Thursday, November 27, 2014

Religion or Race?

In arguing against the tendency of Islamophobes to claim that because Islam is a religion they can't, therefore, be considered racists, Australia's Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, unfortunately puts his foot in it with this:

"The distinction between race and religion is a complex one... the two can overlap. For example, we consider anti-Semitism to involve a form of racism, even though Jewishness involves a religious identity. This is because Jewishness also has an ethnic character; Jews consider themselves to be a people."  (Distinction between religion and race should not make bigotry respectable, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/11/14)

Jewishness has an ethnic character?

Says who?  

Jews consider themselves to be a people.

Which Jews?

The truth is that anti-Semites invariably consider Jews to be 'a people', as do political Zionists. To the extent that both believe in biology as the key determinant of a person's identity, and discriminate against others on that basis, both exhibit racism.

As Shlomo Sand explains:

"The State of Israel defines me as a Jew, not because I express myself in a Jewish language, hum Jewish songs, eat Jewish food, write Jewish books or carry out any Jewish activity. I am classified as a Jew because this state, after having researched my origins, has decided that I was born of a Jewish mother, herself Jewish because my grandmother was likewise, thanks to (or because of) my great-grandmother, and so on through the chain of generations until the dawn of time. If chance should have had it that only my father was considered a Jew, while in the eyes of Israeli law my mother was 'non-Jewish', I would have been registered as an Austrian..." (How I Stopped Being a Jew, 2014, p 2)

And where does this biological determinist nonsense lead? Shlomo Sand again:

"There is a close link between the identification of Jews as an ethnos or eternal race-people, and the politics of Israel towards those of its citizens who are viewed as non-Jews, as well as towards immigrant workers from distant lands and, clearly, towards its neighbours, deprived of rights and subject for nearly 50 years to a regime of occupation. It is hard to deny a glaring reality: the development of an essentialist, non-religious identity encourages the perpetuation of ethnocentric, racist or quasi-racist positions, both in Israel and abroad." (p 7)

As for Islamophobes, scratch one and you'll invariably find an Arabophobe underneath.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Natives Are Restless

Face it, it's a thankless task being a Zionist. No matter what you do to... sorry, for... the natives, the buggers are never happy:

 2014: "John Lyons quite rightly points out the rise of the Israeli right wing under Benjamin Netanyahu (Settlers fuel cycle of bloodshed, 22/11*) but seems to suggest this is Netanyahu's doing. The opposite is true: the growing right wing keeps him in power. And the right wing has grown because of the evidence presented by Palestinians about their intentions. In the 1990s Israelis still hoped for peace, resulting in the Oslo accord and the withdrawal from south Lebanon. Hamas bus bombings, Hezbollah missiles and Yasser Arafat's suicide bombing campaign soured that faith and brought the pro-settler Ariel Sharon to power. Hamas's use of Gaza to pour thousands of missiles into Israel confirmed what withdrawal from the West Bank would bring. New incitement by Mahmoud Abbas and recent lone-wolf terrorism only push Israelis further to the right. Relentless Palestinian aggression is the cause of Israel's move to the right; Netanyahu and the settlers are only its beneficiaries." (Letter to The Australian by Dov Midalia,** Bondi Junction, NSW, 24/11/14)

1986: "On 4 December 1986, two young Palestinian students were shot dead by Israeli soldiers after a sit-down protest at a blockade set up near Birzeit University in the West Bank. In the week that followed, several more violent confrontations took place between the military and Palestinian inhabitants, in the course of which two more Palestinians were killed and several wounded. During December, a large number of articles appeared in the Israeli press, reporting or reflecting on what had taken place.

"In those articles appearing in the Jerusalem Post, the following expressions were used to refer to the response of the Palestinians all over the occupied territories to the first two shootings: 'wave of disturbances', 'unrest', 'wave of demonstrations', 'eruption', 'outbreaks', 'turmoil', 'disorder', 'riots', disturbances swept the West Bank', 'widespread disturbances continued to rock the Gaza Strip'.

