Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Q&A, September 17

Q&A next Monday, the 17th is a must-view.

The advertised line up includes Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian and author of must-read The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006); barrister Irving Wallach, a former head of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement Betar and the Zionist Youth Council of Australia; Greg Sheridan, The Australian's foreign editor and no stranger to MERC readers; Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney; and Robyn Davidson, an Australian author.

Considering that the first 3 speakers at least have an interest in the Middle East conflict in common, I can't really understand the inclusion of Moore and Davidson, neither of whom have an interest in the issue that I'm aware of. More relevant would have been at least one Palestinian Arab speaker and maybe anti-Zionist blogger and journalist, Antony Loewenstein, who has never appeared on Q&A, for reasons best known to its producers.

Noting Pappe's expertise on the Palestinian Nakba of 1948, I recall a May 2009 Q&A stoush between Guy Rundle and Sheridan. Rundle had cited another Palestinian Nakba scholar, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, and referred to "dozens of massacres of Palestinians in 1948." Sheridan, who probably wouldn't know Benny Morris from Betty Boop, responded: "all rubbish... just rubbish." (See my 9/5/09 post Sheridan: Nakba Denier)

Sheridan has also ludicrously averred in an opinion piece that there has been only "one authentic Jewish Israeli terrorist, Baruch Goldstein." (See my 30/7/11 post Leave Our Islamophobes Alone, OK?)

Someone out there might like to put questions directly to Sheridan about these utterly bizarre assertions. With Pappe at hand to set the historical record straight, I'm expecting Sheridan to emerge groggy and bloodied at best, if not KOed outright.

Just to give you a flavour of Pappe, here are two extracts from his autobiographical Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel (2010):

1) The Palestinian Nakba of 1948 in a nutshell:

"In February 1948, within a year of the British decision to leave Palestine, the Zionist leadership began ethnically cleansing it. Three months later, when the British left, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were already refugees, pressuring the Arab world to take action, which it did on 15 May 1948. But the limited number of troops it sent to Palestine were no match for the efficient Jewish forces and they were defeated. The ethnic cleansing continued and at the end of it almost a million Palestinians became refugees (half of Palestine's population) and with them disappeared half of the country's villages and towns, erased from the face of the earth by the Jewish forces." (p 187)

2) Pappe's journey out of the Zionist cult:

"The year 1982 was also when I began the journey described in this book during and after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that summer. The first turning point was an invitation by the Israeli Embassy in London to speak at a pro-Israel rally in the north of Britain. The spokesperson explained that the ambassador, Shlomo Argov, was critically ill from an assassination attempt and it would be too dangerous to send his deputy. It was not only the willingness to sacrifice me, should there be another terrorist attack, but the presumption I had no reservations about or objections to the invasion that served as a wake-up call. From then on, I embarked on a journey of no return. Powerful as the Zionist grip is on one's thoughts and life, as an Israeli Jew, once you have extracted yourself from its hold, you cannot understand how you could ever have been captivated by its lure, logic or vision. This book is a modest attempt to try to decipher the riddle of an ideology that was once seen by this author as the ultimate expression of pristine humanity, but when abandoned, as a racist and quite evil philosophy of morality and life. Yet the 'divorce' from Zionism is in no way a desire to sever links with what is a vital and vibrant society, in which I still have family and dear friends and about which I cherish many fond memories. But in order to preserve the positive side of Jewish life in Israel, I believe that not only would Palestinians fare better under almost any non-zionist regime, so would most Israeli Jews." (p x)

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