Armenia, Age, AJDS, Australian

Okay, just wanted to say this: the incoming treaty between Armenia and Turkey plans to include silence on the genocide. This is appalling.

At Galus Australis, I noticed that David Zyngier has come out in favour of a Gush Shalom style boycott of the occupied territories.

So Dr Stillman’s suggestion to Dr Mendes (and others in the Jewish Community) to follow the lead of one of the first proponents of the Bi-National State or No State Federation   – Uri Avneri (who incidentally was a member of the Ultra Right Irgun
in his youth) to boycott all Israeli products and produce from Occupied Palestine makes real sense.

Larry Stillman has also come out in favour of this. Perhaps AJDS could as a group endorse a boycott of settlements? This would be a very brave and principled position, and would be wonderful to see.

Also at Galus Australis, Les Rosenblatt wrote about the event Sensible Jew wrote about with JCCV.

Ramadge managed to maintain his equilibrium despite getting this roasting, speaking sotto voce, ‘taking things on board’, urging complainants to write to him, describing the difficulties of editorial discretion and judgement, supporting the journos at The Age, and firmly repudiating any suggestions of  anti-Semitism amongst members of his organization. He also distinguished between the ideological bias of News Ltd’s The Australian newspaper and Fairfax’s more objective reportage and opinion. At this point John Searle and Danny Lamm opined that ‘the problem’ was to be found in a layer of decision-making somewhere between Ramadge and the journos.  It was amongst this layer that acceptance of offensive stereotyping and inclusion of irrelevant associations in reports were to be found. They instanced a recent article where a Jewish person deserving of sympathy was unfairly and irrelevantly associated with a Jewish female educator who had had child-abuse allegations made against her. I was in agreement with them as to its offensiveness, and Ramadge fortunately was as well, and agreed that he would look into this problem.

One man called for a show of hands as to who in the audience thought The Age was balanced and unbiased in its coverage of matters of concern to the Jewish community. I put up my hand and then reluctantly another two hands went up very slowly. He then asked for a show of hands as to who thought The Age was biased and unbalanced and every hand in the room except for mine and the other two went up. Eventually I got to speak in the question time following Ramadge’s talk and said that the AJDS represented a significant minority viewpoint in the community and had every right to have its opinions heard as being reflective of community diversity, that I was pleased The Age had published my letter (in support of Amin Saikal’s proposal for a nuclear-free Middle-East) last Thursday, that the AJDS recognized The Age made mistakes occasionally but that we were fairly pleased with its coverage of issues of relevance to the Jewish community and that we didn’t have any problems with Jason Koutsoukis or before him, Ed O’Loughlin. There were hoots of derision  at this point from the audience and I asked Ramadge whether he’d ever experienced intimidation or personal vilification from Melbourne Jews over The Age’s coverage of events. I observed that the standards of civil discourse weren’t always high within our community and that the AJN seemed to turn a blind eye to ad hominem excesses.

Ramadge said that he thought my comments indicated that he wasn’t the only brave person present (many had said how brave he was to come and talk with the JCCV) and that he thought I’d raised some good points about minority viewpoints and the importance of their inclusion. He said that he hadn’t suffered any personal threats or vilification and that Danny Lamm and John Searle always conducted themselves very professionally whenever they came to see him (as it appears they do often).

I don’t know how Rosenblatt can be pleased with Koutsoukis’s coverage of Israel and Palestine. I mean, he hardly qualifies as a correspondent. Take a real newspaper correspondent in the Middle East: the kind they have at the Independent. There, people like Patrick Cockburn, Donald MacIntyre, Johann Hari and others actually go out and investigate issues and reveal news to the world about places. Koutsoukis’s reports can usually be found just as well in wire services. When Goldstone issued his report, did Koutsoukis analyse it? Did he show signs of even having read the thing? Has he been to Gaza to find out what happened there?

