Friday, July 25, 2014

James Carleton's Israel Meets the Real Thing

The fact that a typical ABC interview on the subject of the Middle East conflict invariably reveals as much about the interviewer's entrenched Zionist prejudices and ignorance as it does about the matter under discussion never ceases to amaze me.

A particularly glaring example was Wednesday's interview with Israeli academic, activist and author Marcelo Svirsky by Radio National's current Breakfast presenter James Carleton (Racism becomes the new norm in Israel: Political scientist, 23/7).

For Carleton, Israel's is always the default position. Typically, he begins the interview, with the premise that Hamas, a mere symptom of Israeli occupation, is the problem:

JC: Unfortunately, the firing of rockets into Israel and the strong response of the Israeli military into Gaza is nothing new. Hamas has been at war with Israel since it was first elected 8 years ago. Yet, in spite of that history of violence that stretches way back before Hamas, our next guest says something new is happening in Israel. Dr Marcelo Svirsky is a political scientist. He's an Israeli Jew who now lives in Australia, and teaches at the University of Wollongong in NSW. He's just returned from Jerusalem and he says that the hatred and racism he's witnessed towards Arabs has become the norm in Israeli society, something he's never seen before.

[But it gets worse. Next comes Carleton's 'understanding' of the Middle East conflict from 1948 to the present.]

JC: Before I get you to substantiate that claim, and because it is a big claim, why would it be so given in the past Arab armies have nearly destroyed Israel in 1948, and there've been wars of survival up to 1973, there've been intifadas, the current situation, relatively speaking in terms of Israel's security, is rather mild, why should there be hatred now but not then?

[It has to asked: Is it a qualification for work at the ABC that the employee have experience in peddling Zionist propaganda? Svirsky, of course, is not impressed]:

MS: Well, to begin with, I don't think the narrative of 1948 is right as you expose it. Israel was not under threat of destruction in 1948, but [again] this is something we perhaps need to discuss in another program. I think that the present situation [in Israel] is special and different in the sense that we're witnessing a further crystallization of violence and racism in Israeli society not yet seen. I'm not talking about the regular, more familiar structure of racism and settlerism we [already] know about, but something new, and I'm talking about 3 particular forms of behaviour or social patterns. The first is the total recruitment of the media, not just biased reports and commentaries on TV and radio, but more important, actually calling on the government to escalate the conflict. This is [inaudible] so far. I mean, the marginal spaces that the Israeli media had in the past for some alternative voices are being shrunk, not to say, totally cleansed.

JC: But there's Haaretz. That's a very pro-Palestinian newspaper. It's a free and diverse media.

MS: Well, I don't think Haaretz is pro-Palestine, although it has a few, brave journalists such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass. But I would like to tell you that (only) last week in Ashkelon Gideon Levy was physically attacked, and what is more, yesterday Matti Golan, a well known publicist working for the daily financial newspaper Globes called on the government to put Gideon Levy and Amira Hass in administrative detention for what he claims to be the use of freedom of expression that [inaudible]. So I think that these kinds of calls are pretty much new in the Israeli media.

JC: OK, if that's the media, what are the other two?

MS: The second phenomenon is the organised counter-demonstrations of right-wing groups showing up at anti-war protests. I'm talking about thugs showing up at leftist demonstrations wearing neo-Nazi t-shirts, those used by European neo-Nazis, saying GOOD NIGHT LEFT SIDE, with an image of a man attacking a left-wing activist... They outnumber the leftist protestors...

JC: What do the t-shirts say?


JC: GOOD NIGHT LEFT SIDE? It's a contradiction in terms. A neo-Nazi is an Israeli?

MS: Well, sadly, it isn't if you introspect into the social patterns and behaviours of Israeli society. But what is happening is that they chase the leftist protestors chanting DEATH TO THE ARABS, DEATH TO THE LEFTISTS, and they beat them up while the police just look on. All they do is arrest Palestinian citizens at the end of the demonstration.

JC: What happened when the ambulance took some of the victims of these beatings away?

MS: This happened in Haifa. Two Palestinian citizens were beaten and taken by ambulance to hospital. Some of these thugs stopped the ambulance, opened the door and asked, 'Jews or Arabs?' with the intention of taking these people out of the ambulance, if they were Arab, just to finish the job. The third phenomenon is the enjoyment of the spectacle of war. Israelis are gathering on a hilltop close to Gaza to cheer and whoop as Israeli bombs rain down on Palestinians. They bring their tables, chairs and picnic baskets as if they were watching a football match, only they get excited if a player is the death of human beings. I think this is pretty appalling.

JC: You're talking about Sderot.

MS: Yes, near Sderot.

