Monday, April 28, 2008

Anticipatory Compliance

"The thing about Murdoch is that he very rarely issued directives or instructions to his senior executives or editors. Instead, by way of discussion he would make known his personal viewpoint on a certain matter. What was expected in return, at least from those seeking tenure of any length in the Murdoch Empire, was a sort of 'anticipatory compliance'. One didn't need to be instructed about what to do, one simply knew what was in one's long-term interests." (Rupert's Adventures in China: How Murdoch Lost a Fortune and Found a Wife, Bruce Dover, 2008, p 149)

Anticipatory compliance (or self-censorship) is a reflex all too familiar to those in the mainstream media who write about the Palestine/Israel conflict. Apart from those at News Limited who actually believe their own pro-Israel propaganda, whenever the subject of Israel's decades-long abuse of the Palestinian people arises, editors and journalists will do what they do in the certain knowledge that, should they breach the red lines laid down by Israel lobby spinmeisters, there will be consequences: angry phone calls, letters, emails, even meetings with management. Is this kind of heat worth it? they'll be asking themselves. Punches will be pulled and difficult questions avoided. The result will be that our understanding of the underlying dynamics of the conflict will be compromised. We'll relegate it to the too-hard basket and concentrate instead on other, clearer, safer crimes, such as Tibet and Zimbabwe. And the relentless, bloody process of wiping Palestine off the map, Palestinian by Palestinian, dunum by dunam, begun in earnest by the Zionist movement in 1948, will continue apace.

Veteran BBC journalist Tim Llewellyn put it thus: "This [unconscious pro-Israel bias] is also evident in insidious self-censorship, in which a reporter senses a way of pre-empting the anxiety of his bosses or the ire of the Israelis or both by crafting his story in a bland and therefore misleading manner: 'Land which the Palestinians say is occupied...'; 'disputed' instead of 'occupied' territories, a phrase that still crops up on the BBC, though the circumlocution is legally and morally indefensible; the misrepresentation of the numbers of Jewish settlers on the West Bank and in Jerusalem; the failure to get into the public British consciousness the nature of the vast Separation and Enclosure Wall Israel is building around and into Palestinian territory, dividing and isolating its people and further damaging their already enfeebled economy. This is still called by the BBC 'a security barrier', conjuring up in the viewer's or listener's mind the image of a temporary structure the local police might put up to fence off a crime scene or to deter football hooligans." (Introduction to Publish It Not: The Middle East cover-Up, Christopher Mayhew & Michael Adams, 2006)

A text book example of anticipatory compliance cropped up in The Australian of 26/4/08:-

Sian Powell's Gaza power play was a feature article on the staging (Belvoir St Theatre, May 14) of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie. Its eponymous subject was callously murdered by an Israeli army bulldozer driver in 2003 while trying to protect, along with fellow activists in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian home from demolition.

Right at the outset Powell feels compelled to play the faux balancing game: "Playwright Harold Pinter, among others, wrote to defend the play, while a website called Rachel Corrie Facts has been set up to correct the work's 'factual errors and myths'." Not even the qualifier 'alleged' is allowed to intrude on the fiction that RCF is anything more than just another tiresome pro-Israel propaganda site out to sow confusion. "The play has dipped into that most prickly subject," Powell writes, "Middle Eastern politics. Corrie drew derision and admiration during her short life: the play has had the same effect." "Derision" - whose derision? Powell dare not spell it out. The illusion that Corrie's detractors may have had a genuine reason for objecting to the play, as opposed to an axe to grind, is thus created. The play "is sure to draw fire," she adds.

But that's just for starters. Powell quotes an almost apologetic Shannon Murphy, director of the Sydney production: "I actually think it's been blown out of proportion... It's more a coming-of-age story." Although Murphy is described as being "so taken with the play," Powell says this is because it is "a play rather than as a political polemic."

In her gloss on Corrie's life, Powell notes that "as a college student she joined the International Solidarity Movement," parenthetically adding the words "dubbed a pro-Palestinian front." The identity and motives of the dubbers is left to the reader's imagination. Whoever they are, Powell must placate them. The vital and heroic work of the ISM is ignored and its integrity impugned.

She quotes Corrie, mere days before her death, saying, "I feel like I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive... Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realise there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I'm having dinner with." But this chilling insight into the dark heart of the matter is subverted when Powell goes on to quote Murphy (still in apologetic mode): "'Up until she died she was still trying to grasp what was happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians'... adding that Corrie was angrier with US foreign policy than she was with Israel." (But of course, who in their right mind could possibly blame Israel?)

"Trying to grasp what was happening between the Israelis and the Palestinians"? Really? Corrie knew exactly what was happening. A military machine, the IDF, Jabotinsky's implacable "iron wall of Jewish bayonets," was all around her, destroying Palestinian lives and livelihoods on a daily basis, and had been since 1947-8. To suggest that Corrie wasn't quite up to speed on this is either not to understand her words - or else an exercise in anticipatory compliance.

Powell can't even concede that Corrie was murdered: "She was killed in hotly disputed circumstances. It is certain, though, that Corrie was trying to prevent an armoured Israeli D9 bulldozer from working in Rafah... where she believed Palestinian houses were at risk. She was killed either by the bulldozer's blade or by rubble and debris moved by the machine."

So Corrie's death was an accident! An Israeli bulldozer (no human agency is indicated) was quietly working away minding its own business when Corrie, who only "believed" that some houses (whose houses?) were at risk, simply got in the way. Now where could she have gotten the idea that Palestinian homes were at risk? She couldn't possibly have gone to Gaza knowing that over 3,000 Palestinian homes had been toppled in the previous 2 years, or to Rafah knowing that the Israelis were busy bulldozing a 400m corridor separating Gaza and Egypt through people's homes, now could she? Let us hope that the silly girl didn't traumatise the poor driver too much.

And anyway, "an Israeli Defence Force investigation found that Corrie had not been run over by the dozer and that the driver probably had not been able to see her." Well, that's that then. End of story. The Israelis wouldn't lie now, would they? And this in spite of Powell's earlier claim that the circumstances of her death were"hotly disputed."

As if that wasn't enough to keep the Zionist media pack from the door, "Murphy believes Corrie's death was accidental... 'She slipped and she was trying to scramble up, and it crushed her. It was an accident... No charges have been laid, that's for sure'." This, if correctly reported, is bizarre. Here we have Murphy, described as "so taken" with the play and Corrie's story, apparently unaware of the eyewitness testimony of Corrie's fellow activist, Joe Smith: "Rachel [dressed incidentally in a bright orange jacket with reflective stripes] was kneeling 20 metres in front of the bulldozer on flat ground. There was no way she could not have been seen. We only maintain positions that are clearly visible. She had been doing this all day but this time the driver did not stop. Once she had fallen under the bulldozer, the driver stopped when she was under its middle section and reversed." (Israeli report clears troops over US death, The Guardian, 14/4/03)

Unaware too, it seems, of the words of ISM spokesman, Tom Wallace: "The conclusions are outrageous. If they found that the driver was not culpable what did they find to explain this? How could they find a driver who had run someone over in a slow and deliberate manner in no way responsible?" (TG, 14/4/03)

Anticipatory compliance. Anything to avoid drawing fire from you-know-who.

Rachel Corrie knew exactly what was going on around her and could have had no illusions whatever about the dangers of standing up to the uniformed thugs of the IDF. Whether shooting, shelling, firing missiles or bulldozing, she would have known that the Israeli military is committed to one thing and one thing only - the ethnic cleansing of Palestine - and that nobody, not even a white American woman, would be allowed to stand between it and its historic mission. Rachel Corrie may have been born in the US, but she was murdered in Palestine as a Palestinian.

The psychopathological mindset she was up against becomes clear when one reads the testimony of Moshe Nissim, the driver of one of the bulldozers that flattened the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002: "Do you know how I held out for 75 hours? I didn't get off the tractor. I had no problem of fatigue, because I drink whisky all the time. I had a bottle in the tractor at all times... For 75 hours I didn't think about my life at home, about all the problems. Everything was erased. Sometimes images of terror attacks in Jerusalem crossed my mind. I witnessed some of them. For 3 days, I just destroyed and destroyed. The whole area. Any house that they fired from came down. And to knock it down, I tore down some more. They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I come, but I gave no one a chance. I didn't wait. I didn't give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible... Others may have restrained themselves, or so they say. Who are they kidding?...I didn't give a damn about the Palestinians, but I didn't just ruin with no reason. It was all under orders." (Quoted in Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948, Tanya Reinhart, 2003, pp 163-164)

It's time the media - and the rest of us - stood up to the Israel lobby's bulldozing of honest reporting and freedom of expression. Acts of anticipatory compliance only reward the bully and diminish us as human beings. Rachel Corrie's courage, and that of her fellow activists in the ISM, is an example to us all.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Light Relief

Maiden, n. A young person of the unfair sex addicted to clewless conduct and views that madden to crime. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Clewless conduct: "Peaches Geldof [18] has been accused of leaving a trendy London boutique without paying for a dress with a $1100 price tag... In October 2006 Peaches, the daughter of Bob Geldof, was stopped at London clothes shop Urban Outfitters, on suspicion of shoplifting a coat." (Peaches in 'dress mix-up', The Sunday Telegraph, 20/4/08)

and views that madden to crime: "During our conversation, it becomes clear that Peaches [16] admires few grown-ups... But she reserves her harshest judgement for Mike Moore, the documentary-maker behind the anti-George Bush film Fahrenheit 9/11. 'I watched that film and I felt disgusted the way he was so biased. He completely ridiculed him [Bush] and it's just like when you're in a playground and you're bullying a little kid. I was for the Iraq war. I supported Bush completely, which was quite, like my friends, like, hated me for that. Of course, it's terrible that millions of people have died, but if you think of Saddam Hussein and all the terrible things he's done, I mean something doesn't come from nothing. Everyone at school, like, a lot of people knew nothing about the war and were wearing T-shirts saying 'F...Bush' and saying 'Bush sucks'. I think people should be more informed before hating a person for something'." (The self-possession of Peaches, The Sun-Herald, 24/4/05)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Taking Begging Bowls to Repressive Regimes

"Griffith University vice-chancellor Ian O'Connor has admitted lifting information straight from online encyclopedia Wikipedia and confusing strands of Islam as he struggled to defend his institution's decision to ask the repressive Saudi Arabian Government for funding." (Uni chief lifted Islam text from Wikipedia)

That was front page news in The Australian of 26/4/08. Murdoch's self-styled Heart of the Nation was waging another of its journalistic jihads "after it was revealed [last week] that Griffith had asked the Saudi embassy in Australia for a $1.37 million grant for its Islamic Research Unit."

