809 Free Speech anyone?

A little while ago we had Benjamin Natanyahu in Australia (my blog 795), and our PM & Foreign Minister rolled out the red carpet … notwithstanding the dozens of demonstration against Netanyahu and his policies of creating ever more Settlements on occupied Palestinian territories.


This week Palestinian activist Bassem al-Tamimi, was to go on a talking tour, protesting against just those settlements … which is what he does all around the world; to raise awareness on the subject of the Settlements and the plight of Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation. 

But his visa was revoked, on the grounds that "members of the public will react adversely" to his visit and his talks.


Not surprisingly, supporters of Bassem Tamimi believe he is the victim of pressure by pro-Israel groups and have accused Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of conducting "an attack on free speech." 

I concur ... I am a supporter of the Palestinian's right to protest (peacefully) against the continued occupation of Palestinian territories, and especially the ongoing establishment of new Settlements. However, Tamimi's methods of protest include stone-throwing at Israeli security forces, for which he is much criticised.

Furthermore, this question is posed in the Huffington Post: Is Reconciliation Possible? The answer is: yes. It is called “Wasatia”, Arabic for the Middle Way, the path of peace, moderation, justice, and tolerance for people of other ideologies and religions. The Palestinian NGO which has adopted not only the name but the method and the message of Wasatia, was founded in 2007 and is still led by Professor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi.

Update: I emailed Prof. Dajani for a comment on Tamimi, his response was unequivocal: "Stone throwing is a form of violent resistance and sends to the world the wrong message."



Here is the SMH article on the subject of Bassem Tamimi's visa cancellation:

(Read more at ABC News).


SMH: Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi visa cancellation 'an attack on free speech': supporters


A Palestinian political activist has been prevented from speaking in Australia after the Turnbull government cancelled his visa on the grounds that "members of the public will react adversely" to him.


Supporters of Bassem Tamimi believe he is the victim of pressure by pro-Israel groups and have accused Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of conducting "an attack on free speech".


Mr Tamimi, 50, a longtime vocal critic of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, was due to speak in Melbourne and Sydney as a guest of pro-Palestinian groups.


He was granted a three-month visa on April 4 but within 24 hours it was revoked.


In a letter from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Tamimi was told the minister can cancel a visa if he is satisfied that its holder is a "risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community".

"The Department has recently been made aware of information that indicates there is a risk that members of the public will react adversely to Mr Tamimi's presence in Australia regarding his views of the ongoing political tensions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is a risk that his presence in Australia would or might pose a risk to the good order of the Australian community," the Department said.


A Department spokeswoman denied the cancellation was an "act of extreme censorship", as Mr Tamimi's supporters claim.


"The Australian government supports freedom of speech and freedom of religious and political beliefs. The exercise of this freedom does involve a responsibility to avoid vilification of, inciting discord in, or representing a danger to, the Australian community," she said.


A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the decision to cancel was made by the Department but Mr Dutton's office was "aware of the case".


Mr Tamimi, who had left his West Bank home town of Nabi Saleh to travel to Jordan to fly to Australia before his visa was revoked, said he had been blocked by the powerful influence of the pro-Israel lobby.


"I feel that not only Palestine is occupied, the Zionists and their allies dominate the decision in all the world," AAP quoted him as saying.


Vashti Kenway, an organiser of the speaking engagements, said there was a double standard after the government rolled out the red carpet for visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visited in February.


"The hypocrisy of the department couldn't be starker, recently Benjamin Netanyahu was allowed entry to Australia and met with large demonstrations opposing the military occupation of Palestine, reflecting a clear adverse public reaction," she said.


"Yet Netanyahu was not only granted entry but invited to address the Prime Minister. It is clear that this decision is motivated to silence Pro-Palestinian views rather than avoiding politically controversial views."


Mr Tamimi has previously been convicted by an Israeli military court for taking part in "illegal demonstrations and soliciting protesters to throw stones".


Amnesty International campaigned for his release from prison in 2012 after he was jailed for his involvement in protests.


In Nabi Saleh, there have been weekly protests against settlements every week since 2009.