Some of my best friends [are] anti-Semitic
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
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.