The Good, the Bad, the Very Ugly

Jamie Hyams

Australian Jewish News – 23 January 2009

The Good

In the January 16 Australian Barry Rubin explained that the real Middle East conflict is now between the radical Islamists and more moderate Arab nationalists. He explained, “Helping Hamas would empower radical Islamism and Iranian ambitions and undercut the Palestinian Authority and everyone else, not just Israel.”

Sydney Morning Herald writer Paul Sheehan, on January 12, noted, “Because the existence of Israel radiates an affront to the Muslim world, only Palestinians have been sequestered from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to a special agency. That agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, has warehoused displaced Palestinians for decades because it has been in the interests of the Arab world for this problem not to be solved.” In the January 14 Canberra Times, in an exception to that paper’s generally woeful coverage, Alan Dershowitz inveighed against Hamas’ “win-win tactic of firing rockets at Israeli civilians while using Palestinian civilians as human shields” and gave examples of this “double war crime tactic”.

The Bad

In a typically ill-conceived article in the January 16 Age, Malcolm Fraser complained that Israel’s military action “would have been condemned worldwide if it had been undertaken by any other country.” As if any other country would have been expected to put up with eight years of rockets. He attributed the reluctance of governments to criticise Israel to fear of being condemned as antisemitic, rather than an understanding of its need for self-defence. He also claimed there would be no peace unless Israel talks to Hamas, preferring to ignore that Hamas has no interest in peace. In the January 13 Age Randa Abdel-Fattah urged Israel be boycotted until it “respect[s] human rights and democratic principles”, ironic given that Israel is the only Middle East state that does so. She excused Hamas rockets by saying the occupation came first, ignoring Israel’s offers of a Palestinian state, and the 2005 Gaza withdrawal.

The Very Ugly

In a truly disgusting piece in the Business section of the January 17 Age, for which the paper subsequently apologised, Michael Backman ludicrously claimed that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is “at the nub” of the 9/11, Bali and London terror attacks and solely responsible for Muslim enmity for Israel. He also blamed Israel’s supposed persecution of the Palestinians for the rockets. He attacked Israelis’ general behaviour, concluding they should be more like India’s Parsees, who “are a very tiny, very rich ethnic and religious minority” who are admired and respected because, “they are not flashy or arrogant. Their overriding characteristic is a deep interest in the welfare of others.” Of course, the comparison between the Parsees an ethnic minority, and Israel, a country, makes no sense. However, an analogy with Jewish communities in Western countries would.

Along the same lines, Bob Ellis, in the January 15 Canberra Times, ranted about Israel’s supposed crimes which he attributed to “the doctrine of Israeli exceptionalism, I guess: ‘No rules of the known world apply to us, the Chosen People’.”