Israel's cheer squad (Part 2): Buying support and tyrannising opposition

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(Image via Facebook page 'I acknowledge apartheid exists')

Jewish communities’ self representation of omnipresent victimhood, in conjunction with faithful betrothal to a faithless Israel, is a latter day Greek tragedy, writes Dr Evan Jones.

Israel's cheer squad and Sydney University (Part Two)

Read Part One

Buying support and tyrannising opposition

TO THE know-nothing outsider, Israel appears transparently ‘on the nose’. Why the ongoing Occupation, brutal subjection of a people on the basis of a differential ethnicity? A denial, a re-fashioning, of the seemingly obvious becomes an imperative.

Enter the hasbara, of which Richard Kemp is a cog. To the propaganda machine is added the lobbying machine, of which Mr Kemp is again a cog. Verily, this dual mechanism is a wondrous beast to behold and a fearsome thing to experience.

The Israeli propaganda/lobbying machine buys individual politicians. We have, in various national political edifices, the peculiar phenomenon of a parliamentary ‘Friends of Israel’. What? Do we comparably have Friends of Great Britain, Friends of Saudi Arabia, Friends of North Korea?

The machine buys political Parties, it buys whole legislatures (vide the U.S. Congress). It buys countries (big countries to tyrannise and dismantle selective Middle Eastern neighbours, micro countries to supply scarce votes at the UN).

It tyrannises the editors and management of media outlets from whom it does not already have total support. A cowed press (Fairfax) gives ready access to perennially dissembling local warhorses like Colin Rubinstein and Vic Alhadeff to spin the hasbara equivalent of the moon being made of blue cheese.

It buys journalists, with the seeming indifference of the journalists’ employers and editors, with immediate profitable results. The Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue (sic) is representative of the charm process.

It buys business leaders. The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce despatched key Australian business leaders on a junket to Israel (Paddy Manning, Crikey, 29 July 2014) during its slaughter and destruction in Gaza in mid-2014. Nothing to do with us, said the executives.

The pro-Israel propaganda and public relations machine has even trashed the language itself, and its crucial role in facilitating shared meaning as the basis for functional social interaction. True, propaganda per se (elevated as an art form by both governments and corporate ne’er-do-wells during the 20th Century of war, cold war and corporate brigandry) distorts language and meaning as a matter of principle. Israel has taken the distortion to a new level. Black is redefined as white.

The Lancet falls foul of the lobby

Exemplary of the process, the machine has recently tyrannised, Richard Horton, the editor of respected medical journal The Lancet, and its publisher, for his having the temerity to publish the “Manduca” letter (23 July 2014) from 24 doctors regarding the medical catastrophe that is Gaza following perennial manifestations of Israel’s blood lust.

The tyranny is partially embodied in a petition to The Lancet’s publisher by almost 400 complainants.

The petition claims:

Under the direction of Horton, The Lancet has become a vehicle for publication of deliberately false material which deepens polarization between Israelis and Palestinians, and does nothing to promote either global health or the health involved in this conflict. …

The Manduca et al publication is thus a disgraceful paradigm of malignant wilful disregard of honest and ethical medical authorship and editorship.

This petition is a model of moral depravity. What happened to the Hippocratic oath? This despicable phenomenon is well covered at Middle East Monitor (15 October 2014) and Global Research (19 April 2015).

And the signatories? The list is half American and includes 23 from France and 14 Australians, of which six are from Sydney University.

Israelis constitute 91 of the signatories, including 43 from Technion (a mass signup, half of them non-medicos) and six from Hebrew University. Remarkably, one signatory is a former director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Jerusalem Mental Health Centre, Hebrew University. Two signatories are from the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto. Also on the list is a Professor of International Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University.

The Manduca letter notes:

'We all have worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years.'

By contrast, close to zero of the signatories of the anti-Lancet petition would ever have been in situ in devastated Gaza.

Related, Israel has attempted to deny entry to Gaza by the Norwegian Mads Gilbert, a Manduca letter signatory, for exercising his professional and moral prerogatives as a trauma surgeon.

Colonising academia

And the academy? Albeit not alone, the machine attempts to leverage an institution’s prestige/reputation for its own ends and its students as significant targets for socialisation. 

