Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Marcelo Svirsky's Long Walk for Palestine

MEDIA RELEASE - 29 September 2014


"Jewish academic, Marcelo Svirsky will soon complete his marathon 10 day walk from Sydney to Canberra to promote the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel for its continuing subjugation of the Palestinians.

"Marcelo Svirsky, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Wollongong is an Australian-Israeli Palestine activist. He is the author of several academic works on Israel-Palestine, activism and colonialism and is an active member of the National Tertiary Education Union.

"He began his 10-day walk from Sydney Opera House to the Federal Parliament in Canberra to raise awareness about BDS in Australia on September the 23rd. The walk will culminate in the submission to the House of Representatives of a petition calling on Federal Parliament to endorse BDS.

"I've lived in Israel most of my life as a Jew,' Svirsky said, 'and I'm certain that it's a moral obligation to support the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law. I'm walking to Canberra to make a simple statement: Israel must end the occupation, give full equality to its Arab citizens, and respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees. This isn't just what's right and decent: it's what international law mandates.

"Svirsky will arrive in Canberra on October the 2nd, having passed through the Illawarra, the Southern Highlands, Goulburn, and Bungendore. He has participated in public meetings at Wollongong and will speak in Goulburn today.

"The shocking butchery in Gaza means that nations that support peace must act to end Israeli violence, Svirsky said. The international BDS campaign is a nonviolent mechanism to put pressure on Israel to halt its oppression of Palestine and my individual walk for BDS corresponds with the growth in prominence of BDS in Australia in recent months.

"Staff and students at Svirsky's university issued the following declaration and commitment: This meeting of students and staff of the University of Wollongong resolves to support the boycott, divestment & sanctions movement. We resolve to support any students or staff who implement BDS. We call on the Wollongong University Students' Association and the unions representing workers on campus, but in particular the UOW Branch of the NTEU to support BDS and implement it on campus...

"University of Sydney academic, Jake Lynch, recently won a case brought against him by an Israeli law centre for spearheading the call for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. In a major victory for the BDS movement in Australia, Lynch was awarded costs. In Sydney last month, calls to boycott the Israeli Film Festival because of its sponsorship by the Israeli government led to the Supreme Court of NSW banning a protest outside the festival's opening night.

"Svirsky is one of 164 Jews who signed an open letter in August calling on Jewish people to break their silence, to take a public stand... for an end to the underlying conditions of siege and occupation which defy elementary morality, decency and humanity."

PS: Surprise, surprise, Michael Danby MP, the shadow minister for Israel, has emitted the following response to Svirsky's magnificent gesture: "This poor deluded Wollongong academic is not walking to a welcome in Canberra, he is walking to political oblivion." (On the one hand... 1/10/14,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Team Australia's Best & Brightest

"It is a real honour to thank Frank Lowy - Companion of the Order of Australia, Australia's leading philanthropist, former director of the Reserve Bank of Australia, chairman of the Australian Football Federation, sometime head of the BRW rich list and dinky-di Australian - for his lecture and for his life."* Tony Abbott, 20/9/12

"The Australian newspaper is Rupert Murdoch's 'gift to our nation' Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told a gala dinner in Sydney to celebrate the publication's 50th birthday." (Tony Abbott praises The Australian as Rupert Murdoch's 'gift to our nation', AAP/Sydney Morning Herald, 16/7/14)

"A senior member of the Coalition has warned that corporate tax avoidance and the repatriation of profits overseas is 'the greatest financial challenge' facing Australia. Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, a confidant of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, said the government must secure the tax revenue base before spending on essential services is not impacted. 'If you're willing to turn a blind eye to billions of dollars going out the door and offshore, you're doomed in terms of providing what people expect from government: roads, schools and hospitals. This is the greatest financial challenge facing the Western world and if not addressed it could redefine sovereignty in the Western world'." (Government senator says corporate tax avoidance threatens services, Heath Aston & Georgia Wilkins, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/9/14)

"The usual culprits top the list again this year: Rupert Murdoch's Fox, Frank Lowy's Westfield and the host of real estate trusts listed on the Australian Securities Exchange." (Leaners avoid paying their fair share of the company tax rate, Michael West, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/9/14)

The usual culprits?

Now that's not a very nice thing to say about two of Team Australia's best and brightest (even if one calls Israel home and the other's now a Yank).

[*Transcript of the Hon Tony Abbott MHR Vote of thanks at the Inaugural Australian Multicultural Council Lecture, Parliament House, Canberra]

Inside Our Jewish Schools

The Australian Jewish News reported recently (4/4/14) on the publication of "a groundbreaking study," Intergenerational Challenges in Australian Jewish School Education," authored by Professor Zehavit Gross of Bar-Ilan University's School of Education and Professor Suzanne Rutland of Sydney University's Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies Department.

