend marriage. It is not supported by any major corporations.
Your financial donation will go towards much needed resources
like advertising, mailing, and volunteer training.
028831 0000
This event is generously hosted by St Charbel’s Monastery. 

HE PAUL SALIBA- Motion made on 10 August 2017 by the Honourable David Clarke at the Parliament House of NSW

The Hon. DAVID CLARKE ( 10:09 ): I move:
(1) That this House notes that:
(a) on Saturday 1 July 2017, his Eminence, Metropolitan
Archbishop Paul Saliba, of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, passed away aged 77; and
(b) his Eminence:
(i) was born by the name of Badih, in Bsarma El-Koura in
North Lebanon on 10 July 1939;
(ii) took the name Paul in 1957 when entering the
(iii) was ordained as a deacon in 1958;
(iv) ministered in Tripoli, the University of Balamand, as
well as Bransville, New Kensington and Washington DC in the United
States; and
(v) was elected Metropolitan Archbishop to Australia and
New Zealand on 5 October 1999.
(2) That this House acknowledges his Eminence's great achievements
and his contribution to his congregations and community as well as Australia at
(3) That this House sends its thoughts and prayers to the Antiochian
Orthodox Archdiocese community.
(4) That the President conveys this resolution of the House to the

Homily delivered by His Excellency Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption, 2017 OLOL Harris Park

Dearly beloved in Christ, 

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

1. These famous words were spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, and they have resounded throughout the history, to reach us today, as fresh and as powerful as ever.

2. The example of Our Lady stands as a shining beacon, guiding us as we travel the road to her Son. For this reason, she was given a name of great honour in the early Church: Mary the “Theotokos”, meaning Mary “the God bearer.” At two councils held more than fifteen hundred years ago, the bishops of the Church agreed to glorify her with this name, and to declare that He who was born of her was not merely a man, but both God and man.

3. And we are here today, celebrating the feast of her Assumption, we are meditating the amazing event in which Mary was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, and with God and in God she is Queen of Heaven and Earth. Our celebration tonight is to venerate her and to proclaim once again our devotion to her, as the patron saint of this cathedral and parish, keeping this holy tradition, alive in our Maronite community here and everywhere.

4. I recently came back from Lebanon where I participated in the annual Maronite Synod of Bishops meetings headed by our Patriarch, His Eminence and Beatitude Mar Beshara Boutros Cardinal Rai, during  which we discussed many matters related to our Maronite Church and the presence and the future of the Christians in the Middle East. When we travel to Lebanon and the Middle East, we are reminded, too, that Mary is the Queen of Martyrs, for the people of God are suffering from terrible persecution in that unfortunate part of the world. As a sign of solidarity with the Church there and the families of victims from the different terrorist attacks, I also joined a delegation of bishops from Australia as we visited Egypt at the end of May to support the Church and pray for the unity of the Egyptian people.

5. It is because of the worrying increase of violence and hostility to Christians, that our Maronite Church has declared this to be the Year of Martyrs and their witness. In this year we especially remember all those who have accepted death rather than abandon their faith in our Church: the 350 disciples of St Maroun, St Shmuni and her seven sons, the Patriarch Gabriel the Second (of Hajjoula, martyred in 1367), and all the martyrs, from the earliest times with St Aquilina of Byblos in the year 293 to the Blessed Massabki Brothers in Damascus, Syria in 1860. We also remember the many martyrs of modern times. 

6. We are grateful that we here in Australia are not suffering persecution like our brethren of the Middle East, but we are experiencing something, which we have not been through before: we are undergoing a serious and sustained attack on our values, which is spread, and even promoted through many outlets of the mainstream media.

7. There is a new hostility openly displayed towards our Gospel values, our Christian ideals and our very right to live by our beliefs. The assault especially targets our teachings on marriage, sexuality, education and bioethics. It also targets in an evil way our stands against abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage. The current anti-Christian tide even denies us the right to speak, or to object when our children are subjected to a misleading propaganda dressed up as an anti-bullying campaign, and falsely named Safe Schools Program. 

8. Over the coming weeks, we expect a postal vote on same-sex marriage to be conducted all over the country. How should we deal with it? We firstly need to make sure that our details are correct with the electoral commission in order to receive the documents. Secondly, it is our Christian duty and pride to stand for the traditional and biblical definition of marriage, as a union between one man and one woman. I ask you, your families and your friends to respond to the postal vote by opposing same-sex marriage. Do not think that this matter does not affect you. This redefinition of marriage threatens our religious freedoms, in particular our ability to teach the true faith in schools, and  the way we offer social services. This attack is an attack on the family, as the building block of society. I urge you all to venerate Our Lady and the Holy Family by voting NO to same-sex marriage and to the redefinition of marriage. 

9. I address those issues of persecution and anti-Christian sentiment, because it is necessary. But it is also necessary to share the good news, and thanks to your prayers and other support, there is an abundance of it. 

10. First, after a long wait, we have received approval from the relevant authorities to begin the construction of Our Lady Aged Care Centre and to reopen the hostel here at Our Lady of Lebanon, Harris Park. We are soon to begin demolition of the present buildings, and then, to begin construction of a new centre after we have been awarded in May of this year 90 bed licences for our nursing home. It is a wonderful landmark in the development of this super-Maronite community in this area. This achievement would not have been possible without the support of the Australian Federal Government, the Department of Health, Parramatta City Council, the Our Lady Aged Care Centre Committee, and many people of good will. I am very grateful to all of them and I am sure that our elderly who will benefit from these facilities share my sentiment. 

11. Further, our second good news lead me to proudly announce that the relics of St Maroun will be arriving to our diocese in February 2018. How wonderful to celebrate the feast of St Maroun, the spiritual father of the Maronite Church, having for the first time his relics in our Church. They are coming from Lebanon, from the Monastery of St John Maroun in Kfarhay. These relics will visit all our churches in Australia so that the faithful may pray in the presence of these sacred memorials of our heavenly patron. And the other good news is that we are going to keep the relics in Australia, at St Maroun’s Cathedral in Redfern. 

12. Then, the third good news is our first Maronite Diocesan Assembly to be held in November this year at this parish here. I promised when I became your bishop to hold this Assembly, and I am pleased to be able to preside at this important opportunity to gather in faith representatives from all the Maronite community over our country, so that they may speak to each other and to us, and not only to speak, but more importantly, to be listened to! I want the laity, the good people who flock to the churches, to express their fears, their hopes and their aspirations. 

13. Our Diocesan Assembly will be marked by three moments: to listen, to understand and to act. We have to listen to our people who are facing new challenges in transmitting the faith from generation to generation, and they strive to keep alive the Gospel spirit of the wider Church in Australia. We wish to meet these challenges with understanding, seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and with charity: including all of the faithful, not least our young people who are so important to us. And so we shall act by envisaging strategies and directions in our gathering in November, here in Sydney, with the motto “Strong in Faith – Growing in Love”. 

14. Dear Brothers, Sisters and friends, 

Before I conclude my homily for tonight I would like to say few words in Lebanese:

15. As Pope Benedict XVI says: 
Being in God and with God, Mary is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment. She always listens to us, she is always close to us, and being Mother of the Son, participates in the power of the Son and in his goodness. We can always entrust the whole of our lives to this Mother, who is not far from any one of us.
16. And tonight, I entrust all of you beloved sons and daughters of the faith to Mary, the Theotokos, the bearer of God. I also entrust to Mary’s Holy Heart all our priests especially Monsignor Shora Maree who celebrates 30 years to the priesthood. Let us pray to all those who have served this wonderful community, past and present, asking Our Lady of Lebanon, Patron of this parish to lead us all closer to her son Jesus Christ. Amen

To Pope Yousab II

 by  Nazir Gayed

(HH Pope Shenouda III before going into monastic life) 

Translated in Australia

To Pope Yousab II
We offer our great respect to your apostolic position. One of the weekly political newspapers published a very dangerous article and if it is true, the heart of everyone, who loves God will melt out of worry and care that the souls of our congregation shall not perish. But we say that this article in the newspaper by itself if it is true, is enough to shake heaven and earth with a great earthquake.
This article states that one of the servants for the papal residence is selling the thrones of the diocese to the highest bidder, starting at 5000 pounds and whoever pays more takes the position of bishop of the diocese.
You o our father are the head of the shepherds who have been entrusted with the millions of souls of the congregation, to lead them to the kingdom of God and save them from eternal perishing.
Your holiness knows that the canons of the holy apostles is very clear as it says: "any bishop or priest or deacon who obtains any rank of priesthood through Bribe of money or promised to give money that he be given a priestly rank or uses cunning and deceptive ways to get a priestly rank, the rank he is given is void.
He is counted as a heathen and he is cursed and is excommunicated and is cast out of the church of God and everyone should be away from him as St PETER the apostle did with SIMON the sorcerer and excommunicated him from the church of God by the order of the Holy Spirit.
You o our father do not need anyone to remind you of these holy canons of the apostles.
Is it true o our father that among our shepherds there are those who do not highly respect or take those curses and excommunications seriously???
Is it true o our father that among our shepherds the king of kings and Lord of Lords entrusted for our souls for whom the Lord died on the cross and the canons of the holy apostles put upon his shoulders the responsibility of the congregation; is anyone of them who bought these positions for money as was the intention of SIMON the sorcerer whom the curse came upon.
Is there among our shepherds one like judas Iscariot. Please our Lord don't allow it.
We need from your holiness an urgent clear answer for this serious matter and we hope that it is not true so that we may be comforted and not bring shame upon the name of our gracious saviour among the nations of the world.
We are requesting a quick investigation and a clear declaration to be in the newspapers to confirm with proofs that this is a wrong thing and just rumours against the church.
However if it is proved that this matter is true, so we await quick action from your holiness as a matter of care for the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your holiness knows very well that the Lord has ordered very clearly the excommunication of any priesthood rank for the person who is found to be adulterous drunk or swearerer and is given a chance to repent and prove that repentance in order to
be accepted; therefore if this is the case for all people, what will it be the impact to hear that among the shepherds of the church, whom our Lord Jesus Christ entrusted for His sheep are buying these priestly ranks with a bribe of money. We are waiting your action.


The Hon. SHAOQUETT MOSELMANE ( 11:07 ): I move:

(1)That this House notes that on Tuesday 27 June 2017, Mr Michel Jarjoura, OAM, passed away peacefully aged 88.

(2)That this House notes that Mr Jarjoura:

(a)was born in Betram, Lebanon in 1929;

(b)moved to Australia at the age of 19;

(c)worked initially as a travelling hawker, like many of the Lebanese migrants to Australia at the time;

(d)established the Mansours chain of retail homeware specialty stores, beginning in Lakemba in 1956;

(e)worked to develop the Mansours chain across New South Wales, ultimately turning these stores into the MyHouse homewares company, now managed by Mr Jarjoura's sons Richard and Stephen; and

(f)was a tireless community leader, serving as:

(i)Chairman of the Antiochian Orthodox Committee of Sydney from 1983 to 1992;

(ii)President of the Australian Lebanese Association New South Wales Branch from 1977 to 1980;

(iii)Vice President of the World Lebanese Cultural Union from 1979 to 1984; and

(iv)Dean of the Lebanese Humanitarian Appeal Committee since 2007.

(3)That this House notes that Mr Jarjoura's exceptional contribution to his community and Australia was recognised through:

(a)the Order of the Cross of St Peter and Paul awarded in 1989;

(b)the Gold Merit Award from the World Lebanese Cultural Union awarded in 1983; and

(c)a medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the Lebanese community in New South Wales in the Queen's Birthday Honours for 2012.

(4)That this House acknowledges that Mr Jarjoura lived a complete life, touching everyone he met in his own distinct way through his belief that "life is what you make of it", and sends its thoughts and prayers to his family, especially his beloved children Ann, Michael, David, Richard, Gary, Stephen and Peter.


For you my love i screamed and cried
For you my love i swam oceans and rivers
For you my love i crossed forests and valleys
For you my love i fought battles and waged wars
For you my love i conquered the world

Oh my love my hopeless love you tore my heart apart
Oh my love my hopeless love you drowned me in your deep manipulative sea
Oh my love my hopeless love you turned me insane 
Oh my love my hopeless love you destroyed me with no mercy
Oh my love my hopeless love i hate you and will always do

