Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dear Charlotte Lewis...

The BDS-bashing machine over at Murdoch's dark, satanic propaganda mill, News Ltd, is currently in overdrive (front page 'report' + 'opinion' piece yesterday; 'report' + editorial + letters today) relaying the confected outrage of the usual suspects (Gillard, Israel lobbyist Peter Wertheim, and the AUJS's Andrew Goldberg) over comments appearing on a UNSW Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook page.

To extract just one snippet:

"The UNSW Student Representative Council Ethnic Affairs Officer, Charlotte Lewis, was so shocked she posted: 'Reading over these comments has left me gobsmacked at the outrageous anti-Semitic slanders mentioned on this event. If I see one more antisemitic comment, I'm taking this to the University... I am the Ethno-Cultural Officer, meaning I need to look out for any hate speech towards any ethnic group. I have witnessed many accusations that the Holocaust didn't exist, and that Jews are money-hungry pigs. Due to this, several Jewish students actually feel unsafe to step [sic] foot into the University, meaning I actually DO need to solve this problem." (The ugly face of student activism, Peter Wertheim & Julie Nathan, The Australian, 30/4/13)

Now I hate to see people in pain (most people anyway), OK? And frankly, I'm a bit worried that Charlotte is about to burst a boiler over this matter. Therefore, in a compassionate effort to relieve her obvious suffering, I've decided to address the following open letter to her:

Dear Charlotte,

In the event that the comments which have so stressed you are genuine - by which I mean not the work of agent provocateurs - I wonder if, at some time in the future - obviously not now - when you're capable of thinking lucidly about this subject, you might consider carefully what I am about to say.


a) that the state of Israel promotes itself as the world's only Jewish state, the go-to destination for world Jewry, the only place on Planet Earth where Jews can really feel safe and secure, and realise their Jewishness - because it is after all their real home (and anyway the Bible says so, so there); and

b) that it also expels, occupies, dispossesses and brutalises the indigenous Palestinian Arab population of the land which it has usurped - you know, the one called Palestine, in case you've never heard of it before - on behalf of Jews from all corners of God's earth (and even some who, with a little help from their Israeli friends, have only just discovered they're Jewish, such as India's Bnei Menashe)...

Given these two facts, is it any cause for wonder then that Jews as Jews, however unfairly and wrongly, have become targets for the kind of comments that have had you reaching for the smelling salts?

In which case, it has to be asked, who is responsible for this terrible state of affairs?

Is it

a) a group of students under the rubric 'Students for Justice in Palestine' who, as their name suggests, are merely trying to draw other students' attention to the monumental injustice perpetrated - and still being perpetrated - on the Palestinian people by the Zionist project in Palestine?; or

b) the Zionist movement itself, aided and abetted by their former British and now American imperial backers, which gave birth to the state of Israel, and today sustains and enables it to carry on with its project of wiping Palestine and Palestinians off the map?



PS: If they still have a library at UNSW containing those thingies called books - remember those? - try getting hold of and reading David Hirst's classic, The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East.


Anonymous said...

The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East by David Hirst, the veteran Middle East reporter, is essential reading for any serious student of the Middle East. It is now into its third edition, with an update on the war against Iraq.

Ignorance is no longer an excuse.

Nor is confusing and conflating history and politics with fruit loop versions of comparative religion.

Mannie De Saxe said...

Another open letter to the poor soul who is so shocked by the "anti-semitism" on the campus of UNSW:

I am Jewish, anti-zionist, gay (Israel is such a safe place as the "only democracy in the Middle East" where gay people were murdered a few years ago in Tel Aviv and the Israeli justice system has not yet ound the murderers and brought them to book). I live in Australia, together with about 100,000 people who call themselves Jewish but don't go to live in Israel, and am part of about 6 million Jews world-wide who don't seem too keen to live in Israel.

I recommend two books to you by an Israeli professor called Shlomo Sand called "The Invention of the Jewish People" and "The Invention of the Land of Israel.

