Journalists who tell the truth!

The following article was written by my friend, Dr Chandra Muzaffar and entitled, “Kudos to journalists who tell the truth”. It is republished with permission. 

with Dr Chandra Muzaffar

UNESCO should be congratulated for awarding the Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize for 2024 to Palestinian journalists covering Gaza. The prize this year was announced in Santiago, Chile in conjunction with World Press Day on 3 rd May 2024.

The prize named in honour of a Colombian journalist murdered in 1986, Guillermo Cano Isaza, is a recognition of the courage shown by journalists who are prepared to carry out their responsibilities in the face of grave danger. Guillermo was a newspaper editor who was a vocal critic of drug barons in his country and in South and Central America.

It is an indisputable truth that journalists in Gaza have been confronting the reality of death every day of their lives in the last 7 months as Israeli bombs rain their congested homeland and Israeli bullets target any child, woman or man who inhabits that
narrow strip of land. Up to this point – 7th May 2024 – 143 journalists have lost their lives in the Israeli assault on Gaza.

This is the largest number of journalists killed in a conflict within a certain period of time in a certain demographic setting.

The number of journalists killed should be viewed in the context of the huge massacre that has taken place in Gaza since October 7th. Israel – mainly its armed forces and Zionist settlers who are allowed to kill Palestinians at random – have annihilated at least
35, 000 people in the course of the last seven months.

It is heart-rending to know that about 70 per cent of those killed are children and women. Indeed, more children have died in the present conflict in Gaza and the West Bank than in any previous assault upon Palestinian territory since 1948 when the state of Israel was established.

If the story of this senseless slaughter has been told to the world, it is not simply because of the courage of the journalists associated with the conventional media. The alternative media have also played a significant role.

Within the alternative media in Gaza are a large number of citizen journalists telling the truth to relatives and friends through their handphones and other channels. They too are heroes and heroines because of their indomitable courage and their willingness to take great risks, risks which place their very lives in peril.

It is because these citizen journalists had shared their stories with certain conventional media channels which in turn had scrupulously verified the news and information they had received that so much of what was, and is, happening in Gaza is now known to the world.

A television station operating in both Arabic and English which helped to disseminate the actual happenings in Gaza and the West Bank far and wide was of course the Qatar based Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera also has its own huge network of journalists on the ground whose courage and integrity are awe inspiring.

Through their commitment to truth and justice, they have raised journalism to a loftier level. It is a shame that such a television station should now be banned by the Israeli authorities from reporting from Occupied Palestine or Israel proper.

It only confirms that the Israeli state does not want the world to know the truth about what it is doing in Gaza. But the truth will prevail in the end. That is the immutable law of life.

After more than 75 years of oppression and suppression, of extermination and expulsion, millions and millions of people all over the world have come to know about what Israel really is, and what it has been doing to the Palestinians and other Arabs.

Israel is exposed as never before. The whole world now knows that it is an arrogant, cruel and inhuman state and society. It is so selfish and self-serving that it has brought about its own downfall.

At this juncture it should also be emphasized that while Israel is perpetuating colossal injustices against Palestinians, there are also millions of Jews in North America and Europe who are against Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. They want the rights of the Palestinians restored.

They are convinced that Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together in peace and harmony.

Together with Palestinians and millions of others from every continent and community, they would applaud Unesco’s decision to award this year’s World Press Freedom prize to Palestinian journalists covering the catastrophe in Gaza.

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

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Palestine and Global Peace

In this, our most recent broadcast on the war on Palestine, we introduce another two great warriors for justice to the Fighting Fathers community – Dr Chandra Muzaffar and Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal. I will paste a short introduction to each of these great souls, along with a short bio of our old friend, Dr Stephen Sizer, below.

Our special guests for this broadcast were:

  1. Dr Chandra Muzaffar

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an international NGO based in Malaysia, which seeks to critique global injustice and to develop an alternative vision of a just and compassionate civilisation guided by universal spiritual and moral values.

He has published extensively on civilizational dialogue, international politics, religion, human rights and Malaysian society. The author and editor of 32 books in English and Malay, many of his writings have been translated into other languages. Among Chandra’s latest publications are, A World in Crisis: Is There a Cure? and Reflections on Malaysian Unity and Other Challenges.

In l977, he founded a multi-ethnic social reform group called ALIRAN which he led for 14 years. Today, apart from his role in JUST, Chandra sits on the board of a number of international NGOs concerned with social justice and civilizational dialogue.

Chandra was Professor and Director of the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue, University of Malaya (1997-1999) and Professor of Global Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia (2007-2012) Chandra travels abroad frequently, giving lectures and speaking at seminars and conferences. He is also a regular speaker at meetings at home in Malaysia.

Chandra is the recipient of a number of international awards related to his scholarship and social activism. He is married to Mariam and they have two daughters.

Visit the website of the International Movement for a Just World

2. Bishop Riah Abu Al-Assal

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal is a Palestinian Anglican bishop. He was the Bishop of Jerusalem from 1997 to 2007. Born: 6 November 1937, he is now 86 years old and has not slowed down. Indeed, he joins us on a tight schedule, departing for Cyprus within an hour of this webinar’s conclusion!