The AJN titled its report Is the 'Jewish' in Jewish Schools working? Given that these schools are overwhelmingly Zionist in orientation, a more accurate title would have been: Are 'Jewish' schools churning out uncritical Zionists?

Happily, the answer would appear to be no. Here are some revealing excerpts from the AJN's coverage:

"The picture [the authors] paint of contemporary Jewish adolescence is complex. The students are an empowered, tech-savvy, analytical and broad-minded bunch... [However] they want to discuss questions of 'why be Jewish' rather than being 'told how to be Jewish'; they want to explore the broader lessons of the Holocaust..."

Hm... broader than the following?

"So when you have difficulty understanding us (Israelis), think about the Holocaust. When you find yourselves searching for our motives, remember the Holocaust. When you try to understand the steps we take, consider the Holocaust."

I should bloody well hope so!

"[A] prevailing insistence on the dogmatic teachings of religion, perpetuating an archaic Hebrew pedagogy, and employing Israeli teachers with little understanding of Australian culture are all areas the academics flag as requiring urgent attention from the school leadership."

Israeli teachers?!  Hello?

"[T]he students are losing patience. 'We have learnt so much about Judaism that I actually hate it now,' one student protested. 'Jewish studies is a class that can be seen as a bludge... we do the same things every year,' another offered. One student reflected: 'We learnt about Amalekites. Our teacher said: 'It's the Jews' job to wipe out, if we could find the Amalekites, it is our job to wipe them out.' So I said: 'Hypothetically, if a Jew became Australia's prime minister and they were able to trace down Amalekites you would say it is okay to put them into gas chambers and do exactly what Hitler did? He said that he would personally do it. That is not okay with me'."

Amalekites?! Are they serious? Is it any wonder these kids are losing patience?

OK, now here's the biggie:

"Changing trends extend to the value attributed to Israel (students are increasingly critical of the Jewish homeland), and the perceived importance of learning the Hebrew language."

There's hope yet!

[*The Holocaust is the 'key' to Israel, Yosef Lapid, Jerusalem Post/Australian Jewish News, 28/4/06. See also my 12/4/10 post Sam Lipski's National Curriculum.]

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bin Laden Begs to Differ

You who do not read Murdoch's Australian will be pleased to know that, after remaining uncharacteristically silent throughout Jewish State's recent bloodletting in the Gaza Strip, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor extraordinaire, has recovered his tongue from the proverbial cat, and is once more setting Australians straight on matters Middle Eastern:

"[T]he Australian debate [over future involvement in Syria] is bedevilled by three truly ludicrous myths peddled variously... by Greens, lefties, professional anti-Americans, and that great undifferentiated and largely uninformed cadre of general commentators on everything who figure so ubiquitously, and so repetitively, on the ABC. The myths are: that the rise of Islamic State in Iraq is a consequence of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq; that recent US counter-terrorist activities and aggressive actions in the Middle East have spurred the terrorist threat on; and that Israel remains the core issue, or the root cause, of the Middle East's problems. To believe these myths, you have to be taking something strange in your morning coffee, because they are not remotely supported by the facts. Professing, as opposed to actually believing, these myths offers a high level of psychological comfort, because they give you the two favourite pantomime villains of international politics: the US and Israel." (Debunking the myths about extremists' rise, 24/9/14)

Now I won't bore you with our resident Suppository of All Wisdom's discharges on the first two "truly ludicrous myths."

Let's proceed straight to the biggie, number three:

"The most important and destructive dynamic in the Middle East today is the sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia... Israel's role in the basic Shia-Sunni hostilities is absolutely zero." (ibid)

OK, far be it for me to contradict the "most influential foreign affairs analyst in Australian journalism." I'm just an amateur anti-USraeli after all.

But surely, if anyone were to do so, who better than the daddy of all SUNNI EXTREMISTS, Osama bin Laden, right? With "sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia" being "the most important and  destructive dynamic in the Middle East today," you'd expect that if anyone'd be oozing anti-Shia sectarianism from every pore, it'd be bin Laden, right?

Well, as much as I hate to break it to Greg and his fans, in all of bin Laden's 24 manifestos issued between 1994 and 2004 (and compiled by Bruce Lawrence in 2005 as Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden) there's not a whisper about the Shia, not a negative word about Iran, nothing FFS.

When it comes to USrael, however, the guy just won't shut up.

But then, what would bin Laden know about the Middle East compared with our Greg?