The Case for Recognition of Palestine

Speech by Hon Bob Carr
at the NSW ALP Conference
July 30 2017
Sydney Town Hall
Recognition of Palestine
NSW ALP State Conference 2017
The Hon Bob Carr
July 30 2017
Delegates I begin with three facts.
One, sixty-six percent of the Israeli cabinet are on-record saying they’ll never agree to a Palestinian state. They chose their words. They said it.
In other words, no two state solution.
“God gave us the land, we’re not giving it up”: is what some of them say.
Two, there’s a deluge of settlements, 6,000 approved this year alone. They’re designed to gobble up Palestinian land and make a two state solution impossible.
Three, this year the Israeli parliament voted to give Israeli settlers the right to seize Palestinian land. It’s the so-called Regularisation Act, a law that Isaac Herzog (Parliamentary Leader of the Labour Party) described as a war crime and Benny Begin, Likud member and son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, described as a “looting bill”.
Palestinian homes are already being bulldozed at a record rate.
Delegates, a one state solution – which is what we’re drifting to – means 2.9 million Palestinians ruled by a minority, with two sets of laws one for Israelis, one for Palestinians.
Prime Ministers Rabin, Barak and Olmert have called that Apartheid.
When I had Bob Hawke launch Labor Friends of Israel in 1977 in the Trades Hall, the symbol of Israel was the kibbutz; now the right-wingers have made the symbol of their country the settlement bloc, full of migrants from Russia or the US, lording it over Palestinians in the gullies.
Well, let’s send a message to hardliners in Israel that this behaviour loses friends; to hard-pressed Palestinians that there’s still hope.
Some people have argued we must attach conditions to recognition. But recognition is simply the opening of diplomatic relations. We “recognise” 54 countries in Africa but don’t “attach conditions” to our recognition of Ethiopia or Rwanda or The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recognition of North Korea or Columbia or Canada comes without “conditions”. We don’t make our recognition of the United States dependent on them having to have a President of probity and sanity. 
Nor do we withdraw recognition from the US if they fail to impeach and convict and remove a President with a neurological disorder disrupting the world.
By the way I considerate it somewhat impertinent for an occupying power- in this case Israel- insisting we attach conditions to our recognition of the country they occupy.
One hundred and thirty-seven nations already recognise Palestine. The Vatican and Sweden, under a Labour Government did so last year. Delegates, when I used that phrase “under a Labour government” I was referring to Sweden not The Vatican. But given the commitment of Pope Francis to social justice I could easily see him on the floor of this conference…..although, Kaila, he might not be in our faction.
But if Pope Francis were here I suspect, he and not Janelle Saffin, would be the seconder of this motion.
All of the former heads of Israel’s own security agencies – Mossad and Shin Bet – support a Palestinian state because the alternative is years of bloodshed.
The World Bank and IMF say the Palestinians are ready to govern themselves.
And Hawke and Rudd and Gareth Evans recommend it.
On June 22 South Australian Labor supported recognition in their parliament.
On July 1 the Tasmanian party conference supported recognition of Palestine.
Only yesterday, the Queensland conference carried a motion for immediate recognition.
And, also yesterday, the ACT branch said “recognise Palestine”.
Delegates, as the oldest and biggest state branch, we can’t be left stranded on the wrong side of history.
It was once time for Whitlam’s opening to China. It was once time for an independent East Timor.
Time now for another historic shift in Labor Party foreign policy. If the late, great Gough Whitlam were here he would intone into this microphone, “Men and women of Australia, It’s Time…….to recognise Palestine.”
And he would go on to argue that to save the two state solution we must balance our recognition of Israel with our recognition of Palestine.
Delegates, after we endorse this historic motion go back to your branches and report with pride you came to this conference and did the just and decent thing by a crushed and marginalised people who aspire, within the rules, to something Israel has enjoyed since 1948: a land of their own. 

