Saturday, February 8, 2014

Those Reservations Aside...

Would anyone writing today (or yesterday for that matter) on Germany's occupation of Europe in WW2 bother telling us that said occupation was 'illegal'?

Of course not. Hello? Occupation? we'd scoff.

What if they told us that it was 'considered illegal under international law'?

We'd probably respond here with sarcasm: Oh really, we had no idea. Who would have thought?

What then if they'd bothered to add the qualification 'a point that was disputed by Germany,' as in 'Germany's occupation was considered illegal under international law - a point Germany disputed'?

We'd probably write the author of the piece off as a Nazi sympathiser or apologist.

And yet, Ruth Pollard, Fairfax's Middle East correspondent appears to have no problem writing as follows: "All of [the Israeli-occupied West Bank] is considered illegal under international law - a point Israel has disputed for decades." (Israel fights back against boycott, 8/2/14)

Again, can you imagine anyone writing of the German occupation of France as follows: 'The French resistance movement has taken up arms to drive the Germans out of occupied France. Its detractors label the movement as anti-German.'

Here we'd start by scratching our heads: Who are these mysterious 'detractors' we'd be wondering. Then the penny would drop. Oh, he means the Germans! So why the f**k doesn't he say so?

And yet Pollard can write, seemingly without pause: "Formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian individuals and civil society groups, [the BDS movement] calls for the boycott of Israeli companies and products that profit from Israel's occupation... Its detractors label the movement anti-Semitic..."

Can you also imagine an article on the subject of the Nazi occupation giving the same weight to Germans (whether officials complaining about 'Germany-bashing' or heads of German universities telling us what champions of 'free speech, academic freedom and human rights' they are) as French resistance fighters?

And what would you think of its author if he gave them space to whine that 'the resistance movement was undermining all this and damaging efforts of collaboration'?

Well, Fairfax's cowardly adherence to the insidious dogma of 'balance' ensures that this is effectively what we get in Pollard's piece on the BDS movement.

And while I'm bitching, here are my quibbles about Pollard's report:

a) "Dan Avnon has spent most of his career promoting co-existence between Jewish and Arab Israelis." Name one instance of Avnon having called for or worked for equal rights for 'Arab Israelis,' or else insert the adverb 'allegedly';

b) "The BDS movement has powerful backers" ???!!! Name them!;

c) "While the BDS movement may have appeared... extreme when it began eight years ago." Extreme?! What, after 57 years of Palestinian exile and 38 years of occupation? Give me a break!

Those reservations aside, at least Pollard has raised the issue of BDS (and, in particular, Israeli lawfare outfit Shurat HaDin's unprecedented hauling of Sydney University academic Jake Lynch before the courts this month), only the second Fairfax employee after Richard Ackland* to touch on this most appalling challenge to free speech and academic freedom.

[*See my 18/1/14 post With My Own Eyes.]

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