Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter



Jul 24, 2014

Razer's Class Warfare: tweeting pictures of dead Palestinian babies helps no one but you

In an age of spectacular oversupply of both images and political perspectives, gore has lost its value. Sharing graphic images from the Gaza conflict turns private moments of death and grief into horror pornography.


Perhaps you are troubled by the atrocity enacted on the people of Palestine since 1948. Perhaps you are distressed by what you see as Israel’s very asymmetric “justice”. Perhaps you believe that a colony whose wealth and existence is predicated on the displacement or apartheid of millions has no right to call itself a democracy.

If so, there are a number of things you could consider doing to declare and reify your support.

You could contact the Foreign Minister and ask her for a statement about our nation’s involvement with Israel. You could donate to the relief efforts of the Red Cross or Red Crescent. You could consider the value of promoting divestment and boycott or you could read the broad range of academic opinion that has trended in recent years away from the Western Orientalist view of Israel as the Middle East’s most reasonable actor.

Or, you could just keep uploading pictures of dead or dying Palestinian children.

This is a great way to disrespect the dead, turn war into a sort of compassion pornography spectacle and prove to your Facebook friends just where you stand. Because the lurid and bloody display of your empathy, after all, is as urgent as the matter of a one- or two-state solution.

As social and traditional media continue to merge into a single Kleenex whose soggy mass serves the tears of the West and douses the tissue of political interpretation, we see a thousand “share-able” images of kids in various stages of gruesome death. The Independent is just one of many media organisations to offer graphic portrayals of very young Palestinian refugees bleeding, screaming and gasping for their last breath.

Millions of Facebook status updates affirm and reproduce the importance of these images and how much they impact the user. Twitter tells us how bad it’s feeling, and one user cried “Every time I close my eyes I see the innocent children of Palestine running, I hear them scream.” In other words, it’s not just the pain of children in Gaza that’s the problem. It’s our own.

Even if we tend, as I do, to the emerging dominant view of international relations and believe that these asymmetric battles and the cold Israeli hostilities that engender them must be resolved, there is not only no ethical rationale to reproduce  pictures of the private deaths of Palestinian babies, but there is no pressing evidence that the empathy they generate is of any great use.

“We need to engage with history deeply. Not our emotions.”

There was a time where we were not yet inured to images of the brutalisation of children in war. There was, perhaps, a time when their use could be morally justified. When photographer Nick Ut captured the flight of a burned nine-year-old girl from South Vietnamese attack in 1972, the image served as a smoking gun in a very different world. The picture of the woman we would come to know as children’s advocate Kim Phuc even jolted Nixon, who was prompted to suggest that it had been “fixed”. Such, then, was the power of photojournalism.

Now in an age of spectacular oversupply of both images and political perspectives, the gore loses its value. This is not for a minute to suggest that many of the pictures by embedded and citizen journalists in Gaza do not depict real atrocity. It is, however, to suggest that the impact of the “real” is diminished by reproduction. And it is also diminished by an occasionally false reproduction of the real. An image, for example, of healthy Israeli children writing “From Israel With Love” on missiles was shared recently on social media as evidence of the state’s brutal ideology. As it turned out, the image was taken from a 2006 conflict and the missiles were destined for Palestinian children long since dead.

But the absolutist rationale for the dissemination of this false image is identical to the rationale of real images of Palestinian fatalities. That is: if it helps the Palestinian cause,  it must be a good thing.

That it helps anyone at all is in doubt.

It is true that this week, the Palestinian people are winning the social media battle if not the battle for the long-overdue return of their homeland. It is also true that there is some merit in the idea that “people power”, if scrupulously organised, can demand action from a super power. What is neither true nor in any way verifiable is that an emotional reaction to a pornographic image of atrocity — which US President Barack Obama might very well determine, like Nixon, is “fixed” — does anything but serve the needs of a world hungry for high passion.

It is generally held that compassion for the individual, as depicted in these awful images, will heal the world. The view that holds that the intimate ministrations of a Mother Teresa can do anything but serve an individual’s need to serve is profoundly ahistorical. Crying for Palestinian babies comes not only at the expense of the dignity of Palestinian babies but at the understanding of the illegitimate foundation of the state of Israel that real social change demands. To think, in this instant, that Israel is populated by “baddies” is not enough. Well, it’s not enough unless you think that having a public moment of deep private feeling suffices to change anything but your mood.

Evil, as we know, is banal. But so, for that matter, is good. It is the case now as it has always been. What feels like a deep engagement with humanity might serve us but what will really serve the people of Palestine is a deep engagement with their extraordinary history.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that I have a working knowledge of the Balfour Declaration. I would not dare suggest a solution to a lopsided conflict of which my knowledge is scant — only sufficient to know that I do not want my nation to condone the illegal actions of Israel. What I am suggesting is that we need to engage with history deeply. Not our emotions. That empathy gets us anywhere is deeply in doubt.


We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

42 thoughts on “Razer’s Class Warfare: tweeting pictures of dead Palestinian babies helps no one but you

  1. Bento

    If there were no empathy, we would all be dead. Gotta have it. Gotta show it.

    Better, I feel, to offer more encouragement of the positive next steps that one could take (as you do very well in your article) rather than to deride people’s attempts, however misguided they may be, to highlight some bad in the world.

  2. Will

    Reverential respect for the dead is an ontologically anomalous attitude for a Marxist concerned with material power relations. The identity politics you spurn is predicated on symbols no less emotionally potent, yet equally arbitrary under a materialist ontology, yet you reject one emphatically and assert the other.

  3. Dianne Longson

    Razor your article today is disappointing. Further it is based on a false premise. You assume that those who post on social media sites pictures of dead Palestinian children do nothing else to support this country or its people. Frankly that’s a pretty facile and arrogant assumption. You have no clue what these people do away from FB or Twitter. Talk about an unsubstantiated judgment. A basic mistake! I personally expect more from you and your writing.
    Also you say you find the pictures disrespectful of the dead. Really! On what basis? I find the fact that Israelis are killing children with impunity a far greater wrong and think that showing the pictures goes some way to exposing the activities of an oppressive and tyrannical regime.

  4. Helen Razer

    I am not so much questioning the motives as the outcomes, Dianne.
    This piece mentions only in passing the disrespect to the dead. It is chiefly and overtly about questioning the usefulness of a public compassion. To read it as diminishing the plight of the Palestinian people is a bit wilful. To read it as out-and-out revulsion for the people who might care as privately as they do conspicuously again is a purposeful misreading.
    I do not believe these images function. I think this is obvious in the piece.

  5. Venise Alstergren

    Something I find even more repulsive than shots of butchered MEN, WOMEN, CHILDREN, is the relentless whipping up of their readers into a sort of catatonic blood lust. Even the ABC is guilty of this. On the day this terrible thing happened it was not possible-hour after hour-to switch on the station without yet another drenching of blood.

    I imagine the hypothesis behind the MSM is to help people to grieve. This is a load of cods. All it is is harkening back to the Roman Empire and their brutal circuses. The MSM panders-with success-to the very lowest of man’s barbarisms.

  6. Liz Connor

    For a balanced account I think we should include concern about the use of equally ‘heartrending’ images of the toys and personal belongings of children killed in the downing of MH 17. The mainstream media use these images relating to child victims of violent conflict expressly for their personal impact, and social media merely reflect that impact.

  7. Nevil Kingston-Brown

    Yet another article from Helen about how her generation’s left wing media activism was so much better than the current generation’s left wing media activism. Why isn’t she writing for The Australian?

  8. Helen Razer

    It was no such thing, Nevil. I don’t regard the activism of the nineties as much chop at all and nowhere in this article do I suggest that a previous kind of activism was preferable.
    I simply say that graphic images of death, ethics of their depiction notwithstanding, better serves the person who is sharing them than the persons depicted. This is a contemporary practice which addresses, in the case of Palestine, a 60 year old problem. Clearly, no solutions of western solidarity have worked well in the past and where you would get this idea beyond your own imagining is a mystery.
    If you would like to defend the sharing of images of graphic brutality enacted on children, please be my guest. Otherwise, try not to make stuff up based on a dislike of me and the ludicrous assessment that I am right wing.

  9. Buddy

    I had an image such as your describing come through my feed and I’m generally not a person who finds this necessary or easy to deal with, but on this day I made a point of looking, not moving on. I reflected deeply on this young boy and in the days since it has shaped conversations both in social media and in my private and professional life. That image was a horrifying reminder that these are real children, real deaths and I think all too often these deaths are abstract.. Less meaningful. I don’t mean them to be, it’s a simple consequence of lining in a world saturated by news. And on that day I was joted back into truth. War kills wonderful people and destroys families and it could just as essay be my beautiful grandson. So I feel profoundly touched by it and it has changed something important in me and pressed me to be more assertive and more active in denouncing war and seeking peace

  10. Mark out West

    Is it really worth the time and effort to write this piece, do you know the people who posted and their reasoning. Could it be a desperate call for justice for the victim from a relative/interested party who perceives no justice in these events and wonder why West predominately see the Jews as the victims. Who are constantly reminded that the Jews we the recipients of the most abysmal murdering while the world stood back and who are now the murderers.

    Maybe an article about how a people who’s graphic history is steep in isolation and abuse can become the abuser. This would be time well spent cause this is just a fluff piece.

  11. Buddy

    And in changing me I have used that to awaken some others .. Surely that’s of some benefit ?

  12. Mike R

    I am glad that Helen Razer admits that she knows little about the details of the Israel/Palestine conflict. I think the disclaimer should have been at the beginning of the piece not near the conclusion as this article illustrates the old adage that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

    I am impressed that she manages to in just over 1000 words to accompany , along with musings about the imagery of the conflict, a deserved excoriation of one side of the conflict but manages to avoid any reference at all to the other culpable party which appears on the opposite side of the equation. You know the one that starts with the letter “H”. Yes, the mob that is in total agreement with Helen about the illegitimate foundation of the state of Israel and is determined to erase this blot in its entirety, irrespective of the cost to its own citizenry.

    I agree it is hard to be dispassionate about the imagery coming out of Gaza but It usually requires at least two terms to balance an equation but any sense of balance was clearly of no concern to Helen Razer.

    With regard to Hamas, who would have thought that launching missiles in the general direction of Israel would not be conducive to the health and welfare of its citizens? It is as if the biennial Gaza wars that preceded this present conflagration never existed. Perhaps the leadership of Hamas is dementing rapidly and has no residual long term memory or alternatively its only aim is to exploit the imagery of the suffering in Gaza.

    Helen makes passing mention of the asymmetry of the conflict. The disproportionate death toll could well be due to a number of factors including,

    1. the firing of missiles by Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc. within close proximity to, or from within, neighborhoods that have the highest urban densities in the world,

    2. the use by the Israelis of the protective defensive system of the Iron Dome to protect its citizens. What nerve, what chutzpah! And they didn’t even offer it to the Gazans and

    3. the absence of an equivalent system for the Gazans leaving the only mechanism that Hamas has to protect its citizens is to cease firing its weapons in the general direction of Israel. For some reason this does not seem to be on Hamas’s radar.

    The Gazans did get a breather from their pounding for several hours during a ceasefire brokered by Egypt. This was the earliest ceasefire, the one that was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas. This rejection was accompanied by a continuance of the rain of missiles in the general direction of population centers in Israel. It seems Hamas’s policy is to fight to the last civilian in Gaza and thereby win the PR war. This is accompanied by the stupidity of the current Israeli government, which never ceases to amaze me, that allowed itself to be sucked in by this two card trick.

    The extremists of both sides of this conflict have now painted themselves into their respective corners but I am hoping that the Israelis do, as soon as possible, cede to the demands of Hamas and open up the borders of Gaza as Hamas demands and also release the recaptured Hamas prisoners. I am not sure about opening of the southern border with Egypt as they may have trouble convincing the Egyptian government in its present mood.

    The only additional proviso to such an agreement that makes sense is that Hamas, in return, totally demilitarizes Gaza (maybe under U.N. supervision) so that these events are not just another regular event on the biennial calendar. This appears to be a sensible way to deescalate the conflict and save further casualties in Gaza.

    The alternative is business as usual with a hardening (if this is possible) of attitudes that can only extend the conflict by another generation or two.

    Once the current bout of hostilities cease in Gaza then we can all look forward to the resumption of normal transmission from the Middle-East with the usual horrific images of mass executions in Iraq, car bombings in Beirut and dead children in Syria. Won’t that be fun (not) and the resultant imagery could be the basis for another of Helen’s articles.

    p.s. I admit I have borrowed the demilitarization idea from the following article (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/07/how_to_save_gaza_demilitarization_and_abbas.html ) which is well worth reading.

  13. Mark out West

    @ Mike

    How about this, Israel bus some Jews into Gaza @ some Palestinians into Isreal. Total assimilation, who is going to fire the rockets cause they live there.

    The Jews are victims of their own successful ethnic cleansing and now an easy target

  14. Jaybuoy

    Helen…compress pleease..

  15. Paddlefoot

    Netanyahu’s plea to keep the commercial airplanes flying over a war zone is, in the context of MH17, extraordinary and revealing. By both implying ‘nothing to see here’ and assuming that all passengers are a part of his ‘army’ shows that he has a psychopathic ruthlessness towards the Palestinians. Imagine his response if such an outrage occurred. Putin-esque no doubt. This is not leadership. I fear Israel’s soul is irrevocably damaged by such a Faustian pact.

  16. Nevil Kingston-Brown

    Dear Helen,
    It’s difficult to know how to respond to your claim that “you don’t consider a previous kind of activism preferable” when you also wrote that the image of Kim Phuc on fire had a moral justification in the 1970s that today’s imagery lacked. Kim’s image was just as mediated, recirculated, propagandized and as annihilating of the “real” Kim as any picture today.

    Here’s my defence of circulating images of graphic brutality enacted on children, You claim that circulation of pictures of atrocity serves no-one except the ego of the circulator in a kind of pornography without power to shock (which somewhat negates the definition of “pornography). What about sounds? You may be aware that Israel has recently banned the broadcasting of the names of killed Palestinian children. Why did they do that? Were they concerned to uphold the moral self-rectitude of the broadcasters and prevent them from indulging their egos? Why does the Australian government take extraordinary steps to prevent asylum seeker children in detention from being photographed/videod/etc? Is it all in service of an anti-pornographic agenda, to make their citizens stay aware of the real? What about the circulation of shocking words? Let’s try this restating of your headline “Edward Snowden’s emailing of leaked NSA documents helps no-one but Edward Snowden”. Sure, Snowden is driven by a certain kind of egotism, playing the individualist hero against the sinister state, and so, most definitely, is Julian Assange. Did their media-based acts have no meaning beyond their egos?

    That is pretty much the message I get from your columns. Marching is futile. Not marching is futile. Tweeting is futile. Online petitions against misogynist van companies are futile. Ian Thorpe coming out is futile. Sending tampons to Scott Morrison is futile. The Greens are futile. Raising “Awareness” of men’s violence against women is futile, because all these things are expressions of ego. With your scorning of all acts post the French Revolution bread riots as egotism and false empathy, you are moving rapidly towards a form of political faux-Buddhist Quietism in which the only thing to do is detach and attempt to stop the wheel of Karma, in the hope that this will somehow connect everyone with the Real. (Oh, and we could write to Julie Bishop. Like that’s going to make a difference.) It’s all very late-Baudrillard Fatal Strategies.

    It’s also, ultimately, the kind of anti-activist curmudgeonness that I associate with ex-ALP-right (and/or ex-Maoist) figures with regular deranged columns in the Murdoch press. These crazy young people are obsessed with weird lefty trends, as Joe Bullock put it. Not like my day (I realise their day was before your day) when we knew the value of the Real in the form of hard work down the coal mine. They’re all claiming that the sky is falling, obviously ego-obsessed pagan greens who worship their mobile phone-tweeted images of trees instead of the Real Trees cut down by Real Men who are the Real Conservationists. They should shut up and get a job before protesting through the approved, time-tested union channels.

    Sure, you’re totally opposed to the politics of those guys. But your arguments are increasingly resembling theirs, both in form and content.

    PS I don’t dislike you. Nor do I dislike your project of injecting some Situationist analysis into current affairs. But I do dislike what your message seems, to me, to be.

  17. Mike R

    Mark out West, your comment above of Friday, 25 July 2014 at 12:06 am contains an interesting idea about sending Jews to live in Gaza. I seem to recall that prior to the withdrawal from Gaza by the Israelis in 2005 there were vastly fewer exchanges of missiles in either direction. Careful what you wish for.

