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SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).

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Canberra's Upside-Down View of Bethlehem
December 5th, 2008 by Syd Walker


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And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

–  W.B. Yeats The Second Coming, 1919

The Israeli Apartheid Wall at Bethlehem

Australia has more sheep than any other country on earth. Nearly 20 million of us are bipedal.

Several hundred two-legged Australian sheep, with better superannuation packages than most, meet regularly in Parliament House in Canberra. Today they are all off for well-earned holidays. Another session of the Australian Parliament is coming to an end. It’s time for the Christmas break!

Another session is closing, in which the tragic and deepening plight of the Palestinians has not been seriously discussed. Indeed, it has barely been mentioned at all. As usual.

When Members conclude their business later today, exchanging pleasantries about Christmas goodwill in the improbable setting of a sweltering Canberra summer, the odds are nobody will mention the walled-in residents of Bethlehem or the shivering masses of Gaza.

Many of our elected politicians pray from the Christian Bible, but no-one will utter a word about the beleaguered Christians in the Holy Land. No-one will demand an end to the very un-Christian siege of those parts of Palestine not already under the thumb of the Israeli military or their collaborators. No one will say: enough!

End the Siege of Gazas - a Protest by Orthodox JewsWhy is this?

Are the people in Australia’s Parliament completely ignorant about these matters? Are they cruel? Do they share the view of many Israelis that Palestinians are less than human? Is Evil now Canberra’s official religion?

Not really. Most Australian politicians, while they may well have a streak of ruthlessness, would never personally condone utterly bestial treatment of their fellow human beings. There is no support for setting up walled enclaves within Australia to restrict the free movement of our ‘second class humans’. No-one in the Australian Parliament speaks in favour of establishing an apartheid system that carries out blatant war crimes. No-one openly advocates the deliberate mass torture of an occupied, imprisoned people.

They don’t need to. They only need to avoid the topic entirely. Or, if they do mention the Middle East, all they need do is repeat platitudes that they’ve heard repeated before by other conformists. It’s OK to ‘call for peace’. It’s OK to demand an ‘end to terror’ as a precursor to a ‘just and lasting peace’. It’s OK (just about OK) to call for Israeli restraint – as long as such a call is ‘balanced’ by an equal and opposite appeal to the Palestinians to cease all armed resistance (which must be called ‘terrorism’, incidentally). It’s OK to say ‘Happy Christmas!’ and head home for a turkey dinner.

Palestinian Woman at Gunpoint while children shelter behind herPalestinian Woman at Gunpoint while children shelter behind herAustralia’s mainstream media effectively sets the terms of the national discourse. That’s why our national ‘debate’ about the Middle East so closely parallels the equivalent in other ‘western’ countries. A similar system of control operates there too, whether one looks at Canada or Britain, France, Germany or the USA. There are minor differences of course – just as there are moves to ‘harmonize standards’. But the same basic principles apply.

Politicians recite the lines expected of them on this highly ‘sensitive’ issue. If they ever buck the trend and speak outside the script, they can expect punishment. Just as juicy carrots are available for willing conformists, there are plenty of sticks for recalcitrant types. But like any effective system of social control, it’s rare that sticks need be used. For the most part, conformism alone does the trick. The egregious bias of Australia’ body politic in favour of Israel’s 60+ year record of cruelty, bullying, militarism, war mongering and deception is achieved by self-censorship within Australian political circles. Not a word in anger need be said to keep these people in line. They do it all by themselves.

Over time, there have been a few honorable exceptions to the rule.

Tim FisherFormer National Party Leader Tim Fisher deserves a notable mention. After leaving office, he even had the guts to write about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in a major Australian Newspaper. His article was published (it would have been hard for the mass media to completely reject such a clear, well-argued and interesting contribution by a former Deputy Prime Minister). So it was published, then comprehensively ignored. A few days later, most Australians would never have known that the article ever appeared. That’s a shame, because Fisher’s eye-opening story put a whole different slant on the ‘plucky little Israel’ legend.

One paragraph from his article is worth repeating – and committing to memory.

“The two key issues arising from this are still relevant today. If Israel did deliberately attack the most powerful nation on Earth, it knows it can do so and get away with murder. Worse still, US military personnel now know that if the truth is politically inconvenient, they and their legacy are expendable.”

Julia IrwinLabor MP Julia Irwin is another courageous politician with the courage to speak up for the Palestines from time to time. One might take issue with the extent to which she pushes the Palestinian case. Everything she says is laced with qualifications. Unlike the pro-Israel Lobby, which is strident and unapologetic in its advocacy, Julia feels required to justify each counter-comment and incessantly clarifies that she is not biased and only seeks justice. But the fact she bucks the trend at all is praiseworthy. It is so very rare. In a paddock of black sheep, the occasional off-white specimen stands out. Interestingly, while Irvin has copped attacks over this, her political sky has not fallen in – not yet, anyway.

