Palestine in Australia: some notes; Gaza; Jeremy Jones

AJDS:

Larry Stillman writes about Gilad Shalit at the AJDS website. He calls for the release of Shalit – but also of Palestinian prisoners. I think this is a good position, and he often does take very decent positions on the Israel Palestine conflict. With that said, I take some exception to him saying “even the Goldstone Report” called for Red Cross visits for Shalit, his treatment under Prisoner of War conditions, and release on humanitarian grounds. (para 1973)

The Goldstone Report actually goes far out of its way to acknowledge and condemn Palestinian human rights violations (and it should be stressed, not just Hamas, but also Fatah), and goes on at great length, compiling every conceivable source of information on the rockets fired at Sderot. The chapter on the rockets really would not read particularly differently if it was written by practically any right wing Israeli source, except that it’s carefully documented.

I should also like to add – whilst Stillman’s blog is good, I found remarkable a previous entry on AJDS, which appears to have been taken down. It mildly condemned Israel’s actions on the flotilla, on the grounds that Israel had not properly behaved in light of its “care of duty”. This was a remarkable formulation. A care of duty surely arises when one has certain obligations. Israel would presumably have a care of duty on the flotilla if it owned the waters the flotilla was on, and owned the flotilla boats too. And the captain was Israeli. Then perhaps Israel would have a care of duty.

Palestine in Australia

Julia Irwin has been speaking up on Palestine. She has apparently come out in favour of BDS. I think if she was wiser she would limit her support to BDS from the occupied territories. But I don’t think her courage can be denied.

Mike Carlton in smh has been very good and very strong. And he took on the Israeli government lobby well here.

It’s standard operating procedure for the lobby to hurl accusations of anti-Semitism with that peculiar Israeli blend of paranoia and belligerence. ”That you are happy to indulge in hate-mongering makes you quite the sadist,” wrote a man from Melbourne. ”Your article gives you away as an anti-Semite and as much as you may hide behind the guise of a pro-Palestinian humanitarian, your Holocaust revisionism in comparing the conflict of the modern era to the systematic extermination of the Jews shows your true colours.”

That is just plain dumb. My Jewish friends would confirm that I am not a sadistic, anti-Semitic, hate-mongering Holocaust denier. But I did enjoy the sneers about my manifold failings as a journalist. ”You are a cheap hack making money out of lies,” was typical. ”Journalists are generally recruited if they have an IQ larger that their shoe size,” was another. Yuk yuk, guffaw.

None of this is accidental. The Israel lobby, worldwide, is orchestrated in Jerusalem by a department in the Prime Minister’s office with the rather Orwellian name of the Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs. Less than 24 hours after the attack on the Mavi Marmara, the ministry hit the internet with ”important talking points” for Jews around the world, the first of which was – surprisingly – that ”the Palestinian people are not under blockade”.

”Write letters to your local newspapers, comment on blogs and news websites, call in to radio programs and post links to social networking sites to help spread the real version of events,” urged the deliciously named Mr Ronen Plot, the Ministry Director-General.

Carlton had another crack here.

WITH bottomless irony, the Jewish lobby spent much of last week assuring anybody who would listen that there is no such thing as the Jewish lobby.

The most powerful contribution came from one Mike Phillips of Wollstonecraft, who wrote to the Herald on Tuesday to explain that the Jewish people were put on this earth to teach the rest of us how to behave. That claptrap was briskly dealt with by readers’ letters the next day.

As I said when I opened this can of worms a few weeks ago, a common technique of the lobby cheerleaders is to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism or, worse, Holocaust denial. Sometimes in as many words, at other time more subtly.

And away they duly went. Robin Margo, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, wrote that my column last week had “disturbing overtones” for those who know their history. Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, fired off a hilariously pompous email accusing me of falsehoods, stupidity, intemperance, irresponsibility and of invoking an “old and insidious racist stereotype”. I thought at first some witty satirist had pinched his letterhead.

Time for a cold shower all around. The American Jewish academic Norman Finkelstein has campaigned against what he calls the Holocaust Industry, which he describes as the offensive use of the death of 6 million Jews as a lever to obtain political or diplomatic advantage.

For this he is usually excoriated as a self-hating Jew, another traditional insult, but he can hardly be ignored: his mother was in Majdanek and his father survived Auschwitz.

Or, as another distinguished American Jewish writer, Peter Beinart, wrote recently in The New York Review of Books, “the Holocaust analogies never stop, and their message is always the same: Jews are licensed by their victimhood to worry only about themselves”.

Jewish lobby groups have every right to put their views. But when their first, inevitable reaction is to hurl the charge of anti-Semitism they merely devalue the currency.

I replied to Robert Goot that I am perfectly content with the existence of Israel as an independent Jewish homeland, and that I have no more regard for Hamas than I had for the psychopaths of my own ethnic background, the IRA.

