Friday, October 31, 2008

The JNF Rocks

The Spin: A sweetly smiling Sir Bob Geldof beams out from the half-page Jewish National Fund (JNF) of Australia ad in The Australian Jewish News (24/10/08). The text reads, "'I'm Bob Geldof... and on November 16th I've been asked to address the JNF 2008 Gala Function at the AJC in Randwick. You are of course cordially invited to be there... to meet me, to meet your JNF friends, to show solidarity with Israel so that, with your help, tomorrow's generation will have a Negev worth living in. PS. Tickets are selling rapidly so I suggest you make your booking with the JNF today for what promises to be a function with a difference...'"

The Reality: "Blair speaks about Africa as if its problems are the result of some inscrutable force of nature, compounded only by the corruption of its dictators. He laments that 'it is the only continent in the world over the past few decades that has moved backwards'. But he has never acknowledged that - as even the World Bank's studies show - it has moved backwards partly because of the neoliberal policies it has been forced to follow by the powerful nations: policies that have just been extended by the debt relief package Bono and Geldof praised. Listen to these men - Bush, Blair and their two bards - and you could forget that the rich nations had played any role in Africa's accumulation of debt, or accumulation of weapons, or loss of resources, or collapse in public services, or concentration of wealth and power by unaccountable leaders. Listen to them, and you would imagine that the G8 was conceived as a project to help the world's poor. I have yet to read a statement by either rock star which suggests a critique of power. They appear to believe that a consensus can be achieved between the powerful and the powerless, that they can assemble a great global chorus of rich and poor to sing from the same sheet. They do not seem to understand that, while the G8 maintains its grip on the instruments of global governance, a shared anthem of peace and love is about as meaningful as the old Coca-Cola ad. The answer to the problem of power is to build political movements which deny the legitimacy of the powerful and seek to prise control from their hands: to do, in other words, what people are doing in Bolivia right now. But Bono and Geldof are doing the opposite: they are lending legitimacy to power. From the point of view of men like Bush and Blair, the deal is straightforward: we let these hairy people share a platform with us, we make a few cost-free gestures, and in return we receive their praise and capture their fans. The sanctity of our collaborators rubs off on us. If the trick works, the movements ranged against us will disperse, imagining that thwe world's problems have been solved. We will be publicly rehabilitated, after our little adventure in Iraq and our indiscretions at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay. The countries we wish to keep exploiting will see us as their friends rather than their enemies." (Bards of the Powerful, George Monbiot, 21/6/05,

Perhaps Sir Bob could regale those at the JNF bash with tales of how Mossad palled around with Idi Amin in Uganda or Mobuto Sese Seko in Zaire? Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Perchance to Dream

"President Obama? Or how to really REALLY Piss Off Fox News: If Obama is elected president, he can easily piss off Fox News and the Drudge Report. He can, for example, address the nation and say the following: 'My real name is Hasan Husayn Obama, and I am really a Muslim Arab but did not want to admit that because I would not have been elected. I hereby announce that William Ayers shall be appointed Director of the FBI, and Dennis Kucinich Secretary of Defense. As for the Reverend Wright, he shall serve as Director of the CIA. I would also like to appoint The Angry Arab as my special Tsar for the Dismantlement of the Zionist Entity. And Immanuel Wallerstein will serve as Secretary of Treasury. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I have been a committed Marxist-Leninist all my life. Good night'." (The Angry Arab News Service, 26/10/08)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spinning Refugees

Remember how Zionist propagandists used to flog the lie that the Palestinians of 1948 simply melted away at the behest of Arab leaders, leaving an astonished Jewish community scratching their scones in wonderment? This whopper was, of course, always a diversion, designed to shift the spotlight from Zionist ethnic cleansing onto alleged Arab military orders. However, it was really too absurd an explanation for the 'exodus' of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians, around 85% of the indigenous population of the areas overrun by Zionist forces at the time, and fell victim to the labours of historians, Western, Israeli and Arab. Although still occasionally trotted out by the lower echelons of the Israeli propaganda machine, no reputable historian, Israeli or otherwise, will have a bar of it. The more streetwise among the legions of Zionist pen pushers are now, it seems, prepared to admit (60 years on!), albeit grudgingly and contemptuously, that, 'Yes, OK, the bloody Palestinians were dispossessed, but so what: "I would like to remind Randa Abdel-Fattah (October 4) that the Palestinians do not have a monopoly on dispossession."* (From a letter in Good Weekend by Lorin Blumenthal, Bondi Beach, 25/10/08)

