Australia/Israel Review


AMUST’s “global Zionism” tropes

Mar 28, 2023 | Ran Porat

Australian Muslim Times Chief Editor Zia Ahmad (Screenshot)
Australian Muslim Times Chief Editor Zia Ahmad (Screenshot)

The Australasian Muslim Times (AMUST) does not support Israel or Zionism. On the contrary. As AIJAC has reported in the past, AMUST has, more than once, provided a platform for antisemitic views and promoted baseless and extreme anti-Israel content.

The events in Israel in early 2023 prompted AMUST to lash out at the Jewish state and spread more anti-Israel extremism and untruths. 

AMUST’s March 2023 edition covered the violent attack by the small extremist group of Jewish settlers in the Palestinian town of Huwara on February 26, burning property and cars and trapping people inside their burning homes. This reprehensible event should of course be condemned in the harshest terms. This violence followed the murder of two Israeli brothers, Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, earlier that day by Palestinians as they were driving through Huwara. Those murders of course do not in any way justify the rioting and violence against innocent Palestinians or their property, but they do put things into a context of general violence in this area. 

 

AMUST Editorial: Global Zionism

Yet AMUST’s chief editor, Zia Ahmad, writing in the paper’s editorial – titled “Palestinians amidst occupation, oppression, violence & silence” – paints these events through the lens of notorious antisemitic jargon about Jewish world domination, while denying Jewish connection to the land of Israel: “The indigenous people of Palestine… have been suffering for a long time under the global might of Zionism.”

Next, Ahmad repeats the infamous lie that Israel “is in fact an apartheid society having illegally occupied the Palestinian lands for more than half a century,” then bemoans that the Jewish state is “virtually enslaving its Palestinian population.”

The slander continues, blaming the whole of the Jewish state for every crime committed by a Jewish person: “Israel is literally getting away with murder.” Rehashing the Palestinian claim that Israel is “keeping Gaza as [an] open air prison,” Ahmad ignores Hamas’ iron rule over the population, the fact that many Gazans work in Israel and that Gaza residents can leave to other places via Egypt. 

Ahmad goes on with a tantrum about how Israel is “terrorising the Palestinians in the West Bank under its occupation through settler violence, almost daily armed raids into houses in Palestinian towns and villages.” Trying to bring his point home, he says that Israel is “killing … anyone who resists the occupation as well as bulldozing their family homes.”

In fact, the IDF is trying to arrest heavily armed Palestinian terrorists roaming the West Bank who are responsible for deadly terror attacks against Israelis, while the Palestinian Authority fails or refuses to stop them. When the Palestinian terrorists being targeted, and other gunmen, attack the Israeli forces trying to capture them, they get killed. But in Ahmad’s narrative, Israelis have no right to self-defence against Palestinian “resistance” – so seeking to arrest perpetrators is itself a crime.

Tropes about the mystical global might of the Jews resurface when Ahmad argues that Israel is using its powerful army to assert its “hegemony” over the Middle East, by “power-blackmailing the Gulf States… into submission.”

Israel supporters, says Ahmad, are part of this evil world-dominating Zionist network: “The global network of the Zionist lobby, particularly in centres of power in the West ensures that Israel’s illegal occupation, attacks and spying activities are not challenged and flouting any UN based resolutions on a regular basis.”

Moreover, according to Ahmad: “The Israel lobby does not tolerate any criticism of the Israeli state in mass media, social media, academic institutions or in public and actively monitors its critics demonising them as anti-semite (sic).” Ahmad chooses to ignore the basic fact that many of those attacking Israel – including Ahmad himself – are indeed saying things that are clearly antisemitic.

And he continues: “These supporters of Israel with resources for research, finance, influence in political and academic institutions have the strength to silence any one (sic) critical of Israel targeting any tweet, Facebook comment, press articles or media statement.” 

Most Zionists doubtless wish they had the enormous influence and resources attributed to them in antisemitic tropes.

 

Praise for antisemitic guests of Adelaide Writers’ Week

The editorial concludes with admiration for the Palestinian-American guests of the Adelaide Writers’ Week (4-9 March). Susan Abulhawa and Mohammed El-Kurd attended this year’s festival despite a public outcry against them by the Jewish community for spewing antisemitism, and outrage from the Ukrainian community in Australia for Abulhawa’s defence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Disregarding their toxic views, Ahmad applauds the two guests, describing them as “critically acclaimed, internationally renowned Palestinian writers.”

The AMUST editorial closes with a quote from Palestinian-Australian author Randa Abdel-Fattah, who describes Israel as “a brutal colonising occupying apartheid regime,” which therefore one must act against with “rage, anger, poetic artistic resistance.”

Another article discussing the guests of the Adelaide Writers’ Week featured in AMUST’s March 2023 edition was a republished piece originally from The Conversation (Disclaimer: the author of this article also publishes occasionally in The Conversation). In it, Melbourne University’s Dr. Denis Muller agrees that Abulhawa’s tweet to “DeNazify Ukraine” is extreme, and in line with Russian propaganda, only to oddly argue, that such statements are “essentially political” and hence should be heard. 

El-Kurd’s case is “more complex”, says Muller – a strange view, given that El-Kurd has accused “Zionists of eating the organs of Palestinians and of lusting for Palestinian blood” and compared the State of Israel “to the Nazi regime.” 

On the one hand, Muller admits that El-Kurd’s “accusations are grossly offensive to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities, and civilised societies are rightly vigilant to challenge speech that creates any equivalence with the Holocaust.” He also mentions that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concluded that these remarks are antisemitic. 

But Muller presents “a counterview … that El-Kurd’s comments are directed at Zionists and at the State of Israel specifically, rather than at Jews as a people, and that therefore they are political in nature rather than racist. This is a distinction on which people of goodwill can differ.” 

Apparently, in Muller’s simplistic “counterview”, any antisemitic statement in which the word “Jews” is replaced with “Zionists” or “Israel” ceases to be antisemitic and becomes merely “political”. 

The ADL explains that “Anti-Zionism is a prejudice against the Jewish movement for self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the State of Israel. It may be motivated by or result in anti-Semitism, or it may create a climate in which anti-Semitism becomes more acceptable.” In other words, while criticism of Israel similar to that against any other country is not antisemitic, anti-Zionism and antisemitism can be different forms of the same racism. AMUST’s latest edition appears to be living proof of this.

Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University in Herzliya.

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