Paul McGeough, one of Fairfax's Middle East correspondents and author of Kill Khalid: Mossad's Failed Hit... & the Rise of Hamas, is no hack, let alone a Zionist propagandist in journalist's clothing - which accounts for his relative absence in this blog, largely devoted to exposing the latter.
In a recent newmatilda.com interview, for example, McGeough neatly revealed his awareness of just how dodgy the Zionist narrative is:
7.When was the first time you changed your mind on something important? 1978: On a flight in North Africa I sat next to the first Palestinian I had met to be advised that Leon Uris left some significant elements of the Middle East Crisis out of Exodus. (Storm chaser: 20 questions)
However, I must say that a few things in his feature, Israel's nightmare scenario in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, irritated me profoundly.
In particular, the title. To put it in context, here's the relevant paragraph: "Palestinian minds have already turned to a calculatedly provocative alternative - collapsing the entire institutional facade of the Palestinian Authority and instead, to campaign for Israel's demographic nightmare of a bi-national state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In such a state the fast-growing Palestinian population would become the majority - ending Israel's right to claim itself as a Jewish state and, in the absence of citizenship rights for all, smashing its claim to be a democracy."
Why is it a nightmare for Israel to become a normal country, that is, a state for all its people, indigenous and non-indigenous, Muslim, Christian and Jew? Would McGeough have described the prospect of black majority rule in South Africa as a nightmare in the days when South Africa was still a state ruled by a white minority regime? Surely, if anyone in Palestine/Israel today (or for the past 62 years) can be described as suffering from nightmares or a nightmare scenario, it is the Palestinians.
And that expression calculatedly provocative. Are Palestinians being provocative in imagining that what had, until 1948, been theirs will once again be theirs? Is their acknowledging the reality of demographic projections being calculatedly provocative? Should they adopt a one-child policy to avoid being seen as provocative? Should their children perhaps be seen not as children but as calculated provocations?
And why does McGeough lapse into Zionist terminology and false equivalence when he writes that "Extremists on both sides - Hamas among the Palestinians and the fundamentalist settler movement in Israel - have laid claim to the land from 'the river to the sea', but each claiming that it be controlled by their side"?
Is it extreme for a dispossessed and occupied people to want to return to the homeland from which they were expelled, and to take up arms in an attempt to do so, but somehow moderate for a colonial-settler movement - and here I'm referring to the Zionist project in all its manifestations, not just its latest fundamentalist settler incarnation - to engage in 'redeeming' a land from its original owners? Far from being extreme, I would have thought that indigenous resistance to such an extremist movement was not only rational but necessary.
And as for fundamentalist Israeli settlers wanting it all, isn't McGeough aware that the ruling Likud Party itself rejects the idea of a Palestinian state, by way of claiming all of Palestine from the river to the sea?
NB: For those interested, an excellent critique of McGeough on Iraq is Alex Miller's Paul McGeough: sustaining the big lie, greenleft.org.au, 17/11/03