Guy Rundle begins his
recent column on the Middle East with a quip about the difficulty in being a
newspaper editor. This is an ironic statement from Rundle in light of his own
failure to fulfil the foremost responsibility of any journalist worthy of the
name – factual accuracy.

In his paean to the relativist credo that one
man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, Rundle presents the 60th
anniversary of the King David bombing as his ideological pièce de
. The only problem is that he gets it wrong on several salient

Rundle’s assertion that Menahem Begin’s Irgun carried out the
attack at the behest of the mainstream Hagana militia is patently false. The
Zionist establishment viewed the Irgun as irresponsible cowboys at best. Just
the previous year the Hagana had participated in a campaign to crush Begin’s
organization, capturing and handing over Irgun members to British intelligence.
The “Hunting Season,” as this episode came to be known, sowed the seeds of
bitterness and suspicion between the two groups, making mutual cooperation
unthinkable. And two years later, in 1948, those tensions came to a head when
the Hagana opened fire on an Irgun vessel delivering arms to Tel

Rundle’s attempt to muddy the waters of easy distinction between
guerrilla warfare and terrorism doesn’t disguise his inability to make a clear
point. He ever so grudgingly concedes that the King David Hotel, which housed a
British military HQ, was a legitimate target. Terrorism is an attack on civilian
targets – buses, to use Rundle’s example. By contrast, guerrilla actions target
the military objectives – like checkpoints, for instance.

But of course
any attack would cause the army to close those checkpoints – inflicting much
inconvenience on the civilian population. And this, no doubt, would lead Rundle
to rant and rave against the cruel army rather than the guerrillas who forced
the closure. The bottom line is that Israel is damned if it does, and damned if
it doesn’t in the eyes of the anti-Zionist Left. So it might as well do what it
has to do for the protection of its own citizens.

About the only thing
Rundle got right was his desired comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the
Suez Crisis fifty years ago. In both cases, an entity publicly and proudly
dedicated to destroying Israel was receiving massive arms shipments from its
major patron. Only back then it was Egypt and the USSR; now it’s Hezbollah (with
Lebanese winks of understanding) Syria and Iran.

Of course, at least
France and the UK haven’t attempted to invade the aggressor state in a throwback
to their colonial days. But given Rundle’s elastic use of facts, it’s fairly
certain he could weave that into the present crisis some how.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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