ABC Radio National personality, Phillip Adams, never ceases to amaze. Here he is introducing a segment on his Late Night Live program called World's largest refugee camp (27/2/17):
"My excuse for retelling the story that I was radicalised at the age of 12 by reading The Grapes of Wrath is simply this - the book we're about to discuss [City of Thorns] begins with 3 sentences from that book. Let me read them. 'There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolise. There is a failure here that topples all our success.' John Steinbeck. And I hope the book we're about to discuss will radicalise another generation. If you look at the collection of Palestinian refugee camps in the world, in Jordan, Lebanon, in the West Bank, Gaza, and formerly in Syria, the numbers are shocking, they're beyond shocking, they're numbing, and the world's sensibility seems to be appropriately numbed. An estimated 5 million Palestinians are living throughout the region, but the world's largest refugee camp, called Dadaab is situated in the desert of Kenya, and has over half a million inhabitants, just like the camps housing generations of Palestinians... "
Let me sum that up for you. Adams is professedly NUMBED by the existence of permanent Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, that is, camps that date back to the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 when the ancestors of these refugees were driven out of their Palestinian homeland by Zionist terror gangs.
My reaction: WOW!
To my knowledge this is an Adams first. Here he is, 77 years old; a veteran commentator on, and explorer of, the issues of today, yesterday and tomorrow; a public intellectual; almost, if not already, an Australian icon; and, importantly, an avowed man of the Left; and he's only now discovered something of the significance of the daddy-of-all contemporary refugee problems, the Palestinian refugee problem.
The standout instance of his failure on this issue for me was a 2009 LNL interview with the American-Palestinian writer Saree Makdisi. When Makdisi called for an end to Israel as a Jewish state and the creation of one state for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, including, by implication, those in refugee exile, Adams worriedly asked how long it would take before Jewish Israelis were a minority in Israel. Makdisi, puzzled, replied, "I don't know. I don't even know that that question matters." At which Adams snapped: "It sure as hell matters to them." (For the all important context, see my 19/9/09 post He Just Doesn't Get It.)
If anyone out there is in a position to raise the issue with Adams, the obvious question to put to him now would be this: you recently indicated that you were numbed by the scale and time of Palestinian refugeedom. But are you sufficiently numbed to support the return of today's Palestinian refugees - from Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere in the Palestinian diaspora - to their former homes and lands in Israel, along with all that that entails by way of equal rights for all, regardless of sectarian affiliation, between the the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea?