Tanya Levin has a fair and simple plea to Israel’s Gaza conflict detractors – those screeching for fairness could include the Jewish people in their cries…
For an overgrown rum colony, Australians have a lot to say.
Australia is a nation of invaders, refugees and migrants that is just over 200 years old, without a culture of its own that the settlers can agree on. The dominant culture, “old whitey”, is actually proudest when it can trace its ancestry back to the great unwanted of 18th century London. Old whitey’s idea of historical culture is the invention of the Hills Hoist, televised cricket and the sisters Minogue.
Yet when it comes to international affairs, Australians have no hesitation in telling the rest of the world what to do.
Where exactly were we supposed to look while Campbell Newman told Russian President Putin that he was no longer welcome in Queensland? All I could imagine was a devastated Putin, while he ripped down his “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next Posters” and cried into his borscht.
But it seems Newman is not alone in his sense of superpower self importance.
Despite the Cronulla riots being the closest this island has got to an invasion, Australian social critics are experts in the Middle East conflict. They are willing to stand up and be counted over their unrelenting outrage over Gaza, a place with which they have no affiliation whatsoever. They know how Israel should respond to rocket fire. They know how to work with Hamas. Four thousand years of history is nothing to a well-read Aussie.
Arabs and Arabs? Meh, not so interesting. We’re not leaving the house for Syria.
The Sudan? Kinda old and boring.
Well, pack the kids some lunch and get to the nearest protest against Israel this weekend.
Here’s the part I find ironic, or just plain hypocritical. If this were an issue about Aboriginal people, we would respectfully step back and defer to key members of that community.
If this were about women, we would create a safe place for women to speak about it.
Yet, when it comes to Jews and/or Israel, all bets are off.
And any concern about anti-Jewish vilification is dismissed as overreaction.
Mike Carlton took it upon himself to explain last weekend.
Fascism in Israel? At this point the Australian Likudniks, as Bob Carr calls them, will be lunging for their keyboards. There will be the customary torrent of abusive emails calling me a Nazi, an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, an ignoramus. As usual they will demand my resignation, my sacking.
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.
If you will for a minute, imagine if these were terms applied to women or people of aboriginal background.
Imagine if Carlton had written –
Gay mafia? At this point the whole of Mardi Gras, and their mums, will be mincing over to their keyboards. There will be the customary torrent of abusive emails calling me a homophobe, a gay-basher, a privileged heterosexual, a bigot. Gay propaganda is subtle and skillfully put…
Twitter would explode. Carlton would be hung out to dry.
But, as I keep reading, if it doesn’t count with Jews because they’ve got all the power, then that’s what I call discrimination. Or dare I say, anti-Semitism and its perpetuation, subtle and skillfully put.
The touching argument made by “Australians Who Could Easily Replace the United Nations Because They Are So Smart” is that they care. They care about the terrible deaths that are taking place in Gaza. They care about the innocents being mistreated. They have to do something about it.
Ironically, less than a year ago Australia elected a fascist of their own, who is now ripping up their social fabric like old curtains, while the citizens post very angry statuses on Facebook before getting back to selecting their dinner menu.
How can these people who care so much about Palestine sleep while there are thousands dying in their own backyard? Do they not care that women’s refuges are being de-funded around the country and that the leading cause of death in this land for women under 45 is at the hands of their partner?
Surely these are innocents worth saving.
Is it not important that Aboriginal people in Australia are killing themselves at up to 100 times the rate of the general population? Before recklessly using words like ‘apartheid’ about other countries, what about the putrid racism that flourishes at home? Make no mistake, Australia oversees a fine legally binding apartheid of its own.
For the Jewish people of Australia, the misguided hatred is sad and it is frightening. We are Jews left mainly from the 20th Century and we know what anti-Semitism looks like. We do not need to argue it with you to know what we see. There are demonstrations around the world that start with pro-Palestine sentiments and culminate in pro-Hitler and anti-Jew chanting. We see it and it is familiar. It doesn’t take long for this to spread like wildfire. We are talking to each other and we are reading the reports. You see, this is not so far away. These are our friends, our families, our loved ones we are talking about. Not just a Twitpic that came up in our news feeds.
Most of all, we know a little more about the situation. We know the difference between being against the decisions Israel makes during war, and being against Israel.
So maybe those screeching for fairness could include the Jewish people in their cries.