The Australian's bloodhound, dedicated to sniffing out Muslims under the bed, Richard Kerbaj, had reported accusations, emanating from Clive Wall, a Queensland District Court judge and deputy judge advocate-general in the Australian Defence Forces, that Griffith University was akin to Pakistani "madrassas" [sic: madrasas] and an "agent" of the Saudi regime engaged in "propagating Wahabbism [sic: wahhabism], a hardline brand of Islam practised in Saudi Arabia and followed by al-Qa'ida." (Uni defends Saudi grant, 24/4/08) It was Professor O'Connor's "response to The Australian's revelations... published as an opinion article in the newspaper on Thursday [which] contained whole passages of text 'cut and pasted' from Wikipedia." To top it off, The Australian couldn't resist editorialising about how Professor O'Connor "has yet to justify his taking the begging bowl to a repressive regime that punishes by stoning, beheading and amputation, and bars women from driving and most forms of normal life." But more of that later.

Cutting and pasting Wikipedia, eh? If The Australian really wanted to run with a Wikipedia story, how about this one: "A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged." The "pro-Israel pressure group" referred to is CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) and the full report, from The Electronic Intifada, 21/4/08, can be accessed at http://www.electronicintifada.net/.

And if The Australian really wanted to chase up a story on universities receiving external funding for the propagation of extremist Middle-Eastern ideologies, it could perhaps investigate the phenomenon of Israel studies - what some may well perceive as an attempt to propagate political Zionism, a hardline brand of nationalism/tribalism practised in Israel and promoted by Israel lobbies in western countries.

Maybe this Jerusalem Post story would be a good place for Mr Kerbaj to start: "A coalition of 31 American Jewish organizations want to bring Israel studies to US campuses... Such a[n Israel studies] program, it is hoped, will help tell Israel's story on American college campuses." (Jewish organizations want to bring Israel studies to US campuses, 2/5/07)

Or maybe he could follow up on Mearsheimer & Walt: "To further counter perceived anti-Israel bias in academia, a number of philanthropists have established Israel studies programs at US universities (in addition to the roughly 130 Jewish studies programs that already exist), so as to increase the number of 'Israel-friendly' scholars on campus. NYU announced the establishment of the Taub Center for Israel Studies on May 1, 2003, and similar programs have been established at other schools, including Berkely, Brandeis, and Emory. Academic administrators emphasize the pedagogical value of these programs, but they are also intended to promote Israel's image on campus. Fred Lafer, the head of the Taub Foundation, makes clear that his foundation funded the NYU center to help counter the 'Arabic [sic] point of view' that he thinks is prevalent in NYU's Middle East programs." (The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, 2007 p 181)

Israel studies has in fact already made it to these shores, without the Murdoch press showing a flicker of interest: "Monash University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Larkins, today announced the appointment of Professor Fania Oz-Salzberger to the Leon Liberman Chair of Modern Israel Studies in the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization... Mr Liberman said: 'The Chair... will provide an opportunity to advance a rounded and multi-dimensional discourse with the Modern State of Israel... The Acting Director of the Centre for Jewish Civilization, Professor David Copolov, said that the appointment of Professor Oz-Salzberger would help strengthen Monash's reputation as a trusted source of expert, dispassionate commentary on key issues of contemporary international relevance." (Monash appoints Chair of Modern Israel Studies, 18/4/07, http://www.monash.edu.au/.) For Oz-Salzberger see my February 12 post Rotem's Revenge.

However, to fully appreciate the consummate HYPOCRISY of the Murdoch press taking Professor Ian O'Connor to task for "taking his begging bowl to a repressive regime," one had the happy option of turning to Murdoch's rival, Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald of 25/4/08, and reading George Monbiot's wonderful essay, Strange case of Murdoch's lost empire.

Monbiot told the story of how, after buying up Hong Kong's satellite broadcaster Star TV and making a speech in 1993 about how satellite broadcasting constituted a threat to "totalitarian regimes" because it allowed "information-hungry residents of many closed societies to bypass state-controlled television channels," which provoked the Chinese to ban satellite dishes from China, "Murdoch spent the next 10 years grovelling. Within 6 months of [the] ban, Murdoch dropped the BBC from Star's China signal. His publishing company, HarperCollins, paid a fortune for a tedious biography of Deng Xiaoping, written by Deng's daughter. He built a website for the regime's propaganda sheet, the People's Daily. In 1997 he made another speech in which he tried to undo the damage he had caused 4 years before. 'China', he said, 'is a distinctive market with distinctive social and moral values that Western companies must learn to abide by'. His minions, Dover [Murdoch's former vice-president in China & author of Rupert's Adventures in China] reveals, ensured 'every relevant Chinese government official received a copy'. He described the Dalai Lama as a 'very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes'. His son James said that the Western media 'were painting a falsely negative portrayal of China through their focus on controversial issues such as human rights'. Rupert employed his unsalaried gofer, Tony Blair, to give him special access: in 1999 Blair placed him next to the then Chinese president...at a Downing Street lunch. To secure limited cable rights in southern China, News Corporation agreed to carry a Chinese government channel... on Fox and Sky. Murdoch promised to 'further strengthen co-operative ties with the Chinese media, and explore new areas with an even more positive attitude'. Most notoriously, he instructed HarperCollins not to publish the book it had bought from the former governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac Day Special: The Diggers Who Died for Israel

Rhapsody: Linking Culture between Israel & Australia is a little magazine which comes as an insert every two months in The Australian Jewish News. The following item appears in the latest (April-June) issue of Rhapsody:-

"The Park of the Australian Soldier, to be dedicated in Israel on 28 April by Richard Pratt* and a host of Israeli and Australian dignitaries, will commemorate the charge of the 4th Bridgade, Australian Mounted Division, against the Turkish positions at Beersheba (now Be'er Sheva) on 31 October 1917. The park is being constructed by the Pratt Foundation and its dedication is being co-ordinated on the Foundation's behalf by the Australian Government. The Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, will lead the Australian delegation. It is the first time Australia's Head of State will visit Israel whilst still in office. The area will feature a landscaped recreation park with an innovative playground catering for the needs of children with disabilities and a sculpture** by the Australian Peter Corlett, commemorating the Australian Light Horse."

[*Pratt (Order of Australia), you may remember, is Australia's cardboard king and chief of Visy Industries. He was convicted last year of price-fixing and fined $36 million dollars.][**"Corlett's bronze statue of a mounted light-horseman hurdling sandbags will feature a Magen David (star of David) in its design." (Be'er Sheva park, statue, to honour ANZAC charge, The Australian Jewish News, 25/5/07)]

In the previous issue of Rhapsody, editor Dan Goldberg expounded on the true significance of the above: "The ties that bind Jerusalem and Canberra were further cemented with the commemoration last November of the 90th anniversary of the Charge of the Light Horse Brigade, when brave Aussie Diggers trounced the Turks at Be'er Sheva, paving the way for the capture of Jerusalem...And it is in Be'er Sheva that Richard Pratt is ploughing funds to build the Park of the Australian Soldier - a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state."

Yes, that's what it says: "... the Park of the Australian Soldier - a permanent memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state."

Now we know that Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, just before last year's federal election, declared that "his support for Israel was 'in my DNA'," but none of us, I'll wager, had any idea that Australia's genetically-determined support for Israel extended to the rewriting of history such that Australian troops, who thought they were fighting and dying for King and Country, were actually fighting and dying for a state that still had 31 years to go before it came into being!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Armenia On My Mind

The ABC's current affairs program Foreign Correspondent on 22/4/08 dealt with Turkey, Armenia, and the conflicting passions surrounding the Armenian genocide of 1915. In Armenia/Turkey: Ghosts of the Past, reporter Eric Campbell ably exposed the refusal of the Turkish establishment to acknowledge Turkey's responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of its Armenian minority. So far, so good. The synopsis of the program on Foreign Correspondent's website (www.abc.net.au/foreign), however, detracted massively from Campbell's report.

It contained the following sentence: "Respected historians say as many as a million people were killed and many more made refugees. (see extract*)" The extract turned out to be a quote from The Middle East by Bernard Lewis, billed as "an authority on Islamic and Middle Eastern History." Lewis' description of the mass deportations of Armenian civilians were oddly tentative, almost apologetic: "... a practice sadly familiar in the region since biblical times"/"... the task of escorting the deportees was entrusted to hastily recruited local posses"/"The Ottoman central government seems to have made some effort to curb the excess."

What possessed the ABC? Quoting neocon Godfather and Israel apologist Bernard Lewis ("respected historian" and "authority on Islamic and Middle Eastern history") on the subject of the Armenian genocide is like quoting David Irving on the Nazi genocide*. Despite the synopsis' acknowledgment that "in some countries such as France, it is a criminal offence to deny the Armenian genocide," it appears that those responsible for the program (or at least the synopsis) were unaware that they were quoting a holocaust (as in Armenian holocaust) denier.

