By Jeremy Salt
Israel’s shocking war on Gaza has done more than any of its previous onslaughts to shake loose the stranglehold its lobbyists have exerted over the mainstream media. Criticism that would never have been countenanced before is now seeing the light of day. For those who watch its atrocious behavior, the Zionist settler state has gone too far since the day it was born but now it has gone too far even for those whose interest in the Middle East is peripheral. The killing of Palestinians day after day, the deliberate targeting of children, the obliteration of entire families, the joyous reaction of Israelis watching the missiles fall and the hatred coursing through the veins of Israeli society bear witness to a sick state born of a sick ideology.
By continuing its barbaric onslaught Israel is telling the world that it does not care what the world thinks. But then it never has cared. It lives in a world of its own, bound by rules which the rest of the world regards not as rules of any kind but violations of law and morality. Its so-called ‘defense forces’ have always killed infinitely more civilians than they have ever killed soldiers. All its wars have been wars of aggression and opportunity and the present onslaught on Gaza is no exception. Netanyahu wanted to destroy the Hamas-Fatah unity government and the kidnapping and murder of three settler youths (following the murder of two Palestinian youths by an Israeli sniper) was the pretext he used. Even the Israeli police have admitted that Hamas had nothing to do with the killing of the three settlers. In the meantime nearly 2000 Palestinians have been killed in what is not in any sense a war but a cowardly assault on one of the most vulnerable people in the world by one of the most advanced militaries in the world.
Mike Carlton, a columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote that this is a ‘new and brutal Israel’ but he was wrong. This was the same old Israel doing what it has done over the past seven decades. Had the mainstream media ever had the courage to report the Palestinian-Israeli conflict accurately readers would have been prepared for the horrors they have been seeing for the past three weeks. There is absolutely nothing new in the current onslaught. Israel has massacred children before, bombed schools before, bombed hospitals and ambulances before, and wiped out entire families before. It has brought down entire apartment buildings on the heads of their sleeping residents before. All of this its propagandists justify by Israel’s need to ‘defend’ itself.
The column by Mike Carlton was headed ‘Israel’s rank and rotten fruit is being called fascism’. He quoted the Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert on the shocking scenes he had witnessed in Gaza. Carlton’s conclusions were striking only in the context of a media which habitually refuses to call a spade a spade when it comes to Israel. Carlton called it for what it is. Israel was waging a war of terror on Gaza: ‘call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing the aim is to kill Arabs’. Well, more precisely, Palestinians as by their very presence on the land they have been the core enemy from the beginning.
The more extreme of the extreme amongst the Zionists say out loud that the Palestinians have to be wiped out or at the very least driven into Sinai. Moshe Feiglin, the deputy of what the Zionist occupiers of Palestine call the ‘Knesset’, called for full military conquest of the Gaza strip and the expulsion of its inhabitants. They would be held in tent encampments along the Sinai border while their final destination was decided. Those who continued to resist would be ‘exterminated’. In the Times of Israel Yochanan Gordon poses the question of when (not if) genocide is permissible, coming out in favor of obliteration when that enemy is the Palestinian people. Ayelet Shaked writes on Facebook that all Palestinians are the enemy and must be wiped out: ‘Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants and their blood should be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go as should the physical houses in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise more little snakes are raised’. Again, there is nothing new in any of this hatred. Snakes, cockroaches in bottles and tumors are among the epithets that racist rabbis, generals and politicians were hurling at the Palestinians well before Ms Ayelet came along to add her poison to the brew.
Ms Ayelet’s Jewish Home Party wants Jewish law to prevail all over occupied Palestine. Her savagery and her party are the Jewish dopfelgangers of the genocidal fanatics now devastating Iraq and Syria in the name of the Islamic State. The day after this psychopathic woman posted her Facebook entry three young men with a similar mindset picked up one of the ‘snakes’, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a boy of 16 and poured petrol down his throat before setting fire to him, a crime driven by naked racist hatred.
Mike Carlton referred to the ‘breathtaking irony’ that the atrocities in Gaza ‘can be committed by a people with a proud liberal tradition of scholarship and history who hold the Warsaw Ghetto and the six million dead of the Holocaust at the center of the race [sic.] memory.’ But it is Jews as Jews who have a ‘proud liberal tradition of scholarship’ and not Jews as Zionists; it is not Jews as Jews who are committing these terrible crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza but Jews as Zionists; Jews like Ariel Sharon and the demented Menahim Begin; Jews like the rabbis who use the same racist and genocidal language as Ayelet Shaked; Jews like other members of the Knesset who share her views; and Jews like the three young men who turned Muhammad Abu Khdeir into a human bomb. In Israel and around the world, however, it is Jews as Jews who are increasingly appalled by what they are seeing and cutting themselves off from this state and its ideology.
