The Sydney Morning Herald Columnist notices the Palestinians

I’ll be honest – I usually find smh correspondent Jason Koutsoukis underwhelming. Ed O’Loughlin occasionally covered the occupation, which is why he was considered so outrageous by Zionist extremists here. Koutsoukis has peddled Israeli propaganda now and then (such as Iran’s “repeated” threat (he supposedly made this a vow according to Koutsoukis) to wipe Israel off the map). In this serious article not so long ago, Koutsoukis mainly relied on Israeli government sources: particularly the credible Avigdor Lieberman, who called Ahmadinejad a racist. These were his standards half a year ago: about as serious as asking Ahmadinejad if Lieberman is racist. (obviously, they’re racist demagogues).

However, he has increasingly come into contact with reality. During the protests in Iran, he cautiously noted that some of the other governments in the region weren’t exactly sterling democracies either. Though his criticisms of Egyptian tyranny were mild, they were uncommon by corporate media standards (“It was a display of freedom that supporters of democracy in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates can only dream about.”) Note those are all American puppets, and we’re now apparently close to the UAE.

Anyway, Koutsoukis has drifted from what he used to write. He begins: “Forgive me for being confused, but exactly what are the clear and present dangers facing the State of Israel?”

He then recites the usual propaganda about the threat from Iran, and actually dismisses it:

Last Friday, according to Jewish New Year’s tradition, Barak gave an interview to Israel’s biggest selling newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
Instead of the usual palaver about the threats facing Israel, Barak surprised his questioners with this frank admission.
“Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel,” said Barak.

Given Barak’s pedigree as Israel’s most decorated soldier, a former chief of the Israel Defence Forces, and Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001, his words were not those of some neophyte.
With Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres repeatedly hyping up the threat posed by Iran as a potential Holocaust, Barak’s assessment of the threats facing Israel’s security was unambiguous.
“Israel is strong,” he said. “I do not envision anyone who can pose an existential threat to us. As of now Iran does not have a bomb. Even if it does, this does not mean that it becomes an existential threat to Israel.”
[U]nusual for a politician in his position, Barak spoke honestly about what Israel could do to Iran if necessary.
“Israel can turn Iran into a pile of rubble,” he said. “There is no change in my position: I have opposed and continue to oppose panic. I do not believe that we are at the dawn of a new holocaust.”
Sobering words that should be remembered the next time we hear anyone seeking to amplify the perils facing Israel.
The more urgent threat to Israel’s existence is it’s continued occupation of the West Bank.
The most common reason given by Israeli leaders for denying Palestinians the right to build a sovereign state of their own is security.
Give the Palestinians a state, many Israelis argue, and it won’t be long before they conspire with the rest of the Arab world to push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea.
But as Barak openly reminded the country last week, no such thing is in danger of happening. “Say that Saudi Arabia purchases two bombs at some point: this does not mean that the country is through,” he emphasized.
As long as Israel implements one set of laws for Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank, and another set of laws for the Palestinians who live alongside them, the country will continue to be condemned as an “apartheid state”.

For someone writing in the smh, this is brave (and for the smh, this is extremely surprising, as it has consistently been a spineless and craven paper which has been careful to avoid any discussion of human rights reports, any op eds by anyone criticising the Israeli government etc). We should not overstate this: Koutsoukis’s credulous reporting of the threat from Iran months ago was part of the propaganda offensive that Koutsoukis now warns against. It should also be noted that he speaks of the occupation of the West Bank only: WHAT ABOUT GAZA? The continuing occupation: of the West Bank, INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM, and the Gaza Strip. And Israel also occupies the Golan Heights and the Sheba’a Farms.

Anyway, Koutsoukis goes on:

According to Silvan Shalom, who holds the rank of deputy Prime Minister, “the settlements are not an obstacle to peace.”
Uzi Landau, Israel’s Minister for National Infrastructure, emphasized that “construction in the West Bank must continue.”
Likud MP Tzipi Hotovely told the settlers that the only way to demonstrate Israel’s ownership of the West Bank was to build.
“We must build in all of the West Bank, the blocs and the cities alike,” Hotovely said.
As one Israeli commentator noted yesterday, Netanyahu’s pre-summit demeanor was of smug satisfaction that he had thwarted Obama’s demand that Israel freeze settlement construction.
What Netanyahu, and the people in his party to whom he is beholden, has actually shown is that Israel has no interest in withdrawing from the West Bank. By implication, Netanyahu and the people around him demonstrate no desire to establish a Palestinian state. Netanyahu wants to Israel stay in the West Bank because he believes that the land truly belongs to the Jewish people.
Next time we hear that denying Palestinian sovereignty is all about security and keeping Israel safe, remember that security has little to do with it.
In the words of Ehud Barak, Israel is strong and there is no one who poses an existential threat.

Okay, by the terrible standards of the smh, it is good that he speaks about settlements. Yet realistically: Netanyahu is completely brazen about refusing to stop building settlements. What Koutsoukis is saying is true, and it is nice that someone in the corporate media with its major readership says this, however belated it may be. But this simply reflects how candid Likud is. When Labour does exactly the same thing, but adopts a more penitent tone, (or Kadima), we will see how serious Koutsoukis’s coverage is.

That said, suggesting the apartheid label is reasonable was brave, and should be applauded. It shows how terribly Israel’s international hasbara front is crumbling. But then, even Alhadeff claimed to oppose the occupation.

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