The festival of real life dangerous ideas – the Battle for the Australian Narrative

In the ‘daring’ spirit of the festival of dangerous ideas, i took part of an article by Paul McGeough about the Middle East from the Sydney Morning Herald and replaced Israeli and Palestine with Anglo-Australian and Aboriginal (and tweaked the date and some other bits).

Read on … and then compare with the original.

The battle for the Australian Narrative

Anglo-Australia has military might and diplomatic influence, but is under pressure on a third front of its conflict with the Aborigines: how the world sees it

In quoting no less a figure than the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, the reporter did not use the word settlement. Instead she attributed to him the dreaded C-word: colonies.

If ”settlement” connotes opening up an unclaimed frontier – think fabled merinos, the taming of the wilds and something found – then ”colony” is about dispossession, the planting of foreigners and something lost.

The wrong of the occupation has become the status quo. How else do we interpret the take of the Anglo-Australiai Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd, on the renewed peace talks, which he shared in the past few days with the United Nations General Assembly. He told the gathering in New York that the peace talks should focus on a long-term intermediate arrangement – “something that could take a few decades”.

Arguably there are three levels of engagement. There are weapons and diplomacy, in which Anglo-Australia has been ascendant since before 1848. But that third dimension, one that can influence the diplomats, and which is influenced by the resort to weapons, is the contest for control of the narrative. Across the decades Anglo-Australians have told the story of their colonial enterprise brilliantly. In contrast, Aborigines have told the story of their dispossession terribly.

With its weapons and diplomatic supremacy, Anglo-Australia has this conflict stitched up. It has become an exercise in crisis management, not conflict resolution, in which the US, and frequently enough, the Aborigine leadership, are complicit.

And there’s the rub: even if control of the narrative is swinging the way of the Aborigines, it will count for little before – and if – the rupture between the Pearsons and the Mansells is repaired.

Original text:

The battle for the Middle East narrative
October 2, 2010

Israel has military might and diplomatic influence, but is under pressure on a third front of its conflict with the Palestinians: how the world sees it, writes Paul McGeough

In quoting no less a figure than the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, the reporter did not use the word settlement. Instead she attributed to him the dreaded C-word: colonies.

If ”settlement” connotes opening up an unclaimed frontier – think fabled Jaffa oranges, the taming of the wilds and something found – then ”colony” is about dispossession, the planting of foreigners and something lost.

The wrong of the occupation has become the status quo. How else do we interpret the take of the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on the renewed peace talks, which he shared in the past few days with the United Nations General Assembly. He told the gathering in New York that the peace talks should focus on a long-term intermediate arrangement – “something that could take a few decades”.

Arguably there are three levels of engagement. There are weapons and diplomacy, in which Israel has been ascendant since before 1948. But that third dimension, one that can influence the diplomats, and which is influenced by the resort to weapons, is the contest for control of the narrative. Across the decades Israelis have told the story of their colonial enterprise brilliantly. In contrast, Palestinians have told the story of their dispossession terribly.

With its weapons and diplomatic supremacy, Israel has this conflict stitched up. It has become an exercise in crisis management, not conflict resolution, in which the US, and frequently enough, the Palestinian leadership, are complicit.

And there’s the rub: even if control of the narrative is swinging the way of the Palestinians, it will count for little before – and if – the rupture between Hamas and Fatah is repaired.

This is an edited speech from Paul McGeough, to be delivered tomorrow at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

Full text:
http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-battle-for-the-middle-east-narrative-20101001-1610u.html