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January 2010



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Humour, sport and politics

This is a letter to the editor I wrote in response to some ‘lighten up’ suggestions Nick Dyrenfurth made to me in The Weekend Australian.

Letters Editor

Resident ‘left’ reactionary at The Australian Nick Dyrenfurth takes me to task for daring to write on my blog En Passant with John Passant ( that Ricky Ponting lives off the labour of the working class and that the defeat of the arrogant imperious Australian cricket team might in some small way undermine the crass nationalism of the Australian ruling elite and their myth of invincibility. (‘Sombre critics serve pure comedic gold’ The Weekend Australian January 9-10 p 12).

Dyrenfurth proclaims that no one should take life, let alone cricket, so seriously. 

He seems to imagine that sport is somehow disconnected from the rest of society and its dominant driver, profit and reinvestment, and so is not worthy of serious discussion.   

Presumably Dyrenfurth thinks we can all laugh our way to clarity. Of course, his lighten up mantra is more about not understanding than understanding. ‘Don’t analyse’ is what he is really telling us; especially don’t analyse anything from an anti-capitalist perspective. 

This becomes clear from the only joke the oh so serious Dyrenfurth makes.

He equates the Left’s defence of the Palestinians against their ongoing genocide at the hands of Israel with some mythical campaign for ‘adequate supplies of bamboo for Sichuan panda bears’.  (Presumably he didn’t use whales as an example because that would have been too politically difficult for him and would have exposed the fatuousness of his position.)

‘Don’t discuss, trivialise’ seems to be Dyrenfurth’s motto.

Serious analysis rather than ‘weetbix packet’ understanding disguised as a call to lighten up is completely appropriate around issues like Palestine, and I would add movies and cricket.

Thus it is perfectly legitimate for the left, as I have written on my blog, to see Avatar as anti-imperialist, but viewed through the rich liberal eyes of James Cameron. It is entertainment which, despite its anti-imperialist message, will not mobilise people to oppose US imperialism.

So it is not just entertainment. Much as it is not just cricket.

Finally Dyrenfurth mentions my former role in the public service before I retired.  I fail to see what relevance that has in this discussion. Presumably it is some cheap attempt by Nick to denigrate me or my former employer or both.  

John Passant



Comment from geoff
Time January 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm

“… the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people.”

No doubt I’ll cop the usual truly asinine mealy mouthed “just because I’m an anti-Zionist doesn’t mean I’m an antisemite” pre-emptive offensive denial, which has become part of the verbal stock-in-trade of the knee jerk nazi left, for pointing this out.

In 1948 there were perhaps about 1 million people who have subsequently become known as “Palestinians”, well after the the British colony finally became history and the Jews there successfully defended themselves against the first determined pan Arab effort to obliterate them to the last child. Now there are about five million or more world wide depending on whose count. A 500% increase in population in barely two generations? That would make Israel the most unsuccessful, least efficient perpetrators of genocide in all of history.

Of course there is one other small thing. Only a grubby antisemite of the worst type would seriously accuse Israel of genocide. This filthy allegation wouldn’t even occur to anybody else.

Nothing funny about that.

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Comment from John
Time January 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Thansk Geoff. Driving hundreds of thousands of people from their land; incarcerating 1.5 million in Gaza; setting up an apartheid wall; committting war crimes against them… the list goes on.

I am not alone. I suggest you read some Israeli historians who agree with me. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine might be a good start. Presumably this Israeli citizen is also by your reckoning an anti-semite.
Or some of the ultra-orthodox sects which condemn zionism too.

The slur of anti-semitism is a mask to hide the reality of Zionism and shut down debate.

The tactic is wearing thin as the reality of the actions of the Israeli Government show the world the true nature of the regime and its long term goal.

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Comment from Dave Bath
Time January 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Actually, the Palestinians have more claim to the claim “semitic” than Europeans who have “returned” to the Middle East, if you do genetic and linguistic analyses.

The problem is that modern Zionist forces are merely repeating the basic actions lauded in the genocide versus of scripture (Joshua, Exodus, etc) – verses and books that have never been condemned by democratic leaders in the same way that the equally-execrable Mein Kampf has been condemned.

Consider Joshua 6:21, 6:24, or, more blatantly an concisely slating the love of genocide to their deity, Joshua 10:40 (KJV)

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.

Even transcripts from the High Court of Australia show the Commonwealth Solicitor and a few judges know that genocide and terrorism are lauded in the Tanakh.

BENNETT: History provides numerous examples of situations where it has been necessary for a polity to defend itself against a body other than a sovereign state. One could start with the book of Joshua in the Bible. If the Canaanite cities had had a federation with section 51(vi) in it there is little doubt that it could have been invoked against the children of Israel, although at that stage one could hardly describe them as a sovereign state in the traditional sense. Their only territory was the territory they were about conquer.