    As for the idea of sending Gazans north it seems silly as Hamas is doing an adequate job of abetting the killing and maiming its own citizenry with its current policy. Sending locals to be targets of its own missiles seems superfluous but maybe that’s what all the tunnels crossing from Gaza into Israel are for.

    By the way, so far the deaths inside Israel from rocket fire are one Jew, one Bedouin Arab and a Thai worker.

    Hamas’s demographic survey of the Israel population using randomized rocketry suggests that the attempt at ethnic cleansing leaves a lot to be desired. Pretty poor job compared to the experts of ISIS in Iraq or the Sudanese.

  18. warwick fry

    So, Helen we abandon our emotions and look at pictures of dead children as an attempt to hijack our sympathy and interfere with our’objectivity’. Sorry. It doesn’t wear with me. I have been on the phone with correspondents in the region and I think I have fair understanding of how the situation is, the reality. The better that reality is presented, Helen, the better we can influence people to change it. And if it takes photographs of headless 8 year old girls to do it, bring it on ! I agree with you on the banality and stupidity of ‘social media’ – I suspect that is the main point of your article. It is a relevant one. But – given the mainstream media avoidance of images that ‘bring it all home’ (You expect Rupert to publish these images ??!!! – get real) – the ‘social media’ are presenting images that, to me are very, very motivational. How else to you convey just how very, very ugly the Israeli intervention is?

  19. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: Once again you rush in to defend Israel’s barbarism.
    For once in your life, try to understand barbarism is barbarism no matter who commits it. It is an indefensible action which is unacceptable even if the perpetrator happens to be Israeli/Jewish.

  20. Ben Gray

    Venise, the only war crime being committed is by Hamas – using human shields to try to attack its enemies

  21. Venise Alstergren

    Didn’t anyone ever tell you that it takes two to tango honey?

  22. Mike R

    Finally Venise, yay! Your tango comment was spot on. If I wasn’t an atheist i would say Halellujah and praise the Lord.

    Yes there is more then one side to the conflict and neglecting to mention Hamas’s role in the present conflict along with Israel’s role , like Helen Razer’s attempt at a whitewash above, is ridiculous (don’t mention the ‘H’ word).

    With regard to your comment re barbarism, I agree 1000% that barbarism is barbarism no matter who commits it and is an indefensible action which is unacceptable when the perpetrator happens to be Israeli/Jewish. But why stop there? You seem for whatever unknown reason (though I can hazard a guess), to have left out of your condemnation a variety of other groups who are currently or recently perpetrated barbaric acts such as Suniis and Shiites in Syria and Iraq, Buddhists Sinhalese against the Tamils, Islamist in Sudan against Christians etc. or even atheists in Ukraine and Russia.

    I condemn them all (including Israel) for their barbarity.

    So I do however draw the line at the corollary that barbarism is only barbarism when the perpetrator is Israeli/Jewish. I would not question the sincerity of people like yourself if the comments reflected the same level of venom regarding the death tolls of innocents in the above conflicts, where the atrocities are predominantly off camera.

    Understanding the the Middle East is articularly easy if you remove any context to what is occurring and reduce it to the imagery of death and destruction. It is also easy to become a member of a de-facto cheer squad but it does nothing except promote the fortress mentality of the Israelis and the death wishes of Hamas.

    Fortunately I doubt if a live feed of comments in Crikey are the main bedtime reading in Tel-Aviv or in the tunnels of Gaza at the moment.

    The one side rhetoric that appears in Crikey provides a cathartic experience for those who indulge in it. It also unfortunately promotes the type of atmosphere that is currently on display in parts of Europe, which I am hoping doesn’t surface here.

    This brings us back to the point of my earlier comment with regard to the context of what is happening. The misery currently being inflicted upon the Palestinians could be stopped by use of the one defensive strategy that Hamas has not tried for longer than a few hours despite ceasefires from the Israelis. That is to stop firing missiles in the general direction of the population centres of Israel from close to, or within ,the heavily crowded neighborhoods of Gaza. All too easy if they were genuinely interested in the welfare of the surrounding civilian population.

    I reiterate my suggestion above (which may be impossibly naive) is that Israel cede to every demand of Hamas with regard to the opening the borders to Gaza fully and release of the recently recaptured Hamas prisoners. In return the Israelis would presumably require Hamas to cease rocket firing missiles and demilitarize.

    Both sides would achieve their aims and everyone goes home a winner.

    Well almost.The hardliners in Hamas would still not have achieved their stated aim to destroy Israel (it seems at any cost) and maybe this is why this is an impossible dream and the violence continues.

  23. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: You have misquoted me. What I said was “barbarism is barbarism no matter who commits it. It is an indefensible action which is unacceptable even if the perpetrator happens to be Israeli/Jewish.” Even ((IF)) if the perpetrator happens to be Israeli/Jewish.

    May I suggest that when quoting someone else that you highlight the passage wanted before going to edit and press copy. Then comes the word Paste. This will see the relative section appearing as actually written. Had you done that your misquoting me would not have happened.

    Reasons of space and a limited typing ability led me to omit the various wars going on at the moment.

    I liked your comment…”but it does nothing except promote the fortress mentality of the Israelis and the death wishes of Hamas.” Except I tend to think Israel’s fortress mentality includes taking as much of other people’s land and sweeping that, as well, into the fortress. As I think I said to you before. The Israelis are giving a good imitation of Adolf Hitler’s hypothesis of helping himself to other peoples’ land because the Ayrian Germans needed ‘Lebensraum.’

