On June 4 this year, on the occasion of Israel's Mavi Marmara massacre, the Sydney Morning Herald boldly - for the Herald that is - editorialised that "We believe that it is time for Jews of the diaspora to question Israel's actions. For too long the spectrum of Jewish opinion outside Israel has been narrowed on Middle East questions to a compulsory, unquestioning support for the Israeli government of the day, no matter what. A few brave individuals challenge this orthodoxy - to their cost." (Candour is not Israel's enemy)* [* See my 7/6/10 post The Herald Gets Bolshie.]
At the time, I fondly took this criticism for an indication that past editorial practice, which invariably involved the faux 'balancing' of any item critical of Israel (rare at best) with one taking the contrary view, always penned by a representative of one or other of the Zionist organisations that make up the Israel lobby, was about to change. Foolish me.
One of those few brave individuals referred to - anti-Zionist Jew, blogger and freelance journalist Antony Loewenstein - has, as far as I'm aware, only managed to crack the opinion pages of the Herald twice - twice! -on the issue of the Middle East conflict.
The first time was on January 5 (Gaza's suffering is Israel's shame). The second was today: Western politicians prefer to ignore Israel's inherent racism. The reference point for Loewenstein's piece was Israel's racist and discriminatory proposal to require non-Jews (mainly Palestinians) wishing to marry non-Jewish (ie Palestinian-) Israelis (and so becoming Israeli citizens) to swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as 'a Jewish & democratic state'. Loewenstein's was predictably the kind of well-researched and insightful commentary we've come to expect from him. And good on the Herald for giving space on its opinion page to one of those aforementioned few brave individuals.
Except that the Herald has inexplicably reverted to past bad practice by publishing, bang next to Loewenstein's piece, a defence of the oath by those Jews of the diaspora it had earlier criticised for their compulsory, unquestioning support for the Israeli government of the day, no matter what, a sad reminder that the Herald did not have the courage of its convictions and was still in thrall to pressure from the Israel lobby to exclude or otherwise mute such voices as Loewenstein's. On no other issue can an independent writer know, with almost complete certainty, that, in the rare instance he manages to have an opinion piece published in the ms press, it will be accompanied, like the proverbial albatross around the neck, by a putrid propaganda piece.
To pick through just 3 strands of same - Oath's emphasis on a democratic nation state is soundly based, by the executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), Colin Rubenstein:
1) "[Israel's] oath is not dissimilar to the pledge new Australians recite."
See for yourself. Here's the text of Australia's Pledge of Commitment: "From this time forward, under God (optional), I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey." For it to be in any way similar to Israel's proposed new loyalty oath, Australia's PoC would need to be expanded to democratic and Christian beliefs.
2) "Let's go back to basics. The UN's 1947 Partition Plan called explicitly for the creation of a 'Jewish state', as well as an Arab state..."
Is Rubenstein seriously suggesting here that, in partitioning Palestine, the UN had anything in mind other than that the 'Jewish' state was for those Jews actually living within its confines at the time? There is no evidence whatever that the UN was in the business of rubber-stamping the Zionist fantasy that the 'Jewish' state referred to in the partition resolution was the sole property of Jews wherever in the world they happen to reside. Nor is there any evidence to suggest that the UN intended that the then existing Jewish community in Palestine had carte blanche to turf out the non-Jewish population (comprising almost 50% of the population) residing within its borders in order to make way for the likes of Colin Rubenstein, Vic Alhadeff and Co. (See my 11/11/08 post Talking Turkey on the Two-State Solution)
3) "Many democracies have 'established' religions, including Britain..."
I'm sorry, but the acquisition of UK citizenship is not, repeat not, based on birth to a Christian, let alone a Church of England, mother. (See my 30/6/09 post Calling Italy a Christian State which covers some of this territory.)
To return to the Herald editorial, in particular the sentence, "A few brave individuals challenge this orthodoxy - to their cost." What about a brave editor doing his/her bit? And if advertising revenue is affected, blow the bloody whistle! Now wouldn't that do wonders for the Herald's relevance?