Simultaneously, the machine works assiduously to prevent adverse information and opinion from taking root in the hallowed halls of learning. Given Israel’s natural propensities, this is a hard ask. Hence the ferocity of the battle.

Detractors watch out. Norman Finkelstein was effectively sacked from Hunter College in 2001 and again from DePaul University in 2007. Tanya Reinhart had to exile herself from Israel in 2006. Ilan Pappé was forced to emigrate from Israel in 2008. Joel Kovel was sacked from Bard College in 2009. Steven Salaita was denied a promised appointment at the University of Illinois in 2014 for holding incorrect opinions. Jake Lynch is in illustrious company.

As for the access of Palestinian students to tertiary education (study overseas, Gaza-West Bank links), endless roadblocks prevail. And, in the preparation for Operation Protective Edge (sic) in mid-2014, the Israeli military ransacked Palestinian university campuses. An inferior race deserves an inferior education, if any. Educational institutions are a plaything for higher political ends.

The machine attempts to prevent the staging of meetings and conferences with a critical edge. The most recent instance is a conference at Southampton University, then planned for May 2015. French soil has a litany of instances of cancelled conferences/meetings that threaten critical perspectives on Israel (the proposed speakers more often than not being Jewish). A lecture to be given by Israeli academic Shlomo Sand (author of How I stopped being a Jew, etc.) planned at the Université de Nice Inter-Âge in November 2014 was cancelled.

Sometime scholar but latter day convert to zealotry, the American David Horowitz has established networks to root out “subversive” academics and, in particular, to emasculate any pro-Palestinian activity on campuses. Horowitz wants groups supportive of Palestinian rights to be stigmatised as “hate groups” and any university privileges removed. Yet this zealot possessed continues to invite himself on campuses to peddle fairy tales.

The New York Times itself, happy to brandish its appalling pro-Israel partisanry and cognisant of the crucial arena that is the university campus, weighs in against the horrors of anti-Israel sentiment therein.

Spear-headed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson and comparable parties, millions of dollars are being committed to combating pro-Palestinian activism on American campuses (and on making illegal BDS activities in general).

In late 2014, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students succeeded, on ludicrous grounds, in having a Monash University student group supportive of Palestinian rights deregistered.

In short, the academy must be colonised and its naysayers regarding the Israeli narrative must be silenced.

Jake Lynch remains a significant irritation. Thus we have the AUJS’ Julian Kowal claiming that

Professor Lynch had compromised the reputation of Sydney University as a "safe space for Jewish students" and should be sacked.

The AUJS organised a petition to have Lynch sacked 'after his continual harassment and intimidation of Jewish students' (sic). By the time it was closed off, it had attracted over 6,300 signatures.

The AUJS phenomenon is curious. We have a grouping whose dominant preoccupation appears to be to serve as flag-bearers for a foreign pariah state, one permanently engaged in criminality on a racist motif. Yet those on campuses who draw attention to this criminality are said to threaten AUJS members’ “Jewishness”.

During the Israeli massacres in Gaza, mid-2014, the AUJS’ political affairs director (sic) claimed:

“Jewish students have felt uncomfortable and alienated on campus this week due to the inflammatory activity of anti-Israel activists.”

What? The AUJS leadership apparently cannot confront the obvious — the greatest threat to their Jewishness is Israel itself. The scenario is redolent of the 1950s B-movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And this in an academic environment.

Presumably, AUJS won’t be satisfied until, as in much of the Jewish secondary system, Australia’s tertiary institutions have incorporated into their mastheads “a love of Israel”. Preferably in Latin to enhance the cachet? Sydney University is halfway there already — sidere obsequium idem mutato?

Diminishing and endangering Jewry itself

Probably of necessity, the hasbara machine attempts to appropriate Jewish identity in the interests of Israel. It desecrates hallowed symbols of the history of Jewish oppression by appropriating them for Israel’s raison d’état — notably the character and significance of anti-Semitism and of the Jewish holocaust.

Israel has nationalised the Jewish Holocaust. Yet it can’t even be bothered to treat with dignity the holocaust survivors who reside in Israel, as noted by Haaretz (11 April 2007 and 6 February 2013).

More, the actions of the Israeli state and its across-the-waters “representative” Jewish community supporters put Jewish Israelis and national Jewish communities at risk.