In fact, Lewis was convicted of denying the Armenian genocide by a French court in 1995. The relevant part of the judgment reads, "... the fact remains that it was by concealing information contrary to his thesis that the defendant was able to assert that there was 'no serious proof' of the Armenian genocide; consequently he failed in his duties of objectivity and prudence by offering unqualified opinions on such a sensitive subject; and his remarks [in an interview with Le Monde], which could unfairly rekindle the pain of the Armenian community, are tortious and justify compensation..." The plaintiff's brief, quoted in the judgment, advanced the view that Bernard Lewis is "actually an engaged intellectual who conducts intensive 'lobbying' activities on behalf of Turkey."

But it gets worse. Lewis' academic career kicked off with a fascination for Kemal Ataturk's secular/democratic transformation of Turkey, a seductive vision which he communicated directly to Dick Cheney in the months before the US invasion of Iraq and which came to be adopted as a blueprint for a post-Saddam Iraq. The 'Lewis doctrine' as it was known held that democratic transformation could be forced on Iraq and that Ahmad Chalabi was just the man to do it. It was also Lewis, not Samuel Huntington, who constructed the 'clash of civilizations' thesis, the intellectual underpinning of Islamophobia. (See Michael Hirsh's 2004 essay, Bernard Lewis Revisited, at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/)

*Nor can Lewis be entrusted with the subject of the Nazi holocaust. As US academic and author Norman Finkelstein points out, "Especially in the wake of Israel's ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and as Israeli propaganda claims came under withering attack by Israel's 'new historians', apologists desperately sought to tar the Arabs with Nazism. Famed historian Bernard Lewis managed to devote a full chapter of his short history of anti-Semitism... to Arab Nazism." (The Holocaust Industry, p 62)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If you go out on the campus today...2

Update: In my first post of the same name (18/4/08), I analysed some of the campus carry-on of the US Zionista vigilantes over at StandWithUs.com, a self-styled "pro-Israel advocacy organization" now taking root here in collaboration with the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

I made the point, in reference to an exhibition currently touring US campuses, Breaking the Silence, that the SWU Zionistas had no compunction in targeting fellow Jews deemed to have deviated from the (Kadima/Likud or worse) party line. Another, nastier, example of SWU anti-Jewish activism may be found at http://www.richardsilverstein.com/. Under the heading Jewish Organizations Harass Jewish Peace Activists you can read how an "associate director of Stand With Us" was caught out sending an email to a Jewish peace activist at his home email address, asking him why he hated being a Jew and why he was in favour of murdering Jews.

In that post I also described the SWU travelling exhibition Inside Terrorism: The X-ray Project, a propagandist exploitation of x-rays of Israeli civilian victims of Palestinian suicide bombings, showing nuts, bolts and nails lodged in their bodies by the force of the blast. I made the point that the oft-heard Zionist call for 'balance' was not, in this case, met by the inclusion in the exhibition of x-rays of Palestinian victims of Israeli state terrorism.

An example of what might have been seen, if they had practised what they preached, are x-rays of Palestinians killed by flechette shells. The recent death by flechette in the Gaza Strip of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana is relevant here. The following paragraphs are from Donald Macintyre's 18/4/08 report, Tank shell that sprays deadly darts killed cameraman in Gaza, say doctors, in the UK Independent:-

"Bordered by lemon trees on one side and an olive grove on the other, the country lane leading to Joher Al Dik, where Fadel Shana was killed doing his job, was all but deserted yesterday afternoon. But two teenage boys from the Nusseirat refugee camp displayed half a dozen of the dull, black, inch-long darts which they said they had found amond the cactus growing along the verge opposite where Mr Shana had parked his unarmoured SUV to film a tank on Wednesday afternoon.

"According to doctors who examined [Shana's] body...at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, it was controversial darts like those, fletchettes, fired from an Israeli tank shell that explodes in the air, that caused his death. X-rays displayed to Reuters showed several of the flechettes embedded in the dead man's chest and legs, and more were found in his flak jacket, clearly emblazoned, like his vehicle, with 'TV' and 'Press' signs...

"The Israeli military was silent last night on whether it planned to launch the 'swift, honest, and impartial investigation' into Mr Shana's death, urged by David Shlesinger, the editor-in-chief of Reuters News, who said the medical evidence underlined the case for such an inquiry. While expressing 'sorrow' for Mr Shana's death, a military official said the area was one in which there was 'ongoing fighting against armed, extreme and dangerous terrorist organisations on a daily basis'. The presence of media, photographers and other uninvolved individuals in areas of warfare is extremely dangerous and poses a threat to their lives'. But Mr Shlesinger said: 'The markings on Fadel Shana's vehicle showed clearly and unambiguously that he was a professional journalist doing his duty. We the military must work together urgently to understand why this tragedy took place and how similar incidents can be avoided in the future. This tragic incident shows the risks journalists take every day to report the news.

"The military would only say that all its weapons 'are legal under international law'. Israel's Supreme Court rejected a 2003 petition arguing that the use of flechettes as an anti-personnel weapon contravened a 1980 UN convention, but the Israeli human rights group Btselem said last night that the flechettes violated international law and demanded a criminal investigation."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Asleep at the Wheel

"Israel's success at fragmenting physical and geographical Palestine is matched by its success in having shattered the social, political and economic strata as well... during 'Operation Defensive Shield' in the spring of 2002, IDF soldiers were responsible for destroying the records of civic institutions and NGOs throughout the West Bank city of Ramallah, very often the central location for these offices. Ransacking soldiers left furniture and appliances wrecked beyond repair. Food, drink, mud, urine, faeces, and trash covered the floors, and graffiti was scrawled across the walls. After removing computer hard drives (which were transported to Israel) soldiers smashed up the computers and printers rendering them permanently unusable. They spilled out the contents of the filing cabinets, burned or shredded documents and papers leaving them strewn across the floors or scattered in the streets. Soldiers also burned, shredded, and sometimes shot at personal photographs, posters and pictures on the walls. In addition to the destruction of these offices, IDF soldiers vandalized radio and TV stations, banks, schools, hospitals, medical clinics, and cultural centers. Many soldiers broke or shot bullets through office windows, destroyed office, medical and school supplies, trashed the lavatories, and broke down the doors to the buildings." The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle, Ramzy Baroud, 2006 pp 5-6

"Have you seen the [Palestinian] Ministry of Culture, the inside of that?
- I've seen the pictures that [the Palestinians have] shown all over the place.
You've seen the shit - excuse me using the word - all over the place, the broken photocopiers, the files pulled out - what military objective is there in that sort of rampage?
- I don't want to be the one who consistently says that all [the Palestinians] do is lie. But I have problems with a lot of the pictures that I've seen...I just say that we have a code of ethics which is very different from anything else I've heard anywhere else." Exchange between Debbie Whitmont of the ABC's Four Corners and Colonel Miri Eisin, spokeswoman for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the wake of Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield in the occupied West Bank

One such trashed organization in Ramallah was the independent, non-partisan Palestinian NGO Ma'an Development Center. Eleven years of records, data and teaching manuals were destoyed, in addition to equipment to the value of $40,000. The Ma'an Development Center, with a focus on health and aged care, literacy, vocational education and so on, was one of 3 projects in the occupied Palestinian territories funded by the ACTU's Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA. To my knowledge, no mainstream Australian media outlet reported the attack.

Incredibly, the Ma'an Development Center (still funded by APHEDA) has again been trashed by the IDF. According to a 3/4/08 press release, posted on APHEDA's website, the Center's doors were blown open at 2 o'clock in the morning, causing major damage to its offices. Many other public, private, and NGO institutions in Ramallah received similar treatment at the same time. No mainstream Australian media outlet bothered to report the attack.

Another APHEDA-funded Palestinian institution, El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip, also came under attack, by Israeli tanks. According to a 16/4/08 press release, in addition to its buildings, the cable of the hospital's only generator was damaged, endangering the lives of paralyzed and comatose patients. No mainstream Australian media outlet bothered to report the attack.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More to the point...

Appearance: "Israel's hospitals have a world-class reputation in treating mass casualty trauma." (The Australian Jewish News, Interview with Dr Esti Galili-Weisstub, Director of the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Unit, Hadassah Hospital, 18/4/08)

Reality: Israel's 'Defence' Forces have a world class reputation in creating mass casualty trauma.

Friday, April 18, 2008

If you go out on the campus today...

Hot on the heels of the campus Howardistas/Horowistas come the campus Zionistas. Just a few posts back I dealt with the Young Liberal Dob-in-a-Don campaign (From Howardistas to Horowistas). Now the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has announced the appointment of Joel Burnie, a 23 year-old Monash University arts-law student and former president of the Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) as its "first campus co-ordinator to promote Israel and Jewish culture." (Pro-Israel lobby appoints first campus watchdog, The Australian, 16/4/08).

As with our Howardista-Horowistas, AIJAC's campaign, like graffiti vandalism and SUVs, is a US import, "a joint venture with the US campus movement StandWithUs, which advertises itself as 'the next generation of Israel advocacy'."

AIJAC director Ted Lapkin had reportedly declared in Quadrant in 2006 that "Australian academe was a 'rogues' gallery of anti-Zionists'." Mr Burnie, however, was keeping Ted's hyperbole on a tight leash - at least until he's on his feet: " 'I'd like to do some proper investigation to see if there is a systemic problem [of academic bias against Israel], but I do not believe there is... we need to make sure that all academic opinions are being expressed equally on campus'... Asked if his role had been created to counter anti-Israel bias or anti-Semitic activity, Mr Burnie said: 'This position has not been created out of an emergent necessity'. Rather, he would be 'an on-campus advocate for Israel and Jewish culture'. 'The role involves promotion of Israeli culture and promotion of Israeli speakers that may come out to Australia. It will give students access to these people so they can listen and be educated'."

