Monday, November 19, 2012

Israel Lobbyist Asks: Why do we bother?

Now I don't know about you but I've often wondered about the mysterious deputies referred to in the moniker NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. I mean, we all know its public face and CEO, the ubiquitous Vic Alhadeff. But just who are these faceless deputies?

Well, you're not going to believe this, but I recently found myself meandering along the mean streets of a certain Australian city when the proverbial flatbed truck came careening around a corner and, quite by happenstance, deposited a certain document at my feet. And blow me down if it wasn't penned by one of the faceless ones! Spooky, eh? Now as the document - a letter in fact - would appear to be of some interest to students of the rambamming phenomenon which receives so much attention on this blog, I've decided to post it in full, omitting only the name of the author:

Am Israel Chay! My dear fellow deputies,

As we well know, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies study tours to Israel are to the Australian journalist as candy is to a child. In fact, how often have we joked together that those who miss out sound awfully like that kid in the song: 'What about me? It isn't fair...'

Seriously though, given the meagre results of our most recent effort, I find myself compelled to ask: are we really getting our money's worth these days? Or, to put it even more bluntly, what kind of propaganda bang are we getting for our big bucks?

Unfortunately, up and coming Greg Sheridans seem in pretty short supply these days and, I'm sorry to say, I fear we may be facing a bottom-of-the-barrel scenario. Take the latest lot of junketeers, for example. Although eight of the species have recently been wined, dined and schmoozed in the usual right royal manner by our Israeli partners, only two, Judith Whelan of the Sydney Morning Herald, and Simon Benson of the Daily Telegraph, have so far made any effort to repay our extraordinary kindness.

And, of the two, it's really only Simple Simon, as we are want to call him sotto voce, who's produced the goods. Frankly, this is simply not good enough.

To take Whelan first. The woman's clearly all sizzle and no sausage! I mean, check out the header on her piece: The normality of a nation on the brink. Full of promise, right? Redolent of Poland on the eve of the day when the massed German panzers began revving up for a visit.

But then what do we get? The Dark Forces of Amalek in Gaza are raining intercontinental ballistic missiles, bristling with nuclear warheads, on Tel Aviv and our Israeli brothers and sisters are barely 15 seconds from becoming toast, and all bloody Whelan can come up with is this drivel:

"Through it all, the traffic kept moving, planes kept taking off and the volleyball players on the beach kept on with their game... Look at the streets of Tel Aviv and you wouldn't know it. The people here seem used to these situations - they have lived under the threat of rockets, of suicide bombers and other terrorist attacks for too many years. They know when to worry, and they are not too worried yet." (16/11/12)

Not too worried yet? Now how in Herzl's name is the Herald reader going to take Israeli SUFFERING seriously after that?

And then she goes AWOL up at Metula on the Lebanese border and ends up quoting some silly old bugger called Rivka Jacobs: "When I open my window in the morning, I say, 'Good morning, Hezbollah!' Because we are just 600 metres away."

Shit! I mean, seriously, how lame is that compared to our blessed Joseph Trumpeldor's dying words as his sacred blood became one with the soil of our beloved Eretz Israel: 'Never mind, it is good to die for our country'?

After that, all I can say is thank God for good old Simple. I mean, the PAIN of our people in Israel is instantly brought home to the readers of the Tele the moment they read his opening words:

"You know things are getting pretty grim when you have to put your dog on valium to cope with stress. Or plant gum trees around your home to obscure it from terrorists firing rockets at you." (In the never-ending Gaza war even dogs take tranquillisers, 16/11/12)

And just imagine the frisson of terror experienced by Tele readers as they read this little ripping yarn:

"Like any normal Sydney family [the people of Sderot] worry about the rising cost of living - mortgage repayments, power prices, grocery bills. But they have an extra burden. Three kilometres away... is the city of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinian families live under the grip of terror imposed by Hamas and its jihad brigades intent on erasing the Zionists from the land they claim to be Palestine."

Admittedly, just between you and me, there is the odd factual error here - it's Gaza City, not the city of Gaza; it's 1.5 million Palestinians, not families, who live in the Strip; the only terror Palestinians have ever experienced has come, and let's be frank here, from the IDF and its predecessors; yes, unhappily, Israel was once known as Palestine; and finally, Simple can't decide whether Sderot has 20 or 24 thousand people - but hey, this is Simple Simon writing for the even simpler Simons out there who read the Tele, so who's to twig?

I also like the way Simple brings the fundamental humanity and decency of our Israeli brothers and sisters to light:

"Sivan Hanukayer... says that when the rockets rain down, all she can think of is hate. Wanting her enemies across the border 'dead, erased'. When it's over, and she returns to a rational state, she sympathises with the Palestinians across the border who are used as human shields by the jihadists."

Ah, the immortal Israeli soul, irrationally hateful only in the direst of circumstances but always resuming its natural tendency to turn the other cheek and even empathise with its enemies when the danger is over. Compare that with Simple's wonderful depiction of the Gazans as hostages of Hamas jihadists, leaving the reader to deduce that, as victims of the Stockholm syndrome, they're simply incapable of either rationality or empathy.

And, bless his soul, Simple even fell for that old ham, Noam Bedein:

"Noam Bedein, the director of the Sderot information centre, says the entire town has been on edge for weeks. It's hard to lead your life constantly looking out for missile shelters just in case your 15-second race for life starts. That is how long they have to get into a bomb shelter before terror strikes. 'Mothers have to stop their cars, get out, try to unbuckle two kids, then get them to the shelter,' he tells me. 'What the mothers are discovering is it's impossible... they are being forced to choose. Which child do I save?'"

Oh well, if Simple could swallow that and regurgitate it for his readers, no doubt they'll lap it up. (Yuk! I've just thought of the implications of that sentence!)

But Simple's piece de resistance surely has to be his final paragraph. That should clinch the deal with Tele readers, no sweat! I bet you didn't know that the dastardly leader of the "jihad brigades," as Simple calls them, had actually managed to insult the memory of our immortal Aussie diggers? Read on:

"Al-Jaabari [sic] has carried out hundreds of rocket attacks on Israeli towns including Be'er Sheva, where the Australian Light Horse Brigade is remembered for heroic feats in 1915 - defending a land that is in a constant state of war."

Only Simple could come up with Aussie diggers defending Israel 34 years before it came into existence from the invading Turks who'd ruled it since the 16th century. Priceless!

OK, to return to the subject of this letter, as good as Simple's contribution to the cause is, it's still only one out of eight, or one and a half if you include Whelan's pathetic effort. One wonders, therefore, why we bother. Any ideas?

Looking forward to your thoughts on this vital matter, fellow deputies.

1 comment:

Peter D said...

I've discovered that Simon has a blog with a comments section, with precious few comments so far on his recent report from the eye of the storm:

Who knows, they might even publish my comment.

Also, Lateline had a good interview with Rami Khouri last night: