February 29, 2012

Wednesday Wisdom

 If you have to watch every word you say, you’re not going to get much said.
 Lucy Van Pelt (Peanuts)

For anyone pondering the puzzles presented by the comments on this Wednesday Wisdom, below, the post that WebDiary refused to publish, from Geoffff, and subsequent banning of Israel / Zionist / anti-Semitic topics on WebDiary. 

Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism

Perhaps as late as 1947 opposition to Zionism could not be characterised as necessarily antisemitic. In 2012 it most certainly is.

There are strong supporters of Israel, especially in the centre-left who will argue cogently that they are not Zionists. The argument is compelling if you were born after 1948 and therefore had no hand in the establishment of the state. The truth is that like Michael Lumish I have never thought of myself as a Zionist even though I have been a passionate supporter of Israel and everything it stands for since June 1967. Friday June 9 1967 at 6.00 pm AEST to be precise. Before then I was just a supporter.

It is only in the last few months that I have used the term and I reckon I have written in excess of 500 000 words about this and related matters in the last eight years on this blog alone. War and Peace is only 550 000 words.  I recall being called a Zionist many times. (well yeah ?...). There have  been a few commenters over the years who have demanded I 'fess up and admit it which I found amusing. It's not as if I'm an undercover Socialist Alliance member and unrehabilitated Stalinist in the Greens parliamentary wing, or something. I bet there are heaps of those in the branches. In NSW probably all of them; but I digress.

I think its time to reclaim the word Zionist, thoroughly demonised by the antisemitic left starting in 1967 on Kremlin orders, and I will explain why.

I didn't use the term not because I find it in the slightest way offensive, perhaps even a compliment, but because it struck me as inappropriate and even pretentious especially for an Australian born after the war. I took no part in the establishment of Israel. I am not even an Israeli citizen. Zionism was the collective name of the political movements among the Jews and others that had as their object the establishment of a Jewish homeland and state. After 1917 the British irrevocably committed the Zionist movement to what the British called Palestine, or at least part of it, as the place for the national homeland and which after all was the obvious place from the start. At the time it wasn't even under British control but that was very soon to change. There was a very big war going on and wars that big must be won. It is an excellent idea to win all wars, big or small, if your country has been dragged into one (like ours). Far better of course to avoid them in first place but the alternative to winning could be catastrophic. Full control by the British did not happen until the Ottoman Empire fell apart as a consequence of being on the losing side of World War 1 and British and French civil servants carved up the whole region between them over drinks.
There were no Arabs in Palestine at this time who thought of themselves as "Palestinians" but there were Jews and they formed what became the Jewish Legion. Note the name. The Zion Mule Corps. It was deployed at Gallipoli and probably would have supplied front line Diggers at one time or another. A number lost their lives of course. There would have been Jews among the Turkish troops too. There were many among the Germans.

Gallipoli was not the only place where Australian and Palestinian (that is Jewish) troops would have intermixed. There should be little sympathy for the British administration of  Palestine. They broke their promise to the Zionists and broke the terms of the League of Nations mandate and international law by not allowing the establishment of a Jewish state in even a tiny part of Palestine; and they committed other appalling mistakes such as blocking the immigration of Jewish refugees fleeing for their lives. They continued the illegal blockade even after the war. The British rule was cruel and stupid and run entirely in the interests of the British. In the event it disaffected both the Arabs and the Jews and lead to a brutal three way civil war that raged right up to May 1948  In the end the civil war was won decisively by the Yeshuv but it was a close run thing.  Everyone knows what would have happened had the Yeshuv  lost. This is history.  However those who denounce the British takeover of "Palestine" as "imperialism" should remember that Australians fought and died in those campaigns. This is not history. It seems that all you have to do to be an "imperialist" in some eyes is to win the war. It doesn't matter who started it.

"Unlike their counterparts in France and Belgium, the Australians in the Middle East fought a mobile war against the Ottoman Empire in conditions completely different from the mud and stagnation of the Western Front. The light horsemen and their mounts had to survive extreme heat, harsh terrain, and water shortages. Nevertheless, casualties were comparatively light, with 1,394 Australians killed or wounded in three years of war. This campaign began in 1916 with Australian troops participating in the defence of the Suez Canal and the allied reconquest of the Sinai peninsula. In the following year Australian and other allied troops advanced into Palestine and captured Gaza and Jerusalem; by 1918 they had occupied Lebanon and Syria. On 30 October 1918 Turkey sued for peace."
The point of all this is that on this view Zionism ceased to exist in May 1948 having finally achieved its purpose. It became history.  Anti-Zionism should also have become history. The term survives especially in the Diaspora because the Zionist bodies and groups have continued, indeed become even more vibrant, to accommodate those who support the state. Over the years they have been able to be of enormous benefit to Israel.

I throw in a little history because I know how much the progressive Israel bashing left and their Jew hating allies in totalitarian states like Saddam's Iraq,  Syria and Iran love history. That's always struck me as odd because anyone with any knowledge of history would know that the case for the Jewish state was always compelling, astonishingly successful and has been of tremendous benefit to the world. It could have been of tremendous benefit for the Palestinians and other Arabs too but for their spiteful mediaeval political cultures.  For many Palestinians and other Arabs it has been of tremendous benefit.

Why do they talk about history so much? There must be a point to it.

When they talk about history they don't mean true history. They mean their distorted, grievance laden and bizarre keyhole take on history that has little to do with facts and much to do with inciting naked hatred and fear in the street as a political tactic to grasp or keep power. That's what totalitarian states do. The Soviet Union especially under Stalin. Mao's China. Hitler's Germany. Pol Pot's regime. Saddam's Iraq. Nasser's Egypt. Iran since the revolution. Syria. They all do it. That's why the Israel bashing left includes so many open and undercover members of the Socialist Alliance and their allies. Even outright lifelong Stalinists. They want to do the same in Australia and the rest of the West and they think the militant Islamists and their genocidal policies will help.They could be right.

They are used to doing the bidding of foreign totalitarian states run by psychopaths and tyrants. They did it right to the end with Stalin and his successors who funded them until the end. They were his willing agents in his cold war against the liberal democracies.  Another group did the same for Mao. Hitler had his supporters and agents here even after the outbreak of war. Not just Nazis and fascists but communists and their allies, including "pacifists", who were deployed by Stalin to help Hitler. The communists did so much to sabotage the war effort they had to be suppressed under emergency regulations. The same happened in France and the UK. This continued right up until Hitler threw Operation Barbarossa at Stalin prompting the mother of all policy reverses. These are the same people who are now allied with totalitarian Islamist regimes including Hamas and Iran.

Why do you think they do that?
Could it be they hate their own societies more than they have any respect for any concept of others' human rights even while they suck liberties and material wealth undreamt of by the people they target?

Could it they just hate people?

Could it be they just hate Jews?

Is it some strange demented religion thing akin to the bizarre doomsday death cults that inform official ideology in Iran for example?

Is it just about power? 
Someone here suggested I could not see the forest for the trees and inferred my vision was blurred by the strength of my support for Israel. In fact the complete opposite is true as is usually the case with opponents of Israel. It is they who have an astonishing absence of any feel for historical context and a truly amazing ability to filter whole slabs of it out and replace it with myth if it doesn't fit the ideology. The years between say 1910 and 1950 were perhaps the most tumultuous in history. Revolutions that turned the lives of billions upside down. World wars. Invasions.  Genocide. The collapse of empires. Genocide again. The disappearance of countries by the score and the emergence or re-emergence of even more. Partitioning everywhere. India. Ireland. Africa. Lebanon and Syria. The Gulf. Virtually the entire Middle East come to think of it. Brutal civil wars as civil wars always are. Migration on a vast scale to countries like the US, Australia and Canada. The mass movement of whole populations, often expelled or fleeing wars, tyranny, persecution or man induced famines. It is well not to lose sight of what a tiny insignificant sideshow the saga of the Arabs and Jews in Palestine was in those years. Even 1948 and the nasty civil war that preceded it was little compared to what was going on in India or China, for example, at the same time. The progressive left has entirely lost it with this. They have selected Israel/Palestine out like a grain of sand picked with tweezers from a beach and magnified it with an optical telescope; and sometimes the result is so absurd it is comical.  If you took their and their allies narrative at face value you would think that not only was the accommodation of the Jews in their own restored homeland the greatest travesty in all of history but nothing else really happened.

Why do they do that do you think?

Its nearly sixty-five years since Israel was established and there's been an awful lot of Jewish and Arab blood shed since then. But that was hardly something new for either people and it has to be said in all frankness that there are many many more Arabs and Muslims who are killed by other Arabs and Muslims, often with particular brutality, than are killed by anyone else. There is a reason for this. It is because so many of their countries have been occupied by political cultures of one sort or another that spawn grievance building monstrosity killing machines like those that oppress the people of Syria and Iran and its colonies right now.

This has to be said. Since 1948 perhaps 15000 Palestinians have been killed in operations in which the IDF (or Jewish civilians) were involved. Not all of them were killed by the IDF. Almost certainly there have been more people killed in Syria in the last few months. This is a horrible calculus and a single violent death is terrible but it may bring some perspective to the scale of these things that the progressive left must ignore to hold an anti-Zionist position. Of those 15000 probably about 3000 were civilians, mainly in the intifadas. But perhaps upward of another 40 000 Palestinians were killed in operations in which the IDF had no involvement.  These were conflicts with other Arab factions and states and within the Palestinian factions themselves and it seems most of those casualties were civilians. In those years also more than 200 000 Muslims were killed in the Lebanon civil war. 400 000 Muslims were killed in the Afghanistan civil war prior to 2001.How many have lost their lives to the Islamic revolution in Iran and other revolutions is anybody's guess.  1 million in the Iran Iraq war. Ten of thousands of Muslims have been victims of Islamic terrorism, perhaps ten times as many as non-Muslims. Even Al Qai-da kills eight times as many Muslims as non-Muslims.

Who are the Islamophobes here?

Certainly being a Muslim is no shelter from other Muslims in that part of the world. Unless of course they happen to be Israeli citizens.

It is the Arabs who are the principal victims of their sick political cultures, one after the other, and compared to these casualties, especially civilian casualties,  the "Israel/Palestine" conflict is small beer indeed. Even the Arab/Israeli conflict as a whole is a sideshow.

Why do the progressive left pretend not to know that?

In those years since 1948 Israel has become one of the most successful nations on the planet. There is no question it has become the focal point of world Jewry. The 60% of Jews who live outside of Israel also live overwhelmingly in liberal democracies; and family and other connections are strong and getting stronger. The business network is perhaps only rivalled by the Chinese.  It's large Arab minority are far and away the most free in the Arab world. The economy is booming while most of the rest of the West is in deep recession. The country has turned itself into a global high-tech hub. All this has been achieved in what modestly could be called difficult circumstances.

The Israelis are proud of their state and what they have achieved and they have a right to be. This is natural and proper. Australians too are proud of their country I have noticed and they too have a right to be. Certainly I am. Of course both countries have social ills and other problems, sometimes grave, but in both enormous resources and intellect are poured into overcoming them. That too is something to be proud of. In a number of other countries the exact opposite happens. The resources and energy are poured into creating violent social divisions and hateful grievances. There is someone around here who has defined this achievement and pride as a kind of national narcissistic personality disorder  but he is an anti-Zionist and therefore has a special problem. Ulttimately he is an anti-Australian.

Michael Lumish's blog, Israel Thrives, has a list of taboo subjects among the US version of these leftists. Thing that should never be raised let alone discussed. With a little tweaking the same list would serve as what it takes to get your mind to the place of the modern Western anti-Zionist.
This is a (partial) list of taboo topics around I-P within progressive-left venues. You cannot discuss this material because it undermines the "Palestinian narrative" of perpetual victimhood. This narrative is a club used by the Arab and Muslim enemies of Israel, along with their western progressive allies, to delegitimize that country in preparation for its eventual dissolution.

1) The centuries of Jewish dhimmitude under the boot of Islamic imperialism.

2) The recent construction of Palestinian identity, its connection to Soviet Cold War politics, and how this is an Arab people with a Roman name that refers to Greeks.

3) Arab and Palestinian Koranically-based racism as the fundamental source of the conflict.

4) The ways in which contemporary progressive anti-Zionism serves as a cloak for gross anti-Semitism.

5) The Palestinian theft and appropriation of Jewish history.

6) "Pallywood."

7) The historical connections between the Nazis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Palestinian national movement.

8) The perpetual refusal of the Palestinian-Arabs to accept a state for themselves in peace next to the Jewish one.

9) The progressive portrayal of terrorists as those fighting a righteous war of "resistance."

10) The Arab-Palestinian indoctrination of children with Jew hatred.

11) Human rights violations against women and children in the Muslim Middle East.
To which I would add:

12) The robbing and expulsion of Jews from Arab lands and their refuge in Israel.

