Saturday, May 2, 2015

Blinky & Tanya Run Scared

Federal Deputy Opposition leader Tanya (Once Was Warrior) Plibersek has been lately "calling on her party to compel MPs to vote for same-sex marriage, ending it as a conscience issue for the ALP... 'Labor has always been a party that is opposed to discrimination,' Ms Plibersek told Fairfax Media in an interview last week. 'It is a clear question. Do we support legal discrimination against one group in this country? Or do we not?'... A long-time supporter of same-sex marriage, Ms Plibersek said her position was 'fundamental to my politics'." (It's time: push to unite ALP on marriage, Judith Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald, 27/4/15)

Whatever one's position on same-sex marriage, the point I wish to make here is that Plibersek is clearly comfortable in speaking out on the issue, which, need I say, is as it should be if we purport to be a robust democracy.

Yet, on another issue fundamental to anyone who opposes discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head, she is curiously reticent:

"Mr Shorten and Ms Plibersek refused to answer questions about Palestine on Wednesday, with the deputy leader declaring 'I don't think today is the day for these other questions' following the execution of the Bali nine duo."  (Plibersek push on gay marriage backfires, James Massola, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/4/15)

And this while others in her party, particularly its justice [???!!!] spokesman, David Feeney, speak out loud and clear in defence of a certain entity founded on gross discrimination and inequality:

"... Mr Feeney questioned the push for a national conference resolution, which will be led by NSW frontbencher Tony Burke after discussions with Mr Shorten, for a future Labor government to recognise Palestine as a state in the absence of progress towards a two-state solution. Mr Feeney said that 'with so much going on in the Middle East, with more Arabs killed every year in Syria than have been killed in the history of Arab-Israeli conflict, the fixation on Israel is just that'." (ibid)

As for Labor leader Bill Shorten "who refused to answer questions on Wednesday," all it took was a mere phone call to get a reiterated pledge of allegiance reassurance from him:

"But president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Robert Goot, said on Thursday he had rung federal Labor leader Bill Shorten's office and been told that any moves to change the ALP's national position did not have Mr Shorten's approval." (Palestinians call for 'balance' on vote, Deborah Snow, Sydney Morning Herald, 1/5/15)

And this is despite Mr Goot's ECAJ colleague Alex Ryvchin asserting, in another context, the idea that the use of "terms such as 'Jewish lobby', 'Zionist lobby', and 'Israel lobby'" is "intended to appeal to antisemitic views of the Jews as exercising an extraordinary or dark power," and an example of "crude, conspiratorial thinking." (Activists corrupt noble principles in defence of Lynch, The Australian, 24/4/15)

(NB: For me to even hint that Mr Goot's ability to get just the answer he wants from Blinky Billy by means of a simple phone call (an ability you or I could only ever dream of) is an example of the Israel lobby at work is apparently conspiratorial thinking and "intended to appeal to antisemitic views." So, lest I be accused of same, let me state clearly that I'm absolutely certain Mr Goot had a great deal of difficulty getting through to Bill - Goot who? ECAJ? Never heard of it! - and I'm equally certain that his colleague, Mr Ryvchin had enormous difficulty getting his opinion piece published in the Australian. Oh yeah.)

But I digress. Back to Blinky. Frankly, I'm a bit worried about the guy. He's all over the shop if you ask me. I mean, look at this:

"Bill Shorten will anoint Nelson Mandela as a Labor hero at the July national conference, which will vote on a platform for 'a practical and pragmatic party, tinged and touched by a romantic spirit'." (Shorten to put Mandela on Labor pedestal, Sid Maher, The Australian, 21/4/15)

The problem with this is that Blinky seems blissfully unaware that Mandela once said (loud and clear I might add) the following:

"Arafat is a comrade-in-arms."

 "The people of South Africa will never forget the support of the state of Israel to the apartheid regime."

"We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Solution to NSW Labor's Rambamming Problem

Check out this 28/4 press release from state opposition leader Luke Foley:


NSW Labor leader Luke Foley announced today that any Labor MPs receiving assisted travel to Israel would be expected to spend an equivalent time in the West Bank and/or Gaza to hear the case of the Palestinians.

Labor believes in a two-state solution. A two-state solution must be built on understanding the perspectives of two people.

'This arrangement will mean that MPs understand the Palestinian as well as the Israeli case,' Mr Foley said.

'In that spirit I would expect all members of the parliamentary party who are assisted to travel to Israel would spend an equivalent time talking to Palestinians on the West Bank and/or the Gaza Strip.

'The MPs need to see the conditions under which Palestinians live.'

Mr Foley urged the Premier to match the commitment when it comes to travel to the Middle East by members of his Party.

At last, a recognition that rambamming is a problem. But is Foley's solution really the way to go?

