There’s No Free Pass On Palestine: A Critique of Democracy, Anti-Semitism and Zionism


The intensity of the response by sections of the Australian community to criticism of Israel isn’t an excuse for staying silent on a slaughter, writes Wally Miszewski.

The late Australian champion of human rights, John Pilger, courageously, in his imitable way, exposed Australia’s illusion of being egalitarian, inclusive and democratic in his 2009 Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech: Breaking the Great Australian Silence.

“In no other democratic country is public discussion of the brutal occupation of Palestine as limited as in Australia. Are we aware of the sheer scale of the crime against humanity in Gaza?
Twenty-nine members of one family – babies, grannies are gunned down, blown up, buried alive, their home bulldozed. Read the United Nations report, written by an eminent Jewish Judge, Richard Goldstone. Those who are working for the arsenal of freedom are working hard to bury the UN report. For only one nation, Israel, has the right to exist in the Middle East. Only one nation has the right to attack others. Only one nation has the impunity to run a racist apartheid regime with the approval of the western world, and with prime minister and deputy prime minister fawning over its leaders.
In Australia, any diversion from the unspoken rule, this impunity, attracts a campaign of craven personal abuse and intimidation usually associated with dictatorships. But we are not a dictatorship.
We are a democracy. Are we?”

Today, a decade and a half after John Pilger’s speech, the slaughter by the Israeli Netanyahu government of tens of thousands of Gaza citizens continues. Seventy per cent of the dead so far are women and children. It’s a genocidal slaughter justified by the argument that the oppressor is the victim, that Israel can do what it likes while the US supplies the arms and vetoes UN Security resolutions for a ceasefire.

It can be a daunting task to comment on a topic knowing that it is one of the most polarising, contemporary/nationalist/ethnic/religious/political issues of our time, and that it will automatically and categorically be rejected and labelled racist, anti-Semitic, anti-western or radicalised without a genuine investigation or debate.

Western society is socialised to resist judging any individual by their ethnicity or cultural roots. Multiculturalism is our mantra, and it’s a noble ideal. Why prejudge anyone about anything? Let any individual be completely evaluated upon their respective merits.

Australia is educationally and legally configured as a ‘tolerant’ society, champion of a variety of multicultural perspectives. However, there is a profound double standard subliminally at work here. There is a sub-group – the Australian Jewish community – a majority of whom prejudge all who are not part of the group’s biases. But is it not morally reasonable, and in fact morally necessary, to criticise any collective to the degree it deviates, at core, from the inter-ethnic, tolerant, human and universalistic ethics of Australian society?

The group can, alternatively or collectively, self-configure as a racial, ethnic, cultural, religious, nationalist and political organization? But does this ‘special interest’ community merit categorical immunity from criticism?

Any criticism of Zionism/Judaism is immediately branded as anti-Semitism. That the Nazis were brutes does not make us supremacists, fascists or racists if we criticise acts of inhumanity.

Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu during a speech to mark 100 days since October 7.

Criticism is not the same as hatred, and critics are not our enemies. The greatest friends of people are not those who praise but those who honestly find fault and question our humanity. A people without criticism is either a dictatorship, or a community so deeply embedded in smug self-satisfaction as to be on the road to intellectual and moral degeneration.

The key to understanding Zionism is knowledge of the difference between Judaism and Zionism. So read the history.

Zionism’s call of ‘A land without people for people without a land’ is the validation of the killing and removal of Palestinians, which continues to this day.

Seventy-five years of unabated slaughter and destruction by successive Israeli governments preceded the Hamas attack on October 7th, 2023. The Palestinians, in trying to achieve their right to self-determination, have continually been thwarted by British and Israeli slaughter, United Nations non-representation and non-support overseen by the US manipulation of power and control of the Middle Eastern Arab countries.

The Zionist movement began in 1895 with Theodor Herzl, a Jewish Austrian whose goal was to inhabit and colonize Palestine as a Jewish state. To achieve this, the Arab population had to be spirited away discreetly and circumspectly into neighbouring territories, while establishing a Jewish economy in the land.

The means adopted was of denying the existing Arab-Palestinians ownership (including forceful removal) or employment and shifting the Palestinian population away from their homeland, and preventing their return.

The Balfour Declaration in 1917 cemented Herzl’s ideology. The British Government occupied and ruled Palestine at the time. In a deceptive written statement, then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. This essentially pledged Britain’s support for Herzl’s aims of a Jewish sovereign state, and control of immigration in Palestine.

Many of the Jews that subsequently migrated to Palestine in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews. They were simply foreign nationals from many lands. The Palestinian Jews who had occupied Palestine prior to the Zionist arrivals only numbered a few thousand, and nationally they regarded themselves as Palestinians. They fiercely opposed the Zionists’ arrival, as they realized it would cause unrest with the majority Arab population – around 94 per cent at the time – with whom they had lived in peace and security.

Following the UN partition Resolution 181 in November 1947 (which did not have the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine) and the mass immigration of Jews to Palestine, the indigenous Arab-Palestinians were systemically and violently dispossessed of all rights as residents in their homeland, rendering them stateless.

Zionism’s central plan of ethnic discrimination for the creation of a Jewish society and state, with exclusive national rights in a land with an Arab majority, had commenced and continues to this day. Brute force is the method by which it is enforced.

Meanwhile, Western societies like Australia have remained uninformed and conditioned by corporate controlled mainstream media to believe a patently false version of history. As George Orwell said, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.”

This issue has been manipulated to portray the oppressor as the victim, and it needs to be challenged to make democracy work for justice and peace in Palestine and the Middle East.

Condoning the killing of women and children while hiding behind the cloak of our “fight for democracy and freedom”, while also invading other countries and replacing governments is a false prophet’s view of achieving peace for humanity and the world.

The hesitancy to speak out, you might find understandable. But not pardonable. Safety is no substitute for honesty.

History will judge those who fail their responsibility as scholars and human beings.

Walter (Wally) Miszewski was born in Germany to Polish parents. He emigrated to Australia in 1950. Wally is semi-retired, following self-employment over the last 25 years as a consultant (OH&S, WorkSafe) to the private sector construction industry. He's mostly resided in outer Melbourne, and been involved in managing forested acreage, livestock and building, including mud brick cabins. Wally is the designer and developer of Where’s Buzz, a game on the Apple store promoting animal welfare. He's recently begun collaborating with the Wurundjeri Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation to create a “Community Forest”, a self-sustaining ecosystem and wildlife habitat.