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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Selective memory

The Australian Jewish News editorialises on the significance of Australia Day:

"We Jews - whose narrative has so much in common with Aborigines in terms of our associations to land, history and memory - know more than most the meaning of dispossession and, if not stolen generations, then massacre and, yes, genocide. It is here that the proximity to Australia Day of the United Nations-sponsored International Holocaust Remembrance Day resonates loudly, without in any way comparing the tragedies that have befallen both peoples. And while we can be rightly proud of our outstanding achievements Down Under, it is the injustices that continue to prevail that we must urgently redress."

Jews have indeed suffer attempted genocide, discrimination and stereotyping over the centuries and our contribution to Australia has been significant, considering a relatively tiny population. Many have worked tirelessly for Aboriginal rights and the 1992 Mabo case was at least partly due to Jewish legal know-how (and moral certitude.)

The editorial, however, is dangerously selective when discussing "injustice." While ongoing support for the Aboriginal community is vital, equal effort is not being spent attempting to readdress another tragedy within the Jewish state itself. If an Aboriginal person is dispossessed and disadvantaged, which many certainly are, the Palestinian people are also in need of international support and solidarity. Indeed, it was the formation of the Jewish state in 1948 that directly caused the dispossession of untold Palestinians. This injustice is yet to be resolved.

If some Australian Jews care about refugees, Aboriginals and low-income earners, they should not forget about what their silence is condoning in Israel.

20 Comments:

Blogger happyrump said...

Very dangerous territory, Antony. The Arab and Muslim worlds contain human rights abuses of all stripes and flavours. Following your logic through, everytime an Arab/Muslim mentions Palestinian suffering he can be zinged with 'Ha! What about Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Senegal!" (and that's just the S's).

The Australian Jewish News was writing about Australia Day so it's totally understandable why its reference point would be Aborigines and not Palestinians.

This isn't the first time you've belittled good-deed Jews using this argument. You sneared at a Jewish hip-hop group because they themed their music with a non-Israel social justice issue.

Hey, why don't we all attack your writing for the issues you don't cover. Hey, Antony's writing about Gaza, what does this say about his silence on the Kurds?

Antony, when you use Jews standing up for Aborigines as a rationale for attacking Jews, you might want to take a walk in the fresh air and ponder on what you've become.

Friday, January 27, 2006 8:10:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

If I convert to Judaism, does that automatically make Israel my ancient homeland? Or do I need a DNA test?

Friday, January 27, 2006 9:02:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Just as redress to the Aboriginal community begins with the oppressors saying "sorry", so too does the redress of Palestinian oppression require the Israelis to say "sorry" to them, or to engage in repentance, as Solzhenitsyn called it.

Friday, January 27, 2006 9:13:00 pm  
Blogger Aaron Lane said...

Why do you say that Jews were the victims of "attempted" genocide? Because the entire Jewish race was not wiped out? Then you must, by logic, also be against referring to what happened to Aboriginal Australians as genocidal, as every single Aborigine was not eradicated, only a large number.

Friday, January 27, 2006 9:31:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

I think the comment is rather sanctimonius.....slimy. "We ...have so much in common with Aborigines....know more than most the meaning of dispossession .." Is this guy taking the piss?

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:11:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"We Jews - whose narrative has so much in common with Aborigines in terms of our associations to land, history and memory..."

Doesn't all of humanity have a "narrative" with essential assocations to "land, history and memory"?

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:35:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Fabulous point, happyrump.

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:51:00 pm  
Blogger RHRoss said...

It's political spin. By emphasising past dispossession.... what was it, a few thousand years ago, and only after those dispossessed, the Jews had dispossessed another nation, the Canaanites .....

And now, conveniently harking back to times so long ago they are not worth remembering .... just about everyone, everywhere, sometime has been dispossessed .... there is this attempt to 'link' Jews with Aborigines when in fact Jews are no longer dispossessed. They have a country. They just have to deal with the fact that they once again dispossessed someone else to get it.

Until Jews and Israelis deal with the fact that the State of Israel was created by committing yet more wrongs of dispossession they will not have true legality in any 'moral' sense.

People accept the Israeli State exists. Most would say only on original borders. Most would say that does not give Israel the right to commit human rights abuses against the people from whom the land was stolen.

Israel either gives back what it occupies and helps Palestinians to create a viable State of their own or Israel does what other colonising nations like Australia have done .... full rights as citizens to everyone living in Israel and Palestine.

Can't have it both ways. The tone of this piece from the Jewish News is yet more of the:'poor us,' look what happened to us, we are victims, feel sorry for us when in reality Israelis and Jews who support what Israel is doing are now the aggressors. It's been more than half a century since Jews were victims anywhere.