My problem with his announcement is that it's based on the false premise that the land-grabbing, apartheid state of Israel actually has a legitimate case to offer.

My humble suggestion?

That Labor MPS belonging to the Parliamentary Friends of Israel group be sentenced to a stint with the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank, paid for out of their own pockets, dodging Israeli bullets, tear gas canisters, sound bombs and skunk spray.*

Alternatively, they could be sentenced to clear away the rubble of shattered Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.

(BTW, Labor MLC Walt Secord should be sentenced to both.)

Moreover, before going, Labor MPs should be required to read David Hirst's The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East AND Saree Makdisi's Palestine Inside Out, followed by a written exam based on the content of those books.

(It goes without saying that I'd be happy to set and mark said exam, but I should warn that I do not, repeat not, believe in a no-fail policy. Any MPs whose responses are not up to scratch will be required to keep sitting the exam until they get it right.)

[*See my 7/4/13 post Mephitic Odours at Monash University.]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zionist Dreaming

What Zionists say among themselves can often be of more interest than what they say to the rest of us.

This observation came to me as I was perusing Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) 2015, a glossy 24-page supplement that came with the Australian Jewish News of April 24.

One particular item, The state of the State at 120, was of particular interest. It began thus:

"It's Yom Ha'atzmaut 2068. The Israeli sports minister's rocket-boosted El Al flight has just touched down at Ben-Gurion Airport. Nothing remarkable about that. What is remarkable is that only minutes earlier, this regular commercial flight had taken off from Damascus Airport, where the minister was in talks with her Syrian counterpart, making final arrangements for Syrian venues that will be part of the Tel Aviv Olympics... As The AJN celebrates its 120th anniversary, Peter Kohn asks several community members to look into the crystal ball and share their visions of Israel for Yom Ha'atzmaut of 2068, when the Jewish State reaches its 120th birthday."

Well, bully for Israel, I thought, after reading this, but where were the Palestinians in all this navel crystal ball gazing? You know, the ones whose hopes and dreams lie buried under the rubble of dispossession, apartheid and rampant colonisation.

In a word, absent.

Of the 7 contributors, 4 had nothing whatever to say about them. For the record these were Hallely Kimchi (editor of Eton, a newspaper serving Israelis in Australia), Amit Tzur-Tal (executive director and shlichah of the United Israel Appeal Victoria), Richard Balkin (president of the Zionist Council of Australia), and Danny Lamm (president of the Zionist Federation of Australia).

And the remaining 3, those who could at least pay lip service to the 'P' word?

First, there was Ran Porat, who teaches Israel and Middle East Studies at Monash University:

"... the Palestinian issue is solved, thanks to technological developments and perception changes. Both these advances enable Palestinians to prosper in a viable and lively entity, in harmony and cooperation with the economy and culture of the State of Israel."

Technological developments and perception changes?

What, give them laptops and vouchers to see a shrink?

A viable and lively entity?

Entity? Porat can't even bring himself to utter the word 'state'!

And where may this entity be located? In Jordan? On the moon?

Then came Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC):

"Palestine, having emerged after the international community started supporting direct negotiations between the parties, leading to a comprehensive peace agreement, has partnered with Israel in attempts to build a viable economy and democratic institutions. The vast amount of global and Palestinian effort that had been used to demonise Israel, to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine and perpetuate the refugee issue before the agreement, has been redirected into modernising Palestinian society and its economy."

The international community, so-called, has returned to the good old 'peace process' for more interminable jaw jaw (as more and more settlers flood onto what's left of Palestinian land); UNRWA, if not the UN, has been terminated; and the issue of Palestinian refugees and their right of return has disappeared into the dustbin of history. Problem solved.

Finally, there's Sam Tatarka, president of the Zionist Council of Victoria:

"The path to Palestinian statehood began in earnest with the passing of the last of the old guard of Palestinian rejectionists and a realisation that the 'right of return' and other demands made in the seemingly endless peace process begun in the closing years of the last century were never going to succeed. Jerusalem remains the undivided capital of Israel... Palestinian government offices in the city barely raise an eyebrow as residents and visitors alike enjoy the freedom and spirit of this wonderful city... The Jerusalem light-rail extension to Ramallah built in the early 2030s continues to serve as a reminder of the baby steps taken between Israel and the Palestinians as they moved to broad economic cooperation and integration over the past three decades."

Just hang in there until the Palestinians have dropped all of their demands, the right of return, East Jerusalem and the rest. Say around 2030. No mention of the settler hordes, of course. Palestinian hewers of wood and drawers of water will ride the light rail from Ramallah into Israel to do all the shit work.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Herald Awakes

The Sydney Morning Herald has finally bestirred itself to report on the subject of the scandalous persecution of Sydney University's Professor Jake Lynch.

