When I read about this new organization, the Independent Australian Jewish Voices, it makes me think of a simple thought experiment I like to use whenever dealing with coverage or comment about the Middle East. What you do is reverse the positions of Israel and the Palestinians, and then just consider how the story reads.
For example, when Israel investigates soldiers who have allegedly used excessive force in apprehending suspected terrorists. Would you ever read a story of the Palestinians doing such a thing? You barely even read about the summary (ex-judicial) executions of alleged collaborators in Gaza! Or how about when Palestinians rejoice at the “martyrdom” of their children in a suicide attack? Can you imagine an Israeli ever beaming with pride for a fallen soldier?
Now, here are a group of eminent Australians who have followed the lead of the UK in forming a group that is fighting “equally” for the rights of Israelis and Palestinians. But that is not enough for them. The mission within the mission, according to them, is ensuring there is free debate about the Middle East in this country, and that dissenting views that are critical of Israel are not intimidated or labelled as “self-hating”.
Back to our thought experiment. Imagine if you will, a group of eminent Arab scholars in Syria forming an organization whose goal is for equal rights for Jews and Arabs? For a right to speak in support of Israel and not be villified? Now, pick yourself up off the floor and stop laughing.
I’m not sure what the real motivation of this group is. If you look at the press, the story is not about advocacy (or equivalence, heaven-forbid) in the Middle East, it’s actually about a group challenging “the Jewish lobby”. With friend like these, who needs enemies?