To the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ms.Julie Bishop

Your Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Ms. Julie  Bishop is the most respected
                                                                                                                                                              National greeting
Subject: The right citizen is the one who works consciously to achieve what is better in the life process of the homeland to what is good and love and beauty. Therefore my patriotism, my love and my loyalty to my second homeland  Australia encouraged me, , and my pride in it as a nation with its civilization and open to all nations. Embracing a people of all nationalities and religions in a democratic manner and contributing to the promotion of human rights without discrimination. I have learned from my native Australia that the reality of life is living and moral teachings mean the recovery of human life. I have a proposal with my request for your presence to accept my proposal, which is to restore friendly relations between our country Australia and the Syrian Republic and to reopen the embassies. I look at  folding page that opened and recorded positions that the Australian government had to avoid and be careful before making a decision to leave the charge  of the Syrian embassy and was proposed to be appointed ambassador. It has become clear to all the governments of the world that what happened was a conspiracy of the enemies of the Syrian people before they were against the regime. To be more frank, I proved that the regime fought terrorism that came from dozens of countries and from within and neighboring countries. The Australian government has a position on the Syrian president, Dr. Bashar al-Assad. As far as the information about him is concerned, he is dictatorial and despotic, but it turns out that he is the opposite and the vast majority of the Syrian people want him because they are comfortable with him as president, . The individual may be wrong, but the law in his country will be tried. The ruler may also be wrong, but his people will be prosecuted if he is wrong, as they claim he is despot and not other countries that have no borders, geography or history. My proposal to restore the friendly relations between the two countries also for the Syrian and Arab communities in Australia is true. They became Australian citizens, but they have relatives in Syria and we do not forget that Syria is the motherland to them in terms of humanity. I and a group of social activists want to help the Syrian people with many things and humanity, especially the children of Syria. We want your help with the knowledge and approval of our government in Australia, not in hiding, and we want to make every step but to restore relations between the two countries. If you would like to bring us the names of citizens, associations and units to offer to your Excellencies, I am ready to bring you very many requests because everyone wants to reopen embassies. Thank you very much.
The proposal was sent to both countries in English and Arabic

