Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The SMH: Puerile & Pusillanimous

Is the position of letters editor at The Sydney Morning Herald reserved for the especially clueless? Listen to this Postscript from Mike Ticher commenting on letter writers' responses to the carnage in Gaza: "As ever most letters focused on moral rights and wrongs: who did what 40 or 60 years ago, who had or had not broken international law and was or was not justified in certain actions. Those certainly should be debated, but it would make a change to have a more pragmatic debate about what might realistically work to change the situation." (17/1/09)

Ah yes, right and wrong, history, international law - so boring, so yesterday. And yet some letter writers actually took the bait - no doubt allowing Ticher to bin other writers who likely had more of a grasp of the moral, historical, and legal background to the issue. (I do not, of course, include the Fishmans, Lewis's and Burds in this category.)

Don Brown of Narrabeen tried his best to descend to Ticher's challenge, grumbling relevantly that neglecting the history of the conflict was "as difficult as discussing US-Muslim relations without mentioning the twin towers." His letter climaxed with "The power imbalance, both militarily and diplomatically, is so great that Israel believes it is impervious to any criticism, let alone any punitive action. It has developed nuclear weapons, bombed Syria, built walls and settlements and ignored the claims of the Palestinians for all the long years of the occupation." So far, so good, but Ticher's puerile terms of reference reduced Don to this nonsense: "Perhaps if the immense military aid to Israel were to be totally replaced by a program of building schools, clinics and sporting facilities to be shared by the people of both Israel and the occupied territories, some progress could be made." (19/1/09)

Bruce Weatherlake of Bli Bli, Qld wrote relevantly about the need for Israel to allow the Palestinian right of return, but, nobbled by Ticher's terms of reference, plunged into irrelevance with "All Australians... have been heartened to see the great camaraderie among different members of the South African cricket team; something unimaginable 25 years ago," and concluded with this inane Obamarism: "Everybody is going to have to give. Everybody is going to have to have some skin in the game." (19/1/09)

Guys, guys, this is so not a game! Don't allow yourself to be diverted by know-nothings like Ticher. Here are the kinds of things you could have written about, courtesy of Australian academics John Docker & Ned Curthoys' newly formed Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism: Statement of Aims:-

1) In the Ghandhian tradition of non-violence, the committee stands for the peaceful co-existence of Israeli Jews and Palestinians within a unified democratic state where everyone is a full citizen irrespective of religion or ethnicity.
2) The committee supports the view of Sir Isaac Isaacs, a Jewish jurist and former Governor General of Australia in the 1940s, that the very idea of a Jewish state is absurd, unjust, and untimately untenable, since it makes all the non-Jewish citizens necessarily and inevitably second-class citizens.
3) In the Gandhian traditon of non-violence, we support the cultural and economic boycott of Israel.
4) The Jewish Right [sic: Law] of Return is a weapon in the Zionist colonization and occupation of Palestinian lands. Accordingly, we urge that the world wide Jewish diaspora should renounce the Right of Return.
5) We urge support for UN Resolution 194 which declares the unconditional right of the Palestinian refugees expelled from Palestine in 1948 to return to their homes.
6) We observe that Zionist Israel is guilty of genocidal policies as defined in Article II (c) of the Genocide Convention, in that it intends to destroy, in whole or in part, an ethnic group by "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." By "physical destruction" we mean that Zionist Israel transparently seeks to destroy Palestinian society and remove Palestinians from their ancestral lands in order to Judaize those same lands.
7) The world wide Zionist organisations are also guilty, in terms of the Genocide Convention, Article III (e), of "complicity in genocide." (From antony loewenstein.com/blog/ 5/1/09)

To add insult to injury, the SMH (along with its Ziocon rival, The Australian), on the same day as the above letters, failed to cover the third and largest of Sydney's massive anti-Israel demonstrations. Contrast this with the excellent coverage in Melbourne's Age - Thousands march in Melbourne against Gaza war, Andra Jackson, 19/1/09 - a piece, moreover, which actually quoted some of those who spoke at the rally, and, in a revolutionary new journalistic development, even one of the demonstrators!

By turning its back on the thousands of Sydneysiders who flooded the streets of Sydney's CBD for block after block to express their solidarity with the victims of Israeli genocide in Gaza, the SMH reveals itself yet again to be more of a media firewall acting to block and deflect, rather than a serious newspaper in the business of reporting and investigating contemporary trends and developments. Whether this failure to report arises out of cowardice or conviction, the SMH as currently configured, deserves our contempt.

Another indication of the strength of popular feeling against Israeli war crimes emerged in The Sun-Herald of 18/1/09. In response to that publication's airing of the views of federal Labor MP Julia Irwin (one of the tiny minority of Australian politicians with the courage to speak up for the Palestinians) the week before, columnist Kerry-Anne Walsh wrote as follows: "Ms Irwin's article generated a greater flood of correspondence in The Sun-Herald than any issue in recent years, the overwhelming majority in support. What emerged - strongly - in their views was a yearning for politicians to break ranks and voice opinions." (Toe the line, don't step on any) Walsh followed this with a selection of these emails. Needless to say, the Israel lobby, in the person this time of Robert Goot of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), had obtained a right of reply - Just defence despite death toll. What a pity that his space on the paper's Comment page wasn't given over entirely to that "flood of correspondence."

World public opinion is turning decisively against the rogue state of Israel, and rightly so. The bulk of the Australian corporate media (with the possible exception of The Age), however, still hasn't got it.