[Imagine the howls of outrage at 'I would like to remind Elie Wiesel that European Jewry does not have a monopoly on genocide'.]

In an effort to wriggle out of responsibility for such a crime, however, a new lie was required: "Dare I mention the thousands of Jews forced to leave their homes in other Arab nations, where they had lived for centuries, due to violence and persecution?" (ibid)

If you think about this, and Blumenthal's hope is that you, the reader, won't, she is asking you to swallow the morally indefensible notion that, all things being equal (& I'll get to that later), while Zionist forces may have ethnically cleansed Palestine in 1948, the Arabs are guilty of ethnically cleansing Jews from Arab countries. Where this argument falls flat, of course, is in its assumption that, because the ethnically cleansed Palestinians are Arabs, and Arabs (other Arabs, that is) ethnically cleansed Jews from their lands, this somehow absolves Jews (other, European Jews, that is) from responsibility for Palestinian dispossession.

Let us, for the sake of argument, take seriously Blumenthal's allegation that Jews were dispossessed by Arabs. If we were in a position to ask her when exactly this alleged dispossession took place, she'd say 'in the fifties'. But notice she doesn't supply this information. And there's a reason for that: if the reader were told that the dispossession of the Palestinians came first - in 1948 - he or she might legitimately conclude that the so-called dispossession of Jews from Arab countries was undertaken in revenge for the earlier dispossession of the Palestinians, and that Israel, therefore, bears primary responsibility for perpetrating such a crime. Propagandists like Blumenthal therefore tend to avoid any reference to timing and prefer to leave the reader labouring under the mistaken notion that both dispossessions - the real and the alleged - took place simultaneously.

I now come to the allegation itself - that Arab Jews were dispossessed by Arabs. It is, of course, false, as I have shown in earlier posts (see Greg Sheridan: Charmed by Israel's 'Most Dangerous Politician' 21/12/07 & Hue & Cry on the Letters Page 5/1/08). The Israeli daily Haaretz, however, recently (15/8/08) carried a pertinent article by Yehuda Shenhav, professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University, titled Hitching a ride on the magic carpet. Some excerpts:-

"An intensive campaign to secure official political and legal recognition of Jews from Arab lands as refugees has been going on for the past 3 years. This campaign has tried to create an analogy between Palestinian refugees and Mizrahi Jews, whose origins are in Middle Eastern countries - depicting both groups as victims of the 1948 War of Independence. The campaign's proponents hope their efforts will prevent conferral of what is called a 'right of return' on Palestinians, and reduce the size of the compensation Israel is liable to be asked to pay in exchange for Palestinian property appropriated by the state guardian of 'lost' assets. The idea of drawing this analogy constitutes a mistaken reading of history, imprudent politics, and moral injustice. "

Shenhav went on to tell the story of the rise and fall of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), an earlier manifestation of this spin: "The WOJAC figure who came up with the idea of 'Jewish refugees' was Yaakov Meron, head of the Justice Ministry's Arab legal affairs department. Meron propounded the most radical thesis ever devised concerning the history of Jews in Arab lands. He claimed Jews were expelled from Arab countries under policies enacted in concert with Palestinian leaders - and he termed these policies 'ethnic cleansing'. Vehemently opposing the dramatic Zionist narrative, Meron claimed that Zionism had relied on romantic, borrowed phrases ('Magic Carpet', 'Operation Ezra & Nehemiah') in the description of Mizrahi immigration waves to conceal the 'fact' that Jewish migration was the result of 'Arab expulsion policy'. In a bid to complete the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews, WOJAC publicists claimed that the Mizrahi immigrants lived in refugee camps in Israel during the 1950s (ie ma'abarot or transit camps), just like the Palestinian refugees. The organization's claims infuriated many Mizrahi Israelis who defined themselves as Zionists. As early as 1975, at the time of WOJAC's formation, Knesset speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu declared: 'We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations'. Shlomo Hillel, a government minister and an active Zionist in Iraq, adamantly opposed the analogy: 'I don't regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists'. In a Knesset hearing, Ran Cohen stated emphatically: 'I have this to say: I am not a refugee'. He added: 'I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee'." Shenhav described how WOJAC's funding was eventually cut off and Meron fired from the Arab legal affairs department: "Today," he asserted, "no serious researcher in Israel or overseas embraces WOJAC's extreme claim."

After pointing out that the current crop of campaigners around this 'issue' have "learned nothing from [WOJAC's] woeful legacy," Shenhav concluded: "Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine. Many Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled, or fled, from the borders of historic Palestine. Those who left did not do so of their own volition. In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some came of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression."

The fact that Blumenthal's Zionist folderol (and that of others like her) continue to dominate the letters pages of the corporate press is a sad indictment of the ignorance and/or partisanship of its editors.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Narco-Terrorists Allege Narco-Terrorism

"Investigators from the United States and Columbia have dismantled an international cocaine smuggling and money-laundering ring that allegedly used part of its profits to finance Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shiite militia... The US Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation, playing a central role in nailing down the alleged Hezbollah connection, Ms Sanchez [ Columbian investigator] said. But US officials in Bogota and Washington declined to discuss details of their evidence." (Cocaine ring 'gave profits to Hezbollah', Chris Kraul & Sebastian Rotella, LA Times, repub. Sydney Morning Herald, 23/10/08)

Ho, hum. Of course, trying to smear the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah in this way has obvious propaganda advantages. And those parties doing the smearing - sorry, conducting the investigation - know a narco-terrorist when they see one. Take note:-

"In a monumental historical study of the link between the drug trade and counterinsurgency, The Politics of Heroin... Alfred McCoy has traced the global expansion of drug-production centers - in Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Columbia, and Afghanistan - to the political cover provided by CIA-sponsored covert weapons. At the heart of the global drug trade after the Second World War has been the trade in opium, the raw material base for the industrial manufacture of high-grade heroin... From 1948 to 1950, the CIA allied 'with the Corsican underworld in its struggle against the French Communist Party for control over the strategic Mediterranean port of Marseille'. The Corsicans triumphed and 'used their control over the Marseilles waterfront to dominate the export of heroin to the US market' for 'the next quarter century'. At the same time, 'the CIA ran a series of covert operations along the China border that were instrumental in the creation of the Golden Triangle heroin complex'. Beginning in 1950, these operations were aimed at creating an anti-Communist Chinese force to mount an invasion of mainland China... The CIA applied these tactics to Laos from 1960 to 1975 when it created a secret army of 30,000 Hmong peasants to battle Laotian Communists near the border with North Vietnam. The Hmong's main cash crop was opium, and the CIA readily turned the other way as the Hmong commander, General Vang Pao, used a Corsican charter to export his crop to distant markets." CIA and USAID funds eventually enabled him to construct airstrips, buy planes, and form his own air-transport company, dubbed by those in-the-know Air Opium. The general went on to supply top-grade heroin to US troops in Vietnam, while the CIA looked the other way. (Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War & the Roots of Terror, Mahmood Mamdani, 2004, pp 66-69)

