Friday, July 29, 2016

The Aussie Shirtfronter's Guide to History

I doubt failed PM Tony Abbott has ever come across a war he didn't like. (As opposed to actually being in one of course.) And, as a natural-born scrapper and pugilist, it seems to be of crucial importance to him that, in any stoush in which Australia has ever been involved, we land the first punch.

How else to explain this stuff and nonsense from his recent opinion piece published in the incredibly shrinking Sydney Morning Herald, Australians on the Western Front still offer a lesson to us today:

"But Australians didn't just fight at Gallipoli and in France. An Australian battery fired the Empire's first shot in anger to stop a German ship leaving Port Phillip. The Australian Light Horse was the spearhead of the British army that liberated Jerusalem and Damascus." (28/7/16)

Life being too short, I won't burden you with the rest of the paragraph, let alone a discussion of the the entire piece, but that second sentence cannot be allowed to pass as fact. No Australian (or Brit for that matter) ever fought his way into Jerusalem in December 1917 or Damascus in September 1918.

On the 'liberation' of the former, see my 24/4/15 post In the Burning Sands of the Middle East, a response to an earlier attempt by Abbott to peddle this tripe. On the 'liberation' of Damascus, you can read my 13/12/11 post Daley of Damascus.

But just to underline what fantastic bullshit Abbott is feeding us mushrooms here, let me focus again, using a different source this time, and at greater length, on the circumstances in which the 'liberation' of Damascus from Turkish control occurred:

"What a British army, much superior in numbers and arms and enjoying the goodwill of the Arab civil population, did to a Turkish army, much inferior in equipment, ill-fed and ill-clad and moreover operating in a hostile country has been well told in the official history [by Captain Cyril Falls, 1930]. All that is proposed to chronicle here, if only very briefly, is the part played by the Arabs in the victory and the whole campaign. The three Turkish armies in Palestine to the east and west of the River Jordan were supplied by the Hijaz railway running from Damascus to the junction at Dir'a from which one branch fed the forces in the western sector and the other those in the eastern. It was of vital military importance to cut off these connections before the British offensive was launched. The task was entrusted to Faisal [leader of the Arab Revolt]. A mobile column of 5,000 Arabs, who on the 17th and the 18th of September 'emerged like phantoms from the desert', blew up the railway to the north, south and west, shutting off Turkish supplies and cutting off lines of retreat. The few available British aeroplanes struck at Turkish army headquarters, telegraph, telephone, and road junctions. In the words of the historian, [British commander General Edmund] Allenby's victory was thus facilitated by 'two comparatively novel tools - aircraft and Arabs'.

"Once the Turkish lines were pierced to the north of Jaffa the fate of the two [Turkish] armies to the west of the Jordan was sealed. They offered such resistance as was necessary to cover the retreat northwards. The Arabs threw themselves across the line of retreat of the army to the east of the Jordan, hindered its retreat, captured prisoners and inflicted heavy casualties. Thus Allenby's victory was assured long before his forces reached Magiddo, the official name of the battle for Palestine and Syria. Limon von Sanders [the German commander of the Turkish forces], like British official historians of the war, stressed the importance of the aid given to the British forces by the Arab civil population. He cited the specific example of his headquarters at Nazareth, into which the British forces were led by Arab scouts along tracks.

"Confidence in victory was so high that barely 24-hours after the breakthrough [of] the Turkish lines Allenby despatched [T.E.] Lawrence by plane with a message to Faisal in these terms: 'I send Your Highness my greetings and my most cordial congratulations upon the great achievement of your gallant troops at Dir'a, the effect of which has, by throwing the enemy's communications into confusion, had an important bearing upon the success of our operations. Thanks to our combined efforts, the Turkish army is defeated and is everywhere in full retreat.'

"After the capture of Nazareth, von Sander's headquarters, the advance on Damascus was a speedy combined operation: the British army swung north-east inland along the ancient highway that forded the Jordan at Jisr Banat Ya'qub and straight to Qunaitira; the Arabs along, and mostly to the east of, the Hijaz railway. There was no 'fall' or 'surrender' of Damascus in the military sense. Politically the four centuries of Turkish rule came to an end at 2 pm on 30 September when, while the senior Turkish and German commanders were still in the city and offering no resistance, a provisional Arab government was proclaimed and the Arab flag was hoisted on the Town Hall. During the night of 20 September an advance force of the Arab Camel Corps entered the city, apart from many irregulars. Next morning at 7.30 am, Sharif Nasir rode, accompanied by Nuri Sha'lan, into the city to the Town Hall, soon to be followed by Lawrence.

