Wednesday 3 June 2009

Calling out Syd Walker

CairnsBlog contributor Bryan Law, or as the Cairns Post insists, a 'serial protester' (a mis-guided and cheap adjective at best), wants Syd Walker, a well-known local Blogger and prolific local writer on international issues, to come clean.

Anyone reading recent exchanges between myself and Syd Walker about Wild Rivers, World Heritage, and Greens preferences will know we have a strong difference of opinion.

I like to consider facts, and find out about what I don’t know. Syd appears to have his answers ready, based on ideological assumptions which rely at best on a limited selection of facts that suit his argument.

Like a broken clock, Syd will tell the right time twice a day.

So I can agree with Syd that folk ought vote Green. Unlike Syd, I see some deep-seated problems fixed in the Queensland Greens. Unlike Syd, I want accountability from the ALP, and think the LNP is worth talking to.

I can also agree with Syd that the militarist policies of Israel give rise to human rights abuses, terror, and the increased frequency of war in the middle east. But I do not agree with the manner in which Syd invokes conspiracy theories, false flag theories, and grotesque caricatures of Israelis and Jews in reaching his conclusions. I feel that Syd and his ilk expose the wider peace movement to charges of anti-Semitism and peculiar thinking.

So I want to reprint here a recent e-mail by Associate Professor Jake Lynch from the University of Sydney, where he refers to his own recent column, and a recent study by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Here is the kind of research and action program that allows global citizens to exercise influence and build a more peaceful world. It’s a gold-mine of credible information and analysis.

The e-mail comes through the Catholic Worker network of peace activists that I and my family belong to:
  • From: Jake Lynch
    Sent: Monday, June 01, 2009 12:03 PM
    To: Jake Lynch
    Subject: Why I'm joining the academic boycott of Israel

    From this week’s column:

    There is no suggestion that individual contacts should now cease. Discussions about peace journalism have been considerably enhanced by the participation of wise and clever Israeli academics, and that should continue. At an institutional level, however, universities are deeply embedded in the system of occupation and militarism.

    I’ve led a call for the University of Sydney to cancel institutional arrangements with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Technion University, in Haifa. Though small in scale, these contacts are symbolic of a commitment to help Israel enjoy normal relations with the outside world, despite its record. For this to cease now would be our contribution, however minor, to raising the social, economic and political cost of militarism as an alternative to dialogue and negotiation. (More info here.)

    In the column, I summarise some of the principles of international law at stake in assessing Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians. It is timely, then, that a superb new research study, examining such arguments in great depth, has just been published in electronic form. Titled, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid, it is the work of a team of international experts convened by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Both the full text and an Executive Summary can be downloaded from the page stored here.

    Best wishes,

    Associate Professor Jake Lynch, BA, Dip Journalism Studies, PhD
    Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
    The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006


Syd Walker said...

I should be flattered, I suppose, that Bryan "calls me out" by name in this popular medium. He won’t be surprised to learn I believe he’s way off mark.

Bryan writes "Unlike Syd, I want accountability from the ALP, and think the LNP is worth talking to."

If Bryan's summary of my position on that point is correct, readers should know that I agree with Bryan and strongly disagree with myself. So perhaps Bryan's summary of my views is a tad misleading?

Turning now to Israel/Palestine/Zionism etc. Bryan writes about my "grotesque caricatures of Israelis and Jews".

Please show me some proof of that, Bryan. Which "grotesque caricatures" do you have in mind? It’s a serious accusation, so please be specific. Unless you quote single bits and pieces out of context, I think you'll find it hard to substantiate that claim. But try, if you want. While I stand behind what I write – I also reserve the right to change my mind if better information coems my way.

If you, Bryan, want to go the extra mile to defend the official conspiracy theory about 9-11, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, it's your privilege. You are in company: almost all mainstream media operatives in Australia seem to agree with you (if they have doubts, they keep their mouths shut).

But can you show that a single specific thing I've written about this important topic is incorrect, Bryan? Or is it just that you prefer not to think about it too much?

(I believe that) Bryan and myself both consider ourselves supporters of peace as opposed to war. In that context, I'll give one example about why the underlying issues here are important.

In the run up to the Iraq Invasion in March 2003, I wrote (not in CairnsBlog, of course) that the imminent war against Iraq was primarily driven by Zionist/Israeli interests - and said that the 'No War for Oil!' slogan of the mainstream peace movement was a silly distraction. I was presenting an unpopular opinion in western countries, shared by few and almost entirely excluded from the mainstream media.

Five years later, I believe I've been vindicated in that view. It's rather well documented. If you doubt that, read Sniegoski, or Walt and Mearsheimer.

The main argument that was widely used, five years ago, to chase views such as mine out of the mainstream (even the mainstream peace movement), was that even suggesting Israeli interests were behind the Iraq War was an unwarranted 'anti-Semitic' conspiracy theory.

If, to avoid such a criticism, one must remain silent - even when the crucially important issue of war v peace remain at stake – then I’d rather suffer fools calling me an ‘anti-Semite’ than self-censor.

What Bryan does is Bryan’s business.

I cannot help but notice, however, that at a time when Israeli barbarities are accelerating (did you know that building materials are still not allowed into Gaza and there is stroing evidence of depleted uranium pollution from Israel's January attacks) Bryan chooses to use the disposable moments he can afford to devote to the middle east to attacking me.

So-called 'progressive Zionists' that, I suspect, have suckered Bryan all his adult life set out to achieve this outcome, IMO. Thy help pursuade gentle souls like Bryan that it's a more serious matter to utter words that they construe as 'anti-Semitic' than it is to bomb civilians with hi-tech weaponry.

