October 31, 2017, of course, is the centenary of the much hyped charge of the Australian Light Horse at Turkish trenches defending the Palestinian town of Beersheba. The hype is largely due to the event's appropriation by Australia's Israel lobby, part of its ongoing effort to manufacture alleged historical links between Australia and Israel as part of the fiction that a 'unique relationship' exists between the two countries.
Although but one part of an Anglo-Arab thrust aimed at dislodging the Turks from the Levant in World War I, the victory of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba has been opportunistically appropriated by our Israel lobbyists and hyped as an integral component of the Zionist project in Palestine, on a par, almost, with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917.
Of course, no such explicit linkage was ever made by Zionist spokesmen in the immediate post war years. Burnishing Israel's image in contemporary Australian domestic politics is what this blatant propaganda exercise is all about.
Here, for example, are some of the latest Zionist iterations of the linkage:
"On 31 October 1917 two events happened which shaped future world history. The first was the capture of Beersheba by British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers... The second was the decision by the British war cabinet to endorse the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home - the legal foundation of the future state of Israel." (The History, beersheba2017.com)
"The date of the Beersheba charge generally coincided with the Declaration by the British Government that led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel." (Connections to Indigenous Diggers of World War I, jwire.com.au, 23/2/17)
If we look back at earlier Zionist statements, part of the hype surrounding the construction at Beersheba of a 'Park of the Australian Soldier' by the Pratt Foundation in 2008,* the linkage rhetoric was far more explicit: the park was described as "a memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state"; "the result of the victory was the emergence of a thriving democratic and vibrant nation"; "the Australian victory... set in train... the establishment of the state of Israel"; and "the gallant 800 changed Jewish history, and the history of the Middle East." (See my 1/5/08 post Zionist Myth In-Formation by clicking on the AIF label below.)
Need I remind the informed reader that Allenby's Anglo-Arab campaign against the Turks, let alone its Beersheba component, was a purely military affair related to the stalemate on the Western Front, and not in any way a paving of the way for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, and that the British war cabinet decision to issue a declaration of support for the Zionist movement was made on the same day as the charge at Beersheba which could not, therefore, have influenced the decision one way or the other. (British attempts to enter Palestine had actually been underway since February 1917.) The Balfour Declaration, that is Balfour's infamous letter to Lord Rothschild, which gave voice to the decision, not unnaturally emerged soon after - as it happens, on November 2.
IOW, the timing was pure coincidence. If we bear in mind the Anglo-Zionist machinations which led up to the Balfour Declaration, the British decision to support Zionist aims could have been made as early as July 1917, long before Allenby's campaign. And as for the Ottoman Empire as a whole, the British had had designs on that stretching back at least to the De Bunsen Committee Report of June 1915, which made no mention whatever of Zionist aims.
Having clarified that, I will now move on to the latest, grotesque stage in this cheap Zionist production, already hinted at in the title of the jwire report, the appropriation of descendants of a claimed 100 Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers, not merely for use as props in the coming centenary celebration in Israel, but to underscore Israel's bogus claim to indigeneity in Arab Palestine.
This was featured recently in Murdoch's Australian, in a front-page article headed, Remembering Beersheba's heroes, the Aborigines willing to die for their country. The article was accompanied by a photograph of Indigenous Australians, Ray Minniecon and Elsie Amamoo, kitted out as Light Horse troopers. Here's the propagandist core of the piece:
"The pilgrimage to Israel [by the descendants of Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers next week] has been organised by the Rona Tranby Trust, with the support of the Pratt Foundation. Thomas and Eva Rona were Holocaust survivors who found sanctuary in Australia, and their trust specifically supports and preserves indigenous oral history. 'There are so many parallels between the Jewish people and indigenous Australians,' [Trust administrator Jennifer] Symonds says. 'They both understand dispossession from their lands, and the importance of oral histories - This project [the Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project] will enable descendants to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors, and when they return, they will record the stories, so the experience of those soldiers is not forgotten'." (Caroline Overington, 7/10/17)
The cynicism of this "pilgrimage to Israel" emerges only if we bear in mind the wider historical context.
Ostensibly, 'The Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project' is merely 'enabling' these descendants of Aboriginal victims of British settler-colonialism in Australia to "walk in the footsteps of their ancestors." The reality, however, is that they are being involved in a propaganda exercise designed to cement White Australia's connection with another settler-colonial state, one, moreover, which eschews any genuine reconciliation with its indigenous Palestinian Arab victims, having deluded itself into believing that its European Jewish colons, not the native Palestinians, are in fact the indigenous population of the land they now occupy, their 2,000-year spell in Europe notwithstanding.
Those post pilgrimage stories should indeed make interesting reading. As should the product outlined in the notice appended to Overington's article: "The Weekend Australian will publish a special magazine on October 28 commemorating the centenary of Beersheba."
[*The late Dick Pratt, in addition to being a cardboard tycoon (Visy), was a generous donor to both Israeli 'charities' and Australian mainstream political parties, a convicted price-fixer, and a key supporter of Bill Shorten.]