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Australia and New Zealand are in the backblocks of the self-centered North Atlantic metropolis. Do we fit in to great power dictates (essentially first the Brits and then the Yanks) or do we go our own way and ‘punch above our weight’ in matters of international import?
Australia was put back in its box after the US-led coup against Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in November 1975. It has minded its p’s and q’s since then. Tiny New Zealand broke ranks when the then Labour government banned nuclear-powered/armed ships in New Zealand waters in 1984.
On 23 December, New Zealand, nearing the end of its two-year membership of the UN Security Council, joined with others to pass Resolution 2334 which included a condemnation of Israel’s ongoing settlement program. The country’s Foreign Minister noted that the resolution was consistent with both the UN’s and New Zealand’s longstanding commitment to forging conditions that will facilitate the achievement of a ‘two-state solution’.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was quoted as calling the UN resolution ‘one-sided’ and ‘deeply unsettling’. He added ‘We support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East’. Turnbull was ready to tug the forelock when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Australia in February.
Post-Whitlam, Australia returned to being ‘all the way with LBJ’ (although the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House has rattled the cage). Australia has also been in that small band of loyal supporters (coupled with the Marshall Islands, etc.) of Israel against any ‘Israel-bashing’ UN resolution. This support is a product of both a significant domestic Israel lobby and ongoing dutiful subordination to US imperatives.
A latter day complication to traditional ‘verities’ is that a handful of Labor Party elders has come out in criticizing Israel’s addiction to settlement expansion. Bob Hawke (Prime Minister 1983-91) and Bob Carr (NSW Premier 1995-2005, Minister for Foreign Affairs 2012-13) are among such notables having previously been unqualified Israel supporters.
The public champion numero uno of Israel in Australia is the Murdoch press. Murdoch’s national daily The Australian had led the brouhaha, waxing hysterical over detractors from the Israel über alles line. Murdoch’s coverage of poor put-upon Israel has been so extensive that methinks his flagship is wrongly titled. Leading the battle is General Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, who dutifully reports his recent bylines as having been sponsored by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.
Huge dobs of the slavering coverage have been devoted to Israel’s reputed gene for ‘innovation’ (that it made the desert bloom was trotted out again). Thus laggard Australia should hitch itself to this global exemplar in strategic and commercial capacity.
I first became interested in the Israeli Occupation indirectly and innocently as a compulsive letters-page reader. Those writing in defense of Israel were consistently outrageous. There seemed to be special dispensation for the pro-Israel crowd to adhere to different standards, equivalent to declaiming that the earth is flat or the moon is made of blue cheese.
I reproduce below the latest crop of missives from the Israel-first brigade regarding the December UN resolution and the February Netanyahu visit. Letters are extracted from Murdoch’s The Australian and Fairfax Media’s Sydney Morning Herald, The (Melbourne) Age and the Australian Financial Review. The established pattern continues.
* * *
27 December (The Australian)
* “The departing tenant [of the White House] leaves a legacy with as much credibility as a three dollar bill – an empty nuclear treaty with Iran and ambiguous support for the Middle East’s only democracy. It needs to be remembered that Israel’s Prime Minister is the world’s only head of state with first-hand experience of the consequences of failed diplomacy. Benjamin Netanyahu was a captain in Israel’s special forces until an injury forced his retirement.”
* “Barack Obama’s instruction for the US to abstain from the UN resolution critical of Israel was nothing other than an act of malice. Instead of contributing to a resolution, it set the prospect of peace back considerably because the Palestinians now think that if they just sit by patiently – regardless of their terror program – the world will deliver them a state without them having to negotiate in the interest of two states for two peoples. The absurdity of this resolution is that Jews living in the Jewish quarter of old Jerusalem and praying at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, are now considered illegal settlers, notwithstanding a historical 1929 document in the archives acknowledging the Temple Mount as the site of Solomon’s Temple.”
* “In singling out the Israeli settlements as the major obstacle to peace, Obama denies the greatest obstacle of all, the failure of the Palestinian leadership to renounce terror, to recognise Israel and to commit genuinely to bilateral negotiations. Obama has fuelled and legitimised global antisemitism, the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, and contempt for the Jewish state. The tragedy for Israelis and Palestinians alike is that Obama has made a two-state solution even more of a pipe dream than it already was.”
