Friday, September 30, 2016

The Great Peacefaker

A piece of unmitigated schmaltz on the late Shimon Peres, Peres' wisdom: 'Peace is not perfect', by Age political editor Michael Gordon, appeared in yesterday's Fairfax papers - in addition to a New York Times obituary!

So why the overkill? Well, frankly, how could our political editor possibly refuse? After all:

"'Relax! Sit down,' Israel's most beloved public figure commanded, gesturing with his hands for his guests to resume their seats and a long conversation about life and hopes and dreams. 'If your dreams exceed the number of your achievements, you're young,' said Shimon Peres, then 93, with the optimism and wide-eyed wonder of a child. It was July 27 and I was among a group of Australian journalists on the final stop of a week-long study tour."

Strictly rhetorical question: Did any of these rambammed Australian journalists mutter to themselves: 'Dreams? Achievements? Your dreams are the stuff of nightmares, and your only achievements are massacres, settlements, nukes and bullshit by the bucketload'?

Some more gems from Peres' wisdom:

"'Peace is not perfect,' he quipped. 'It's perfect when you compare it to war'."

As if the likes of Peres ever had a problem with war. Fact: peace is only perfect when it comes with justice. 

"Obama was one of the first to pay tribute, saying: 'There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history... because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people'."

Moral imagination? Obama? Don't make me laugh!

"Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council chairman Mark Leibler and executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said in a joint statement: 'He was a true visionary, a giant of Israeli politics, the quintessential statesman on the world stage'."

Visionary? The only visionaries Zionism has ever produced are of the tunnel variety.

"The key to his longevity, said [he]... was to stay... focused on the future. 'The past doesn't have a future and the future doesn't need a past,' was how he expressed it."

That's funny, wasn't Peres a protege of David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding PM, who told the 1937 Peel Commission in Palestine that "The Bible is our Mandate"?

"If he was deeply dismayed there was very little evidence of [a better world] happening on either side of the Israel-Palestine conflict, it did not show."

Deeply dismayed? You're kidding me! Of course he's not dismayed. Why would he be? With every square inch of Palestine under occupation.

"One of the final questions was how he liked to be remembered. He paused, repeated the question, and said: 'If I have saved the life of one child, that would be the greatest thing."

One Israeli Jewish child, that is.

Whatever happened to the cynical hard-bitten journalist of yore? Seems it's all just stenography these days.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Real Shimon Peres

If you have any doubts that Fairfax and Murdoch are both in the business of running a protection racket for Israel, just read the tributes (there is no other word for it) in today's Sydney Morning Herald and Australian to Shimon Peres (1923-2016). For the real Shimon Peres, read Ben White's Shimon Peres: Israeli war criminal whose victims the West ignored, Middle East Monitor, 28/9/16:

"Shimon Peres, who passed away Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a stroke on 13 September, epitomised the disparity between Israel's image in the West and the reality of its bloody, colonial policies in Palestine and the wider region.

"Peres was born in modern day Belarus in 1923, and his family moved to Palestine in the 1930s. As a young man, Peres joined the Haganah, the militia primarily responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages in 1947-49, during the Nakba.

"Despite the violent displacement of the Palestinians being a matter of historical record, Peres has always insisted that Zionist forces 'upheld the purity of arms' during the establishment of the State of Israel. Indeed, he even claimed that before Israel existed, 'there was nothing here'.

"Over seven decades, Peres served as prime minister (twice) and president, though he never actually won a national election outright. He was a member of 12 cabinets and had stints as defence, foreign and finance minister.

"He is perhaps best known in the West for his role in the negotiations that led to the 1993 Oslo Accords which won him, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Yet for Palestinians and their neighbours in the Middle East, Peres' track record is very different from his reputation in the West as a tireless 'dove'. The following is by no means a comprehensive summary of Peres' record in the service of colonialism and apartheid.

Nuclear weapons

"Between 1953 and 1965, Peres served first as director general of Israel's defence ministry and then as deputy defence minister. On account of his responsibilities at the time, Peres has been described as 'an architect of Israel's nuclear weapons programme' which, to this day, 'remains outside the scrutiny of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).'

"In 1975, as secret minutes have since revealed, Peres met with South African Defence Minister PW Botha and 'offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime.' In 1986, Peres authorised the Mossad operation that saw nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu kidnapped in Rome.