Yes, lately Koutsoukis has discovered that there’s an occupation: in the West Bank. But what about Gaza? And why doesn’t he actually go out into Gaza and report on what happens there? Why doesn’t he go tour Hebron and find out what it’s like for Palestinians? Why doesn’t he start finding out what happens every week at non-violent protests in Bil’in? Why doesn’t he find out whether the routine reports by B’Tselem about soldiers beating Palestinians are true? Why doesn’t he go interview Palestinians about the protests over the al Aqsa mosque and find out what their grievances are? Take today’s article by him: he notices that Abbas has been humiliated by Obama, but is puzzled, because he thinks this is counterproductive.The unspoken assumption is that this unpopular, unelected (his term’s mandate ran out by the way, if anyone cares) tool of the US and Israel should be supported to impose a two state agreement. Typically, Koutsoukis cites an essay in the NYR by Agha and Malley. Koutsoukis shows little sign of being acquainted with much scholarly or historical opinion, and little interest in investigating matters on the ground. Consider this nugget:

Instead of signalling hope of a strengthened negotiating position, and progress towards Palestinian sovereignty, the handshake in New York seems to have underscored Palestinian weakness. It seems no mere coincidence that in the days and weeks since that meeting on September 22, riots and civil unrest have unsettled the Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, parts of the West Bank and on Gaza’s border with Israel. On Wednesday evening alone, a crowd of 150 Palestinian rioters pelted Israeli border police with rocks at the Kalandia checkpoint that divides Jerusalem and Ramallah. [Emphasis added]

Is it a coincidence, o distinguished correspondent? You know, some people who report from a region might actually… you know… try to find out. Who knows what they’re paying him to do. I mean, he attributes the unrest to “Palestinian weakness” (whatever that means). One might suggest that he wanted to say something about Palestinians being unhappy about oppression and having their rights violated, but chose euphemisms, but its possible that Koutsoukis doesn’t realise this at all. Koutsoukis speaks of riots in various areas without any clue about motivations involved. Compare this to Jonathan Cook’s discussion of the same issue. Cook investigates what’s happening and tries to explain it: Koutsoukis speculates, and cites the NYR. Koutsoukis concludes by saying that Abbas is unlikely to lead the Palestinians “out of the cycle of violence.”

Koutsoukis isn’t even confident enough of this prediction to avoid using the word “unlikely”.

But I digress. Obviously, I don’t know why Koutsoukis’s coverage would please anyone. He displeases Zionist fanatics because he isn’t a Zionist fanatic. They are outraged at references to settlements, or to claims that there are more than 14 or 18 checkpoints.

Meanwhile, according to a comment on GA, Paul McGeough apparently wants to report from the West Bank. He has apparently fallen in love with a Palestinian woman. I think McGeough is an honest reporter, who acknowledges reality (I haven’t read his book on Hamas, but am commenting based on a few reports he wrote about Afghanistan which I have read). He is not a leftist, and I would not expect him to give extensive coverage to human rights issues, but at least he would try to find out political events. Plus, he wouldn’t boycott Loewenstein, so he’s not quite the jingoist that would please AIJAC etc.

Funnily enough, the Australian published an op ed by two dudes, one the MondoWeiss dude, defending Goldstone’s report. Except: am I the only person who’s noticed, no one is actually discussing the findings of the Goldstone report? Try reading it. I am: it’s really shocking stuff, and reading the summary does not reveal how grave the charges against Israel are.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I meant to add:

Note how the Age dude apparently meets with Danny Lamm and John Searle regularly. Why on earth would he agree to this? How often does he meet with other groups? I’m not just talking about (say) Australians for Palestine. How often does he meet with Amnesty representatives? When’s the last time he met with groups advocating justice and rights for indigenous Australians? I mean, this is indicative of the Age: it carefully listens to every single complaint by Zionist extremists, no matter how right wing and ignorant, yet shows little signs of being responsive to any criticisms on basic grounds of reality.

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