"The actions of the IDF officers, however, were represented by the following expressions: 'self-defence', 'preventing further violence', 'breaking up a demonstration', quelling the disturbances', 'maintaining law and order', 'troops used 'maximal restraint'...

"Israeli settlement was referred to both as the solution to, and justification for, the confrontations: 'The disturbances should prompt the government to set up more settlements in the territories. Settlements are an assurance of security'. An IDF soldier who admitted to shooting one of the two Birzeit students argued, 'We were caught in an impossible situation. Had we retreated, no Israeli from the nearby settlements would be able to travel on the main road leading west'.

"Another common assertion in the articles surveyed explicitly or implicitly blamed the PLO for the occurrences: 'The disturbances at Birzeit University... are part of an attempt of the PLO to murder prospects for peace by inciting to riot'; 'there may be some guiding hand behind the eruption of simultaneous demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza'..." (Colonial Law & Ideology - Israel & the Occupied Territories, Ben Cashdan, pp 72-3, in Palestine: Profile of an Occupation, Khamsin, 1989)

1936: "The facts are extracted from the official Communiques: To destroy properties and crops! Do you call it STRIKE?*** To destroy schools by fire! Do you call it STRIKE? To murder man, to desecrate graveyards, to destroy water resources! Do you call it STRIKE? To stab and shoot innocent animals ie cows, horses, and donkeys! Do you call it STRIKE? To enter under pretext of friendship or pity and ask for water to drink and to pay the donor with a bullet in his back! Do you call it STRIKE? To throw bombs and put fire to the factories, hospitals, sanatoria, and Children & Invalid Homes! Do you call it STRIKE? To destroy bridges and derail trains and to cause the death of innocent people inside! Do you call it STRIKE? In conclusion: A land and fields which were full of stones and thorns, and have been converted into a true garden of Eden with a strenuous and ambitious work of twenty-five years, to put it back into its old wild and desert aspect in twenty-five minutes by uprooting, cutting, burning the several thousands of fine trees of oranges, lemons, citrus, olives, winegrapes, and other trees to combat malaria! Do you call it STRIKE? or Barbarism, Savagery and Cruelty?" (Letter to The Spectator by Benjamin Levy, 17/7/36)

[*See my 23/11/14 Dross & Gold in The Weekend Australian; **For more of Dov Midalia see my 30/7/11 post Leave Our Islamophobes Alone, OK?; ***In response to mass Zionist immigration under British auspices, the Palestinian Arabs staged a general strike (19/4/36 - 11/10/36), the opening round in a revolt that raged until 1939.]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Nation State of the Jewish People

The following news reminds me of the old biblical injunction: 'There is nothing new under the sun':

"A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country's democratic character. Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved 'national rights' for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist. The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel's basic laws, would recognise Israel's Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language. Arab Muslims and Christians make up 20% of Israel's population." (Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people, Peter Beaumont, theguardian.com, 24/11/14)

What we have here seems to be yet another piece of Israeli apartheid legislation (ranking alongside Israel's Law of Return (1950), Absentees' Property Law (1950), and Development Authority Law (1950), to name but 3 of the pack) which will operate to further entrench the divide between Jewish and non-Jewish (Palestinian) Israelis, enhancing the first class citizen status of the former while exacerbating the second class citizen status of the latter.

(Before proceeding further, however, that talk about the bill "undermining the country's democratic character," cannot be allowed to pass without comment. As I've pointed out many times in this blog: Any state that has most of its indigenous population living outside its borders, unable to return (Palestinian refugees), and the rest living either under a draconian military occupation (occupied Palestinians) or as second-class citizens within its borders (Palestinian Israelis), simply cannot be described, no matter how it is spun, as a democracy in good standing. An ethnocracy, yes. An apartheid state, yes. But emphatically, not a democracy.)

It's the 'Jewish people' concept that bears closer examination. This feature of Zionist ideology dates back to the very beginnings of the political Zionist movement. The concept rests on the false premise that Israel is 'the State of the Jews' - that is, all Jews, no matter where in the world they reside, or whether they embrace or reject an alleged connection to said 'State of the Jews'. According to the 'Jewish people' concept, Israel is not, therefore, simply the state of its citizens. The concept thus has important implications for Jews who are citizens of countries other than Israel.

