Worst Encounter

Jamie Hyams


Australian Jewish News – 3 April 2009

Worst Encounter

The Radio National program “Encounter” dedicated its March 22 episode to Jews critical of Israel, scouring Australia and the globe for six of the most extreme. The first, Peter Slezak, a founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, claimed, “the Holocaust has been turned into a justification for creating a state that somehow asserts its rights over the indigenous people.” Then Sara Dowse ludicrously blamed supposed Israeli adherence to a minor stream of Israeli thought, revisionist Zionism, for the failure of the peace process. Probably the most extreme, which is a fair effort, was John Docker, who claimed that Jews around the world, “are beginning to think that Zionism in Israel is a terrible mistake,” and that Zionism will “be seen as a disastrous messianic moment.” He cited extremist and widely discredited historian Ilan Pappe to claim that the Zionist leadership in 1948 planned to drive out the Arab population. A fourth guest, Gabriel Piterberg, claimed the Palestinian/Israeli conflict “is a conflict between a national movement of settlers and a national movement of indigenous people” where there was a “major attempt by the settlers to ethnically cleanse the territory.”

Jumping to Conclusions

The March 26 panel of the ABC TV discussion show “Q & A”, was asked about reports of alleged Israeli atrocities in Gaza. Publisher Louise Adler just assumed the allegations were true, saying, “I think they’re devastating reports and they speak to the dehumanising kind of atmosphere that I think we get from years of occupation.” Columnist Andrew Bolt replied that “the test of a civil society is how they respond to [such allegations]….Israel is having an inquiry into this. There’s no inquiry into the other side. None. They shoot innocents as a matter of course.” He also pointed out, “there are so many allegations made against Israel and then treated as fact, like the Jenin massacre…the bombed ambulance…And again and again – the bombed school in the last offensive…And then we later find out the facts are slightly different. Let’s wait for the facts.” Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt also mentioned there was “no doubt that human shields have been used intentionally [by Hamas] to draw fire”.

Guy Squawks

Guy Rundle, who often writes for the Age, also was in no doubt about the Gaza allegations, concluding a March 26 Crikey piece with outrageous accusations: “With the latest revelations about war crimes in Gaza — deliberate shooting of civilians, white phosphorus use — the ‘invasion’ is acquiring the character of an experimental massacre. Israel’s leaders seem to have been intent on using the population for experimentation with new weapons.” He had taken a similarly jaundiced approach to Israel’s founding, asserting, “The Labour approach to Zionism was always somewhat self-deluding — Labour’s Haganah forces had been as heavily involved in the ethnic cleansing of 1948 as the terrorist groups who eventually became Likud, and Labour was instrumental in establishing the de facto apartheid that dominates Israeli Arab life.”