Then The Age went and published the story:
The Socialist Alternative tactics are outlined in an in-house publication.
Discussing an incident at Melbourne, when a socialist stall was overturned, Daniel L. says the best response is to "immediately make a huge fuss — denounce them loudly, screaming ‘you're a murderer, you support George Bush's war, you support killing innocent people in the Middle East, you're fascist scum' and so forth. When we did this it had a huge polarising effect with people coming up afterwards to show their support. Often this was from the point of view of freedom of speech, rather than a willingness to support fighting Israel. But that doesn't change the fact that it is excellent terrain for us."
One writer, Vashti, says "two young Lebanese guys came up and asked if they could beat up the Zionists".
Daniel says of this: "They knew which side they were on and were willing to fight. We do not want to start fights with the Liberals ourselves, but if Lebanese people do it's a good thing and we're f---ing well with them."
The "in-house" publication at the centre of the controversy is a very revealing piece. You can access it here.
There's fun for the whole family in that thing. Like a newly-opened box of chocolates, everyone can reach in and grab their favourites. Here are mine:
Overall, by campaigning agreesively around the issue, being willing to stand up to the Zionists and try to create a fuss, we have had real success and been able to find a significant audience - mostly among Arabic or other non-white students. - Corey.
Corey demonstrates his opposition to racism by treating it as a decisive characteristic in the people he's seeking to attract.
(O)ur Students against War and Rascism (sic) meeting had about 50 popele at it!! We maanged to keep the zionists (sic) out, and the meeting was full of emotion and urgency. The one person who was shaking his head in disagreement during Dougals (sic) introduction was instantly labeled a zionist (sic) and rascist (sic) by Dougal, and shortly after this guy left, sensing how isolated he was there. -Francis.
Now there's a win for free speech and democracy.
Then there's this one here:
It's no surpise then, following the events at both Melbourne Uni and Mondash, that Zionists felt the need to asser their racism and fetish for genocide and mass slaughter of Arab people. - Chris dP.
Down side: glib accusation of genocide.
Up side: Chris dP reckons we deserve a capital 'Z'.
All this reinforces what we already knew about the far-Left: they're obsessed about Israel, certainly far out of proportion with its interest in other regions and potential injustices. Just why this is so is an interesting question. The traditional explanation is flat-out anti-Semitism. This is part of the story, but only a small part.
My theory is that since the end of the Cold War, the interest of the Left has shifted away from seeing the world in terms of people's relationship to the means of production, and toward people's relationship to colonialism. Look at the support the Left has extended for a variety of regimes in South America and Africa, many of whom are flatly anti-democratic, but all of whom have proud anti-colonial credentials. As Europeans, Americans or Australians, the Left see colonialism as the great stain on their nation, one that they need to repent for. The Middle East is seen as a frontier in the battle against colonialism. The Palestinians are posited as the indigenous people of the land, and the Israelis are the European colonial power. As with previous struggles against colonialism, there is no room for compromise: only the exit of the colonial power is considered an acceptable solution for the Left.
So long as this is the pervasive narrative that is used to explain the Middle East conflict amongst the left, opposition to Israel will remain fierce. The fact that this narrative is grossly flawed (the Jewish presence goes back millenia; the 'colonials' are the majority group with no alternative nationality; Israel is a minnow compared to its numerous large rivals) matters little so long as the radical Left refuse to consider it.
It's worth remembering that for its first several decades, many on the Left were supporters of Israel. The narrative at that time was that Israel was the plucky cosmopolitan democracy in a region of hostile states. Its existance was also symbolic of the worst excesses of the far Right.
It seems like a long long time ago.