28 December (SMH)
* “Bob Carr forgets to mention the real reasons for failure in negotiations to establish a Palestinian state. Namely the refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, the absolute demand that Jerusalem be the capital of a Palestinian state and the continuing celebrations of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. As long as the schools in Palestine preach hatred and praise terrorism, multiple resolutions of the UN Security Council against Israel are meaningless.”
* “Bob Carr can’t imagine ‘a more explicit security guarantee’ than the demilitarised state being offered Israel by the Palestinians. Well, I can: the demilitarisation of the Rhineland as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which was remilitarised in 1936 with catastrophic consequences particularly for the Jews of Europe. The tragic history of modern Jews is why Israel will always act in its own interest and not be lulled into a false sense of security by those who purport to be ‘friends’ of Israel.”
28 December (The Age)
* “How marvellous that Bob Carr wrote an article denying the Jewish people’s right to its biblical heartland in a week filled with religious fervour. It is also ironic, given that Carr was sworn into the Senate in 2012 holding a Bible, the very Bible that promises the Land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the Jews.”
30 December (SMH & The Australian)
* “Israel – one-third the size of Tasmania – completely disengaged from Gaza in 2005 and then had to endure some 8000 Hamas rockets until the 2014 war. Would the US government stand idly by and allow this behaviour against her land and citizens? And is John Kerry aware that the first paragraph of the Hamas charter states: ‘there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad’ and calls for the genocide of all world Jewry. Additionally, I’ve yet to hear the Palestinian Authority acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. And that’s not even taking into consideration an extremely well-armed Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. This US government failed to fulfil its Middle East agenda on every level and as a last resort this is a final dummy spit.”
30 December (The Australian)
* “Palestinian intransigence is being overlooked. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s half truthful defence for the abstention on the UN resolution against Israeli settlements, claiming that the US did not draft or originate the resolution condemning the settlements, fails to acknowledge Barack Obama’s part in promoting the resolution. To accuse Israeli settlement building as a barrier to peace and a possible two-state solution ignores the repeated failures of the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith – rejecting Israel as the home of the Jewish people, promoting anti-Jewish propaganda in its schools and media while encouraging terrorist atrocities against Israeli civilians. Israelis learned the lesson for relinquishing control of Gaza, and the missiles that followed, while the world still refers to this Hamas enclave as occupied territory.”
* “Israel has been thrown under a bus by Barack Obama. God help Israel, the only democracy in the terror-ridden Middle East. Outside Israel in the Middle East the word democracy is anathema.”
* “Israel … has offered to end the occupation and settlements in 2000-01 and in 2008 only to be rebuffed by the Palestinian leadership. But Israel is the only country to have been condemned by the Security Council. This hypocrisy is typical of the UN.”
* “Barack Obama had eight years to engage positively in foreign policy, yet all he achieved was weakening the US, emboldening Islamist extremists to embark on the Arab spring, brokering a dangerous nuclear deal with Iran, alienating the only true democracy in the Middle East, and displaying such decrepitude that Russia and China have been only too willing to kick sand in his face.”
* “In our blessed land, we can’t compromise on budget restraint and simple social reforms, yet dare to tell Israel how to deal with the existential threat it has confronted since 1948. Israel’s nationhood was a triumph and a tragedy, but there is no winding back the clock. Obviously, expansion of settlements in the West Bank are designed to weaken a Palestinian state. Equally true is that they are a buffer against an enemy sworn to wipe them out. It’s interesting that, with Syria in chaos and Jordan cracking down on Islamic State, there’s no push from the Arab world for a Palestinian homeland that could become another terrorist base and sanctuary.”
* “The facts are that Israel is surrounded by Arab nations that want to see Israel wiped from the map. The Palestinians have no intention of finding a lasting peace with Israel as it would be seen as weakness by other Arab nations. Barack Obama’s abstention at the UN makes them ask ‘with friends like that who needs enemies?’”
31 December (SMH)
* “Australia’s rejection of President Obama’s move to force Israel to stop and reduce its settlement areas is not only a wise move, it confirms our desire to be fair and honest with all other countries. The decision takes us to the very top of all the world’s countries on the serious matter of preserving peace everywhere. Well done, Australian government.”
* “Israel has been under attack from hostile Arab countries since day one of its modern existence. Those countries have always vowed to rid the world of Jews and it seems most countries around the world offer support in this direction. You can hardly blame Israel for looking after itself in these circumstances, especially given that on the one occasion when it did withdraw its settlements it was immediately set upon by a hostile neighbour. One thing we Jews have learnt is that anti-Semitism never goes away and now it is cloaked in respectable anti-Israel feelings. Even in Australia.”
