Michael Easson’s article in Friday’s (June 3) Pearls & Irritations warrants a response. Entitled “The ‘Israeli lobby’ mischaracterises the diverse Australian Jewish Community”, the piece attacks Bob Carr’s comments on the Israeli lobby in Australia in an earlier piece. Easson presents a litany of misleading concepts designed to do only one thing – pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian public.
A journal such as Pearls & Irritations must of course acknowledge that there will be legitimate differences of opinion on issues and give effect to such. In this instance, however, publishing Easson’s apologia for Israel is not helpful to anyone, including Jewish inhabitants in historical Palestine.
Easson repeats the oft stated falsehood that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is “extraordinarily complicated”. But what is complicated about the fact that for millennia, at least three millenniums, a people, now called Palestinians, have lived on the land. For a short time in that millennia, members of a particular religion, Judaism, lived there as well. The followers of that religion largely left the land and became Europeans. Now they want to return to the land – after all, God gave it to them. The result is that the Palestinians must leave.
There is nothing complicated about the conditions of Palestinian life in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, or refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Those conditions are highlighted by dispossession by ever-expanding settlements, the forced eviction of Palestinians, and demolition of their homes, and the incessant murder of Palestinian children, and, as recently occurred, of Palestinian journalists. Whatever act of resistance, if any, the children might be engaged in, they certainly do not present as a direct threat to the lives of, or serious injury to, the Israeli soldiers involved.
As for journalists, Israeli forces have followed up the murder of Al Jazeera correspondent, Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, with the shooting dead of a second Palestinian female journalist Ghufran Warasneh, 31, at the entrance to a refugee camp north of Hebron in the West Bank. This second shooting occurred on 1 June. In both instances Israeli forces attacked the funeral processions which followed.
There is nothing complicated in these truths, i.e. Israel’s excessive use of force, and ‘shoot-to-kill policy’ against Palestinians.
Nor is there anything complicated about the maintenance of an apartheid state. There can be no argument about this state of affairs. Within a matter of months the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, the New York based Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International all made that judgment. Indeed, very recently, a former Israeli attorney-general, Michael Ben-Yair, made that same judgement on his own country.
Easson alludes to the Australian Jewish Community’s support over ‘many years’ of a two-state solution. He says nothing of the fact that such ‘support’ has produced nothing, and today, the Israeli government swears that the Palestinians will never have a State. Isn’t it time for that sop to be recognised for what it is and has been, a mechanism to hold back action and allow sufficient time for the ethnic cleansing to continue.
In similar vein we have the assertion that the Australian Jewish community seeks to ensure that the State of Israel “continues to exist in peace and security”. What does ‘in peace’ mean in the face of a Palestinian people struggling for freedom and self-determination in the face of Israeli state violence against it? How is ‘peace’ contemplated when the Jewish far-right – in power in the country through control of the Knesset – says that it cannot arrive at any peace with the Palestinians which would give any land to the Palestinians because it is impossible to give away something which God has given to you! Oh, and by the way, God gave the Jewish people a whole lot more land than the present Israel, West Bank and Gaza – God also gave the Jewish people a large swathe of Egypt, all of Jordan, and much of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. When will this ‘peace’ come? Presumably when all of this land is under the control and occupation of the Jewish people. One thing is certain. ‘Peace’ will not come by increasing pressure on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount from fanatical Jewish settlers, supported by the Israeli government, the IDF, and the police forces.
Then we find Easson suggesting that Australian political parties are opposed to the BDS campaign, and that Anthony Albanese is in lock step with the Jewish community in its rejection of the claim of apartheid, BDS, and in his adoption of the IHRA ‘working definition of antisemitism’, i.e. the definition which treats anti-Zionism, along with much, if not most, criticism of Israel, as antisemitic. He, Easson, seeks to enlist Penny Wong to these views. There is a deal of wishful thinking, however, in his assertions.
There is no doubt that Albanese and the Labor Party took a non-controversial approach on this, as on many other issues, pre-election. On the issue of Israel-Palestine one can well understand why, having seen what happened to the Labour Party in the United Kingdom when Jeremy Corbyn sought to advance the cause of the Palestinians.
Now, however, both he, the Prime Minister, Albanese, and Penny Wong must act upon the clear determination of the Labor rank and file in recent national conferences of the ALP, the most recent being in March 2021. They must proceed immediately to the recognition of the State of Palestine on pre-’67 borders. In doing so they will join the vast majority of the World community and they will be doing what is right. Failure to do so will see a continuing desertion of Labor voters to the Greens and Teals.