Me in Overland; Jewish News


Overland prints an essay I wrote on Zionism, discussing Zionism in Australia, framed as a response to Ned Curthoys and Dennis Altman. I make a few points. Firstly, I say that whilst it is helpful to understand Zionism, the focus of the Left should be on opposing the occupation. I suggest that a targetted boycott could easily gain momentum in a way that a blanket boycott would not. I say that we should focus on the crimes of the occupation today, which are bad enough, rather than the Green Line discrimination, which is of lesser urgency.

I also discuss the beliefs and methods of Tel Aviv lobbyists, such as their embrace of Benny Morris and supporting the expulsions in 1948, and the propaganda method of accusing the left of anti-Semitism on specious grounds.

Jewish News

April 2 2010 Jewish news notes Tony Abbot and Julia Bishop oppose expelling an Israeli displomat over the Dubai assassination. Tony Abbott was quoted as saying “We can never forget that Israel is a country under existential threat in a way Australians find difficult to understand. It’s also the only pluralist democracy in the Middle East”… “It strikes me that it would be an overreaction to expel an Israeli diplomat”. In response to the contrary case put by Malcolm Fraser, Zionist Council of Victoria president Danny Lamm said Fraser has “an unhealthy obsession” with Israel. As opposed to the head of the Zionist Council, who does not much care about Israel.

ECAJ president Robert Goot said “Now is the time to support and not isolate or punish Israel for either its policy on construction in Jerusalem or any unproved transgression regarding passports.”

AJN editorialises: “That is not to deny Israel’s claim to Jerusalem and its right to build there. Central to Judaism and Jewish identity for thousands of years – its significance encapsulated in liturgy, in prayer and in yearning – the public pronouncements of prime minister after prime minister regarding the city’s indivisibility resonate with us as a people.”

They are of course referring to building houses for Jews in occupied East Jerusalem. They say however that the price of peace may mean some demarcation between Israeli Jerusalem and Palestinian Jerusalem. They qualify this: “One thing can be said for sure: regardless of any shared capital arrangement that might eventually be agreed upon, it is extremely unlikely that any Israeli government would consent to the evacuation of Jewish neighbourhoods anywhere in Jerusalem.” If that’s true, there will never be a two state agreement. But note that they agree Jewish neighbourhoods (ie, the settlements) won’t be evacuated – BUT EVEN SO, DO NOT OPPOSE BUILDING MORE SETTLEMENTS IN EAST JERUSALEM.

In letters, Michael Danby writes that UAE proposed racial profiling of Israelis “has echoes of the lunatic racial profiling of the SS.” Presumably, Obama announcing racial profiling wasn’t considered similar. The rest is about UAE links to Iran – no idea why, perhaps he’s too afraid to openly oppose his government’s ambiguous and mild disapproval of the methods involved in the Dubai murder.

2 Responses to “Me in Overland; Jewish News”
  1. Nicole says:

    Hi Michael,

    As someone relatively new to the I/P debate, I really appreciate seeing the perspective you presented in the Overland piece. In particular I vacillate a lot regarding the importance of dismantling Zionism in order for there to be any sort of genuine peace and equality, but am (still a little tentatively) swayed by your focus on ending the occupation, rather than attempting to eradicate all racism within the Green Line. Maybe people need to adopt the label “anti-occupationists” to get away from the focus on zionism (I say this sort of facetiously, but it’s still possibly a less emotionally-laden term than the Z word!). I also am appreciative of your views regarding a targeted BDS campaign, as it seems far less morally unambiguous to me and sends a very clear message.

    Incidentally – can you confirm Naomi Klein advocates a targeted BDS campaign? I was under the impression she supported a more general campaign (due to signing the Toronto Declaration etc). Also, can you explain why you call the Israel lobby (PR) the Tel Aviv lobby? I have yet to work that one out.

  2. michaelbrull says:

    Hi Nicole. Thank you for writing and your kind words.

    On Naomi Klein: The Toronto Declaration is not a call for a boycott. You can read it . Chomsky also signed it, and he opposes the BDS campaign. I’m not sure, but I would expect he would support a targetted boycott of the occupied territories. Naomi Klein explained her boycott in numerous youtube videos. You can see her in Israel lecturing. She was criticised by As’ad AbuKhalil, who supports a stricter boycott. In her Nation article announcing the boycott, , she says “But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.”

    I think in view of the speeches she’s given (just find her Israel tour on youtube), she boycotts the Israeli government and whatever is connected to the occupation, but not Israel itself or Israelis.

    Tel Aviv lobby: well, I don’t think it should be called an Israel or pro-Israel lobby, because its arbitrary. Why is someone right wing pro-Israel and someone left wing anti-Israel? And I say Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem following others, who don’t recognise the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, which has yet to be resolved by negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

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