JC: Well, that town in the past two weeks, Hamas has launched 1,500 rockets in 14 days. They would say you're playing the victim.

MS: We can also quote in that respect President Obama and other western leaders claiming no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its border... but James, which nation would agree to be oppressed for nearly half a century of colonisation? Which nation would remain silent in the face of an ongoing ethnic cleansing? For instance, would Australian citizens peacefully agree to be stripped of their natural rights and their lives be dictated by an external power?

JC: So when the Israeli government says why do people single out Israel, you're saying why single out Palestine as the only nation to endure occupation?

MS: Exactly. And we need to contextualise the violence of Hamas. What is happening here is that the West blames the victims for fighting back. This is an absurdity.

JC: Israel says that resistance is a code word for terrorism.

MS: Resistance is the right of an occupied and oppressed people. It's a natural right.

JC: But not to individually target civilians.

MS: Well, this is something we need to ask the Israeli government about. After 600 Palestinian deaths, including more than 100 children, about 3,000 injured, with nowhere to go. I mean, the claim that Israel's violence is an act of self-defence is an oxymoron. No occupying power has a legitimate right of self-defence but [rather] an international obligation to withdraw.

JC: You are not a Zionist, are you?

MS: No, I'm not.

JC: Does that put you on the extreme of Israeli society?

MS: I think that puts me on making sense of reality.

JC: But it's a view not shared by many of your former countrymen?

MS: To say the least.

JC: Well, the argument then is, from an Israeli perspective, why should Australia get to have Australia, the Chinese China? We all have our own countries except why are Jews singled out to be denied their homeland in their historic birthplace.

MS: I think there are 3 answers to that. To begin with, the parallel between Australians, French or Japanese and Jews is not exact because we're mixing up here nation, religion, ethnic belonging, and other factors. The second answer is that if a country of Jews or Australians is [all] about privilege for a particular group, that's unacceptable.

JC: You mean anyone can come to Australia provided they apply to migrate, and once they're here, they're first class citizens?

MS: Well, it should be. Israel was established as a society built on...

JC: Well, if it's not true in Australia or Israel, why single out Israel?

MS: Well, it is the society I come from...

JC: Sure.

MS: ... and I have a particular interest in Israel because I have family and friends there and most of my past is there.

JC: But the other point is when you come to Australia you can take an Australian nationality fully but when you migrate or are the independent population of a Jewish state, if you are not a Jew either ethnically or in terms of religion that's more problematic.

[More problematic? Is this ignorance or sheer cussedness? Let me spell it out for Carleton: if you are a diaspora Palestinian you cannot return to your Palestinian homeland (stolen and renamed 'Israel') because you do not have a Jewish mother.]

MS: Well, here comes my 3rd answer, which is that the Jews or the Hebrew [-speaking] people are not the only, if we accept that claim, indigenous people of the land of Palestine. We cannot dismiss the fact that the Palestinian people are the more indigenous people of the land.

JC: So, you're calling for a one-state solution democracy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, but the Israeli Jewish fear is that that will necessarily mean an Arab majority and the best case scenario is a democracy where Jews are second class citizens. The worst case scenario is an annihilation or second holocaust.

[Can you believe this guy! A 'Jewish' majority is no problem for him, but an Arab majority, that's going too far.]

MS: This is all speculation, but we have now, as fact, that the so-called only democracy in the Middle East is a fascist regime with 1st, 2nd & 3rd class citizens acting as an occupying power for 50 years, and established on a basis of ethnic cleansing - 700,000 indigenous Palestinian people. So if you take the historical facts on the one hand, and a kind of suspect politics of pre-emption on the other, I'm not sure which one we should choose.

[Marcelo Svirsky's important new book on how Jewish-Israelis can and need to "divest themselves of Zionist identities by engaging with dissident rationalities, practices and institutions," is just out. It's called After Israel: Towards Cultural Transformation. Here's the opening sentence from the book's Statement: "Israel was a bad idea from its inception." I'm looking forward to reading it. Re the emerging Israeli fascism cited by Svirsky, I urge you all - as I have earlier - to read Max Blumenthal's recent expose, Goliath: Fear & Loathing in Greater Israel.] 


Grappler said...

That's wonderful. I wish I had heard it. James Carleton is either wilfully ignorant or a Zionist mole. He usually interviews people who are more compliant. He obviously didn't do his homework, thinking given the background of Svirsky, that he had someone who would parrot the hasbara.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Marcelo Svirsky, what a real human being and welcome to Australia. What a win for this country.

I marvel at how he can express the plain truth in such an elegant fashion.

It was a pleasure and delight to read this article, outstanding work MERC.

James Carleton has quite some form on this issue and it shows.