Anonymous said...


Dear neighbor,
My name is David and I live in Israel, thirty minutes (or one minute rocket time) from you, in a beautiful house by the woods. I hope someday to have you over for a cup of tea. We have a lovely view from the balcony. On a clear day we can see our jets bombing your neighborhood.
I think it's time we had a heart to heart. It's time you knew the truth. After all, what are neighbors for? You might have wondered why both you and your parents were born in a refugee camp. Why is it that even though we live only 30 minutes apart, I live in prosperity and you live in poverty and filth? Why you live in despair and hatred while we live in hope and love.
Here is the truth, neighbor:
There really was a Holocaust. I realize you've been taught otherwise. I know, that ever since you were a small child you've been told that the Holocaust is something the Jews fabricated to justify taking your land. Well, dear citizen of Gaza, it really happened. Not very long ago. It happened. And guess what? It's NEVER going to happen again. The time in history when Jews were led to slaughter, persecuted, raped and pillaged is over and will never recur. Never. Now we have our own country. Now we have the bombs. We will never forget what was done to our people and you better not either.
We don't hate you. We don't hate anyone. Jews are a peaceful people. We do not want your land. We don't want oil. We don't want to rape your women or murder your children. We never tried to force our religion on anyone. Our eternal capital, Jerusalem, is open to all faiths to love and to worship. We treat your Arab brothers who live among us as equals. Our hand has been extended to peace with our neighbors since day one. We have proven this time and time again through numerous negotiations and extensive compromise.
We ask only for one thing. Leave us in peace. That's right. We have no other demands. Just leave us in peace. It's as simple as that. If you don't, we will fight back ferociously and mercilessly. We will destroy your homes and your cities. We will make your miserable lives even more miserable. If you don't want this to happen any more, leave us in peace.
Our soldiers are not motivated by hate but by determination. We embrace life and will do anything to preserve it. However, we will kill and die to protect our land and our way of life. That's what they should be teaching in your schools instead of useless lies.
A terrorist is a terrorist. Sorry to be the one to break the news, but it's about time somebody told you that a terrorist is nothing more than a coward. Not a hero. Not a Shahid. There is nothing heroic in blowing yourself up amongst a crowd of woman and children. Anybody can do it. Anybody can hide inside a school or a mosque and blindly fire rockets into cities, hoping to kill as many babies as possible. There is nothing courageous or admirable in these acts of cruelty. To take pride in an act of terror is pitiful and pathetic. I know you've been raised to believe the contrary, but it is a lie. I have seen how your children are taught to commit suicide. How your suicide bombers are glorified. This is tragically sad. A real hero faces his enemy and doesn't hide in schools and hospitals. A real hero protects his people and will die for them but not among them.
Israel exists and it belongs to the Jewish People. I've seen your school books. I know that Israel has been omitted from your maps. Contrary to what you've been told, the State of Israel really does exist. Look outside your window. We are here and we are not going anywhere. Dear Palestinian neighbor, it's time to deal with the facts. We love our beautiful little country. We will protect it with our lives. You are not getting it. This was explained to you in 1948. You got your country and we got ours. Your arrogant and stupid leaders promised you that you will get the whole thing. Thousands have lives have been lost for nothing. It's NEVER going to happen! While you have been foolishly drooling over our land instead of nurturing your own, we have built one of the most beautiful and successful countries on Earth. We have done it not to spite our greedy neighbors, but rather in spite of them. We've planted forests and quenched the desert. We' ve drained wetlands and culivated fields. We built universities, opera houses, superhighways, hospitals, skyscrapers and stadiums. We have millions of refugees, but no refugee camps.
You could do the same. Focus on what you have and not on what you will never have. It takes love, hard work and determination. We can help. We have experts and scientists helping developing nations across the globe. Accept the facts, lay down your weapons and join us in making this great region of the planet even greater.
Remember, we're neighbors.
David Rosenblatt, Sarigim, Israel – Jan. 9th, 2009

Anonymous said...

Crikey, David, you're singing well in tune from the Zionist songbook! (Where are you from, David? New Jersey? Bethnal Green? Melbourne? I have to say, you've learned all the words.)

Those beastly Palestinians, if only they would accept their fate, better still, if they would - please - move to Jordan or somewhere. Anywhere! And let us Israelis enjoy our swimming pools and discos and stuff, the fruits of our fine endeavours. Still, if they won't roll over then I suppose that we'll just have to go on assassinating their leaders, killing their youth, incinerating their babies, stealing their lands and bulldozing their houses. Whatever it takes. Zionism - don't you just love it?

Gaston said...

"We don't want your land". "We treat your Arab brothers who live among us as equals". Say what?

Anonymous said...

poor poor Palestinians, and all their filthy rich Arab brothers do so much for them and care so much for them , it appears the Jordanians didn't throw them out for nothing..

perhaps its about time they looked at Israeli's as inspiration and did something with their little patch of dirt.. I think you'll find the world is getting fed up with the Palestinians playing the martyr time to move on ..

Anonymous said...

Palestinians playing the martyr? Not a patch on Israel: a bullying, apartheid polity which masquerades on the world stage as the penultimate victim. Unfortunately for Israel the world is seeing through the act in ever increasing numbers.


Anonymous said...

which part of the world the Arab world or the Muslim world none of which didn't come running to save hamas did they, most would be secretly happy to get rid of them.
Hopefully by now the Palestinians will get the message not to fuck with the Israelis they have had enough.