KIRBY J: What was the defect of the Canaanites on this theory?

MR BENNETT: There is no relevant defect except they lost.

So, until our politicians and zionist apologists (including mere Christian dupes) start pointing out that the traditional values of the Israeli state include genocide, and include parts of scripture properly under the definition of “hate literature”, and educate the public about this aspect of Jewish traditional values, there will be little recognition of Israeli actions in this matter as abhorrent to the public, and no practical pressure for change.

It’s no different from the hypocrisy of nuclear weapons holdings that are kept away from IAEA inspectors. Israel gets away with approximately 150 nuclear warheads, while even an unsubstantiated sniff of the potential capacity for having weapons of mass destruction is the pretext for invasion of Iraq. If Iran and Israel were treated equally with respect to nuclear weaponry, Israel would be the pariah, and Iran lauded as a relative beacon of nuclear responsibility (even though it is worrisome, it’s less of a threat than India, Pakistan, even Korea, but certainly less of a threat than Israel).

So it’s not just with genocide and apartheid that Israel gets away with actions that would, in any other state, draw the wrath of the international community.

And before anyone accuses /ME/ of being anti-semite, even in the twisted narrow definition promoted by Zionists…. my daughter and grandson are technically Jewish by matrilineal tradition.

Comment from David
Time January 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Geoff, I haven’t seen any sign of anti-semitism in anything John has written. In fact, its no different that the comments made by plenty of Jewish activists, intellectuals, Holocaust survivors.

Your comments, on the other hand, seem to be profound racist. You seem to be derisive of the very concept that a person could call themselves Palestinian, and concerned with making a blood libel against all Arabs.

You’re no better than the Westerners before 1939 who used their words to defend the Nazi regime, or the revisionist historians like David Irving, who use intellectually cowardly tactics to pretend that an obvious genocidal campaign never existed. You are a coward and a collaborator, and you presume to call John an “anti-semite”? Be gone with you.

Comment from Andrew Gilbert
Time January 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

From reading this blog, I find it very hard to believe that John really is anti-Semitic or a Nazi at all Geoff. It would be nice if you provided some sort of evidence to support your slanderous accusation (which you peppered so skillfully with emotive but essentially meaningless adjective such as grubby and dirty), seen as nothing here, that I’ve read has even the suggestion of any sort of racial or religious prejudice on John’s part whatsoever. If anything, John seems to be totally committed to ridding the world of all such evils. Perhaps this is why he is so passionate about the plight of the Palestinian people, not because of any alleged racial prejudice against their oppressors (and it really is a spurious conflation to lump anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, as any dissenting Jew will no doubt inform you), but out of his commitment to create a better world and ultimately to lend his solidarity to absolutely anyone who is the victim of injustice and oppression.

Comment from geoff
Time January 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm

That’s “geoff” to the grubby bunch of fascist lefties and antisemites who hang out here. Not “Geoff”. Get it right, racists.

“I’m not an antisemite because Pappe is a Jew (or something)”. “I’m not an antisemite because the sprog is a Jew”. “I’m not an antisemite because the Jews aren’t semites.” “I’m not an antisemite because some three or four thousand year religious text has nasty bits.” “I’m not an antisemite because a Jew somewhere has said what I think”. “I’m not an antisemite because Kirby once said something silly” “I’m not an antisemite just because I think the Jews have no national rights, only Palestinians.” “I’m not an antisemite because the damned Jews have got The Bomb.”

You’ve forgotten “I’m not an antisemite because the Jews are a religion, not a race” and “I’m not an antisemite because the Jews are a religion [or whatever], not a nation.” No doubt this will come.

What was it I said about you lot not having had a single original thought since the Vietnam war? Or even then?

Admit it. You’re racists. It is so ingrained that you probably don’t even notice. That’s why you hang out with some weirdo “leftist” cult. Nearly all the killer-worshipping fascists do these days. It provides some perverted psychological cover.

Comment from geoff
Time January 9, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Oh yes. I almost forgot.

“I’m not an antisemite just because one minute I’m talking about cricket and politics and the next about Israel.”

Priceless. People pay money for entertainment this good.

I will admit “I’m not an antisemite because the sprog has a Jewish mother” is definitely an advance on the “I’m not an antisemite because some of my best friends are …” refrain.

You fellas are sillier than a cage of Greens on a hot day.

Comment from David
Time January 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Who exactly are you trying to convince of anything, Geoffrey? Your sentences are nonsensical in exactly the sort of way that leads intelligent people to feel the need to correct the rubbish spewing out – assuming that those people actually think you’re serious. You know. Like those losers who call themselves “red-baiters”. I’m starting to wonder if you’re a just an internet troll.

