Factual references to Palestine or Palestinians in the letters pages of the mainstream press inevitably elicit a fierce baying from a pack of dedicated Zionist media hounds.
Their latest hue and cry, in The Australian of January 4, was occasioned by a January 3 letter by Bob Birch (Smiths Lake, NSW) on the subject of David Hicks. Responding to a call by a previous letter writer (Henry Geelhoed, 29/12/07) for the cancellation of Hicks' (and anyone else's) citizenship for fighting other peoples' wars, Bob relevantly observed, "Curiously, he omits to mention those Australians of Jewish descent who have served in Israel's wars with its Arab neighbours, and who continue to serve in the Israel Defence Force's oppression of the indigenous inhabitants of Israel/Palestine."
Well, Bob's letter set off the pro-Israel pack something terrible. Leading the charge was Vic Alhadeff (CEO, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Darlinghurst NSW). Vic took umbrage at Bob's "swipe" at the IDF, which he defended as an outfit "obliged to respond to the ominous threat of terrorism [which it did] in accordance with international law." Well, no. Israeli human rights monitor, B'Tselem's 2002 report, Trigger Happy - Unjustified Gunfire and the IDF's Open-Fire Regulations during the al-Aqsa Intifada , for one, suggests otherwise.
Vic also took exception to Bob's reference to the Palestinians as the "indigenous inhabitants of Israel/Palestine." The real indigenes, he asserted, "are Jews; they have been there for 3800 years." Well, yes and no, Vic, the Devil is, as always, in the detail. Consider Palestinian scholar, Nur Masalha's reference to same: "[I]t would not be unreasonable to argue that the modern Palestinians are more likely to be the descendents of the ancient Israelites (and Canaanites) than Ashkenazi Jews, many of whom were European converts to Judaism. Certainly historically...many of the original Jewish inhabitants of ancient Palestine had remained in the country but had accepted Christianity and Islam many generations later." [The Bible & Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology & Post Colonialism in Palestine-Israel, Verso, 2007, p 253]
In any event, such 'We've been around longer than you lot' talk cannot gainsay the fact that the Palestinians, now a minority in Palestine-Israel, were there well before the Zionist colonial project, resulting in what is now Israel, expelled them beyond the borders of historic Palestine.
Peter Cohen (Ormond, Vic) was also there, snapping at Bob's heels, but to some comic effect: so outraged was Peter, as his fingers fairly flew over the keyboard, that he wrote, "Henry Geelhoed (29-30/12) tells us that Israel attacks the 'indigenous inhabitants' of Palestine," oblivious of the fact that it was really Bob Birch, not Henry Geelhoed (the gent to whom Bob had responded), who was his intended target. Alas, poor Henry. So reactive, so blood-to-the-head, are these Zionist attack dogs that collateral damage, a specialty of the trigger happy IDF, is bound to result.
Of course, for Peter, as for Vic, Palestine's "indigenous inhabitants" could only be Jews, or at least "the descendents of Jews whose families remained in Israel after the Roman revolt..." "The Roman revolt"? Goodness, more comedy? Surely he means the Jewish Revolt against the Romans (66-70 AD), the one that resulted in the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem.
Then there's his final paragraph: "And don't forget the half of Israel descended from nearly a million Jews who fled from other Arab lands, and the Christians, Baha'i and others who also found refuge in the democratic State of Israel." Peter's a laugh a minute. "A million Jews who fled...other Arab lands"? I dealt in my first post, below, with the issue of "Jews who fled Arab lands" - in reality Arab Jews, numbering some 500,000, who emigrated to Israel following Zionist efforts to uproot them. "Christians, Baha'i...who found refuge in...Israel"? God only knows what Christians he's on about, surely not indigenous Palestinian Christians? And as for Baha'is, www.bci.org/boise/persecut points out that some Baha'is were exiled in the 1860s to Ottoman Palestine, where their leader, Baha'u'llah, "established the world centers of the new religion in Akka and Haifa long before the establishment of the State of Israel."
Finally, the yappiest of them all: Michael Burd, without whose snarl no letters page of The Australian is complete. Michael asked Bob "to look at the world map and see all the conflicts involving David Hicks' mates: apart from Palestine, none has anything to do with Israel or the Jews."
Ah Michael, you really should pick up a copy of Israeli scholar, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, I.B. Tauris, 1988, p xii: "Mention any trouble spot in the Third World over the past 10 years, and, inevitably, you will find smiling Israeli officers and shiny Israeli weapons on the news pages. The images have become familiar: the Uzi submachine gun or the Galil assault rifle, with Israeli officers named Uzi and Galil, or Golan, for good measure. We have seen them in South Africa, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Namibia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Bolivia, and many other places from Seoul To Tegucigalpa, from Walvis bay to Guatemala City, from Taipei to Port-au-Prince, Israeli civilians and military men have been helping, in their own words, in 'the defence of the West'."
That was then. What about now? Here's just a glimpse:1) "...the leaders of the nationalist Hindu Indian People's party (BJP) decided in 1999, after a fresh wave of bloody clashes with Kashmiri guerillas.., to call on Israeli expertise to help quell the guerilla war in Kashmir...Israel is now India's second-largest arms supplier after Russia." [Sharon and Vajpayee see eye to eye in war on terror, The Guardian Weekly, 18/9/03] 2) "Israeli intelligence and military operatives were, by mid-2004, quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and...running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria. The Israeli operatives include members of the Mossad...who work under cover in Kurdistan as businessmen..." [Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh, Allen Lane, 2004, p 353] 3) "New allegations that Israeli arms dealers helped the army of Ivory Coast attack a French military base look likely to reignite long-tense relations between Israel and France." [Analysis: Israel hand seen in Ivorian clash, World Peace Herald, 17/11/04] 4) "Israel has passed Britain to become the world's fourth largest weapons exporter." [Defense Min: Israel now world's fourth largest weapons exporter, Haaretz, 9/12/07].