Watch this space as the faux sceptical Joel trumpets the faux findings of his "proper investigation." Something along the lines of Australian Academe a Rogue's Gallery of Anti-Zionists! perhaps?

Just as David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com is holy writ for our Horowista campus vigilantes, StandWithUs.com is the inspiration for their Zionista comrades. So let's take a peek:-

1) The Suicide Terrorism Industry's first production, you may remember, was the carcass of an exploded Jerusalem bus hawked to strategic venues around the world. Its second production, Inside Terrorism: The X-Ray Project, is currently doing the rounds of US campuses. X-Ray is described as an exhibition of "X-rays and CT-scans of patients who survived suicide bombings in Israel, displaying nuts, bolts, and nails, lodged into victim's bodies by the force of the bomb... [designed] to explore the most important social issue of our times, the effects of terrorism on a civilian population." An exhibition of Palestinian IBM fragments from Zionist pilgrimage site Sderot is no doubt lurking just around the corner. (See my post Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening, Gareth, 6/4)

Despite the constant calls of Zionist propagandists for 'balance' whenever a half-way objective story on the Middle East conflict manages to sneak into the mainstream media under Zionist radar, don't expect X-Ray to include any pics of slivers and chunks of Made in America/Israel ordnance in Palestinian victims of Israeli state-terrorism. But, hey, let's be charitable here. Surely the only reason for their absence is logistic. After all, while you can fit all the Israeli pics in one room, the Palestinian ones would need a venue as large as the Louvre.

2) As well as exploiting the pain and suffering of Israelis to score propaganda points, the US Zionistas are doing their bit to relieve 'offending' academics of their jobs. Clicking on "Activism & Action Alerts" takes you to "'Deny Nadia Abu El-Haj Tenure from Barnard/Columbia'." Nadia's crime? "Alleging that archaeologists have 'created the fact of an ancient Israelite/Jewish nation', where none actually existed. She asserts that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a 'pure political fabrication'." Hm, that kind of straying from the straight and narrow should be reason enough for a retrospective campaign against self-hating Jews George and Ira Gershwin, who penned those non-pc lyrics "De things dat yo' liable to read in de Bible/It ain't necessarily so." Thankfully, the 'Deny El-Haj Tenure' campaign hasn't so far succeeded, but here's one that has: "'Deny Norman Finkelstein Tenure' - This petition was affective [sic*] and instrumental in Chicago, where DePaul University denied Finkelstein tenure in June 2007."

*You can see that playing Spot the Current Campus Existential Threat to Israel does wonders for the Zionistas' spelling.

3) So much for academics who buck the party line. Just as much fun can be had silencing the Palestinian voice on celluloid. Click on "Students 'solve' Mideast crisis," and you can read about the stink the Zionistas kicked up at Canada's University of Windsor over a Muslim Students Association (MSA) proposal to screen Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority, a film described schizophrenically by Zionista Dario David Hunter as both a "documentary... depicting Palestinians recounting abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers" and "basically 90 minutes of indoctrination." Another Zionista, Pamela Goldstein, is hilarious in her faux outrage: "'I watched it on YouTube last night', she said. 'I just found it... very dramatic, and almost hysterical. It was an incitement to hatred. I mean, you watched that film and you wanted to hate every single Jew that ever lived'."

Faux outrage was followed by faux bon-homie as the MSA's attempt to shine a bit of light into a dark and nasty corner was eventually foiled by a Zionista charm offensive: "Along with the film, the event was to include a lecture by Abdel Qadir Tayebi of the Windsor Islamic Association -described by [Osama] Iqbal [president of the MSA] as the MSA's chaplain or spiritual adviser. On the day of the event, Iqbal said he was approached by the university's international students adviser, and he made the decision to cancel once he realized how Jewish students felt. Following the cancellation of the event, Iqbal met with Hunter, Goldstein and former WJSA president Erin Glatter to discuss their concerns. 'I think that the issue is not with the Muslim students presenting their point of view which members of our community may not necessarily agree with', Hunter said. 'I think... the rather aggressive way it was presented [Say NO to these atrocities NOW and learn the FACTS] was problematic'. Goldstein said she intends to have Iqbal and Hunter on her radio program to talk about what happened [Don't call us, Iqbal, we'll call you], and she's looking forward to more joint events by Muslim and Jewish students. 'So we've decided we are going to solve the Middle East crisis', said Goldstein to laughter. 'And we feel confident that we can do it'."

And why wouldn't Goldie be laughing? Step back a bit and see how it's done:-

a) Israel, presenting as a Jewish state representing all Jews, everywhere, abuses the Palestinian inhabitants of a territory it occupies in violation of international law, while misrepresenting such abuse as self-defence against an alleged generic Jew-hating Muslim threat.

b) Someone makes a film about the Palestinian victims which gives them a voice to reveal what the self-proclaimed Jewish state is doing to them.

c) A Muslim student grouping, concerned that fellow Muslims are under attack, decide to screen the film.

d) Zionista foot soldiers on campus scream that it is anti-Semitic and will incite hatred of all Jews, everywhere.

e) The Muslim students, on the defensive since 9/11, perhaps influenced by Zionist propaganda misrepresenting the Middle East conflict as a clash between Judeo-Christian 'civilization' and Muslim 'barbarism', possibly confused about the elementary distinction between Judaism, the faith, and Zionism, the political ideology and program, and unable to see that the wool is being pulled over their eyes by the Zionistas, who deliberately misrepresent all criticism of Israel's abuse of Palestinians as an attack on all Jews, everywhere, are spooked into pulling the film and sucked in by Zionista blandishments.

f) Result: the voices of the abused Palestinians are once again silenced, the current Campus Existential Threat to Israel is neutered, the Zionistas are laughing, and Palestinians continue to be abused. Bingo!

Tellingly, The Australian's article on AIJAC's new campus crusader reported him saying that he "would continue the inter-faith work he did through [the AUJS] talking with Muslim and Christian student groups."

And speaking of touring exhibitions, even those organized by Zionists of the wrong kind will be targeted by the Zionistas. Judging by this particular "Activism & Action Alerts" notice -"'IDF Sign Against 'Breaking the Silence' - Only to be signed by former IDF soldiers " - I assume (I say 'assume' because the information sought by clicking on it cannot be accessed) that an exhibition of photographs by former IDF whistleblowers on the crimes of the Israeli occupation is being picketed. Certainly, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has accused the organizers of BTS of encouraging anti-Semitism and making Jewish students "feel threatened personally."

What with Horowistas and Zionistas crying foul, playing 'I spy', or otherwise involved in hosing down dissenting views and enforcing the party line, does one dare to venture out into the campus woods today?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pundit's Pundit

US scholera Daniel Pipes is in town. We are are honoured. The Man is a scholera's scholera. His profound insights into what makes Muslims tick(ing bombs), drawing on only the most scholeraly of sources, is not for the layman. They require explication by one who has studied for years in The Master's madrasa. As it happens, I am one such. I can read his runes and tease out his subtleties. Hence this post.

Daniel Pipes, I should explain, is director of Islamofabulism Forum and is in Australia for the Intelligence Insulted debate, sponsored by the Sydney Morning Herald and the St James Ethics Centre this very evening (15/4/08) in Sydney. So sought after is he that the SMH's cunning competitor, The Australian, actually mounted a pre-emptive coup, prevailing upon The Master to allow the publication of a talk he had delivered to assorted worshipful Quadranters at a Quadrant soiree the night before.*

Here are excerpts from The Master's message to the Quadrant faithful, published under the title: Europe or Eurabia? Peaceful integration is the least likely way Europe will cope with Islam. My exegesis follows each precious pearl of wisdumb.

"I foresee potentially one of 3 paths for Europe: Muslims dominating, Muslims rejected or harmonious integration."

In his discussion of the first - "Eurabia" - option, The Master quotes the very creme de la creme of Western scholeraship on Islam, the late Oriana (Ignorantissima) Fallaci (Europe as "a colony of Islam") and Mark Steyn-Gang (Europe will "disappear" this century). These two, along with The Master himself of course, constitute the very doyen of the Islamofabulist school of hysterical scholeraship. I should add that, in invoking them, the master was obviously mindful of Quadrant's requirement for the kind of intellectual rigor mortis so prized by the eminent scholeras who write for that 'steamed journal.

"The secularism that predominates in Europe, especially among its elites leads to alienation from the Judeo-Christian tradition, empty church pews and a fascination with Islam."

Precisely! What the Master means by this is that because our political and cultural movers & shakers are so pissed off with JC (Judeo-Christianity that is), they are therefore magnetically drawn, as it were, to Islam. The Master's failure to cite any evidence whatever for this profoundly counter-intuitive insight is deliberate. I should point out that what constitutes the bleeding obvious for him invariably has to be spelt out for lesser mortals. And that is what I am here for. The evidence is there for all to see. Just open your eyes. Are you aware for example that Blair, Sarkozy and Berlusconi, to name but three of Europe's political elite, have all converted to Islam? No? Typical! Blair, in the grip of his "fascination with Islam" has tossed in his job and left Londonistan for Hamastan on a Jihad Airways jet. Sarkozy has just fallen under the spell of that bewitching houri Khalida Baroudi, and Berlusconi has just re-emerged from a period of political Shia-style occultation and re-taken the Italian presidency, sporting (at least Oriana's unfortunate demise spared her this horror) new, black locks!

"Muslims display a religious fervour that translates into jihadi sensibility, a supremacism towards non-Muslims and an expectation that Europe is waiting for conversion to Islam."

The Master is telling us here that French Muslims, to take but one example, are in the process of losing the little Garlic sangfroid that might have rubbed off on them over their civilizing years in France and are willy nilly foaming at the mouth as their once latent inner jihadi terrorists, conjured up by the Terrorist Masters of 9/11, take over. They are, even as my trembling fingers type, roaming the effete streets of gay Paris with a superior air, knocking on the doors of its unsuspecting citizens and tempting the unfortunates within (who, if they'd only known what was coming, would've been out packing the pews!) by proposing a date with 72 virginal Khalida Baroudi look-alikes.