Targeting Palestinian citizens

"Peres had a key role in the military regime imposed on Palestinian citizens until 1966, under which authorities carried out mass land theft and displacement. One such tool was Article 125 which allowed Palestinian land to be declared a closed military zone. Its owners denied access, the land would then be confiscated as 'uncultivated'. Peres praised Article 125 as a means to 'directly continue the struggle for Jewish settlement and Jewish immigration.'

"Another one of Peres' responsibilities in his capacity as director general of the defence ministry was to 'Judaise' the Galilee; that is to say, pursue policies aimed at reducing the region's proportion of Palestinian citizens compared to Jewish ones.

"In 2005, as Vice Premier in the cabinet of Ariel Sharon, Peres renewed his attack on Palestinian citizens with plans to encourage Jewish Israelis to move to the Galilee. His 'development' plan covered 104 communities - 100 of them Jewish. In secret conversations with US officials that same year, Peres claimed Israel had 'lost one million dunums [1,000 square kilometres] of Negev land to the Bedouin', adding that the 'development' of the Negev and Galilee could 'relieve what [he] termed a demographic threat.'

Supporting illegal settlements in the West Bank 

"While Israel's settlement project in the West Bank has come to be associated primarily with Likud and other right-wing nationalist parties, it was in fact Labor which kick-started the colonisation of the newly-conquered Palestinian territory - and Peres was an enthusiastic participant.

"During Peres' tenure as defence minister, from 1974 to 1977, the Rabin government established a number of key West Bank settlements, including Ofra, large sections of which were built on confiscated privately-owned Palestinian land.

"Having played a key role in the early days of the settlement enterprise, in more recent years, Peres has intervened to undermine any sort of measures, no matter how modest, at sanctioning the illegal colonies - always, of course, in the name of protecting 'peace negotiations'.

The Qana massacre 

"As prime minister in 1996, Peres ordered and oversaw 'Operation Grapes of Wrath' when Israeli armed forces killed some 154 civilians in Lebanon and injured another 351. The operation, widely believed to have been a pre-election show of strength, saw Lebanese civilians targeted.

"According to the official Israeli Air Force website (in Hebrew, not English), the operation involved 'massive bombing of the Shia villages in South Lebanon in order to cause a flow of civilians north, toward Beirut, thus applying pressure on Syria and Lebanon to restrain Hezbollah.'

"The campaign's most notorious incident was the Qana massacre, when Israel shelled a United Nations compound and killed 106 sheltering civilians. A UN report stated that, contrary to Israeli denials, it was 'unlikely' that the shelling 'was the result of technical and/or procedural errors.'

"Later, Israeli gunners told Israeli television that they had no regrets over the massacre, as the dead were 'just a bunch of Arabs'. As for Peres, his conscience was also clean: 'Everything was done according to clear logic and in a responsible way,' he said. 'I am at peace.'

Gaza - defending blockade and brutality

"Peres came into his own as one of Israel's most important global ambassadors in the lat ten years, as the Gaza Strip was subjected to a devastating blockade and three major offensives. Despite global outrage at such policies, Peres has consistently backed collective punishment and military brutality.

"In January 2009, for example, despite calls by 'Israeli human rights organisations... for Operation Cast Lead to be halted', Peres described 'national solidarity behind the military operation' as 'Israel's finest hour.' According to Peres, the aim of the assault 'was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel.'

"During Operation Pillar of Defence in November 2012, Peres 'took on the job of helping the Israeli public relations effort, communicating the Israeli narrative to world leaders,' in the words of Ynetnews. On the eve of Israel's offensive, 'Peres warned Hamas that if it wants normal life for the people of Gaza, then it must stop firing rockets into Israel.'

"In 2014, during an unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, Peres stepped up once again to whitewash war crimes. After Israeli forces killed four small children playing on a beach, Peres knew who to blame - the Palestinians: 'It was an area that we warned would be bombed,' he said. 'And unfortunately they didn't take out the children.'

"The choking blockade, condemned internationally as a form of prohibited collective punishment, has also been defended by Peres - precisely on the grounds that it is a form of collective punishment. As Peres put it in 2014: 'If Gaza ceases fire, there will be no need for a blockade.'

"Peres' support for collective punishment also extended to Iran. Commenting in 2012 on reports that six million Iranians suffering from cancer were unable to get treatment due to sanctions, Peres said: 'If they want to return to a normal life, let them become normal.' 

Unapologetic to the end 

"Peres was always clear about the goal of a peace deal with the Palestinians. As he said in 2014: 'The first priority is preserving Israel as a Jewish state. That is our central goal, that is what we are fighting for.' Last year he reiterated these sentiments in an interview with AP, saying: 'Israel should implement the two-state solution for her own sake,' so as not to 'lose our [Jewish] majority.'

