The Sydney Morning Herald's editorialist has been trying to tell us something for a while now, but can't quite get out the full story:
On 14/1/08 the editorialist spoke, in the context of Bush's visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, of Israel's "determination to deny the right of return to Palestinians uprooted from their lands when Israel was created in 1948." (Ambushed in the Levant) Who uprooted them? Why are they denied the right of return? Should they be denied the right of return?
On 8/5/08 the editorialist noted, in the context of Israel's 60th anniversary: "[Israelis] know... that even as they celebrate their independence, Palestinians - whether living on the West Bank, in Gaza, in refugee camps, as outsiders in Arab countries or in Israel itself - are mourning what they call the nakba (catastrophe) that befell the 700,000 or so Palestinians who fled or were forced to leave their homes when Israel was created. Current hostilities between Hamas fighters in Gaza and Israeli troops are the latest evidence of long-festering grievances." (Israel at 60: a stunning story) Who frightened/forced them to leave their homes? How? Why are they still refugees? Where does international law stand?
On 22/9/08 he/she wrote, in the context of Tzipi Livni's emergence as leader of Kadima, that: "... her party remains wedded to the problematic idea that the Jewish majority must always dominate Israel...' (Tough tests for Israel's new PM) The Israel lobby may have gritted its teeth at the two earlier references to the Palestinian refugees of 1948, but it spat the dummy at this exceedingly indirect reference to the fact that Israel's Jewish majority was achieved only by ethnically cleansing Palestine in 1948. And so, pressure was brought to bear, resulting in a new editorial the day after, which contained the following 180 degree turn to Zionist dogma: "In our editorial yesterday, the Herald did not intend to imply that Israel's Jewish majority is in any way 'problematic' in itself. Indeed it is the raison d'etre for the foundation and existence of the state itself. Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state is beyond question." (Time for Israel to decide) Oh, really? Why?
Most recently, on 27/1/09, in its Australia Day editorial, the Herald editorialist had emerged from his shell sufficiently to comment that "While [Australia Day] may not be as immediately enraging [for indigenous Australians] as, say, the foundation day of Israel would be for Palestinians, the formal annexation of of this land by Governor Arthur Phillip more than 200 years ago will be recalled by Aborigines as, in Professor Dodson's words, 'the day on which our world came crashing down'." (Stirring the possum on Australia Day) I assume that, reflected in this indirect reference to the catastrophic impact of the Zionist colonial-settler invasion of Palestine on its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, that there is an inchoate awareness that, unlike Palestine's indigenous population, Australia's indigenous population is not currently living in exile, under occupation, or under a rain of bombs, bullets, shells or missiles, and is equal before the law with non-indigenous Australians whatever its level of socio-economic disadvantage.
What to make of all this? What the Herald desperately wants/needs to say - but is afraid to - is that in 1948, under cover of war, Zionist forces ethnically cleansed those parts of Palestine which they had overrun, and that this allowed the newly-formed state of Israel to both have its cake (a Jewish majority) and eat it too (pass as a democracy). And so, to quote its Australia Day editorial again, the Herald can say this of Australia - "Dispossession of the original people is an undeniable part of our modern history that started on January 26, 1788, and our celebration of that anniversary has to include that, and get us thinking about ways indigenous Australians can come to feel that they too possess our new nation," but not this of Israel - 'Dispossession of the original people is an undeniable part of Israel's history that started on May 14, 1948, and its celebration of that anniversary has to include that, and get Israelis thinking about ways indigenous Palestinians can come to feel that they too possess this new nation'.
This is what passes for press freedom in Australia today.