On Israel, we’re being swamped by a king tide of moral equivalence

26 October 2023

From The Australian, by Gemma Tognini


Those actions, the savages who commissioned them, planned them and carried them out, and their unequivocal condemnation is in fact the least complicated thing around.

It is the embodiment of evil. But still, a disturbing number of folks, not just those in sections of the media and politics, have spoken of these things as if they were some kind of accident, some kind of event you can just brush aside. Like dropping the F-bomb after stubbing your toe.

I’m sure Martin Bryant had a complex upbringing, but not one part of his murderous rampage at Port Arthur was complicated. It was planned. It was deliberate. Condemning him, and what he did, was never complicated.

Ido, the husband of Israeli-French citizen Celine Ben David Nagar, at her funeral

The same people who brought you “believe all women” did not believe the women who were raped in public on the streets of Gaza and paraded for all to see. Believe all women except Jewish women. The same mob who regularly say language is violence refuse to condemn actual violence. The shame on federal teal MPs Kylea Tink and Sophie Scamps.

In the face of overwhelming evidence, so many refused to believe Hamas had beheaded Jewish babies. In the face of absolutely no evidence, these same people were quite happy to say Israel had fired a rocket at a hospital in Gaza and killed 500 people. When the truth emerged, that it was a terrible, tragic own goal, there was no commensurate condemnation for the culprits.

It’s an absolute truth to say there have been civilian casualties in the West Bank through the decades of conflict.

It is absolutely true to say there are things that have gone terribly wrong during Israel Defence Forces incursions. But these were not deliberate. And those responsible were held to account.

To say these are one and the same is implausible. It’s not just a false equivalence, it’s a fundamental moral failure. I don’t understand the need for it. What makes a person so blinded by ideology that all reason goes out the door, unable to accept facts at face value?

As teal MP for Wentworth Allegra Spender said this week, “I support the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for statehood … but Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel so can never be a partner for peace.” There it is. Nuance. A recognition that there can be no peace when one side’s primary purpose is annihilating the other.

Even as Australia was waking up from its referendum hangover, the same sort of weird narrative invention was at play. For equal parts mental preservation and the fact I felt I had nothing of value to offer the conversation, I declared myself a voice referendum Switzerland as soon as the date was announced. As the results came in on Saturday night, I was astounded to see both sides of the debate make all kinds of wild claims about why their side won or lost.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport

According to the most vocal, visible Yes campaigners, more than 60 per cent of Australians are fundamentally racist. Some couldn’t stop there; more than 60 per cent of Australians are too dumb to understand, especially those in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Gloating, feral No voters proudly parroted their favourite lines too. They don’t REALLY care about reconciliation, they’re just in it for the gift. Speaking of national unity, many gladly told the other side where to go in language way more colourful than can be printed here.

I’m exhausted by it all, truth be told, but more than that I’m perplexed. This pogrom hit like a king tide. Like a cannonball to our collective hearts. There are friends of mine, colleagues and clients who have lost family and friends in the most horrific deaths. Someone asked me this week, “Why are you posting this stuff, are you Jewish?”

Does it matter that I’m not? I am human. I can distinguish between Hamas and the subjugated people of the disputed territories. And can tell the difference between good and evil.