Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Shadow Minister Afraid of His Own Shadow

I always thought Mark Dreyfus, Australia's Shadow Attorney-General, was elected by his Australian constituents to look after Australia's national interests.

Silly me! It seems that for some of us out there his primary political responsibility is - or should be - to defend Israel whenever they think the occasion demands.

Of course, their baying and yapping over his refusal to reflexively fall in with their peculiar Israel first obsession wouldn't much matter if Dreyfus had the inner fortitude to simply shrug it off and get on with the Australia first business for which he and his fellow parliamentarians were elected.

But no, Dreyfus, for reasons best known to himself, takes the concerns of the Israel first crowd very seriously indeed. So seriously, in fact, that he feels he owes them an explanation for not frothing at the mouth and going for the jugular whenever Israel is critiqued in his vicinity.  Hence his letter in The Australian Jewish News of October 10:

"Several people have written to me and The AJN regarding my participation in the ABC's Q&A program on September 22, and in particular my decision not to directly respond to a comment made by another of the panellists, Randa Abdel-Fattah, that was highly critical of Israel in the context of the recent conflict in Gaza."

(Just to remind you what Ms Abdel-Fattah said on Q&A that night, by way of contextualising the phenomenon of Muslim youth radicalisation: "... the one thing we never address is the role of Western foreign policy and the grievances - the legitimate grievances - that cause [radicalisation]... Why is it that we choose to ignore that elephant in the room? The role of Western foreign policy in creating the mess in the Middle East that we see... the fact that we had the decimation of Gaza by Israel two months ago, and the conspiracy of silence - in fact, I'll go even further, the legitimating and justification giving Israel a licence to kill, does that not fuel anger? Does that not plant the seeds? We go around in the West trying to cut down the trees of terrorism even as we plant seeds of terrorism and we do that when we allow Israel to get away with its war crimes...")

"One thing on which I and all the letter writers agree is that all the views expressed by Ms Abdel-Fattah were wrong."

All the views?

So Gaza wasn't decimated?
So Israel doesn't get a free pass to kill and maim over and over and over again?
So Israel doesn't do war crimes?

But I digress.

Here are Dreyfus's (heavily pruned) reasons for not taking Ms Abdel-Fattah down, Israeli-style:

"I will briefly explain my reasons for not engaging Ms Abdel-Fattah in a debate on Israeli actions on Q&A. First, the recent conflict in Gaza was not the topic of Q&A... Secondly, Ms Abdel-Fattah's views clearly reflected a well-known perspective, and I find it hard to believe that her statements could convince anyone who did not already subscribe to her views on this topic... Finally, I respect the right of Australians to hold and express a diversity of views, including views with which I vehemently disagree."

Well and good. But then he concludes: "I will continue to take real opportunities to sensibly discuss Israel's future security."

Oh, really? Is that your job?

Apparently so.

So, readers, next time you hear the Australian shadow attorney-general going in to bat for Israel, think of the Israel first pack snapping at the poor man's heels, and keep in mind that in Mark Dreyfus we have a shadow minister seemingly afraid of his own shadow.

Oh, and contemplate too the delicious irony of Dreyfus representing the seat of Isaac, named after former Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs, who had no problem whatever, bless him, with putting the boot into Zionism and its dirty deeds in Palestine.*

[*See my 29/10/11 post Greg Sheridan's Worst Nightmare.]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mission Accomplished

"Driving down Saadoun Street, we swing past Firdos Square. There, the stump of the plinth from which a bronze of Saddam Hussein was famously toppled - the dictator's right foot remains - prompted a local to observe: 'Everyone talks of how safe it was, if not good under Saddam - you were safe if you didn't discuss politics.' Now, it seems, everyone is talking about politics - and no one is safe." (The city of burnt trees and bravado, Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/10/14)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tanveer Ahmed Strikes Again!

Follow the thread:

"Richard Aedy: Hello. Welcome to the Media Report... We begin with plagiarism. It's a very bad thing... one of the worst things you can do in journalism. So last month when Media Watch caught out psychiatrist and Fairfax columnist Dr Tanveer Ahmed it had an immediate impact. Jonathan Holmes (MW): In a recent column about narcissism, Dr Ahmed wrote of 'the timeless human desire for attention and admiration.' Well actually most of that phrase and indeed almost a quarter of that column was lifted from a five-year-old article in The New Atlantis. Even more came from a four-year-old article in The New York Times. I'm afraid it doesn't look to us as though these examples are uncharacteristic." (Confessions of a plagiarist, abc.net.au, 19/10/12)