Your citizen Moussa Merhi
Phone 0401057240
63 Auburn Rd Birrong 2143 NSW

Seamntor Lisa Singh - Palestine Speech in Parliament

Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (21:17): I rise tonight to add my voice to many other Australians who care deeply about the Israel-Palestine conflict and to share my recent experiences of life in Palestine and Israel. In April this year I travelled to the West Bank, a land that has been occupied by the state of Israel for the last 50 years.
I was on a cross-party delegation that enabled direct communication with a variety of NGOs, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, business and government ministers. I also had the opportunity to visit Tel Aviv and Bathsheba in Israel, the latter on Anzac Day to remember the charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade in 1917. While in Jerusalem, I talked to the Knesset parliamentarians and representatives of the Israeli human rights groups, including B'Tselem.
Our delegation experienced the hard realities of life within the Palestinian occupied territories. We experienced the constraints on movement, the limits on access to water for business, agricultural and domestic use and on access to land for commercial, residential and industrial development. We understood the impact of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, which scorn the agreements reached in the Oslo accords. I would like to thank the Palestinian National Authority for organising the visit and their hospitality, as well as providing such insightful experiences and opportunities to meet a range of people. I remain impressed and inspired by the professionalism and the maturity of Palestinian civil society. Indeed, all presentations to the delegation emphasised a consistent desire for peace in a pluralistic democracy society supported by implementation of the peace accord so that the Palestinian state may deliver a future for the Palestinian people where a Palestinian child has freedom of movement within the state and across borders, along with access to water, to education, to health care and to employment—all without interference from Israel's occupation.
I acknowledge at the outset the historical significance of visiting this year, the year of the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, and the 50th anniversary of the ongoing tragedy of Israel's occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. That is why it is important to this parliament to reflect on how this conflict's legacy continues in the life of Palestine and Israel today. I thought I knew enough about the military occupation, having listened for years to scholars, Palestinians, Israelis and politicians. But going to the West Bank made me realise that you really have to visit this part of the world to truly understand what is going on.
It certainly has given me a better picture of how people live in Palestine. It is hard to comprehend what I have seen. But I certainly learnt something of what it is like to be a Palestinian. It is like feeling every single emotion in one day. It is being confronted each day by one of the 300 Israeli army checkpoints that are scattered throughout the West Bank; the fear and intimidation of queuing for Israeli soldiers with big guns as they search cars and check papers; and seeing the profound limitations for Palestinians, who are deprived of many of their basic human rights—like an individual's right to freedom of movement and freedom of expression; a family's access to water or to their own land; access to health care or to a family's sick who are in hospital; access to children detained by Israeli military courts; or access to political prisoners in Israeli jails. These policies have resulted in violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Visiting Bethlehem University was inspiring, yet disheartening. I met Palestinian millennials—a generation that has only known occupation. While they are full of hope for their future from the benefits of studying, their brutal reality was never far away—a reality that impacts every part of their lives. What was clear was that they wanted their voices heard. One student said to me, 'Most of our dreams end at a checkpoint.' But another said, 'Despite the conflict we still need to build community.' One young Palestinian recently wrote:
The occupation denies us any sense of normalcy or dignity. We are shaped by our experiences as children standing at a checkpoint and not fully comprehending why a soldier with a gun won’t let us pass; and to learn later in life that it was simply because we were Palestinian.
Whilst I was there, over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails were on hunger strike, protesting for their basic human rights, like medical treatment, family visits and access permits for visits. These demands were regarded 
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by NGOs around the world as just, reasonable and grounded in international law that governs the treatment of prisoners and detainees. Over 600 Palestinian prisoners are behind bars in what is known as 'administrative' detention for an undetermined period of time. Some have been detained for 12 years without charge or a reason given for their imprisonment.
The UN Committee against Torture recently urged Israel to end the practice of administrative detention. When I met with Dr Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, he said that this should be a concern to people and governments around the world. While I was there, the West Bank had a national day of strike in solidarity for the Palestinian prisoners. Every business, every university, every Palestinian participated. It was indeed a day of solidarity. Stalls were set up for family members to gather and show photos of their father or son in prison,
many as political prisoners. Yet the cries of prisoners and their families fell on deaf ears: dismissed by the Israeli government until a recent deal was brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross—the ICRC.
In the face of all of this, I witnessed the incredible resilience of the Palestinian people and this amazing human spirit grounded in their culture and their nationality. I saw it when I had a chance to visit the artist Banksy's hotel in Bethlehem, opened a few months ago and built right next to the separation wall—regarded as the 'hotel with the worst view in the world'. Banksy's Walled Off Hotel's, as it is named, most interesting element was its small museum illustrating and explaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If every tourist who came to Bethlehem and visited Bethlehem's holy sites went through that museum, they would be much better informed on the conflict. In fact, a future opportunity for jobs for young Palestinians is in tourism, where tour groups could stay overnight in the West Bank and visit the holy sites, rather than be bussed in and out of Tel Aviv. Yet while I was there, there were concerns that the Israeli government was issuing limits on tourists staying overnight in the Palestinian areas.
If this is the case, it would affect Christian groups who want to spend the night as well as limit the employment opportunities that tourism would bring to those young Palestinians. I hope that that limitation does not occur.
The human spirit was on display when we visited souks in Nablus, where people were carrying on with their daily lives. It was on display when students in Bethlehem shared with me their stories of hope for the future. However,
if at times that human spirit faltered, it was when conversations turned to settlements. There are nearly 800,000 illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The ongoing constructions of illegal settlements and a huge wall right across the West Bank were never out of sight and always in our minds. Deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice, it snakes through the West Bank, irrevocably separating Israelis and Palestinians from each other. I had never seen anything like it, and I cannot forget the psychological impact the wall imposed on me. I felt the despair, fear and hopelessness, the way that deliberate policies of occupation and separation have isolated Palestinian communities. This wall is three times as long and twice as high as the Berlin  Wall was.