Moving right along: With the US Congress' capping of CIA funding in 1984, the Reagan administration turned to the drug trade to finance the US proxy terrorist force known as the contras in their attempt to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua: "... CIA assets became key to providing a protective cover for the flow of cocaine from Central America to the United States in return for a reverse flow of materials and armaments from the CIA to the contras... Alfred McCoy observed in his study on the global drug trade, 'the [Columbian] Medellin [cocaine] cartel's rise coincided with the start of the CIA's... support and supply of contra guerillas'. Indeed, McCoy noted that 'all major US agencies have gone on the record stating, with varying degrees of frankness, that the Medellin cartel used the contra resistance forces to smuggle cocaine into the United States'." The "affinity [between US covert military operations and criminal drug syndicates] came to the surface during the Iran-contra affair, most dramatically in the person of Oliver North... It is now widely known that North had formed a private network to fund the contras after official aid was sharply reduced. At the heart of this network was the Israeli connection, and its most ambitious initiative involved the sale of arms to Iran, with the proceeds used to purchase war supplies for the contras. Israel emerged as a significant military supplier to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in the late 70s and early 80s after those countries were found guilty of human rights violations and the Carter administration terminated aid to all three. As 'a quid pro quo for El Salvador's decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem', Israel supplied the military regime 'with over 80% of its weaponry for the next several years, including napalm for use against the Salvadoran civilian population'. In Guatemala in 1983, as the government carried out massacres of Indian villagers, a Time magazine correspondent reported the 'Israelis have sold the government everything from anti-terrorism equipment to transport planes' and that 'army outposts in the jungle have become near replicas of Israeli army field camps'. Finally, Israel moved into Nicaragua as soon as the Carter administration cut off aid: 'Israel sold [US-backed dictator] Somoza 98% of the weapons he used against the Nicaraguan population' between September 1978 and his ouster the following July [by the Sandinistas]." Israel's arming of Iran arose in the context of the Iraq-Iran War: "The Israelis both openly defied the official American ban on the supply of US arms to Iran and tried to get the Reagan administration to deal with the Iranians. In return, they agreed to take on at least a part of the burden of supplying the contras as Congress began to put restrictions on the supply of US military aid. The heart of the deal that came to be known as Iran-contra was that the US agreed to sell arms to Iran, either directly or through Israel, at prices sufficiently inflated to use the difference to purchase arms for the contras... Most observers agreed that the idea for the deal came from the Israelis." (ibid, pp 109-113)

But there's more. The CIA turned to the drug trade to fund the mother-of-all contra-style insurgencies, that of the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan: "Organized and centralized under CIA control, the drug trade combined the peasant's market wisdom with the mujahideens' capacities for extortion and entrepreneurship. Alfred McCoy traced the different steps in the drug economy, beginning with peasant production: 'As the mujahideen guerillas seized territory inside Afghanistan, they ordered peasants to plant opium as a revolutionary tax'. It no doubt helped that for the grower the price of opium was 5 times that for wheat... Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates under the protection of Pakistan intelligence operated hundreds of heroin laboratories'... the CIA provided the legal cover without which this illicit trade could not have grown to monumental proportions: 'During this decade of wide-open drug-dealing, the US Drug Enforcement Administration in Islamabad failed to instigate major seizures or arrests... US officials had refused to investigate charges of heroin dealing by its Afghan allies 'because US narcotics policy in Afghanistan has been subordinated to the war against Soviet influence there'. Prior to the Afghan jihad, there was no local production of heroin in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. The production there was of opium, a very different drug, which was directed to small, rural, regional markets. By the end of the Afghan jihad, the picture had changed drastically: the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderlands became the world's leading producers of both opium and processed heroin... The heroin economy literally poisoned Afghani and Pakistani life. The figures who thrived in this cesspool had been hailed by Ronald Reagan as 'moral equivalents of America's founding fathers'." (ibid, pp 141-143)

PS: "From his jail cell in Russia, Israeli soldier of fortune Yair Klein is still fighting the Moscow court's decision to extradite him to Columbia, where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for training militias for drug barons." (Despite recent case, Israelis never excelled as mercenaries, Yossi Melman, Haaretz, 24/6/08)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Madness of Condoleezza Rice

"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told the BBC she believes the Middle East is a better place for the policies of President George W Bush. Asked to assess the outgoing US administration's legacy, she said she was especially proud of the situation in in the Palestinian territories. She insisted that what she called a US-inspired 'freedom agenda' had taken hold in the Middle East. Ms Rice also said Iraq had become a 'good Arab friend' of America. 'The Middle East is a different place and a better place', Ms Rice told BBC Arabic TV." (Rice defends Middle East legacy, BBC News, 21/10/08)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Will Someone Please Tell Gareth?

