Poor Advice

Jamie Hyams

Australian Jewish News – 20 March 2009

Poor Advice

In a March 9 Age piece, the ANU’s Amin Saikal took it upon himself to advise Barak Obama on Middle East policy. He claimed the Bush Administration’s policy had “denied Hamas its right to exercise power as the democratic choice of the Palestinian people.” This is untrue. The Bush Administration didn’t stop Hamas governing. It simply continued to boycott Hamas as long as it conducted itself as a terror organisation, while making it clear this would change if Hamas changed its ways. Saikal continued, “Obama may find himself with no choice but to restrain Israel from pursuing a policy of confrontation with the Palestinians and regional states as the basis for ensuring the security of the Jewish state. This requires a restructuring of the US-Israeli strategic partnership, which has too often made the US pursue a double standard policy in the Middle East.” This again is based on completely false premises. Israel pursues self-defence, not confrontation. It only attacks those who attack it.

Fear in Gaza

In an excellent if overdue piece in the March 14 Age, Jason Koutsoukis described the Hamas abduction, torture and killing of a Gazan Fatah supporter. He continued, “His fate is a chilling example of the terror inflicted on dissenters who have lived under the Hamas regime in Gaza since June 2007. ‘In 2007, the death toll of Palestinians killed by Fatah or Hamas exceeded for the first time the number of Palestinians killed in clashes with the Israeli occupation forces,’ said Hamdi Shaqqura from the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. According to figures cited by Mr Shaqqura, 394 Palestinians were killed in clashes with the Israeli military and security forces in 2007, but at least 500 were killed by forces aligned with either Fatah or Hamas.”

Appalling Editorial

A March 13 Sydney Morning Herald editorial took issue with The AJN’s rejection of an advertisement promoting anti-Israel activist Jeffrey Halper “who campaigns against the bulldozing of Palestinian homes” and the decision of the Emanuel Synagogue to cancel a talk by him there. If Halper campaigned only against the bulldozing, there may have been no problem, but he campaigns against Israel’s continuing existence. To the Herald however, the AJN’s aversion to Jews who use their Judaism to bash Israel may be because “criticism that can’t be shrugged off as ill-informed or anti-Semitic is harder to answer.” They don’t explain why they are so sure someone can’t hate or be ill-informed about their own people. Have they forgotten Germaine Greer? They also don’t explain why they feel the AJN or Emanuel Synagogue should be forced to alienate their own constituencies. Instead, they endorse failed nominee for Chairman of the US National Intellignce Council Chas Freeman’s claims that he was brought undone by an indecent and dishonourable campaign by the “Israel lobby”. In fact, Freeman’s main problem was that he was justifiably seen as too close to Saudi Arabia and especially China, having recently been in the pay of both.