Riah’s origins are in Nazareth, I believe, where he was a member of the Progressive List for Peace – a joint Jewish-Arab political party which existed between 1984 and1992, and profoundly influenced subsequent Israeli politics.

My best memories of Riah are from his trip to Sydney in the early 2000’s, and most especially for the role he played in saving the life of my friend, Mordechai Vanunu – the ‘nuclear whistle blower’ – to whom Riah gave sanctuary in his Cathedral in Jerusalem after Morde’s release from gaol in April 2004.

3. Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer

Rev Dr Stephen Sizer is the founder and director of Peacemaker Trust, chair of the Convivencia Alliance and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – ICAHD-UK.

Meet Stephen at his personal website – www.stephensizer.com – or find out more about his work at the Peacemakers website.

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Catching up with Stephen Sizer in London

September 27, 2023 – We caught up with Stephen in his hometown of Southampton (in the UK) and stopped for an ale in a pub called ‘The Titanic’. I hadn’t realised till then that the great passenger liner, Titanic, departed from Southampton on its first and last voyage in 1912.

It was a joy to catch up with Stephen in person and hear about his ongoing labours. Even though he is technically retired, he is tireless in his ongoing work for justice, most obviously in his advocacy for the suffering people of Palestine.

Find out more of what Stephen is up to at https://www.stephensizer.com

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The Promised Saviour – an interfaith seminar

I was honoured by the invitation from the Nabi Akram Islamic Centre in Granville to speak at their seminar on ‘The Promised Saviour’ on February 26th, 2024. The event brought together representatives of both the Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – as well as Buddhists and Sikhs.

The topic of ‘The Promised Saviour’ focused us on the way our theology shapes our view of the future. Where do we think the world is going? Is there any hope? Not surprisingly, perhaps, we found there was a lot of overlap between the different faith traditions. It seems that we are all looking forward in hope.

I am still waiting for a video recording of the event that I can post here. In the meantime, I’ll post the paper I gave on the hope for Christ’s return.

The Promised Saviour
An interfaith seminar at Holroyd Function Centre on February 26, 2024

Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again.

While not ancient piece of Christian liturgy, this three-fold affirmation is considered to be a concise summary of the faith and is featured in the worship services of almost all Christian churches in all denominations – Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox.

This three-fold statement encapsulates the Christian view of history – that it is linear, with a beginning and an end, moving from a garden to a city (from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem), and it affirms the centrality of Jesus, the Christ, in Christian understanding. Christians believe that the death of Jesus changed the course of history. We believe that His resurrection means that He is still with us, and we believe that Jesus will come again to wind up history as we know it, bringing in what He called ‘the Kingdom of God’.

As I say, I think this much is agreed upon by all Christians of all shapes and flavours. What is debated amongst Christians, and what has been debated since the beginnings of Christianity, is whether we can predict when Jesus will make that final return, and whether we can do anything to hurry Him along.

I believe there is a similar debate in the Shia community as to whether we can influence the timing of al-Mahdī’s return, but I will leave discussion of that subject to my colleagues who are far more educated in this area. The issue I want to comment on now (briefly) regards Christian speculation concerning the return of Jesus.

In the Christian Gospels of both Matthew and Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying, with regards to His final return, that “No one knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32).This though has never discouraged people from speculating, with varying degrees of confidence, as to when that actual day and hour will come, and whether we can influence the timing.

This sort of speculation has been especially prominent with groups of the fringes of orthodox Christianity, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and more recently with a group I consider for more dangerous – namely, the Christian Zionists.

Christian Zionism, which is especially popular amongst Evangelical Christians in the United States, doesn’t normally speculate as to a specific date and time for Jesus’ return, but they do believe that Jesus’ return will not happen until the current state of Israel destroys all its enemies. What this means is that Christian Zionists will support any military action taken by the current government of Israel against its middle eastern neighbours because they believe that Jesus cannot return until all of the state’s enemies have been destroyed!

I personally believe that this ideology is as misled as a form of Christian theology as it is dangerous, and I note that it is not really pro-Jewish either, as Christian Zionists believe that once Israel’s enemies have all been conquered, all remaining Jews will be suddenly converted to Christianity either before or when Jesus makes His return.

As a Christian, I share in the prayer with which our New Testament concludes – “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20), and indeed I yearn for that new world, spoken of by the prophets, where ‘the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Isaiah 11:9), where ‘every tear will be wiped away’ (Revelation 21:4).

Indeed, there is violence and pain in this world that runs so deep that I believe only a total renewal of the cosmos will finally solve things for us, and I believe that the final return of Jesus will bring in this new age. As to exactly when this happens though – when Christ returns, and whether He will have al-Mahdī at His side, I’m happy to wait to find out.