In today's Murdoch fishwrapper: "The world was headed for another Hiroshima or worse because of the risk of miscalculation or accident, the head of Kevin Rudd's new Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament said yesterday. Gareth Evans, the commission's co-chair, said inadequate controls applied to at least 16,000 atomic warheads actively deployed around the world... he said the main obstacle to disarmament remained complacency by the US and Russia, which had lost interest since the end of the Cold War. Difficulties ahead included how to prevent nations developing nuclear weapons after India and Pakistan, claiming their own different needs, had joined Israel outside the international treaty arrangements*. Mr Evans said he supported the recent downgrading of North Korea's status as a danger to nuclear proliferation. But Mr Evans rated Iran's program for the development of nuclear weapons under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a high-risk category. 'Iran is a hell of a lot different', he said." (Risk of new Hiroshima: Evans, Brad Norington, The Australian, 21/10/08)

[*Hm, surely logic dictates that if Israel's choosing to remain "outside the international treaty arrangements" is leading the likes of India and Pakistan astray - which seems to be what Evans is on about here - then shouldn't the first priority of Rudd's shiny new Commission be to tackle the Israelis over this? Just a pigs-will-fly thought.]

Not in today's Murdoch fishwrapper: "In an interview today, UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei said that Iran would be lacking key components for the production of a nuclear weapon even if they chose to do so. According to ElBaradei 'they do not have even the nuclear material, the raw unenriched uranium to develop one nuclear weapon if they decide to do so'." (ElBaradei: Iran nowhere near acquiring nuclear weapons,, 20/10/08)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sons of Kings & Sons of Dogs

In March this year, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd moved a bilateral motion in federal parliament "celebrating and commending the achievements of the State of Israel in the 60 years since its inception." Rudd's motion (see my 14/3/08 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3) praised the world's last remaining apartheid state for its commitment to "cultural diversity," and "pluralism."

Israel's "cultural diversity" and "pluralism" were on proud display in the mixed port city of Acre on October 15 when an Israeli judge placed a Palestinian-Israeli man under house arrest for a week and suspended him from driving for a month for the heinous crime of driving through a mixed neighborhood on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The sentence had followed the stoning of the man's car and his narrow escape from a Jewish lynch mob; the retaliatory stoning of Jewish shops, cars and homes by Palestinian-Israelis; the fire-bombing of Palestinian-Israeli homes by Jews; and the man's appearance before a Knesset committee meeting, where he offered up his 'neck' in penance.

"Long-time communist Salim Atrash blamed the disengagement from Gaza, saying an extremist yeshiva that opened in the city following the pullout has been fanning the flames. Atrash pulled out a copy of a notice that has been circulating on the Internet: 'We will no longer buy anything from Arabs, we will not honor any of their holidays or any place of theirs. Arabs of Acre, go find your place in the villages'. The notice was signed with an epigram: 'A Jew is the son of a king, an Arab is the son of a dog'." (Acre Jews warn: Arabs will be killed with knives, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 12/10/08)

The origins of Israel's commitment to "cultural diversity" and "pluralism" in Acre, as in all other parts of Palestine, go back to the watershed year of 1948. Despite the UN's inclusion of the city in a projected Arab state in November 1947, it was ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in May of that year. At the time, its population of 25,000, almost entirely Palestinian Arab, had doubled, with refugees fleeing from areas already overrun by Zionist forces, especially Haifa*:-

"The [Zionist-perpetrated] urbicide continued into May with the occupation of Acre on the coast... In the beginning of May, Acre proved once again that it was not only Napoleon who found it hard to defeat: despite severe overcrowding due to the huge influx of refugees from the neighbouring city of Haifa, heavy daily shelling by the Jewish forces failed to subdue the Crusader city. However, its exposed water supply ten kilometres to the north, from the Kabri springs, via an almost 200-year old aquaduct, proved its Achilles' heel. During the siege typhoid germs were apparently injected into the water. Local emissaries of the International Red Cross reported this to their headquarters and left very little room for guessing whom they suspected: the Hagana. The Red Cross reports describe a sudden typhoid epidemic and even, with their guarded language, point to the outside poisoning as the sole explanation for this outbreak.

"On 6th May 1948, in Acre's Lebanese hospital, which belonged to the Red Cross, an emergency meeting was convened. Brigadier Beveridge, chief of the British medical services, Colonel Bonnet of the British army, Dr Maclean of the Medical Services, and Mr de Meuron, the Red Cross delegate in Palestine, met with city officials to discuss the seventy casualties the epidemic had already claimed. They concluded that the infection was undoubtedly water-borne, not due to crowded or unhygienic conditions, as the Hagana claimed. Tellingly, it had affected fifty-five British soldiers who were transported to Port Said hospital in Egypt. 'Nothing like that ever happened in Palestine', Brigadier Beveridge told de Meuron. The minute they had identified the aqueduct as the source, they switched to artesian wells and water from the agricultural station north of Acre. The refugees from Acre already in camps in the north were also examined in order to prevent the epidemic from spreading.

"With their morale weakened by both the typhoid epidemic and the intensive shelling, residents heeded the call from loudspeakers that shouted at them: 'Surrender or commit suicide. We will destroy you to the last man'. Lieutenant Petite, a French UN observer, reported that after the city fell into Jewish hands, there was widespread and systematic looting by the army, including furniture, clothes, and anything that might be useful to the new Jewish immigrants, and the removal of which might discourage the refugees' return." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe, 2006 p 100)

[*See my 7/5/08 post Bend It Like Benny]

By the time Acre fell to Zionist forces, only 4,000 Palestinian inhabitants remained. Israel's ongoing commitment to "cultural diversity" and "pluralism," of course, continued apace:-

"Lieutenant Petite noted that the Jews had murdered at least 100 Arab civilians in Acre. In particular the Israelis killed many residents of the new city who refused to move into the portion of the old city that was being used as an Arab ghetto. The Israelis considered the new city totally off-limits to Arabs.

"The case of Mohammed Fayez Soufi was typical. He was forced to leave his home in the new part of town and was relocated in the portion of the old city of Acre that had not been demolished. When Mohammed and four of his friends went back to their former homes in the new city to get food, they were stopped by a gang of Israeli soldiers who put a pistol to each of their heads and forced them to drink cyanide. Mohammed faked swallowing the poison but his friends were not so lucky. After about half an hour, three of the Arabs died and were tossed in the sea by the Israelis. Several days later, their bodies were washed up on the shore.

"Lieutenant Petite suspected that the murders of Arab civilians in Acre were the work of Israeli soldiers who were acting without orders from their superiors. But there can be no doubt that the atrocities reflected the contemptuous attitude toward Arab civilians which prevailed in the Israeli army. The Israeli High Command certainly did nothing to punish those who committed the atrocities reported by the UN officials in all parts of the Jewish state." (The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, Michael Palumbo, 1987, pp 119-120)

Israel - a past master in "cultural diversity" and "pluralism."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Party Line

The party line: "Ahmadinejad seems to have moved to a more stump-speech style of anti-Semitism that bears a strong resemblance to Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda from the 1930s." (A hard line on Iran, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian 18/10/08)

The reality: "Zionism, which brought 'the people without land to a land without people', in fact implied the dispossession of Palestine's Arabs. Previously, anti-Semitism had been a negligible factor among the Arabs; there was little trace of it in the Ottoman world, where Jews and Muslims coexisted harmoniously. But even as European anti-Semitism dwindled, so it seemed to grow in the Middle East, fed by racial and religious myths imported from the defeated European Right. What has emerged is not at heart a racial antagonism but a political one - an anti-Zionism which takes Israeli rhetoric at face value by conflating Israelis and Jews. This is very different from the old inter-war European variety. The Nazis were not much bothered with Jews' political opinions; what counted was race. If anything, Zionists were the one kind of Jew that right-wing Europeans were prepared to deal with, since both sides desired the same thing - the departure of the Jews from Europe. Precisely the opposite is true for Arab opinion: conspiracy theories flourish, and so does Holocaust denial, but the real target is Zionism as a political doctrine." (Anti-Semitism is not the real danger to Jews today, Mark Mazower*, The Times, 27/11/03)