"Here it is relevant to dispose of a myth that the city 'surrendered' to an Australian force and that the Arabs were not the first to take it. An advance guard of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was ordered to block the road from Damascus to Hims to prevent the Turkish retreat. But on account of the terrain in the Barada Gorge it was necessary to pass through the northern outskirts of the city. This the Brigade did unobtrusively early on the first of October. To magnify this episode and to represent it as evidence that the Arabs were not the first to enter Damascus is absurd. As stated above the city was under an Arab government from the afternoon of the previous day. There was no significance, military or political, in the passing of the Light Horse Brigade even through its centre. Allenby himself put it in the right words in a report to London: 'When my troops [Arab, Australian and British] entered the city an Arab administration was in being and Arab flags were flying from government buildings.' He described his own entry into the city as merely a 'visit'." (Anglo-Arab Relations & the Question of Palestine 1914-1921, A.L. Tibawi, 1977, pp 294-96)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

When Zionists Boycotted Jews in Palestine

You know how it goes whenever the subject of the Boycott Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel comes up - dark references by the usual suspects to 1930s Germany and Nazi attacks on Jewish shops and businesses. As, for example, in this nonsense from the dopey leader of the NSW Labor Party, Luke Foley:

"The call to boycott Jewish commerce is Europe's oldest political appeal. That call today goes under the name of the BDS campaign. I condemn it." (See my 7/4/12 post Where Luke Foley's Coming From)

The next time you hear this kind of crap you might like to recall the following episode from 1940s Palestine when the Zionists there instituted a boycott of a Jewish newspaper:

"That autumn in Jerusalem, I had an insight into another side of life in Palestine - what is loosely called the freedom of the press. There was of course a strict censorship, both government and military, with a close liaison between the two. Opinion, so far as it did not actually inflame the population, was not censorable. But freedom of the press in Palestine during the war was restricted not so much by censorship as by lack of newsprint. Arab and Hebrew newspapers were given only limited supplies. The Palestine Post*, Jewish-owned and controlled - the only English daily in the country - was no exception. It had to reduce itself to a single sheet.

"At such a time, a plan to start a daily in opposition to the Post seemed unfeasible. After many months of negotiations, however, a second English daily was put on the market. It was owned by a Russian Jew, Khasin, who was already printing a weekly English paper on the Sabbath when no Palestine Post appeared. Khasin, with a totally inadequate supply of newsprint, with only two Intertype machines and one Monotype, a couple of stonehands and two reporters, launched his new daily, the Palestine Illustrated News, amid a storm of opposition from official Jewish bodies who began a campaign against the paper, telling influential Jews in the cities of Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv to boycott it and sending roundabout instructions to the Jewish newsboys to refuse to sell it on the streets. Into Khasin's possession there came a copy of a circular letter giving reasons why the paper should be boycotted. It stated that Khasin was not working in liaison with Jewish institutions, that his policy was his own, and that as the paper did not officially represent the Jewish outlook in the country, it was not suitable for a Jew to buy.

"The first copies sold in Zion Square created a minor riot. Khasin had engaged special newsboys and the Palestine Post sellers began a free fight in an effort to drive the Illustrated News off the streets. But despite the underground and open war, the circulation increased. Under immense difficulties, the layout of the News - hampered by the inadequacies of staff and machines, both primitive - was gradually improved. Whereas the Palestine Post played up Zionist achievement, and printed all Jewish news available, Khasin tried to devote equal space to both Jewish and Arab news.

