The Jewish News this week
Friday August 14’s edition. The Jewish organisations are not happy about the Sydney Peace Prize going to John PIlger. Robert Goot of ECAJ says “Awarding a peace prize to John Pilger is bizarre and disgraceful”. “Pilger does not promote peace, but is a polemicist, a distorter of facts and history, and he promotes an extreme Palestinian narrative at the expense of Israel’s narrative and objective analysis.”NSW JBD CEO Vic Alhadeff agreed. “Presenting the Sydney Peace Prize to Mr Pilger makes a farce of the award. Some of his work over the years has been noteworthy for its extreme lack of balance or context, which has done nothing to promote the cause of peace.” Perhaps Alhadeff includes his work on South Africa (which he was banned from for decades), or East Timor, or the Chagossians from Diego Garcia.
In the letters bit, Vic Alhadeff strives to show that Michael Burd (previous week in letters) was wrong in saying there was no point in dialogue with Muslims. To show this isn’t the case, he talks about how he and someone else from JBD repeatedly have given talks to Muslims about anti-Semitism. Apparently they also welcomed a Muslim to speak about anti-Muslim racism. But this is just farcical. Surely, it should be Muslims speaking about anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, and Jews talking about anti-Muslim racism. Yet Mr Alhadeff has little interest in this. When Benny Morris – who thinks the Arab world is barbarian, who thinks the Palestinians should be caged, who regrets the failure to expel all the Arabs in 1948 – came to speak at Central Synagogue, he was introduced by Alhadeff. And what did Alhadeff talk about? His struggle against anti-Semitism.
There is an editorial whose title is “Danby’s human rights message.” It says ” Danby’s work in promoting the rights and interests of the large number of Jewish community workers in Melbourne Ports is well known, but it is possible to overlook his work on human rights for Jews and other minorities.” Did they mention that he supports the rights of Jews in Australia? Surely they can stop here: What else would it take to show how deeply he cares about human rights?
“It is not just rocket attacks on Sderot, or bombings and shootings in Jerusalem that bring Danby to his feet in Parliament.” He speaks out on Tibet, and “stands up for the Sudanese in Darfur and monitors Wahabist Islamic extremism encroaching on South-East Asia.” I’m sure everyone in South East Asia (particularly Burma and Vietnam) appreciates his vigilance on this most pressing issue facing them.
On the next page (a Danby special), there’s an article on Danby, who weeps that whilst the Tibetans do not get UN support, unlike the Palestinians, “who are having butter gorged down their throats by the United Nations, by the European Union, and yet they don’t have anything by comparison to the Tibetans.” Danby is deeply distressed by the occupation of Tibet by China, but not West Papua by Indonesia or Palestine by Israel. However, to be fair to him, he does support the rights of Jews in Melbourne Ports.
AIJAC AND BREN CARLILL
Malcolm Fraser “who’s not my cup of tea generally, but has become increasingly liberal over the years ” advocates negotiations with Hamas. He also says: “There is significant debate within Israel itself about policy regarding the Palestinians. However, attempts by others to debate issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians, and most recently Israel’s attacks in Gaza, often lead to a charge of anti-Semitism.” I wonder if he has the case involving me, Antony and New Matilda in mind.
Bren Carlill writes in the Australian about the ACMA letting al Manar (Hezbollah tv) broadcast into Australia. Carlill claims:
“Yet while a majority of Muslims aren’t terrorists, the majority of terrorists are Muslim, an uncomfortable fact that shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of political correctness. It is rare to find a Muslim terrorist who acts only for a secular, nationalist cause. The vast majority act, in part or wholly, according to their interpretation of Islam. We can decry this, but we shouldn’t deny it. Doing so removes the possibility of us understanding their motivations and thus, a pathway to prevent future terrorism.”
What can be said about this? It is true that the majority of terrorists are Muslims if we define terrorism to mean “terrorism committed by Muslims.” Firstly, and most obviously, state terrorism has always been a more severe phenomenon than anything by non-state actors. Even in the case of suicide bombings, Pape’s study showed that more suicide bombings had been committed by the (secular) Tamil Tigers than any other group. More generally, it’s perfectly obvious more severe crimes have been committed by non-Muslims in recent years in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and so on. Furthermore, even if we stick to terrorism by Muslims, it is ridiculous to say there has been no secular nationalist cause for terrorism. Firstly, the Mujahideen declared a holy war, but their cause was secular and nationalist ” expelling the Soviets from Afghanistan. Obviously, a religious person will always interpret their actions as sanctioned by their religious beliefs ” but those religious beliefs interact with reality. The mujahideen attacked Soviet Russians, and not Swedish people, for a reason. Why should we believe Islam is responsible for terrorism? If that were the case, how could we account for the close relations between the house of Saud and the West? More broadly, practically every resurgence of political Islam can be attributed to secular causes. Take Iran. Obviously, the Islamic revolution was Islamic ” but the people rallied around a cause which was at least partly secular: against the tyranny of a vicious autocrat who was a US puppet. Hamas sprung up because of the failures of Fatah, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s resurgence in Egypt came after secular forces were crushed (and on and on)
Carlill goes on to warn of “Islamists” ” those who see “no distinction between Islam and politics.” But again ” this doesn’t account for the West’s cosy relations with some Islamists. It is not support for Islamic theocracy that accounts for differences between the West and “Islamists”.
Carlill goes on to claim that Hezbollah “refused to disarm” after Israel’s alleged withdrawal from all of Lebanon. He does not mention the Sheba’a Farms. To him, it seems natural to insist that Hezbollah disarm. I imagine people in Hezbollah might consider it equally natural to demand that Israel disarm. People in AIJAC would naturally respond with incredulity to such a claim – after all, Israel has the right to defend itself. Yet after constant bombardment since the 1970s and repeated invasions since 1978, is it so puzzling that Hezbollah should claim a right to defend their country from Israeli invasion? During Israel’s last war on Lebanon, Hezbollah provided the only military response (regardless of what one thinks of the forms it took), which was actually somewhat effective. Whilst Israel’s posture remains belligerent – and it seems likely that Israel may well attack again soon to regain its “deterrent” capacity – it’s straightforward enough that Hezbollah will be unwilling to leave their small, poor country more vulnerable than it is to being devastated by another brutal Israeli attack.
Carlill goes on to define terrorism: “Hezbollah has also fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians; turned its guns on Lebanese civilians; bombed foreign embassies in Lebanon and elsewhere; kidnapped and held for ransom foreign civilians in Lebanon; and carried out multiple terrorist attacks in South America, the European Union and the Middle East. It is, unequivocally, a terrorist organisation.”
Well, consider just some of these. Hezbollah has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Well, Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Lebanon has killed thousands of civilians. Hezbollah has held hostages for ransom. What Carlill doesn’t mention is that this is something Israel does too. For example, after Gilad Shalit was captured, Israel captured and locked up for 3 years dozens of members of the elected Hamas government. This is obviously a more extreme crime than capturing civilians, though AIJAC didn’t notice. It was openly condemned in Haaretz as an exercise in using bargaining chips to gain leverage over Hamas. Well, if Carlill were consistent, he might conclude that Israel is a terrorist organisation too. I don’t expect him too. The answer is plain, and can be found in his previous writings. He has claimed that the expulsion of some 10 000 Jews into Israel from Palestinian areas was consistent with the Arabs actively trying to enact a genocide. On the other hand, the “deliberate expulsion” of a “significant minority” of the Palestinian refugees from the Nakba was “perfectly understandable.”