[*Professor of History at Columbia University & author of Hitler's Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Main Street, Dujail

"I truly believe that Iraqis are nationalists. They want to choose on their own what's best for their country and they don't want somebody else to decide what's in their best interests," said US General Ray Odierno without a hint of irony (Iran accused of Iraq bribes, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/10/08).

General Odierno was the commander, in Iraq, of the US Army's 4th Infantry Division: "an active-duty two-star general, the commander of an armoured division, one of the Army's premier units. He was the youngest division commander in the Army. And he was physically imposing, 6' 5" tall and weighing 250 pounds, with a bulletlike shaved head. Everyone around him knew he was destined for three or four stars, and might be chief of staff of the Army one day." (Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, Thomas E Ricks, 2006, p 295)

According to Ricks, what General Odierno and the 4th ID are best remembered for is the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein. Odierno crowed, "'The former regime elements we have been combating have been brought to their knees... Capturing Saddam was a major operational and psychological defeat for the enemy'. He described the insurgency as a 'fractured, sporadic threat, with the leadership destabilized, finances interdicted, and no hope of the Baathist's return to power'. These were just a 'handful of cells' left fighting in his area, the northern and eastern parts of the Sunni Triangle, he said... He even offered a time line: 'I believe within 6 months you're going to see some normalcy. I really believe that'." (ibid, pp 263-264)

"Saddam Hussein was hanged for killing 148 Shi'ite men and boys in Dujail in 1982. But today, some people in this town on the Tigris say they miss life under the Iraqi dictator because they felt more secure. Even some of those from Dujail whose family members were murdered and imprisoned during Saddam's iron-fisted rule seem seduced by the idea of a strong leader after years of chaos, bloodshed and deprivation since the US-led invasion in 2003. 'If someone like Saddam came back, I'd not only support him, I'd invite him to dinner. My uncle was killed in 1982 in the Dujail incident. Still, life then was a million times better than now', said Saad Mukhlif, a Shi'ite. Nostalgia for Saddam and his Sunni-led government in this largely Shi'ite town mirrors a country-wide sense of frustration despite a drop in attacks and killings... '(Prime Minister) Nuri al-Maliki is sitting in (Baghdad's fortified) Green Zone. What's he doing to protect us? What's the point of this government?' said Muhammad Mehdi, a Shi'ite whose cousin was jailed in 1982 and whose brother was killed in a car bomb in Dujail last month. 'Saddam Hussein is the only noble leader we've had', he added, before shouting 'God bless Saddam 1,000 times', within earshot of US troops accompanying reporters visiting the town, 50 km north of Baghdad. Mehdi and Mukhlif's views were echoed elsewhere as Reuters spoke to around 15 passers-by and shopkeepers in Dujail's high street." (War-weary Saddam victims miss his iron rule, Mohammad Abbas, Reuters, 11/10/08)

Bulletheaded, shit-for-brains Americans just don't get it, do they?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rudd QC Ceases to Act

The last time the subject of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's bizarre promise to haul Iran's President Ahmadinejad before the International Court of Justice for inciting genocide and denying the Jewish holocaust surfaced in the corporate media was in The Australian of 14/5/08. Rudd was quoted as saying that his government was taking "legal advice" which he'd "study very carefully." In my then post on the subject (Kevin Bonhoeffer vs Adolf Ahmadinejad, 23/5/08), I speculated that Rudd was simply waiting for the kind of "legal advice" which would "allow him to wriggle out of his idiotic pre-election promise [described by former foreign minister Downer as a "ghastly stunt"] to the Israel lobby."

