Launch of Gaza Surf Project Fundraising Dinner by Northern Beaches Committee


By Marcelle Mansour OAM

In the presence of the Palestinian Ambassador H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine held its first Inaugural Fundraising Dinner for the Gaza Surf Project, on Monday 14 August 2017 at Old City Kitchen & Bar Newtown, , and was organised with affiliation with the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine (CJPP), other advocacy groups and members of the Australian Palestinian Community.

The event was attended by members and groups of Palestine supporters; included The Hon Lynda  Voltz MLC- Shadow Minister for Sport and Veterans Affairs,  Associate Professor Jake Lynch from Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies the University of Sydney, Jennifer Killen – Coordinator of Friends of Hebron, Cathy Peters from Sydney University and Sonja Sedmak- Coordinator of the Coalition for Justice and Peace, Dr Jamal Rifi AM, Eddie Zananiri -. Spokesperson of  The Australian Palestinian Community and a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, Abdul Kader Karanouh – Secretary General of Fatah in Australia, Jamil Batshoun- President of the Australian Palestinian Club together with Michael Barjel and Henry Wahhab,  Hilmi Dabbagh, President of Australian Palestinian Professionals Association, Marwan Akramawi from The General Union of Palestinian Workers, Issa Shaweeh – Treasurer of Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), Dr Emad Berro and Shawki Moslemani from the Australian Arabic Cultural Centre, Shamikh Badra. Amir Salim from Australia Arab Council, Dr George Hatoum, Derek Halawa, Hassan Mourtada, Abdul Majeed Hijazi, Farouk and Nisreen Motawi ,Rezik and Salwa Husary .

Ms. Sonja Sedmak MCed the event, speakers were H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the Ambassador of Palestine, Mr Shamikh Badra and  Mr Hilmi Dabbagh.

In his speech H. E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the ambassador highlighted the importance of Gaza Surf Project as a community development project, for it aims to send life saving equipments including surf boards to Gaza, and to bring out two young people from Gaza to learn surfing and then set up a Nippers programme in Gaza based on the Australian Surf Life Saving. the ambassador spoke about the unjust Israeli occupation in Palestine the necessity of urgent reconciliation  in  achieving the conflict resolution.

Shamikh Badra said he was aware of the miserable situation in Gaza for he was born and lived there most of his life, he spoke of the Israeli blockade in Gaza Strip for more than 10 years including offensives and aggressions since 2006 where civilians were killed. The United Nations report shows that Gaza may already be unlivable with the weak infrastructure has contributed to the current humanitarian crisis with mass poverty , high unemployment , shortage of electricity and water, inadequate health care. Gaza has very little entertainment facilities such as cinema, theatre, or sports and therefore “Gaza Surfing Project” is a significant initiative.  Samikh added that Gaza will remain steadfast and will live and will not die despite Rabin’s wishes to see her sunk in the sea in 1992.

Hilmi Dabbagh stated that it was in June 2016, when the former Premier Mike Baird agreed to support an initiative of the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine, to send surfboards to war-torn Gaza, and to develop a Nippers program for the children of Gaza. History proves that Surfing in Gaza is not new occurrence; for there is in reality a 75-year-old connection between Sydney’s northern beaches and Gaza’s Mediterranean coastline that goes back to early 1940s when the Australian members of 6th Division were stationed in Gaza, under General Thomas Blamey’s command who were component to the Allied Defence against Nazi Germany’s push from North Africa. At that time hundreds of Anzacs were encamped near Gaza beach for training where they demonstrated the art of body surfing to local Palestinians, and held a big surf carnival with General and Lady Blamey as guests of honour.

Today there is very little entertainment in Gaza –.remembering the Australian connection – young Gazans  have asked to benefit from the experience of the Australian popular sport of life saving, This initiative will send a message of hope for people who live in despair. It is in this spirit that Premier Baird agreed with a delegation from the Northern Beaches Committee for Palestine that sending surfboards to the people of Gaza, and developing a Nippers program there, would be a welcome gesture for hope and peace.

Then Jamil Batshoun gave an enthusiastic ward to encourage the audience to be generous in raising funds. The event concluded successfully with the ambassador thanked the advocacy groups organizers for their solidarity and steady support to the Palestinian cause and he also thanked the Husary family for providing a great dinner that was inspired by the tastes of Jerusalem.

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The National Conference of the Palestinian Campaign for the Boycott of Israel at the University of Sydney




By Marcelle Mansour

The Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and Sydney University Staff for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)  held a National Conference titled “Driving Global Justice for Palestine”) on Friday and Saturday 28-29 July 2017 at the University of Sydney Australia. The conference was supported by a number of associations: The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network; the Palestine Support Network Australia; Friends of Palestine WA; Justice for Palestine Brisbane; the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (SA), Australian Palestinian Professionals Association; The General Union of Palestinian Workers, the Australian Palestinian Club; the Coalition against Israel Apartheid Melbourne; the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine; the Palestine Action Group Sydney;

A large number of active academics and researchers participated in the two-day conference, in which 32 research papers were presented, along with discussions and follow-up, all aimed at urging driving international attention towards achieving a just peace in Palestine.

Some of local Australian academic speakers were Emirates Professor Stuart Rees AM, Dr Ahmad Shboul Am, Professor Bassam Dally, Dr Peter Slezak, Dr Nick Riemer, Dr Marcello Svirsky, Dr Jake Lynch, Dr Nigel Parsons, Jessica Morrison, Cathy Peters, Vivienne Prozsolt.

The Australian keynote speakers were Dr Yousef Munayyer- Executive Director US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Samah Sabawi – author, playwright and political commentator and Professor Ghassan Hage -Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne. Various Sessions covered important topics such as freedom of speech. Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Justice, Palestine, Unions and Politics and others

According to the Gaurdian newspaper: “On the following day Sunday the 30th of July, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr delivered a speech to the NSW state Labor conference, calling on the party to recognise Palestine. The motion carried by delegates in Sydney on Sunday night affirmed the two-state solution, and it recognised Israel and Palestine’s right to exist “within secure and recognised borders” before urging the next Labor government to recognise Palestine. The references to the two-state solution and the right to exist secure state borders were added during backroom negotiations in the lead-up to the vote.”

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Peter Manning’s book of Janet Venn-Brown, a Life in Art; Hosted by Arab Council Australia



By Marcelle Mansour OAM

Janet Venn-Brown -A Life in Art; 2016, Dr Peter Manning’s lavishly illustrated book in English edition, celebrated and honours her extraordinary life as an Australian remarkable painter and determined campaigner for Palestinian statehood. It captures her artistic work of painted radiant interiors during her 40 years in Rome, where she fell in love with Palestinian activist Wael Zuaiter, and depicts her political engagement in the Middle East after Wael was murdered.

Dinner with Janet Brown-Venn & Peter Manning, as a night of art was hosted by Arab Council Australia at Summerland Restaurant on Wednesday 26th of July 2017. The event was attended by Senator Shawquet Muslemani, MP of the Legislative Council of the Australian Parliament, Ms Julia Finn MP Australian Labor Party for Granville NSW, Mr Lauri Ferguson former MP, Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. HE Izzat Abdulhadi, and First Secretary Ms Noura Saleh from the Palestinian Embassy in Canberra, Mr Ali Kazak, senior Palestinian Diplomat, and former Ambassador of Palestine, Painter and Campaigner Janet Venn-Brown, Dr Peter Manning, Author of Janet Venn Brown A Life in Art, heads of associations, Ms Randa Kattan- CEO of Arab Council Australia, community leaders and a crowd of Australian Arab and Palestinians.

Ms Zahia Shriedy MCed the event, Ms Randa Kattan hosted the night, speakers were H.E. Izzat Abdulhadi, the Ambassador of State of Palestine, Dr Peter Manning, Australian distinguished journalist and Author of Janet Venn Brown: A Life in Art, followed by Q & A Session conducted by Peter along with book signing.

The speakers took the audience to a tour of history about Janet Venn – Brown’s life, the 92 years old Australian artist who created interior paintings for 40 years during her life in Italy while she was based in Rome after she studied art at her Italian school.

It was in Rome where she met Wael Zu’aiter (2 January 1934–16 October1972) the Palestinian intellectual Writer, Translator and the Fatah Representative and Spokesman in Rome at that time. Zu’aiter was born in Nablus in 1934, the son of Adel Zu’aiter who was one of the notable families of the city and worked as a lawyer and university lecturer and translator. In Italy, Wael went to university for foreigners and took lessons in singing for he was fascinated by music, and had a perfect ear for sound. Janet and Wael fall in love with each other when he sang to her beautifully the song of It was a lover and his lass while they were walking the banks of the Tiber. Since then Janet became Zu’aiter’s partner for eight years and she was one of the last people to see him before his assassination happened on 16 October 1972. It was reported that Wael Zuaiter was murdered not because he was a terrorist, rather because he was a passionate intellectual Palestinian political activist. Before he was killed, Zu’aiter was in the process of translating One Thousand and One Nights to Italian language which was left uncompleted.