His latest agitprop live to air, described the peace proposal in Gaza that included Israel releasing the prisoners and lifting the siege of the captive CIVILIAN population of Gaza as 'onerous'.

I wonder if James Carleton is aware of or cares that sieges, blockades and embargoes against a captive civilian populations is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention? Is observing the Geneva Conventions 'onerous' ?

Or just 'onerous' for Israel and the furtherance of its military and racial objectives?

Is it ABC policy to advocate for and condone war crimes?

Send them a copy of the Conventions or look them up on the net at the ICRC web site.

However to explain the obvious bias so often displayed by James Carleton and how he managed to tick all the 'right' boxes for his ABC employment look no further than his Eastern European born Jewish grandmother.

James Carleton does a great parody of her accent.

We need a little more disclosure when James Carleton opens his mouth on this subject.

It seems that James Carleton could learn a lot from Marcelo Svirsky.

James Carleton said...

What a bigot "anonymous" is. At least have the spine to put your name to your antisemitism.

As for the blog's administrator: "For Carleton, Israel's is always the default position".

Listen to these:

You might also extend your 'analysis' to ask the question, if I'm as biased as you say, how come I'm the only journalist as far as I'm aware to have given Svirsky a major national mainstream audience?

MERC said...


Face the facts. Your 'Hamas rockets' intro is the dominant Israeli propaganda trope of the moment, echoing throughout the ms media.

Re the cause of Israel's latest massacres in Gaza, you made no reference whatever to the real reason: Israel's desire to break the Palestinian unity government by singling out and smashing Hamas.

Three Israeli deaths were, without evidence, attributed by Netanyahu to Hamas, and Israel duly went on a rampage throughout the West Bank, arresting hundreds of Palestinians and shooting 10 dead.

In addition it launched airstrikes against Gaza, killing 2, including a 10-year-old girl.

And all of this before a single rocket was fired.

Then there's your Leon Uris version of 1948, rubbish about wars of survival, and finally, nonsense about "Jews being denied their historic homeland."

That no Jew ever had trouble visiting or living in Palestine prior to the launching and consolidation of the Zionist 'Jewish State' project in 1917 seems not to be apparent to you.

Ditto the cardinal fact that the Jewish State project was achieved in 1948 with the massive ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian majority, many of whose descendents today are being butchered in their hundreds by Israeli bombs, shells, missiles, bullets and who knows what other hideous weapons.

Sorry, your default position is Israeli propaganda tropes.

Ever read a decent book on the subject? (Oh, and Svirsky's book is not, as you said at the conclusion of your interview, about to be published. It already has been. If he kindly left you a copy you could read that.) See also Max Blumenthal's book mentioned in my post.


Vacy said...

I agree with Grappler that carleton didn't do his homework on Svirsky. Great comment responses here to Carleton's delusion that he is some kind of saintly moderate on Israel.

He is another ABC yes man to directives to push Zionist propaganda. The pro-Israel bias on the ABC is too endemic to be discounted as aberrations.

The money must be good for ABC journalists and news readers to spout this blatant newspeak without protesting to management or refusing to utter the rubbish.

James said...

It simply defies logic that you can maintain my Regev and Julie Bishop interviews demonstrated pro-Israel bias on my part.

You do your legitimate cause a disservice.

Clearly you don't realize I threw up 'basic tropes' at Zvirsky for him to bat them away, which we all agree he did effectively.

The question you need to ask, is the audience better informed before or after the interview. And I think we can agree they are better informed. End of story. That was my aim, and I achieved it. It's called journalism.

And I note you don't address the question of 'anonymous' spuriously trying to speculate on my ethnicity and ancestry and making conclusions on that basis. Surely we can at least agree that that is the essence of racism?

Anonymous said...

James, I have read that: 'you have not lived until you have been called an anti-Semite.'

However I have been left less than exhilarated by your catch all response.

You see it's that I just can't actually work out exactly who is the Semite in question.

Is it Marcelo Svirsky ? Damned with too faint praise for his honest views?

Is it the IDF for its long history of war crimes? [shouldn't notice]

Or are you the Semite in question?

It couldn't possibly be the Palestinians because some of my best friends are among those well known Semites, the Arabs.

My very own grandmother had one of those Semitic religions too. Does that make ME a Semite?

Could I therefore be a 'self hating' Semite?

Shem shrugged.

MERC said...

1) This post was based on the Svirsky interview, not the others which I haven't heard.
2) Assuming you don't believe in the aforementioned Zionist tropes, why then do you feel obliged to parrot them?
3) Anon. can answer for himself, which I see he's done.

Grappler said...

