Topic: human rights
It's been a time of reflection over the death of our father early Friday 23rd January 2008. All the memories good and not so, his drinking, his religious faith, the 9 children's worth of chaos, our siblings. The truth is we've had 20 years to practise letting go as we learned more about the implications of his addiction. That also gripped his father before him, a conservative war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, confidant of famous PM Robert Menzies. But like every child it's a sad grieving time.
Which is all a way of noting how our personal emotional journey possibly echoes the millions of diaspora Jewry on their own personal journey on this 64th day of the Holocaust memorial (says Fran Kelly back on ABC RN). Grieving dead children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. 72 million died in the 2nd World War. Reportedly 6 million were Jewish deliberately targeted for racist reasons. An evil slaughter on historical scale.
It's no different for the Palestinian Arabs today grieving their dead children, mothers, fathers, brothers. Just as it's no different for the Irish diaspora with a degree of race memory of the million dead in the human created Irish 'famine' of mid 19C. George Mitchell appointed by US President Barack Obama as Middle East Envoy will know that story well.
This kind of grieving is not particularly reasonable or rational. Indeed it calls up all kinds of paranoia and neurosis. We saw an example of this with former ALP federal MP Barry Cohen's loyal special pleading for Israel in The Australian yesterday: He actually asserted that starving 1.5 million people suffering collective punishment was because UN sanctioned "food" supplies were used to make "rockets". That's right - bread makes rockets. As if. This kind of irrationality can't be argued with. Cohen makes the same false premise as Colin Rubenstein and other loyal friends of Israel, either as dupes or propagandists: This graph from Israelpolitik.com proves without any decent doubt Hamas suspended all rockets and mortars, in July, August, Sept, October 2008 and notice even here the attempt to hide the successful 4 months amongst the phase in and last 2 months after an Israeli air strike on 4th November 2008:
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In a sleazy game of statistics the Israel lobby hide the effective 4 month lull burying it in 8 years of statistics and annual figures, not to mention the Israeli airstrike killing 6 on 4th November 2008 as reported by The Guardian in the UK:
That's pathetic and deliberately deceptive. It hides the truth of Israel's crippling food blockade for ruthless military purposes.
To quote Mark Regev to RN's Cannane speaking recently for pretend/disposable allegedly corrupt PM Olmert 'the economic sanctions' continued to prevent rocket attacks. There it is again. Bread used in the making of rockets. Milk too. Baby formula. Apples and Oranges perhaps? Toothpaste? Perhaps flour is the secret ingredient of the metal casings?
Cohen also airbrushes the brutal fatal impact of a starvation blockade killing the vulnerable, sick and weak in the 1.5 million population of Gaza. That's real 1st world cruelty on the 3rd and disgrace on the Israel lobby. They comfort themselves that Eqypt should allow access on their border, but that's a Greater Israel gambit, and they know it. Once Eqypt makes the border wide open Palestine effectively loses Gaza as part of the 2 state solution. Indeed Israel's active apartheid laws and house destruction programme in Palestine are a long term agenda for colonial expansion, and they know it. But will never admit it in the western press including Australia.
True some splinter groups sent some ineffective fire crackers with evil intent for mass murder over the same 4 month lull, almost certainly not authorised by the elected Hamas Govt quite well known for saying openly where they stand. Cohen rolls out all the usual postures about Israel's existential risk but his selectivity is grotesque. What about Palestinian existential risk? The 30% of Israelis, according to Haaretz, support Yigal Amir killer of Labour PM Yitzak Rabin who wanted to recognise Palestinian land rights? That's 30% of Israelis who are arguably racist, certainly predators, seeking to expel Palestinians. And these extremists hold hostage majority coalition politics in the Feb 2009 general election in Israel.
Cohen also neatly ignores one Koutsoukis report from the Gaza scandal last Wednesday of alleged war crime mass murders and racist graffiti by IDF, while targeting another piece by the same journo last Monday about blocking UN food supplies. Reports now too of racists within IDF shooting murder of two little Arab girls under a white flag:
Only a diaspora dupe or a propagandist ignores the very real racist underbelly in Israeli society: Just as we in Australia were forced to expose the dog whistling of John Howard and Pauline Hanson as political leaders here. Only in the Middle East the racists are armed and dangerous members of the IDF in Gaza supporting the 500,000 illegal militant squatter (not 'settler') movement and evil nutters like Yigal Amir.
