Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The Murdoch press is currently on a Captain Cook binge, with a 5-part series by journalist Trent Dalton, Cook Rediscovered. Today's essay, An Endeavour for the age, contains these words from Cook's journal: "... the natives... did not offer to touch any of our Casks that had been left ashore and in the after noon 16 or 18 of them came boldly up to within 100 yards of our people at the watering place and there made a stand - Mr Hicks who was the officer ashore did all in his power to entice them to him by offering them presents but it was to no purpose all they seem'd to want was for us to be gone... "

Quite. Cook read the Australians' body language correctly.

For these representatives of the original owners of this land, Cook and his men represented only one thing - trouble. They felt it first in their bones, before they felt it, as buckshot, on their bodies.

While they could not, of course, have known at the time of their coming dispossession at the hands of wave after wave of European settlers, their gut instinct told them that no good could possibly come of these invaders, and that only one response was required, namely, BUGGER OFF!

Another, far wordier Briton, the writer G.K. Chesterton, detected, in his fashion, a similar reaction on the part of the indigenous Arab inhabitants of Palestine to invading European Zionists in 1920:

"The Syrians and Arabs and all the agricultural and pastoral populations of Palestine are, rightly or wrongly, alarmed and angered at the advent of Jews to power... I will give one curious example from one of the best and most brilliant of the Zionists. Dr. Weizmann is a man of large mind and human sympathies; and it is difficult to believe that any one with so fine a sense of humanity can be entirely empty of anything like a sense of humour. Yet, in the middle of a very temperate and magnanimous address on 'Zionist Policy,' he can actually say a thing like this: 'The Arabs need us with our knowledge, and our experience and our money. If they do not have us they will fall among sharks.' One is tempted for the moment to doubt whether any one else in the world could have said that, except the Jew with his strange mixture of brilliancy and blindness, of subtlety and simplicity. It is much as if President Wilson were to say, 'Unless America deals with Mexico, it will be dealt with by some modern commercial power, that has trust-magnates and hustling millionaires.' But would President Wilson say it? It is as if the German Chancellor had said, 'We must rush to the rescue of the poor Belgians, or they may be put under some system with militarism and a bullying bureaucracy.' But would even a German Chancellor put it exactly that? Would anybody put it in the the exact order of words and structure of sentence in which Dr. Weizmann has put it?.. If the Zionists wish to quiet the fears of the Arabs, surely the first thing to do is to discover what the Arabs are afraid of. And very little investigation will reveal the simple truth that they are very much afraid of sharks; and that in their book of symbolic or heraldic zoology it is the Jew who is adorned with the dorsal fin and the crescent of cruel teeth... But the case is yet more curious than that. These simple tribes are afraid, not only of the dorsal fin and dental arrangements which Dr. Weizmann may say (with some justice) that he has not got; they are also afraid of the other things which he says he has got. They may be in error, at the first superficial glance, in mistaking a respectable professor for a shark. But they can hardly be mistaken in attributing to the respectable professor what he himself considers as his claims to respect. And as the imagery about the shark may be too metaphorical or almost mythological, there is not the smallest difficulty in stating in plain words what the Arabs fear in the Jews. They fear, in exact terms, their knowledge and their experience and their money. The Arabs fear exactly the three things which he says they need... " (The New Jerusalem (1920), pp 289-291)

1 comment:

Grappler said...

Off topic MERC, but I saw nothing on the ABC or the Age front pages about the relief of Deir Ezzor. Whether or not you see Bashar al-Assad as the world's second demon (after Kim Jung-un of course), you might imagine that it would be of interest. After all, when the "rebels" complain about fake chemical weapons attacks, the ABC makes it a headline. Interesting how they choose their news.

Incidentally, I'm halfway through John Lyons book - definitely worth a read insofar as it describes the power of the Lobby in Australia. I take issue, though, with the way he appears to draw a moral equivalence between Iran and Israel. At this point (and as I said I have only read half of it) he has picked on probably the worst time in recent political history in Iran - the election of 2009 - to compare with Israel's ongoing persecution of its non-Jewish inhabitants, land theft, and ethnic cleansing. While failing in many aspects of democracy and human rights, Iran is not in the same league as Israel in these matters.