Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reflections on Barry Cohen (1935-2017)

Barry Cohen was a cabinet minister in the Labor government of Bob Hawke. Here are my thoughts on certain lines from his obituary in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Cohen recalled that at his first day at boarding school, he had three fights with classmates who called him 'a dirty bloody Jew'. He developed defence mechanisms: humour, and pride in the Holocaust survivors recreating a Jewish nation." (Labor hero fought for the Barrier Reef and Kakadu, AAP, Sydney Morning Herald, 19/12/17)

It's not that hard, is it? Anti-Semitic bullying has propelled many a young, unthinking Jew into waiting Zionist arms. Thus anti-Semites, in effect, act as recruiters for Zionism.

Unfortunately, Barry Cohen never seems to have developed any real insight into the nature and history of the Zionist movement, namely that it is a particularly toxic form of settler-colonialism; that it had come into existence long before the Holocaust; that it was in fundamental agreement with the Nazis that Germany's Jews should be transferred to Palestine; and that it was and still is bent on the wholesale dispossession of Palestine's indigenous Arab population. A little research or reflection, at least in retirement? Sadly, not for Barry Cohen.

"As he's told it, he was an armchair critic of discrimination in all its forms, mouthing endlessly against anti-Semitism, apartheid and the appalling treatment of Aborigines. Then a friend asked him what he was doing about it. His answer was to join the ALP."

What to make of those who can see discrimination and injustice everywhere - except in one tiny corner of the world? The word 'phony' springs to mind.

"Cohen had been close to Hawke. They shared an emotional attachment to Israel and a love of golf."

At least Hawke's emotional attachment to Israel eventually gave way to a more critical understanding that Israel was not quite what it had been cracked up to be. Less time wasted on golf might have helped in both cases. Life really is too short.

"Occasionally his serious side surfaced, as in a 2004 denunciation of Labor's growing Palestinian lobby."

Sadly, it never seems to have occurred to Cohen that the anti-Semitic bullies of his youth, the perpetrators of the Nazi genocide, and the ruthlessly dispossessed Palestinian people are not all cut from the same cloth. Truly, Zionism rots the brain.


Grappler said...

This famous quote of Ben Gurion says it all for me:

"If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter—because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.” – Ben-Gurion (1938).

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Yitzchak Greenbaum, a famous Zionist, proclaimed that "one cow in Palestine was worth more than all the Jews in Poland."

Grappler said...

Off topic, MERC, but of interest to Israel followers is the issue of Teva. As background, we recall how our politicians fawn over Israeli entrepreneurship.

Teva is a flagship company for Israel (national treasure). A large global company with around 57000 employees, many in Israel, it produces generic drugs. It also has employees in several other countries. After taking over another company its fortunes and value have declined, the latter by around 70%, and it now has a $35B debt. Teva is laying off 14000 employees globally, including about 1700 in Israel, in previous downturns in its fortunes it has tended to protect Israeli jobs at the expense of those in other countries. This time, less so, and that has resulted (in Israel only as far as I am aware) strikes and protests, and intervention by Netanyahu.