Janet traveled to Europe before settled in Rome, where she hosted her friends of Australian well known painters such as Justin O’Brien, Martin Sharpe, Arthur Boyd Donald, Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart and the renowned Writer David Malouf. She also traveled to Middle Eastern countries and painted various interiors over there and she is still constantly painting.

 Janet Venn-Brown: A Life in Art’s book of 180 pages has color illustrations and contains the Australian artist’s biography that was born in 1924 and left Australia for Rome in the 1960s, capturing the streets and architectural buildings of the towns, and narrating the story of her life during her 40 years in Rome until her return to Australia in 2011. The book shows her relationship with the Palestinian political activist Weal Zu’aiter and her engaging in political activity regarding to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In a life time devoted to art making Janet Venn- Brown was celebrated with a beautiful art display hung on the wall, featured a selection of her real interior artwork that has a soft touch and a delicate colour along with a great book published about her life and wonderful work as a retrospective exhibition. The book is a wonderful celebration of not just Janet Venn- Brown’s work, but her life and dedication to ceaseless work for the Palestinian cause, human rights and social justice.

This book is certainly of great value and must be read, as it moves the reader to a real world to live an artistic, intellectual, social and political experience in our current reality. Congratulations to the journalist Dr. Peter Manning, and thanks for writing this amazing book. Extended thanks go to Ms. Randa Kattan, the staff of the Arab Council of Australia and all those who participated in the event.

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From my memory with the late Metropolitan Paul Saliba, Archbishop of Antiochian Orthodox



By Marcelle Mansour OAM

Memory Eternal to His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Paul Saliba of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines (1939 – 2017). After he was consecrated in Damascus, Syria he arrived to Australia in 1999.  Since his arrival to Australia he doubled the number of Eastern Byzantine churches in Sydney, and around the states of Australia, New Zealand and Philippines. He founded and opened the monastery of St. Michael (Centre of the Antiochian Village Australia) in Goulburne that provides Christian hospitality in a spiritual Orthodox environment.

The late Archbishop Paul Saliba dedicated his entire life serving God, to education, to church, and to community where he focused on youth and younger generation.

One of these photos reminds me with a very short conversation with him during the Annual dinner of Sts Michael and Gabriel 2015, when I told him about one of my artworks was selected and exhibited at the Louvre Museum in the Fifth Award Exposure in Paris 2015, and the artwork was about the Holy Bread that I obtained from my local church in Ryde, he raised his hand pointing to Heaven and said: “It is God’s work”. His concise comment made me thrilled to realized and visualise in depth the mystery of our Christian faith.

May his soul rest in peace with Heavenly Father and may his memory be eternal.

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Bob Carr Invokes Recognition of State of Palestine



By Marcelle Mansour OAM

Former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr has urged Australia to recognise Palestine as a state at the NSW ALP Policy Forum on Palestine.

“The time has come for Australia to recognise Palestine.” He said
A policy forum on Palestine was hosted by the Hon Tony Burke MP and the Hon Anthony Albanes MP of the  Australian Labor Party in New South Wales at the RSL Hurlstone on Tuesday 27th of  June 2017. The event was attended by Senator Shawquet Muslemani, MP of the Legislative Council of the Australian Parliament, Shadow Minister for Education Mr Jihad Dib, MP, Member of the Legislative Assembly, the Ambassador of the State of Palestine to the Commonwealth and Australia Dr Izzat Abdul Hadi and First Secretary Ms. Noura Saleh from the Palestinian Embassy in Canberra, former Mayor of Bankstown, Khal Asfour, various heads of associations, media representatives and a crowd of members of the Arab and ethnic communities.

Tony Burke gave a brief introduction about the guest speakers Aletia Dandas, who recently came from Palestine, spoke of her experience while working for the Palestinian-Israeli program. She holds graduate studies in community development, non-violence, human rights, conflict resolution and peace building. Aletia described the continuing suffering of Palestinians under the torment of the Israeli occupation where the areas are subject to severe restrictions in Palestinian cities. a thousand Palestinian suffer at the checkpoints per hour, Israelis and soldiers are leading to the displacement of thousands of Palestinians, particularly those facing serious challenges to access to basic services, along with the ongoing demolition of Palestinian homes and allowing Israelis to build additional illegal settlements.

Bob Carr the former Foreign Minister of Australia was the keynote speaker, spoke explicitly about his discussion with the former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard during his career as a diplomat in Canberra since 2012-2013, on the issue of the occupation of Palestine and the lack of world support for it. He spoke about his criticism of the fabrication of history, race and religion and his opposition to the activities of the Israeli illegal settlements that spread and hinders the peace process. “If the settlements have to be withdrawn in the context of the peace offer why are they planting more of them, and why about 60% of them being planted in the state of Israel deeply towards East?” Bob Carr questioned and pointed out that the majority of the Israeli government’s members oppose to the two-state solution where only 4 out of 22 members support it and 65% of The Israeli cabinet disagrees with this principal. He also praised the Jews who are against the occupation and who believe that the intolerable occupation is going to degrade them and will damage Israel, and therefore they support the solution of a just peace between the two sides.