France as exemplar

The recent abominations in France are a terrible reflection of this phenomenon.

France’s Jewish umbrella organisation, the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France, and other Jewish organisations (save for the dissident Union Juive Française Pour la Paix) are foremost a lobby for Israel. It is a phenomenon neglected in Mark Dapin’s account of elements of the French Jewish community considering emigration, in Fairfax’s Good Weekend (25 April).

From Le Monde Diplomatique ('He who sows the wind reaps the tempest', 23 July 2014, in French):

How to imagine that the daily sight of women and children killed or wounded has no effect on the image that public opinion has of Jews? Certainly, it’s absurd to confound Israeli and Jew. But what is Benjamin Netanyahu doing when he repeats that Israel is ‘the state of the Jewish people’ and demands that it should be recognised as such?

This conflation is, alas, reinforced by the standpoint of CRIF. During every war driven by Israel, its sectarian directors have not only expressed unconditional support to the Israeli Prime Minister; they have also demanded that France do likewise. And they abandon themselves to their habitual blackmail, claiming as anti-Semitic anybody who opposes the massacre de jour and who defends the principle of human rights for Palestinians in Gaza.

CRIF harasses French governments over their domestic policies which, when implemented, communities of North African origin rightly see as preferential.

Government policy regarding freedom of speech is deeply hypocritical. The 2002 Lellouche Law is directed against racist (read anti-Semitic) speech. Yet it is being applied to curb anti-Israel agitation, that agitation attempting to counter Israel’s entrenched racism.

Simultaneously, a strategic push to nurture islamophobia in France has developed since the early 2000s, facilitated by the conventional wisdom on 9/11, and coincident with parallel developments in the US and elsewhere in Europe — see here (a poor translation, but the argument is transparent). The involvement of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in this push began under Philippe Val after 2003 and continues to this day. With a shocking dénouement.

CRIF also harasses governments to pursue foreign policies in Israel’s interests, with significant “success”.

France’s foreign policy, since President Chirac succumbed to US/CRIF pressure in mid 2003, has been supreme in its absence of principles (track the direction of its sales of armaments, Saudi Arabia at the forefront) and a monumental disaster. France’s lead role in the invasion of Libya, leading to the latter’s subsequent dismemberment and now fertile soil for jihadism, was a masterpiece in this genre. France has also supported jihadism in Syria as a means of destroying the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad. In the meantime, France’s mainstream media (and much of its non-mainstream media besides) is overwhelmingly partisan in its coverage.

It’s called blowback.

Perverted reasoning

But no. There is no relation between Israel’s pathological long term obliteration of Palestinian rights, coupled with its involvement in the undermining and destruction of neighbouring countries (vide the Yinon plan) in alliance with reactionary and satrap Arab states, and the rise in anti-Jewish incidents. The latter come out of nowhere, product presumably of a latent universal anti-Semitism ready to surge out, particularly in Islamic societies.

Bizarrely, we witness the true believers and associated political flunkeys claiming that to criticise Israel is to propagate an atmosphere conducive to heightened anti-Semitism. What?

Israel, on a daily basis, threatens, arrests and imprisons, kills with impunity, dismantles homes and destroys the economic livelihood of Palestinians. Criticism of such actions is conducive to anti-Semitism but the actions themselves are not.  Witness the perverted “reasoning” of Eylon Aslan-Levy (Guardian, 7 August 2014). France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has also come on board (Jerusalem Post, 20 July 2014).  

This peculiar vision of causation is of a calibre that produced the American anti-puritanical quip: “Why can’t Southern Baptists have sex standing up?”, but the reverse causal imputation with respect to anti-Semitism and Israel is not a joke.

Worse still, grotesque, this from Israel-occupied territory:

Bret Stephens, the [Murdoch-owned] Wall Street Journal columnist, says he was “almost grateful” for the attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris in January in which four Jews were killed because it demonstrated that Europe has a problem with anti-Semitism.

In this vortex of Jewish communities’ self representation of omnipresent victimhood, in conjunction with faithful betrothal to a faithless Israel, there is a latter day Greek tragedy.

But if anyone were to hazard a dramatic rendition, paying close attention to the plot, they would probably be accused, as in the case of the opera The Death of Klinghoffer, of fostering anti-Semitism.

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