Mind you, the Zionist 'Get Lynch' campaign has been going on now for at least two years, as this, my forty-first post on the subject, testifies.

In brief, Lynch has been under sustained attack by a baying pack of Israeli and Israel lobby outfits (Shurat HaDin/AUJS/AIJAC), assorted Israel-besotted federal politicians, both 'serving' and former (Danby/Bishop/Baldwin), Murdoch's Zionist mouthpiece, The Australian, and lately by a vice-chancellor cluelessly manoeuvred and/or pressured into mounting a witch-hunt against him in the form of an 'investigation' into his conduct at a protest by student activists against a visiting British apologist for Israeli war crimes in March. 

Better late than never, you might argue. The trouble is, however, that the Herald's coverage of the affair is confined solely to the university's witch-hunt against Lynch and ignores the vital context of his Federal Court ordeal last year at the hands of the Mossad-linked Israeli lawfare outfit, Shurat HaDin (motto: 'Bankrupting Terror, One Law Suit at a Time'), a case happily won by Lynch with undisclosed costs awarded in his favour:

"Professor Lynch, a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign against Israel, was advised by the university this month that it was not satisfied his conduct 'constituted anti-Semitic behaviour or unlawful harassment on the grounds of an individual's religious belief (or perceived religious belief)'."  (Academic Jake Lynch cleared of anti-Semitism in ugly stoush at Sydney University, Peter Munro, 27/4/15)

It goes without saying that the false allegation of anti-Semitism routinely hurled at defenders of Palestine by Zionist dead-enders (Sydney Morning Herald cartoonist Le Lievre was also a recent victim) should never have been taken seriously in the first place.

Anyone familiar with Lynch's hounding by Shurat HaDin would instantly see that the now notorious 'money-waving incident' had nothing whatever to do with anti-Semitism:

"A separate stoush was sparked in the audience between Professor Lynch and Diane Barkas, a Jewish semi-retired English lecturer and stand-up comedian, after she threw water on a protestor. Professor Lynch threatened to sue Ms Barkas - waving a $5 note in her face and saying 'This is going to cost you a lot of money' - after she allegedly kicked him in the groin, a claim she denies."

And yet, the Herald continues to give oxygen to those with a vested interest in flogging this particular dead horse:

"But Julian Kowal, of the Australian Union of Jewish Students, claimed Professor Lynch had compromised the reputation of Sydney University as a 'safe space for Jewish students' and should be sacked. 'In so far as the money-waving actions in the face of a Jewish woman evoked strong images of historically anti-Semitic stereotypes, his actions were undoubtedly highly inappropriate,' he said."

More generally, the initiation of the witch-hunt by vice-chancellor Michael Spence raises the question of how an individual can rise to such a level (salary: $911,575 pa) but apparently have little or no understanding of the issues which underlie the 'Get Lynch' campaign: such basics, for example, as the underlying dynamics of the Palestine/Israel conflict (occupied/occupier); the elementary difference between Judaism and Zionism (religion/political ideology); and the perennial modus operandi of Zionists, on or off campus, (conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism and using the charge to silence legitimate dissent). A simple knowledge of these matters, absent other factors, of course, should enable any vice-chancellor worth his salt to see through the 'Get Lynch' mob and avoid becoming their unwitting accomplice:

"But Prof Lynch... was warned he still faced dismissal or other disciplinary action for possible breaches of the university's code of conduct, under which staff must treat visitors 'with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity'."

Question is, will Peter Munro's piece be a once-off or will the Herald be returning to this test case for academic freedom and free speech at our universities?

Monday, April 27, 2015

'Kissing Foreign Backsides'

Thank God Australian journalist Alan Ramsey is back, drawing our attention to things that really matter and asking all the right questions:

"Seven months ago, at Washington's request, the Abbott cabinet sent 200 special forces troops, plus 400 military support staff and 6 Australian jet fighters, to Iraq to join a US-led multinational force to 'assist' the Iraqi government in its campaign against Islamic fanatics, whom Abbott prefers to call 'the death-cult.'

"After a 'formal request' from Washington with the 'support of the Prime Minister of Iraq', the Abbott government last month agreed to commit another 340 ground troops, in tandem with 143 New Zealand troops, who will join the Australian 'training' force at a base north of Baghdad next month.

"It was these additional Australian troops Abbott was farewelling in Brisbane this week. What he doesn't seem to realise is that his government's piecemeal decisions on military deployments to Iraq eerily mirror what the Menzies and Holt governments said and did exactly 50 years ago as they persisted with the pretence that they were reacting to appeals from South Vietnam's besieged government rather than colluding with Washington in an escalating Asian civil war that, unlike Australia, Washington's European allies wanted nothing to do with.

