G’Day World #359 – Antony Loewenstein on Gaza

You’ve seen it in the news over the last month. On December 27, Israel broke a six-month truce with Hamas (the democratically-elected leaders of the Palestinian people living in Gaza) and launched a three-week long attack on the small, densely-populated region.

Palestinian casualties – 1,400 dead including more than 400 children and 100 women. Israeli casualties – 12 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilians.

My guest on this show is Antony Loewenstein, Sydney-based journalist, author and blogger.

Read more:

David Rose article in Vanity Fair

Henry Siegman, director of the US Middle East Project in New York, former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, article “Israel’s Lies”


A note about this show:

With the help of my two assistants Tim Grainger and Jonathan Hewlett, we ran a LIVE TWITSTREAM of the interview through the gdayworld twitter account. We asked people to submit questions via Twitter during the interview and I fed those back to Antony during our call. It was my first attempt at podcast twinterviewing and the results were interesting.

Thanks to Darryl King from iReckon for seeding the filthy idea into my head over coffee a few days ago.

9 thoughts on “G’Day World #359 – Antony Loewenstein on Gaza

  1. Very informative cast. Mr. Lowenstein is an excellent guest and he really knows his stuff. His book, My Israel Question is brilliant!

    The TWITTSTREAM was a great idea too!

  2. I also enjoyed listening. Well done and thanks.

    A couple of critical comments.

    Your initial summary, I thought, was misleading on a few ponts of history. The UN did not grant 78% of the Palestinian Briitsh mandate (Israel’s pre-1967 borders) to Israel; it granted a lot less land than that, although still more than the Jewish population merited on a pro rata basis; but the Zionist militia siezed the rest of the area by force of arms in 1948. Also, Britain issued the (highly conditional) Balfour Declaration only after intense Zionist pressure. It did not just promise Palestine to Jews on a whim. Zionists, over time, have fflagrently broken the spirit and terms of the Balfour Declaration .

    Regarding Antony’s contributions, I thought he understates the role of local Zionist lobbies within each of the apparently pro-Zionist western countries, such as Australia. This country is not slavishly pro-Zionist simply simply to please the USA. Australia’s stance has a LOT to do with our local Zionist lobby. And sadly, while there are anti-Zionists such as Antony in the Australian Jewish community, the Jewish power, money (and probably overall numbers) are behind the mainstream organizations that pursue an Israel right-or-wrong policy.

    Nor is our Zionist lobby merely tich and powerful. It also plays extreme hardball with opponents. It has enormous media influence and most (all?) of Ausrtalia’s maisntream politicians are scared of offending it. That’s not healthy and it’s very significant.

    Odd, in my opinion, that Antony seemed to give this such little emphasis.

  3. Syd, thanks for your comments. I don’t remember stating in the introduction that the British gave the Zionist all of the land that they control today. As you infer, much of the land they currently control, they won through war and, as per international law, are obliged to return it.

    I’m interested to see you say that the Zionist lobby in Australia has enormous media influence. Care to give examples? Outside of Morry Schwartz at The Monthly?

  4. Hi Cameron.

    Here’s three pointers in response to your query:

    (1) The furious reaction to this comment by Margo Kingston a few years back.

    (2) After Margo’s Webdiary went independent, the strange case of my own banning. This tale includes the bizarre de facto denials of his own previous emails to me by Margo’s brother, Hamish Alcorn (who apparently felt too boxed in on the topic to permit further rational discussion). See Has Webdiary Been Threatened By Zionists Or Not? (scroll down)

    (3) Rupert Murdoch.

    I chose my term carefully: “enormous media influence”. I did not say ‘control’ – which implies something more absolute.

    ‘Influence’ flows from the top (eg. Rupert and his nearly-ubiquitous Limited News) AND from the ‘bottom’ (intimidation of and attacks on independent media if it becomes to too large to simply ignore).

    There are some topics that can be discussed without too much fuss (e.g. Is Israel behaving badly – usually quite OK to say yes) – and others that are ringed off with virtual high-voltage electric fencing (eg. any discussions of the history of Jewry during World War Two that do not confirm with the officially-sanctioned narrative – and discussions about disproportionate Jewish/Zionist influence in the western media). Margo breached the second of these implicit prohibitions – and her team subsequently felt required to police the former with all the ruthlessness of kapos.

    Note that, in my posts to Webdiary, I raised the issue of World War Two ONLY when it had already been raised, by other pro-Zionist posters, to justify egregious actions by Israel in the present.

    In effect, therefore, the leadership of the Zionist Lobby has arrogated to itself the ‘right’ to determine the acceptable boundaries of discourse on modern history and current affairs. There are clearly ‘no go’ areas in our public discourse.

    The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty and the earlier Lavon Affair are other examples of de facto no go stories. So is discussion about the 200 Israeli ‘agents’ arrested in the USA during 2000/1 – or the five Mossad agents arrested in NYC on the day of 9-11 itself who were seen cheering as the towers collapsed. None of these stories are inventions. They have all been reported, on occasion, in the Israeli media. If I wanted to be perverse, I’d say Zionist influence over the Australian media is stronger than it is in Israel.

    Is that influence or what?

  5. Syd, I think the flaw in your argument here, esp regarding Rupert, is that the silence isn’t specific to Israel. The silence in the media is equal across all forms of American / British / Australian imperialism. The large corporations that run our mainstream media are complicit in the goals of the industrial-military complex – namely, profit at any cost. It doesn’t matter if it’s Israel ignoring the UN or the CIA’s involvement in the failed coup that tried to overthrow Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The media is usually quiet on any subject that involves imperialist objectives. And that isn’t surprising. When their goals are aligned, they will support each other. Sometimes there is room to mention activities but it’s usually buried.