But nor, I said, would I be silenced about Israel’s cruel and unconscionable oppression of the people of Gaza. Enough. Shalom. [Emphasis added]

This was very good, and in the smh, is outstanding.

Palestine

Just some things about Gaza worth noting, but I didn’t because I was very busy. I also won’t link to all the flotilla testimony. Much of it is unsurprising, and the autopsy remains the best evidence about Israel’s operations on the flotilla so far.

One is, Israeli soldiers repeatedly noted in Israeli media they were expecting Bil’in style resistance (one example here).

The navy admitted that they were prepared for “resistance like we encounter in Bil’in, but there wasn’t a sense that it would be a walk in the park,” an officer said, adding that there was a general consensus of a need for greater mental preparation of the force before the operation’s execution as not enough emphasis was placed on preparing for every possible contingency.

‘The major defect in the preparations and gathering of intelligence was that we did not know that we would be coping with tens of rioters,” the top military commander involved in the attack told Haaretz.

This is significant – think of all the people Israel has shot dead in Bil’in. This is actually a rather shocking admission: that they kill people when they know the threat to their soldiers is negligible. Yet it provokes no reaction, because shooting Palestinians in Bil’in doesn’t matter because it doesn’t become an international outrage, as has the attack on the flotilla.

The blockade

Just a few comments should be made. Firstly, it was noted in the Israeli press – but not internationally – that the announced end to the blockade was a sham.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday that the security cabinet had agreed to relax Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, but as it turns out, no binding decision was ever made during the cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a press release in English following the meeting, which was also sent to foreign diplomats, was substantially different than the Hebrew announcement – according to the English text, a decision was made to ease the blockade, but in the Hebrew text there was no mention of any such decision.

During both meetings, many ministers voiced their opinions regarding the blockade, and the defense establishment presented the plans for the “liberalization” of the blockade. However, upon concluding the discussions, the ministers did not vote on any binding practical draft of the decision. In fact, the policy by which the government is currently bound is the one decided by the security cabinet during the previous term of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, by which the blockade remains as it was.

Two official statements came out of the Prime Minister’s Office in regard to the security cabinet meeting – one in Hebrew for the Israeli media and another in English for the foreign media and foreign diplomats. The English version said that “It was agreed to liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision.” The Hebrew version addressed mainly remarks made by Netanyahu, but failed to mention any decision or agreement.

The Hebrew version also failed to mention whether the prime minister’s position was formally approved. “Israel will alter the system in order to allow more civilian goods into Gaza,” the Hebrew statement read.

There have been skeptical reactions to the easing of the blockade by Hass and Gordon among others. Even if the blockade was ended completely, it would have done its job. Gaza has been devastated. Its economy has been utterly destroyed, its society devastated. It would probably still take at least a decade to restore Gaza to its condition in (say) 2004.

Finally, Gisha uncovered this

However, in response to a lawsuit by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, the Israeli government explained the blockade as an exercise of the right of economic warfare.

“A country has the right to decide that it chooses not to engage in economic relations or to give economic assistance to the other party to the conflict, or that it wishes to operate using ‘economic warfare,'” the government said.

Note that none of the media pundits here who recycled Israel’s lies have any plans to apologise for circulating Israeli lies.

Jeremy Jones

This is really outrageous and disgusting. In a report for ECAJ on anti-Semitism, Jeremy Jones from ECAJ and AIJAC wrote that I compared holocaust denier Toben to Socrates, and that I applaud comparisons of Israel to the Nazis. (p 60)

―Independent Australian Jewish Voices‖‗s blogger Michael Brull who compared Toben‘s ―morally outrageous‖ racism to the writings of Socrates (4/6/09). Brull had earlier defended and applauded critics of Israel who used the term ―Judeo-Nazis‖ to criticise Israel, on the Crikey website. (17/4/09).

This is outrageous. Firstly, I didn’t compare Toben to Socrates. If anything, I compared Toben to Andrew Bolt, who denies the existence of the Stolen Generations (and happens to be friends with Labor MP Michael Danby), or his AIJAC colleague Bren Carlill, who denies the extent of the Nakba, whilst supporting that which did happen. And far from applauding, I criticised comparisons of Israel to the Nazis. That Jones is obviously a cynical fraud can be demonstrated by the fact that his colleague in AIJAC, Bren Carlill – who is Christian – compared me to the Nazis, saying my opposition to settlers meant I wanted to see the West Bank “judenrein”. Carlill apologised a year later (in cynical manner). Jones, however, never saw anything inappropriate in such a comparison. If he did, it is not on the public record – a telling omission, given that his report is dedicated to recording and condemning such comparisons as anti-Semitic. Plainly, those with the right opinions on Israel can make Nazi comparisons without being accused of anti-Semitism by him.

