The Middle East conflict invariably brings out the worst, which is to say the inner Zionist, in Phillip Adams, a phenomenon I've documented many times on this blog. Mind you, the Zionism of Murdoch's token 'leftie' is far from the blatant, in-your-face variety of a Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan. (No branch of the lobby is ever going to offer Adams an equivalent gold star.)
No, Adams' Zionism is more understated, manifesting usually as a fleeting comment, an evasive manoeuvre, or a studied (?) omission. To the untrained ear, you might even miss it. Trawl through my Adams file by clicking on the label below and you'll see what I mean. If you only have time for one example, make it He Just Doesn't Get It (19/9/09).
Here's an example from his column in Saturday's Weekend Australian Magazine. Adams' theme is the often uncertain, or worse, fate of political leaders:
"From Caesar to Gandhi, beware the ides of March. The political reward for Lincoln, JFK and brother Bobby, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King was a bullet. But it's not only the US where the good and the great are cut down. Israel, India and Pakistan have had many martyrs." (The perils of power, 6-7/7/13)
Israel's "good and great... cut down"? Israel's "martyrs"?
With these lines, we enter 'Did he just say what I thought he said?' territory. In Israel we have a nation every one of whose leaders has perpetrated, either directly or indirectly, just about every war crime in the book. But for Adams, despite his bibliophilia, his pretension to worldly wisdom, and his decades of radio interviews with all and sundry, including many critics of Israel and Zionism, the criminality of Israeli colonialism and apartheid never quite seems to register.
By "martyr," I can only assume he's referring to former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated by a settler extremist in 1995, and that he fondly imagines Rabin as Israel's answer to Mandela's peace partner, Frederik de Klerk.*
The reality, of course, is that Rabin was just another Israeli war criminal. As a Palmach commander, he was responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian towns of Ramle and Lydda** in 1948, and as defence minister in the Shamir government, he was responsible for the ruthless suppression of the first Palestinian Intifada (1987-1991) with his infamous 'break their bones' policy.
Here's an example of the kind of thuggery meted out to defenceless Palestinian kids by order of Adams' "good and great" Israeli "martyr" during the first intifada:
"On the following day [22 December, 1987] Defence Minister Rabin returned to Israel from an extended trip to the USA, and immediately took a tough line. He made his attitude with regard to the Palestinians clear: 'Their suffering will increase and instead of allowing them to live peacefully, as long as the political situation has not been achieved, they will suffer more and more.' He vowed: 'Every legal means - legal from an Israeli point of view - is justified to put an end to it'... Under Rabin's direction there was massive repression of the demonstrations in the occupied territories, in which hundreds of Palestinians, including many children, would be killed. Some of these Israeli atrocities were witnessed by foreign observers.
"On the evening of Friday 29 January 1988 Karen White, an American journalist, was walking alone in Gaza City. After 7 weeks of unrest the situation was tense, but Karen was not prepared for what she saw. Right before her eyes, an Israeli soldier pulled a boy of 9 or 10 by his hair from a parked car. The youngster was dragged to the ground and kicked in his face and chest. Other soldiers joined in, after which the youngster was ordered to pick up pieces of orange peel from the street. A few hours later Karen noticed a group of Israeli soldiers laughing as they kicked a feeble old man in the genitals for no apparent reason. Such sights were common in the occupied territories, especially since Defence Minister Rabin had announced on 19 January that Palestinians would be confronted with 'force, power and blows' in an attempt to crush the uprising.
"The next day Karen White and her friend, a British lawyer named Catriona Drew, decided to visit the office of the Gaza Bar Association which did valuable work in collecting information on human rights abuses during the intifada. The two women were recognised experts on Israeli human rights violations, since they had previously written an expose on the condition of children in Israeli prisons which was included in the 1987 US State Department Human Rights Report on Israel. There were usually less violent clashes on Saturday than Friday, the Moslem Sabbath, but the women were still apprehensive as they walked along an alley which ran parallel to Omar al-Muktar Street in Gaza City.
As the two women reached an intersection faced by the Al-Omari mosque, they saw a large number of Israeli soldiers as well as a group of schoolgirls standing on the street. Two small stones were thrown which harmed no one. At the other end of the block a youth of 17 or 18 stood alone, facing away from the soldiers, who ran towards him from behind. When the soldiers reached the boy, they all began to club, kick, slap and punch him. In her affidavit Karen White stated: 'I did not see this boy throw any stones; the stones that landed on the intersection had been thrown from the other end of the block.' The American journalist feared for the safety of the girls as well as the teenage boy.
"Soon afterwards two more jeeps arrived full of soldiers, four of whom appeared to be sharpshooters. Karen was alarmed because: 'The soldiers placed themselves in front of the schoolgirls and took aim at the group at chest and head level.' Catriona Drew notes in her statement: 'I swear that the stones that were thrown came from the opposite direction and were not thrown by any of the girls or indeed anyone on the street.' The two women put themselves in the line of fire, which forced the soldiers to back off.
"As the two women were about to leave they heard screaming and shouting. The soldiers were dragging the teenage boy along the ground on his back, kicking him over his entire body, including his abdomen and genitals, punching him with their fists and pounding him with their wooden truncheons. The boy's head, face and neck were covered with blood and his nose was obviously broken.
"At this point Karen saw four other soldiers aim their rifles at an 11- or 12-year-old-girl. She followed the soldiers into an alley as they pursued the child. The American journalist found 'all four soldiers with their truncheons raised as the girl cowered against the alley wall'. A soldier grasped the girl's upper arm, causing her to whimper with pain. Karen White pulled the soldier off the girl. Another soldier appeared to be in a frenzy. Shaking violently, he began screaming, then turned and smashed the headlights and windshield of a car parked in the alley. Karen noted: 'I believe that, had I not intervened, the girl would have been seriously injured.'
"When Karen got back to al-Muktar Street, the teenage boy was handcuffed to a shop door. He identified himself as Muhammed al-Jamallah. His little sister was standing next to him, screaming. Karen asked one of the soldiers for the name of his commanding officer and wrote the name down. When she told the soldier she wanted the name to use in a report to a member of the US Congress, he grabbed the paper from her and tore it to pieces with his teeth. Catriona notes that afterwards she saw the soldier 'punch Karen in the stomach and hit her with his rifle'." (Imperial Israel: The History of the Occupation of the West Bank & Gaza, Michael Palumbo, 1990, pp 233-236)
Frankly, Adams' words are an insult to generations of martyred Palestinians.
[*How Rabin's position of a strictly limited Palestinian autonomy could ever be compared to de Klerk's agreement to the principle of one man, one vote in South Africa is beyond me; **For an account of the Lydda death march by George Habash, see my 2/2/08 post Fabricating George Habash.]