1 January (The Australian)
* “How can there be peace with Palestine when its charter says Israel must be wiped out? Barack Obama knows this. So those supporting Palestine must support the destruction of Israel, even though Israel provides power, medical services and jobs for Palestinians.”
11 January (Australian Financial Review)
* “With Palestinian violence increasing Israel is in a no-win situation. In the unlikely event Israel and the Palestinians were ever to negotiate a peace settlement similar to what Israel successfully achieved with other enemies Egypt and Jordan, Israel would end up with yet another failed Islamic state on their borders.”
18 January (Australian Financial Review)
* “… the Australian government understands that under international law ‘Palestine’ does not yet meet the criteria necessary to be recognised as a sovereign country and therefore is unwilling to open an embassy in Ramallah. The impediments to recognition are many, including the basic question of what exactly is being recognised. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s term ended eight years ago and he has ruled by fiat ever since. Moreover, the Palestinian polity is hopelessly divided. Hamas rules Gaza and the Palestinian Authority operates in the West Bank, meaning Abbas can not rule over or speak on behalf of half his own people. The Australian government knows this. It also knows that prematurely conferring recognition and opening an embassy in the West Bank would only reward and embolden the Palestinian Authority, which has rejected three offers of a state since 2000 and continues to refuse to enter into direct negotiations with Israel without preconditions.”
21 February (SMH)
* “The 60 prominent Australians who oppose the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister patently have no understanding of the realities of the Middle East. Without going into the past 70 years of history, any objective observer would agree that the people who ‘provoke, intimidate and oppress’ the luckless Palestinians are their own leadership in the West Bank and Gaza. If the Palestinians had followed the same path as the Israelis, with support from the oil-rich Arab states, they would today be living in a flourishing, modern state of their own.”
22 February (The Australian)
* “Mr Turnbull is right to welcome Mr Netanyahu and condemn the UN for its anti-Israel resolutions. Israel’s many attempts to broker peace with the hate-filled Palestinians is well documented. Australia is taking an honourable position in continuing to strongly support the only democratically governed state in the region.”
24 February (The Australian)
* “[The Australian] Left (sic) should leave Israel be. How easy it is to sit in a nice office in Sydney and tell the Prime Minister of a country half a world away (which is under constant threat of annihilation) how to run his country. Israel is an oasis in a desert of warring tribes whose sole aim is to destroy it, and now the Left in this country wants to betray their only real friend in the Middle East.”
* “I find the hypocrisy of non-indigenous Australians who label the establishment of settlements in Judea and Samaria as land theft absolutely breathtaking.”
24 February (SMH)
* “… It is violence and total disregard for Jewish lives that are the obstacles to peace. Everything else flows from that. Israel is here to stay – it is the home of the Jewish people. It is time after so many decades of lives lost and so much destruction for the Palestinian Authority/and Hamas/Hetzbollah/Al Queda (sic) to show some wisdom and respect. It would be far more constructive if critics of Israel, and those protesting against Mr Netanyahu’s visit, looked towards the future. Toward a model of co-existing, of co-operation and of sharing the socio-economic benefits as experienced by countries within the European Union.”
25 February (SMH)
* “Perhaps it may have inadvertently slipped your worthy correspondents’ minds but the two-state solution was accepted by the Jews in 1947, when they agreed to the UN Partition Plan for two states, the Arab state being 43 per cent of the Mandate Territory and an internationally ruled Jerusalem. This was roundly rejected by all the Arab states, as well as the Palestinians. They then invaded the newly created state of Israel, not recognising its right to exist and attempting to annihilate all the Jews. The Israelis have been fighting to survive ever since – having fought at least three major wars and numerous smaller ones. It’s only after repeated attempts at annihilation of the Jews that the Palestinian Arabs now complain about territorial theft and a lack of peace.”
26 February (SMH)
* “If the Palestinians spent more of the millions and millions they’ve been given by the West for decades on infrastructure rather than putting money in the hands of terrorists, there wouldn’t be shanty towns. If they didn’t stab people in the streets and put bombs on buses and in restaurants, there wouldn’t be check points and walls. If the Palestinians accepted one of the many generous two state solutions that have been offered to them since Jordan ruled the West Bank, and were prepared to live in peace side by side with Israel, there could already have been a thriving Palestinian State. Mark Kenny [SMH journalist] should realise that peace will only come to the Palestinians when there is serious international pressure on them to accept Israel’s existence, renounce terror and accept a two state solution that’s already been offered and gives them most of what they say they want.”