I think part of the explanation for these vicious and scurrilous lies can be seen in the ECAJ 2009 report. It complains about the prominence of IAJV.(p 34) It’s funny – ECAJ says these “so called Jewish dissidents” (we’re not dissidents?) have “succumbed to intense peer group pressure”.

Jones also thinks 7 Jewish Children was anti-Semitic. Even Sensible Jew had a go at him. Repeatedly.

Here.

But let’s say that Jeremy Jones is obliged to react to every single nasty word said against Jews. You reckon he might have read the play before he started mouthing off. It goes for 8 minutes and is available to the public online! How long would it have taken him to read it?

By telling the fearless reporters at The Age (May 8) he didn’t really know what it was about but he hated it anyway, he makes it very difficult for readers to take him seriously. And because he is de-facto speaking on behalf of all of us, he embarrasses all of us.

And here.

The 8 minute play is one of those delightful opportunities for the media to round up the usual Jewish suspects and have them say things that offend the Australian intelligentsia. As always, AIJAC was game.

Once again, Dr. Rubenstein claims that when the media (this time The Age) called AIJAC, they had never heard of the 8 minute play. According to Dr. Rubenstin, Jeremy Jones fielded the phone call, said he hadn’t read the play and didn’t want to comment, but was then pressed into giving a statement because the journalist claimed he had a deadline.

Firstly, what is Mr Jones doing with such an organisation if he cannot stand his ground and insist that he cannot comment because he has insufficient knowledge?

But Dr. Rubenstein’s claim that Mr Jones knew nothing of the play is itself contradicted by Mr Jones’s own statement, “people who you would take seriously… have labelled it anti-Semitic.” Either AIJAC knew about the play or it didn’t, before The Age journalist called. It seems that Mr Jones did.

How can an advocacy group such as AIJAC, with so much power, be so remiss as to have avoided reading the 8 minute play? Dr. Rubenstein’s obfuscations afterwards only add insult to injury.

And again.

In The Herald Sun: ” ‘Why would you want to have anything to do with somebody like this?’ said Australian/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council spokesman Jeremy Jones.

‘To joke about the experience of people who are being starved to death or murdered . . . is quite horrendous.

‘There are people who confuse freedom of speech with gratuitous, insulting, offensive behaviour. They’re two quite different things.‘”

The key difference between the approaches, is that Alhadeff succeeds in humanising his people’s response of horror to Sandilands’s foul joke, while Jones takes on the free speech issue, and confirms every prejudice about the so-called, “Jewish Lobby,” that is determined to crush dissent.

Does Mr Jones feel up to the task of defining exactly what constitutes legitimate discourse? What, exactly, qualifies him for this task? From where does he derive the mandate to undertake it?

Even if Jones is under the gross misapprehension that he could establish such parameters, does he believe that publicly stating this belief to Australian society on behalf of Jews and a right-wing Zionist lobby group (that is genuinely accountable to no one), could ever do any good?

The proof

Just to document what I said before about Jeremy Jones vs myself, here are relevant links.

1) here Carlill compares me to the Nazis.

2) here Carlill defends his comparison almost a year later, before apologising the next day. (he still held mine was “concoted moral outrage” – plainly he doesn’t think Jews should be offended by Nazi comparisons)

3) Here is where I’m supposed to applaud calling Israel Nazis. As is plain, I actually call them rash, though I deny there’s anything inherently anti-Semitic.

4) Here is where I allegedly compare Toben to Socrates. In fact, I do no such thing. I make plain that Toben’s views are grossly offensive: I simply defend Toben’s right to express his (disgusting) views. I compare Toben to people I actually do find odious. Jones doesn’t notice this, or affects not to. This about represents his honesty.

I cannot stress how personally offensive I find Jones’ attack on me. For personal reasons it is extremely hurtful, and he must know that his charges are transparently false. He is obviously utterly shameless.

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Comments
3 Responses to “Palestine in Australia: some notes; Gaza; Jeremy Jones”
  1. larry stillman says:

    Michael, I note your comment on my stuff on the ajds website–I was being sarcastic in my allusion to Goldstone-because those on the right give him no credit, as if he had nothing to say about Shalit when he had been critical of Hamas on that and other matters.

    As for the oped you said had been taken down. It’s still there, it’s still on the left hand side under editorials.

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Larry. Sorry, I wasn’t sure how sarcastic you were being. I’m glad to be corrected.

    On the op ed: no, I meant the letter to the Australian (I may be mistaken – haven’t seen it in a while) by I think Harold Zwier? As you know, I was (privately) critical of the AJDS statement, but that’s not what I was commenting on here.

    Also, just by the by – I happened to have read a very good book recently – Arabs and the Holocaust by Gilbert Achcar. If you have the time and inclination, I’d recommend it and would be interested in your thoughts on it.

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  1. […] listed. I don’t know if she has statements on the public record. Margo certainly does. Here he can be seen implying that Mike Carlton is anti-Semitic. Here I discuss where he called the Peace […]



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