Thursday, September 24, 2009

Koutsoukis Gets Real

Much of Fairfax Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis' reporting has been problematic and gaffe-prone. (Simply click on his tag at the end of this post and judge for yourself.) In his recent "analysis" of the Goldstone report (Israel & Hamas must heed UN report, SMH, 17/9/09), he arrogantly lectured the (war) criminal and his victim: "If Israel and the Palestinians are ever to escape this conflict, they should follow Justice Goldstone's advice. The self-examination may prove enlightening." The wisdom of Uri Davis' 2003 dictum - "The primary 'terrorist' in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Government of the State of Israel - not the Palestinian suicide bomber" - eludes him.

Most recently, however, in an online opinion piece in The Age, Koutsoukis revealed an uncharacteristic irritation with Israel's latest round of crying wolf: "Forgive me for being confused, but exactly what are the clear and present dangers facing the State of Israel? According to Israel's permanent representative to the United Nations Gabriella Shalev, her government's main goal at this week's UN General Assembly meeting is to show the world how dangerous Iran is. With Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said to give what his aides say will be a 'dramatic' speech to the UN on Thursday, Shalev said the Iranian threat would be the main focus. 'We know Iran is a dangerous country', Shalev said on Monday. 'We stress and we emphasize that Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it's a global threat'. Israeli diplomats, Shalev added, would meet with their Australian counterparts and officials from other countries, to make them understand 'the challenges Israel is facing at a very crucial time'. Perhaps Shalev should leave time in her schedule to make sure Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak also understands exactly what those challenges are. Last Friday... Barak gave an interview to Israel's biggest selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Instead of the usual palaver about the threats facing Israel, Barak surprised his questioners with this frank admission: 'Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel'*, said Barak." (West Bank occupation poses the real threat to Israel, 23/9/09) [*See my 20/9/09 post From the Horse's Mouth]

Koutsoukis concluded as follows: "Next time we hear that denying Palestinian sovereignty is all about security and keeping Israel safe, remember that security has little to do with it. In the words of Ehud Barak, Israel is strong and there is no one who poses an existential threat."

That Barak's admission seems to have come as something of a revelation to Koutsoukis indicates the latter's ignorance of the historical record, which belies the myth of Israel as some sort of naked, trembling virgin continuously circled by packs of leering bikies (to steal Les Visible's memorable simile). As I've already posted on this subject in relation to the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 (See my 29/5/08 post Benny Revisited), I'll leave you with what Israeli historian Tom Segev has to say about the virgin's knocking knees in the lead-up to the second such stoush in 1967:

"US analysts gave Israel complete military superiority over every combination of Arab forces... A year earlier, the Americans had predicted that Palestinian terror attacks might lead to war. In that event, they believed, Israel would destroy the Egyptian air force and 'within days or weeks' would occupy areas of the Sinai, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights - all, evidently, taken as bargaining chips." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 253)

"As soon as the crisis of war began, the press began comparing Nasser to Hitler. In the past, other Arab leaders had been compared to Hitler, but this had been done to insult them, not as part of the situational assessment and a reason to attack. 'Nasser speaks clearly, as Hitler did on the eve of the Second World War', wrote Ze'ev Schiff. Nasser's speeches, Radio Cairo broadcasts, and the anti-Semitic cartoons of in the Egyptian press prompted this assertion... This was... Israel's official propaganda line. The Foreign Minister instructed the Israeli embassy in Washington to ask for an urgent meeting with James Reston, associate editor of The New York Times, to persuade him that the only difference between Nasser and Hitler was that Hitler had always claimed he wanted peace, while Nasser was explicit about his aim of destroying Israel." (ibid, p 284)

"The [Israeli] generals were in their forties, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys or bulls in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed that war was what Israel needed at that moment, not necessarily because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (ibid, p 296)


Anonymous said...

Totally alarmed at the way the Goldstone report does not seem to exist in the MSM. Only Parliamentarian to comment has been Danby. Vale Julia Irwin.

Fringe said...

Hi Merc

Hamas is as ever under-reported and misrepresented in the MSM - I've annotated Hamas's current positions re Goldstone recommendations and border negotiations here:

Al Jazeera said Hamas told them that "they’d be happy to carry out [investigations recommended by Goldstone] if it means the international community will then take seriously claims in the report that Israeli soldiers committed warcrimes."

Youseff also said "Regarding Hamas firing rockets on the civilian areas, this is something easy to do the investigation by looking where these rockets hit and where is the target of these rockets if these rockets really intended to be targetting civilian areas or military bases in the neighbourhood."

I'm wondering if there's a map online which notes where all rockets have actually landed.