"The contrast in faith also has demographic implications, with Christians having on average 1.4 children a woman...and Muslims enjoying [wink, wink, nudge, nudge, you bet they're enjoying it, the randy buggers!] a dramatically higher...fertlity rate... Russia could become a Muslim-majority country in 2050."

This means that because a European woman only has 1.4 kids, the .4 kid is well, pretty much a dud and has to be discarded. But your randy Muslim, he's fairly pumpin' 'em out, know what I mean? None of this .4 nonsense or anything like that! And as for Russia, there's only one explanation for its "fascination," first with Afghanistan and now with Chechnya. As The Master has pointed out, it's that "fascination with Islam" which comes over any European whose bum is not firmly planted on a pew.

"To employ enough workers to fund existing pension plans, Europe needs millions of immigrants, and these tend to be disproportionately Muslim due to...the turmoil in majority-Muslim countries."

I hasten to point out here that The Master is not, repeat not, implying that said "turmoil" has anything whatever to do with those millions of Iraqi and Afghan refugees liberated from their countries by the his uncle, Sam.

"In addition, many Europeans no longer cherish their history, mores and customs. Guilt about fascism, racism and imperialism leaves many with a sense that their own culture has less value than that of immigrants."

Yes! Yes! The Master is spot on here. If only the real Europeans would cast aside that burdensome, self-hating (The Master calls it "self-disdain") "guilt" and once more return to their fascist, racist, imperialist roots! Unleash their inner Hitlers, Mussolinis and Francos! Cleanse Europe of the Muslim enemy within! And then, and then, take the fight to the Muslim hordes without!

And now for the second option: what might be termed the Reconquista option, or in terms most Australians can understand - Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi. Why dontcha go back where ya came from, Leb! "Indigenous Europeans could resist... they can at any time reassert control should they see Muslims posing a threat to a way of life. This impulse can be seen at work in the French anti-hijab legislation or in Geert Wilder's film, Fitna."

The Master is positively Churchillian, is he not? Can't you see his subtle call to arms? We shall fight them in the high schools! We shall fight them in the cinemas!

"Anti-immigrant parties gain in strength; a potential nativist movement is taking shape across Europe as political parties opposed to immigration focus increasingly on Islam and Muslims."

Now I know what you're thinking, but your wrong. The Master's wording is perhaps too subtle for you ignoramuses. The word he used was "nativist", not Nazi. The Master knows full well that the only Nazis in the world today are among the Muslim untermenschen. Just because "the British National Party, Belgium's Vlaamse Belang, France's National Front, the Austrian Freedom Party, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and the Danish People's Party" will (should they gain power) "reject multiculturalism, cut back on immigration, encourage repatriation of immigrants, support Christian insitutions, increase indigenous European birthrates and broadly attempt to re-establish traditional ways," does not mean that they are Nazi, merely "nativist."

The Master does, however, make clear that that's a most unlikely scenario. As our Israeli friends never tire of reminding us, the fascist virus has decamped from Europe to the Middle East where there are now more Hitlers than you can poke the proverbial stick at. The Europeans are now mere pussy cats, and The Master lets us in on this terrifying little secret: "If anyone is likely to initiate violence, it is the Muslims. They have already engaged in many acts of violence and seem to be spoiling for more."

The third, or "harmonious integration," option is just not on according to The Master. And here he quotes with approval yet another in his suite of impeccably authoritative (and versatile)scholeras, "American columnist [& radio talk show host & pro-war Republican spruiker of American exceptionalism and Judeo-Christian values] Dennis Prager," as saying "It is difficult to imagine any other future scenario for western Europe than its becoming Islamicised or having a civil war."

The man's a genius.

*"St James Ethics Centre director Simon Longstaff was faced with an ethical dilemma of his own making yesterday. Longstaff has set up a forum for live debate called IQ2Oz to raise the level of public discourse on challenging issues. But Longstaff did his best to shut down debate yesterday when he discovered one of his participants, respected Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes, had been invited by The Australian's opinion page editor Rebecca Weisser to submit for publication an extract of his address to a Quadrant dinner last night. Longstaff asked Pipes not to publish anything in The Australian before Thursday. When asked how this would foster debate and whether it was ethical behaviour, Longstaff asked for more time to think about it. After a couple of hours, he relented." (Strewth, The Australian, 15/4/08)

Monday, April 14, 2008

With Friends Like These...

"[Michael] Danby [Labor member for Melbourne Ports] is the chairman of the Parliamentary Tibetan Friendship Society [sic], and by far the most active and courageous politician from a mainstream party on the issue of human rights in China." (Meeting the Dalai Lama is the right thing to do, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian, 19/5/07)

"I am 'Mr Human Rights' in Canberra. I have a completely different view to most of my parliamentary colleagues on China. I'm the chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet and, of all people, I work closely with Bob Brown on that - he is a mensch." (Interview with Michael Danby, The Australian Jewish News, 23/11/07)

"Mr Human Rights" is federal parliament's most vocal defender of the State of Israel, an occupying power engaged in comprehensively trashing the human rights of the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The staggering hypocrisy of speaking out against human rights abuses in Tibet, while apologising for them in Palestine, has been exercising the mind of courageous Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy:

"Israelis have no moral right to fight the Chinese occupation of Tibet...No small number of... Israelis have recently joined the wave of global protest that broke out over the Olympics...It is easy; it engenders no contoversy - who would not be in favor of liberating Tibet? But that is not the fight that Israeli human rights supporters should be waging. To fight for Tibet, Israel needs no courage, because there is no price to pay. On the contrary, this is part of a fashionable global trend, almost as much as the fight against global warming or the poaching of sea lions. These fights are just and must be undertaken. But in Israel they are deluxe fights... when one comes to the fight with hands that are collectively, and sometimes individually, so unclean, it is impossible to protest a Chinese occupation.

"Citizens of a country that maintains a military subjugation in its backyard that is no less cruel than that of the Chinese, and by some parameters even more so, and against which there is practically no more protest here, have no justification in denouncing another occupation. Citizens of a country that is entirely tainted by the occupation - a national, ongoing project that involves all sectors of the population to some extent, directly or indirectly - cannot wash their hands and fight another occupation, when a half-hour from their homes, horrors no less terrible are taking place for which they have much greater responsibility.

"The world has fallen in love with Tibet. How easy it is to do. The picturesque figure of the Dalai Lama and the non-violent struggle he leads with his scarlet-robed monks is truly captivating... The Palestinians are not as nice as the Tibetans in the eyes of the world. But the Palestinian people deserve exactly the same rights as the occupied Tibetan people, even if their leaders are less enchanting, they have no scarlet robes and their fight is more violent. There is absolutely no connection between rights and the means of protest, and from that perspective, there is no difference between a Tibetan and a Palestinian - they both deserve the exact same freedom. Moreover, in the first years of the Israeli occupation, most Palestinians accepted it submissively, with practically no violence. What did they get as a result? Nothing. The world and Israel cloaked themselves in apathy and callousness. Only when planes started being hijacked in the 1970s did the world begin to notice that a Palestinian problem even existed. In contrast, the Tibetan struggle also was tainted with violence in the past, and it is reasonable to assume that violence will increase if the Tibetans do not attain their goal.

"There is also no point in asking which occupation is crueler, the Chinese or the Israeli. The competition is harsh and bitter. The Chinese killed and imprisoned more Tibetans, in Lhasa there is less freedom than in Nablus, but in general, the extent of Israeli repression in the territories is much greater today than Chinese repression in Tibet. Nowhere is there a region more besieged and confined than Gaza. And what is the result? The world calls to boycott the occupier in the case of China, while absurdly, with regard to the Palestinians, the world is boycotting the occupied entity...and not the occupier. This, it seems, has no parallel in history....

"In a more just world, no occupation would exist - neither the Chinese nor the Israeli. But until that time, the Israelis have to look inward at their own home and protest what is being done there in front of the Israeli Defense Ministry, before they present themselves with colorful signs outside the Chinese Embassy." (Palestinians vs Tibetans - a double standard, Haaretz, 13/4/08)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Zhengyou are More Equal Than Other Zhengyou

"Unfazed by the growing diplomatic unrest, [Australian Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd has told the Chinese in their own language there are 'significant human rights problems in Tibet'... Mr Rudd told the university students he came as a 'true friend' - zhengyou - not a critic..." (I'm saying it in plain Mandarin: fix Tibet, Phillip Coorey, SMH, 10/4/08

Judging by letters to the establishment press, Rudd's stocks as a statesman and supposed speaker of 'truth to power' have soared. There were, however, a handful of dissenters:-

"How dare Kevin Rudd tell the Chinese that there have been human rights violations in Tibet. Would he do the same and tell the Israelis that there are gross human rights violations in Palestine? On the contrary, at a recent dinner organised by an Australian Jewish organization, he went to great lengths to say that Australians and Israelis are the same type of people." Letter, Simon Chan, The Age, 11/4/08

"If Kevin Rudd thinks that his manufactured 'dispute' with China will convince Australians that he is anything other than a pro-Chinese apologist, then he should think again. To describe the events in Tibet as 'human rights problems' is a gross insult to the Tibetan people. Equally, why didn't he once mention democracy or freedom of speech in China? The silence was equally deafening about Hu Jia and Yang Chunlin, two dissidents recently jailed for 3 and 5 years respectively. Their 'crimes' were to criticise the Communist Party of China and 'incite subversion of state power'. It's obvious that the Prime minister's statements in China are designed for a domestic audience, not to actually effect change..." Letter, Jeremy C Browne, The Age, 11/4/08