It was an excellent and comprehensive lineup :)

It was an excellent and comprehensive lineup. 🙂


amongst friends - with Abbas Aii and Rabbi Zalman Kastel

amongst friends – with Abbas Aii and Rabbi Zalman Kastel

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#BringHimHome

God bless Ian Rose for organising a snap action for Julian Assange outside the Prime Minister’s office on the morning of February 24th, 2024. We met in anticipation of the decision of the court in London over Julian’s extradition to the US. For better or for worse, the decision was delayed once again, quite possibly for reasons of political expediency.

The crucifixion of Julian Assange is a vicious form of torture, designed to warn publishers worldwide to keep their truths to themselves. Even so, that ancient symbol of Imperial control became a symbol of faith for some people when they saw that there were some people whom the Empire could not kill. Some truths will never be silenced.

And so, we continue to sound the battle cry … Bring Him Home!

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Celebrating my birthday at the Concert for Julian Assange

February 17th, 2024 – It was my privilege to celebrate my 62nd birthday amongst friends at the Concert for Julian Assange. I’ve featured below both the address from my dear friend, John Shipton (Julian’s dad) as well as highlights of my birthday celebrations.

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God, have mercy on the people of Gaza (Feb 17, 2024)

God have mercy on the people of Gaza. That’s my message – my message today. God have mercy on the people of Gaza.

Have you seen what’s happening in Gaza? It’s hard not to see what’s happening because it’s being broadcast to us on our mobile phones and, and interesting…

It’s my birthday today. I’m 62 today. I didn’t even know it was Aussie Cossack’s birthday yesterday. Happy birthday to you, brother. I had other things I could do on my birthday, but I’m here because I need to speak out, and I do feel that in my 62 years on this planet, I’ve never seen anything worse than what is happening right now in Gaza?

Have you heard the cries of the men, women and children of Gaza? Have you heard the cries of the children? Little Hind Rajab – did you hear her recorded telephone conversation, calling the emergency services, trapped in a car, all dead around her, calling emergency services.

She’d left Gaza City on the warning of the Israeli Defense Forces and they were driving towards a hospital where they thought they could get refuge. Her uncle and her aunt, and six of her cousins in the car, but they got intercepted by a tank. And when she calls the emergency services, all her family are dead, and it is only her who’s managed to get the mobile phone, and she’s saying “the rest of the family are asleep and they can’t help me”.

Poor little girl. And all the time the Red Crescent are trying to get through. Eventually they get permission and they send an ambulance through and it looks like those people were killed anyway – the little girl and the ambulance – the two ambulance drivers – they haven’t been heard from since. Have we heard these cries? It’s not difficult. It’s being streamed to our mobile phones.

This is a different kind of genocide. This is the first time a genocide on this scale – that murderous actions on this scale have been streamed right into our living rooms, right into our mobile phones!

And you look back at the, the Arminian Genocide in World War I. A million Arminian people killed by the Ottoman Empire, and they kept it hidden. They silently marched them out into Deir ez-Zor, where they raped and murdered and left them to die.A terrible crime against humanity, and somehow they kept it hidden. We … if only we had known, we would’ve done something to stop it.

You think of the terrible Nazi Holocaust in World War II – six million Jewish people killed, and somehow the Fuhrer managed to keep all that from the world, keep it in even from his own people! Until we eventually – the allied troops – broke through and discovered the death camps and the horrors of what had been taking place. And if only we had known, we would not have let that happen.

Well, in this case, we know exactly what is happening. We have no excuse. We hear their cries. We can see the images, the interviews taking place each day. Yes, journalists are being killed in great number in Gaza but they can’t silence the voices of ordinary people using their mobile phones to communicate with the rest of the world what is going on in a desperate hope that someone will step in to save them.

We didn’t know about those other Holocausts. It’s hard to know, but we know exactly what is happening here, and so the only question is “how many people have to die in Gaza before we stand up and do something?” How many people have to die before we stand up and do something?

God have mercy on the people of Gaza, and God have mercy on us all If we don’t stand up and speak out and pray for the lives of these good people.

God help Mercy. Amen.

Father Dave speaking at a rally in Woollahra, Sydney on February 17th, 2024.

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Father Dave the fighting priest still punching on at 61

A big thank you to Darren Walton for putting this article together and publishing it through the Australian Associated Press on December 21st, 2023. This article went around the country and around the world. See, for example, The Guardian’s version of it, here. The AAP version though included original photos.

It was a tough fight, but one I had to have. The result was a loss via a split decision. I was upset with the decision but was heartened when I found out that my opponent was a good deal more experienced than I’d been led to believe. I’d been told he’d had a series of amateur ‘corporate’ fights. What I hadn’t been told was that he’d also had 27 professional fights in Argentina before coming to this country. That made me feel a little better.

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Free Julian Assange Now – the Webinar

It was a great privilege for Fighting Fathers Forums to host a Free Julian Assange Now webinar on Monday, December 18, featuring:

  • John Shipton – Julian’s dad
  • Adriana Navarro – lawyer
  • Con Pakavakis – chair of the Writers For Peace Committee
  • Father Dave

#bringhimhome #freejulianassange #pressfreedom #freewebinar

 

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