"Difficulties, however, were to increase. Khasin, who flouted Jewish religious practice by printing on the Sabbath, wished to produce his paper on such fasts and holy days as the Palestine Post closed down. He received anonymous threatening letters, stating that time bombs would be laid in his offices and in the machine-room; that the compositors and stonehands working for him would be liable to personal attack if they consented to produce a paper on such days. But Khasin was not to be beaten. Already the Sabbath edition was being set and printed in an Arab workshop. There each Friday noon the Palestine News offices transported themselves - and under the direction of the two reporters, the Arab printers, who could read no English, set the paper by hand. They had learnt the letters of the English alphabet and could recognise them - but in reverse. Despite this, their galley-pulls were often cleaner than those of the European compositors working at their Intertypes. throughout Friday night, when devout Jews had ceased to work, the Arab flatbed presses would be groaning at top speed spewing out copies of Khasin's Illustrated News. Within a few weeks of the launching of the paper the Arab press was also publishing the News on special Holy Days in addition to each Sabbath (though the latter was called simply 'weekend' and undated).

"English people who grew to know the opposition with which the paper had to contend bought it in preference to the Post, although its world news coverage was inadequate and much of its grammar quaint. Military camps placed large orders.

"But the boycott, although it had not stopped the sale of the paper, had achieved something far more important. Only a few Jewish firms dared to advertise in it. The Arabs, of course, unless cinema proprietors or restaurateurs, did not normally advertise in a Jewish-owned paper. Khasin struggled on for many months, trying to defeat the unofficial boycott, but except for government advertisements, police notices and the like, the credit side of his accounts was bare. In the end, it was not lack of capital which closed down the News - but lack of newsprint itself." (Reporting from Palestine 1943-1944, Barbara Board**, 2008, pp 119-122)

[*The Palestine Post (1932-1950) was the predecessor of today's Likudnik Jerusalem Post;**Barbara Board (1916-1986)]

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Plus Ca Change Plus La Meme Chose


The shadow foreign affairs portfolio has now passed from Tanya (Rogue state? What rogue state?) Plibersek to Penny ("I was struck by the challenges of Israel's leaders having to juggle the work of government with managing a constant existential threat"*) Wong.

Penelope, of course, is eminently qualified for the post, having been rambammed in 2014. (Which explains her fluency in Ziospeak.) I for one simply cannot wait for more of her penetrating insights on this and other over-the-hills-and-far-away matters.

[*See my 9/6/14 post Israeli-Occupied Labor.]

Monday, July 25, 2016

Gutless Journalism at the SMH

Sydney Morning Herald journalist, Nick Miller, wrote the following, clearly under duress:

"He was in Gaza for a year, and for 11 months it was 'fairly routine', but the final month was Operation Cast Lead, a three-week conflict between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel, which the Palestinians called a massacre. The opening assault was followed by a ground invasion. it ended with more than 1000 Palestinian deaths and a subsequent United Nations mission accused both sides of war crimes." (Buried under the rubble, Nick Miller, 23/7/16)

Fear of the Israel lobby is palpable in every word.

Just to correct the record:

An even stevens conflict?

Really? Why then did the UN's Goldstone Report describe it as "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population..."? (1893)

Only the Palestinians call it a massacre?

Bullshit, only the brass-necked Israelis would call it anything other than a massacre.

More than 1000 Palestinian deaths?

Too bloody right! Add another 400 to that.

UN accused both sides of war crimes?

And also said that it did not "equate the position of Israel as the occupying Power with that of the occupied Palestinian population or entities representing it." (Goldstone Report, 1876)

In the same issue, the Herald's rambammed political editor Peter Hartcher outs himself as a PEP (Progressive Except Palestine).

While he's quite capable of getting Australia right - "British Australia was built on the ruins of Aboriginal Australia, and the modern nation federated on a consensus of racial exclusion." (She's no threat - there's an opportunity, 23/7/16) - don't in a million expect him to write anything like this:

'Israel was built on the ruins of Arab Palestine, and constituted as an exclusively Jewish state.'

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump This


"Stepping up for a job he's toyed with since the 1980's, New York developer and reality TV star Donald Trump has accepted the Republican Party's presidential nomination with a dark speech that parsed the US and the world as mean, chaotic and dangerous for Americans - whose governments had failed to defend and protect them... He promised to 'defeat the barbarians of ISIS' and to knock into line countries that didn't respect the US - including Iran, China and any country that figured the US would protect it without being paid." (Trump whips up frenzy built on fear, Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/7/16)

Let me get this straight: the United States routinely rampages around the world, intervening in the affairs of others, both overtly and covertly, and showers arms and treasure on assorted authoritarian and apartheid regimes, and those once felicitously described as 'our sons-of-bitches', Trump sums up the resultant mess as 'mean, chaotic and dangerous for Americans', and then promises to continue rampaging around the planet, etc.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