"Kevin Rudd does not need to learn Hebrew to call on Israel to end its gross violations of Palestinian human rights. He can say it in plain English." Letter, Ali Kazak, The Australian, 12/4/08

Among the pundits, veteran SMH journalist Alan Ramsey, who only last month had castigated Rudd for kowtowing to the Israelis in federal parliament (See my posts, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 1 & 5), was having second thoughts about the man: "To publicly stand up to the Chinese, in their own capital, in their own language, on an issue so sensitive to the planet's last great totalitarian state - and, since May last year, Australia's biggest (in dollars) trading partner - is something no visiting head of government, of any kind, has ever done, let alone one from this country. To say it took courage and no little risk only parrots the obvious. What it took was leadership of the most dramatic kind. In recent years, we have been force-fed national leadership, wrapped in the flag, that gloried in sticking its head up the backside of Washington and its dependent satellite in the Middle East. To have an Australian prime minister behave as Rudd has done in Beijing is to think that maybe he is different after all and not just another political control freak with a brain as big as his smile. The bloke is worth watching." (12/4/08)

Ramsey's otherwise polar opposite over at The Australian, Foreign Editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, was even more impressed, gushing : "...Kevin Rudd this week has produced his own cultural revolution... For Rudd has shown the world that it is possible to be a good friend of China and still speak to the Chinese leadership frankly and in public about its appalling human rights practices. This is a profound revolution.... it is a radical departure from the practice of John Howard, who preferred to concentrate on what he and the Chinese had in common... No Western leader, with the partial exception of US presidents, does what Rudd did this week: criticise the Chinese over human rights abuses in Tibet before he arrives, in fact in a joint press conference with US President George W Bush. Repeat the criticism in London. Absorb furious official Chinese protests in Beijing and Canberra, then go to China and repeat the offence in public, in front of a Chinese audience." (12/4/08)

Our pundits, it seems, are easily pleased - the dissenting letters are closer to the mark. If our supposedly fearless Australian Helmsman is really concerned about the human rights of downtrodden people, how is one to explain why, as a zhengyou of both China and Israel, he can say boo to the former about Tibetan human rights, but remain mum about Palestinian rights? And, not only not say boo, but host a parliamentary party for the buggers to boot! A partial answer must surely lie in the fact that the parliamentary wing of the Labor Party has not only not been captured by the China lobby, but that the latter, in so far as it even exists, has nowhere near the clout of the Israel lobby.

Author and Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation Michael Lind's comparison of ethnic lobbies in the US may perhaps have some relevance here: "Most ethnic lobbies...have based their power on votes, not money... The influence of these lobbies has usually been confined to the cities and states in which particular ethnic groups have been concentrated... The Israel lobby, however, is not primarily a traditional ethnic voter machine; it is an ethnic donor machine. Unique among ethno-political machines in the US, the Israel lobby has emulated the techniques of national lobbies based on economic interests (both industry groups and unions) or social issues (the National Rifle Association, pro- and anti-abortion groups) . The lobby uses nationwide campaign donations, often funnelled through local 'astroturf' (phony grassroots) organizations... to influence members of Congress in areas where there are few Jewish voters. Stephen Steinlight [former director of national affairs at the American Jewish Committee], in an essay for the Center for Immigration Studies, describes how the Israel lobby uses donations to influence elected officials: 'Unless and until the triumph of campaign finance reform is complete...the great material wealth of the Jewish community will continue to give it significant advantages. We will continue to court and be courted by key figures in Congress. That power is exerted within the political system from the local to national levels through soft money, and especially the provision of out-of-state funds to candidates sympathetic to Israel'. Steinlight adds: 'For perhaps another generation... the Jewish community is thus in a position to divide and conquer and enter into selective coalitions that support our agendas'." Distorting US Foreign Policy: The Israel Lobby & American Power, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 5/02

For Rudd to really be a zhengyou to the wretched of the earth, he'd need to be equally critical of China and the US (throw in Russia and a host of other international bovver boys here), with an understanding that both, in their own way, have essentially embraced the worldview of the Israeli right - what US author/activist Naomi Klein calls the Likud doctrine: "Common wisdom has it that after 9/11 a new era of geopolitics was ushered in, defined by what is usually called the Bush doctrine: pre-emptive wars, attacks on terrorist infrastructure (read: entire countries), an insistence that all the enemy understands is force. In fact, it would be more accurate to call this rigid worldview the Likud doctrine. What happened on September 11, 2001, is that the Likud doctrine, previously targeted against Palestinians, was picked up by the most powerful country on earth and applied on a global scale. Call it the Likudisation of the world: the real legacy of 9/11. On September 11 George Bush went looking for a political philosophy to guide him in his role as 'war president'. He found that philosophy in the Likud doctrine, handed to him ready-made by the ardent Likudniks ensconced in the White House. In the 3 years since [now 7], the Bush White House has applied this logic with chilling consistency to its global war on terror - complete with the pathologising of the 'Muslim mind'. It was the guiding philosophy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and may well extend to Iran and Syria. Bush has cast the US in the same role in which Israel casts itself, facing the same threat. In this narrative the US is fighting a never-ending battle for its survival against irrational forces that seek its total extermination."(Beware the Likud doctrine, Guardian, 10/9/04)

It is the Likud doctrine, which allows every manifestation of resistance by the oppressed to be labelled terrorism by their oppressors, that has provided the rhetoric for China's crackdown on the Tibetans: "Far from heeding international calls for dialogue with the Dalai Lama, China has accused Tibet's exiled god-king of colluding with Muslim terrorists to destabilise the country before the Olympic Games... The People's Daily said that the Dalai Lama had never abandoned violence after fleeing China in 1959 after a failed revolt against Beijing. 'The Dalai Lama is scheming to take the Beijing Olympics hostage to force the Chinese Government to make concessions to Tibetan independence'. It also accused Tibet's spiritual leader of planning attacks with the aid of violent Uighur separatist groups seeking an independent East Turkestan for their largely Muslim people in the northwestern Xinjiang region of China. It said: 'The Dalai clique has also strengthened collusion with East Turkestan terror organizations and planned terror activities in Tibet'. " (China accuses Dalai Lama of being a terrorist, The Times, 24/3/08)

This talk of collusion with China's equally colonized, oppressed (and conveniently) Muslim Uighur population to the north of Tibet in East Turkestan (Xinjiang), is hardly coincidental, the whole point being that, post 9/11, once discreet movements of national resistance to colonial oppression, can now be lumped together and smeared, Israeli fashion, as generic Islamist terrorists bent on an irrational course of Dalek-like extermination of all we (and supposedly 'the Middle East's only democracy') hold dear. Simply slap on the convenient and durable Made-in-Israel 'War on Terror' label and all is forgiven, whether in the occupied Palestinian territories, Tibet, East Turkestan, Afghanistan, Iraq or Chechnya.

In being "passionately pro-Israel;"* in describing the US as an "overwhelming force for good in the world;"** and in swallowing the Likud doctrine all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq, Rudd is actually doing his bit to bury the hopes and aspirations of millions of Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Uighers and Tibetans.

* Rudd outlines foreign policy vision, AM, Radio National, http://www.abc.net.au/, 27/3/08
** Kevin Rudd on the ALP and Israel, The Religion Report, Radio National, 3/11/04

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

"On national security, the time has come to implement an exit strategy for our combat forces in Iraq." Kevin Rudd on the eve of last year's federal election, 27/11/07

Wow! Kev's gonna bring our troops home! In fact, the Rudd government's policy on getting out of Iraq is virtually indistinguishable from that of the Howard government. Read on...

The rot set in when Rudd succeeded Beazley as ALP leader in 2006: "Kevin Rudd has moved to recast Labor's commitment to an immediate troop pullout from Iraq stressing the need for 'deep consultation' with Washington... Mr Rudd also left open the possibility that Australian troops could remain in Iraq into 2008 if Labor wins next year's election. Under Mr Beazley, the ALP committed to an immediate withdrawal of the 500-strong contingent of Australian troops now based in southern Iraq." (Rudd to hold fire on Iraq pullout, The Australian, 13/12/06)

Labor's pre-election (2007) position on troop withdrawal: "Labor will initiate a phased withdrawal of our troops, in consultation with our US and British allies...This means that Labor will withdraw the 550 combat troops in southern Iraq - the Overwatch Group... To allow time for responsible consultation with our allies Labor will provide an additional troop rotation taking the deployment through until mid-2008. We will keep a number of other military assets in Iraq and continue to examine an appropriate timetable for their eventual withdrawal." (Labor's Position on Iraq, http://www.alp.org/)

Post-election we learn that: "Air Chief Marshal Houston...confirmed that the job of Australian troops in southern Iraq was done and they could come home mid-year...After that, Australia's major military contribution to the Iraq mission will be 2 surveillance aircraft and a warship. Australia will also retain its 100-member security detachment in Baghdad which guards Australian diplomats. A number of Australian officers attached to the coalition headquarters will also remain.... The Australians will pull out at the end of the current 6-month rotation, in the middle of the year. That was likely to have happened even if the federal coalition had retained governmement at the last election, ACM Housten said." (Iraq war bill to top $2b: defence chief, news.sbs.com.au, 20/2/08)

"Houston told the Senate committee that Australia currently has 1540 military personnel involved in the Iraq war..." (Rudd to keep 900 troops in Iraq, http://www.greenleft.org.au/)

Conclusion: 990 (1540 minus 550) Australian troops will remain in Iraq - regardless of whether Howard or Rudd were Prime Minister.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

From Howardistas to Horowistas

"All dictatorships and would-be dictators strategically target key individuals. Job loss or career setbacks are the first kinds of pressure these people are likely to face...The National Socialist German Students' League was set up in 1926. It sought to get independent professors fired and to direct the universities' resources toward Nazi goals rather than toward pure research. By 1933, propaganda Minister Goebbels set in motion one of these purges. 'By the beginning of the academic year 1933-34, 313 full professors had been dismissed...By 1934, some 1600 out of 5000 university teachers had been forced out of their jobs...Very quickly, newly Nazified Education Mininstries made political criteria central not only for appointments but also for teaching and research'. On May 10, 1933, pro-Nazi students also orchestrated a series of book burnings - events designed to look 'spontaneous' but actually directed behind the scenes by Goebbels." The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot - A Citizen's Call to Action, Naomi Klein, 2007

A campaign to enlist university and high school students to spy on their teachers for evidence of alleged left-wing bias was launched last month by the Young Liberals. Endorsed by the federal Liberal Party and operating under the slogan 'Education Not Indoctrination', the Young Liberals claim that students holding what they call 'mainstream views' are not only being subjected to 'leftist propaganda' but even penalised for their 'mainstream views' by their teachers. The Baby Howardistas, therefore, have announced that it is their mission to collect examples of such 'bias' (or worse!) for a proposed Senate inquiry into same.

An idea of where this was all coming from came in a report (Young Libs campaign to out biased dons) in The Australian on 12/3/08: "The National Tertiary Education Union rejected the notion of any widespread systemic bias in Australian universities and said the Young Liberals' campaign had been borrowed from a similar movement in the US, led by conservative intellectual David Horowitz."

David Horowitz is a neocon agitator who started out as a leftist radical in the 60s but later morphed into a Reagan Republican. He specialises in pro-war campus advertising campaigns, and (like the rest of his neocon tribe) has used 9/11 and the Bush/Cheney 'war' on terror as a cover to advance a reactionary, authoritarian agenda through such front groups as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Students for Academic Freedom and FrontPage Mag.com.

Horowitz has, for example, branded Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against giving Bush a blank check for his 'war' on terror, a "communist [who] actively collaborated with [America's enemies] in their war against America," and campaigned against "the so-called Peace Movement," claiming that "campus leftists hate America more than the terrorists."

More recently he has campaigned around the issue of 'academic freedom', asserting that students need protection from having their religious and political views questioned (or in his own words, "subjected to a 'hostile environment' ") and from discussion of anything he deems "controversial." In other words, under the banner of academic freedom, Horowitz would have students free of free speech.

Last year he organized an 'Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week' (October 22-26) aimed at what he called the two "Big lies of the political left: that George Bush created the war on terror and that Global Warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat." Its themes were "the Oppression of Women in Islam and the threat posed by the Islamic crusade against the West." In addition to teach-ins, sit-ins and protests, pamphlets with titles such as 'The Islamic Mein Kampf', 'Why Israel is the Victim', 'Jimmy Carter's War Against the Jews', and 'What Every American Needs to Know About Jihad' were distributed on campuses across the US.

Horowitz's rants posted (3/08) on FrontPageMag.com reveal a Zionist ultra, red in tooth and claw: Palestinians are "genocidal/Jew-killers"; "Hamas has to be smashed, defeated, pulverized, driven out of existence"; the "western 'progressive' left' [are] the fifth column allies, abettors and fellow-travellers of Islamic jihad"; "Hamas has turned the entire population of Gaza into a suicide bomb."

A taste of the kind of 'evidence' we can expect to see submitted to the hoped-for Senate inquiry by our very own Howardistas turned Horowistas may be found in a FrontPageMag.com post on 23/10/06, hyperbolically called Hamas High. Its author, one Eric Danis, writes that: "I moved from Andover, Massachusetts to Israel over 5 years ago, so the day-to-day happenings in my hometown are largely off my radar screen. However, Andover High School physics teacher Ron Francis, a former teacher of mine, first caught my attention when I saw an article he wrote in February of 2006. The article was entitled 'Media Bias Against Hamas', and was written in an attempt to support the Palestinian terror group Hamas and to demonize Israel. Francis never once condemned Hamas' terror tactics or its anti-Semitic ideology, and he even discussed the 'silver lining' of Hamas' [electoral] victory. Francis challenged Israel's right to exist in the article by complaining that 'the question of the validity of a Jewish-privilege state is never raised'."

That Francis' tenure at Andover High was not terminated, despite Danis' letters of protest from Israel (mentioned in his 'essay'), is obviously a very sore point for the young Horowista. He petulantly concludes with a shake of the head: "It seems that most people in apathetic Andover do not care...I expect more than silence in the face of hatred from my hometown."

Poor Eric. He should count his blessings. How fortunate for him that, by virtue of the discriminatory and racist Israeli Law of Return, he is at one and the same time a) able to live out his Zionist fantasies in Israel/Palestine; b) as a dedicated Horowista, scorn the indigenous population of same, besieged and starving in the Gaza Ghetto, as perpetrators of genocide; c) smear his former teacher, clearly a man of conscience and courage, for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech, with a view to depriving him of his livelihood as a teacher; and d) retain the luxury of a "hometown" in the US to which he can repair as the whim takes him, quite unlike the Palestinian "Jew-killers" who can only travel if they first dynamite their prison walls and risk getting tortured in an Egyptian dungeon.

The Horowistas... Coming to a school near you?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening, Gareth!

"If the Israelis have ever managed to convince American administrations about anything, it is that anyone connected with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is certainly not human, is almost certainly a total psychopath and is also very likely to be so contaminated with communicable diseases that standing downwind from one of these monsters when he exhales is certain to lead to the clap, palsy and yaws. Begin was able to draw out his extermination campaign in west Beirut by insisting that Philip Habib [Reagan's special Middle East envoy] should not be allowed to talk to the Palestinians; Phil talked to Saeb Salam, the grand old man of orthodox Lebanese Muslim politics...and Saeb, immunized by years of mixing with the terrorists, passed on Phil's thoughts to one of Arafat's men...who asked Arafat what he thought; then Arafat passed on the message to Saeb who - presumably after having his hands washed by a security man and a careful gargle to remove the contamination - talked to Phil, who passed on the thought to Begin's men. This system won whole days for the Israelis to knock off hundreds more civilians - far more than they could have blown away if Phil had simply called up Arafat and said, 'Yasser, this is what we've got for you today'. " (God Cried, Tony Clifton, 1983, p 132)

Free at last from the constraints of toeing the party line (increasingly dictated so far as the Middle East conflict is concerned by the Israel lobby), former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans, now president of the International Crisis Group, has argued sensibly in The Christian Science Monitor (27/3/08) that "The policy of isolating Hamas and applying sanctions to Gaza has been a predictable failure. Violence to both Gazans and Israelis is rising. Economic conditions are ruinous...The credibility of PA President Mahmoud Abbas...has been grievously damaged. The peace process is in tatters. It's time to stop digging this hole. Maintaining extreme pressure on Hamas in the hope of undermining its rule or stopping the rockets has gone nowhere. A new direction is needed, one that attempts to stabilise the situation by engaging the movement with the immediate goal of reaching a mutual ceasefire and the opening of Gaza's border crossings...the ceasefire should entail reciprocal commitments to stop all attacks, an opening of the crossings that recognises Hamas' role while restoring a PA presence in Gaza...The status quo is untenable. Israel cannot be expected to accept rockets targeting its civilians. Hamas will not sit idly by as Gaza is choked." You can read it all at http://www.crisisgroup.org/

Help! Ceasefire! The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director, Dr Colin Rubenstein, predictably followed Israel's grand tradition of saying Lo! (Hebrew 'no') to Palestinians, even those as supine and collaborative as PA President Abbas (Israeli Infrastructure Minister Ben-Eliezer has described current negotiations between Israel and the PA as "only virtual negotiations." Haaretz, 5/4/08). Col, in his alarm, reeled off the familiar talking points: Hamas is "firmly committed to Israel's destruction" [While Israel is actually engaged in throttling Gaza and colonizing the West Bank]; "negotiating with Hamas 'rewards violence' " [Where are the pacifist PA's rewards?]; a ceasefire "will allow [Hamas] to rearm" [While the latest American weaponry continues to flood into Israel]. (AIJAC denounces call to re-engage Hamas, AJN, 4/4/08). What's more, Col, always more Zionist than the Zionists, maintained his knee-jerk rejectionism despite a recent Haaretz poll "showing that 64% of Israelis want their government to negotiate with Hamas to broker a ceasefire" (Talk to Hamas, Israelis tell government as attacks continue, Toni O'Loughlin, The Guardian, 28/2/08).

Equally predictably, the Rudd government took a head-in-the-sand approach at Evans' outrageous suggestion. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith "would not comment...saying he had not seen the article" (Labor snubs call to engage Hamas, The Australian, 1/4/08). The Australian's report went on to remind us that "Hamas' military wing has been designated as a terrorist organisation since 2003 under Australia's Criminal Code Act" and that "guidelines on official contact with Palestinian representatives advise that contact with Hamas or affiliated people should be avoided."

On the eve of last year's federal election, the then opposition leader Kevin Rudd said: "Tomorrow Australians face a stark choice - a choice between the future and the past. Between a Government that has sat on its hands for 11 years and doesn't understand the new challenges we face - or a new leader with fresh ideas...Australia needs a newleadership with fresh ideas. That is what Labor government will be all about." And what happens post-election? Not only does Foreign Minister Smith not come up with a fresh idea about Middle East peace, but, when a former Labor foreign minister does, he doesn't want to know about it lest Col get cross with him. As far as Middle East policy is concerned, it looks like the Rudd government will hypocritically continue the Howard government's practice of "sitting on its hands."

