Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Microscope: Balance at the Age

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Jamie Hyams

“Balance” at the Age

British-based Palestinian writer and academic Ghada Karmi, in Australia recently giving talks at various universities, represents an extreme school of thought in relation to the peace process. Her “solution” is that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state, being replaced with a single state, which obviously would have an Arab majority. However, this did not prevent the Age running an opinion piece by her on Oct. 11.

For Dr. Karmi, one of the clear parameters for peace is “the right of return of refugees.” This, of course, would mean Palestinians outnumbering Jews, and the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

She continued, “Israel, which ceaselessly professes its desire for peace, has never initiated a peace proposal of its own and has prevaricated when offered one. By postponing a settlement indefinitely, it has sought to gain time to colonise more Palestinian land, making that colonisation irreversible. This ploy has succeeded marvellously.” So it’s nothing to do with continuing Palestinian violence and refusal to accept Israel’s existence.

She also indulged in classic antisemitic conspiracy theory, complaining, “America, which could have made a difference, is hamstrung by its domestic subservience to the Israel lobby.”

She rules out a two-state solution because, supposedly, “Israel’s colonisation has left the Palestinians with enclaves of land, separated by Jews-only roads and ‘security areas’, cut off from each other and from Gaza, making the two-state solution as previously envisaged beyond reach.” She concludes, “That leaves the one-state option, rejected out of hand by Israel and its supporters… It is the only one…that offers any hope of a lasting peace.”

In response, AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein submitted a piece that was published not in the actual paper, but only on its website, on Oct. 17. He explained, “What [Karmi] actually seeks, as she has made clear numerous times, is ‘peace through victory’ - whereby it is agreed that all of Palestine is Palestinian land to which Jews have no claim…

“Much of her argument is based on false premises and exaggeration - her claim that Israel has never made a peace offer, ignoring Camp David and Taba in 2000-2001, is just one example. But her bigger problem is that she is on record repeatedly opposing any two-state solution that leaves Israel in existence.” He listed numerous examples of this.

Furthermore, he pointed out that reportedly at an Oct. 8 talk in Perth, she said that “when her one-state solution is implemented, she expects most of the Jews to go back to Europe.” (She also reportedly said, responding to questions, that most Jews hate their “brown-skinned” Arab neighbours and their probable return to Europe would “solve the problem.”)

He continued, “She has repeatedly made clear she opposes any such plan for a two-state resolution unless it contained a legally unprecedented absolute ‘right of return’ to Israel, not the future Palestinian state, for 5 million or so descendants of refugees from the 1948 war. This would quickly turn Israel into a majority Arab state, as Karmi would likely concede and applaud.”

He concluded, “Rhetoric aside, to demand that the conflict continue until Israel agrees to knowingly surrender any Jewish identity, as Karmi and many other Palestinian intellectuals do, is to condemn both peoples to decades more violence and horror, and has nothing to do with peace.”

Even though Dr. Rubenstein’s piece was an online-only response to Karmi’s article in the actual paper, on Oct. 23 the Age ran an online reply to Dr. Rubenstein by Sonja Karkar, President of Women for Palestine (a sponsor of Kharmi’s visit). She seemed to be out to prove that Karmi was not so extreme by being even more extreme herself.

She complained that Dr. Rubenstein “insinuates that such a [one-state] solution is a euphemism for wiping Israel off the map. Nothing could be further from the truth. What needs to be eradicated is Zionism - the racist ideology that prohibits the Palestinians… from enjoying their basic rights.”

Exhibiting extremely creative surveying techniques, she whined, “By the time Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak made his ‘generous offer’ of land to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, the Palestinians had barely 12 per cent left of their historic homeland, and seven years later, it has been whittled down to around 7 per cent.”

Finally, and incredibly, she claimed, “The solution Dr. Karmi proposes [whereby Israel would cease to exist] shows remarkable magnanimity considering the terrible human cost of Israel’s venture.” In other words, for her, it seems, the Palestinians would be generous just to allow the Jews to remain in the Middle East once their country is destroyed. And it seems for the Age, it was appropriate to publish this extraordinary view to balance an article advocating a two-state peace, itself a reply to a piece advocating Israel’s destruction.

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