Anzac Day - Surafend

Pro-Palestinian Teachers Twist Surafend History for ANZAC Day

25 April 2024

2.8 MINS

While Surafend is a little-known part of our ANZAC history, I went there twice in 2010 and 2017, met locals and researched the history.

For the pro-Palestinian lobby of Australian teachers to denigrate the ANZAC legacy by rewriting it emphasising Surafend, tying it erroneously to the Israel-Gaza war and belittling the sacrifice of so many Australian soldiers and their families on the eve of ANZAC Day is disgusting.

The Victorian Teachers and School Staff for Palestine (TSSP) have produced their own material with which to indoctrinate our children with their anti-Israel, anti-Australian agenda. They should at least get their facts right.

Their 40-page booklet titled Teaching for Palestine: Challenging Anzac Day will ignore teaching resources from the Australian War Memorial though it is aligned with the national curriculum. The teachers are reportedly concerned with imperialistic and militaristic views.

J Bedson & M & J Rozmus Laying a Wreath at Ramleh War Cemetery

J. Bedson with M. & J. Rozmus, laying a wreath at Ramleh War Cemetery.


What happened at Surafend? The war was over and the ANZACs were camped near the Bedouin village of Surafend on 10 December 1918. The troops were tired of the British protecting the Arabs, who had a long record of thieving and other harassment.

When a New Zealand soldier, Leslie Lowry, was robbed while asleep and murdered chasing his attacker, the Kiwis were annoyed at no response from the British command and asked the Shiekh to surrender the perpetrator.

Failing this, the Kiwis removed the women, children, and elderly and attacked the village, killing somewhere between 40 and 120 men. It is not proven that the Australians took part, but they knew about it and so were complicit.

General Allenby was furious, and, as no one owned up to it, he stripped all the men of their medals and ordered the New Zealand and Australian governments to pay reparations so Surafend could be rebuilt.


Plaque re Surafend Bassem and Barbara 2017

Bassem and Barbara with the plaque for Surafend, 2017.

In October 2010 and on the centenary of the Battle of Beer Sheva in 2017, Norman and I led teams of Australian and New Zealand Christians and others to the site where Surafend had been (as it was destroyed much later) and said sorry for our nations’ actions to locals.

We presented a handwritten apology in 2010 and an apology engraved in gold on a plaque in Arabic, Hebrew, and English in 2017. We did this because of our commitment to reconciliation and our work to bring Jews and Arabs together.


So where are the teachers wrong?

  1. The ANZAC legend should not be “dismantled” and linked to the killing at Surafend, because while horrific, it is totally out of character with the ANZAC spirit of fighting valiantly in the Middle East with honour.
  2. Contrary to teacher Lucy Honan’s assertion, children should not be taught the ANZACs left a long and violent historical imprint in Palestine. Surafend is only one example, and it was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time of the incident above.
  3. The League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, created Mandatory Palestine under British rule from 1920 to 1948, so the ANZACs cannot be held responsible for the British creating a prison at Surafend for Arab activists. The British were dealing with Arab and Jewish insurgents.
  4. The ANZACs cannot be held responsible for the Arab residents of Surafend fleeing or being evacuated during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, when several Arab nations attacked Israel after it declared nationhood, and Arab nations told the Arabs living in Israel to get out of the way. No casualties were recorded.
  5. Surafend was not in the West Bank or Gaza, but in the north near Rishon Le Zion.

Pippa Tandy, a member of TSSP, said in The Australian that people link ANZAC Day to our Australian identity. So, the aim of TSSP is to dismantle, denigrate, and destroy the identity of Australians who commemorate ANZAC Day. This shows their real intent. Australians don’t glorify war, but honour and respect the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families.

TSSP wants to destroy Australia and the values that hold our nation together, encouraging us to be anti-patriotic and ashamed of ourselves. They would rather support the values that led Hamas to murder, burn, rape, and pillage on October 7 with their stated aim to repeat it again and again.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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  1. IAN Moncrieff 25 April 2024 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you Barbara for this most important article – and your efforts to right the wrong, as much as possible, in Surafend.

  2. Neil Harvey 25 April 2024 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    It would be good if The Australian could publish this

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