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Assaulting Gaza by land, air and sea, Israel has destroyed homes and reduced entire city blocks to rubble. It has attacked schools, mosques and hospitals. Tens of thousands of people have fled, although there is nowhere safe for them to go in this wretched strip of land just 40 kilometres long and about 10 kilometres wide. There are desperate shortages of food and water, of medical and surgical supplies.
In an open letter to US President Barack Obama, Dr Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon working at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, writes of “the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans. Humans!
“Ashy grey faces – Oh no! Not one more load of tens of maimed and bleeding. We still have lakes of blood on the floor in the emergency room, piles of dripping, blood-soaked bandages to clear out … the cleaners, everywhere, swiftly shovelling the blood and discarded tissues, hair, clothes, cannulas – the leftovers from death – all taken away… to be prepared again, to be repeated all over.”
The onslaught is indiscriminate and unrelenting, with but one possible conclusion: Israel is not fighting the terrorists of Hamas. In defiance of the laws of war and the norms of civilised behaviour, it is waging its own war of terror on the entire Gaza population of about 1.7 million people. Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs.
Yes, Hamas is also trying to kill Israeli civilians, with a barrage of rockets and guerilla border attacks. It, too, is guilty of terror and grave war crimes. But Israeli citizens and their homes and towns have been effectively shielded by the nation’s Iron Dome defence system, and so far only three of its civilians have died in this latest conflict. The Israeli response has been out of all proportion, a monstrous distortion of the much-vaunted right of self defence.
It is a breathtaking irony that these atrocities can be committed by a people with a proud liberal tradition of scholarship and culture, who hold the Warsaw Ghetto and the six million dead of the Holocaust at the centre of their race memory. But this is a new and brutal Israel dominated by the hardline, right-wing Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition. As one observer puts it: “All the seeds of the incitement of the past few years, all the nationalistic, racist legislation and the incendiary propaganda, the scare campaigns and the subversion of democracy by the right-wing camp – all these have borne fruit, and that fruit is rank and rotten. The nationalist right has now sunk to a new level, with almost the whole country following in its wake. The word ‘fascism’, which I try to use as little as possible, finally has its deserved place in the Israeli political discourse.”
Israeli propaganda is subtle and skillfully put. “If Israel were to lay down its arms tomorrow, she would be destroyed; but if Hamas were to lay down their arms, there would be peace,” goes the line, parroted endlessly
But in all these long and agonising decades, Israel has never offered the Palestinians a just and equitable peace. They would have only a splintered, vassal state, their polity and economy and even their borders and freedom of travel and trade managed and determined by Israel. The occupation of Palestinian lands would remain with the relentless expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.
As the Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi put it this week in a television interview with the Australian journalist Hamish Macdonald: “No nation can accept being imprisoned, being besieged by land, by air, by sea and deprived of the most basic requirements of a decent life: freedom of movement, clean water. For seven years they have been under a brutal and lethal Israeli siege … You shell them and you bomb them; you destroy homes, you destroy whole neighbourhoods. You obliterate, annihilate, whole families, and then you come and say that this is self defence?”
This piece, was accompanied by the following antisemitic cartoon, leading the Australian Jewish News to call on its readers to boycott Fairfax media.
The Sydney Morning Herald apologized for the cartoon. Kind of.
The cartoon showed an elderly man, with a large nose, sitting alone, with a remote control device in his hand, overseeing explosions in Gaza. The armchair in which he was sitting was emblazoned with the Star of David, and the man was wearing a kippah, a religious skullcap. A strong view was expressed that the cartoon, by Glen Le Lievre, closely resembled illustrations that had circulated in Nazi Germany. These are menacing cartoons that continue to haunt and traumatise generations of Jewish people.
In addressing individual and community concern after the publication of the cartoon on July 26, the Herald looked to the fact that Mr Le Lievre’s distinctive drawing style routinely sees old people depicted with large noses and pronounced facial features. It is the way he draws and his visual archive, dating back many years, confirms this.
It was also significant that the cartoon had its genesis in news photographs of men seated in chairs and lounges, observing the shelling of Gaza from the hills of Sderot. One of those photos depicted an old man, wearing a kippah, reclining casually as part of a group – with Mr Le Lievre seeing comparisons between this and someone watching their television; hence the remote control. Another photo portrayed a lone man on a large couch – and thus the cartoon blended these two images.
The Herald deeply regretted the upset the image had caused, but felt – not least because the cartoonist lacked any intent and that actual photographs influenced the setting and physical depiction of the character in the cartoon – that no racial vilification had occurred.
However, this newspaper accepts that this position was too simplistic and ignored the use of religious symbols
But back to Carlton, who naturally denies being antisemitic, and even has a derivation of the much loved “Some of my best friends..” defense:
The accusations of anti-Semitism are getting a bit tedious. My much-loved son-in-law is actually Jewish. Sorry for that inconvenient truth..
— Mike Carlton (@MikeCarlton01) August 4, 2014
Otherwise known as the Waters Defense.
Perhaps, then, Carlton would like to explain this, in particular his last mail to the reader.
On 27 Jul 2014, at 11:40 pm, Yury Glikin wrote:
It is most likely that you will not reply to this email, which is fine. I suppose engaging in lengthy discourse with you will be pointless as you seem to favour incendiary and grandiose statements, after which you retreat in order to hide behind a generic email address, a twitter handle and, I surmise, some sense of achievement (although I am not too sure of what exactly).
As a man who has been a journalist for decades, to publish an article like the one you did on Saturday about Israel means one of 2 things. You either genuinely believe what you say, which means your understanding of history of the region is sadly lacking. To say things like Israel has never offered the Palestinians a state of their own for example, is such a gross misrepresentation of facts that it really doesn’t deserve further comment. There are so many factually incorrect statements, that it becomes more or less irrelevant, like something one would read on TMZ or a similarly banal and pointless publication.
It may be argued that your commentary is deeply steeped in anti Semitism or general racism, but of course you know this and revel in the attention these statements get .. perhaps a slightly sad attempt of a journalist who was once relevant, to remain so by using inflammatory rhetoric.
Alternatively, you don’t believe what you say, and you write what you write because Fairfax knows that it generates eyeballs and feeds the needs if its (mostly) liberal reader base. Fair enough, we all need to make a buck. But if this is the case, then you have already sold out. I am sure you convince yourself that having 85% of the people respond to your column with positive feedback, gives you some sort of victory. I assure you, it’s a pyrrhic one at best, because your credibility as a journalist, someone that people should listen to, is already dead.
I have no desire to call you names or threaten you, as this feeds your ego and helps you to validate what you do. I also am not misguided enough to say stupid stuff like “we’re the chosen people, deal with it”, as this no doubt gives you some macabre pleasure and allows you to reinforce your belief into you own perceived self-importance.
Sadly, SMH will no doubt continue to give you voice in order to help sell page banner impressions. But I am comfortable knowing that Israel will endure many people like you and will continue, whereas you are already immaterial …. but what’s best of all is that deep inside, just before you fall asleep at night … I know that you already know this.
On 28 Jul 2014, at 5:45, Mike Carlton wrote:
How arrogant and foolish you are.
Sent from my iPad
On 28 Jul 2014, at 6:56 am, Yury Glikin wrote:
But I’ll take that any day over being a sad and irrelevant old man, full of hate and bile.
From: Mike Carlton
Date: 28 July 2014 7:17:21 AEST
To: Yury Glikin
Subject: Re: Irrelevant
You’re the one full of hate and bile, sunshine. The classic example of the Jewish bigot. Now f..k off.
Sent from my iPad