By Ted Lapkin
Imagine a world in which Melissa Parke – the far-left, largely unknown federal Labor Member for Freemantle – defies the odds and wins the ALP leadership. And in our hypothetical scenario one of the first decisions made by newly minted Leader of the Opposition is the appointment of radical journalist John Pilger as her chief strategist and spokesman.
Far fetched? Perhaps (thankfully) in Australia. But last week this is almost precisely what happened when newly elected British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn appointed Guardian columnist Seumas Milne as his ‘Executive Director of Strategy and Communications’.
Like Pilger, Milne has considerable form when it comes to loathing the very culture and society that has bestowed upon him such prominence and prosperity. During the Iraq war he was outspoken in support for what he described as the “armed resistance” conducting “Iraq’s real war of liberation” against US, British and Australian troops.
Sentiments very similar to those expressed by Pilger during his notorious appearance on Lateline in March 2004 where the following exchange ensued:
“TONY JONES: Can you approve in that context the killing of American, British or Australian troops who are in the occupying forces?
JOHN PILGER: Well yes, they’re legitimate targets. They’re illegally occupying a country.”
And of course Pilger has long been noted for his antipathy towards Israel, which he once described as:
“a state shorn of the humane traditions of Judaism, whose unrelenting militarism is the sum of an expansionist, lawless and racist ideology called Zionism.”
But what of the newly appointed Director of Strategy for Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition? Alas, no surprises there. Last August Seumas Milne attended a pro-Palestinian rally in London where he declared:
“the Palestinians are an occupied people; they have the right to resist. They have the right to defend themselves from the occupier. It’s not terrorism to fight back, the terrorism the killing of citizens by Israel on an industrial scale”.
The words of Pilger and Milne indicate both men are severely afflicted by a political pathology that has come to be known as ‘oikophobia’. In its political context, this term was coined by British philosopher Roger Scruton to describe the peculiar form of self-hatred that creates:
“the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours’ … the oikophobe is, his own eyes, a defender of enlightened universalism against local chauvinism”.
But there are none so blind as will not see that Pilger, Milne and their fellow travellers invariably end up defending genocidaires from Slobodan Milosevic (Pilger was a big fan) to the jihadis of Hamas.
As Scruton sagely observed:
“oikophobia is a stage through which the adolescent mind usually passes. But it is a stage in which some people – intellectuals especially – tend to become arrested. As George Orwell has pointed out, intellectuals on the Left are especially prone to it”.
Since Jeremy Corbyn’s most implausible election there are those who have argued he should be given the benefit of the doubt. These voices have contended that Corbyn’s own oikophobic inclinations might be tempered by his new responsibilities as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
But the appointment of arch anti-Zionist Seumas Milne has dashed any hope of moderation. While Jeremy Corbyn remains Labor leader our brothers and sisters in Britain’s Jewish community will have to contend with a radically left-wing party apparatus that is implacably hostile to Israel.
And coming full circle, last week Melissa Parke’s own Freemantle branch of the ALP proposed a particularly noxious motion at the Western Australian Labor State Executive:
“C.3 RECOGNITION OF A PALESTINIAN STATE
That the Freemantle Branch of WA Labor calls on the Australian Federal Labor Party and the ALP National Conference to support the recognition of a Palestinian state”.
This motion is entirely consistent with Parke’s sordid history of peddling the worst type of anti-Zionist invective, using the bully pulpit of parliament to accuse Israel of “apartheid” while expressing support for BDS.
I know from my contacts within the federal parliamentary Labor Party that Israel’s many friends within the ALP are aware of the danger posed by fringe dwellers like Melissa Parke. And if there’s any way our community can help pro-Israel elements within Labor to fight the anti-Zionist contagion, we should be willing to lend a hand.
But all is not gloom and doom. Last week the Australian Parliament was the scene of a truly stupendous adjournment speech given by Michael Sukkar, the Member for Deakin. Citing the “words of incitement that have poisoned the minds of the Palestinian people”, Michael went on declare:
“We have seen in our own country [Australia] the terrible impact of radicalisation and incitement. It poisons the minds of our youth and fills their heads with lurid fantasies and conspiracy theories, which are then backed by calls to commit ghastly crimes. In times of trauma and crisis such as this, it is imperative that opinion makers, be they journalists or politicians, speak the truth and demonstrate moral clarity. Those who seek to justify the death.”
So that’s it for some of the news you might have missed over the past week.