Friday, July 25, 2014

James Carleton's Israel Meets the Real Thing

The fact that a typical ABC interview on the subject of the Middle East conflict invariably reveals as much about the interviewer's entrenched Zionist prejudices and ignorance as it does about the matter under discussion never ceases to amaze me.

A particularly glaring example was Wednesday's interview with Israeli academic, activist and author Marcelo Svirsky by Radio National's current Breakfast presenter James Carleton (Racism becomes the new norm in Israel: Political scientist, 23/7).

For Carleton, Israel's is always the default position. Typically, he begins the interview, with the premise that Hamas, a mere symptom of Israeli occupation, is the problem:

JC: Unfortunately, the firing of rockets into Israel and the strong response of the Israeli military into Gaza is nothing new. Hamas has been at war with Israel since it was first elected 8 years ago. Yet, in spite of that history of violence that stretches way back before Hamas, our next guest says something new is happening in Israel. Dr Marcelo Svirsky is a political scientist. He's an Israeli Jew who now lives in Australia, and teaches at the University of Wollongong in NSW. He's just returned from Jerusalem and he says that the hatred and racism he's witnessed towards Arabs has become the norm in Israeli society, something he's never seen before.

[But it gets worse. Next comes Carleton's 'understanding' of the Middle East conflict from 1948 to the present.]

JC: Before I get you to substantiate that claim, and because it is a big claim, why would it be so given in the past Arab armies have nearly destroyed Israel in 1948, and there've been wars of survival up to 1973, there've been intifadas, the current situation, relatively speaking in terms of Israel's security, is rather mild, why should there be hatred now but not then?

[It has to asked: Is it a qualification for work at the ABC that the employee have experience in peddling Zionist propaganda? Svirsky, of course, is not impressed]:

MS: Well, to begin with, I don't think the narrative of 1948 is right as you expose it. Israel was not under threat of destruction in 1948, but [again] this is something we perhaps need to discuss in another program. I think that the present situation [in Israel] is special and different in the sense that we're witnessing a further crystallization of violence and racism in Israeli society not yet seen. I'm not talking about the regular, more familiar structure of racism and settlerism we [already] know about, but something new, and I'm talking about 3 particular forms of behaviour or social patterns. The first is the total recruitment of the media, not just biased reports and commentaries on TV and radio, but more important, actually calling on the government to escalate the conflict. This is [inaudible] so far. I mean, the marginal spaces that the Israeli media had in the past for some alternative voices are being shrunk, not to say, totally cleansed.

JC: But there's Haaretz. That's a very pro-Palestinian newspaper. It's a free and diverse media.

MS: Well, I don't think Haaretz is pro-Palestine, although it has a few, brave journalists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. But I would like to tell you that (only) last week in Ashkelon Gideon Levy was physically attacked, and what is more, yesterday Matti Golan, a well known publicist working for the daily financial newspaper Globes called on the government to put Gideon Levy and Amira Hass in administrative detention for what he claims to be the use of freedom of expression that [inaudible]. So I think that these kinds of calls are pretty much new in the Israeli media.

JC: OK, if that's the media, what are the other two?

MS: The second phenomenon is the organised counter-demonstrations of right-wing groups showing up at anti-war protests. I'm talking about thugs showing up at leftist demonstrations wearing neo-Nazi t-shirts, those used by European neo-Nazis, saying GOOD NIGHT LEFT SIDE, with an image of a man attacking a left-wing activist... They outnumber the leftist protestors...

JC: What do the t-shirts say?


JC: GOOD NIGHT LEFT SIDE? It's a contradiction in terms. A neo-Nazi is an Israeli?

MS: Well, sadly, it isn't if you introspect into the social patterns and behaviours of Israeli society. But what is happening is that they chase the leftist protestors chanting DEATH TO THE ARABS, DEATH TO THE LEFTISTS, and they beat them up while the police just look on. All they do is arrest Palestinian citizens at the end of the demonstration.

