Israel, the try-hard state

Following my article on Israel/Palestine in last Friday’s Age newspaper, two letter writers respond in today’s edition:

Going in to bat for the terrorists
ANTONY Loewenstein loses all credibility when he says that recent events in Beit Hanoun constitute a “massacre” and that the result has been “Hamas calling for revenge” with a “justified militancy” (“A country lost in its own region”, Opinion, 10/11).

Obviously, Loewenstein is unaware that Hamas has been calling for Israel’s destruction since 1988, while seeing suicide bombers who indiscriminately and intentionally target civilians as somehow “justified militancy” is absolutely hypocritical and appalling.

Loewenstein should look at the hideous nature of a Palestinian culture that promotes death and destruction before deciding to criticise Israel, which is doing its best to fight terrorists while protecting civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian.

Philip Ioannou, Sydney

Speaking plainly
THANK goodness The Age allows Antony Loewenstein to speak plainly about the entrenched brutality, hypocrisy and corruption of Israeli politics and governance, and the regrettable double standards Western leaders and media apply to the opposed adversaries of the Middle East’s most enduring conflict

At least Loewenstein will only be called a “self-loathing Jew”. Anyone else (from a non-Jewish background) would potentially face accusations of being “anti-Semitic racists”.

Peter Kartsounis, Footscray

I lose credibility because I dare claim that what happened at Beit Hanoun was a “massacre”? I suppose it was simply an unavoidable accident and the sleeping Palestinians should have been elsewhere at the time. Furthermore, they should have expected that a stray shell would destroy their homes. I hope Mr. Ioannou is getting a hefty salary from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to pen such nonsense.

The paper’s opinion page also featured a response to my piece, written by Daniel Mandel, director of the Zionist Organisation of America’s Centre for Middle East Policy. In a previous life, Mandel worked for Australia’s most virulent Zionist lobby, AIJAC. Here is Daniel in 1999 defending former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet – “If not a liberal state, Pinochet at least bequeathed a secure and prosperous one” – and supporting Jewish terrorism at Israel’s birth.

It’s almost redundant to even rebut Mandel’s simplistic analysis, but a few points. He understandably dismisses the elevation of fascist politician Avigdor Lieberman to a senior position in the Israel government. After all, other Western nations that have been led by far-right figures – think Jorg Haider in Austria – are soon internationally isolated. Israel may well soon face similar moves. Lieberman advocates what many Zionists truly want, but can’t express in public; ethnic cleansing of all Arabs from both Israel and Palestine.

Mandel claims that Israel is constantly searching for peace – how an expanding occupation proves this is beyond me – and blames the Palestinian leadership for hating Jews and Israelis so much that they simply can’t ever negotiate honesty.

We’ve heard the same rhetoric for decades, and it was believed for much of that time. Not anymore. Perhaps such blindness is still accepted in the halls of London, Canberra and Washington, but world power is shifting away from the West. Israel is unprepared.

Mandel can rave on about Israeli sacrifice and commitment to finding common ground with the Palestinians, but virtually nobody believes this version anymore (and the debate has truly moved on.)

Time for a new telegram from the Israeli embassy, Daniel.