Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dross & Gold in The Weekend Australian

Conflating ISIL violence with Palestinian resistance to JSIL violence, hyping JSIL as a bastion of anti-terrorism and a bulwark of civilisation, urging Australia to adopt a more pro-JSIL 'narrative', and claiming that JSIL and Australia are made of the same stuff, takes a special kind of chutzpah, but, make no mistake, Israel's ambassador to Australia, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, has proven equal to the task:

"At a meeting of the UNSC this week Australia brought the focus of the council on to the topic of countering terrorism. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contended that in order to adequately address terrorism, the UN must work together to learn from, and support one another in efforts to root out the perpetrators of radical violence. I applaud this initiative of Australia's, because Israel for decades has been one of the most consistent victims of radical religiously motivated violence, but we cannot fight it alone. As Bishop remarked, radical Islamic terrorists 'are an affront to Islam. All of us, including Muslim communities themselves, must do more to negate the violent extremist narratives of terrorists and denounce radical preachers of hate in our midst'. Israel sits at the frontline of the terrorists' threat and to curtail their radical dystopia from consuming the civilised world a strong and prosperous Israel is vital. This is why free and democratic countries, like Australia, should forge a strong alternative narrative of their own, that can counter the narrative of violence stoked by militant Palestinians and Islamic State. To recognise that an attack on Israeli citizens is an attack on the same fundamental ideals upon which countries like Australia were built: this is the narrative that will demonstrate to Islamic extremists that when they attack Israel - when they desecrate peaceful faith - they attack a camaraderie of nations that will not tolerate violence as a political tool." (Terror: the enemy of Palestinian statehood, The Australian, 22/11/14)

But if Ben-Shmuel's transparent sales pitch on page 15 of The Weekend Australian was its dross, Middle East correspondent John Lyons' factual and well-researched feature on the rampant Israeli colonisation fueling Palestinian desperation was its gold, effectively nailing  Ben-Shmuel's blatant hasbara:

Where the ambassador prattled on about "a grotesque theatre of violence perpetuated by a ruthless band of Palestinian extremists," and "bands of disgruntled and radicalised Palestinians [taking] matters into their own hands," Lyons wrote of "a gang of about 50 masked men [who] left Yitzhar, home to some of the most violent settlers on the West Bank, and attacked Palestinians as soldiers standing near watched on," and "armed gangs which frequently roam the West Bank destroying olive trees owned by Palestinians or attacking Palestinians physically." (Settlers fuel cycle of bloodshed)

Where Ben-Shmuel paid the obligatory lip service to "sustainable statehood for Palestinians," Lyons made no bones about the fact that the Israeli government was working to make this impossible: "While the new battle for Al-Aqsa is the immediate cause of the violence the longer-term cause is Israel's continuing expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank... They are systematically eating up land which Palestinians say should be their state and are often being built on privately owned Palestinian land... Anyone who drives across the West Bank today will see a skyline dominated by Jewish settlements."

That said, I do have one quibble in relation to Lyons' report. It comes with his initial framing of the Palestine/Israel conflict as "a new round of hostility between these two ancient combatants."

This is not an ancient struggle stretching back to the mythical 'time immemorial'. It's actually no older than World War I, when the British government of the day, in an act of monumental folly, climbed into bed with Chaim Weizmann's Zionist Organisation, and duly gave birth, in November 1917, to a right little bastard known as the Balfour Declaration. And the rest, as they say, is history - with which I expect Lyons to be familiar.

1 comment:

Grappler said...

No doubt hasbarists will argue about 3000 years of the history of the Jewish people (whatever that means) in Palestine, or is it 5000 years or perhaps even to Bishop Usher's date of creation. Here is a great rebuttal by Juan Cole;