JC: What happened when the ambulance took some of the victims of these beatings away?

MS: This happened in Haifa. Two Palestinian citizens were beaten and taken by ambulance to hospital. Some of these thugs stopped the ambulance, opened the door and asked, 'Jews or Arabs?' with the intention of taking these people out of the ambulance, if they were Arab, just to finish the job. The third phenomenon is the enjoyment of the spectacle of war. Israelis are gathering on a hilltop close to Gaza to cheer and whoop as Israeli bombs rain down on Palestinians. They bring their tables, chairs and picnic baskets as if they were watching a football match, only they get excited if a player is the death of human beings. I think this is pretty appalling.

JC: You're talking about Sderot.

MS: Yes, near Sderot.

JC: Well, that town in the past two weeks, Hamas has launched 1,500 rockets in 14 days. They would say you're playing the victim.

MS: We can also quote in that respect President Obama and other western leaders claiming no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its border... but James, which nation would agree to be oppressed for nearly half a century of colonisation? Which nation would remain silent in the face of an ongoing ethnic cleansing? For instance, would Australian citizens peacefully agree to be stripped of their natural rights and their lives be dictated by an external power?

JC: So when the Israeli government says why do people single out Israel, you're saying why single out Palestine as the only nation to endure occupation?

MS: Exactly. And we need to contextualise the violence of Hamas. What is happening here is that the West blames the victims for fighting back. This is an absurdity.

JC: Israel says that resistance is a code word for terrorism.

MS: Resistance is the right of an occupied and oppressed people. It's a natural right.

JC: But not to individually target civilians.

MS: Well, this is something we need to ask the Israeli government about. After 600 Palestinian deaths, including more than 100 children, about 3,000 injured, with nowhere to go. I mean, the claim that Israel's violence is an act of self-defence is an oxymoron. No occupying power has a legitimate right of self-defence but [rather] an international obligation to withdraw.

JC: You are not a Zionist, are you?

MS: No, I'm not.

JC: Does that put you on the extreme of Israeli society?

MS: I think that puts me on making sense of reality.

JC: But it's a view not shared by many of your former countrymen?

MS: To say the least.

JC: Well, the argument then is, from an Israeli perspective, why should Australia get to have Australia, the Chinese China? We all have our own countries except why are Jews singled out to be denied their homeland in their historic birthplace.

MS: I think there are 3 answers to that. To begin with, the parallel between Australians, French or Japanese and Jews is not exact because we're mixing up here nation, religion, ethnic belonging, and other factors. The second answer is that if a country of Jews or Australians is [all] about privilege for a particular group, that's unacceptable.

JC: You mean anyone can come to Australia provided they apply to migrate, and once they're here, they're first class citizens?

MS: Well, it should be. Israel was established as a society built on...

JC: Well, if it's not true in Australia or Israel, why single out Israel?

MS: Well, it is the society I come from...

JC: Sure.

MS: ... and I have a particular interest in Israel because I have family and friends there and most of my past is there.

JC: But the other point is when you come to Australia you can take an Australian nationality fully but when you migrate or are the independent population of a Jewish state, if you are not a Jew either ethnically or in terms of religion that's more problematic.

[More problematic? Is this ignorance or sheer cussedness? Let me spell it out for Carleton: if you are a diaspora Palestinian you cannot return to your Palestinian homeland (stolen and renamed 'Israel') because you do not have a Jewish mother.]

MS: Well, here comes my 3rd answer, which is that the Jews or the Hebrew [-speaking] people are not the only, if we accept that claim, indigenous people of the land of Palestine. We cannot dismiss the fact that the Palestinian people are the more indigenous people of the land.

JC: So, you're calling for a one-state solution democracy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, but the Israeli Jewish fear is that that will necessarily mean an Arab majority and the best case scenario is a democracy where Jews are second class citizens. The worst case scenario is an annihilation or second holocaust.

[Can you believe this guy! A 'Jewish' majority is no problem for him, but an Arab majority, that's going too far.]

MS: This is all speculation, but we have now, as fact, that the so-called only democracy in the Middle East is a fascist regime with 1st, 2nd & 3rd class citizens acting as an occupying power for 50 years, and established on a basis of ethnic cleansing - 700,000 indigenous Palestinian people. So if you take the historical facts on the one hand, and a kind of suspect politics of pre-emption on the other, I'm not sure which one we should choose.

[Marcelo Svirsky's important new book on how Jewish-Israelis can and need to "divest themselves of Zionist identities by engaging with dissident rationalities, practices and institutions," is just out. It's called After Israel: Towards Cultural Transformation. Here's the opening sentence from the book's Statement: "Israel was a bad idea from its inception." I'm looking forward to reading it. Re the emerging Israeli fascism cited by Svirsky, I urge you all - as I have earlier - to read Max Blumenthal's recent expose, Goliath: Fear & Loathing in Greater Israel.] 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rumblings of Discontent in NSW Labor

Interesting. A totally inadequate development, of course, but still an interesting sign of the times:

"As rocket fire richochets across the Middle East [?] and Israel invades Gaza... former foreign minister Bob Carr is leading a push within Labor to formally adopt a more 'pro-Palestinian' stance in the party's policy platform. Mr Carr will move a motion from the floor of the NSW Labor conference next weekend seeking to shift the party's Middle East policy to express more sympathy with Palestinians in response to what sections of the party argue is the increasingly bellicose stance of Israel.

"The former NSW premier, who branded the Australian Israel lobby as 'Likudniks' and accused them of hijacking foreign policy during Julia Gillard's government, is leading an effort inside the party to recast Labor's stance in response to a series of motions condemning Israel from local branches. Mr Carr, who is attending the conference as alternate delegate from the Maroubra state electorate council, has confirmed to The Australian his involvement in the behind-the-scenes policy shift. As a former foreign minister with an interest in this subject, he says he will offer advice to colleagues. A raft of motions sent to the conference from local branches and unions, obtained by The Australian, condemn the Israeli government, express strong support for the Palestinian people and urge the fast-tracking of a two-state solution. There are no motions that express fidelity with Israel or criticise the Palestinians.

"The motions come from branches dominated by the Right and Left factions, signalling an underlying shift in the party on Middle East policy reinforced by demographic changes. Sources say the drivers of this shift are the treatments of Palestinians in the West Bank, the spread of Israeli settlements and the hardline right-wing government in Israel... Labor's recommendations in the conference report are that these motions be 'noted' while recognising the party's long-term support for a 'two-state solution achieved through a negotiated settlement'. However, Mr Carr is working to develop an omnibus resolution expressing more explicit support for the Palestinians." (Carr to push Labor on Israel, Troy Bramston, The Australian, 21/7/14)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


In our thousands, In our millions, We are all Palestinians


Melbourne: 1pm, Saturday 26 July, State Library

Sydney: 1pm, Sunday 27 July, Town Hall

Brisbane: 2pm, Saturday 26 July, King George Square

Adelaide: 12pm, Saturday 26 July, Parliament House

Perth: 11am, Saturday 26 July, Murray St. Mall


From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free

Et Tu, Guardian Australia?

With Fairfax getting sorrier by the day and the Murdoch press up to its usual tricks, I imagine that many news and commentary addicts are falling back on Guardian Australia for their daily fix. But what are they really getting, especially by way of commentary, on Palestine?

Slim pickings, if their last 3 opinion pieces are any indication.

As anyone who follows this site will be aware, I believe that 'getting' Palestine is the litmus test for intellectual and moral courage in our time. Sadly, GA, in its response to the latest Israeli bloodletting in Gaza, fails this test. Here's why:

1) "I understand and feel the suffering of the Israelis who have lost loved ones and are forced to live in fear... Palestinians and Israelis have been angry for a long time has brought death and injustice to ourselves and others... The hope and future safety and freedom of Israel are linked to the security, safety, freedom and future of Palestinians. We are like conjoined twins and any harm induced [?] to one will impact the other. The courageous thing for both sides is to embrace the dignity, grace and strength of the other." (As a father who lost his children in Gaza, I call for an end to this bloodshed, Izzeldin Abuelaish, 18/7/14)

This is truly contemptible stuff. It peddles the nonsensical idea that there is no difference whatever between occupiers and occupied, oppressors and oppressed, colonisers and colonised, ethnic cleansers and their victims. It omits, on the one hand, any mention of Zionist colonisation and apartheid, and, on the other, the legitimate and heroic struggle of generations of Palestinian freedom fighters for fundamental human and political rights. And what is one expected to make of this Palestinian Uncle Tom's talk of his people's need to "embrace the dignity, grace and strength" of the Israelis? Truly obscene.

2) "The moral corruption that comes with any occupation has fused with the collective trauma of the Jewish people. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein is a peace activist in Israel: she tells me that Israel's mentality 'is very easy to understand in a way where people were traumatised over centuries. It bred a sense that people owe us, of 'who are you to tell us what to do?'... The Jewish people faced persecution for milleniums... The all too recent memory of the gas chambers encourages the sense that Israel can never be too strong, and that its people can never be oppressors". (How the occupation of Gaza corrupts the occupier: It's tempting, but futile, to demonise Israelis. To achieve peace, we have to understand the rationales behind the latest offensive, Owen Jones, 21/7/14)

Presenting this kind of nonsense, without challenge, as some kind of mitigating factor in the Zionist long march (1917-?) to wipe Palestine off the map is quite inexcusable. Zionist designs on a Palestine without Palestinians were hatched long before the Nazi genocide, and psychobabble about collective, inter-generational trauma supposedly driving today's Israeli perpetrators merely serves to shift the focus away from the settler-colonial roots of this conflict and the very real trauma of dispossession which the Palestinians have been subjected to now for almost a century. There are no excuses for what we are witnessing today in Gaza. None. (I should add, in Owen Jones' favour, that he deserves to be complimented on his generally critical stance toward Israeli brutality and intransigence. Consider this piece, therefore, an unfortunate lapse.)

3) "How many pictures of dead children do you need to see before you understand that killing children is wrong? [Killing adults, well...] I ask because social media is awash with the blood of innocents. Twitter is full of photos of the murdered children of Gaza... Those who want to say something about the atrocities in the Middle East may indeed be genuinely distraught... They may feel that pictures of the broken bodies of infants trump all talk of the immensely long, complicated nature of the conflict... Binyamin Netanyahu speaks of Hamas actively wanting to 'the telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause'... Pictures of Israelis watching the destruction of Gaza as if it were a fireworks party do the rounds. Again with no context. This was Sderot where children don't play outside but in shelters." (Sharing pictures of corpses on social media isn't the way to bring a ceasefire, Suzanne Moore, 21/7/14)

Eewwww! They're sooo yucky. Take them away! The agony of Palestine has been with us now for almost 100 years but this bovine with bad hair just wants it out of sight and out of mind. Quoting Bibi the butcher's loathsome soundbyte approvingly, and suggesting that the colonial-settler ghouls on the hill outside Sderot, cheering on the slaughter in the Gaza coliseum below, have an equal case tells you all you need to know about Moore. Let me just add this: On 20/7/14 she tweeted: "Cannot stomach anymore Israel/Palestine pieces from people who have not been there and just pumping out simplistic dogma." You want simplistic dogma? Cop this: "At the Erez Crossing we had a picnic and were told of the baddies. Hamas. They are indeed baddies, who do not recognise the existence of Israel..." (Suzanne Moore, Yes, Israel has a right to exist. But so did those blood-soaked Palestinian toddlers on the mortuary slab, The Daily Mail, 11/1/09)

Apart from their content, what really annoys me about these 3 pieces is that they've each occupied a media space that could have gone to weightier and more insightful analyses of the issue.

