Israel’s 60th birthday – what the media left out

My following article appears in today’s edition of Crikey:

Antony Loewenstein, author of My Israel Question and the co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, writes:

“I am not a Jew”, said an Arab radio journalist in Jerusalem to the New York Times.

“How can I belong to a Jewish state? If they define this as a Jewish state, they deny that I am here.”

Israel’s 60th anniversary has generated mountains of international news coverage that highlights the achievements of the state since 1948 and the many challenges facing the relatively new nation. The Australian echoed the general pessimism by predicting ongoing conflict with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

Absent, however, from a great deal of Western reporting is an honest appraisal of Israel’s ongoing strangulation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Neither major side of Australian politics dares speak out against this travesty and the director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University today in The Age completely ignores the occupation altogether.

The Washington Post this week repeated the usual mantra of blaming the victims for their predicament, perhaps only bettered by a former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post who managed to celebrate Israel’s birthday in the Wall Street Journal without once mentioning that Israel’s colonisation of the West Bank is growing by the day. Haaretz reports that the world head of Likud is even demanding that the Palestinians be banned from commemorating their “Nakba Day”.

Acknowledging the birth of a nation, not unlike Australia, requires understanding the peoples who suffered from the outset. For hardline Zionists, the Palestinians are sore losers while a prominent Israeli intellectual tells The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg that the Palestinians are dedicated to “bringing chaos” to the Jewish state. The Australian Jewish News strongly implied in their editorial last week that the mainstream media should only publish articles that praise the Jewish state. “Bias” is seen around every corner.

Ariel Sharon’s former advisor Dov Weisglass wrote this week in Israel’s biggest selling daily that Hamas must be destroyed, “in line with humanitarian limits” even as the international community begins to understand the futility of this policy.

9/11 has merely reinforced these racist stereotypes about Arabs, although former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said the attacks were “benefiting” the Zionist cause.

60 years after Israel’s birth, the two peoples have never been further apart. The Israeli press is barred from entering Gaza, so we rely on Gazans to explain their suffering at the hands of a Washington-led economic blockade. The Guardian is one of the few Western media outlets that regularly publish these accounts, including news about the allocation of building permits in the West Bank to only Jewish settlers.

The anniversary celebrations have revealed a growing number of Diaspora Jews speaking critically of their supposed homeland. Britain and America are witnessing growing media coverage of these dissident positions. Jewish voices are now some of the strongest advocates in challenging the “peace process” fraud.

Within Israel itself, the mainstream media is thriving with debate.

Haaretz, arguably the finest newspaper in the world, proves that a news outlet can honestly describe the truth about the Jewish state. This week has been no exception. Pro-Zionist, anti-Zionist, pro-Israel and pro-human rights all exist harmoniously. An eloquent essay in Haaretz, by Israeli human rights lawyer Daphna Golan, articulated the true message of Israel’s 60th anniversary:

We must speak out loudly and openly with everyone — about the past, present and future, about a life of fair, decent neighbourly relations. Without red and green lines and with no prior conditions. Only about how we will live here together and separately, Jews and Arabs, in reconciliation.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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