Leading article Australia

We are all Israelis now

4 October 2014

9:00 AM

4 October 2014

9:00 AM

‘ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree,’ asserted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week in a fiery speech to the United Nations. ‘When it comes to its ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.’
It’s a bold claim, and one that brought equally fiery rhetoric from Hanan Ashwari of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s executive committee, who said Mr Netanyahu’s speech was ‘a combination of hate language, slander and… obfuscation.’ Her colleague Saeb Erekat said the remarks ‘buried’ the two-state solution.
Ms Ashwari is well-known, of course, as the recipient of a NSW government–sponsored peace prize (handed to her by former Premier Bob Carr). She is also a staunch supporter of Hamas’s role within the ‘political spectrum’ of the Palestinian cause.
As foreign minister, Mr Carr’s one notable action was to shift Australia’s longstanding support for Israel at the UN to favour the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Labor frontbencher Tony Burke has declared such a shift places Labor ‘on the right side of history’. Really?
Mr Burke believes Israel’s ‘illegal’ settlements and ‘occupation’ of East Jerusalem are designed to derail the two state solution. Quite how a peaceful outcome can be achieved he does not elucidate, despite odd comments that appear to justify Hamas’s tactics. Yet Mr Netanyahu’s analysis suggests such unqualified support equates to de facto support for the ideological bedfellows of the Islamic State. In other words, if there is any truth to Mr Netanyahu’s ‘Hamas is ISIS’ assertion, Mr Burke, Mr Carr and their cronies would have Australia supporting the practitioners of a radical ideology that we and our allies are simultaneously at war with.
The ideology of IS and Hamas is fundamental, militant, totalitarian Islamism. Indeed, Hamas is also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, and its charter spells out its antipathy to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli conflict, calling instead for jihad and the eradication of all Jews. For IS, the goal of a caliphate throughout the Levant will see the execution of every Jew, much as is being meted out to the Yazidis, Kurds and any other non-believer who gets in the way. (Which includes us by the way.) Mr Netanyahu may have a point.
In this issue, Richard Ferguson takes a close look at ‘Sheikh Google’; the sinister online activity taking place under our noses that is ‘radicalising’ our youth, not necessarily of Middle Eastern background. As Tony Abbott pointed out last month: ‘This is a conflict which we understandably wish to avoid, but it is a conflict which sadly, is reaching out to us.’
In the last few weeks we have seen the very real threat of random acts of appalling violence being visited upon our streets as we struggle legally and militarily to work out how best to confront a fanatical foe whose ideology glorifies martyrdom and death.
Much like the Israelis have been doing for decades now, as it happens.

Pulp fiction

The best fantasy writers know that plot follows character, and that events can be shifted around to arrive at the most emotionally satisfying outcome. Fans of the ever-growing genre of young adult fantasy (which has thus far brought us the squillion-selling likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games and so on) know that the key ingredients and formula are as follows: a much maligned and misunderstood heroine sets off on a noble quest to do good in the world, only to be thwarted by the fiendish trepidations of any number of ogre-like creatures from hell whom she manages to eventually defeat and overcome through the sheer goodness of her shining personality, self-belief and extraordinary powers.
Thus it comes as no surprise to learn that excited young teenage girls across the land are flocking to buy the latest epic novel; the quaintly titled My Story by a talented new female fantasy writer. The heroine, a shy and petite redhead with a heart of gold, rises from humble beginnings to become princess of the realm, loved by all. Along the way she is betrayed by the boyfriend who tricks her into signing all those papers, is attacked by a vile radio announcer, battles with the mischievous misogynist in the blue tie and rescues the ungrateful, miserable, incompetent, psychopathic hobgoblin Kevin from his own incompetence.
True to form, timelines and chronologies are easily switched around in order to maximize their emotional impact. After all, it makes a much better tale if the Tampa happened after, rather than before, the Twin Towers. Such is the beauty of fiction.

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