I would like to deprive them of this undeserved advantage. That's why, on balance, I'm delighted to have the chance to debate this openly with you Bryan. Thanks to Mike for providing the forum.

Syd Walker said...

A year ago you 'called me' out by name in this article, Bryan Law.

I took considerable trouble to reply, yet you never even bothered to respond once to my reply.

Yet later on, in comments on other articles in CairnsBlog, you called me defamatory and vulgar names.

Now I "call you out", to use the same ludicrous term.

Are you - or are you not - in support of the unarmed, non-violent peace activists who, it seems, are being intercepted at this very moment by the Israeli military, to stop the flotilla from delivering desperately needed humanitarian aid to a city that's been under blockade for three years?

If you support the principle that basic humanitarian aid should not be denied to the people of Gaza, Bryan, now's the time to say so.

Bryan, how about an open letter to Jim Turnour - demanding he calls for an end to Israel's continuing and cruel blockade of this beleaguered and impoverished city?

You seem to like to see your name in print, Bryan. This is a great time to speak out.

Syd Walker said...

According to initial reports, between two and ten unarmed members of the peace flotilla were murdered when their boats were boarded, in international waters, by Israeli troops.

Leaving aside idiots such as Bryan for a moment, people should reflect on the extent of media bias in this country - and demand change.

As of an hour ago, a search within the ABC website showed up references on the topic 'gaza + flotilla' ONLY in the form of comments by the public to articles by other authors. In other words, journalists who actually get paid for their contributions have collectively avoided the topic. Only the informed public seems to care.

So why should we pay for journalists if we the public do a better job of telling the truth than they do, even when they enjoy salaries and resources, paid for by the public, to assist them with their work?

It's the same for much older stories. To check this for yourself, search the ABC website for references to the 'USS Liberty'. Once again, the only references I could find were from the public!

I deeply resent having to pay for a news service that feeds such a one-sided view on matters pertaining to organized Zionist power and the State of Israel.

Unless it raises its game fast, I believe the ABC should be axed.

Better to have no pretence of a public interest news service than such a biased and deceptive institution.

Bryan Law said...

Syd, it’s true that nonviolence activists are involved with the peace flotilla trying to break the siege of Gaza, but I wouldn’t put myself among them, because I lack the courage for that kind of international work.

That said, you should read the Australian more. They did a very good piece on the Flotilla and surrounding issues in Saturday’s Weekend Australian, and they’ve got a rudimentary story online now.

Folk who take this kind of nonviolent action stand prepared to suffer death or serious injury, and the Israelis will pay a heavy price for their brutality against humanitarian westerners.

One woman on board is Caoime Butterly, a Catholic Worker who was shot in the leg by Israeli soldiers in 2002 while escorting children to primary school.

Apart from closing down the ABC, what's your plan?

Syd Walker said...

Bryan, thankyou for taking the time to complement Mr Murdoch's Australian on its coverage of this atrocity.

Here are the first three paragraphs of its story this afternoon:

MORE THAN 10 people have been killed after Israeli navy seals stormed an aid convoy carrying hundreds of passengers and aid destined for the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army said four soldiers had been injured, one of them severely, in the clashes on board one of the boats in which live ammunition was used by both sides.

Media reports also said that senior Arab Israeli Islamist leader Raed Salah had been severely injured in the clashes, in which Gaza-based Hamas TV station said up to 20 people were killed.

In other words, ignoring the PIRACY entailed in invading a ship in international waters, from the first Israeli spin is being applied by this loathsome Zionist rag (like all the other News Corp rags around the world).

If you can't see the bias Bryan you are more daft than I thought.

What do I intend to do? Raise the issue of mass media Zionist bias, for one thing.

It's something you are either too silly to recognize, or too duplicitous, cowardly or conformist to speak out about.

I may sound irate and unfriendly, but I'm really trying to prod you into action. You have a profile and you have conspicuously bent oiver backwards to be 'even handed' on the issue of Israel.

But in reality, you have been supporting the continuation of an Apartheid State. Many veterans of Apartheid in South Africa say Israel is now worse.

So please do your bit and support the anti-Apartheid struggle of this new era, Bryan.

Demand a cultural and economic boycott of the nuclear-armed Israeli rogue State!

Bryan Law said...

Syd, you just don't get it. I do support social justice work, and have supported efforts re Gaza and Palestine for years. Donna Mulhearn, who was my partner in the inspection of Pine Gap, has made four journeys to Gaza as an "international" peace activist.

I spent ANZAC Day weekend with a collection of Christian and Buddhist activists, some of whom make Gaza and Palestine their key focus.

People like you who blither on about zionist conspiracies, and false flag Israeli operations against the World Trade Centre, just muddy the waters and turn people OFF noticing the crimes of Israel. Your whining and bitching doesn't help.

10 to 16 people just lost their lives taking nonviolent action - and you want to focus on the shortcomings of "Evil Zionist Murdoch's Newspaper".

Please let the image that these activists died creating remain the issue Syd, and constrain yourself to a factual account of what's happening in Gaza and Palestine. Keep the blithering to yourself.

Syd Walker said...

Bryan, you have spent considerably more time on this blog misrepresenting my position with terms I never use than mentioning the plight of the people of Gaza.

Anyhow, we all have to live with the man in the mirror.

Nuff said for now.

Syd Walker said...

Roger Waters superb new version of 'We Shall Overcome'

Bryan Law said...

Boo Hoo Syd, that's really mean!

Still, if it means I won't have to listen to any more of your fact-free crackpot conspiracy theories, or of your sentimental, fact-free and always disguised support of the ALP, I can live with that.

Looking forward to it actually.

Syd Walker said...

Fact free, you PL?

Check these out, idiot:

No accountability for Israel on any issue

Building What? The Demand for 9-11 Justice