    I am cheered to meet another fellow Atheist.

  24. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: I was rereading the previous article’s comments where you stated the following “your assertion that it has been co-opted by the Israelis in order to exclude other Semitic ethnicities is bizarre.” I wasn’t specifically saying that the Israelis created this in order to accuse fellow Semitics of being ‘antiSemitic.’ But this is the end result. Over a period of years I’ve traveled to Egypt, Syria (pre-war) Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Iran, Jordan, Brunei, Malaysia, and dipped a toe into Algeria. These countries, as I assume you know, are Muslim. Not once have I heard an Arab using the phrase anti-Semitic about the Israelis. However, many times I have heard Israelis calling Arab states anti-Semitic. I find this to be a peculiarly unpleasant fact. I dare say it outrages my Oz sense of fair play.

  25. Mike R

    Sorry about the misunderstanding regarding your quote. The absence of quotation marks in my comment was meant to indicate that it had been modified. This was done ensure it was appropriate for the context. I don’t believe it changed the point that I made about your blatant omission of parties other than Israel.

    By the way I prefer to use keyboard shortcuts “Ctrl c” and “Ctrl v” for cut and paste instead of the multiple mouse movements you prefer. This minimizes the risk of RSI.

    This overuse of the mouse (or perhaps writers block) may be the reason you neglected the other horrendous events in the Middle-East, rather than just being a simple oversight.

    Now the current death toll in Syria alone (forget Iraq and other venues for mayhem for the moment) is about 150,000 to 170,000 and increasing at a similar rate to that in Gaza (actually a bit faster as 1800 have died in the last 10 days in Syria- See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/28/syria-death-toll_n_5626482.html). The death of children in this conflict has also been horrendous see http://www.npr.org/2013/12/19/255406234/more-children-

    I hope you can find some of your invaluable time to address these horrific figures (after some time to recover the function in your fingers).

    You could be busy. The ratio of dead in Syria to Gaza is currently about a factor of 100. To confirm your bona- fides as someone who on humanitarian grounds will protest at carnage irrespective of the perpetrator (and in the spirit of proportional response), you would need to now fill Crikey with your comments that reflect this disparity. I suspect about 1366 pages of material would be sufficient.

    Alternatively you could reduce the level of vitriol towards the Jewish state by a factor of 100 and preserve your strength and wrath for a level appropriate for the mayhem and slaughter in other domains.

    By the way you have misspelled the word Aryan in your enthusiasm to make argument by “reductio ad Hitlerum”. You also get bonus points for your validation of Godwin’s Law.

  26. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: If I were to list all the wars throughout the world I would be fatigued and Crikey would omit the post. Are you wanting to display your knowledge of the Middle East, or are you indulging in propaganda? Why do you wish to state the obvious in the case of Hamas?

    I resent your criticism that I have ignored the Syrian conflict. I have friends in that country whose lives are at risk and, not unnaturally, I tend to check the situation, with the hope they are still alive. Thus far I have heard nothing germane to their situation.

    I was unaware my remarks were loaded with vitriol towards the state of Israel. You, in a previous comment, stated you were an Atheist. Therefore I am surprised you support a Jewish state whose raíson d’etre is predicated by the fact ‘that God’ wrote about the Jews two thousand years ago. Following that line of reasoning ‘all non indigenous Australians should vacate the country.’ Doubtless America would supply the appropriate weapons to both sides of the conflict.

    Israel is a proxy country for America. America wants to have an interest in the Middle East. This means Israel is being fed in this slaughter, by stocking up on US armaments. In fact, a week ago America restocked the Israeli arsenal. The better to pursue a biblical curse- made two thousand years ago? Common man, either you are an Atheist who doesn’t believe in all that religious waffle, or you are one hundred percent in favour of Israel and her bloody, bloody butchery.

  27. Venise Alstergren

    BTW MIKE: I assume that by invoking Godwin’s law you have decided to terminate the discussion, therefore, you won’t be reading what I say. Which is…I thought Germany’s WWII actions against the Jews together with the subsequent Holocaust made Godwin’s little epic appear facile. Smart, clever but facile.

  28. Mike R

    Venise, Regarding your comment above (24), this is getting even more silly. I am sure the Israelis were called worse things than anti-Semitic in the Arab and Islamic countries you visited. But maybe I am wrong and they all said wonderful things about Israel (and Jews).

    However I thought we had terminated this ridiculous discussion re anti-Semitism in the comments to another Crikey article ” Why crying wolf on anti-Semitism harms us all. ” (where incidentally most of the comments were claims about the total non-existence of wolves).

    At the end of those comments I suggested that our discussions concerning your attempt to semantically obliterate the term were repeating in an infinite loop, characteristic of the onset of dementia. I could feel the amyloid plaques in my brain developing rapidly as I engaged with Venise’s arguments. Consequently I think I need a rest from our exchanges of correspondence via Crikey .

    However If Venise wants to continue this line of reasoning I will let her know of a dementia ward in a Jewish aged care home where she can have almost endless discussions with the residents regarding this term. She might learn about the practical applications of anti-Semitism, rather than just the theory and semantics .

    Finally, there is a pertinent Shakespearian quote that relates to Venise’s obsessive defensiveness with respect to anti-Semitism.

    That is , “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

  29. Mike R

    Venise, regarding your comments above. For the first time in living memory your refer to Hamas (at the beginning of comment 26). In this case I would like you to state what is obvious in the case of Hamas.

    As for the criticism of your apparent disregard for the casualties in the Syrian conflict, I note that you have made few direct comments regarding the slaughter in Syria in Crikey for over two years. The deaths in Syria since then are in the order of 100,000 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War). Enough said.

