Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Is There a Glass Wall at the 'Good Weekend' Too?

Thinking about the 'troubling narrowband view of Middle Eastern politics' displayed by the Good Weekend's deputy editor Greg Callaghan, I thought it might be useful to see where its editor, Ben Naparstek, stood on the subject.

Naparstek had, of course, previously edited (09-12) Morry Schwartz's The Monthly, a magazine so protective of Israel that one of its writers has spoken of the existence there of "a glass wall." 

The worst was confirmed, however, when I read a November 2011 interview with him. (The Monthly editor, Ben Naparstek, abc.net.au, 13/11/11) Here's the relevant bit:

Julia Baird: And [Jacqueline Rose] is a great critic of Zionism, isn't she?

BN: She is. And I must say I don't agree with most of her writings on Israel/Palestine. I think that her call for a boycott of Israel is incredibly unfortunate given what an intelligent and magnificent writer she is. [I see, so calling for a boycott of apartheid Israel is just plain dumb?] She's not talking about boycotting any of the other countries in the Middle East which are under the thumb of tyranny, in which they execute people on a daily basis. [So let me get this straight. Israeli occupation forces blaze away at anything that moves, as reported in today's Herald*, but that's not executing people? Or when they knocked off a 16-year-old after fucking him around at a West Bank checkpoint just the other day (25/4)**, that wasn't an execution? Or when they fired on and wounded 12 Palestinian civilians in the period from April 16 to April 22***, those weren't attempted executions? ]... I mean Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. Why this intense focus on it by the left liberal intelligentsia? I think that's a form of madness. I really do. [Naparstek's obviously the 3 wise monkeys all rolled into one.]

JB: So you're not a supporter of the BDS here either then?

BN: Of course not. I'm a total opponent of it. And fortunately it hasn't gained much traction here. I think that it's outrageous that Bob Brown hasn't taken a stronger stance against Lee Rhiannon for calling for a boycott. Bob Brown, you know, if he's serious about leading a genuinely progressive party, should not allow those kinds of extremist elements to fester within it. And the fact that... Bob Brown might not be the leader in five years and that, heaven help us, Lee Rhiannon could be, is... a very terrifying thought. [This is an extraordinarily censorious outburst, given that elsewhere in the interview Naparstek accuses "the left" of being supportive of free speech only when it suits them and of trying to "silence" Andrew Bolt, "someone who had made statements that were deemed offensive to aboriginal people."]

Naparstek also said in the above interview that: "If I only published writing that reflected my personal beliefs and opinions, then The Monthly would be a very dull magazine indeed."

Nice disclaimer, but seriously, folks, have you ever read anything even remotely critical of Israel in the Good Weekend?

[*Soldiers tell of 'shoot to kill' orders, Ruth Pollard; **Ali Sa'id Abu Ghannam, 16, was shot dead east of Jerusalem after being harassed by Israeli troops on April 25 (See Palestinian teen killed by army fire in Jerusalem, imemc.org, 25/4/15); ***4 protestors, including 2 children were shot and wounded in Bil'in and Ni'lin weekly protests; 5 other protestors, including a child, were shot and wounded during other protests; and 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child were shot and wounded east of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip. Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, pchrgaza.org.]  

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