In that same time they have created new victims in the Palestinians.

We also conveniently forget that another people, without a land, were also the subject of Hitler's attempts at genocide: the gypsies. They still have no place to call home, they are still persecuted and abused throughout Europe and yet no-one seems to care about their story.

When you want to talk 'poor me' on a percentage basis the Nazis killed more gypsies than they did Jews.

Gypsies however seem to lack the entrenched victim mentality that Jews have.... no doubt because their culture is not sourced in religion ... they also lack the ego ... something else that Judaism encourages with the 'we are special,' chosen people approach .... which means in essence, 'we are better.' It's not the literal teaching from the religion but at the end of the day that's what 'chosen people' has come to mean to many Jews.

Disingenuous is the word that comes to mind when reading the editorial in the Jewish News.

But then the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Israel doesn't mention gypsies either. It's as if the only people the Nazis targeted were Jews. But it's all part of the Holocaust Industry.

It was interesting to see all the same but would have had more credibility if the Israelis had been able to extricate themselves from their ego-driven mentality and give some wall space to the others who were targeted by the Nazis.

The other interesting thing was pictures from the Warsaw ghetto showing well fed, and obviously wealthy Jews walking past the bodies of starving, dying Jews.

We are all as bad as each other and as good as each other. When we forget that we become the sort of monsters that the Nazis did.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 4:36:00 am  
Blogger Wilbourne said...

And why does being a Jew automatically mean an association with Israel. Can you not be Jewish, seperate and apart, without any concern for, or action against the state of Israel?

John Howard does many things in my name, but I'm not tarred with his brush. Yet, Jews must all be accountable for Israel, even if they have never been there or care to?

Saturday, January 28, 2006 9:44:00 am  
Blogger Glenn Condell said...

Non-sequitur harryrump.

Anthony points up the odd absence of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, even as an aside, in a Jewish opinion piece comparing the Jewish and Aboriginal experiences of 'dispossession' - a telling omission. It's as if this issue, perhaps the pre-eminent global political problem since WW2, doesn't exist. Unfortunately for the editor, but this studious ignoring of the elephant tends to highlight rather than obscure it.

Australians were guilty of Aboriginal dispossession and genocide and Germans were culpable for the Holocaust of the Jews. It takes chutzpah for a Jewish community organ to draw such comparisons without mentioning the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine.

And it makes nonsense of your attempt to distract and confuse the issue by dragging the Kurds into it. Typical tactic - someone mentions Palestine to a Jew who is using the Holocaust as the central support in a moral argument, and away they go 'why aren't you complaining about Darfur, where's your protest about Myanmar' etc. It's often a successful tack to take, but it's a pretty ignoble one.

A similar strategy is employed by Aaron Lane, who gets all huffy at an adjective in the hope that such confusing minutiae will keep the big game - Israel's illegal behaviour - safe from the threat of a few pointed comparisons.

'you might want to take a walk in the fresh air and ponder on what you've become'

At least he can draw comfort from the fact that, whatever he's become, he's not like you.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 11:37:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Excellent rebuttals Rh and Glenn.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 1:32:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"We Jews - whose narrative has so much in common with Aborigines in terms of our associations to land, history and memory - know more than most the meaning of dispossession and, if not stolen generations, then massacre and, yes, genocide."

The irony of course is that, contrary to the impression one might get from the article, Kooris gravitate toward the Islamic faith in part because they can identify with Muslims' experiences here:

"A small but growing number of young Aboriginal men are now turning to Islam, and it is now estimated there are 1,000 Aboriginal Muslims in Australia, including new recruits and descendants of mixed marriages.
...
Many [Koori] converts believe the discrimination they endured growing up as Aborigines has prepared them well for life as a Muslim in Australia." Source

Saturday, January 28, 2006 4:11:00 pm  
Blogger David said...

rhross:

So let me get this straight. On the one hand you are saying that the practice of forcible dispossession is the oldest game in the history books:

just about everyone, everywhere, sometime has been dispossessed

And let's not forget that the Arabs conquered the Holy Land by the sword during the 7th century, dispossessing the Byzantine Greek Christians.

So the question arises if the history pages are filled to the brim with episodes of one people being kicked out of a certain piece of land by another, why are you so exercised about this one particular instance out of many others? Even if I were to accept (and I certainly don't) your depiction of events as the premeditated eviction of the Arabs by the Jews, by your own admission this is quite a common occurance throughout history.

So why the obsession with the Jews? Why don't you get your knickers in a knot to the same extent about... say... the Indian wars in the US, or the Mongol invasions, or the British seizure of Australia or New Zealand, or the Arab conquest of Spain? In all these instances you had one people coming in and taking the land from others.