    Your lack of awareness of the nature of your own vitriolic comments concerning the state of Israel are astonishing in light of your last sentence above regarding Israel butchery. I thought you might have run out of bile by now but it looks you have an inexhaustible supply, unlike the number of Iron Dome missiles. Yes the U.S has indeed resupplied Iron Dome missiles to defend Israel’s population centres. Why does this unduly upset you? I could however hazard a guess (see my Shakespeare comment above).

    You made some “interesting” comments regarding atheism. An atheist usually prefers reason to emotion and my particular preference, in contrast to so many comments in Crikey , is for rational comments that display a modicum of objectivity rather than one sided rhetoric. Extreme rhetoric from either side normally induces an equal and opposite emotional reaction. Our sequence of tit for tat exchanges are often a good illustration of this.

    Venise your kind of rhetoric suggest that emotion has overtaken reason which is quite understandable with the imagery we see from Gaza. I would have thought it obvious that most of the problems of the Middle-East are due to emotions running riot on all sides and overruling logic. Conversely does anybody dispute with the exception of hotheads on both sides that a solution to the latest mess must be predicated in reason rather than the raw emotion that has got us into this mess?

    The other thing that I found irksome, is your comment about my atheistic belief system being incompatible with support for a Jewish state. I do however readily admit to hypocrisy in this regard as I actually support a two state solution, so that my support is also for a viable Palestinian (Islamic if the majority of the inhabitants support this) state as a solution to the current ongoing misery.

    Of course your accusation cuts both ways. As a professed atheist you should still at least be minimally aware of the fundamentalist Islamic creed of Hamas (ignoring Islamic Jihad for the moment).

    Thank goodness the Israelis in Tel-Aviv and Hamas in it bunkers in Gaza are not likely to get a live feed of Crikey commentary. What concerns me is the hardening of position on both sides and accompanying hysteria that partisan rhetoric encourages. These contributions can only further poison the atmosphere locally which I am hoping never leads to the type of recent events in Europe (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/22/italy-france-germany-foreign-ministers-condemn-antisemitic-protests).

    Yes, you are very right to suggest with my invocation of Godwin’s law that I am exasperated at the tiresome, non productive and repetitive nature of our exchanges that must bore the total c_ap out of anyone who has the misfortune of reading this stuff.

    So once again I bid you Adieu and in the immortal words of the Bard “parting is such sweet sorrow”, but actually more like a total relief.

  30. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: I should be flattered that you have nothing better to do with your time than backtrack my comments. If you go to the first comment I made in this post, (5), you will see I was on no one’s side. It took you to make me sure that Israel was on the same level as the Palestinians. BTW, not all Jews go along with Israel’s sorry excuses for the succession of their hard right wing governments turning Israel into a monster. I daresay our beloved minister for immigration, Scott Morrison, will have learned his anti-immigration stance. After all, it was people like you who put him there.

    Had you taken the chance to visit Chanel Two’s Q and A that I mentioned you would have heard Louise Adler, publisher of MUP, weighing in with her criticisms of the Netanyahu government. This lady is Jewish. Why do you have the arrogance to suggest your own opinion on the Palestinian/Jewish/Israeli is the only valid opinion?

    For the seven years or so that I have been an avid reader of Crikey, I can say, without hesitation, that your humourless discourses are very hard work. BTW: There is one way to avoid my childish, boring, tiresome, non-productive and repetitive comments. Stop reading them!

  31. Mike R

    Oh my whatever! Venise your persistence is amazing but draining.

    I am deeply gratified that you were flattered by my interest in your previous postings. Yes you are right, I definitely have better things to do. However as per usual, in your latest comments, you went off on a tangent. I gather this was simply an avoidance mechanism so that your fixation regarding deaths in Gaza versus the vastly greater numbers of deaths in the slaughterhouses of Syria and Iraq would not need to be addressed.

    However the most offensive, as well as diversionary, comment in your latest missive is the claim that I somehow contributed to putting Scott Morrison in power.

    I can ensure you that I am rusted on Labor since I first got the vote when Gough got in. I manned the polling booths in Joan Child’s electorate at the time and was at her election night ‘party’ when she conceded defeat in 1975. I was gutted then, as I was when this mob of miscreants came to power. However I admittedly have on a few occasions voted Green.

    By the way it was after comment 19 of yours that I first appeared with my rejoinders. Comment 5 was fine by me.

    You seem to have a passion for straw man arguments as a diversionary tactic so I shouldn’t engage with you on these terms, but I will yet again.

    I object to your assumption that my opinions as being opposite to all of Louise Adler’s opinions. I have not yet seen the Q and A but I have heard her speak on these matters before. I wholeheartedly agree with her previous statements about Netanyahu and the extremists and the associated abhorrent settlement policy. Other statements of hers, I suspect I may disagree with.

    Venise’s comments exemplify the tactics of argument by last resort . That is the introduction of non-sequiturs (and strawman) arguments in order to divert from their own inability “status acopia’ (a medical term that describes the inability to cope with and sustain an argument). I haven’t seen or read of such blatant diversionary tactics since I read Coles’s book on the Battle of the Bulge.

    I gather you also have had some objections with regard to my sense of humour. As they say “humour like beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so lighten up. Contrary to yourself, on occasions your comments have lightened my day with their unintentional humour. Better to laugh than cry.

    Finally as I have had a general policy of avoiding the reading of inane comments, which unfortunately has been “more honoured in the breach than the observance”, I intend to be more rigorous in future and take you up on your final suggestion.

    Sorry to be so harsh with my preceding comments but have a nice day (or evening).