In the unlikely event that Rudd or Smith ever do get off their hands on this one, they will of course need to acknowledge the real reasons why the Israeli government doesn't want a ceasefire with Hamas: not only because the pressure would then be on for Israel to curtail its settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and even, God forbid! end its 40 year long occupation, but also because there's gold (& even more valuable PR) in them thar rockets: "Like the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Sderot is now a must-see stop for those who support Israel or are being urged to do so [my italics]. Several groups have set up offices to arrange visits to a damaged home or a trauma center. Foreign diplomats have been bused here by the government; a UN officer says he has brought top officials here 5 times; Senator John McCain came last month; Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, residents say, cannot be far behind. Israelis and their supporters are lining up to volunteer. Money is pouring in for bomb shelters, social services and an Orthodox religious seminary" (A town under fire becomes a symbol for Israel, Ethan Bronner, NYT, 5/4/08).

So it's 'Talk to the hand, 'cause the face ain't listening', Gareth!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Lobby Grip

"America is about to enter a presidential election year. Although the outcome is of course impossible to predict at this stage, certain features of the campaign are easy to foresee. The candidates will inevitably differ on various domestic issues...and spirited debates are certain to erupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well...Yet on one subject, we can be equally confident that the candidates will speak with one voice. In 2008, as in previous election years, serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep commitment to one foreign country - Israel - as well as their determination to maintain unyielding US support for the Jewish state. Each candidate will emphasize that he or she fully appreciates the multitude of threats facing Israel and make it clear that, if elected, the United States will remain firmly committed to defending Israel's interests under any and all circumstances. None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside."

So run the opening sentences to The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy by John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt, 2007. Their prediction has, of course, come to pass:-

"US Democratic senators and presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are scheduled to join...Republican presidential hopeful John McCain as vice-chairmen of the National Committee for Israel's 60th anniversary, according to a statement released by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Friday...The committee will also be co-chaired by former American presidents George H W Bush and Bill Clinton, and every living former US secretary of state, including Henry Kissinger, have signed on to serve on the committee as well." Obama, Clinton, McCain to co-chair Israel 60th anniversary panel, Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz, 5/4/08

You couldn't invent this stuff.

Friday, April 4, 2008

What Iraqis Really Think 5 Years On

On the 5th anniversary of Iraq's destruction, The Australian's editorialist, from the air-conditioned comfort of his perch at News Ltd, shamelessly stands by his obscene 5 year campaign of whitewashing that appalling, ongoing crime against humanity:-

"Five years after Iraq was liberated [& occupied] from the despotic rule of Saddam Hussein, the justification for the US intervention [invasion] remains as strong as it ever was...There is little doubt that the world [Iraq?] is a better place without Saddam in power...But after 5 years, the situation looks much better [really?] than it did after 3...The Iraqi people have paid [& are still paying] a heavy price to reach this point...Had Saddam remained in power...the long-term suffering [leave us with that & you take the short-term thanks] of the Iraqi people could have been much greater...etc, etc." (22/3/08)

I can do no better than counterpoint this loathsome platitudinising with the following searing lament from Iraqi blogger Layla Anwar (http://arabwomanblues.blogspot.com/) It is taken from her post of March 20, Under the Former 'Dictatorship':-

"Under the former dictatorship, we were alive, now we are all corpses. Under the former dictatorship and during and in spite of 13 years of the most inhumane sanctions we had no ghettoes, we did not know each other's sect, we had mixed neighborhoods, we could go out without being riddled with bullets from an Iranian militia or from one of your army patrols, we had no checkpoints, we had no car bombs, we had no al-Qa'ida psychopaths, we had no sectarian Shia sadists in turbans and black uniforms, we did not have to dress like a ninja, we were not raped, we did not have acid thrown in our faces, we were free to worship in a church or a mosque, we had jobs, we had homes, our children were fed, our hospitals functioned despite your tyrannical sanctions (today 90% of Iraqi hospitals are in dire need of qualified staff), our roads were not destroyed, our bridges assured safe passage, we did not have women and children begging and sleeping in the streets, we did not have refugees (4.5 million) stranded at borders or rotting in tents, we had electricity and water and we did not find worms floating in it either...

"Our rivers were not dumping grounds for cadavers and our parks were not turned into cemetaries. Our children were not sold or trafficked. Our academics (over 450 killed), doctors (500 murdered) and professionals (in the 100s) did not flee or get killed. Our universities still managed to produce graduates and our schools were not attacked by mortars. Our women could drive, work, marry and divorce as they pleased...

"Under the former dictatorship our trees were still producing fruit, not razed to the ground. Under the former dictatorship music was still allowed, so were films. Under the former dictatorship we had no drugs, no poppy fields, no drug addicts and no drug peddlers and traffickers. Under the former dictatorship we had no pedophile rings, no professional killers, no professional drillers and no professional rapists...

"Under the former dictatorship we had no over 100,000 detainees with no trial, no children sodomized in prisons and no women gang-raped in exchange for freeing their loved ones...

"Under the former dictatorship our artists, poets, writers, singers, journalists (223 killed since 2003) were not abducted, kidnapped or assassinated...

"Under the former dictatorship we were not rejects. We still earned the respect of others. Under the former dictatorship we had no mass corruption, no public thieves, no fraud...

"Under the former dictatorship we had no Israelis, no Iranians and no Americans...And sell-out, treacherous Iraqis with foreign political agendas were silenced for the greater good.

"Under the former dictatorship we had no 2 million widows, 5 million orphans, 4 million wounded, an X number of disappeared. We had no mass graves of a million plus murdered by Democracy.

"Under the former dictatorship we were not considered the second most corrupt country in the world and the FIRST most dangerous country on earth...

"Under the former dictatorship we had a country called Iraq. Under the former dictatorship we had a Life. Under the former dictatorship we were Free."

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Amir Taheri Alert

Further to my last post on Greg (Jerusaelm Prize) Sheridan's dogged insistence, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida once had a thing goin' on, comes another neocon conjurer, name of Amir Taheri, who pops up from time to time on the 'opinion' pages of (where else) The Australian. In its 'Cut & Paste' for 31/3/08 we're treated to the following gem from a longer, anti-Iranian spray:-

"Amir Taheri, in the Wall Street Journal online, on how, despite the assertions of Barack Obama that theological differences would prevent it, Sunni and Shia extremists are happy to work together, and indeed with anyone else, towards the destruction of the US: 'The suicide attacks that claimed the lives of over 300 Americans, including 241 Marines, in Lebanon in 1983, were joint operations of the Khomeinist Hezbollah and the Marxist Arab Socialist Party, which was linked to the Syrian intelligence services'."

Taheri's piece is of course yet another variation on the clash-of-civilizations theme: the Arab/Muslim enemy constitutes one, unholy, undifferentiated coil of hissing serpents, regardless of secular/religious, Sunni/Shia, or national/international differences. Scratch the surface of any constituent part and underneath you'll find they're all the same, and they're all out to get US.

The only problem with this ideological construct is that, because it bears no relation to reality, its advocates are sorely tempted to play fast and loose with the facts when pushing it. Apart from the omission of relevant contextualising information, there are three major problems with Taheri's opening sentence: 1) There appears to be no such animal as the "Marxist Arab Socialist Party." There was an Arab Socialist Party kicking around in Syria in the early 50s, but that merged with the Ba'th to form the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party in 1953. There is a Lebanese Druze Progressive Socialist Party (currently in the hands of Druze chieftain and Hezbollah foe, Walid Jumblat), which couldn't by any stretch be described as Marxist. And that's about it; 2) The figure of "over 300 American [deaths]" is false. There were 2 suicide attacks in 1983 against American targets in Lebanon. The first, in April 1983 against the US embassy in Beirut, did kill 63 people, but only 17 of them were Americans (The Struggle Over Lebanon, Tabitha Petran, 1987 p 330). Taheri's "over 300 Americans" is actually 258; 3) While welcoming the action against the Marines, Hezbollah, which was still very much a work in progress in those days, has always denied responsibility for it. (For a discussion of same see Hezbollah: Born With a Vengeance, Hala Jaber, 1997 pp 79-80)

Apparently, Taheri has a track record of fixing the facts. In The Amir Taheri Story (Mother Jones 18/11/07), Jonathan Schwarz spills the beans:-

"Amir Taheri is one of the strangest ingredients in America's media soup. There may not be anyone else who simply makes things up as regularly as he does, with so few consequences...

"1) Taheri, who was once editor of a strongly pro-Shah Iranian newspaper during the 70s, left the country after the revolution. Strongly opposed to Iran's current government, he wrote a 1989 book called Nest of Spies: America's Journey to Disaster in Iran. Shaul Bakhash, a specialist in mideast history at George Mason University, reviewed the book for the New Republic and discovered important sections had been fabricated.

"2) In 2006, Taheri claimed the Iranian parliament had passed a law requiring Jews and other minorities to wear special badges in public. The story was picked up all over the world by the New York Post, the Drudge Report, and Canada's National Post. It turned out to be false.

"3) Elena Benador, PR agent for Taheri (as well as Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, Laurie Mylroie, Richard Perle and James Woolsey) defended Taheri. Benador explained that, when it comes to Iran, accuracy is 'a luxury...As much as being accurate is important, in the end it's important to side with what's right. What's wrong is siding with the terrorists'.

"4) Six days after the Iran story was retracted, Taheri met with George Bush at the White House as part of a group of 'Iraq experts'.

"5) Norman Podhoretz, soon to become a senior foreign policy adviser to Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, wrote an article earlier this year called 'The Case for Bombing Iran'. To argue a nuclear-armed Iran could not be deterred, Podhoretz quoted the Ayatollah Khomeini: 'We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world'. Podhoretz later used the quote on the Lehrer Newshour, as did Michael Ledeen in National Review.

"6) Shaul Bakhash was surprised by the quote, never having encountered it before and finding it out of character for Khomeini. The furthest back the quote could be traced was a book by Amir Taheri.

"7) As reported by the Economist, Bakhash recently wrote for a private newsletter that no one can find the book Taheri claimed as his source in the Library of Congress or a search of Farsi works in libraries worldwide. The statement itself can't be found in databases and published collections of Knomeini statements and speeches."