According to the Sun-Herald of July 23, Australian journalists gathered “with uncommon enthusiasm” at Sydney's Quay restaurant last week to hear Hirsh Goodman's “Israeli take” on the current conflict in the Middle East.
Goodman, of the Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), told them that Tehran was pulling the strings of Hezbollah, who were visiting “another 9-11” on Israel.
Although both the Sydney Morning Herald (in a string of editorials from July 15-22) and The Australian have been dining out on Goodman's “Israeli take”, it was predictably only Murdoch's The Australian which pigged out on his 9-11 hype.
In a bizarre page-length editorial on July 22, which could have been written by Goodman himself, we were told that “In facing down Iran, Israel's cause is the cause of the whole world. The simple fact of the Israeli ideal, that Jews stand and fight, rather than appease their enemies, will always apply, even if it creates Armageddon in the Middle East.”
Armageddon no less! And this from a newspaper which, in an even more bizarre page-length editorial the day before, had the gall to attack redoubtable Israel critic, Antony Loewenstein, as emotional.
As always, to get a more nuanced understanding of events than the “Israeli take” endlessly regurgitated in the Australian press, one has to turn to the Internet, to commentary by veteran Israeli peacenik, Uri Avnery, for example.
Avnery, a relentless critic of the Israeli junk food industry, informs us that Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader “is far from being a marionette of Iran or Syria. He heads an authentic Lebanese movement, and calculates his own balance sheet of pros and cons. If he had been asked by Iran and or Syria to do something - for which there is no proof - and he saw that it was contrary to the aims of his movement, he would not have done it.”
Why then did he authorise the capture of two Israeli soldiers? For Avnery the timing was crucial:
Two weeks before, the Israeli army had started a war against the population of the Gaza Strip. There too, the pretext was provided by a guerrilla action in which an Israeli soldier was captured. The Israeli Government used the opportunity to destroy the newly elected Palestinian Government, dominated by Hamas ... One thing is clear: Nasrallah would not have started this vicious circle of violence if the Palestinians had not called for help. Either from cool calculation, or from true moral outrage, or from both - Nasrallah rushed to the rescue of beleaguered Palestine.
The pretext for Israel's war against the people of Lebanon was also provided by a guerrilla action in which Israeli soldiers were captured. Israel's take of course, dutifully reflected in our print media, is that, but for what it calls the “kidnapping” of its troops, all would today be quiet on its northern front.
Leaving aside the fact that kidnapping-hostage taking has long been an Israeli art form, with hundreds of Palestinian (and Lebanese) “suspects” taken from their homes and locked up without charge or trial over the years (occasioning not a flicker of interest from the Australian media), we get no sense from the Israeli take - or its echo in the Australian media - that there might have been far more to this than a mere case of provocation justifying an act of self-defence, that indeed such a provocation may have been just the kind of pretext Israel was looking for to wade into Lebanon.
Lebanon's naharnet.com quoted Jane's Foreign Report newsletter in 2002 as saying that “Israel had laid down plans for bombing every power plant in Beirut and forcing the Lebanese Government to hold its meetings under candlelight”. The same report also quoted a senior Israeli government official as saying that “the population of northern Israel from Kiryat Shmona to Haifa will be evacuated into underground bomb shelters for three to five days while the Israeli army would bomb Lebanon back to the Stone Age.”
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