  32. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: There’s one little item you completely fail to address. What possible reason would I have in either promoting Islamist causes or denying Israel her ambition/s? However, I am forced to ask myself what, really, are Israel’s ambitions? At the moment, and ever since the persecuted Jews fleeing Europe saw not only the right to live in a land of their own, they saw also the chance and the right to help themselves to the land the Palestinians saw as being their land too.

    You question my not having criticised Hamas enough. I would have thought anyone reading Crikey would know that Hamas is an unpleasant organisation who have little compunction in resorting to terrorist tactics in order to get back their own land, which was taken from them. As against this, I see Israel as an unpleasant organisation who has little compunction in resorting to terrorist tactics in order to acquire land which doesn’t belong to them.

    I am glad you see a world of difference between these two sets of beliefs. Because I, certainly, see no difference at all.

    Despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s pious declarations, I do not think, in his double speak, that he really wants a Palestine divided by two nations. Such is the far right wing dominance of Israeli’s extreme rightist parliamentarians- they have become even worse than Australia’s right wing goons. (Led by Tony Abbott we will jump to attention to volunteer to send our troops to fight in America’s litany of lost wars. And we all know Abbott has already tried to embroil us in a war. Ukraine is one of those cases.)

    I shall add dementia to the list I’m keeping of all your previous slurs against me. I do not care to carry this discussion off the pages of Crikey. By pursuing this present conversation en clair I have a written record of what was said, just in case the Scott Morrison in you decides to declare me as a non person, or worse, an inconvenient fact.

    Good night.


    If you don’t want to be mistaken for a Scott Morrison supporter, don’t write like one.

  33. Mike R

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get sillier the bar has been raised higher.

    Venise yet again has attempted the tangential strawman argument yet again to divert from her failure of the sincerity test. That is, why do the self- professed humanitarians go “Missing in Action” with regard to slaughters taking in place beyond the boundaries of Palestine? The apparent minimal concerns for victims of these outrages(when Israel is not involved) constitute gross failures of such a sincerity test.

    I will however once again reluctantly accept Venise’s bait and switch. The reasons for your promotion of Islamist causes and denial of Israel’s ambition/s are probably only known to yourself or your acquaintances. You asked for my opinion, but I can only offer a guess as to why, but I might create offence in doing so. I don’t want to add to your compendium of ‘slurs’ and it may also promote a continuance of our tiresome exchanges.

    With regard to my comment regarding dementia, I included myself. Do you recall my comment (28) about amyloid plaque? It was only a tad over four days ago.

    Venise, you don’t need to keep a written record of our conversations on Crikey. It is accessible as long as you have an account with Crikey and an Internet connection. Are you considering leaving Crikey for some greener pastures? I do hope not, but if this is the case, I apologize for any perceived slurs against your good self.

    Switching temporarily for one paragraph to serious mode, I see you conflate Hamas with the Palestinians which I would not necessarily do. There are moderates and extremists on both sides of the equation. Hamas, as you say above, engages in terror (which you then seem to justify). Hopefully a more moderate leadership of the Palestinians will arise if we can get over the current conflict. I am also hoping likewise that the extremists in the Israeli government are rejected by the populace some time in the future and are replaced by more moderate leadership.

    Venise, so much of our exchanges have degenerated into nonsense, so in that spirit, I will say that, due to your brilliant detective work that claimed I was channeling Scott Morrison (I was going to say paranoid rather than brilliant but I have a turned a new leaf), I have been finally unmasked as an imposter.

    Not Scott however, but I am channeling another Morrison, Bronwyn Bishop and Scott Morrison’s love child, Jim. He who famously sang “people are strange..” which is particularly apposite to much of the above.

    Finally your persistent use of diversions and straw man arguments means that I am now superfluous to our exchanges. If you want to you continue in this vein I suggest you conduct these exchanges between yourself and my straw man alter ego. I hopefully can get a deserved rest and you can have clear air to continue with your nonsense.

    So,until we meet again on some far flung field, I want to say, yet again, goodbye Venise, goodbye.

  34. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: Peace witless.

    Read today’s Melbourne Age (p20)’Netanyahu’s Agressive Stance Tarnishes Israel.’ Peter George.

    In it the writer articulates what I have been threshing around trying to say. He says it all.

    Up yours MIKE, up yours!

  35. Venise Alstergren

    The Age, Wednesday 6 August ’14: Peter George, P20

  36. Mike R

    Venise, I entrusted you above with my role as your adversarial correspondent. Unfortunately due to the quality of your submissions, I reluctantly have had to step in and return briefly to the fray.

    I will start by saying that you have established your intellectual credentials on many prior occasions. You didn’t need to reemphasize them with your latest piece (not peace).

    However from the brevity of your comments above, I think you may have mistakenly posted something that was meant to be posted on Twitter. Even then, you still had dozens of characters up your sleeve.

    Venise, I agree with much of the piece by Peter George but the tenor of the article was over the top in terms of partisan rhetoric. But in its defense, the Fairfax press is at least able to provide commentary from both sides of the debate – see http://www.theage.com.au/comment/how-gaza-became-one-big-suicide-bomb-20140803-zzxgn.html and http://m.smh.com.au/comment/the-hamas-trap-hidden-labyrinth-was-wired-for-war-20140803-zzznh.html.

    I did detect a sense of annoyance conveyed in my direction , even at this distance, manifested in the final sentence of your first tweet. You appear to be a disciple of the Mike Carlton school of Twitter. This fine fellow could teach you a thing or two about abuse via Twitter. Rather than the twee epithets you used, he has demonstrated the extent of his own intellectual limits by the appropriate use of invective with a more robust Anglo-Saxon flavour. You should try it, it can be very cathartic.