26 February (The Australian)
* “Israel has been very successful economically, socially and technologically; it must be considered a lead nation despite its small size; and all of this achieved despite extreme hostility from its neighbours. We should envy the Israeli leadership.”
28 February (The Australian)
* “… [Bob] Hawke, Gareth Evans [Foreign Minister 1988-96], Kevin Rudd [Prime Minister 2007-10 & 2013, Foreign Minister 2010-12] – who now support a Palestinian state and their cronies should take a leaf out of Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic and political success in collaboration between Australia and Israeli entrepreneurs. They are wrongly supporting a two-state solution where the region is surrounded by states of anarchy and violence led by dictators combined with hate and antagonism aimed at Israel.”
27 February (SMH)
* “It would be helpful if those who accept the pro-Palestinian view of the Middle East without question spent time researching other viewpoints rather than accepting the one-sided half-truths and misinformation that is the basis of their platform. It would be even more helpful if the efforts were put into working towards reconciliation in the Middle East rather than recrimination over the one democracy in the area.”
* * *
There’s chutzpah for you. An Israel-firster demanding that those with pro-Palestinian views spend time ‘researching other viewpoints rather than accepting the one-sided half-truths and misinformation that is the basis of their platform’!
There are the usual canards in the letters. Israel as ‘the only democracy …’. Israel comprehensively ‘disengaged’ from Gaza in 2005. Israel has made generous peace offers that have been summarily rejected (Israeli journalist Raviv Drucker demolishes this mantra on 972mag). Israel is under permanent threat of annihilation. Christian Palestinians don’t exist, only murderous Islamists. Palestinians are too immature, unruly, to govern themselves. And the ultimate irrefutable chestnut – G-d gave it to us!
A fundamental catechism is the claim that UN Resolution 181, 29 November 1947, provided the legitimizing foundation for the establishment of the state of Israel. On the contrary:
“The General Assembly….
“Recommends to the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power for Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption and implementation, with regard to the future government of Palestine, of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union set out below;
“(a) The Security Council take the necessary measure as provided for in the plan for its implementation; …
“c) The Security Council determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution; …”. Etc.
Quoting Jeremy Hammond, from 2010:
“U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 neither legally partitioned Palestine nor conferred upon the Zionist leadership any legal authority to unilaterally declare the existence of the Jewish state of Israel. It merely recommended that the UNSCOP partition plan be accepted and implemented by the concerned parties. … Nor could the General Assembly have legally partitioned Palestine or otherwise conferred legal authority for the creation of Israel to the Zionist leadership, as it simply had no such authority to confer. When the Security Council took up the matter referred to it by the General Assembly, it could come to no consensus on how to proceed with implementing the partition plan. It being apparent that the plan could not be implemented by peaceful means, the suggestion that it be implemented by force was rejected by members of the Security Council. The simple fact of the matter is that the plan was never implemented. Numerous delegates from member states, including the U.S., arrived at the conclusion that the plan was impracticable, and, furthermore, that the Security Council had no authority to implement such a plan except by mutual consent by concerned parties, which was absent in this case. …
“In sum, the popular claim that the U.N. ‘created’ Israel is a myth, and Israel’s own claim in its founding document that U.N. Resolution 181 constituted legal authority for Israel’s creation, or otherwise constituted ‘recognition’ by the U.N. of the ‘right’ of the Zionist Jews to expropriate for themselves Arab land and deny to the majority Arab population of that land their own right to self-determination, is a patent fraud.”
Even before the General Assembly vote, a General Assembly sub-committee report of 11 November (quoting Hammond), determined:
“… ‘the General Assembly is not competent to recommend, still less to enforce, any solution other than the recognition of the independence of Palestine, and that the settlement of the future government of Palestine is a matter solely for the people of Palestine.’ It concluded that ‘no further discussion of the Palestine problem seems to be necessary or appropriate, and this item should be struck off the agenda of the General Assembly’, but that if there was a dispute on that point, ‘it would be essential to obtain the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on this issue’, as had already been requested by several of the Arab states. It concluded further that the partition plan was ‘contrary to the principles of the Charter, and the United Nations have no power to give effect to it.’”
In any event, the General Assembly vote itself was a stitch-up job. The relevant American governmental institutions (State Department, key Cabinet Secretaries, military, CIA) were staunchly opposed to any partition as seriously threatening the US national interest, but President Truman was swayed by his advisor Clark Clifford (and others) that he would need the Jewish community vote in his bid for the 1948 Presidential election. Truman had the vote delayed until, with threats and bribes to various countries, he achieved the necessary two-thirds majority vote.
The UN Special Committee on Palestine’s partition plan made no sense. As is well known, the plan dramatically disadvantaged the majority Arab population with the ‘Jewish’ state allocated 56% of the land whereas the Jewish community constituted 33% of the population and owned 7% of the land. But the Arab and Jewish populations were naturally not concentrated but dispersed, mutually integrated. Thus the proposed ‘Jewish’ portion comprised just over 900,000 people, of which only a slight majority were Jews.
This latter was naturally intolerable to the Zionists. Ditto the associated proposition that Jerusalem would remain under international control. Statements by leading Zionists perennially disclosed undisguised ambitions of unconstrained expansionism.
Thomas Suarez’ 2016 State of Terror claims that the exaggerated proposed ‘Jewish’ allocation was itself produced by UNSCOP’s fear of Zionist violence and the hope that the giveaway would mitigate the violence. On the contrary. Zionist violence had begun before the vote and escalated after it.
Thus was unleashed the Zionist terror leading to the obliteration of innumerable Palestinian villages and quarters and to the Nakba. More, the terror was perpetrated in other countries against presumed opponents of the Zionist agenda. Quoting Suarez:
“Terror gang rivalry had, indeed, become a race for fanaticism, and so when the group Americans for Haganah held a rally in New York’s Manhattan Center on 23 December, it was disrupted by protestors accusing the militia of ‘appeasement’.”
Materiel and training had been obtained by Zionists strategically serving in Allied military units. TNT and materiel was being shipped under cover in large quantities from elsewhere, including the US.
“The Jewish Agency’s defiance of Resolution 181 was visible within a week of the vote, with its decision that ‘a number of ‘national institutions’, including the Chief Rabbinate’, would not be within the borders it had agreed to, but illegally in Jerusalem, in the UN-administered international zone.”
In early February, Ben-Gurion ordered the expulsion of non-Jews from parts of Jerusalem. The UN dignitary Swede Folke Bernadotte, in place to implant Resolution 181’s recommendation regarding an internationally controlled Jerusalem, was assassinated on 17 September. The State of Israel, proclaimed on 14 May 1948, had no defined territory (save for ‘biblical Eretz-Israel’) and now claims, inevitably, Occupied East Jerusalem as its own.
It is no small irony that many Israel-firsters continue to claim that Israel’s existence and legitimacy rests on Resolution 181, given that Israel’s creation defied the Resolution and its leaders have ever since treated the UN as wholly without legitimacy.
Soon after Jeremy Hammond published his 2010 article on Resolution 181, an Israeli academic attempted to discredit Hammond’s analysis. Yet he readily confirmed Hammond’s story, concluding, most un-academically, with a threat of his own:
“Of course it is a myth to assert or believe that the U.N. created Israel, because it was the Zionist military victory buoyed by an iron-will national tenacity which created a Jewish state in the teeth of Arab hostility and belligerency. It could not have been otherwise. …
It is transparently true that Israel’s founding came through the sword, but one exercised on behalf of the transcending right of an ancient and integral people, the likes of whose special claim to the Land of Israel no other human collectivity can equal whatsoever. To continually hound Israel by raising the question of its legitimacy will only assure, may I suggest, future wars whose results will likely approximate in bold colors the results of 1948.”
* * *
The letters reproduced above, and their ilk published elsewhere, highlight that Israel continues to enjoy popular support within Jewish communities globally. Whence the uncritical support, and that based on the-earth-is-flat-style beliefs?
My inference is that Jewish schools reinforce the socialisation of home and other social and religious interaction. Sydney’s Moriah College, visited by Prime Minister Netanyahu on 23 February (where, on one account, he was given a ‘rock star welcome’), is not unrepresentative.
Moriah College describes itself as a ‘Modern Orthodox Zionist Jewish school’. Behind this label, it claims:
“Moriah not only aspires to achieve excellence in academic standards, but maintains and promotes among its students an awareness of and a feeling for Jewish traditions and ethics, an understanding of and a positive commitment to Orthodox Judaism and identification with and love for Israel.”
For its young enrolees, it claims to foster: “Fairness and equity by respecting the ideas, views, values and traditions of other individuals and cultures, developing social responsibility and self discipline.”