JSIL/ISIL: Nothing New Under the Sun

Barbara Board (1916-86) was a British freelance journalist who reported on developments in British Mandate Palestine during the 1930s and 40s for British and Canadian papers. Here she describes the social makeup of that notorious Zionist terrorist outfit, the Stern Gang* - a sort of Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL) if you will:

"From what sections of the Jewish community in Palestine were the gangsters drawn? Under what guise did they masquerade as a cover to their other activities. My Hadera informants gave me varied answers. Many of the gangsters, they told me, had come from the [Zionist] colonies themselves. They were potential criminal types who had avoided joining the armed forces in 1940 and had managed to resist Zionist pressure to enrol at the recruiting centres set up in the following months. These youths, ironically enough already trained in self-defence, found it an easy matter to work out operations for attack. They formed themselves into self-contained gangs. Then, not as individual members but as units, they allied themselves with Stern. Not all the gangsters however were ex-colonists. A large proportion came from the ranks of the unemployed - pitiful groups of derelict young Jews who between the beginning of the war and the opening of War Department installations in Palestine roamed the streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa, penniless and starving. They had provided ripe material for militant propagandists. Yet other members of the gangs, neither colonists nor unemployed, believed in terrorism as their national creed. They were fascists culled from various sections of the Jewish community - sons of wealthy families, clerks, shop assistants, waiters, factory hands, labourers." (Reporting from Palestine: 1943-1944, 2008, p 34)

I was reminded of Board's description by the words of Australia's national counter-terrorism co-ordinator, Greg Moriarty, writing on the subject of so-called 'lone wolf' terrorism, linked to (or inspired by, however tenuously in same cases) today's Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL):

"For some, the attraction is ideological and absolute. They believe in a narrow and extreme interpretation of Islam where there can be no compromise with the West or with other Muslims who do not accept the righteousness of ISIL's cause and submit to its will. But we also face another challenge from those who are not necessarily deeply committed to and engaged with the Islamist ideology but are nonetheless, due to a range of reasons, including mental health issues, susceptible to being motivated and lured rapidly down a dangerous path by the terrorist narrative. For some of these people, the warped views which ISIL propagates can, to their own distorted way of thinking, justify their anger at society and give meaning to their existence." (Security threat review, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/7/16)

[*For an account of the Stern Gang's terror campaign in Britain see my 6/7/12 post Anyone Remember the Stern Gang's London Offensive?]

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Whited Sepulchres

Not one, not two, but three Zionist lobbyists in three days in the mainstream press. Top that!

And all pointing the finger at, and pontificating on, the likes of Pauline Hanson, Sonia Kruger and 'Islamism', while of course ignoring the evils of the apartheid state, the defence of which is their real shtick.

Never has Matthew 23:27 seemed more appropriate: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

1) The Executive Council of Australian Jewry's Peter Wertheim:

"Hanson has often denied that her views and her party's policies have anything to do with racism and bigotry, but it is difficult to see how else one can characterise her numerous public pronouncements attributing negative behaviour and traits to groups of people on account of their ethnic or religious background..." (Perils of Pauline far from unique, The Australian, 18/7/16)

You mean like the numerous public pronouncements attributing negative behaviour and traits to Palestinian Arabs regularly heard in Israel?

2) The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Colin Rubenstein:

"This ideology is best described as Islamism, a violent, totalitarian ideology which argues all political and social problems can be resolved by returning to an imagined version of the Islamic caliphate which existed in the time of the prophet. This ideology is a political belief system - like communism or fascism - and not at all the same as the religion, Islam." (Let's speak clearly on Islamism, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/7/16)

You mean like political Zionism, a violent, totalitarian ideology which argues all political and social problems can be resolved for Jews by returning to an imagined version of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah which existed in the Iron Age?

3) The Australia/ Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Mark Leibler:

"As a person of the Jewish faith, racism and its consequences are etched into my soul. Racism robs a people of their choices and opportunities, their homes, their livelihoods and their sense of confidence and security." (Lurches to the right reveal racism is the problem, not the solution, The Australian, 20/7/16)*

You mean like Zionist apartheid robs the Palestinian people of their choices and opportunities, their homes, their livelihoods, and indeed their very lives?