I am 86 and have lived and worked in a few countries where anti-semitism was fairly rampant and on my only visit to the newly established state of Israel in 1951, experienced a differnet form of anti-semitism from a Jewish taxi driver in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli government is an apartheid style government and the Palestinians in their own land are treated even worse than black South Africans were in their own land during the apartheid years. Things are not much better for them now in post apartheid South Africa, but the Palestinians have some way to go before apartheid ends in their country. The only solution to the problems there is for there to be a unified Israel-Palestine democratic non theocratic state - a simple solution but not for Israelis and Palestinians.

Max Brenner should be boycotted from campus and people who defend Jews as ethnics should also be banned from campus.

Mannie De Saxe - internationalist

Justin said...

Merc: Please think logically and leave out peoples' surnames unless they have expressly given you consent.

Do you know Charlotte? I do. Maybe you should not insult her intellectual capacity without questioning your own.
Here is a quick definition for you:

Prejudice (Noun) Preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience.

That sounds exactly like what you have done. Why should I believe you when you base your attacks on nothing? Do you know her? Do you know anything about her? Prove to me that you do.

Refer from "is it any cause" to "the smelling salts?"
Where did Charlotte ask "Why are people so against Jewish people?"? What does this have to do with Charlotte?

Refer from "a group of students" to "by the Zionist project in Palestine?"
There is a difference between standing up for the Palestinians and explicitly saying the holocaust did not happen, as well as posting hateful comments about the Jewish people, or pro-Israel commenters.

You seem to simply be making Charlotte a scapegoat. Nothing you said in this post relates at all to what Charlotte said. It does relate to the conflict in the Middle East, but not to what Charlotte said, especially not the snippet you used. If you read through every comment made on the Boycott Max Brenner page (if I remember correctly it was an open event) you would see that Charlotte also condemned the hatred towards the Muslim and Palestinian people. It seems a little convenient that you did not reference this at all. Did you know she did this?

Personally I believe you owe Charlotte an apology at the least, as well as editing your blog to remove her surname in an attempt to prevent possible hate mail she may receive/have received. Her full name may be posted in other locations but she is not the focus of hate and mocking in those places, so please remove her surname.

Finally I bring you back to the definition of prejudice with regards to your Post Script. Charlotte is an extremely well educated young lady as well as someone who takes her job of defending all ethnic groups very seriously.

Next time you want to rant about the conflict in the middle east, please leave innocent bystanders out of it, especially when they are only trying to minimise conflict. It is only logical and kind.

First I want to say I highly respect that you gave your full name.

Secondly, my belief to you is similar of that towards MERC. I am happy for you to have your opinions on the conflict in the middle east and Israel. I am also happy for you to express your feelings and ideas about the conflict. I do, however, ask that you too do not judge people like Charlotte before you know them.

I would love to know why you believe Max Brenner should be boycotted. If you are going to say "because it is an Israeli owned company", aside from the payments Max Brenner Australia makes to the Israeli company for the name there are no links to Israel. I would find the information that says this but I am seriously tired.

Also from the following definition, Jews are in fact ethnics.

That clearly states that "ethnicity" can be classed as religion.

A final note from me:
Personally I feel the only way to overcome the conflict is through education. People on both sides are brainwashed with biased, and sometimes completely falsified, 'facts'. Maybe if everyone knew the truth there would be much less killing and (luckily) non-lethal attacks on both sides. I am neither for nor against the state of Israel. I am, however, against the state of affairs that has arisen due to Israel existing, as well as the illegal settlements that are constantly being built.

I also do see the irony of not placing my full name on my post however I am not attacking you. If you feel otherwise that was not my intention. I merely meant to use wit to point out flaws in your post/s and make suggestions on how I believe you can better your current and future posts.

MERC said...

Justin, re C's name and words appearing in public, wouldn't your complaint be better directed to Peter Wertheim and the Australian?

And how is reminding someone that every issue has a background and a context which needs to be considered before opening up on it a matter of 'insulting' their intelligence?

Your own comment re people on 'both sides' being 'brainwashed' suggests either an appalling ignorance of historical background and context on this issue or a deliberate attempt to mislead by casually dismissing the factual basis (and hence the justice) of the Palestinian case.

Justin said...

