"Most people can see what is taking place on the ground in the Middle East. And they can see who needs our support. Everyone knows who's under the boot and who's got the mouthful of broken glass. The Palestinians are a prisoner nation, refugees and exiles treated as ghosts." (Here's hoping: Why I'm playing Britain's first major gig for Palestine, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream, guardian.co.uk, 15/10/04)
Most people... but not a certain letters editor:
Here's what the Sydney Morning Herald's letters editor, Mike Ticher, wrote today:
"Arguments about Israel and Palestine often seem to go in parallel tunnels with no connecting passages, and that was neatly illustrated by the response to Thursday's pieces by Antony Loewenstein and Colin Rubenstein. Many argued strenuously and coherently against one or the other, but almost no one tried to draw conclusions from a synthesis or overview of the two." (Postscript)
And here's the same guy on 17 January 2009:
"As ever most letters focused on moral rights and wrongs: who did what 40 or 60 years ago, who had or had not broken international law and was or was not justified in certain actions. Those certainly should be debated, but it would make a change to have a more pragmatic debate about what might realistically work to change the situation." (Postscript) [See my 20/1/09 post The SMH: Puerile & Pusillanimous.]
Oh, what a yawn it all is! Why can't they all just get together over a few bottles of chardonnay and sort things out sensibly?
Ticher's problem is that he just doesn't get it. He hasn't the nous to see that you can't synthesise colonialism and anti-colonialism, or occupation and resistance, or injustice and justice. He thinks history is merely academic. He cannot comprehend that, in the case of the Middle East conflict, the crimes of 1948 have been repeated every day since. For that matter, he probably knows nothing of 1948, and cares even less. He hasn't got a clue about the assymetric struggle against an utterly ruthless genocidal force that the Palestinian people are condemned to wage daily, whether they like it or not. He's obviously never had his back to the wall, the knife at his throat, or the boot on his neck. Hammer and anvil - it's all the same to him.
Our problem is that Ticher's inability to grasp such elementary matters determines that, for every honest and insightful letter on the conflict on his letters page, there will be, cheek by jowl, a thoroughly dishonest diatribe from one of the usual suspects.
Is it really too much to expect the letters editor of a paper such as the Herald to do a little honest reading on the Middle East conflict - a perennial subject for letter writers - before reflexively inflicting Zioprop or his own banal comments on us?