13) Muslims killing other Muslims in vastly greater numbers than they kill or are killed by non-Muslims; and the sick political cultures that spawn this.

14) The  tsunami of antisemitism in the West, and especially across Europe, and its connection to Muslim immigration.

15) The explosive resurgence of theological antisemitism in a form as virulent as that among Christians in the Dark Ages, and the rehabilitation of cultural antisemitism in popular entertainment.

16) The official abandonment of the two state solution by the Palestinians, and their allies and friend in the West, and its replacement with a policy that would see Israel reduced to a rump state without sovereignty over its borders or jurisdiction over its own population.

In the face of all this it seems to me it is time to declare as a Zionist and to define it. This is important because it also defines the anti-Zionist.

My sort of Zionist is a human rights activist who works for the protection of the most basic civil liberties and political rights of Israelis, men and women, and especially their right to live in a liberal democracy. Also for the basic rights of the Palestinians to be freed from the cages in the Arab countries where they have been kept on display like animals in a zoo for over sixty years. Peace and prosperity, and mutual recognition, through a two state solution in a firm economic alliance that bridges East and West to the betterment and progress of both. Freedom for all from antisemitism, bigotry, violent religious chauvinism and terrorism. . 

Above all Peace. Peace with a capital "P".

An anti-Zionist opposes all that.

February 27, 2012

Getting a grip on what just happened

Greg Sheridan puts our tawdry federal shenanigans into perspective:
If the Labor Party were not locked into a death spiral of spectacular savagery and pointlessness, it would today elect Kevin Rudd as leader. The public overwhelmingly favours Rudd. But the ALP is now like the East German Communist Party in the old Cold War joke -- it has lost confidence in the people and plans to dissolve them and form a new one.

I spend a certain amount of my life in countries where people go to jail, or risk their lives, for their politics. I am often amazed in such countries at the ability people have to forgive one another.

What we have in the Labor Party, in contrast, divided by no significant ideological or political principle, is a world-class ability to hate each other, to seethe with a rancour and bitterness that is demeaning to its practitioners, and to the rest of us who have to observe it. Those senior ministers who have gone into overkill to trash Rudd, their cabinet colleague and former leader, in an apparent attempt to destroy him forever, have damaged themselves and their party and the fabric of Australian politics. Nothing could further entrench cynicism about politics than the pettiness and bitterness of all this, and the momentary drawing back of the cloak of concealment to reveal the true state of the Gillard government.
His smaller points, about Gillard and Rudd, are redundant, but the rest is acutely damning - of the lot of them, and us, for putting up with it. 

February 26, 2012

Musical interlude

Michael Buble', embarrassing mother and son Sam

How can we bring on a double dissolution?

The only "people power" that matters (contrary to Kev Rudd's wishful thinking) is:  how the fuck can be bring on a double dissolution?

How can we, the people's people, force a general election for the upper and lower houses?

The alternative is to endure at least another 18 months, and as long as two years, of Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan, etc.

Do I need to spell out how tortured that will be, how hideously uninspiring, how psychologically and intellectually damaging for the entire country?

February 25, 2012

Best writing award

The recent outbreak of truthiness in federal politics has engendered some unusual loveliness in journalistic writing:
Kevin Rudd, conveniently in the air somewhere between Washington and damnation, had caused all the abomination by asking the one question guaranteed to drive a Labor MP witless these days: ''Wanna win an election against Tony Abbott?''

Given that none of them could keep a straight face while answering ''yes, and we're going to win with Julia Gillard!'' the faithful felt it necessary to announce a lynch gang would be waiting when Rudd descended and then set about whipping themselves into a murderous mood.

What if the caucus gets smart in 36 hours?

There’s a tiny chance, no more than a sliver, that the federal Australian Labor Party caucus will grow up  during the next 36 hours; develop some intellect and gather a back bone, with the outcome being that a handful of them step up to be in for the count on Monday morning.

Yes, that’s right:  offer the caucus a decent swag of alternatives so that none of them need make a decision to vote for Gillard or Rudd.  Bypass both of them, entirely.

Having found the courage to appoint a new leader – not the bland ‘safe hands’ of Smith – they should insist on dumping Swan as well. 

Hardly a clean sweep, but it would be a start on the tortured haul to the next election.  

Go ahead people, be brave.   

The future of your party - for an entire generation - and Australia's immediate  political future, depends on it.