Wally’s “broader context”
I’veÂ worried before about Waleed Aly, the most influential Islamic apologist in the country.
Once the spokesturd for the Islamic Council of Victoria, he is now an ABC radio host, a Channel 10 co-presenter and an Age columnist.
He is even a politics lecturer at Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre, despite having no doctorate and having qualified in engineering and law.
Sounds like he is Australia’s Barry Soetoro, aka Hussein Obama!
This week Aly showed the style that’s made him such a pet of the establishment Left but a worry to me.
Nigeria’s Boko Haram group last month kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls…
As so often when Muslim terrorists strike, Aly was brought on by Channel Ten’s The Project to explain away our fears as “an expert in terrorism”.
“So who is this group exactly?” he was asked.
Not once in his answer did “Muslim” or “Islamic” pass Aly’s lips… “… they might just be vigilantes.”
This was not an atypical approach from Aly.
When jihadists bombed the Boston marathon, he initially jumped to an improbable conclusion, informing Age readers of “the very real suspicion that the perpetrators here are self-styled American patriots” and “our own societies might just be implicated”.
Aly also assured 3AW the then Mufti of Australia, Sheik Taj el-Din el-Hilali, was not a worry even though he’d praised suicide bombers as “heroes” and called the September 11 attacks “God’s work against oppressors”.
Aly said he had no idea who had made Hilali mufti and he represented no one. In fact, Aly’s own Islamic Council of Victoria had voted with other members of the Federation of Islamic Councils of Australia for Hilali to represent their faith.
When Dutch writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, raised a Muslim, visited Australia to warn against Islamic radicals, Aly mocked her as just “a rock star” doing “actually very, very well out of” her message.
In fact, Hirsi Ali had already had her collaborator, film director Theo van Gogh, slaughtered by a Muslim extremist and was herself forced to live under constant police protection.
Aly this week did it again,Â trying on the ABC to play downÂ (or “contextualise”, as academics would say) the kidnapping and murder of three teenaged Israeli hitchhikers, apparently by Hamas gunmen. He’d asked on a Left-wing Israeli academic who, he discovered, would not play ball:
Waleed Aly:Â So, joining us now is Professor Yossi Shain, who’s the chairman of the Political Science Department at Tel Aviv University. Yossi, thank you very much for speaking to us today. Hamas denies this.Â Do we actually have any evidence as to who was behind it?
Yossi Shain: Well, of course. The Israeli security forces discovered, in fact, a day after the abduction the guys who committed the crime but they could not locate them…
Waleed Aly: But, isÂ all we have to go on the words of the Israeli security forces?
Yossi Shain: In this business, they are the best words for us, and in fact the people disappeared from their homes. Their family doesn’t know where they are. They are Hamas activists, who were, prior to that, in Israeli jails for committing other crimes. They were released from jail and, so, there is – undoubtedly they disappeared just the day of the abduction…
Waleed Aly: Now, Israel’s a very diverse, sometimes fractured society. Is it fractured at all in its response over this?
Yossi Shain: Not fractured whatsoever. I think this is such a heinous crime. You pick up three kids hitchhiking to go home from schools. You take them to the field and you just, like, kill them. Point blank. Shooting them. And this is, it’s terrifying, unforgivable and any word that I would say has nothing to do with debates in Israel about security, debates about peace with the Palestinians, possibilities of accommodation, etcetera. This is across the board – left, right, centre, north, south. Everybody is mourning because just tell them how senseless killing occurs here, and we are in the Middle East. One should not underestimate the beastiality, the brutality here in this region. I know the people who make this talk. But if you look at Syria, when thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands are murdered and in the border with Lebanon and on the border with Iraq and Jordan, when you have the new jihadists, but they kill their own people. Like dogs, kneel them down and just shoot them. One should not be surprised in this business. And it doesn’t matter whether you are Left or Right…
Waleed Aly: So,Â it sounds really like what you’re trying to do is create a narrative here that Israel, a nation, the Jewish nation, is surrounded by a collection of Arab nations that are effectively populated by barbarians. Is that your argument?
Yossi Shain: This is not a narrative. I’m not talking about narratives, and I’m not talking about barbarians or not. It’s a reality. The Arabs can self-describe, and the moderates in the Arabs can self-describe. It’s a reality. It’s not a question of narrative. Narrative is a post-modern notion. We’re talking about reality!
Waleed Aly [talking over Shain] Well, what exactly is the reality that you’re describing?
Yossi Shain: We have 10 million – we have 10 million people displaced in Syria. Ten million. Hundreds of thousands of people being murdered. We have murders every day taking place in Iraq and the east of Iraq and in Syria and on the border. We have cases like that every day. There is shelling, constant shelling on the Israeli south. [Gets talked over again] It’s not a question of narrative.
Waleed Aly: Okay, I understand that. Let me ask you this question, then. Is there any understanding in any part of Israeli society that this,Â these killings, which you correctly described as heinous, are connected to a broader political picture? … For example…
Yossi Shain: Nothing. No. [Starts to answer although Aly keeps on talking over him]
Waleed Aly: Is there any discourse about this being …
Yossi Shain: On the contrary, on the contrary, even Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian…
Waleed Aly: [talking right over Shain] …part of a response to the occupationor is it just about this being… sorry, just let me finish the question – is it just all about this being just an unprovoked act of barbarism.
Yossi Shain: It’s an act of barbarism undoubtedly. There is no, there is no political gain whatsoever once can understand, you know, that you say to yourself, we negotiate on this… But you take three kids and just murder them, I don’t understand what is beyond questioning about a barbaric act. What kind of actions are those?
Waleed Aly: Well, say for example – sorry to interrupt. For example, is there any sense, because I understandÂ these kids were in Hebron. Is that right?
Yossi Shain: No. They were not in Hebron. These kids were travelling from their school in a neighbourhood adjacent to Jerusalem and they were picked up in the neighbourhood and were just on their way from school and hijacking and so on. That’s it. Just like my kids will travel and God forbid will be kidnapped. We had that case before in many cases in Tel Aviv as well. We had, you know, suicide bombings of kids in Tel Aviv and so on. But this is just, you pick up three kids, hijacking from school home, and you just kill them. Now you, you can think that it’s not an act of barbarism or it’s narrative, but this is a reality here that no one can tolerate and no one will tolerate.
Waleed Aly: I’m not expecting you to tolerate it. And I’m not saying it’s anything other than an act of barbarism and I’m not hiding behind any concept of narrative. I’m simply asking questions aboutÂ whether or not in Israel this is viewed as entirely isolated from the broader political environment. I mean, isn’t there, for example, any conversation in Israel aboutÂ whether or not this is the killing of settlers as some kind of reprisal.
Yossi Shain: No, I don’t think so. I think no one knows if they’re settlers or not settlers. These are not questions – one kid in this side of the green line, the other on the other side. It doesn’t matter. These people were intending on finding, as their father said, there is a pride to be a jihadist and anyone who kills Jews should be a martyr. Now, when you have such a theology, and I don’t say this is a theology which is pervasive all around, but it’s a theology, you are not selecting them according to their place of residence. You select them just by the sheer fact that they are Jews living in the State of Israel whether they live here or there, whether they live in Tel Aviv, Holon, Haifa and all the other cities of Israel or whether they crossed the line, on the Green Line, hundred meters or two kilometres. It doesn’t matter. When you have such a theology, when you don’t recognise these people as human beings you will kill them just like that… and it’s a theology.
Waleed Aly:Â We have, of course, many, many Palestinians who were killed in the process. In fact, I think just during the period of the search, five Palestinians were killed. Four hundred were arrested.
Yossi Shain: Yes.
Waleed Aly: Is that part of the conversation in Israel at all?
Yossi Shain: Absolutely! Look, we are seeking to have peace with the Palestinians. And, in fact, Mahmoud Abbas himself, the leader of the Palestinians, the moderate forces saying he’s ready. And he understands that this is injuring his cause. Now, once you understand, the Palestinians are divided. There are Hamas and the PA are completely different stories. Many people in the PA understand that this is undercutting their development. If you go to Ramallah, you go to other places, people want to live good life. One should not make the claim that everyone is barbarians. No! There is a barbaric, there is a barbaric segment with such a theology. Many, or maybe most or the vast majority would like to live a good life alongside the Israelis and one should not also underestimate the fact that Israel, when Israel controlled some of the territories, people are suffering. These are two separate stories! And how to keep a political solution to this conflict is a long-standing issue.
Waleed Aly: Yeah, but is..
Yossi Shain: But beside of all of this issue, there is the question of the theology plus an action that you kidnap kids and you kill them, just like that. This is, this is something that is beyond, not only the pale, not something happening here, but it can happen – one cannot comprehend it as a human being. And indeed, this notion of a lack of humanity, the lack of humanity pervades the Middle East nowadays. When people are killed like dogs by their own brothers, and this is one should not underestimate – it’s a culture of killing. It’s sacred to many people.
Waleed Aly: Okay. There are many things there I don’t have time to pick up now, Yossi, but maybe we’ll speak again sometime and have a broader and deeper conversation about it. But thank you very much for your insights this time around.
In this clash of civilisations, one side represents barbarism. Here is the mother of one of the men suspected of murdering the boys: