A Journalist’s Blind Hatred of Israel

Fairfax Media’s Chief Political Correspondent Mark Kenny’s opinion piece “The West’s blind support for Israel has done it no favours” appears in both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The word “blind” in the headline is an apt description of Kenny’s views when it comes to Israel.

He begins:

Descending east from Jerusalem into the Rift Valley, the landscape turns decidedly hostile, and that’s just the start of it.

 

The Number 1 freeway first arcs up from the Holy City’s eastern flank towards the Mount of Olives before cutting underneath the world heritage site to emerge in what quickly becomes another country, a different land.

Except that the Number 1 freeway doesn’t cut “underneath the world heritage site” that is the Mount of Olives. Any look at a map will show that the road tunnels underneath Mount Scopus.  There simply is no tunnel underneath the Mount of Olives. A glaring error in his first paragraph is not an auspicious start and in this case, presenting Israel as somehow violating a world heritage site is a portent of the anti-Israel agit-prop to come.

Kenny moves on to the Bedouins:

And lower down, perched awkwardly in the dry treeless gullies closer to the highway, there are Bedouins. Their ad hoc micro-settlements are untidy off-grid affairs. Illegal shanty towns of tin and tarps, marking out these itinerants as the most dispossessed of the 2.9 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

 

In one such community, just 20 minutes from First World Jerusalem, a mud-brick school clings to a hillside.

 

Its defiantly permanent adobe structures use solar panels for electricity, fake grass for play areas, and rely on donated equipment, most notably from Italy.

 

But even that international recognition has not protected the tiny school from capricious treatment. A community leader displays a children’s swing now reduced to a useless frame after its moving parts were allegedly confiscated because the concrete footings had breached the rules.

Mark Kenny

Exactly how are these Bedouins “the most dispossessed” of the Palestinians? It’s quite the opposite. The Bedouins in the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem have set up what Kenny himself describes as “illegal shanty towns” without any form of planning permission on land in Area C that is under full Israeli control as defined in the Oslo Accords.

Bedouins have expressly chosen to live in places devoid of any basic infrastructure and to create facts on the ground that press the buttons of European officials, blinkered journalists and workers for non-governmental organizations. This is being carried out by Palestinians precisely in order to create facts on the ground that would prevent Israel from potentially developing the area.

Kenny continues:

It is an example of the countless small ways in which officialdom makes life difficult for non-Jewish persons in the hope that they simply give up.

And this is the crux of Kenny’s polemic – that how Israel treats Palestinians or even non-Jews is driven by racism. As he says:

A place where rights are dependent on race and religion. Where uniformed Israelis young enough to use acne cream stroll absent-mindedly through shopping malls and bus stations, machine guns dangling from their shoulders.

The image is meant to portray Israel as a military society. That young Israelis serve in the IDF is a direct result of the security threats that Israel faces. And while Kenny pays lip service to Palestinian terror, the onus is still on Israel as if the terror merely provides an excuse for Israeli behavior:

Where Palestinian suicide bombings, murderous drive-throughs and random stabbings create a siege mentality, licensing the constant ratcheting up of the existential threat and thus the further militarisation of Israel itself.

As for freedom of movement:

Where traffic snarls last for hours at check-points policing internal borders.

 

Where even professional Palestinians, academics with PhDs, or top-level business people are required to queue up for monthly permits simply in order to move between cities or attend work.

Checkpoint traffic is certainly not snarled for hours as Israeli journalist Ami Horowitz found out for himself when he went on a “road trip.” (See video below.) In fact, it is usually extremely efficient during times of relative quiet.

 

 

Kenny doesn’t say where these professional Palestinians are trying to travel to. Within the West Bank itself, Palestinians are free to travel between their cities and to their jobs. The only reason for applying for a permit would be to enter Israel. They are not being prevented from moving between their own cities.

Kenny then makes a wholly distorted claim:

It is astounding that in the decades since enlightened governments celebrated the removal of that abomination against humanity, the Berlin Wall, Israel has been furiously building walls similar in appearance and function to the partitioning of Germany.

The Berlin Wall was built to keep in a captive population by an authoritarian regime with the intent to partition the German city. Israel’s security barrier, of which some 95 percent is a chain-link fence and not a wall, was built to keep out Palestinian terrorists from carrying out suicide bombings and other attacks during the so-called Second Intifada. It was built to protect Israeli lives not to imprison a population. Kenny’s comparison is inaccurate and offensive.

Kenny claims:

The comprehensiveness of Israel’s suppression of the local population is staggering. Yet it occasions little serious study from governments like Australia’s, which has succumbed to the self-serving binary that there are only two critiques of Israel: unqualified support or anti-semitism.

This is nonsense. Nobody credible claims that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Equally, it is very difficult to find any other state that has lent unqualified support for Israel, even among friends such as Australia or the United States. Criticizing Israel is perfectly legitimate and even its own citizens spend plenty of time doing just that.

If Kenny detects a “self-serving binary,” it is the one created by critiques such as his that are driven by innate hostility and a willful blindness when it comes to Israel.

STEREOTYPING JEWS

It’s not only Mark Kenny who sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in black and white terms. The cartoon by Matt Davidson that accompanies his piece is also highly problematic, drawing upon a clear stereotype to create an image of an Israeli Jew. In fact, ultra-Orthodox Jews, as depicted in this image make up a minority of the Jewish population of the state.

 

 

Please send your considered comments to the Sydney Morning Herald – readerlink@smh.com.au

 

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