MERC: I had originally explained a bit as to why I had a problem with your post and not so much theirs, but there was a character limit for my response and I deemed that one of the less important topics so I removed it. It is also why I did not include your full quotes.

I do not have a problem with her words, nor her first name appearing in public. I do, however, have a problem with people attacking other with no just cause, especially when the person being attacked is doing their best to improve relations and ensure everyone feels safe. I assume, and I do hope I am wrong, but I assume that some of your followers would be at least be tempted to contact Charlotte with hateful and hurtful messages, simply because they agree with the way you portray her. I am happy for The Australian to have her full name in their article as they are sympathising with her struggle trying to keep things peaceful. They are supporting and praising Charlotte if anything. If she were to receive messages from the readers of The Australian I believe the vast majority would be positive, and who doesn't love a bit of praise?

I would be happy for you to leave her name up if I knew for 100% certain that she would never receive any hateful messages in relation to your post.

Essentially I am just being protective of Charlotte.

Again, as before, I had explained and referenced what I meant with the intelligence, but this darn character limit made me remove that too.
I was referring to the fact that you insulted her ability to think "lucidly". When arguing one's opinion, people will often give way to emotions and as such not think lucidly. However, Charlotte actually responded in the only "lucid" manner possible. She did not insult anyone, nor did she get angry at anyone, at least not in her post. She did express the fact that she was angry and unhappy, however she thought lucidly and did not direct her emotions towards any specific people.

Lastly, I know there is a background, but I am one of those people who believe that maybe there can be peace, and my belief is that for the to happen, both sides must first stop teaching each other to hate the other. I don't mean that in the sense that one or both sides should just stop fighting (although that would be a dream come true). What I am talking about is in relation to a man I know (so no, sorry, I can't reference him...). He is an Egyptian born Muslim. He was told for the majority of his life in Egypt that if he met a Jewish Israeli, and the Israeli knew he was Muslim or Egyptian, the Israeli would kill him. I am not exaggerating. He was scared beyond belief when he found out a fellow chef in the kitchen where he worked was originally an Israeli. Now, after education on both sides, they not only work together happily, but they also jointly own a small business.
Hate and anger will be spread when a family member or friend is killed on both sides, however when someone has not had any close quarters contact, in any respect, with the violence, I believe they can be the leading force of an educated solution. If you can remove the hatred and anger from some, maybe the want for peace will grow and slowly, over time, the violence will end. I understand that there is a background, however I feel that for there to ever be peace, people must also look to the future and try to make the best of it. That, however, is just my opinion.

Does that explain my point properly? I feel I may be missing things and I would like to clear as much up as I can. Maybe, just maybe, if I can even make you that little bit less hateful it may make your children less hateful, and theirs less so, etc


MERC said...

Justin, lucidity here means responding to such anti-Semitic FB comments by a) keeping in mind that they could just as easily be the work of anti-BDS Zionist provocateurs as the real thing, and b) understanding that so much of what is called the 'new anti-semitism' simply results from Zionism's long-standing and quite deliberate conflation of Judaism with Zionism, resulting in all Jews potentially being seen as Zionists and thus targets of Middle East conflict-related hostility.

Some knowledge of the issue based on a bit of wide-reading, as opposed to the gut reaction exhibited by Ms Lewis, is required here.

As to my being 'hateful', it's true. I hate injustice, lies, and ignorance.

IF you're complaint is genuine then I suggest you get cracking and do some reading/research. The mere expression of an opinion or a feeling is simply not good enough where these matters are concerned.

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure it counts when you combat 'slanderous propaganda' with an alternatively sourced sladerous propaganda.

fire vs fire makes for a great campfire but its pretty juvenile as a method of writing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that Charlotte would have not reacted in the same way if it had been any other ethnic group.
If any group of students approach the SRC, it's a given that they must do something. If Ms Lewis didn't do anything, she wouldn't be doing her job.

MERC said...

Anon, it's 2013 and Charlotte still doesn't 'get' the Palestine problem (1917-2013)?

If the bone of contention has anything to do with Israeli-occupied Palestine, only occupied, dispossessed and dispersed Palestinians have cause to be offended.