One more thing, James, assuming that my last long rant is not "moderated". Here's a test of your impartiality: Are you criticized by Michael Danby?" If not, then ask yourself why. Or is that why you lean towards the Zionist view?

Grappler said...

Finally assuming my previous two posts get past moderation, go to
this and listen to Mike Peled (a Jew with impeccable ancestry) talk about Palestine:

If you can't afford an hour to rid yourself of Zionist myths, go to 1 hour and 3 minutes in and listen to his take on the "antisemitic" slur.

Grappler said...

It seems that my first post or this morning did not appear - maybe I pressed the wrong key. I'll try again.

You say that you threw up basic "tropes" so that Marcelo could respond but you stated them as though they were facts. Those who lean to the Zionist cause do not want to know the truth and rely on the repetition of their myths by commentators like you to allow them to sleep (better than I do) at night.

You state the Israeli Govt line that it is "responding to Hamas rockets" without context - no mention that this is itself a response to Israeli aggression, or even that it is the Israeli government line rather than factual. You state "given in the past Arab armies have nearly destroyed Israel in 1948" when it is a false Zionist myth, as anyone who has read serious history of that war knows. You state that Haaretz is a pro-Palestinian newspaper as fact - it most certainly is not. It is less biased than the Jerusalem Post for example but it is overall definitely not pro-Palestinian.
And then your remark about "a neo-nazi in Israel"! Where have you been?

Why not, for instance, say "The official Israeli government line is that they were fighting a war of survival in 1948". Is that true?

And this"denied their homeland in their historic birthplace"! Explain the "historic birthplace"? Please, I'd like to know how you justify this 2000 year old claim. Religion? Ethnicity? The Bible? It's going to be an interesting debate.

People who don't want their belief in the "most moral army in the world" and the "only democracy in the Middle East: challenged rely on these "tropes" of yours for succour.

I listened to the two broadcasts you listed as evidence of lack of bias on your part. I'll go with the first but the one of Mark Regev gave him more than 7 minutes of unchallenged unrelenting lies. He must have come away delighted. To see how a real journalist tackles Regev look up Jon Snow on YouTube and take a few lessons.

A Zionist is pretty easily spotted by their quick use of the "antisemitic" slur. I'm careful to differentiate between "Jew" and "Zionist" but I can understand why some others don't - Zionists are the ones who most often conflate them: "the Jewish State". Go and read the wonderful Jews on Mondoweiss or Jeremiah Haber, who currently has a great article up, if you want to be educated.

James Carleton said...

Anonymous, you wrote this:

"to explain the obvious bias so often displayed by James Carleton and how he managed to tick all the 'right' boxes for his ABC employment look no further than his Eastern European born Jewish grandmother... We need a little more disclosure"

If you believe that sentence not to be problematic, then there is nothing left for us to talk about.

And Grappler, yes the false equating of anti-Israel as inherently anti-Semitic is disgusting. Something I tried to expose in another MSM interview:

And finally Grappler, yes I am aware of Peled. His name is Miko, not Mike. I also gave his passionate voice a national audience of half a million.

From my part, this conversation is now ended.

Grappler said...

Sorry you've left the debate just as it was getting interesting, James.

I've looked for your interview with Miko Peled, in vain. Can you point me to it? Apologies for mistyping his name - thanks for pointing it out.

A word of advice - listen to Peled's last 5 minutes.

Grappler said...

I've been obsessing a bit about the "eastern European born Jewish grandmother" issue. It's certainly not something I would have raised myself but you clearly are sensitive to it, James. Can I throw up another situation as an attempt to get my and others heads around the ethics of raising it?

Suppose you had lived in Europe or America in the 1930s and had written a piece in defence of the White Australia policy. Would it have been pertinent to know whether you were eligible to emigrate to Australia under that policy?

Grappler said...

In case James is still checking in, this is from James' "pro-Palestinian" Haaretz, specifically Ari Shavit (quick check to see I've spelled his name correctly) on 29 July.

“But over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything. Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a “strategic terrorist attack.” His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.
So that is why everything now hangs in the balance. Hamas is exhausted, but fanning the flames time after time. Israel is showing restraint time after time. Netanyahu and Ya’alon are still managing a battle against those who may very well entangle Israel in a real war. But the way Kerry played into the hands of Turkey and Qatar, and the extremist Palestinians and Israelis, has created a situation that is still quite dangerous.
If Israel is forced to ultimately undertake an expanded ground operation in which dozens of young Israelis and hundreds of Palestinian civilians could lose their lives, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry. But if the escalation does not happen, instead we should remember that those who prevented it are three people the Obama administration loathes: Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Ya’alon. “

Haaretz may be slightly less pro-Zionist than the ABC but that's not saying much!