Mike Carlton’s article was accompanied by a cartoon showing a Jewish man sitting in a garden chair emblazoned with the Star of David and pointing what appeared to be a remote control at the destruction of Gaza as if it were all happening on television. The man is wearing a skullcap and has been given a large nose. Apparently the cartoonist, Glen de Lievre, often gives his cartoon characters large noses: an even better known Australian cartoonist, Michael Leunig, does the same thing but the nose enabled Zionist lobbyists to raise the familiar accusations of anti-semitism. The murder of hundreds of children, the slaughter of entire extended families, the murder of boys on the beach by the gunner on an Israeli warship and bombing of hospitals, ambulances, schools and apartment blocks did not raise a quiver of outrage in their statements. All that outraged the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) was the nose.
Emily Gian, the Zionist Federation of Australia’s ‘director of media advocacy’, called the cartoon a ‘blood libel’. For two weeks Israel had been been raining death and destruction on the heads of completely defenseless men, women and children but for Emily Gian, Israel was not engaged in mass slaughter but ‘fighting on the battlefield and working assiduously to save the lives of its own and minimize damage to the others.’ As for sympathy, compassion and horror, the barbaric scenes coming out of Gaza were no more than a ‘public relations’ tool for Hamas.
The editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald, Darren Goodsir, began by defending his columnist and cartoonist but under pressure from the lobby and powerful political figures associated with it, including Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister for Communications, he soon caved in. The cartoon was the main problem: ‘we apologise: publishing the cartoon in its original form was wrong’. Apparently this would have meant removing anything that would have identified the man as Jewish, not just the enlarged nose but the kippah (skullcap) on his head and the Star of David on the back of his chair. In other words, removing all the elements in the cartoon that linked the attack on Gaza to Israel. The Herald initially felt that no racial vilification had occurred but now appreciated ‘that in using the Star of David and the kippah in the cartoon the newspaper inserted an inappropriate element of religion rather than nationhood and made serious error of judgment.’
As they did during the last (2008-9) onslaught on Gaza, the residents of towns on the other side of the fence cheered, clapped and danced on the hilltops as the missiles fell. They sat outside Sderot (built on stolen Palestinian land) enjoying the spectacle of the people they had displaced being obliterated in their homes. The photo of one person in particular gave Glen de Lievre the idea for his cartoon, which accurately depicted the mood of a large section of Israeli society. The Star of David is no longer just a symbol of a religion. It is the symbol of the state: it is emblazoned on the wings of the aircraft showering missiles on Gaza and on the fluttering pennants of Israeli tanks bombarding apartment houses and schools. What other symbol of the state would the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald have had his cartoonist use?
The Herald finished up apologizing for any distress caused to those outraged by the shape of a nose and not the slaughter of close to 2000 people by the Israeli military. Bluster designed to shift attention from the main event comes from the Zionist lobby every time Israel commits a new atrocity and it worked again. The curious part is why Mr. Goodsir responded as he did. He might have told his callers they needed to get their priorities straight. He might have told them to bugger off as an exasperated editor might eventually tell any crank caller who refuses to shut up. But he apologized for the offence of drawing attention in a cartoon to Israeli savagery rather than face up to being called an anti-semite. This was the fate of Mr Carlton – as he expected – and would have been the fate of Mr Goodsir had he not grovelled. The tail end to this story is that Mr Carlton resigned on being told he was being suspended for using ‘inappropriate language’ when responding to hate mail from Jewish readers. They called him Nazi scum and a Jew-hating racist and he told them to fuck off. This is inappropriate?
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission purport to speak for Jews when ‘defending’ Israel. Undoubtedly they do speak for some Jews: Jews incapable of seeing Palestinians as equal human beings; Jews dancing with delight as the missiles and tank shells are poured down on the heads of the men, women and children of Gaza; Jews unmoved by the horrifying scenes coming out of Gaza; Jews who blame anyone but Israel for the atrocities this state has never stopped committing since the day of its birth; Jews who fill the social media with their hatred of Arabs; Jews who want Gaza retaken and the Palestinians driven into Sinai; Jews who support this latest barbaric attempt to drive Gaza back to the stone age. The ECAJ and the ADC have been hiding their Zionism behind Judaism for decades. They are not defending ‘Jewish values’ when they defend Israel. They are defending Zionism and the behavior of a state that lives in standing violation of ethics, law and morality.
In Australia and around the world Jews are turning their backs on a racist settler state which dares to speak in their name. But there is no point in wasting any more words on Israel and its shrill apologists: after nearly seven decades of seeing what we are seeing yet again, they have to be written off as being beyond redemption. Let them proceed on the path they have chosen until it reaches its bitter end.
– Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.