Kiwis mark strong ties with Israel on 70th anniversary of founding of Jewish State

Israel Institute of New Zealand director Ashley Church says 16 months of ‘severely misguided’ foreign policy decisions, regarding Israel, have strained the relationship between the two nations. “But this shouldn’t detract from the fact that New Zealand has a long and proud history of supporting and cooperating with the tiny Middle eastern Jewish State.”

Monday the 14th of May will mark 70 years since the creation of the modern State of Israel and the end of British control of the territory. This followed the passing of a UN resolution on November 29, 1947 calling for the land to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews. The resolution followed centuries of persecution of Jews, culminating in the murder of 6 million of them during WW2 and was supported by 33 nations (including New Zealand). 13 (including the UK, which controlled the land at that time) voted against it.

Church says New Zealand has continued to be a strong friend of Israel over the years despite world opinion turning against the State in more recent years.

“Up until the late 60s Israel had strong support in the west – but in the years since, that situation has changed dramatically, and this tiny State is now the subject of an unrelenting avalanche of propaganda which has clearly swayed world opinion.”

Church says that this change was mostly due to the increasing power of the Arab-controlled ‘nonaligned’ nations group, at the UN, which has made attacks on Israel a central plank of its activity for almost 40 years.

“There are 193 member states of the United Nations. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has 57 member states and they are all members of the ‘Non-aligned movement’, which has 125 member states. These countries invariably vote against Israel; 32 UN member states don’t even recognise Israel as a country”.

“Despite this – New Zealand has generally walked an independent line and has voted on resolutions about Israel based on the facts – which has usually meant supporting the Israelis against politically contrived attacks”.

“Sadly, that position changed in December 2016 when the former National Government inexplicably decided to co-sponsor UN Resolution 2334 which chastised Israel for ‘a flagrant violation of international law’ – an issue focused on the construction of homes on land recaptured by Israel during the 1967 War and on which the relative ‘rights and wrongs’ aren’t as clear as the resolution suggests. That misguided move ended our proud history of standing back and taking a non-partisan approach on such issues – choosing, instead, to treat them on a case-by-case basis.”

However, Church says that, since December 2016, New Zealand has taken an increasingly partisan position on Israel.

“There have been 19 resolutions condemning Israel at the United Nations this past year. There were only 6 other resolutions that specifically singled out a nation and no country was targeted more than once except for Israel. New Zealand voted to support 16 of the 19 anti-Israel resolutions and abstained in the remaining 3.”

Despite this, Church says that most Kiwis still strongly support Israel and see past the propaganda.

“A nationwide poll that we conducted back in July of last year showed that 55% of kiwis still strongly support Israel and its right to exist – and only 13% don’t – so despite the actions of the Government, most of us remain resolute in our support.”

Church says that a Rally to show support for Israel and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern State of Israel will be held at Silo Park, in Auckland, on Sunday at 2pm.

“The event has been organised by the Zionist Federation of New Zealand and is being jointly supported by the Israel Institute, Flaxmere Christian Fellowship, Ebenezer Operation Exodus, Christians for Israel New Zealand, The New Zealand Jewish Council and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. Anyone who supports Israel is welcome to attend.”