Australian Jewish News – 13 March 2009
Not so Jolly Rodgers
On March 3, Age readers were subjected to a typically jaundiced and poorly argued opinion piece from Peter Rodgers. He claimed Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal “was more a tactic to reinforce settlement activity in the West Bank than a meaningful nod towards Palestinian statehood.” In fact, Israel intended to evacuate West Bank settlements had the Gaza withdrawal worked. He also airbrushed Hamas, claiming that, although it has extremists “as does Israel” it also has “pragmatists” who would accept a two-state solution. In fact, the Hamas “pragmatists” are adamant that Israel’s destruction would remain the ultimate goal. He also tried to mitigate the Hamas violence, writing it “does not occur in a vacuum. It is connected, at least in part, to Israel’s post-2006 blockade of the freely elected Hamas Government, its attacks on Hamas members, and its relentless settlement program in the West Bank.” This even though the violence pre-dated and ultimately led to Israel’s partial blockade, and had intensified after the withdrawal.
News Limited columnists were again in form. In the March 3 Daily Telegraph, Piers Akerman reported that Dan Gillerman, until recently Israel’s UN Ambassador had said peace would need to involve all Arab countries. Akerman continued, “Which makes it more remarkable that two Western Sydney Councils, Marrickville and neighbouring Canterbury, would waste their ratepayers’ time and money by passing resolutions which gave both overt and tacit support to Hamas. Apart from exposing the ignorance of the councillors who supported the resolutions, backing proscribed terror organisations like Hamas is unlikely to foster the ideals of peace embraced by the inner-urban Green councils.” In a good March 2 Herald Sun piece about the Iranian nuclear threat, Alan Howe wrote, “When the Iranian-backed Hamas recently fought Israel soldiers in Gaza, they hid munitions in sensitive buildings and fired rockets from hospitals and schools, using the locals, especially children, as human shields. Iran does this on a grand scale at home.”
On March 5, both the Australian editorial and Piers Akerman in the Telegraph pointed out that the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team would disprove those who attribute all Islamist terrorism to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
However, in a typical Guardian piece reprinted in the March 6 Sydney Morning Herald, Seumas Milne blamed the attack on the war on terrorism, and moaned that the Obama Administration seemed to be continuing the Bush policies. He wrote, “In the crucible of conflict in the Middle East, between Israel and the Palestinians, there is also little sign of any substantive change in US policy, whether on lifting the continuing siege of Gaza or talking to the Palestinians’ elected representatives, let alone using US leverage to bring an end to Israel’s illegal colonisation of the West Bank or to end its occupation.” Not for Milne the simple truth that the Palestinians could have their state if their elected representatives recognised Israel’s right to exist and ended terror.