Israel, Jews, the state, anarchism…

Some of my best friends [are] anti-Semitic
Barry Cohen
The Australian
May 21, 2008

MY favourite definition of an anti-Semite is “a person who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary”. Susan Chandler, the former Victorian Liberal Party campaign manager who described a colleague as a “greedy f..king Jew”, appears to qualify…

After World War II, and the attempt by the Nazis to destroy European Jewry, there was sympathy and support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the mandated territories of Palestine. When the UN voted in November 1947 to create an Arab and a Jewish state, the neighbouring Arab countries attacked the Jewish state.

[See: United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, November 29, 1947; The 1948 Arab-Israeli War, also known by Israelis as the War of Liberation, and by Palestinians as al Nakba (Arabic: النكبة, “the Catastrophe”) was the first in a series of wars fought between the newly declared State of Israel and its Arab neighbors in the long-running Arab-Israeli conflict. The War, commencing immediately on the termination of the Mandate on 15 May 1948, was fought mostly on the territory of the British Mandate of Palestine, and for a short time also on the Sinai Peninsula, marking an exodus of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their residency. The 1948 war was concluded with the 1949 Armistice Agreements.]

That Israel survived was first met with disbelief, then awe and finally anger. Those, particularly on the Left, who had wept openly for the murdered millions, started to resent Jews no longer being victims…

As a young boy growing up in the aftermath of World War II, I hoped that anti-Semitism would gradually fade away. Regrettably, that has not been the case. It is alive and well and, it would appear, still common among what was once called polite society.

On Monday, Media Watch ran a story (Saying Goodbye is Hard to Do) on the spiking of an article by Ed O’Loughlin, his final contribution for Fairfax, published by The Age but not The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wars between worlds
Ed O’Loughlin
The Age
May 10, 2008

THE car was still burning when we came upon the scene. A bullet-proof plate from a flak jacket lay near the wreckage, its plastic layers peeled open like the pages of a book. My “fixer” recognised the silver Pajero at once, and he hurried over to a colleague to find out what had happened. When he came back he looked almost puzzled. “It’s Fadel,” he said. “He’s dead!” And he started to weep for his friend.

In fact four were already dead, men and boys, and two more were to die of their wounds a few days later. But 23-year-old Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was the one who made headlines.

Hundreds of innocent people die in Gaza every year – far more than we bother writing about in the West. But footage from Shana’s camera revealed that he had actually filmed an Israeli tank firing the shell that killed him, as he stood in his clearly marked press flak jacket, by his clearly marked press vehicle.

A second tank shell, fired several minutes after the first, sprayed would-be rescuers with a second cloud of three-centimetre “flechette” steel darts, killing 19-year-old Khalil Dogmoush and injuring several others, including freelance photographer Ashraf Abu Amra.

We didn’t know all of this at the time, as we stood by the wreckage of Shana’s vehicle. All we knew was that a press vehicle had been targeted minutes earlier, that we were standing beside that vehicle, fully exposed to a hillside where Israeli tanks were operating, and that an Israeli drone was whining overhead.

And we knew from long experience that, whatever had happened, the Israeli Defence Force would deny responsibility. This it duly did, claiming that its troops had fired only at armed militants who had attacked them at close range.

I have covered quite a few stories like this over the past 51/2 years, in Gaza and elsewhere. Since the present uprising began in 2000, close to 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli action, according to figures from the Israeli rights group B’tselem. Slightly more than 1000 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. In the first three months of this year, 11 Palestinians died for every Israeli civilian.

Eman al-Hams was a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was machine-gunned to death at point blank range by an Israeli officer, who admitted the act on army radio. The officer was subsequently acquitted, promoted and decorated.

Asma al-Mughair, 16, and her brother Ahmed, 13, were both shot in the head on the roof of their home in Rafah, which was in the sights of an Israeli sniper’s nest, only 100 metres away. Seven members of the Ghaliya family were blown to bits while picnicking on a Gaza beach which Israeli artillery was shelling.

But if you Google any of the above names you will quickly learn – from armchair bloggers and Israeli Government spokespeople – that all of these stories are false, elaborate hoaxes concocted by anti-Semitic journalists to smear the state of Israel. Little wonder, then, that Israeli talkback was generally of the opinion that Fadel Shana got what he deserved…

Why was the story not published in the SMH? Ed O’Loughlin told Media Watch that “I was told informally that there were concerns about how the pro-Israel lobby would react to it”; the editor, Alan Oakley, is playing mum.

In addition to concerns over Ed O’Loughlin’s reportage — Michael Danby has denounced his “systematic bias against Israel, which is indeed both intellectually lazy and politically intemperate”, while Tzvi Fleischer maintains that Ed “is obviously a talented journalist who brilliantly distorts facts and substitutes opinions for news” — concern has also recently been expressed by the “pro-Israel lobby” over an address by Antony Lowenstein to a group of students at UNSW (“Uni students face heat over Loewenstein debate”, AJN, May 16, 2008). According to Anthony:

Zionists in Australia believe that continuing to sell the same discredited myths to a young generation will ensure a life-long love for Israel. But a growing number of vocal Jews are publicly questioning Israel’s brutality and rejectionism. The Palestinians deserve an equal hearing in the mainstream press (and the recent tour of Palestinian-American Ali Abunimah proved that this is starting to happen, away from the censorious Jewish community.)