"The Sydney Morning Herald suspended columnist Dr Tanveer Ahmed earlier this year amidst plagiarism accusations... But 3 months later, the, the Herald hasn't told readers 'how the paper plans to stop it happening again,' Australian media program Media Watch says. And, even though Ahmed apologized in a column, that column was published by... The Australian. [Fairfax's] editor-in-chief Sean Aylmer told MW the newspaper didn't publish Ahmed's apology because 'it wasn't considered appropriate'... In Ahmed's Oct. 15 apology, which noted that the Herald 'ended [Ahmed's] tenure,' he admits that 'I've been a plagiarist for the past couple of years'." (Mystery of the missing Sydney Morning herald column: Plagiarist Apologizes, Sydney Smith, imediaethics.org, 12/12/12)

"After the second recorded beheading by Islamic State last month, a group of the most senior clerics in the world, from the Grand Mufti in Egypt to the Mufti in Palestine, released an open letter refuting theological points that were the basis of Islamic State. The letter notes it's not for liberal audiences, code that the most uncomfortable aspects of Islam are better suppressed from Western audiences... For example, the letter says that unbelievers should not be killed unless they openly express their lack of belief and faith..." (Muslims must engage with Islamic ideas that give rise to terrorism, Tanveer Ahmed, The Australian, 8/10/14)

"In the opinion piece (Muslims must engage with Islamic ideas that give rise to terrorism, 8/10) Tanveer Ahmed referred to an open letter by 120-plus scholars 'refuting theological points that were the basis' of the Islamic State group. According to Ahmed, the letter 'says that unbelievers should not be killed unless they openly express their lack of belief and faith.' The actual reference to the specific case of declaring a Muslim as a non-Muslim states: 'It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief'." (Letter from Zachariah Matthews, Just Media Advocacy, Sydney, published in The Australian, 16/10/14)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Britain's Moral Responsibility for Palestine

Just imagine the following scenario in our own heavily rambammed, Israeli-occupied Federal Parliament:

"Yesterday the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly (274-12) to recognize a Palestinian state, and if you listened to the debate, one theme above all explains the crushing victory: The British public has been horrified by Gaza and its opinion of Israel has shifted. Even Conservative members of Parliament cited pressure from the public. As Labour's Andy Slaughter said, Britain has witnessed a new 'barbarism': I think British people have been on the same sort of journey as the right hon. Member for Croydon South [Conservative Sir Richard Ottaway] described - it is certainly true of the Labour movement - from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country. Slaughter and a fellow Labour member, Kate Green, said that just as the British Parliament sent a message to Obama a year ago in voting to oppose the Conservative Prime Minister on attacking Syria, a vote Obama heeded in reversing course on a Syria attack, today the British Parliament aims to influence US policy on Palestine..." (British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully', Philip Weiss, mondoweiss.net, 14/10/14)

Excerpts from the many pro-Palestine speeches given in that debate can be read at mondoweiss.net, and I urge you to do so. And as you read, wonder at the yawning moral and intellectual chasm which clearly separates these MPs from their Australian counterparts.

What particularly interested me were those MPs who acknowledged Britain's historic responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people by citing Britain's infamous anti-Palestinian Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised to 'view with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.' Those MPs did something quite rare in contemporary public discourse on the Palestine/Israel issue - namely, call into question, even if only in the most tentative fashion, the wisdom of the near 100-year-old decision that led eventually to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. By doing so they, in effect, lifted the lid on the origins of the most enduring crime of British colonialism. (See in particular my posts Britain, It's Time to Apologize (17/1/13) and Manifesto of All People of Good Conscience (12/11/13).)  

Grahame Morris, Labour: "As the originator of the Balfour Declaration and holder of the mandate for Palestine, Britain has a unique historical connection and, arguably, a moral responsibility to the people of both Israel and Palestine. In 1920, we undertook a sacred trust - a commitment to guide Palestinians to statehood and independence. That was nearly a century ago, and the Palestinian people are still to have their national rights recognised. This sacred trust has been neglected for far too long. As the hon. Lady has just said, we have an historic opportunity to atone for that neglect, and take this small but symbolically important step... It is now more than 20 years since the Oslo accords, and we are further away from peace than ever before. An entire generation of young Palestinians - the Oslo generation - has grown up to witness a worsening situation on the ground. We have seen a significant expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, heightened security threats to both sides, punitive restrictions on Palestinian movement, economic decline, a humanitarian crisis in Gaza of catastrophic proportions and the construction of an illegal annexation wall through Palestinian land. It is clear that both Israel-Palestine relations and our foreign policy are at an impasse, which must be broken..."

Nicholas Soames, Conservative: "This House should need no reminding of the terms of the Balfour Declaration, which rightly endorsed 'the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' but went on to add that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.' Ninety-seven years later, the terms of the Balfour Declaration are clearly not upheld with respect to the Palestinians, and in Britain that should weigh very heavily upon us indeed."