"Doesn't anybody in this ridiculous government of ours pay any attention to the mistakes, blunders, lies etc of their predecessors when it comes to forever knuckling under, previously, to London, and now to Washington?

"Don't we have any self-respect in what we do and how we're seen when we persist in kissing foreign backsides?

"No Australian under 50 today was alive when we went to war in Vietnam in April, 1965. Our London-born Prime Minister was just 3 when his parents migrated here in 1960 and 7 years old that April night Menzies announced we were sending ground troops to Vietnam.

"Is lack of firsthand knowledge, of having lived through those often dramatic and hugely divisive times, political and social, any excuse for repeating the folly of Australia having joined the United States in Washington's war there?

"Or are the lives of 500 dead Australians seen as acceptable in keeping favour with the White House when the United States sorely needed, for political and strategic reasons, other white faces alongside American ones in an otherwise wholly Asian war?" (Knuckling under in other people's wars ignores blunders of the past, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/4/15)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Blair Inc.

Behold Fiona Capp's review of Blair Inc.: The Man Behind the Mask in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Few political leaders have provoked as much controversy after leaving office as Tony Blair. Blair Inc. is a combative investigation of the way Blair has gone about 'making himself seriously rich'. The gravest allegation concerns conflicts of interest between his public role as Middle East special envoy to promote economic growth in Palestine and his private commercial interests. The authors argue that Blair's work as envoy has been compromised by his position as an adviser to the bank JP Morgan - whose clients benefited from the two major deals Blair brokered for the Palestinians - and that the Palestinians regard him as Israel's mouthpiece. Overall, Blair emerges as a secretive, self-serving hollow-man. The hostile tone, however, makes it difficult to assess or entirely trust the claims being made."

OK... so Bush's poodle emerges "as a secretive, self-serving hollow man," but the authors of Blair Inc. should have toned down the hostility.

Sure, he may have been complicit in reducing Iraq to the status of a vile, sectarian hell-hole, sending over 500,000 souls to their doom and creating millions of refugees in the process, but hey, that "hostile tone," that's going way too far, guys!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Problem with Amira Hass

I thought I'd tune in to Phillip Adams' Late Night Live program on 22/4/15 to hear visiting Israeli journalist Amira Hass, "the only Jewish journalist who has lived among the Palestinians, both in Gaza and now full-time in the West Bank." (Amira Hass: An Israeli journalist living in Palestine)

Adams was, of course, his usual blunt self - 'blunt', that is, in the sense that his interviewing style, particularly with Jewish Zionists, totally contradicts the program's claim to be about "razor-sharp analysis of current events [which] puts you firmly in the big picture."

But it's mainly Hass (unexpectedly I might add) that I have the bigger problem with this time around. While sound on the occupation of 1967, I found the following words more than a little problematic:

"In my lectures here in Australia, I'm speaking to you as one settler to another. This institutionalisation of colonial times I see it everywhere here in Australia. Everywhere. And I also say different things to different audiences. So for people who tell me the solution is to dissolve Israel, I say 'Why don't you dissolve Australia?' And just because you got away with most of the indigenous people... and luckily and happily Israel and Zionism did not decimate the Palestinians. So... it's an extension of London. So I see the whites here and your colonialism is still fresh and the thing is how we look at the future and not the past. We cannot undo the past, but the future has to be worked on..."

Now, to take up my razor...

What does she mean by 'dissolve Israel/dissolve Australia'? Typically Adams didn't ask her.

Was this in response to a questioner who had suggested that Israel's apartheid structure be dismantled? That Israel be de-Zionised? That it become a state of its citizens, with equal rights for all, regardless of ethno-religious affiliation, rather than continue to be reserved as the exclusive domain of those Jews who see themselves as belonging to that entity, 'the Jewish people'? That Israel's outrageous, biology-based, apartheid Law of Return be scrapped? That the indigenous people of Palestine, ethnically cleansed in 1948 and 1967, be allowed to return to their homes and land?

 Was she seriously suggesting that there are no differences between Israel and Australia? Typically, Adams didn't ask her whether she saw Australia as an apartheid state (that is, a state based, like former apartheid South Africa and today's Israel, on a raft of discriminatory legislation), and if so, which discriminatory laws made it so. Nor did he ask her whether indigenous Australians were languishing in exile in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, denied the right of return to Australia.

Why was she using the old Zionist whataboutery: You dare criticise Israel? What about Australia?

And when she said, Israel and Zionism (that is, almost 100 years of Zionist colonisation, dispossession, expulsion and occupation of Palestinians) did not decimate the Palestinians, what the hell was she on about? Typically, there was no response, razor-sharp or otherwise, from Adams.

Finally, in saying that we cannot undo the past, was she implying that Israel was set in concrete in 1948 and must forever remain a Jewish state, and that the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 must therefore remain in exile?