Related post: Here's looking at you, Greg (10/1/11)

Pathetic Victim of Ziocaine Abuse

Tanya (Once was Warrior) Plibersek, now a mere shadow of her former self:

Phoebe Roth: Our readers often express concern over your comments in 2002 when you described Israel as a 'rogue state' and Ariel Sharon as a 'war criminal'. Can you describe how your thoughts have evolved since this time?

Plibersek: I'm actually not going to go back over it, it's 12 years ago. I've been on the public record many times about it. I'm done. (Speaking from the Plibersek perspective, The Australian Jewish News, 19/9/14)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Awake, England! 2

"I've seen the vultures, filthy, stealthily approaching a dead donkey. They need not feed on donkey flesh today.

"How you love those humble folk, native Christians and native Moslems! How you love persecuted Jews! You and other nations proved that at Evian les Bains*, didn't you? You say 'all the nations did.' Yes, but under your sole control is the sovereign remedy proposed at Evian, to wit, that the victims of European meanness be sent to Palestine. In other words that the Holy Land of Christians, Moslems and Jews be liquidated to make a graveyard of all three.

"What of the world's pious pilgrims who would fain go annually to the one country of peace and sacred memories. Do you remember the stream? Why did you launch the devastating 'experiment'? Why do you continue it? Are you mystified by the changes in Palestine since 1916-17? Can you not detect each step that has led to the present ruin? Would you dare ask your neighbors? Will you ever find a more dependable friend or ally than the Arab, any Arab? Remember your vast Arabic learning, memories, scholarly works, statesmen, many highly trained Christian orientalists to this very hour? Do you remember and will you use?

"As the season of 'grapes' returns to Palestine, August and later, season of gladness, will you be treading the wine-press over there or what representatives of yours will be treading? Who will be under your feet? What color will your feet be?

"Have you assayed the necessity for all this? Have you reckoned with the end? Will you be proud of the result? Who as effectively as yourself has chastised the Holy Land and its rightful people? If you import another people there by any specious title will you chastise them the same way in the interests of PEACE: YOU, CAESAR: WHAT OF THE PAX BRITTANICA, LATELY, NOW? PEACE!

"Is it Palestine you dearly love, or Mosul, or India, or Suez, and even they, why do you love them so? Are you truly loving and loyal to England? You emancipator of the blacks! And your pride, the not-nice manner in which you bandy the word 'native'. Was that the reason for championing wholesale immigration of aliens with shreds of title 2000 years old!

"Are Palestinians bad people? Do you really think that these despoiled peasants are terrorists? Do you remember any terrors visited upon them since 1914? Do you remember the exultation with which they welcomed you and your message of fairness, of peace, of reverence in 1917? Some of your dead would remember and do. Are there not sufficient living living who remember, who worship, who understand?

"Besides the Palestine of place, there is the Palestine of dream with which all mortals may rightfully be concerned. When outsiders come to grips with the Palestine of place then strange iniquities ensue. Test this as you will at any time in the experiences of the past.

"What of the incongruity of the Foreign Office meddling with the Palestine of place, or the Colonial Office, or any bureau and I except none: then begins misery and mockery. The heart of the meddler becomes dry and hard; the very health of the native custodian of that soil goes glimmering to a sickness worse than the enterics of which we have knowledge.

"Where else in this troubled world are the faiths of mankind so inextricably bound? Where else is there so providential an opportunity for non-aggression? for noblesse oblige? Let the chaffering in Palestine real estate cease. Let the western bribery of the impecunious farmer of that country stop forthwith! Decency commands it.

"Holy cities, material shrines, are notoriously offensive when venal considerations obtain. Outsiders beware! When your patient dreams go on to the registry of real estate titles and you seek to close your fist over a parcel of ground for selfish gratification you have seared your soul beyond hope of sweetness or idealism.

"The sword may be offensive but the pen of the realist has been even more terrible a horror in Palestine, the Holy Land. Look at it today! Let those who know tell you how it was in the yesterday before the World War! What human would say that today could compare with yesterday? The Turk was a dreamer, a poet, a philosopher, a saint compared with certain so-called statesmen, certain political meddlers of the past twenty years. Read the travel literature of fifty or a hundred years preceding 1917, and con the reiteration of peccadilloes, amusing contretemps, despised chicaneries along the tourist routes, guides, shrines, pretense and crass materialism and then compare the atrocities of the last few years in European mal-administration in Palestine. The pre-war trivialities are as the errant ways of sparrows compared with the work of tigers, hyenas, and vultures." (Palestine Today, pp 14-22)

[*See my 2/8/13 post Misrepresenting the Evian Conference of 1938.]

Awake, England! 1

In my last post, I touched on the subject of the 1936-39 Palestinian uprising against British colonial rule and Zionist immigration.*

The brutal crushing of that 4-year intifada by the British army left Palestinian society so weakened that it lacked the stamina and resources to withstand the armed Zionist takeover of Palestine 9 years later, in 1948.

As a reminder of that struggle, the high point of Palestinian resistance to the British mandate and Zionist colonisation, I reproduce here the eloquent and impassioned 1938 protest by American archeologist and biblical scholar Elihu Grant (1873-1942), Awake, England!

Grant was a man who had lived among and studied the Palestinian peasantry prior to World War 1, writing a warm and sympathetic account of their society and customs, The Peasantry of Palestine, in 1907.

Written 78 years ago, Awake, England! is both a lament for the peaceful Palestine of Ottoman times and a cri de coeur at what Palestine has become under the British, with their policy of imposing a 'National Home for the Jewish people' on an unwilling, non-Jewish native population. This is simply referred to by Grant as the 'experiment'**.

Sadly, it also reveals how little has changed in the history of the Palestinians' agonisingly protracted struggle for self-determination in their ancestral homeland:

"England! Where thousands live who, or whose kindred, have served over there in decent Christian ways these scores of years, who know the East, the Arab, who have bred such as Lawrence of Arabia, Hogarth of the Bodleian, Palmer and Allenby... Now look at the thousands of photographs of your 'authorities' in Palestine, today, of evictions and dynamiting, with accompaniments of machine-gunning, bayonetting, tanks, planes, gas, bombs, and starvation. Some of your representatives you would not trust in your stable. Yet you let them carry your name and fame among the peasants of a usually peaceable land which you are turning into a daily horror, while you lift your palms upward and outward when the owner of a few feddans, a few tools, a cow, a pair of goats, perchance sheep and chickens, or a plot of vineyard, when he strikes in his misery at his tormentors paid from the taxes you wring from him.

"One of your scions, officer in a district, told me that one of his concerns was to obliterate the native guest-rooms in the villages, muddafiehs, humble centres of fraternity and democracy, because he considered them seditious, harmful to the empire. That is tearing the ewe lamb apart and not even eating it decently.

"I could draw you pictures and have before of scenes, places, and people in Palestine, as dear, simple, and sweet as any in your fair England. But that would be pre-war. And the resentment that has burned in those places recently is not a 'circumstance,' as we say colloquially, to what would have happened in Somerset if half of the wrongs had been perpetrated there by an insider or an outsider. One of your own assured me of this five years ago and Lo, and behold, your artistry of misery since!

"And consider the provocation in Palestine in twenty years past, in twenty months past. Even today I could point you to places in Palestine where your 'experiment' has scarce touched as yet and where you might observe a measure of the peace and kindness among the natives which we knew thirty or more years ago.

"A dear, good, saintly Christian from the midst of peace-loving England said to me concerning one of my own native pupils in Palestine 'We fear he is not loyal.' Loyal to what? To the Empire? To a tormentor that he was trained to view was a civilised force in the world long before it turned persecutor with its 'experiments' and to what end, native welfare? That savors of the remark of an Irish officer in service in Palestine to one of the native nobility there charged with office, a man educated and qualified by years of European training to serve any good cause or purpose in the Moslem East. Charged by this Irishman, with being too sympathetic with the peasantry of the district!! with being less than fully loyal to the despoiling busybody busy with his papers, white, or other shade. Remember a few years ago when a white paper showed merciful comprehension of the aggravated native state of affairs in Palestine that it was officially pigeon-holed? Under what pressure?

"Oh, England, you are not fair to the England we admired. You are not frank, you are not English: at least in Palestine. Do you shudder for Abyssinia, for Spain, for China? What about Palestine!?! There are those among the thousands in Syria, refugees from Palestine, or among the hundreds of good Palestinian brains in other countries who could help you learn a truer function for young educated Palestinians.

"Once it was the wawy (jackal) whose bark we heard in the vineyards. Now it would be the bark and rattle of deadly weapons. Once it was the hyena prowling for dead flesh. Now it is those who provide death daily for the contest, the race between the scavenger and the family of the dead who at their peril seek the bodies of their dead after the official strafing by your orders. Once it was the kilmy frangieh*** and veneration by those Easterners who admired you. Still it is the kilmy frangieh but with a difference in those 'holy fields!'

Concluded in my next post... 

[*See my 21/3/11 post Jogging Uri Avnery's Memory; **"It may fail. I do not deny that this is an adventure. Are we never to have adventures? Are we never to try new experiments?" Lord Balfour, House of Lords, 21/6/22; ***foreign word]