With Fairfax getting sorrier by the day and the Murdoch press up to its usual tricks, I imagine that many news and commentary addicts are falling back on Guardian Australia for their daily fix. But what are they really getting, especially by way of commentary, on Palestine?
Slim pickings, if their last 3 opinion pieces are any indication.
As anyone who follows this site will be aware, I believe that 'getting' Palestine is the litmus test for intellectual and moral courage in our time. Sadly, GA, in its response to the latest Israeli bloodletting in Gaza, fails this test. Here's why:
1) "I understand and feel the suffering of the Israelis who have lost loved ones and are forced to live in fear... Palestinians and Israelis have been angry for a long time but...it has brought death and injustice to ourselves and others... The hope and future safety and freedom of Israel are linked to the security, safety, freedom and future of Palestinians. We are like conjoined twins and any harm induced [?] to one will impact the other. The courageous thing for both sides is to embrace the dignity, grace and strength of the other." (As a father who lost his children in Gaza, I call for an end to this bloodshed, Izzeldin Abuelaish, 18/7/14)
This is truly contemptible stuff. It peddles the nonsensical idea that there is no difference whatever between occupiers and occupied, oppressors and oppressed, colonisers and colonised, ethnic cleansers and their victims. It omits, on the one hand, any mention of Zionist colonisation and apartheid, and, on the other, the legitimate and heroic struggle of generations of Palestinian freedom fighters for fundamental human and political rights. And what is one expected to make of this Palestinian Uncle Tom's talk of his people's need to "embrace the dignity, grace and strength" of the Israelis? Truly obscene.
2) "The moral corruption that comes with any occupation has fused with the collective trauma of the Jewish people. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein is a peace activist in Israel: she tells me that Israel's mentality 'is very easy to understand in a way where people were traumatised over centuries. It bred a sense that people owe us, of 'who are you to tell us what to do?'... The Jewish people faced persecution for milleniums... The all too recent memory of the gas chambers encourages the sense that Israel can never be too strong, and that its people can never be oppressors". (How the occupation of Gaza corrupts the occupier: It's tempting, but futile, to demonise Israelis. To achieve peace, we have to understand the rationales behind the latest offensive, Owen Jones, 21/7/14)
Presenting this kind of nonsense, without challenge, as some kind of mitigating factor in the Zionist long march (1917-?) to wipe Palestine off the map is quite inexcusable. Zionist designs on a Palestine without Palestinians were hatched long before the Nazi genocide, and psychobabble about collective, inter-generational trauma supposedly driving today's Israeli perpetrators merely serves to shift the focus away from the settler-colonial roots of this conflict and the very real trauma of dispossession which the Palestinians have been subjected to now for almost a century. There are no excuses for what we are witnessing today in Gaza. None. (I should add, in Owen Jones' favour, that he deserves to be complimented on his generally critical stance toward Israeli brutality and intransigence. Consider this piece, therefore, an unfortunate lapse.)
3) "How many pictures of dead children do you need to see before you understand that killing children is wrong? [Killing adults, well...] I ask because social media is awash with the blood of innocents. Twitter is full of photos of the murdered children of Gaza... Those who want to say something about the atrocities in the Middle East may indeed be genuinely distraught... They may feel that pictures of the broken bodies of infants trump all talk of the immensely long, complicated nature of the conflict... Binyamin Netanyahu speaks of Hamas actively wanting to 'the telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause'... Pictures of Israelis watching the destruction of Gaza as if it were a fireworks party do the rounds. Again with no context. This was Sderot where children don't play outside but in shelters." (Sharing pictures of corpses on social media isn't the way to bring a ceasefire, Suzanne Moore, 21/7/14)
Eewwww! They're sooo yucky. Take them away! The agony of Palestine has been with us now for almost 100 years but this bovine with bad hair just wants it out of sight and out of mind. Quoting Bibi the butcher's loathsome soundbyte approvingly, and suggesting that the colonial-settler ghouls on the hill outside Sderot, cheering on the slaughter in the Gaza coliseum below, have an equal case tells you all you need to know about Moore. Let me just add this: On 20/7/14 she tweeted: "Cannot stomach anymore Israel/Palestine pieces from people who have not been there and just pumping out simplistic dogma." You want simplistic dogma? Cop this: "At the Erez Crossing we had a picnic and were told of the baddies. Hamas. They are indeed baddies, who do not recognise the existence of Israel..." (Suzanne Moore, Yes, Israel has a right to exist. But so did those blood-soaked Palestinian toddlers on the mortuary slab, The Daily Mail, 11/1/09)
Apart from their content, what really annoys me about these 3 pieces is that they've each occupied a media space that could have gone to weightier and more insightful analyses of the issue.
And another thing: two of the three writers are British. Neither, though, displays any awareness of Britain's historical role in the launching and consolidation of the Zionist colonial project and Britain's concomitant betrayal of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. Nor, I'd wager, is either aware of the key role of C.P. Scott (editor of the Manchester Guardian - as it was then known - from 1905 to 1929) in introducing the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to Lord Balfour and Lloyd George, a fateful conclave if ever there was one, and one which led to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for all that has befallen the Palestinian people, including the carnage we are witnessing today in Gaza. (See my 2/1/12 post The Language Spotter.)