Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Problem with Amira Hass

I thought I'd tune in to Phillip Adams' Late Night Live program on 22/4/15 to hear visiting Israeli journalist Amira Hass, "the only Jewish journalist who has lived among the Palestinians, both in Gaza and now full-time in the West Bank." (Amira Hass: An Israeli journalist living in Palestine)

Adams was, of course, his usual blunt self - 'blunt', that is, in the sense that his interviewing style, particularly with Jewish Zionists, totally contradicts the program's claim to be about "razor-sharp analysis of current events [which] puts you firmly in the big picture."

But it's mainly Hass (unexpectedly I might add) that I have the bigger problem with this time around. While sound on the occupation of 1967, I found the following words more than a little problematic:

"In my lectures here in Australia, I'm speaking to you as one settler to another. This institutionalisation of colonial times I see it everywhere here in Australia. Everywhere. And I also say different things to different audiences. So for people who tell me the solution is to dissolve Israel, I say 'Why don't you dissolve Australia?' And just because you got away with most of the indigenous people... and luckily and happily Israel and Zionism did not decimate the Palestinians. So... it's an extension of London. So I see the whites here and your colonialism is still fresh and the thing is how we look at the future and not the past. We cannot undo the past, but the future has to be worked on..."

Now, to take up my razor...

What does she mean by 'dissolve Israel/dissolve Australia'? Typically Adams didn't ask her.

Was this in response to a questioner who had suggested that Israel's apartheid structure be dismantled? That Israel be de-Zionised? That it become a state of its citizens, with equal rights for all, regardless of ethno-religious affiliation, rather than continue to be reserved as the exclusive domain of those Jews who see themselves as belonging to that entity, 'the Jewish people'? That Israel's outrageous, biology-based, apartheid Law of Return be scrapped? That the indigenous people of Palestine, ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, be allowed to return to their homes and land?

 Was she seriously suggesting that there are no differences between Israel and Australia? Typically, Adams didn't ask her whether she saw Australia as an apartheid state (that is, a state based, like former apartheid South Africa and today's Israel, on a raft of discriminatory legislation), and if so, which discriminatory laws made it so. Nor did he ask her whether indigenous Australians were languishing in exile in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, denied the right of return to Australia.

Why was she using the old Zionist whataboutery: You dare criticise Israel? What about Australia?

And when she said, Israel and Zionism (that is, almost 100 years of Zionist colonisation, dispossession, expulsion and occupation of Palestinians) did not decimate the Palestinians, what the hell was she on about? Typically, there was no response, razor-sharp or otherwise, from Adams.

Finally, in saying that we cannot undo the past, was she implying that Israel was set in concrete in 1948 and must forever remain a Jewish state, and that the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 must therefore remain in exile?


Anonymous said...

@'dissolve Israel/dissolve Australia

Isn't that a typical case of "false analogy" fallacy?

"A false analogy is a rhetorical fallacy that uses an analogy (comparing objects or ideas with similar characteristics) to support an argument, but the conclusion made by it is not supported by the analogy due to the differences between the two objects. Sometimes these differences are outright ignored by the person presenting the fallacy". It that case both by the presenter and the presentee. "other times, they may not be aware of the differences or that they apply", which is hardly the case of the 'razor-sharp'.

MERC said...

We should also bear in mind that while she may have an excellent grasp of the Israeli settler-colonial project in the Palestinian territories, we cannot simply assume that she knows what she's talking about when it comes to Australia.

Anonymous said...

"false analogy"--asusing the words apartheid when referring to Israel?
Hmmmm, me detects a whiff of hypocrisy here.

MERC said...

Actually, 'apartheid' isn't the best word to describe Israel. Worse-than-apartheid would be much better.

Vacy said...

I agree Merc, I also felt uneasy listening to her underlying Israeli arrogance.