Sunday, May 22, 2011

SMH Letters Editor No Einstein

Ali Kazak, former ambassador of Palestine to these shores, submitted the following letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. Although it was published on 18 May, the words in bold were omitted by the letters editor:

"Your Middle East correspondent's article Israel points finger over coordinated incursions (SMH 17/5) contains a number of inaccuracies which need to be corrected. Palestinian refugees are not Syrians of Palestinian descent. They are Palestinians who were ethnically-cleansed [replaced by thrown out] from Palestine by Jewish terrorist organisations such as the Stern Gang who created Israel [replaced by when Israel was created] in its place in 1948. They maintain their Palestinian nationality and refuse to replace it with any other as Israel wishes them to do. Furthermore, it is not correct to describe them as penetrating or infiltrating the border since one does not infiltrate or penetrate into one's own country regardless of its occupation by other people who deny them their right to live in their own homeland. Finally, the Palestinians were not marking the 53rd anniversary of the creation of Israel but the 63rd anniversary of Al-Nakba (the Palestinian Day of Catastrophe) of their dispossession of their homeland. Israel's cold-blooded killing of 3 of the refugees is murder and should be strongly condemned by the Australian government."

This blatant display of censorship/self-censorship warrants several points:

1) By replacing ethnic cleansing with thrown out the Herald is deliberately obfuscating the plain fact that the Palestinian refugees were thrown out for no other reason than that they were non-Jews whose mere existence in Palestine stood in the way of the creation of a majority Jewish Israeli state. Zionist historian and 1948 specialist Benny Morris certainly doesn't baulk at using the term: "There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing... A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians." (See my 11/5/08 post Benny Unhinged)

2) By omitting the reference to Jewish terrorist organisations such as the Stern Gang, the Herald's letter editor reveals himself to be no Einstein. After all, it was Einstein who wrote the following terse letter, dated 10 April 1948 (a day after the notorious act of ethnic cleansing known as the Deir Yassin massacre, perpetrated by the Irgun and the Stern Gang) in response to an invitation to attend a fundraiser for the American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, aka the Stern Gang: "When a real and final catastrophe should befall us in Palestine the first responsibility for it would be the British and the second responsibility for it the Terrorist organizations built up from our own ranks. I am not willing to see anybody associated with those misled and criminal people."

3) After reading the Human Rights Watch report on Israel's latest massacre, Israel: Investigate Killings During Border Protests (20/5/11), the expression cold-blooded murder seems nowhere near wide of the mark. As the report says, "Using intentional lethal force where not strictly necessary to protect life is likely to violate the right to life in a non-armed-conflict policing situation such as crowd control, even when carried out by soldiers... Unjustified killings should be prosecuted as crimes." The situation Kazak describes in his letter relates to the protest at the Lebanese border. In relation to this, HRW finds that there was "no imminent threat to the lives of Israeli forces that necessitated use of lethal force," and points out that the Israeli murderers were separated from the unarmed protesters by 2 rows of fencing, one electrified, and a thick row of trees.

The following questions therefore arise: Just what was the letters editor afraid of? What pressures was he/she operating under? Was this a matter of censorship from someone higher up in the Fairfax food chain or an act of self-censorship by the letters editor? Does the Herald have in its possession a list of red line words in relation to Palestine/Israel? If so, what was its origin and what are they? Oh yes, and what ever happened to freedom of speech?

For those interested, see my post on the report by Herald Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis, to which Ali Kazak's letter was a response: Palestinians Dying to Celebrate Israel's 63rd Birthday (17/5/11)


Rob said...

I often quote Benny Morris, it often shuts up the rabid Israel boosters-"eminent" historian,Israeli Jew,enthusist of ethnic cleansing.What a trying thing it must be for Jason[Koutsikis]Greg[Sheriden]John[Lyons]and Ben["ABC News Jerusalem] to minimise or eliminate the Palestinian perspective from their purportedly "informed" items from the "Middle East".How does a normal,sane, intelligent person get around the West Bank and Palestinian East Jerusalem and not see EXACTLY what the grim reality is-never mind go to Gaza and see the appalling tragedy of that open air prison?Jason,Greg?any of you?

MERC said...

Mm, embedded journalism... so comfy!

Anonymous said...

The indefatigable Ali Kazak returned from the Middle East the very day the Koutsoukis misrepresentations and spin appeared in print. Ali Kazak, to his credit, promptly replied but this reply was Bowdlerized by the letters editor, acting, as usual, on auto-pilot.

For those not familiar with the expression "Bowdlerize" the following entry from Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable may, in part, help explain both Granny's dilemma and submission.

Bowdlerize (bou'dle iz) To expurgate a book. Thomas Bowdler, in 1818, gave to the world an edition of Shakespear's works "in which nothing is added to the original text; BUT THOSE WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS ARE OMITTED WHICH CANNOT WITH PROPREITY BE READ ALOUD IN A FAMILY." This was in ten volumes. Bowdler subsequently treated Gibbon's Decline and Fall in the same way. Hence the words Bowdlerist, Bowdlerizer, Bowdlerism, etc.

We have here a demonstration of how letters are treated even from such distinguished corespondents as former ambassador Ali Kazak. Imagine the respect to the truth and fidelity of the actual news itself from 'our' media.