Comment on Israeli activity, and also my Op Ed column on Ebola

by ray goodlass

Good news that Israel’s Soda Stream has pulled its production out of an illegal settlement in the Occupied West Bank. A small BDS victory, though much bigger ones are needed to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

And after some days of closing off the dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque in Occupied East Jerusalem it has re-opened them to both Muslim worshippers and the wider public, though naturally enough  Palestinian frustration remains.

In other news my Op Ed newspaper column  on Australia’s slow and weak response to Ebola was published the other day. I’m now working on next week’s piece, about Clive Palmer’s amazing deal with Captain Abbott and Co on the government’s abysmal direct action climate plan.

Here’s the text of this week’s piece:

Australia slow to act on Ebola

Last week a politically savvy friend, after commenting on the government’s failure to assist West Africa’s Ebola outbreak, and Labor’s call to help, commented that he hadn’t seen or heard anything about the Greens response. Were they silent on this very serious problem, or had the media just no bothered to cover it?

I was happy to inform him that it was very much the latter. Through several media releases the Greens had argued strongly for an Australian response, and then I was happy to fill in the gaps left by our somewhat lazy media.

For example, on Monday, Sep 29th, 2014 I read that the Greens have called on the Australian government to join the growing international response to the Ebola crisis by sending a large scale on-ground team to West Africa to undertake medical and logistical work.

“The Australian government should be part of the international team that have committed logistical and health personnel to the region,” Greens overseas aid spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“Australia has a responsibility to play its part in this massive health and social crisis by joining the teams from Britain, China, the USA and Cuba” Senator Rhiannon said.

And in relation to our own readiness at home, Australian Greens Health Spokesperson, Dr Richard Di Natale publicly questioned the Federal Government’s Chief Health Officer about what training that has been provided to Australian health personnel that could be deployed to combat Ebola in our region.

“The Federal Government’s Chief Medical Officer told Senate Estimates this morning that Australia has not provided specific training to our health workers that could be deployed.

But now it seems as though we might finally be catching up with the rest of the world, for as Paul Osborne reported (SMH 24 October) Australian medical teams could be heading into West Africa to fight Ebola after what officials say have been very positive talks on safety guarantees.

However, no mission will be launched until ‘appropriate risk mitigation procedures’ are in place” Mr Abbott said..

One is left wondering why the Australian response has been so tardy. Is it because Captain Abbott thinks we all see it as simply being ‘over there’ (i.e. West Africa) and either not a threat to us, or of our concern. Perish the thought, if that it the attitude.

Equally reprehensible is the excuse that it is not in our strategic interest, in that major sea routes such as the Suez Canal are not threatened and there are no major oil reserves, unlike the Middle East, where we have been quick to act. Again, perish the thought if our government should be so selfish.

Or was it, as has been recently reported (ABC TV and SMH), that Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was busily trying to bolster the size of his portfolio by having his Operation Sovereign Borders team take charge of Australia’s response to the Ebola? Yet again, perish the thought.