The ongoing success of my work – aimed, incidentally, at a non-Jewish readership, as well as Jews, an audience that the Zionist lobby has no clue how to reach, preferring to pressure editors to block opposing views – indicates that the space here and overseas for critical thoughts is expanding. The tone of this laughable article, that somehow the students and the Zionist lobby must prove their allegiance to the “official” line on Israel/Palestine, is really a sign of weakness.

Since when was open debate frowned upon? The two-state solution is dead. New ideas are required. A serious and informed Jewish establishment would welcome it. Instead, we’re treated to the sorry sight of leaders and newspapers trying to seal the cracks.

I never realised I was so dangerous.

See also : A celebration that ignores the plight of Palestine, The Age, Michael Shaik and Antony Loewenstein, May 8, 2008 | Independent Australian Jewish Voices | Australians For Palestine | Anarchists Against the Wall | Messianic Troublemakers: The Past and Present Jewish Anarchism, Jesse Cohn, Zeek, April 2005 | Funk soul brother Uri Gordon’s blog Anarchy Alive! and his essay Israeli anarchism: Statist dilemmas and the dynamics of joint struggle, Anarchist Studies, 15.1, 2007 (PDF):

I would have liked to end this article on an optimistic note, but as it goes to print the situation in Israel/Palestine is worse than it has ever been. The Israeli government continues to make life hell for the residents of Gaza and the West Bank, and has adopted a policy of knee-jerk rejection towards any and every initiative for renewed negotiations. Among the Israeli public, wide support for the recent war in Lebanon and the lack of outcry at the ministerial appointment of Avigdor Lieberman – a barefaced racist advocating ethnic cleansing and centralisation of power – represent a mood of dazed passivity, fed by economic hardship and the constant revival of dark collective traumas. In such an environment, the efforts of anarchists and the wider left easily seem like a drop in the sea. Even when hundreds mobilise to protest the continued pounding of Gaza or the accelerated building of the segregation barrier, their voices largely fall on deaf ears as the seemingly-unstoppable engines of death churn on. As the nightmare unfolds, all that anarchists and their allies can do is hold on to their visions and continue the thankless work of building the infrastructures of joint struggle, never losing their hope for a breakthrough that will finally bring some solace to this orphaned land.



About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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17 Responses to Israel, Jews, the state, anarchism…

  1. Uri says:

    To bring things up to date (my article was written almost two years ago), there is currently a pretense of negotiations with the PA (and even some MKs saying the government should talk with Hamas). Meanwhile it was today made official that negotiations with Syria have been ongoing – though nobody believes any agreements are getting signed before the US elections.

  2. KinkyBoy says:

    [It’s not June already is it?


    It’s not.]

  3. KinkyBoy says:

    [J u n e …]

  4. Dr. Cam says:

    Jew are a hard taskmaster, Andy.

    O’Loughlin did seem a little biased at times. I read most of his reports, and there was a tendency to have long emotional paragraphs about Palestinian kids being killed and their mothers weeping over their graves etc. and then a short paragraph, oh yeah, some Israeli kids died as well.

  5. @ndy says:

    Maybe. In this report in particular, or more generally?

    O’Loughlin responded to Danby in the February 22, 2008 edition of the AJN:

    Ed O’Loughlin: My Israel reporting explained, Fairfax’s Middle East correspondent ED O’LOUGHLIN responds to critics of his reporting from Israel, chiefly Melbourne Ports MP Michael Danby.

    O’Loughlin reported for Fairfax for five years. Here’s his reportage in The Age for 2008:


    Arabs move in where Israelis fear to tread
    April 26, 2008

    Gazans cook up new power source
    April 19, 2008

    Israel denies killing TV cameraman
    April 18, 2008

    Israeli leaders shun Carter
    April 15, 2008

    Blame game over deadly Gaza raid
    April 11, 2008

    Katsav opts out of plea bargain
    April 10, 2008

    Israel muzzles voice of peace
    April 9, 2008

    Soapy escapism on offer for the sadly stateless
    April 5, 2008


    Israeli housing push sparks fresh anger
    March 11, 2008

    Mourning tents spread on Gaza Strip
    March 4, 2008


    Renewed violence casts pall over Rice talks
    February 29, 2008

    Israeli army won’t probe Gaza deaths
    February 28, 2008

    Game firm out of jail as activists seek a monopoly
    February 25, 2008

    Israel braces for retaliation over terrorist’s death
    February 15, 2008

    Attack drives Israel to wall
    February 6, 2008

    Israeli army blamed for Lebanon war failure
    February 1, 2008


    Lebanon report steps up tension
    January 31, 2008

    Hamas and Cairo at odds over border control
    January 30, 2008

    Border buying spree exposes the plight of Gaza
    January 26, 2008

    Fuel cuts poised to black out Gaza Strip again
    January 25, 2008

    And the wall came tumbling down
    January 24, 2008

    UN points finger at Israel over Gaza blackout
    January 22, 2008

    The future at hand, set in concrete
    January 18, 2008

    Violence flares as Bush wraps up Mid-East mission
    January 17, 2008

    Bush visit a symbol but not a success
    January 12, 2008

    Bush ‘vision’ sees peace in Holy Land
    January 11, 2008

    Israel tells Bush of Iran ‘threat’
    January 10, 2008

    Bush flies to rescue Mid-East peace mission
    January 8, 2008

    According to B’Tselem, between September 29, 2000 and April 30, 2008, in the Occupied Territories (West Bank and Gaza) there have been:

    4,678 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces
    44 Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians
    236 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
    244 Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
    17 Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians
    10 Foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces
    577 Palestinians killed by Palestinians

    Included in the above figures, there have been:

    935 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
    39 Israeli minors killed by Palestinians

    385 Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing [assassination]
    231 Palestinians who were the object of a targeted killing
    120 Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel
    1,613 Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces
    2,199 Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces (not including the objects of targeted killings)
    866 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities

    Within Israel, during the same period, there have been:

    67 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces
    483 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
    90 Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
    37 Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians

    Included in the above figures, there have been:

    3 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
    84 Israeli minors killed by Palestinians

    58 Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces
    5 Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces (not including the objects of targeted killings)
    4 Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities

    In other words, within both Israel and the Occupied Territories, there have been a total of:

    938 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
    123 Israeli minors killed by Palestinians

  6. @ndy says:

    Fairfax’s Israel coverage panned
    Ean Higgins
    The Australian
    September 15, 2007

    THE Australian Jewish News has attacked Fairfax newspapers, accusing them and their Middle East correspondent of anti-Israeli bias.

    The newspaper yesterday ran a news story, an opinion piece by Labor’s Member for Melbourne Ports, Michael Danby, and two cartoons all lambasting Fairfax titles.

    The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are highly influential newspapers, and their systematic anti-Israel bias has a real effect on public opinion in Australia,” Mr Danby writes in AJN.

    Mr Danby is particularly critical of The Age‘s editor-in-chief, Briton Andrew Jaspan.

    “Under its current editor, The Age‘s liberalism has morphed into a peculiar sort of bitter and twisted extremism, borrowed from UK paper The Guardian.”

    Mr Danby, who is the only Jewish federal MP, attacks Middle East correspondent Ed O’Loughlin. “There’s nothing funny about O’Loughlin’s systematic bias against Israel,” he says.

    Jason Koutsoukis, The Sunday Age‘s Canberra bureau chief, is quoted in the Jewish News pledging to introduce “balanced” coverage when he takes over as Fairfax Media’s Middle East correspondent.

    “There’s two sides to every story and I think we’ve got to tell both sides. Perhaps we’ve only been telling one side. That’s been some of the concerns expressed to me by Jewish community leaders,” he is quoted as saying.

    Koutsoukis last night denied attacking O’Loughlin. “I was not quoted accurately … and it does not reflect my views.”

    The editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Alan Oakley, Jaspan and O’Loughlin did not return calls or emails.

  7. Dr. Cam says:

    It was very much a general impression. To be more specific about what I mean by reading ‘most of his stuff,’ I’d estimate I’ve read about 90% of his reports in the past 3 yrs. The March 4 article was the one I was thinking of specifically that summed it up, but you are probably correct that its the disparity in the number of casualties which informs that aspect of the reporting.

    You know I only support wars in the name of oil and glory, Andy.

  8. @ndy says:

    As Johnathan Holmes noted, reporting on Israel/Palestine is a tough gig. Re March 4 article:

    “Safa Abu Seif’s mourning tent was one of dozens that sprang up this week in the unoccupied part of Jabaliya, centre of an Israeli raid that killed 100 Palestinians, up to half of them civilians, including about 15 children. An Israeli civilian was killed by Palestinian rocket fire after violence flared on Wednesday and two soldiers died in combat before Operation Hot Winter began to wind down yesterday.”

    THE BLANK PAGES OF THE AGE is a blog dedicated to documenting The Age’s alleged bias.

  9. Dr. Cam says:

    Weird. I was just about ta send jew a link to that very blog, cos I knew jew would appreciate it.

  10. @ndy says:

    Why thank jew Doctor, jew are very thoughtful.

  11. Lumpen says:

    Jew really think you could make so many jew-puns without me getting involved?

  12. @ndy says:

    What makes jew think I care what jew think?

  13. Lumpen says:

    Jew always displayed a fondness for me before. Jew’ve changed, man.

  14. JEWNTESSA says:

    JEWWWW said bessie the cow

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