Last night, Phillip Adams spoke to anti-Zionist blogger, journalist and author (My Israel Question) Antony Loewenstein on Late Night Live (LNL). No sooner had he mentioned, in his introduction, that Loewenstein had just been to Gaza in the wake of Israel's December/January "attack," than he was trotting out the standard Zionist talking point: "The reason for the attack, Israel said, was to stop Hamas rockets... on southern Israel and to stop the smuggling of arms into Gaza." Throughout the interview, Adams was noticeably detached, essentially allowing his interviewee free rein. Only at one point did he elaborate on Loewenstein's words by observing that "... one of the things the Israel Defense Forces does is mete out collective punishment and practise humiliating the Palestinian people." But even this had to be preceded by a repetition of the above talking point: "While the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel is intolerable..."
Adams really only came alive in his second interviewee of the night - with Melbourne-based GP and author (Raft) Howard Goldenberg, who works for part of the year as a relief doctor in remote Aboriginal communities. When asked why, Goldenberg explained: "Two prime ministers ago we had a national program... called reconciliation. I realise that I live in the nicest, racist country in the world, and it's an enormous privilege to live here... and I enjoy it at the cost of the dispossession of its previous owners, and I thought: I'm in a trade that's portable and I can do a token..."
Wonderful, I thought, a man who practises what he preaches. Then Adams, one of Australia's card-carrying atheists, came out with this: "It's the Jewishness now I want to look at because, to your surprise, you had specifically Jewish reactions to aspects of Aboriginal life. What were they?" Replied Goldenberg: "It was a surprise, but when I reflected, I realised I should have anticipated that members of two peoples with histories of dispossession and humilation and killing would recognise each other, would find points of intersection and of parallel, and I think equally powerful were operations of community and family and those bonds that are extremely strong..." Fair enough. But no, this apparently wasn't good enough for Adams. He had to channel the doctor's thoughts in a specifically Zionist direction: "And also the deep mythology of land, which of course is the Israel story or the claim that Israel makes." Goldenberg took the bait: "That's right, and Aboriginal people remind me from time to time that that reclaiming of land and of pride should be a model to them. All this is unexpected, and then, in really remote places a bloke will hail me and discuss the Middle East with me in a most sophisticated way [Adams laughs], and this bloke, an initiated elder, is watching CNN every night and is much more up to date than I am about the Middle East."
To clarify: Having only just interviewed Antony Loewenstein on the trials of the dispossessed, indigenous population of Palestine, Adams consciously elicits from Goldenberg a statement to the effect that the political Zionist myth of a return to, and a "reclaiming," of Palestine, what he terms the "Israel story," is seen by some Aboriginal Australians (or at least those who watch CNN) as some kind of "model" for Australia's dispossessed, indigenous population. The mind, as they say, boggles.