Bob Carr clearly called on Australian government to recognise Palestinian State, In his own words he said: “Fifty years have passed since the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since June 5, 1967… the continuation of the Israeli occupation severely poisoned Palestinian society, violated the human rights of the Palestinian people and increased their suffering, the Palestinian resistance outlast the occupiers ten times … today we face the issue of justice, and the Australian Palestinians will not leave their land… there must be a just settlement because there is no peace without justice … it is the time to be prepared to listen to the alternative voice and to recognize the humanity and dignity of Palestinians and to send the message to both sides. As a result we support the Palestinian cause for Palestinians there is hope and prospect at the end of the process, a Palestinian state will happen and it is time for Australia to recognize Palestine.”

Bob also informed of the upcoming NSW ALP conference which aims to recognize the state of Palestine and to save the two-state solutions.

The Q & A discussion included many topics of interest to the audience regarding the policy on the Palestinian issues and the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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Australia Palestine Advocacy Network Fundraising Annual Dinner 2016

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By Marcelle Mansour

Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) held its annual fundraising dinner on Saturday 24th September 2016 at the Grand Roxy, Brighton-Le-Sands in the presence of a number of supportive Members of NSW Parliament: The Hon Tony Burk MP-Manager for Opposition Business Australian Labor Party Member for Watson;  Mr Paul Lynch MP-Member of the Legislative Assembly Member for Liverpool Shadow Attorney General Member of the Australian Labor Party; Mr Jihad Dib –Member of Legislative Assembly Shadow Minster for Education Member of the Australian Labor Party; Mr Laurie Ferguson former MP; the Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and  H E Izzat Abdulhadi The Palestinian Ambassador to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.

The event was also attended by APAN’s Committee members included Bishop George Browning-President; Professor Bassam Dally-Vice President; Mr Issa Shaweesh-Treasurer; Mr Nasser Mashni, Executive Member; Dr Peter Manning, Executive; Assoc Prof Peter Slezak, Executive Member; Jessica Morrison, Executive Officer; Lisa Arnold, Study Tour Coordinator.

The event was also attended by Ms Jennifer Killen, Coordinator of Friends of Hebron and head of Organisations included Secretary General of Fatah in Australia Abdul Kader Karanouh, President of the Australian Palestinian Club Mr Jamil Batshoun, Public Relations Officer of the Club Mr Tawfiq Awad, Mr Jack Shiber Secretary, Dr. Mustapha Alameddind, President of Australian Arabic Cultural Centre Boutros Indari Forum, Mr Fady Mallo President of El Marada Australia and a large number of distinguished personalities including Dr Imad Berro, Adel EL Hassan, Mr Karim Abiad, Poet Badaoui El Hage Mr Hassan Fakhreddine, and businessman Mr Mohammed Hammouri, Mr Hani Elturk OAM Editor of Australian Affairs of El-Telegraph newspaper and Visual Artist Mrs Marcelle Mansour (Writer of this article).

Ms Fatima Ali MCed the event, and Bishop George Browning delivered a speech declaring that Palestine and Palestinians are not going away. Palestinians are here to stay. APAN exists to make sure the voice of Palestinians is heard by the majority of Australians against continuing injustice practice through taking their lands. Palestinians were also urged to talk to their local Federal electorate members to support the Palestinian cause.

H E Izzat Abdulhadi Ambassador of Palestine highlighted the purpose of tonight’s occasion is fundraising event in order to continue the undertaken substantial efforts to defend Palestine and to attain justice with peace. He also urged unity among Australian Palestinian Community members to make their voices heard in Australia.

Professor Peter Manning spoke about his new book titled Janet Venn-Brown, a Life in Art in which published the history of the artist’s husband Wael Zuaiter who was a Palestinian Writer and Translator and was killed in 1972. The book also contains a biography of the painter, and the full collection of the quality resolution images. Mr Issa Shawish supervised the auction and requested the attendees to encourage Mr John Salisbury who is currently walking and intend s to present a petition to Parliament calling on Australia to recognize Palestinian statehood and to put an end to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

The program included raffles, auction items and entertainment by the Australian Lebanese Actor and comedian Rob Shehadie, who provided a lot of entertainment and laughter for the multicultural audience and engaged them in an oriental dancing competition, where the winner was Mrs Elizabeth Elturk.




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