We received yesterday a carefully crafted piece of email propaganda from a lefty written in Spanish for the Palestinian cause which carries with it - like all effective PR - a degree of truth. It is fair to observe Gaza as a symptom of a national 'holocaust loop' for neurotic, paranoid Isrealis. Or as some cynics might also say - a real sensitivity vulnerable to ruthless exploitation by hawkish Israeli and US politicians. On the other hand such graphics are double edged - as emotional violence on the still grieving older generations of Israelis and Jewish diaspora - which ironically just feeds the intensity of the loop and the suffering of victims of the IDF in Gaza or the West Bank. Of victims becoming perpetrators (like 'conventional' child abuse).
The broader political significance including here in Sydney Australia is that via the web this comparison of Germany 1945, and Gaza 2008/9 is being made in the general public. It's not entirely true, but it's not entirely false either. There are 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and great anger about their treatment in the Middle East. Also world wide.
Nor can Koutsoukis or the SMH be dismissed as biased. They ran an important story about Hamas fighters seeking to hijack neutral ambulances. A real balancer to the story about racist IDF murdering familes and children. The overall fact remains the pathetic Israelis Right and their apologists here are running a concentration camp in Gaza and responsible for the civilian body count. This quality coverage is supplemented by excellent interview with Bob Baer ex CIA, adviser on the Syriana George Clooney movie, with Steve Cannane on ABC RN last Friday - stating Iranian Ahmadinejad is in effect irrelevant and doesn't control the military in Iran.
No wonder we felt the need to re watch the Richard Attenborough film of Gandhi's life winner of 8 Academy Awards: Alas only to get half way through the 3 hour epic late last night. It actually has an intermission just after "the horrific massacre at Armistar, where British opened fire on 15,000 unarmed men, women and children" meeting to discuss a campaign of freedom from colonial occupation. The second half will be Gandhi's genius in resolving the British violence to achieve independence for then 350 million people. Nor was he passive. As secular Jew Naomi Klein argues a similar kind of peaceful confrontation and boycott of the international financial and political structures giving a free pass to Israel's IDF bullying of the Palestinians is probably the way forward.
We have written before of the various phases in the PR here of the expansionist Israeli Right lobby both government and allied groups: We can expand this list as follows from our extensive media consumption:
1. roll out the Holocaust tragedy historical greivance tub thump as a western guilt trip to encourage self censorship of criticism of Israel's slaughter of women and children in Gaza. Effective tactic in the past because the Holocaust tragedy was and is real. The tactic is losing it's bite as the internet reveals the true ruthless power, and elements of racist, IDF military machine;
2. roll out the anti semitism historical grievance tub thump as a variant on point 1, again to encourage sympathy and self censorship. An effective tactic to the extent critics of Israel do fall prone to gross generalisations and lose perspective;
3. more recently it's been a smear on Arabs generally with old, extremist views of isolated religious types here in Australia or other cultural disjunctions. All designed to indirectly dehumanise or divert attention from the 5000 plus killed and injured in Gaza. This is an ugly corrosion of Australia's wonderful multicultural society. Just as it is wrong to treat Jewish society as a generality, so too it is wrong to stereotype Arabs.
On the weekend we had a surreal moment at Bondi where the water and the weather under a whispy cloud cover was almost perfect. The Stones song from The Departed 'Gimme shelter' boomed out from what used to be called The Swiss Grand. A germanic monstrosity on the Campbell Pde Beachfront. So emblematic. Earlier that day we read about two Rabbis in a violent feud here in Sydney.
Earlier we passed the presser by Police Minister Tony Kelly to a throng of Big Media about the Tuno II mass murder inquiry front of Surrey Hills police bunker. A perfect promo for the Underbelly 2 tv series in 09 here. A day earlier we threw a verbal prod to the star of Underbelly 1 08 looking fit along the lines "so fame hasn't crushed you yet?'. He looked sheepish about the power of the Tube. Emblematic too of South African Jewry fleeing to Sydney's East to avoid the violence over pre Mandela ANC and even afterward, including Waverley Mayor Sally Betts we chatted to on the promenade a week back.
We had spent 2 hours doing our legal tutoring for disabled colleague Carol, a secular local of Hungarian Jewish background whose now dead father was a survivor, Phd in Philosophy, qualified rabbi and rich real estate businessman. A few days earlier we cycled over to repair the bicycle of our buddy Steve another local secular Australian Jew and lefty, same building as the actor. We also chatted to Marc on the sun glasses stall, a trained actuary too, annoyed about the "racist" media coverage against Israel he had noticed: Perhaps not realising the overall pattern actually in favour or silent as the slaughter proceeded over 22 days. All had left and right wing views, hardly monolithic, and thank heavens for our peaceful democracy in that respect.
And of course emblematic of our own bereavement, all in some kind of strangely soothing, intoxicating and potentially dangerous admixture suggesting: Enjoy the art and stay out of the rip.