It separates Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis. It hides Israeli bypass roads that come with up to six-month jail sentences for any Palestinians caught walking or driving on them. And it annexes the aquifers and most fertile land from Palestinian villages to provide for Israeli settlers.
The separation wall is not built on the pre-1967 Green Line; it is built on Palestinian land: a forcible displacement confiscating Palestinian property, be it water, land or both. Could you imagine someone coming into your backyard and building on your land? My take on this wall is that it is not for security, but for land appropriation.
It is about confiscating land and dividing Palestinian territories to ensure the unviability of a Palestinian state. It creates an isolation system, and it constrains freedom of movement. The result is massive racial discrimination.
The only other country like this was apartheid South Africa. The continuous building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories is a roadblock to peace. That is why Labor came out very clearly opposing recent legislation passed in the Knesset which legalised unlawful settlements.
What I learnt from speaking to Palestinian people is that, in a way, borders are not as important as their human
rights—it is their lives, like anyone's, that are important. For example, the Bedouins that are part of the diversity of the Palestinian population suffer demolition and displacement of their homes to make way for Israeli military bases or more illegal settlements. They are then forcibly transferred from their land. In fact, I learnt that, last year alone, Israelis demolished 1,114 houses—even houses funded by the European Union—to allow more illegal settlements to be built. Having experienced the reality on the ground, I feel like the possibility of a two-state solution exists in words only. With the separation wall, segregations, illegal Israeli settlements and ongoing decades of illegal Israeli occupation, I feel that a two-state solution will be difficult to realise. The failure of a two-state solution would not just be bad for Palestine; it would be bad for Israel. As Gareth Evans has noted:
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Without a Palestinian state, Israel has a majority Arab population living under unequal laws and denied a right to vote.
However, everything I have learnt makes it clear that everything gets back to a political solution. In the absence of that, the development of Palestine is going to be a Gordian knot. Having met our DFAT representatives in Ramallah, I was encouraged to learn of Australia's practical support of the Palestinian water sanitation and agricultural sectors through our aid program, but I was disappointed that our support was deeply affected by the 40 per cent bilateral cut to the programs in the last budget. No doubt our DFAT representatives have a challenging job ahead, but I do want to give my thanks and appreciation for the work that they do do with such limited funds in our aid program.
I think many people in the West, including in Australia, are confused about the origins of this conflict. Where and when does this political and economic paralysis end? I feel it really boils down to a conflict that began with a group of immigrants attempting to displace a local people. On the 50th anniversary of Israel's occupation a week ago, Robert Piper, the UN coordinator of humanitarian aid and development activities, described the occupation as 'the most longstanding protection crisis in the UN's history'. Civil rights leader Desmond Tutu has described Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as equivalent to the apartheid regime that discriminated against blacks in South Africa.
It was a step forward when the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution, on 23 December last year, condemning Israel's expansion of settlement policy. But the Israeli government demonstrated its contempt for international law when, only four weeks later, it announced its intention to build another 2,500 illegal settlements across the West Bank and approved 20 permits for 566 settlements in East Jerusalem. My fear is that, the longer the world allows this reality to continue, the worse it will become. The Palestinian economy will be unable to function, Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley—the food basket of the West Bank—will barely survive and illegal Israeli settlements will continue to encroach, while Gazans will be in worse poverty than the current
subsistence level that they exist in.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has articulated that, while the reality of colonisation and oppression becomes harsher by the day, it can only be stopped when as many people as possible give power to truth. That is why, as a delegation, we support the bipartisan approach within Australian politics to support the implementation of a twostate solution, so that the Middle East peace process can be realised with a strong, independent Palestine working in peace with its neighbour, Israel, in economic and strategic partnership. There are 4.5 million Palestinians who have been living under occupation for 50 years and there is no sight of when this will end. The peace process has stagnated and, perhaps, gone backwards in recent decades. We cannot let the next decade be the same.
Australia can show its commitment to peace by condemning Israel settlements as illegal under international law.
It can show its commitment to the Palestinian state by increasing aid and development assistance, including supporting Palestinian access to Area C, in which, according to the World Bank, there is potential for a $3 billion injection to the Palestinian economy being prevented by Israeli restrictions. Australia could recognise both states,
both Israel and Palestine. I commend former Prime Ministers and foreign ministers—Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd,
Bob Carr and Gareth Evans—who articulated why this is important for Australia. They asked: how can we move forward in support of the two-state solution without recognising Palestinian statehood? They have suggested it is time Australia did just that, just like 137 other nations that have already done so. At the very least, we can urge the implementation of the two-state solution before the process of settlement encroachment makes any Israeli disengagement from the occupied territories an impossibility or, at least, a hollow gesture. Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its policies towards Gaza must be challenged at the international level.
Palestinians have lost their rights, their land and their water but they have not lost their hope for peace. It is my hope that peace comes to establish an independent sovereign and democratic Palestinian state based on the internationally recognised 1967 borders, which will coexist side-by-side peacefully with Israel. We must never give up that aim.


It was on a summer night
The shining stars filled the sky
The moon smiled and illuminated the dark earth
A sweet gentle breeze blew refreshing the atmosphere
And lovers held hands gazed in each other's eyes and whispered the words of love

 I stood there in a corner watching wishing to be in love 
And in a blink of an eye i was swept off my feet drowning in the sea of love 
Unaware of its cruelty unaware that i would be crushed and deceived

I danced i rejoiced
I sang loudly in the name of love 
I cried tears of joy tears to be replaced in tears of pain and agony

He knelled poured out his heart reassuring me of his endless love 
He swore by me 
And i believed

Suddenly i was left alone 
I looked around heartbroken dismayed disillusioned
My dream vanished
A lie i was living a lie 
And love became a deceitful love