So what is wrong with all the rest of our politicians? What’s wrong, for that matter, with the Australian public that we tolerate such a disgusting and inhuman Middle Eastern policy? Why can’t we speak out? Why can’t our voices heard? Why can’t we get the ugly Zionist bias in Australia’s foreign policy changed?

The answer lies partly in established trend. If 99% of one’s colleagues have jet black coats, who wants to admit to feeling even slightly grey?

Another partial explanation is the existence of rather vicious Zionist ‘sheep dogs’. Any politician who plucks up courage and decides to join the tiny band – anyone who dare on occasion speak truth about Palestine – will be ‘noticed’. They can anticipate a little harassment. If they persist, they can expect a lot of harassment. The same thing happens to fringe media that stray from The Faith. They get intimidated. See for instance ‘Has Webdiary been Threatened by Zionists or Not

The brilliant Israeli political commentator Israel Shamir devoted an essay to this phenomenon, which he calls ‘The Swarm’. Shamir describes how maddending clouds of gnat-like critics beset even luminaries such as former US President Carter, a man who dare (as a longstanding advocate of Middle Eastern peace) to criticize Israel rather too sharply for neocon tastes.

This Zionist attack pattern is common. It operates here too. It’s no big secret how it works. An impassioned and very well-organized Israel Lobby, operating within Australia, howls like jackals if a politician speaks out of line on issue of core concern. This pressure from below dovetails perfectly with conformism and control from the top. It completes the loop and effectively kills debate.

Opposing pressure from the grass roots can and does emerge. One might think it could be effective too? Certainly, it should have the potential to serve as a counter-balance to rampant Zionist bias.

After all, there are a lot of ordinary Australians who, despite persistent mass media bias, are both concerned and angry about Palestine. There’s a small but significant Muslim population. Some Australians are émigrés from Arab countries. How come all these voices seem to count for naught? Collectively, they are numerous. And after all, while many Jewish Australians support AIJAC‘s one-eyed Zionist bigotry, many do not. In any case, Australia’s Jewish population is tiny – less than 2% of the total.

Palestinian Resistance - the Eternal Flame of HopeSo why can’t Australians – and Australian politicians – speak up clearly for Palestine? Why can’t we stand up for the oppressed and dispossessed? Why can’t we change our national Middle Eastern policy so it is, at the very minimum, fair and balanced?

It’s a good question. Any number of excuses can be used to explain why. A number were suggested above.

But beneath all the excuses and analysis lurks a stark truth. It’s a truth that has been rediscovered throughout history, in different locations and circumstances, involving very different players. It’s an answer that entrenched power fears, because of its simplicity and potency. It’s an answer that’s likely to be misrepresented by any means available. That means it may well be misrepresented as hatred, bias, terrorism, support for terrorism, support for the supporters of terrorism – any old line will do, really.

It’s an answer that cleaves the impenetrable tangle of uncertainty, fear and moral paralysis, like Alexander cut the Gordian knot with a clean sweep of his sword.

It’s the answer you may not wish to hear – because it involves you too. Just three words:

“Yes We Can!”

Discussion of how Australians may be able to liberate ourselves from an alien ideology that warps our foreign policy – making it seem that Australians truly side with wall-builders, aerial bombers and all-round serial oppressors – is a topic for another article.

The first step is to correct our vision.

We need to look beyond the merried-up legend and see Bethlehem as it really is, c. Christmas time 2008. A walled ghetto for impoverished second class citizens. The utterly ugly visage of a brutal supremacist fantasy. The ultimate insult to the spirit of peace and liberation, in a severed land we still call holy.

This ‘blood-dimmed tide‘ is no Act of God. It is the handiwork of men and women. Like any ideological fabrication, it can be demystified, defeated and superceded.


No Responses  
  • Jinjirrie writes:
    December 6th, 200810:20 amat

    Last month Australia caused big waves by voting in the UN for two resolutions the Zionist lobby predictably found ‘anti-Israel’.