David Ward, Liberal Democrat: "Israel is in breach of the contract set out in the Balfour Declaration stating that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' In the light of the Nakba and everything since, that seems like a sick joke. The failure of the international community to recognise the state of Palestine has helped Israel to ignore this commitment."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ach Mein Gott!

Truly, Zionist stuff and nonsense gets more gob-smackingly bizarre by the day.

Take the full-page Jewish National Fund (JNF) ad in this week's (10/10) Australian Jewish News, for example. It's simply beyond parody:

SUPPORTING ISRAEL'S FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES IN THE SOUTH

JNF NSW ANNUAL DINNER
Tuesday 28th October 2014

GUEST SPEAKERS:

Dr BERND WOLLSCHLAEGER

Dr Bernd Wollschlaeger, the son of an Iron Cross decorated NAZI officer, shares his remarkable journey to Judaism, service in the IDF and insights into the banality of evil. Learn how the resurgence of anti-semitism in Europe and around the world can and must be defeated.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Major G, injured leading an elite unit in Gaza will give a personal account of Operation Protective Edge. Hear his chilling testimony.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nothing New Under the Sun

The day Islamic State forces came to the Yazidi village of Kocho:

"On the morning of Friday 15 August [2014] the nightmare that had haunted the residents of Kocho for the previous 12 days came to pass, when IS fighters killed at least a hundred... of the village's men and boys and abducted all the women and children... Survivors of the massacre told Amnesty International that the IS fighters assembled the village residents at the secondary school... where they separated men and boys from women and younger children. The men were bundled into pick-up vehicles... and driven away to different nearby locations, where they were shot." (Ethnic cleansing on a historic scale: Islamic State's systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, Amnesty International, 2014)

The day Jewish State forces came to the Palestinian village of Dawayma:

"One of the worst but best-documented massacres during the offensive took place at Dawayma [on October 28, 1948]. The town was taken by a company of the 89th Commando Battalion which was composed of former Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists. A veteran of the unit has published an account of the massacre. He notes that in order 'to kill the children they fractured their heads with sticks. There was not one house without corpses.' After murdering the children, the Jewish soldiers herded the women and men into houses where they were kept without food or water. Then the houses were blown up with the helpless civilians inside. The Israelis were particularly sadistic in their treatment of Arab women. One Zionist soldier in Dawayma 'prided himself upon having raped an Arab woman before shooting her to death. Another Arab woman with her newborn baby was made to clean the place for a couple of days and then they shot her and her baby.' The conscience-stricken Israeli veteran who revealed these events stressed that they were committed by 'Educated and well-mannered commanders who were considered 'good guys'.' They became 'base murderers and this was not in the storm of battle but as a method of expulsion and extermination. The fewer the Arabs who remained, the better'." (The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, Michael Palumbo, 1987, p xii)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From Gush to Gosh

The gushing Geraldine Doogue is never so gushing as when she's gushing over an Israeli guest.

On this week's Saturday Extra (Radio National, 11/10) the object of her gushing was Israeli historian Yuval Noah Hariri (of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, "a very ambitious work indeed... about how our branch of humans, Homo sapiens, conquered the earth."

Sapiens was predictably "a very ambitious work indeed," abounding in "fresh insights," and "extraordinary thinking." What's more, it's received "rave reviews in the northern hemisphere," and "65,000 [are taking] his online course." Doogue even urged her listeners to rush out and buy a copy.

And what a wonderful, compassionate gent Yuval turned out to be too, blowing the whistle, for example, on the dreadful impact of the agricultural revolution on domesticated animals, which "subjugated them to a regime of exploitation... geared to further the interests of Homo sapiens while ignoring their subjective interests."

So, what fresh insights and extraordinary thoughts, wondered I, must this exceptional man have on the vexed issue of Palestine-Israel? Surely, I thought, if he can sort out the distant past, why not the present?

Imagine my disappointment then, when I read his views on the subject in Haaretz. Gosh, golly, gee, it was just the same old, same old Zionist shit:

"Israel is the only country in the world that... faces an existential threat from its neighbors. Most of the countries in its vicinity refuse to recognize its right to exist, and frequently declare their intent to wipe it off the map." (Only in Israel, or only in Palestine? 7/7/14)

"Only the Palestinian refugees... are still considered refugees. For a wide variety of reasons, their host countries, as well as international organizations, preferred to perpetuate the refugee status of the Palestinians... [they] should be allowed to strike roots, even if that falls short of giving them justice."

Gosh, golly, gee what a fucking let-down.