Following my recent article in Crikey – discussing Australia’s parliamentary motion celebrating Israel’s 60th anniversary as well as the local Zionist lobby’s shenanigans – a number of letter writers responded yesterday:
Bren Carlill, analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, writes: “Re. “Our “passionately pro Israel” PM throws compassion out the window” (13 March, item 10).” In Thursday’s Crikey, Antony Loewenstein slammed Wednesday’s bipartisan Parliamentary motion celebrating 60 years of Israeli independence. Allow me to retort. He opened with a statistic; 50% of Israelis wouldn’t want to live in the same building as an Arab. Such a statistic is worrying, though perhaps partially explained (but not justified) by the parallel statistic that 70-80% of Palestinian children aspire to be suicide bombers, that Israeli Arab politicians (yes – Israeli Arabs have the same civil rights as Israeli Jews) have cheered on terrorist organisations, and actively resist attempts to better integrate Arabs into Israeli society so as not to “Israelise” Arab youth. Loewenstein decried Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s “absence” of compassion for Palestinians. I can’t claim to speak for Mr. Rudd, but I’m sure the man has gone on record saying he wants Palestinians to be secure, safe, democratic, prosperous and independent. I heartily agree, which is probably why in tomorrow’s Crikey, Loewenstein will probably likewise curse my lack of compassion. Apart from wild allegations about yet another supposed Jewish conspiracy solely designed to harm him, the main thing in Loewenstein’s spray needing a response is something he’s been tossing round in recent days – that a majority of Israelis would be willing to negotiate with Hamas. Loewenstein is making the leap that since some Israelis are willing to talk to Hamas, therefore “the democratically-elected Hamas” must be alright.
I quote from his letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 13 March: “[Robert Goot and David Knoll] portray the Palestinians as bloodthirsty terrorists out to obliterate all Jews. Many Israelis do not agree, a majority recently telling a Haaretz-sponsored poll that they believed in talks between Hamas and the Israeli government.” He’s right in one thing; Israelis don’t believe all Palestinians are bloodthirsty terrorists, but they do believe Hamas-niks are. But that doesn’t stop Israelis being willing to negotiate with Hamas if it would bring about a true ceasefire. The problem is, during its last “ceasefire,” Hamas never truly ceased firing. It spent the time passing on rockets and assistance to groups like Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who never stopped indiscriminately shelling Israeli towns. If Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, stops rockets being fired into Israel, Israel would immediately stop attacking Hamas positions. If Hamas were to recognise Israel’s existence (as per international demands), Israel would begin trading with Gaza again. After all, Syria doesn’t recognise Israel’s existence, and Israel doesn’t trade with it, either. Ultimately, Loewenstein’s true position wasn’t revealed in Crikey or the SMH, but in an ad on page 7 of Wednesday’s Australian. The ad made clear by focusing on 1948, not 1967, that its backers — including Loewenstein — don’t think Israel is wrong because of the occupation, or settlements or its choices in defending itself against Palestinian violence, but rather because of its existence. Charming.
James Harper writes: Les Heimann’s response (Friday, comments) to Antony Loewenstein’s piece has all the hallmarks of the Zionist lobby. While he makes it abundantly clear that he regards Loewenstein as at worst a liar and at best a misrepresenter of the facts, he at no time tries to clarify which part of Antony’s piece is incorrect or how. This is an age old tactic of smearing the man rather than challenging the facts. Keep up the good work Antony. I have long given up hope of any facts from the pro Israel side of the fence.
Duncan Beard writes: Les Heimann writes that Anthony Lowenstein “has [the] right in the privacy of his own home to believe what he likes”. Bullsh-t. Loewenstein can believe – in public – whatever the hell he likes, whether you or I like it or not. Public criticism of the occupation of Palestine is not illegal, nor is it “misrepresentation” or “squirting fantasies”, as you seem to think. We’re not a police state yet, mate.
Frank Birchall writes: Les Heimann’s piece is long on attacking Antony Loewenstein, ad hominem, but extremely short on argument and evidence. According to Les, what Antony said in Crikey is “misrepresentation” and “fantasy”, but Les conveniently omits to specify just what these “fantasies” etc. consist of. Don’t keep us in suspense, Les, let’s have some facts in rebuttal instead of a cheap personal shot.
A few comments are in order. The first statement, by a hack from the country’s belligerent Zionist lobby, seems desperate to prove that Palestinians are as racist as Israelis. The idea that a majority of Israelis support engagement with Hamas is something his organisation and virtually all similar Zionist lobbies in the West conveniently ignore, preferring to advocate a never-ending military campaign against “terrorists.”
After 60 years, those kind of policies have been really successful in bringing peace to the Jewish state.
UPDATE: AIJAC are about as popular in Australia as a Chinese soldier massacring Tibetan monks in Lhasa.