The following excerpts on the subject are taken from an essay by W.T. Mallison, Jr., The Legal Problems Concerning the Juridical Status & Political Activities of the Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency, published in the William & Mary Law Review, Spring 1968:

"Zionism and its 'Jewish State' act upon the postulate that anti-Semitism is fundamental and ineradicable. Upon this postulate the Zionist juridical objectives that 'the Jewish people' be constituted as an additional nationality entity, membership in which is to be conferred upon all Jews, are based. The 'Jewish people' concept is used to recruit Jewish immigration to Israel and to achieve other Zionist political objectives. The Zionist 'solution' to anti-Semitism is to 'ingather' all Jews into the State of Israel...

"The 'Jewish people' concept is consistently advanced as a juridical claim in international law decision-making contexts. A particularly well known example involved the exploitation of the claim in the Eichmann Trial Judgment... 'The connection between the State  of Israel and the Jewish people needs no explanation'...

"The United States Department of State has commented upon the 'Jewish people' concept as follows: 'The Department of State recognizes the State of Israel as a sovereign State and citizenship of the State of Israel. It recocognizes no other sovereignty or citizenship in connection therewith. It does not recognize a legal-political relationship based upon the religious identification of American citizens. It does not in any way discriminate among American citizens upon the basis of their religion. Accordingly, it should be clear that the Department of State does not regard the 'Jewish people' concept as a concept of international law'...

"At the outset it should be recognized that the enunciation of the 'Jewish people' concept or claim in public law-making contexts involves an assertion of jurisdiction over Jews in the United States. The enunciation, consequently, involves implementation as well...

"The double loyalty issue is... recognized by some of the Zionist elite and dealt with in apparent double talk. For example, Mr Berl Locker, speaking as chairman of the Zionist Executive at a Session of the Zionist General Council, stated as one of 'the basic doctrines of Zionism in the present day': 'The State of Israel lays no claim to the political loyalty of Jews resident in other countries. Jews are good citizens in all countries of their domicile and especially in the countries in which they enjoy equal rights. But Jews as a community do possess a collective loyalty to the State of Israel, as Israel is the national home of the entire Jewish people.'

"On its face this statement is simply double talk since it can be interpreted textually as meaning either single or double loyalty. A Zionist statement, however, must usually be interpreted in greater depth than 'on its face'. The italics in the original indicate, of course, the relatively greater significance of the italicized statement concerning the loyalty of Jews to the State of Israel. Further analysis requires a basic understanding of Zionist public law. Such law is concerned almost exclusively with collective rights and duties consistent with the collective 'Jewish people' concept. From this perspective the statements which are not in italics have no Zionist significance since they are only concerned with individual  Jews ('good citizens'). The italicized statement concerns the Zionist concept of the 'entire Jewish people as well as the lower level concept of 'Jews as a community.' Since Zionism is concerned with collective rights and duties this is the only part of the quotation which has meaning to Zionists.

"The contemporary implementation of the 'Jewish people' concept continues to emphasize the immigration of Jews living in 'exile' or in the 'diaspora' (the Zionist terms for Jews who are nationals of any state other than the State of Israel) to Israel. In view of the substantial failure of Zionist recruitment of Jewish immigrants in the United States, Zionism has developed other major political objectives within this country which are conducted in spite of the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Between the United States and Israel which deny authority to conduct such activities. Each of these objectives is documented in the 1963 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing concerning the 'Activities of Nondiplomatic Representatives of Foreign Principals in the United States.' Perhaps the most important and comprehensive one is to conduct Zionist political activities in the United States as if they were genuine American activities. A related objective includes the domination of the mass media of communications with Zionist-Israel political viewpoints presented to make them appear to be American ones."

