Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Remarkable Mr Adams

Isn't it time the incurably Eurocentric Phillip Adams (of Radio National's Late Night Live) was put out to pasture?

On 6 September, Adams interviewed historian Ben Shephard, author of The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War. LNL's website sums up Shephard's work thus: "Ben Shephard argues that the Second World War's most important legacy was a refugee crisis. His book centres on the Allies' attempt to deal with hundreds of thousands of Displaced Persons (DPs), through the creation of a new international agency: the United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)."

IOW, a subject of deep interest to Adams, at least with regard to its Jewish component. At one point, he remarks: "And in this context, of course, the creation of the state of Israel starts to gain ground."

"Yes," replies Shephard, "What is interesting about this is that the DPs who finally end up in Israel arrived there at the time of the first Israel/Palestine war [47-48], and they themselves occupied, many of them, places which have been abandoned [Just like that!] by Palestinian Arabs, and so you get this sort of strange cycle whereby, in finally finding homes themselves, they are part of a process which is creating more refugees."

At exactly which point, as though a red line has been crossed or profound boredom has set in, Adams' mind simply shuts down and Shephard is dragged back to Europe: "Ben, you're a fine researcher and one of the stories you tell is of a stolen generation from Europe...

Adams professed Judeophilia - he once averred that At the age of 16 I found myself wishing I'd been born Jewish* - could be written off as a harmless eccentricity were it not for the fact that he seems never to have cottoned on to the elementary distinction between Judaism, a confessional statement that, like all confessional statements, belongs strictly to the private realm, and political Zionism, a profoundly negative and destructive settler-colonial program. Given his profile as a prominent left-of-centre progressive intellectual with a perch in both the ABC (LNL) and the Murdoch press (The Weekend Australian Magazine), this is no small matter.

Adams' inability, or unwillingness, to make this crucial distinction, and thus to subject the Zionist project to the same degree of critical scrutiny he has commendably devoted to the US imperial project in Iraq, to cite but one example, marks him out, essentially, as a Zionist (albeit gentile). As such, he displays the fatal flaw described by George Orwell:

"All nationalists [Zionism being a particularly toxic variation on the theme] have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians - which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our sise'... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

A remarkable capacity for not even hearing about Palestinian refugees...


[* See my 19/9/09 post He Just Doesn't Get It]

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