Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Fanning the Flames

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By Ilan Grapel


Readers may be familiar with Green Left Weekly, probably Australia’s best-know radical-left newspaper. While nominally independent, it is affiliated with the Socialist Alliance party and its youth movement Resistance! Like most radical socialist groups, it invariably aligns with the anti-Israel movement.

Readers may also be aware of the growing international alliance between extreme left-wing groups and Arab and Islamic extremists, despite completely different visions for society. This alliance has been on show in much of the anti-war movement in Britain and other places. For instance, Britain’s “Respect” party is basically an alliance of radical Muslims and old hard-line Marxists, such as former Labour MP George Galloway. Galloway was strongly pro-Saddam Hussein before the 2003 Gulf War, and was alleged to have received money from the Iraqi regime for his organisations. Today, he works for the Iranian government mouthpiece television station, Press TV.

What readers may not know is that Green Left Weekly is openly trying to promote extremism among Arabic speakers in Australia through a monthly Arabic-language insert called the Flame. And this support is not limited to Green Left Weekly’s own far-left agenda. Green Left Weekly’s Arabic language output supports terrorist groups and promotes violence as the solution to the existence of the “Zionist state.”

You would think GLW’s declared pursuit of the advancement of “anti-racist, feminist, student, trade union, environment, gay and lesbian, civil liberties,” would rule out admiration and promotion of radical Islamist groups like Hamas, which are deeply hostile to all of the above. Yet along-side content promoting the PFLP, a tiny left-wing and currently marginal Palestinian terror group, Hamas is also promoted by GLW as a positive model of “resistance,” that is to say, terrorism. Meanwhile, those killed as a result of the violence Hamas sparks are defined as “martyrs,” another element of terminology the Flame shares with Hamas.

Further, the terminology of the Flame is openly hostile to the more moderate governments of the region, and repeatedly demands that they wage all out war on the “Zionist entity”.

The January 2009 edition of the Flame was devoted to the contemporaneous conflict in and around Gaza. The cover page is a compilation of statements from various communist parties in the Arab world. The writers adopt rejectionist terminology. The articles interchange “State of Israel” and “Zionist state,” qualified by the oft-used adjectives of “racist,” “terrorist,” “settler,” “expansionary,” or all of the above. Expectedly, the communiqués incited its Arabic readers with imagery of “slaughter,” and a “waterfall of Palestinian blood washing the streets”.

More surprisingly, there are implied calls for other Arab states to expand the Gaza war. In an article titled “Hunt of a people” (January 2009), the paper refers back to the first Lebanon war: “the same spectacle will repeat itself as in September 1982 in the camp of Sabra and Chatilla after the invasion of the Israeli army to Beirut; the Arab capitals stood watching, exactly as is happening now.” The Flame is noticeably indignant towards the inaction of neighbouring Arab states against Israel, then and now.

The paper targets the American-allied Arab governments for their moderation in the war, which the paper terms “collusion.” The front-page article from the Iraqi communist party rebukes the Saudi government, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, which it disparagingly dubs the “Oslo Authority.” The Mubarak Government receives condemnation for being “a loyal accomplice to Israel and the Oslo Authority in their attempt to pinch Hamas.” The statement also accuses the Saudi monarchy of having covert dealings with “the Zionists,” stretching back decades. Any non-violent interaction with Israel, whether actual or imagined, is reason for scorn in this publication.

In the March 2009 edition, the Flame was particularly aghast at Egypt for cooperating with America against Hamas. It titled its exposé, “Egypt uses American soldiers to prevent weapons smuggling to the resistance!” In the Arabic-language world, supporters of Hamas use the appellation “the resistance” as the preferred euphemism for both terrorist violence, and for Hamas itself. The Flame adopts the same pro-Hamas lexicon.

Another article from the same edition, “A return to principles is necessary after the Israeli aggression,” is more virulent. An illustration shows a Palestinian imprisoned behind barbed wire, shaped as a partial Jewish star. The article condemns those calling the Gaza war a victory for the “resistance” given the large proportion of “martyrs” from the Palestinian people in comparison to the “slim” number killed amongst “soldiers of the Israeli occupation army.”

The rest of the article is critical of the Palestinian factions for their internecine fight. It criticises Hamas for abandoning its traditional position as the “resistance” against “the enemy” to fight the PA. The article calls for a “united Palestinian resistance” which will “return the benefit to the Palestinian people.” And it is very clear that this unity will not negotiate peace with Israel but only use violence, with the paper stating, “This unity in battle must not fall into the trap of dialogue that the decrepit Arab regimes of the region are producing.”

The radical anti-Israel stance of Green Left Weekly is no secret. However, the message in its Arabic insert is even more inflammatory than the English publication, while less accessible to non-Arabic speakers. The Flame defines Israel as “the enemy”, and demands violent “resistance”, while pouring scorn on all forms of negotiations or dialogue. It praises the assassination of a “Zionist minister” as “courageous.” The publication clearly promotes violence as well as support for radical groups likes Hamas and this is the message that Green Left Weekly deliberately pitches to the Arabic-speaking community of Australia.

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