And another thing: two of the three writers are British. Neither, though, displays any awareness of Britain's historical role in the launching and consolidation of the Zionist colonial project and Britain's concomitant betrayal of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. Nor, I'd wager, is either aware of the key role of C.P. Scott (editor of the Manchester Guardian - as it was then known - from 1905 to 1929) in introducing the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to Lord Balfour and Lloyd George, a fateful conclave if ever there was one, and one which led to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for all that has befallen the Palestinian people, including the carnage we are witnessing today in Gaza. (See my 2/1/12 post The Language Spotter.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Palestinians Need to Do...

... to get Western media sympathy

by As'ad AbuKhalil (, 14/7/14)

Basically, for Palestinians to get Western media sympathy and human rights legitimacy, they need to emulate Israeli tactics and methods. Here's what they should do:

1) Palestinians are justified in killing Israelis so long as they first knock on their roofs or call them on their cellphones.

2) Palestinians are justified in shelling Israel provided they declare that their intention is not to harm civilians.

3) Palestinians can get the support of Western media if they refer to Israeli civilian targets as command and control centres.

4) Palestinians are justified in killing Israeli civilians so long as they claim that Israeli terrorists are hiding behind them.

5) Palestinians need to kill far more Israelis than they do so that the kill ratio becomes more like it is now in Gaza - 200 to 0. This is because the absence of casualties in Israel makes Israel the victim and not vice versa.

6) Palestinians need to acquire far more advanced weapons because Human Rights Watch has ruled that possessing advanced weapons makes you morally superior and less liable to commit war crimes.

7) Palestinians should include in their casualty lists all of those suffering from 'shell-shock', or who die from illness or natural causes in times of conflict.

8) Palestinians need to form a lobby to control the US Congress.

9) Palestinians need to be less poor and speak in unaccented American English to make them more friendly to American television audiences.

10) Palestinians need to persuade the New York Times and the Washington Post to plaster the pictures and profiles of their dead on the front pages, otherwise no one in the US will believe that they're victims.

11) Palestinians need to refer to Israelis as terrorists because that makes you the victim - in the case of Israeli terrorists that is.

12) Palestinians need to claim that they are consumed with anguish over any deaths they cause on the Israeli side and to pretend that this makes them less guilty of war crimes. Invoking anguish makes Israeli terrorists sympathetic figures in US eyes.

13) Palestinians need to convert en masse to Judaism because Islam, and even eastern Christianity, is not something westerners identify with.

14) Palestinians need to acquire an air force ASAP and to use it regularly against Israel because that would make them more impressive in Western eyes

15) Palestinians need to obtain the support of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands at the UN because those two states are a great help in protecting Israel from international condemnation.

16) Palestinians need to declare the Saudi king their leader because the Saudis enjoy wide respect in Western capitals.

17) Palestinians need to stop punishing collaborators and agents of Israeli terrorism who provide bombing co-ordinates to the Israeli military because they are the only Palestinians who are liked by Western media and governments.

18) Palestinians in Gaza need to remind the West, just as Israel does on a daily basis, that their government is the only democracy in the Middle East.

19) Palestinians need to field a national orchestra because Aaron David Miller once told me that it is the very existence of an Israeli national orchestra that explains American support for Israel.

20) Palestinians need to label their victims as Mossad-affiliated, or just plain Mossad, terrorists. This labelling trick has worked wonders for Israel.

21) Palestinians need to show the world that they drink whiskey. That always seems to impress the hell out of American correspondents. They're not used to seeing Arabs drink whiskey.

22) Palestinians need to call any attack on their cause racist and anti-Arab, just as Israel always describes criticism of its policies and war crimes as anti-Semitic.

23) Palestinians need to appoint Abe Foxman as their Washington representative. For some bizarre reason, the US media consider him an authority on the Palestinian national movement.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MERC's Dictionary of Ziospeak 4

defence: offence

MERC's Dictionary of Ziospeak 3

senior policy analyst (as in "Sharyn Mittelman is a senior policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council"): Zionist propagandist