Comment from John
Time January 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Thanks geoff. So you won’t read Pappe? I guess seeing an Israeli historian (on whom I partly base my conclusions) say what I say challenges your world view and so you reject it in the only way you know how – mindless abuse. The reference to Palestine comes about by the way since Dyrenfurth (the man I am replying to) mentions it in his article and has been an uncompromising supporter of the Israeli state for a long time. I was trying to ask him where the lighten up mantra his article refers to fitted in there.

No doubt he will try the same intellectually dishonest response as you.

I was trying to have a discussion with you but you seem incapable of rational debate.

Comment from Kieran
Time January 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm

“Anti-semite” is practically the Godwins law of the Palestinian issue.

Like the reductio ad Hitlerum, the first person to resort to using the term “anti semite” has descended into the realm of nonsense and no longer needs to be taken seriously.

John, the word’s “anti semite” should be treated as trolling, a breach of faith in discussion of the issues, an attempt to nuke reason out the argument and reduce reasoned discourse to name calling.

Ban the fool, delete his comments, or just ignore him.

Comment from geoff
Time January 9, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I have read Pappe. And Neumann, Finkelstein, Chomsky even that low rent, barely literate imbecile Loeuenstein.

I just don’t hold them in the same regard as you, is all. In fact I don’t hold them in any regard at all and I certainly don’t don’t imbue them with particular gravitas because they are or claim to be Jews and/or Israelis.

People in Israel and “Jews” in the west say all sorts of things. There’s a simple reason for this. They are allowed to. Indeed I suspect the easiest way to get published is by being a “Jew” dumping on Israel.

It takes no courage at all for someone living in Israel to verbally attack the state. The sames goes for US, Australia, Europe … Such a thing would be unthinkable in pretty well every Arab country and I doubt that someone publicly speaking in support of Israel in Gaza would see too many more sunrises.

To give weight to an anti-Zionist writer because he is a “Jew” while discounting a pro-Zionist writer because he is a “Jew” is a pretty good indicator of antisemitism.

I have also read Said. I think he too is full of crap. That does not make me an anti-Arab racist.

To accuse Israel of driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, war crimes, incarcerating them in Gaza and so on is not a good start for someone claiming to be interested in rational debate and is not in the slightest bit honest, intellectually or otherwise.

Comment from John
Time January 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Kieran, I am loathe to ban people.

Comment from Joe
Time January 9, 2010 at 8:34 pm

“…claiming to be interested in rational debate…”

Geoff, if you were interested in rational debate, you would not go around spouting your “anybody-who-criticizes-Israel-is-an-anti-semite” theory. Perhaps you should stop cowardly hiding behind that infantile, knee jerk and pathetic argument and face the facts.

Comment from Mark
Time January 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Geoff, can you please define how criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic?

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Comment from geoff
Time January 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Criticism of Israel is not antisemitic. Including passionate and heartfelt criticism.

The notion is too absurd to waste time on. I have never said this.

In fact no one serious has ever seriously said that. Produce an example. Just one will do.

Yet you constantly hear people, in particular Israel bashers, denying they are antisemitic just because they are critics of Israel. It is incessant.

It has to be a fair question: what drives so many to so shrilly deny an allegation that has never been made?

On the other hand anti-Israel and anti-Zionist raves are often informed or inspired by antisemitism sometimes of the most virulent and violent types. This phenonomen is well known. It cannot be truthfully denied. Even otherwise moderate criticism of Israeli policy can sometimes include antisemitic slurs and assumptions. This is a fact there for anyone who can be bothered to see for themselves. It is astonishing how determined Israel bashers are to ignore this.

On the other hand it is impossible to defend Israel without being denounced as an anti-Arab racist. It always happens. Always.

Comment from Andrew Gilbert
Time January 9, 2010 at 10:58 pm

OK geoff, fair enough. But could you please point out the “slurs and assumptions” that betrayed John’s antisemitism to you.

Comment from John
Time January 10, 2010 at 5:45 am

geoff, you ask: what drives so many to so shrilly deny an allegation that has never been made?

But it is an allegation that has been made. In your very first post you call me an anti-semite. In other words you yourself make the suggestion we are responding to.

Where is the anti-semitism in my calling Israeli policy towards the Palestinians genocide? You then resort to an old trick. Criticism of Israel can include anti-semitic slurs and assumptions. In fact I agree. That can be the case. In this case however it is intellectually dishonest.

OK, you called me an anti-semite. Show me how that is the case. Where’s the evidence? What slurs and assumptions are there that show my ‘anti-semitism’ to you?

By the way I have changed the article a bit to show more clearly how the Palestine question is one that Dyrenfurth himself raises in his article and how it links to his ‘don’t analyse, lighten up’ mantra.

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