Most interesting those last two sentences.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Birds of a Feather

"Representatives from the Jewish community were among the VIPS who welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Sydney at a reception on Monday night... Sitting in the front row with NSW Premier Mike Baird and other dignitaries was NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak, who congratulated Modi on the speech he delivered to 20,000 people at Sydney Olympic Park." (Jewish leaders meet Indian PM, The Australian Jewish News, 21/11/14)

"Mr Modi's links with hardline Hindu groups, especially the Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, continue to worry many from religious minorities in India. There was a clear reminder of this when about 300 members of Sydney's Sikh community staged a protest outside Allphones Arena where Mr Modi spoke on Monday. Karandeep Singh Chadha, a spokesman for the protesters, says many people from religious minorities in India do not feel safe and that groups associating with Mr Modi have an 'agenda to make India a Hindu Nation' by wiping out other religions." (Protesters shadow the visits of Chinese and Indian leaders, Matt Wade & John Garnaut, Sydney Morning Herald, 19/11/14)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dross & Gold in The Weekend Australian

Conflating ISIL violence with Palestinian resistance to JSIL violence, hyping JSIL as a bastion of anti-terrorism and a bulwark of civilisation, urging Australia to adopt a more pro-JSIL 'narrative', and claiming that JSIL and Australia are made of the same stuff, takes a special kind of chutzpah, but, make no mistake, Israel's ambassador to Australia, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, has proven equal to the task:

"At a meeting of the UNSC this week Australia brought the focus of the council on to the topic of countering terrorism. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contended that in order to adequately address terrorism, the UN must work together to learn from, and support one another in efforts to root out the perpetrators of radical violence. I applaud this initiative of Australia's, because Israel for decades has been one of the most consistent victims of radical religiously motivated violence, but we cannot fight it alone. As Bishop remarked, radical Islamic terrorists 'are an affront to Islam. All of us, including Muslim communities themselves, must do more to negate the violent extremist narratives of terrorists and denounce radical preachers of hate in our midst'. Israel sits at the frontline of the terrorists' threat and to curtail their radical dystopia from consuming the civilised world a strong and prosperous Israel is vital. This is why free and democratic countries, like Australia, should forge a strong alternative narrative of their own, that can counter the narrative of violence stoked by militant Palestinians and Islamic State. To recognise that an attack on Israeli citizens is an attack on the same fundamental ideals upon which countries like Australia were built: this is the narrative that will demonstrate to Islamic extremists that when they attack Israel - when they desecrate peaceful faith - they attack a camaraderie of nations that will not tolerate violence as a political tool." (Terror: the enemy of Palestinian statehood, The Australian, 22/11/14)

But if Ben-Shmuel's transparent sales pitch on page 15 of The Weekend Australian was its dross, Middle East correspondent John Lyons' factual and well-researched feature on the rampant Israeli colonisation fueling Palestinian desperation was its gold, effectively nailing  Ben-Shmuel's blatant hasbara:

Where the ambassador prattled on about "a grotesque theatre of violence perpetuated by a ruthless band of Palestinian extremists," and "bands of disgruntled and radicalised Palestinians [taking] matters into their own hands," Lyons wrote of "a gang of about 50 masked men [who] left Yitzhar, home to some of the most violent settlers on the West Bank, and attacked Palestinians as soldiers standing near watched on," and "armed gangs which frequently roam the West Bank destroying olive trees owned by Palestinians or attacking Palestinians physically." (Settlers fuel cycle of bloodshed)

Where Ben-Shmuel paid the obligatory lip service to "sustainable statehood for Palestinians," Lyons made no bones about the fact that the Israeli government was working to make this impossible: "While the new battle for Al-Aqsa is the immediate cause of the violence the longer-term cause is Israel's continuing expansion of Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank... They are systematically eating up land which Palestinians say should be their state and are often being built on privately owned Palestinian land... Anyone who drives across the West Bank today will see a skyline dominated by Jewish settlements."

That said, I do have one quibble in relation to Lyons' report. It comes with his initial framing of the Palestine/Israel conflict as "a new round of hostility between these two ancient combatants."

