Willy Bach (NSW) comments on Stuart Rees’ article “Palestine Matters, not Gillard-Rudd soapies”, The Drum, 7Mar12 March 7, 2012

ABC-The Drum: “Palestine Matters not Gillard-Rudd soapies” by Stuart Rees, 6 March 2012

Stuart Rees has taken an approach in this article in which he names individual people and gives readers a look at their lives and the misery externally inflicted upon them. He very rightly begs the question to every reader; would this be acceptable to you? If we did not know the names of the victims, we would only concern ourselves with how many there were. That is fundamental to the propaganda model. They are no longer people, just numbers. Evidently, personalising is the only way to reach the dormant empathy that is somewhere within each of us. It is us and the societies we live in that are problematic. We are schooled to think only of ourselves, our selfish wants and concerns; and to think of other people in distant places as being different, not quite human and not like us. The truth is that they are more like us than they are different. We need to remember this.

Were the Palestinian people ‘invented’? Only someone with the callous cruelty and intellectual dishonesty of Newt Gingrich could pose this question. However, the denial of human personhood that Gingrich expresses is a rich vein of venom that runs through much of the discourse about Palestinians. It can be found in the pledges given by Barack Obama, who chillingly promised to remain in lock-step with Netanyahu.  Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd both express this in their statements. So passionately have they harnessed their minds to support of the Israeli state and anything whatsoever that government does, they have made themselves incapable of seeing human tragedies with names and children staring them in the face.

A rational approach is one thing, but a cold heart is another. Callous disregard is qualitatively different from dispassionate engagement. It is the wilful adherence to a security discourse that only interrogates the security of the state apparatus whilst ignoring what UNDP has defined as the human security, the personal safety and wellbeing of normal human beings. This callousness is an unconscionable denial of human-ness. This same distortion has been applied to the war on terror, or war of terror to be more precise. It has also infected the discourse of all of the nations that support Israel as well as the Israeli government’s own discourse.

Nations that are the Israeli state’s closest friends are led by the USA, with a yearly donation of lethal weapons to the value of US$3.5 billion; Britain is next, another intelligence sharer, arms supplier and military collaborator. Somewhere after Britain we find Australia, which mimics the behaviour of other nations rather than think out its position from first principles. All these allies are either present or past imperial nations and/or settler societies that see their support for Israeli annexations as being in harmony with their own national narratives. Australians who have not yet acknowledged the theft of this country from Aboriginal peoples may wish to bury that story in their support for Israeli settlements.   Just Google the word Nakba and you can ignore Gingrich. Regrettably, our Murdoch-dominated media never gives voice to the many Israeli citizens who disagree with the way in which their government behaves. We only hear from the mendacious robot, Mark Regev and his tramline thinking.

Pseudo historical discussion of the British Mandate of Palestine, whilst ignoring the fact that the nation state was an invention of nineteenth century Western Europe is just a distraction. Palestinians have very early photographic and documentary evidence of thriving mercantile civilisation and agriculture as well as governance and culture. Israeli building demolitions and destruction of cultural property has not quite succeeded in erasing this evidence. They have mainly succeeded in their delegitimising of Palestinians with the concurrence of the friends mentioned here. It is us, our passivity, and our empathy-deficient uncaring that all wed this to happen. Our media can fixate on a trivial stoush between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd while we ignore real hardship and suffering. It is academic to postulate which came first, the mirror or the originator. I am with Stuart Rees here. Palestine matters. Australian soapies do not.

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