Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Ghazi Hamad is a spokesperson for the Hamas-led Palestinian government. This week, the Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam published an article he wrote in which he condemned the internal violence enveloping Palestinian society today.

Hamad questioned whether this violence has become a "Palestinian disease". His comments were quoted in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper - HAMAS SPOKESMAN QUESTIONS IF VIOLENCE IS PALESTINIAN 'DISEASE' and included the question whether violence "has become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh?" He concluded that his people had surrendered to violence to such an extent that it has smothered Palestinian society whole.

My reading of the article brought to mind the comments of an Australian author of Lebanese descent, Carmen Callil in a paragraph of the postscript to her new book, Bad Faith, about a Vichy official Louis Darquier, who arranged the deportation of thousands of Jews during the Second World War.

Callil claims she grew anxious while researching the "helpless terror of the Jews of France" to see "what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the Palestinian people. Like the rest of humanity, the Jews of Israel 'forget' the Palestinians. Everyone forgets."

Given what Hamad says about violence in Palestinan culture, must we be forced to endure such claptrap?

The London Guardian and Melbourne Age apparently believe that we must.

Last week the Age reproduced this piece of drivel from the Guardian's Ed Pilkington [AUTHOR SHUNNED FOR ISRAEL CRITICISM] reporting on the controversy arising from the cancellation by the French Embassy of a party in Ms. Callil's honour when the above paragraph was brought to its attention.

Pilkington claims that the cancellation caused a storm over the issue of "freedom of speech” suggesting there are forces at work out to douse criticism of the modern state of Israel. He also cites the cancellation of a forthcoming talk by Jewish author Tony Judt by the Polish Embassy after apparent pressure from the "pro-Israel lobby".

The claim is made that the issue in both instances is a simple one - the supressing of criticism of Israel. However, Judt is not just a critic of Israel. According to a paper published in 2003, he called for the dismantling of Jewish state dismantled and its replacement by a one-state solution as the method of resolving its conflict with the Palestinians. His solution involved the Jews of Israel putting their faith in the "international community" to ensure their safety in the event that others who might be suffering from a "culture of violence" harboured any sinister designs on them.

To the extent that this matter is a dispute about freedom of speech I agree with New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier who disagrees with Judt's opinions but agrees that he "has every right to express his contemptible views."

The same applies to the obnoxious comments made by Ms. Callil. She's free to publish her book, to make hateful and untruthful comments about what the Jews are doing to defend themselves from what Mr. Hamad calls "a culture of violence" and even to make the ludicrous suggestion that the Palestinians are "forgotten" by the world.

But this is not about freedom of speech or the freedom of people to criticise Israel. That sort of thing and more, goes on daily in the pages of the Guardian and the Age.

No, this is about something entirely different. It's about the right of people not to accept or tolerate deception.

I don't always agree with the French but their New York Embassy has every right to disassociate itself from sentiments that are deeply offensive. Ms. Callil's statement is more than just contemptible: it demonstrates a total avoidance of reality. To invoke the Holocaust and to make the comparison between the genocide perpetrated on European Jewry as a parallel to the unfortunate situation of the Palestinians is an ugly and obscene misrepresentation.

Callil compounds this obscenity with a further lie by claiming that "…like the rest of humanity, the Jews of Israel 'forget' the Palestinians. Everyone forgets."

Callil expects us to believe that the Palestinians have been forgotten by everyone and the Guardian and the Melbourne Age expect their readers to swallow this garbage?

Come now!

I googled "Guardian" and "Palestine" and came up with 4,240,000 entries in 0.07 seconds. It took a fraction longer than that to uncover 742,000 entries for the Melbourne Age. If that's what we call "forgetting" then what does "remembering" mean?

There must however, be some truth in the "forgotten" Palestinian angle.

Despite its almost daily coverage of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, much of which is devoted to items critical of Israel, the Melbourne Age continues to forget Palestinians like Ghazi Hamad.

This is most regrettable because the views he expressed about a Palestinian "culture of violence" might go some way to clarifying why their ongoing conflict with Israel has produced so much death and suffering on both sides.

There are other things that the Age "forgets" which might assist our understanding of the situation.

Forgotten are the daily attacks by Palestinians on Israeli civilian communities by quasam rockets, by bombings, by gunfire, by knifings.

Forgotten is the current build up of tonnes of weaponry under the control of Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups.

Forgotten are the countless number of planned murderous attacks by Palestinians which are foiled by the Israeli Army, also on a daily basis.

Forgotten is the continued belligerence of Hamas' Khalid Mashaal who sits in Damascus and dictates the insane policy of the Palestinian government which refuses to recognise Israel and refuses to disarm the Palestinian terrorist groups as required by the international community under previously recognised peace agreements.

Forgotten is the fact that the international community that does nothing to enforce the disarming of Palestinian armed groups is the same "international community" which Tony Judt insists will safeguard the Jews in his utopian one state solution.

Forgotten are Palestinians like parliamentarian Maryam Farhat who sends her children off as suicide bombers and wishes that more of them would do the same.

There's another thing that the Guardian and the Melbourne Age seem to have forgotten in the context of Ms. Callil's postcript about the Jews, the Holocaust and the Palestinians. The only threats of genocide made in the context of the current conflict are those contained in the formal charters of the Palestinian armed groups and they are made against "Jews" (not "zionists" but "Jews"). Included among those that make such threats is the charter of Hamas, the party that was voted into power by the Palestinians earlier this year.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg but at least, for the benefit of Carmen Callil, it can truthfully be said that, the Melbourne Age has managed to forget some, if not all, Palestinians.

FOOTNOTE: I am informed that when asked in an interview on Israeli radio about violence against Jews, Hamad replied that he "approved of it". This comes from a moderate voice of the Hamas government who speaks of walking and sitting in peace and having "a dialogue in peace". However, he applies such concepts only to inter-Palestinian violence and he has no vision or desire to promote peaceful co-existence with his peoples' neighbours. Instead he is happy to consign his own people and their neighbours to many more years of "helpless terror".

Ah well, let's just forget the whole thing, shall we?


Anonymous said...

How many times have we heard the claim made that the Palestinians have been forgetten or that their cause is suppressed in the media by the workings of some sinister Jewish lobby.

It's time for the Age to cut the crap. The Palestinians are so over-exposed that it doesn't matter. Their cause doesn't register with many people because we're used to the BS. They and their sympathizers should stop crying wolf and try to get down to the task of making peace for a change. They would be a lot better off for it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. The concept of the "forgotten Palestinians" is a myth pushed by Israel bashers.

It was interesting that the Age failed to highlight the fact of Callil's Arab background isn't it?

That usually shouldn't make difference but in the context of the subject matter it definitely does.