    “Australia supported a resolution calling on Israel to stop establishing settlements in the Palestinian territories and a resolution calling for the Geneva Conventions to apply in the Palestinian territories.” http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/rudd-breaks-with-howard-on-israel/2008/11/09/1226165386581.html

    After a flurry of lobbying from the usual quarters, Australia has kowtowed and followed the morally bankrupt current US line in the UN since to the letter. Obama’s Palestinian ‘friend’ Khalidi said recently:

    “This situation is linked to the problematic notion that it is acceptable to create a U.S. Middle East policy which caters to Israel – and specifically to the Israeli right – and to the concerns of powerful forces like the Israel lobby that are allied to the Israeli right, but hardly at all to Arab- and Muslim-Americans. Such a policy is based on the opinions, ‘expertise’ and allegiances of Washington insiders who are not knowledgeable about all the complex realities of the region, and are mainly sensitive to Israeli concerns. Just as an Obama administration aspires to reflect the entire country in all its diversity, so should its Middle East policy-making reflect a comprehensive set of interests and concerns, and not just one narrow range of them.”

    He points to part of the solution – activism by Jewish groups against the occupation and destructive right wing Israeli policies:

    “They appear to have begun to make some headway. They need to convince American politicians, Democrats in particular, that where Israel and Palestine are concerned, leaders of the main institutions of the American Jewish establishment, notably AIPAC, do not represent the views of the majority of the American Jewish community. In fact, the hawkish views of most of these leaders are far closer to those of the 24 percent of that community who voted for McCain than they are to the 76 percent who voted for Obama.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1043689.html

    Americans and Australians might consider that a continuation of the 60 year occupation, war crimes and alienation of rights perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people does NOT serve their political interests. The major beneficiaries of current policy are a very well-organised, extreme, self-interested Zionist minority, and opportunistic terrorists beyond the occupied territories, whose raison d’etre is amplified by blatant, hideous injustice.

      

  • Jinjirrie writes:
    December 6th, 200810:20 amat

    Last month Australia caused big waves by voting in the UN for two resolutions the Zionist lobby predictably found ‘anti-Israel’.

    “Australia supported a resolution calling on Israel to stop establishing settlements in the Palestinian territories and a resolution calling for the Geneva Conventions to apply in the Palestinian territories.” http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/rudd-breaks-with-howard-on-israel/2008/11/09/1226165386581.html

    After a flurry of lobbying from the usual quarters, Australia has kowtowed and followed the morally bankrupt current US line in the UN since to the letter. Obama’s Palestinian ‘friend’ Khalidi said recently:

    “This situation is linked to the problematic notion that it is acceptable to create a U.S. Middle East policy which caters to Israel – and specifically to the Israeli right – and to the concerns of powerful forces like the Israel lobby that are allied to the Israeli right, but hardly at all to Arab- and Muslim-Americans. Such a policy is based on the opinions, ‘expertise’ and allegiances of Washington insiders who are not knowledgeable about all the complex realities of the region, and are mainly sensitive to Israeli concerns. Just as an Obama administration aspires to reflect the entire country in all its diversity, so should its Middle East policy-making reflect a comprehensive set of interests and concerns, and not just one narrow range of them.”

    He points to part of the solution – activism by Jewish groups against the occupation and destructive right wing Israeli policies:

    “They appear to have begun to make some headway. They need to convince American politicians, Democrats in particular, that where Israel and Palestine are concerned, leaders of the main institutions of the American Jewish establishment, notably AIPAC, do not represent the views of the majority of the American Jewish community. In fact, the hawkish views of most of these leaders are far closer to those of the 24 percent of that community who voted for McCain than they are to the 76 percent who voted for Obama.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1043689.html

    Americans and Australians might consider that a continuation of the 60 year occupation, war crimes and alienation of rights perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people does NOT serve their political interests. The major beneficiaries of current policy are a very well-organised, extreme, self-interested Zionist minority, and opportunistic terrorists beyond the occupied territories, whose raison d’etre is amplified by blatant, hideous injustice.

      

  • Mark writes:
    December 6th, 20082:48 amat

    I share your disgust and resignation about this issue, Syd.

    Unlike other humanitarian disasters around the globe like Zimbabwe, this pathetic situation has been going far longer than any other unresolved humanitarian issue. So much for Australia claiming to be the country of a fair go, or having Christian morals or ethics.

    To our politicians, except for rare examples like Tim Fischer and Julia Irwin, I say for shame. To Christians for shame as well.

      

  • Mark writes:
    December 6th, 20082:48 amat

    I share your disgust and resignation about this issue, Syd.

    Unlike other humanitarian disasters around the globe like Zimbabwe, this pathetic situation has been going far longer than any other unresolved humanitarian issue. So much for Australia claiming to be the country of a fair go, or having Christian morals or ethics.

    To our politicians, except for rare examples like Tim Fischer and Julia Irwin, I say for shame. To Christians for shame as well.

      


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