Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: Fiction and Lies

Jun 29, 2021 | Jeremy Jones

Laudable concerns for Gaza’s children has been turned into the toxic promotion of hate (Credit: Abed Rahim/ Shutterstock)
Laudable concerns for Gaza’s children has been turned into the toxic promotion of hate (Credit: Abed Rahim/ Shutterstock)

It is an understatement to write that passions were inflamed during the recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel.

In lockstep with Hamas shooting rockets from populated areas in attempts to murder Israeli citizens, anti-Israel activists launched a barrage of attacks across a broad landscape. 

While Iron Dome limited the damage the Hamas rockets caused, there was no equivalent to protect Jews from antisemitism, to defend Israel from demonisation or to prevent many of our institutions from having their moral and intellectual foundations shaken.

The tragedy of the loss of life inflicted on residents of Gaza and Israel by Hamas rockets, and the deaths, injuries and further suffering which came as Israel sought to stop Hamas’ cynical and immoral activities, was very real. It is not just appropriate but praiseworthy when genuine sympathy for the victims is expressed with emotion. 

But passion does not excuse the deliberate lying, group defamation and promotion of hatred which was present in the activities of Australian shills for Hamas and their fellow travellers across academia, the media and other sectors.

Amongst the most pernicious examples of the propaganda campaign was the “Open Letter from Members of the Children’s Book Industry”, widely circulated in Australia.

I will declare my interest – I have a number of friends who write, illustrate, commission and distribute children’s literature – none of whom would seriously consider signing on to the mendacious misinformation contained in the open letter.

But hundreds of people signed on to a letter which cast the very existence of Israel, since 1948, as “violent colonisation”, and declared it is indisputable that Israel is an “apartheid state”.

Each of the signatories claimed they were witnessing “ethnic cleansing”, had seen Israel “massacre entire families”, had observed “Israelis lynching Palestinians with the protection and participation of Israeli police,” and proclaimed they were witnessing children “targeted, murdered, orphaned, incarcerated, dispossessed and traumatized” by Israel.

These individuals, claiming to be acting out of their self-description as members of an industry which “professes to nurture and enrich the experience of childhood,” concluded that “what we are witnessing is called genocide.” 

It is worth reiterating: the signatories to this ahistorical and immoral slander claimed to be motivated by concern for children!

Some of the signatories may be completely ignorant of the situation on the ground, devoid of historical knowledge, bereft of research skills, but not lacking in the special form of arrogance which grows from cultivated ignorance.

Others may be filled with hate, anger or feelings of self-righteousness, and are possibly in self-denial as to their own bigotry and dishonesty.

I suspect the majority simply trusted colleagues or associates to produce something of unimpeachable moral goodness. 

The open letter does not suggest that the genocidal programme of Hamas or Israel’s other existential enemies are worthy of critique, or express a view on hate filled textbooks and media which shape opinions of children under the rule of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. 

It does not mention Hamas’ well-documented criminal recruitment of child soldiers.

It makes no suggestion as to how to promote a better future for the children of Israel, Gaza or the region.

It also does not reflect a commitment to ethical behaviour, kindness, compassion or any other values I feel most parents (and others) would hope would be concerns of the “Children’s Book Industry” community.

If the aim of the signatories was to ostracise people who genuinely care about the children of the Middle East and elsewhere, they should be congratulated on their (hopefully temporary) success.

At the same time, they should be informed that by spreading hate and slander, they are contributing to a poisonous atmosphere for children today and in the future.

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