  6. > I think the flaw in your argument here, esp regarding Rupert, is that the silence isn’t specific to Israel. >>> The silence in the media is equal across all forms of American / British / Australian imperialism.

    Hi again Cameron.

    On that specific point, I coudn’t disagree more. There is nothing like parity in mass media coverage – especially not in the Murdoch media.

    The western mass media has essentially allowed Israel to re-invent itself in the western public imagination over the last six decades (remember that, at ‘birth’, it was in blatant violation of the UN Resolution that partitioned Palestine, the UN mediator had been assassinated by Zionist terrorists and the outgoing mandatory power (Britain) was so furious with Zionist terrorism and greed that it denied Israel recognition for some time.

    Since 1948, the western mass media has essentially justified and rationalized ethnic supremacist laws and behaviour in the Holy Land – at a time when comparable activity in ‘western’ countries was (rightly) condemned.

    It’s a complex discussion, because as both of us know, the western mass media is not a monolith. It presents a range of views and voices. Some conform to your description (uncritical support ALL western imperialism). Other elements of the media – especially and crucially on the left – are often quite hard on the USA, Britain etc (and rightly so), but turn a blind eye to all but the most blatant Israeli crimes.

    There’s also the question of whether Israel’s behaviour is truly on a par with these other countries. Zionists often claim this, arguing Israel’s behaviour is essentially no different from the USA/Britain/Australia in Iraq or Afghanistan, for instance.

    This is problematic for two reasons.

    First, I don’t think it’s really true. Even the USA, with its horrific military bloat and proliferation of bases, spooks, meddling and illegal wars, is not trying to create an apartheid society in its own vicinity. It does not wall in its perceived opponents, en masse.

    The second reason ‘equivalence’ claims are problematic is that there’s plenty of evidence the Zionist lobby – at least since the end of the Cold War – has been a key factor driving Anglo-American/western military adventurism. The Bush Administration had an extreme pro-Israel agenda and was replete with dual national pro-Israeli staff, but the reverse was not true. Likewise, while there’s a passionate ‘Israel Lobby’ in Australia, there’s not a shred of evidence the effect ever flows in reverse. Heard of an ‘Australia Lobby’ in Israel? Me neither.

    Here’s a challenge to you. Review the last ten year’s mass media coverage of terrorism and espionage in Australia’s mass media. You’ll find thousands and thousands of stories about ‘Islamist terrorism’ in Australia and/or the shocking threat it poses to Australia. Many of these stories turned out to be quite bogus. Many editors ran these tales as headline news – often based on nothing more than a single ‘anonymous source’.

    Now look for stories about the Mossad’s operations in Australia. See how many you can find. Let me know how you go.

    There is evidence of Mossad activities in Australia. Ex Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky discussed this back in the mid-1990s. But where are mass media reports of this?

    It’s like the disparity between reports about the nuclear threat from Iran (non-existent at present, as Iran has no nuclear weapons) and the nuclear threat from Israel (utterly real, especially to countries in Israel’s vicinty such as Iran). We get thousands of reports in Australia’s mass media about the former – almost none of the latter.

    This is not accidental and does, I think, substantiate the case that there is very strong Zionist influence in the Australian media. Yes, there’s general ‘pro-western’ bias, but this is of a different quality. Zionist bias is so strong – especially in the Murdoch media – that few if any mainstream politicians dare buck the apparent consensus that it sets on matters such as the Iraq War.

    However, I’m not arguing this cannot change. I think it is changing. As usual, change is being driven from the grass roots, because more and more people are recognizing the extreme bias and want it rectified. Events such as the Israeli attacks on Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza last month have helped expose the Israeli regime as a vicious rogue State – notwithstanding the frantic efforts of Zionists to spin the conflict in Israel’s favour.

    One final point. The lareget loss of life on a US naval vessel since world war two took place when Israeli forces attacked the USS Liberty in June 1967. How many times have you read this story in the Australian mass media? How many times did you ever hear it mentioned in the aftermath of 9-11 – or raised in the context of the WoT? Other than Tim Fisher’s article in the Fairfax press on the 40th anniversary, the tale of the USS Liberty has been like a blindspot for the Australian media.

    Accident or influence?

    It’s true that on occasion, the Australian mass media does report a ‘counter-spin’ story. For instance, the SMH reported on the exposure of a bogus ‘Al Qaida’ group in Gaza a few years back (it was an Israeli false flag oeration/hoax). But despite that report – which was world-class journalism – there was NO follow up, even by the Herald itself. No additional stories that dug and exposed more detail. Just the sounds of silence.

    Accident or influence?

  7. Syd, I agree with you that the coverage of the Middle East in Australian and US media is overwhelmingly pro-Israel. You’ll get no argument from me on that point. I’m just saying that, generally speaking, the mainstream media (until VERY recently, when Bush bashing came into vogue) also ignores the war crimes committed by the USA, UK and Australia with equal silence. The basic rule of mainstream media seems to be, to paraphrase Nixon, “if we (or our allies) are doing it, then it ISN’T a crime”. As Israel is a major US ally (I suspect more because of their strategic importance as a military base in the middle east rather than just pro-Zionist lobbying), they also get a free pass from us.

    So the question is – what do we do about it?

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