Saturday, November 27, 2010

Miranda Does Israel

I've already covered Daily/Sunday Telegraph 'journalist', Miranda Devine's recent Jewish Board of Deputies' rambamming in Israel in my posts Dear Miranda... (31/10/10) and Dear Miranda... 2 (6/11/10). Those wishing to know more, however, might be interested in her "chat" with this week's Australian Jewish News. Some quotes and my commentary:

Miranda writes that, during her 5 day junket, "[w]e met rabbis, journalists, students, peace activists, Israeli settlers, Palestinians in east Jerusalem and in a West Bank refugee camp, and Israelis from the highest level of government."

Alas, for dedicated students of rambamming such as myself, Miranda's we is never disclosed. Nor do we learn the names and affiliations of those rabbis, students, or peace activists. As for the Palestinians in east Jerusalem and the West Bank refugee camp, it seems that their story was obviously insufficiently compelling to make the chat.

Of the journalists, so-called, Miranda mentions only The Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh, whom she praises for his use of the expression "balance of terror," cited as an example of his "rare insight into both sides of the conflict" Precisely how this Cold War term, implying nuclear parity, applies to the Palestinians and their Israeli overlords is anybody's guess, but hey, credit where credit's due for Miranda's admirable devotion to recycling, given that, in reporting an earlier chat with Abu T in May, she also alluded to his "rare insight into both sides of the conflict." (Why 'balance of terror' feels safer than the peace process, SMH, 13/5/10. See my 19/5/10 post A Real Journalist.)

No, the only ones who really matter in Miranda's chat are those Israelis from the highest level of government, such as Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon whose rare insight (accompanied, no doubt, by the famous Israeli Nu, zeh barur, lo? shrug*) is that in an age of "instant food," everybody wants an "instant peace" already. Unfortunately, Miranda's trip was so "packed," she simply didn't have the time to ask him how long peace would take given that the occupied Palestinians have been hanging out for it since 1967. [*Nu, it's clear, no?]

No time for questions while a chopper is waiting to whisk you off to Israel's Stalingrad, the smoking ruin which was once the town of Sderot: "We flew by helicopter south to Sderot, where dozens of Israelis have been killed* and wounded in the past decade by rockets fired from nearby Gaza. We saw burned-out missiles, piled in neat stacks at the back of the police station, and labelled with the date they arrived. One bore the previous week's date. People are starting to return to the town after the rockets slowed in 2008, but you can understand the fear Israelis have, with a hostile Hamas-controlled Gaza in their midst, and the future prospect of a similar threat in the West Bank." [*9 killed, according to (What you need to know about Kassams)]

Yes, folks, Nu zeh barur, lo? The other side of the balance of terror eternally twirls its moustache and gleefully rubs its bloody hands together as it plots the next fiendish mini-Holocaust, while the Israeli side cows in fear at the orgy of destruction to come: "And here you see why the Gaza blockade exists, as Israel's enemies boast that smuggled Iranian-built rockets can reach Jerusalem, or shoot down planes at Ben Gurion Airport." Of course, if only Miranda had had the time, she'd have read the documents recently obtained, after a long court battle with the Israeli government, by Israeli NGO, Gisha - Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement, which reveal that the blockade has bugger all to do with security and everything to do with what Israel has been perpetrating on the Palestinians since before she was even a gleam in her father's eye: a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment, in this instance taking the form of "a policy of deliberate reduction" of basic goods, including food and fuel. ( Well... she would, wouldn't she?

Asked what she learnt from "the mission" and if her views had changed, Miranda reveals a startling optimism. She was, she opines, "more optimistic about a two-state solution along the 1947 borders before I went to Israel."

So, while her fellow pundits' reference point is the 1967 Green Line, implying a Palestinian state on just 22% of historic Palestine, Miranda valiantly sticks to the borders proposed by the UN in 1947, implying a Palestinian state on 46% of Palestine! Ah, but that was before she went to Israel where her eyes were miraculously opened: "We flew in a helicopter over the country and saw how tiny it is - just 18 kilometres at its narrowest point between the West Bank and the Mediterranean coast, its most populated and vulnerable territory." So, stuff the 47... err... 67 'borders', let's go whole hog!

But, just as Miranda's vision could do cinemascope, so too could it do microscope: "We stood on a hill above Gaza and saw the rubble on top of a plateau where Israeli settlements had been razed." She's looking down on the Gaza Strip and the only rubble she can see is that of razed Israeli settlements? Now that's what I call focus!

From razed settlements to crazed settlers: "Later we met some of the settlers further north at Gush Etzion. While I admired their enterprise and courage, I saw how difficult it would be to persuade these people, some of whom had only arrived from the US or Russia in the last 10 or 20 years, to leave land they have felt connected to for 3000 years." Courage? Miranda admires the courage of those who already have a home, but choose, on the basis of some twisted ethno-religious fantasy, to avail themselves of Israel's racist and discriminatory Law of Return and become spear carriers for the colonisation of the land of another people. Oh, yes, and do it while protected by one of the world's most powerful military forces possessed of the very latest in state-of-the-art American weaponry. Felt connected for 3,000 years? Yes, Miranda, the tooth fairy lives.

But there's more! Miranda on the Australian media's coverage of the Middle East: "The left-leaning media, in particular, is unashamadly slanted against Israel, in my opinion, without a real grasp of the wide range of views among Israelis, all of which are enthusiastically promoted by their own media." My God, where to begin? Here we have baseless assertion piled on baseless assertion: 1) that Australia has a left-leaning media; 2) that this is unashamedly slanted against Israel; 3) that Israelis hold a wide range of views (on what exactly?); 4) that these are reflected in the Israeli media; 5) and that it's the alleged left-leaning media's inability to grasp 3) and 4) that results in anti-Israel bias. To point out only the bleeding obvious with respect to assertions 3) and 4), if Israeli thinking is really so wonderfully diverse, how come it never seems to translate into even so much as a dent in Israel's ongoing colonisation of Palestine?

On the other hand, maybe "[p]art of the bias... may stem simply from the natural tendency of the media to support the underdog." Hello? The underdog? Whatever happened to the Palestinians as the major half of the balance of terror equation?

Finally, "I think I present reasonable, fair-minded opinions similar to those held by most Australians, but I often do so in a provocative or unpredictable way. You don't have the luxury of politely sitting on a fence when you write a newspaper column twice a week." IOW, to hell with homework, critical thinking, and considered opinion, just shoot from the lip.

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