Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Snowball's Chance

Further to my last post on Noel Pearson:

Should a student at the American University in Cairo (AUC) wish to attend a speech on "civic engagement" given by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan and ask a question of HM, he/she, according to an email sent to AUC students this month, is asked to "submit any questions they have for HM The Queen, which are relevant and related to the topic of HM's lecture," and informed that "We [The Gerhart Centre] will select a maximum of 4 or 5 of the pre-approved questions from students." (Queen Youtube at the AUC, The Angry Arab News Service, 16/2/10)

Reading the above, I was struck by how similar The Gerhart Centre's vetting process was to that of getting a letter into The Australian, save that the Centre at least lets students know in advance that critical questions will have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of getting through.

No prizes then for guessing which of the following two letters on Pearson's pearler made it to The Australians' letters page yesterday:

"It's unusual for Noel Pearson to have a flight of fancy that's as different as chalk from cheese when he makes links between Aboriginal culture and that of the Jews ('Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper', Commentary, 15/2). Both may always have been considered minority peoples but the Jews survived/thrived because they had one big idea together with one tenacious strategy. The Jews' big idea was their monotheistic god and their survival strategy on being dispersed from their homeland was sheer bloody-minded struggle against all odds. A prerequisite was never-ending self-discipline. Aboriginal culture can perhaps have a big 'religious' idea for modern Australia in its own traditional respect for 'country' - the environment for non-Aborigines - as mother and as spiritual nurturer. As to the first Australians' strategy for eventually winning out, like the Jews, perhaps the first step would be Pearson's revolution to reject all the soft options of the welfare state based on handouts." L. Leroux, Acton, ACT

"Noel Pearson's admiration of the Jewish people ('Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper', 15 February) is curious for its omissions. In praising their 'resilience and seriousness as a people' and dedication to never forgetting history, he seems to have conveniently overlooked the modern state of Israel. As a Jew, I am constantly astounded how many non-Jews are able to celebrate the Jewish religion and ignore what's happening in Palestine. Modern Zionism has co-opted Judaism and left millions of Palestinians dispossessed in the name of a post-Holocaust myth. Pearson should spend some time in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper and discover the real meaning of modern Judaism. Israel's ever-deepening occupation of Palestinian lands is a curious way to fight racism when Israeli laws are specifically designed to segregate people along racial lines." Antony Loewenstein (Aborigines should not look to modern Jews as any kind of inspiration,, 16/2/10)

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