And, of course, there is your penchant for factual error. You claim that the:

Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Israel doesn't mention gypsies

Boy, you've been reading too much Norman Finkelstein. Pure and unadulterated drivel.

Both Yad Vashem (in Jerusalem) and the US Holocaust Museum in Washington make substantial reference to the Nazi persecution of the Roma (gypsies), homosexuals and political dissidents. There is also serious mention of the Nazi 'T-4' program in which the mentally ill/retarded were euthanised.

This is from the Yad Vashem website:

http://www1.yadvashem.org.il/search/index_search.html

Who were other victims of Nazism? How was their fate similar to and different from the fate of the Jews?

Numerous people fell victim to the Nazi regime for political, social, or racial reasons. Germans were among the first victims persecuted because of their political activities. Many died in concentration camps, but most were released after their spirit was broken. Germans who suffered from mental or physical handicaps were killed under a "euthanasia" program. Other Germans were incarcerated for being homosexuals, criminals, or nonconformists; these people, although treated brutally, were never slated for utter annihilation as were the Jews.

Roma and Sinti (often called by the derogatory term Gypsies) were murdered by the Nazis in large numbers. Estimates range from 200,000 to over 500,000 victims. Nazi policy toward Roma and Sinti was inconsistent. In Greater Germany, Roma and Sinti who had integrated into society were seen as socially dangerous and eventually were murdered, whereas in the occupied Soviet Union, Roma and Sinti who had integrated into society were not persecuted, but those who retained a nomadic lifestyle were put to death.


It will be interesting to see whather rhross has the balls to own up to his calumnous misstatement and beg the pardon of the readers of this thread. I'm betting that he doesn't

Sunday, January 29, 2006 1:12:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

To concur with Addamo_01 - RHRoss and Glenn Condell: ouch and double ouch!

Sunday, January 29, 2006 6:07:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

What's surprising is that it hasn't happened earlier. One constant with the European colonisers, the missionaries were in there first converting the heathens to Christianity.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 7:24:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

Edward Mariyani-Squire said...
" The irony of course is that, contrary to the impression one might get from the article, Kooris gravitate toward the Islamic faith in part because they can identify with Muslims' experiences here:"

And you know that they should have been converting to Judaism where they would be welcomed with open arms - being similarly dispossessed and all.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 12:00:00 pm  
Blogger Melanie said...

organge: "And you know that they should have been converting to Judaism where they would be welcomed with open arms - being similarly dispossessed and all. "
Sure they'd be welcomed if they wanted to do a the required couple years of studying Judaism beforehand.

And from the article edward linked to doesn't seem like the were all welcome with open arms into Islam: "The experience of indigenous converts is not always positive. Some have been ostracised by Aboriginal communities who see them as traitors. Others speak of racism within their adopted Muslim brotherhood."

Sunday, January 29, 2006 1:22:00 pm  
Blogger Melanie said...

edward"The irony of course is that, contrary to the impression one might get from the article, Kooris gravitate toward the Islamic faith in part because they can identify with Muslims' experiences here:"

Actually maybe because they were targetted by the Muslim clerics while in jail.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 2:01:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Melanie said...
"Actually maybe because they were targetted by the Muslim clerics while in jail."

Given you have made an out-and-out assumption that it is only as criminals that non-Muslim Aboriginals and non-Aboriginal Muslims would meet, you must be basing this 'race-religion-criminality' assertion on race-based and religion-based stereotypes. You must therefore be a racist and a religious bigot because that's what they do by definition.

Monday, January 30, 2006 1:03:00 am  
Blogger house_music said...

Many have worked tirelessly for Aboriginal rights and the 1992 Mabo case was at least partly due to Jewish legal know-how (and moral certitude.)

The truth is: The Mabo decision and the Native Title Act that followed are "the greatest single act of dispossession since 1788".

When the full bench of the High Court in the Mabo case found that terra nullius was now no longer a valid notion, the erstwhile judges decided that ‘native title’ existed in 1788, and therefore must ‘survive’ today in those parts of Australia where freehold title did not exist. This finding meant that in all the main populated areas of Australia where freehold title of land predominates, the Aboriginal people had been dispossessed, without compensation, and had little or no chance of succeeding in any native title claims. This aspect of the Mabo decision represents the greatest single act of dispossession in Australian history since 1788.


In regards to Zionism:

Israel is a sovereign state.

Aboriginal people do not have a sovereign state.

I hope this post helps the many disillusioned people who think that the Mabo finding was in any way good for Aboriginal people. It simply was not and was simply the opposite.

I would suggest that to comment on this matter people should read the High Court decision on Mabo.

In regards to Native Title:

Native Title is the most inferior form of land tenure under British law.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 4:43:00 am  

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