This peculiar combination of an attachment to Jewish ‘traditions and ethics’, demonstrably universal humane values, and an unqualified ‘love of Israel’ is regularly to be found in the ‘what we stand for’ sections of the websites of Australian Jewish schools. The Australian authorities (education, security) show no interest in a publicly-subsidized school network that transparently commits itself to nurturing ideological foot soldiers (and sometimes real soldiers) for a state whose modus operandi puts it permanently in breach of international law.
There is no evidence that such schools have ever seen to apply the revered universal values to the state of Israel and their love for it. Moriah College, for example, each year achieves stellar results for its matriculating high school class, yet the evidence is absent that such exemplary teaching is applied with respect to the history and character of Israel.
How can such unqualified love be applied to a country conceived, forged and sustained as a vehicle for ethnic cleansing and forged and sustained in terror? Israel is an ethnocracy, an apartheid state by construction, in which ‘fairness and equity by respecting the ideas, views, values and traditions of other individuals and cultures’ does not apply.
When the best and brightest from Jewish schools attend university, alas not Jewish, they confront people in whom the ‘love of Israel’ has not been inculcated and whose attitude towards Israel is decidedly jaundiced. How can this be? Ah yes, the detractors’ prejudices are a product of anti-Semitism, deeply embedded. That the academy is an environment in which the admirable by-products of reason and evidence retain a foothold is overlooked, because inconvenient. As with climate change denialists, there are ready answers for glaring anomalies.
Well here is a glaring anomaly. Why haven’t all members of Jewish communities made aliyah? For the people who greeted Netanyahu in Sydney in February, Sydney is their promised land. The Messiah has landed and he enjoys ocean views! The mentality is replicated in Melbourne (albeit they have to settle for Port Phillip Bay). Why not then a more critical eye from those define their essential Jewishness as rooted in countries other than Israel?
What is Israel for Australian Jews (and elsewhere) other than a heart-warming holiday home in the sky? Albeit with a dark side. Netanyahu’s talk to the conscripted primary schoolers in Sydney was a Rambo-style declaration that we, the Jews, are the toughest guys on the Middle Eastern block. Nobody messes with us. The so-called ‘spiritual’ Zionists foresaw this unsavoury prospect but they were declared wusses and written out of history.
This thrust is redolent of Jewish communities’ response to the Israeli demolition of the Egyptian air force on the ground in June 1967. Members of Jewish communities, previously indifferent to happenings in Israel, suddenly became gung-ho. A colleague remembers that two then members of the university department that I later joined, brothers, previously sedate academics, went running down the corridor whooping it up, cock-a-hoop at the event. Go team!
The fans could then bask in the reflected bloody Rambo-ism of Israel’s brutal treatment of a subject population from the comfort of their own far flung communities. That ‘go team’ mentality was reflected in members of Australian Jewish communities’ street demonstrations in support of Israel’s massacre of the Gazan population in July 2014. The blowback murders of Jews in France in March 2012 and January 2015 highlight that that comfort zone can no longer be taken for granted.
* * *
Israel is able to maintain its barbarity against its captive Palestinian population because of the de facto active support or tolerance of other states for the Israeli status quo. In turn that support or tolerance depends heavily upon the pressure of indigenous Jewish communities within those countries. In the first instance, such pressure comes from the myriad ‘official’ Jewish organizations. In spite of the self-appointed character of many of those organizations, their legitimacy depends upon the ongoing support of the rank and file faithful.
That support, as reflected in letters to the editor pages, is rooted in a profound ignorance of their beloved country across the waves (whether genuine or concocted). Israel’s ongoing impunity depends fundamentally upon the inculcation and reproduction of such ignorance. Given the perennial excommunication of doubters from the fold (I call this the Spinoza gambit), that process is driven strategically and organically.
What is in evidence appears to be a shtetlization of consciousness. Tribalism trumps intelligence and humanity. When it comes to Israel, the shutters come down.
Much ink has been spilled on the vexed question of whether ordinary Germans were themselves culpable for the crimes of the Nazi regime. Yet the population was living under a militarized, ultra-repressive state.
Jewish communities don’t live under ultra-repressive regimes, and the internet makes alternative evidence and opinion readily available. (Many Israelis themselves are fed up, sickened by the society they were raised in and those who govern them.) The rank and file faithful are thus complicit in Israel’s crimes. Those crimes will never be brought to heel until that complicity is self-consciously acknowledged and redressed and Israel loses its support base amongst the international Jewish communities.