"This, recall, was what shaped Labor's support for the Oslo Accords. Rabin, speaking to the Knesset not long before his assassination in 1995, was clear that what Israel sought from the Oslo Accords was a Palestinian 'entity' that would be 'less than a state'. Jerusalem would be Israel's undivided capital, key settlements would be annexed and Israel would remain in the Jordan Valley.

"A few years ago, Peres described the Palestinians as 'self-victimising'. He went on: 'They victimise themselves. They are a victim of their own mistakes unnecessarily.' Such cruel condescension was characteristic of a man for whom 'peace' always meant colonial pacification."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And the Winner Is?

You are girding your loins for the great debate, the one that may well decide whether or not you make it to the White House. Millions of Americans will be watching your every move. Millions of Americans will be hanging on your every word. Nothing, but nothing, can be allowed to distract you from your task of winning over Mr & Mrs America.

Except one thing - a one-and-a-half-hour meeting encounter with Benjamin Netanyahu.

So he can vet your speech and make a few changes:

"The candidates hunkered for much of Sunday, during which each broke from debate preparation to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - Trump in the morning and Clinton, reportedly, was to see him later in the day. Having already abandoned an early undertaking to be 'neutral' in the Israel-Palestine conflict, a statement issued by the Trump campaign after the 90-minute encounter, argued 'peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State'. Trump also pledged a big shift in US policy, undertaking that if elected, he would recognise the contested city of Jerusalem as 'the undivided capital of the State of Israel'." (Election debate will be a mud wrestle, not a policy contest, Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, 27/9/16)

Only (?) in USrael.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's Not All Doom & Gloom

Is the hideous, cringeworthy spectacle of the American presidential race-to-the-bottom getting you down? On a more personal level, are you struggling just to make ends meet? Want something to cheer you up? Try this:

"As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion." (From: US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion & Counting: Summary Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security, Neta C. Crawford, Boston University, September 2016)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Just Stop Right There

How to read the Murdoch press, in this instance Bibi & Obama ease their rift, The Wall Street Journal/ The Australian, 23/9/16:

"Hours before Mr Obama and Mr Netanyahu met, Israeli security forces..."

Just stop right there. Shouldn't that be OCCUPATION forces?

"... shot and wounded a Palestinian teenager after she refused to stop at a checkpoint between the West Bank... "

Just stop right there. Shouldn't that be OCCUPIED West Bank?

"... and Israel. It marked the sixth straight day of Israeli-Palestinian violence."

Just stop right there. So the gunning down of a Palestinian kid by Israeli OCCUPATION forces for nothing more than refusing to stop at an Israeli checkpoint (on OCCUPIED Palestinian land) is an example of "Israeli-Palestinian violence," not simply ISRAELI OCCUPATION VIOLENCE?

Just stop right there. One final question. Do you honestly think that reading this kind of pro-Israel propaganda, day in, day out, will enable you to understand what's really going on over there?

Who Now Controls Mount Thardah?

FYI. Here is the first ever reference to the ISIS takeover of Syrian positions on Mt Thardah (following the American/Australian/Danish 'accidental' bombing of Syrian army positions there) I've seen in the Australian ms press:

"Syria and the US have been at loggerheads since an airstrike by the coalition hit Syrian troops... on Saturday. US officials said the attack... was accidental and the warplanes intended to target ISIS positions. Russia said the strikes killed more than 60 Syrian troops and, afterwards, ISIS militants briefly overran regime positions." (Defiant or delusional? Assad rails against the West, Ian Phillips & Zeina Karam, AP/The Australian, 24/9/16)

Briefly overran? Is this deliberate disinformation, or is the devastated Syrian army now back in control Mount Thardah? That'd be quite a comeback, would it not?

[See my posts WTF are We Doing in Syria? (19/9/16) & Blame It on the Whizzbangs (21/9/16).]

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tweet of the Week

From George Galloway (25/9/16):

Hats off to Ken Stott!!

"We got off to a flying start this afternoon when actor Ken Stott, performing at The Theatre Royal, made a point of 'engaging' with us, only to aggressively screw up our leaflet, criticise Israel's treatment of Palestinians and eloquently tell us to 'Take your f*****g leaflet and stick it up your f*****g arse.' - Sussex Friends of Israel"

Why these pests were buzzing around The Theatre Royal at the time is unclear.