As part of its propaganda offensive, Israel's cheer squad have turned the opinion pages of The Australian into their own personal romper room. (I'm rephrasing Max Blumenthal here - see his 5/1/09 post Why aren't more Americans dancing to Israel's tune?, maxblumenthal.com.) To date we've had Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem, Alan Dershowitz, Philip Mendes, Shmuel Rosner, Greg Sheridan, Colin Rubenstein, David Aaronovitch, Assa Doron, Martin Peretz, Bret Stephens and Melanie Phillips. In a tokenistic effort, only two - two! - critical voices, Amin Saikal and Sonja Karkar, managed a foot in the door. Today, I single out two of the cheer squad for comment:-
Philip Mendes is an Australian academic - a lecturer in social work at Monash University - who likes to think of himself as an even-handed progressive:
"My two-state position was based on moral and practical grounds for a Palestinian state. The moral case recognised that the creation of Israel in 1948 had inflicted an overwhelming injustice on the Palestinians. Yet, as a Jew, I believed the creation of Israel was a necessary act of affirmative action in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust and had to take precedence over opposing claims. However, I also believed the Palestinians were entitled to at least partial compensation for the injustice of 1948 by securing a sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." (Common ground riven by a cultural gulf, 3/1/09) That "had to take precedence over" is the essence of Zionist arrogance and moral corruption. It bespeaks the arrogance of nationalist zealots for whom the tragedy of European Jewry is nothing more than a convenient cover for their naked colonial land-grab in Palestine.
Having swallowed the 19th century Zionist ideological construct that Jews the world over, including himself, constitute an entity labelled 'the Jewish people', Mendes here asserts the incredible idea that that 'people', his people, have a superior right to the land of Palestine than its indigenous Arab inhabitants. Breathtaking!
But there's more from our social worker: formerly optimistic, he's now quite pessimistic about his preferred two-state solution because - wait for it - "the Palestinians view themselves as the victims of a historical wrong" (So this is merely the Palestinian view? The reality is otherwise? If so, how does Mendes explain his own acknowledgment above that "the creation of Israel in 1948 had inflicted an overwhelming injustice on the Palestinians"?).
And, get this, according to Mendes, the Palestinians believe that that historical wrong "can be resolved only by the implementation of a just solution. Justice is defined in absolute rather than relative terms and all other opposing narratives are unequivocally rejected." IOW, if you are to believe Mendes, the Palestinians are hung-up on absolute justice! (Could Mendes and his kind be said to have a Holocaust hang-up, I wonder?)
Exactly what this supposed Palestinian penchant for absolute justice comes down to emerges when he writes, "I do believe the dominant viewpoint within Palestinian society [evidence?] is unwilling to compromise on key symbolic issues such as the right of return, and that this viewpoint is likely to preclude a negotiated peace based on a midway point between the Israeli and Palestinian narratives." So, for Mendes and his mates, Article 13(2) (Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is merely a "symbolic issue," OK for everyone else maybe, but not for Palestinians. But why?
It's what Mendes doesn't spell out in his propaganda piece that matters: if the Palestinian refugees are allowed to return to what is left of their towns and villages in Israel (im)proper as full citizens, then we might end up with a situation where there are actually more non-Jews in Israel than Jews, and the whole concept of an ethno-religious Jewish state, based on a demographic majority of Jews, becomes problematic. So, in the Mendes/Zionist bubble, the maintenance of a sectarian Jewish state trumps the implementation of a universal right. And also, in the bubble, to uphold the demand for a sectarian state, which discriminates in law between Jews and non-Jews, makes one a relativist open to compromise, while arguing for the implementation of a universal right makes one an uncompromising absolutist.
Martin Peretz is the editor-in-chief of US rag The New Republic:
"The bitter fact is that, while the Jews prepared for a homeland state from the early 1920s until 1948... the Palestinians did almost nothing except resent and resist the future." (West must guarantee resolution with Gaza, 7/1/09) But of course, when a bunch of developers from Europe, backed by British bayonets, turn up in your green and pleasant land with the intention of turning it into their very own tar and cement strip-mall, what are you going to do, Marty, shower them with flowers then make yourself obligingly scarce?
"... Gaza Palestinians who... routinely shift in their own minds from armed killers to innocent victims." The Israeli pendulum exactly: IDF terrorists one minute, helpless, quivering in their bomb shelters the next.
"Maybe [statehood] can be devolved on the West Bank in short order rather than long, given especially an exchange of territory between Israel and the new Palestine... Some Israeli land with Palestinian inhabitants might be transferred [!!!] to the freshly independent entity, with the accumulated social benefits of the population transferred with them as well." IOW, while we're in the business of bestowing a fragmented statehood on the West Bank Palestinians, why can't we use the opportunity to hive off those fast-breeding, Bolshie Israeli Arabs whom we, to the extent possible with these untermenschen, have civilized, to the undoubted benefit of their backward West Bank cousins? Hey, it'd be a win-win! Ethnic cleansing - the quintessential Zionist modus operandi!
"It is Europe, hitherto feckless, that needs to guarantee the peace between the Israelis and the Gaza Palestinians. Europe has been Palestine's rhetorical patron. Now let it be Palestine's actual guarantor. That means ensuring the governors of Gaza not rule by the armed doctrine of fanatic and bloodthirsty Islam... With the Palestinian Authority... Europe (by which I mean Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Poland, Canada, Australia [!!!] and a few others) holds the fate of Palestine in its hands." So Israel, having squeezed the Gaza lemon till the pips squeeked, can now drop the battered and bloody mess into Europe's lap. Hey, Marty, wouldn't it be easier and more cost-effective for Europe to squeeze the Israeli lemon, via a trade and diplomatic boycott, until it gets the f..k out of the Palestinian territories and stays out?