This is not an ancient struggle stretching back to the mythical 'time immemorial'. It's actually no older than World War I, when the British government of the day, in an act of monumental folly, climbed into bed with Chaim Weizmann's Zionist Organisation, and duly gave birth, in November 1917, to a right little bastard known as the Balfour Declaration. And the rest, as they say, is history - with which I expect Lyons to be familiar.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Our Most Recently Rambammed

Sarah Ferguson: How do you account for [the Israel lobby] wielding so much power?
Bob Carr: I think political donations and a program of giving trips to MPs and journalists to Israel
(7.30 Report, 9/4/14)

The names of the four journalists recently rambammed by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (but not divulged in last week's Australian Jewish News - see my 15/11/14 post Why So Coy? 2) have at last appeared in this week's AJN, along with some of their deathless 'insights'.

Drum roll (or should that be shofar blast?):

David Wroe, Fairfax's defence and national security correspondent:

"Commenting on why the international media is harder on the Israelis than the Palestinians [???!!!], Wroe said it does 'expect more' from Israel. '[They] are the grown-ups [???!!!] in this conflict. They are a relatively wealthy democracy [???!!!], a sophisticated country with high education levels, they have the support of the world's most powerful country. We hold them to a higher standard [???!!!]. Does that let the Palestinians off the hook too frequently, yes, almost certainly, I wouldn't deny that. They literally do get away with murder'." (Media's double standards, 21/11/14)

I imagine Gideon Levy's piece, reproduced in my 28/10/14 post Palestinian Resistance 101, would be wasted on this goose.

Joe Aston, Australian Financial Review columnist and Nine Network roving reporter:

"... said 'very sadly' that he thought peace was 'a dream in the medium term'. 'When [PA president Mahmoud] Abbas talks about the attempted murder of Rabbi Glick and observes that it was committed by a martyr, a hero, it makes a lot of his statements in English very meaningless [but] I think Bibi's continued establishment of settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem is, if not central, certainly incendiary... certainly announcing growth in those settlements during the Kerry negotiations was a difficult sell for Israel'."

Zzzz...

Laura Jayes, Sky News political reporter "was unavailable to present on the evening."

Shucks!

Rowan Dean, editor, The Spectator Australia:

"The crux of the matter is, quite simply, the Palestinians are not interested in anything that allows a Jewish majority state to exist alongside them. Their TV programs, their crossword puzzles, their kids' books are all about demeaning Jews. Arabs are told from birth that Jews are really subhuman and to be got rid of'."

Pretty hardcore, eh? No wonder, this bloke's got real form - just click on the label below.

OK, that's that lot then, but we still don't know who the 4 journalists are who were rambammed by AIJAC at the same time - see my 15/11/14 post Why So Coy? 2.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Paul Sheehan: Toeing the Likud Line

Twice-rambammed (2006 & 2008) Sydney Morning Herald calumnist Paul Sheehan just couldn't help himself.

With the leader of Jewish State in the Levant (JSIL) having recently laid down the latest Likud party line, namely, that ISIL and Hamas "are branches of the same poisonous tree," all his Fairfax acolyte down under had to do was toe it:

"Although this attack appears to have nothing to do with Islamic State, it was the latest in a series of attacks on Jews by Palestinians in Jerusalem in recent weeks, the same blood fever that has led hundreds of young men... to travel from throughout the Muslim diaspora to join the butchery of Islamic State..." (Jews bare [sic] the brunt for naive hatred of Israel, 19/11/14)

And omit, of course, any mention whatever of the "blood fever" that has JSIL fanatics butchering occupied Palestinians, or "intransigents" as Sheehan styles them:

"The core basis of hostility to Israel is a lack of acknowledgment that most of the constrictive actions Israel has taken in the Palestinian territories - the walls, roadblocks, security restrictions - has been in reaction to an intransigent Palestinian political culture, a template set in place 45 years ago by the corruption and rejectionism of the first Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat..."

OK, I knew your eyes would be rolling at this nonsense. But guess what? So did Sheehan:

"Israel's arguments are routinely greeted with eye-rolling cynicism, as if the Israelis are the bullies of the Middle East..."

As if... FFS!