As I Please: The Henderson Wars (4)

Gerard has learned his craft well. In his gee-let’s-treat-Aborigines-fairly-but-hell-not-yet piece this morning he calls Antony Loewenstein a ‘leftist activist’; a nice damning mix of sounds whose repeated sibilants (‘ist’) bewhisper secrecy, illegality and, maybe, sexual deviance. ‘Ist’ has the whiff of ‘extremist’ in it. Or ‘socialist’. Or ‘Satanist’. Or ‘Falangist’. Or ‘Poujadiste’. Or whatever.

If he had called Antony an ‘anti-Zionist Jew’ or a ‘pro-Arab Jew’, which is what he is, or a ‘man who doubts the direction of Israeli policy in Gaza’, he would have risked the chance of him sounding sympathetic. But no, ‘leftist activist’ removes that possibility. As does the omission of ‘Jewish’.

Consider how careful it is. ‘Leftist’ with a capital ‘l’ has a ring of legitimacy to it; ‘left-wing’ of democracy, ‘leftist’ with a small ‘l’, neither. If he’d said ‘left-leaning political commentator’ (which is what Antony is), he might have sounded worth debating, or hearing out, or meeting for coffee and a chat; or even reading. But ‘activist’, no. An activist works by night, hand-printing unsavoury pamphlets, and shouts at you obscenely in the street.

Gerard is a master at this. His designation of me as ‘the false prophet of Palm Beach’ in these last ten years implies (1) that I am always wrong, though I rarely am, and (2) that I head some sort of cult: neo-Adventist, perhaps, dingo-worshipping and baby-killing. ‘Unreliable memoirist’, nearer the truth, would have been less damaging and was therefore not used.

He knows and knows well the effect of intermittent repetition. He said, correctly, that I owed him a thousand dollars for a while, though I slowly paid him off, but after five years of public hectoring did not say anymore what the bet was, to wit, that John Howard would lose his seat; in 2001 not 2007 the bet was, with John Ralston Saul its witness. But he was silent on this in the past four years while saying, of course, ‘false prophet’ over and over on account of it.

I wonder who taught this former Howard Chief of Staff his craft? Bob Santamaria? An ASIO friend? Colonel Spry? Archbishop Mannix? Or some foreign-based master class?

‘Foreign-based master class’. You see how easy it is.

Perhaps he could tell us.

Anytime soon.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Number (2) is partly true. “Foreign-based master class” is entirely true and therefore not a manipulation of language at all. Rather, it falls into the category of pure observation.

  2. I hardly ever agree with Henderson but with Lowenstein I find his take more on the money than not.

    Loewenstein is the Finkler of Australian Jewry ( a worthy Booker Prize winner) – a self hating Jew who is embarrassed on behalf of the actions of another country. Here is a man who promotes a proscribed terrorist organisation, who champions a ‘government’ that bans trade unions and collective bargaining, who assassinated an estimated 25 Fatah leaders in Gaza under the shadow of the Intifada, who ban women from voting or running for office and who force the intellectually disabled to carry suicide bombs.

    And what does Antony say about the executions without trail, the hundreds of millions the PLO have hidden in Swiss bank accounts, the refusal to open secular schools or allow medical aid from Israel – in fact, Israel opens all its hospitals to Palestinians but Hamas refuse permission for their people to have life saving treatment.

    The problem with many in the Left is that in supporting the oppressed and the underdog, they end up championing killers and terrorists etc.

    What does the Left say of its support for Robert Mugabe and idi Amin and Chavez and Stalin ….
    Henderson is a fool and clown, but in this case, he’s not wrong.

    • I’ve been a ‘self-hating Australian’ in my time and I find the sobriquet ‘self-hating’, which means no more than ‘conscienceful’, not useful in any discussion of, say, the death by phosphorous-bombing of three hundred children, a graver crime than any you cite, by Israelis acting on orders from Olmert, a convicted criminal bound soon for gaol, a crime that has been thus far unpunished by any international court.

      What are you saying? That the Israelis had the right to take the Gazans’ land from them, and kill aid-workers bringing in hospital supplies, and kill a lot of children, and the Gazans had no right to fight back, defend their homeland, resist their murderous invaders?

      What are you saying?

      • And oh yes, Mugabe and Amin and Stalin were bad people, but I’m not sure exactly what it is that Chavez has done wrong.

        What is it?

        • I don’t think self-hating is a very useful term, unless you’re trying to illegitimise someone’s views in which case it’s very useful indeed.

          The hands of both sides of the israel-palestine conflict are covered in the blood of the innocent. Neither the right or the left seem prepared to admit that.

          Chavez has the audacity to run very socialist country. I don’t agree with his politics but so far he hasn’t started wars, gone on mad purges or oppressed anyone so good luck to him.

  3. I fear a disagreement brewing Mr Ellis, mostly because you are so wrong on your history and your facts.

    First, you need to reference the alleged 300 children killed by prosperous bombing as this is simply not true. I know not where this figure was derived from, but I suggest it is a myth and I invite you to reference the 300 children killed by this means.
    Second, can you define the Gazans land? If it is the Gaza Strip, then that is not occupied by Israel – who incidentally only controlled in for 19 years before withdrawing (by force) all Jewish people. I was an observer at the time and can assure you that the area is under the government administration of Hamas. You’ll note that for 500 plus years the Muslim Turks occupied that territory and subjugated Palestinian nationalism, then after liberation in WW1, the Egyptians were the rulers and they ruthlessly suppressed Palestinian aspirations. Egypt, until last year, also maintained a security barrier with Gaza.

    The largest population of Palestinians is in Jordan, and you may also recall the massacres on 1972 – the largest massacres of Palestinian people in history – was by the Jordanian Army in an effort to crush Palestinian nationalism.

    As to defending their homeland from murderous invaders, I presume you are unfamiliar with census data showing that in 1900, there were approximately 700,000 ‘Palestinians’ living in the area now roughly defined as the West Bank, Gaza, Israel. Between 1900 and 1948 (independence) more Arabs immigrated to these areas than Jewish people; in fact they populated the region in greater numbers than Zionists from Europe. This data is on the public record. In 1948, as with 1937, the Palestinians rejected their own state as mandated by the UN.

    I always love the Australian hypocrisy. You lot happily live on land taken by genocide and massacres and think that ‘acknowledging’ the traditional owners is enough to ease your conscience. If you and others believe that Israel has taken the land of the Palestinians by force and should give it back, then I recommend you stick to this principle and vacate the land you and your forebears stole from Aboriginal people. It is no different.

  4. So how many children were killed by phosphorous bombing? How many were killed, in those three weeks, by other means?

    Killing children is okay, is it?

    What brought you to that conclusion?

  5. A Middle-East discourse is upon us, sir!

    Did I say killing children is okay? If so, can you show me where I wrote this? You have made an implication, or is it inference, from an issue of referencing and fact. No killing of children is ever justified, nor is the firing of rockets into schools, the blowing up of school buses, the bombing of cafes and weddings, or the vile Tel Aviv nightclub massacre.

    My issue, as someone who was part of the observation team in the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, is that misinformation and myth dominate most Mid-East debate, and to say 300 children killed, or was it 30, or 3 is what the Turks do to ameliorate the Armenian genocide … it wasn’t 1.5 million, it was hunger and disease, our lot dies too, it was ‘only’ 750,000, they were criminals et cetera.

    The facts are important. And the facts are that children on both sides have died in this conflict. If you write 300 and this in incorrect then it needs correction.

    We do not have space for do debate the history of oppression in the Sinai region (over whisky and fine food Mr Ellis. I will pay food, you can pour the malt), rather I a pedant about military accuracy and in this case, you are citing a tragedy that thankfully never happened.

    With respect …..

  6. 26 under the age of 18 between 1988 and 2010, and 15 Israeli children of the same age.

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