    My departures are becoming Nellie Melba like. So Venise I would like to say that no further correspondence will be entered into, with the usual caveat, unless unduly provoked*.

    *In this case, I reserve the right to employ all the weapons of my rhetorical armory- dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and even satire. I know it maybe asymmetrical warfare but sometimes you have to resort to such measures in the face of terrier like tenacity.

  37. Venise Alstergren

    1)You should admire tenacity, not dislike it.
    2)Do you inhabit the Tweetisphere?
    3)You actually thought the Peter George article was worth agreeing with???? Well that is one acorn of understanding in the vast Pacific ocean.

    I don’t know why I should explain myself on the Mike Carlton issue-and no, I am not going off at a tangent to avoid anything. Merely to answer your latest dollop of swill. I can’t say I am an admirer of the man. Yes we have exchanged Tweets, but that is the sum total of it. And, as it appeared as if the Rhine Maiden had finally bought the rag, I thought to cheer him up a bit.

    For some reason the Fairfax press, after surviving a near financial collapse appeared to be recovering some of its old zing. However, this last week they have been up to their hocks in the business of the Thai baby. Slurping out rancid but sugary, icky wicky, mindless twat. Articles that any journo working for Rupert Murdoch would have given an eye tooth to have written. Reprise…I can only imagine Gina the Rhine Maiden has bought herself onto-or owning the board.

    *”In this case, I reserve the right to employ all the weapons of my rhetorical armory- dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and even satire. I know it maybe asymmetrical warfare but sometimes you have to resort to such measures in the face of terrier like tenacity.”

    Do you actually think I would take fright at this threat? You have no idea what a tough school I grew up in. Or how much shit I have had to live with all my life. Fire away Mike. Fire away.

  38. Venise Alstergren

    PS: MIKE. What first tweet do you refer to? (Para 5, line two)

  39. Mike R

    Venise, I am feeling somewhat refreshed after our 24 hour ceasefire in our war of attrition, so once again I will invoke my caveat and answer your points.

    1) Your are right once again. Tenacity can be an admirable trait in the right context. However It can be wearisome at other times. A bit like dealing with the repetitive behavior of a child with Asperbergers.

    Taking tenacity too far means you can also end up being a disciple of the Patron Saint of Lost Causes. You need to be sensible with tenacity and know when to quit. I wish the combatants in the Middle-East would realize this.

    2) Sometimes.

    3) Some parts I agreed with regarding the Netanyahu government but George seemed too readily to absolve Hamas for its role in the current conflict. As I have said before, I have a predilection for rational thought and on that basis I tend to reject the one sided rhetoric of much of that piece.

    The ‘tweet’ I referred to was the last line of your comment (34) which was a pale imitation of a tweet by Mike Carlton but without the same robustness for which I am grateful.

    I am also aghast that you took my rhetorical threats seriously. It was meant in jest, see http://www.montypython.net/scripts/piranha.php .

    Finally, I hope this is not too presumptuous, but your reference to the tough school that your were brought up in, does offer some insight into your psyche. I myself, likewise have had some difficult and traumatic times in the past .

    I am sure that your are aware that analysis is a preferred treatment for such issues. It allows you the freedom to consider things carefully and understand (and thereby avoid) irrational thoughts and behaviors. In particular it can allow one to examine the underlying reasons for particular emotional attachments (and detachments).

    I can highly recommend it and I credit it for keeping me relatively sane (to a certain extent) in the present climate.

    So as a gesture of goodwill, I am offering, yet again, a permanent ceasefire so we can both get on with more productive tasks.

  40. Venise Alstergren

    MIKE R: I too have had a break from our ceasefire. You know the Paul Keating crack…”A soufflé doesn’t rise twice? Nor do you.

  41. Mike R

    Venise, there I was trying to be all nice to you, offered you a ceasefire and what do I get in response?

    A cruel barb that has so pricked me that I am now bleeding all over my keyboard.

    Your cold hearted response reminded me of a certain character from the well known Scottish play. I was thinking of the main female protagonist but the bubbling cauldron of anger exhibited in some of your missives is reminiscent of one of three remaining female candidates (take your pick but I am not referring to Lady Macduff’s transient role).

    Venise, I hope not to see a ghostly apparition appear before me but, I shall, just in case, check on the current location of Birnam Wood via Google Maps.

    By the way, the quote regarding soufflés has itself risen twice.

    Alice Roosevelt coined the expression in 1948 with regard to Thomas E. Dewey after his second consecutive presidential defeat.

    Paul Keating subsequently purloined the expression which was particularly effective as it also alluded to Andrew Peacock’s coiffure at the time. On that basis and due to my follicly challenged pate, I am deeply offended that you used that expression. Just kidding.

    I am off to warmer climes and will possibly incommunicado for a period, so once again I bid you adieu.

  42. Charlie Chaplin

    I’m torn here, Helen. On the one hand, shocking images can do little than provoke revulsion and ultimately desensitisation, but on the other they can provoke action.

    My son recently learned about the occupation of West Papua and started posting shocking images on social media. It provoked me to act and write letters to politicians as well as publicising the situation on my own social media.

    If my son hadn’t posted those images I would have remained ignorant of the occupation of West Papua.

Leave a comment


https://www.crikey.com.au/2014/07/24/razers-class-warfare-tweeting-pictures-of-dead-palestinian-babies-helps-no-one-but-you/ == https://www.crikey.com.au/free-trial/==https://www.crikey.com.au/subscribe/

Show popup

Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.