MELBOURNE (May. 6)
The Australian government was today asked to give assurances that pro-PLO sympathizers would not be allowed to import Middle East violence. The leader of the opposition, Malcolm Fraser, called for the assurances after a violent clash Sunday between Jewish students and Arab supporters in Melbourne.
The clash was the most serious outbreak of violence between local Jews and Arab supporters since the politics of the Middle East became a significant issue in Australia after the Yom Kippur War. In the fighting Sunday more than 20 people were injured; two Jewish students were taken to the hospital, and a 70-year-old Jewish spectator received severe head injuries after being beaten with a banner pole.
The clash erupted outside the head office of the Australian Union of Students where two visiting Palestinian students, Eddi Zananiri and Samir Chiekh, were holding a press conference. The two represent the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which is affiliated to the PLO and calls for the destruction of Israel.
The group of some 50 demonstrators was taken by surprise when more than 100 Arabs and PLO sympathizers who were participating in a May Day march in the neighborhood attacked them with sticks and placards. Police broke up the fighting and arrested three Arabs. No charges were made.
FEARS OF PLO ENTRY
The clash was headline news in all media and has focussed attention on the political campaign being waged against Israel on Australia’s university and college campuses by the left-wing student leadership. Although the general student population on all campuses last year overwhelmingly defeated a series of violently anti-Israel resolutions, the leadership this year introduced them again. The Palestinian students were invited as part of the anti-Israel campaign. By granting them entry visas the Australian government has renewed fears here that a senior delegation of the PLO chosen to represent Yasir Arafat will, in due course, be allowed entry to Australia.
The opposition parties, who have stated the PLO should not be allowed entry to Australia, were today critical of the Labor government’s official attitude of “ambiguity” towards the PLO. Fraser said the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam appeared to be involved in “double dealing” on the Middle East. He asked Whitlam to let him see on a confidential basis the copies of diplomatic exchanges between Israel, the Arab countries, the Soviet Union and the United States where these messages touched on Middle East policies. Whitlam is due to meet President Ford in Washington tomorrow.