Thursday, February 27, 2014

George Brandis, 'Hitch-22' & Some Burning Questions

I'm always fascinated by what our politicians do and don't read. Herewith, for example, is an insight into the reading habits of Attorney General Senator George Brandis:

"Senator Brandis has defended, as within his rights, spending almost $13,000 over 4 years on books and magazines including cartoons, [Mickey Mouse? Batman?] the thriller The Marmalade Files and Christopher Hitchens' memoir Hitch-22." (Brandis orders library ladder, Jared Owens, The Australian, 25/2/14)

Just dealing with Hitchens' book, and assuming he's actually read it from cover to cover, a most interesting question arises. Might this singular event constitute some kind of Australian record? I mean, could this be the very first time a sitting federal politician has actually read something on Palestine/Israel that in any way deviates from the hermetically-sealed, Israel lobby-mandated party line?

Read these two passages from Hitch-22 and you'll see why I'm asking:

"Actually - and this is where I began to feel seriously uncomfortable - some such divine claim underlay not just 'the occupation' but the whole idea of a separate state for Jews in Palestine. Take away the divine warrant for the Holy Land and where were you, and what were you? Just another land-thief like the Turks or the British, except that in this case you wanted the land without the people. And the original Zionist slogan - 'a land without a people for a people without a land' - disclosed its own negation when I saw the densely populated Arab towns dwelling sullenly under Jewish tutelage. You want irony? How about Jews becoming colonizers at just the moment when other Europeans had given up on the idea?"

"Suppose that a man leaps out of a burning building - as my dear friend and colleague Jeff Goldberg sat and said to my face over a table at La Tomate in Washington not two years ago - and lands on a bystander in the street below. Now, make the burning building be Europe, and the luckless man underneath be the Palestinian Arabs. Is this a historical injustice? Has the man below been made a victim, with infinite cause of complaint and indefinite justification for violent retaliation? My own reply would be a provisional 'no', but only on these conditions. The man leaping from the burning building must still make such restitution as he can to the man who broke his fall, and must not pretend that he never even landed on him. And he must base his case on the singularity and uniqueness of the original leap. It can't, in other words, be 'leap, leap, leap' for four generations and more. The people underneath cannot cannot be expected to tolerate leaping on this scale and of this duration, if you catch my drift. In Palestine, tread softly, for you tread on their dreams. And do not tell the Palestinians that they were never fallen upon and bruised in the first place. Do not shame yourself with the cheap lie that they were told by their leaders to run away. Also, stop saying that nobody knew how to cultivate oranges in Jaffa until the Jews showed them how. 'Making the desert bloom' - one of Yvonne's stock phrases - makes desert dwellers out of people who were the agricultural superiors of the Crusaders."

Moreover, keeping in mind Brandis' 2009 and 2010 rambammings, what terrible tsunami of cognitive dissonance must have swept over him on reading the above, and with what, if any, result? For example, could Brandis now be the weakest link in the Israel lobby-forged chain of the federal Liberal government?

Oh yes, and will he be lending his copy of Hitch-22 to his recently rambammed protege, Tim (Freedom Fighter) Wilson? (See my 23/2/14 post I Want My Money Back!)

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