Well, the long-awaited legal advice has finally surfaced, with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announcing in Parliament yesterday (15/10/08) that "'The Government has given exhaustive consideration to international legal action against Iran for [calling for the destruction of Israel and questioning the Holocaust]. Having now considered legal and other advice, the Government has decided not to pursue international legal action against Iran'." (Labor gives in on Iran court threat, Daniel Flitton, The Age, 16/10/08) To which I add this additional snippet quoted in The Australian: "'In doing so, we recognised the complexity of the issues involved and the high threshold required to bring forward a case'." (Rudd breaks pledge on Iran, Mark Dodd, 16/10/08)

Adolf Ahmadinejad can cease sweating. Certainly, the Israel lobby has apparently ceased salivating: "Jamie Hyams, a senior policy analyst with the Australia-Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), said he appreciated that the Australian Government had considered charges, but said stronger sanctions against Tehran were a more immediate concern." (Flitton) Makes you wonder, doesn't it? In the absence of the government tabling its alleged, presumably independent, "legal advice" on this matter, we could surely be forgiven for speculating that the name of the game all along was simply to await Israel's instructions. Of course, you may be sure no one on the opposition benches will be asking for it. The shadow foreign affairs spokeswoman, Helen Coonan, is lip-syncing the government line: "Australia should keep up its pressure on Iran over failing to adhere to UNSC resolutions, not agreeing to the IAEA's requirements for inspections of all facilities and full clarification of Iran's nuclear policy." (Flitton)

Unfortunately, while the Australian government may no longer be entertaining the ludicrous idea of advocating for Israel in the ICJ, its dubious backing for that country's push for regime change in Iran continues apace with Smith announcing support for economic sanctions against Iran: "... they would form part of a co-ordinated response by the international community to ensure Iranian compliance with 4 UN Security Council resolutions calling on Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and allow UN nuclear inspections... 'The sanctions are targeted against 20 Iranian individuals and 18 organisations which contribute to Iran's nuclear and missile programs, or otherwise assist Iran to violate its Security Council obligations'." (Dodd)

One is entitled to ask why, given the fact that Iran denies wanting nukes and that there is no evidence that it wants them; that the US's National Intelligence Estimate on Iran has concluded that Iran "halted its nuclear weapons program" in 2003; that Iran is perfectly entitled under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (which Iran, unlike Israel, has signed) to develop a nuclear energy program; that Ahmadinejad never said he was out to 'wipe Israel off the map'; that Israel is the only nuclear power in the Middle East; that Israel's nukes are off-limits to inspection; and that Israel holds the world record for defying UN resolutions, the Ruddies are even going this far.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Death, Taxes & US Aid to Israel

"The chairman of Westfield Group, Frank Lowy, has warned that all sport will have to contract in order to survive the upheaval caused by the credit squeeze. While attending sporting events was often seen as a distraction in times of economic stress, Mr Lowy, who is also the chairman of Football Federation Australia, said sport was not immune from the tightness of the current financial markets. 'I think the world has been living beyond its means, I think the world will have to contract, so will sport have to contract, it is as simple as that', he told ABCTV's Offsiders yesterday." (Sport will be forced to shrink, Sydney Morning Herald, 13/10/08)

The thing dearest to Frank's heart, though, the Zionist settler-colonial project (aka wiping Palestine off the map) will be immune to financial contraction: "US presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama has promised not to cut foreign aid to Israel if he is elected in November, a spokesman for Obama has said. In a statement to the Israeli business daily Globes, the spokesman said he would honour existing agreements pertaining to foreign aid and as such was committed to 'increasing aid to Israel to $30bn over 10 years'." (Obama won't cut aid to Israel,, 5/10/08)

As Mearsheimer & Walt remind us: "Israel now receives on average about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year... about 75% [of it] military aid... In per capita terms, this level of direct foreign assistance amounts to a direct subsidy of more than $500 per year for each Israeli. By comparison, the number two recipient of American aid, Egypt, receives only $20 per person, and impoverished countries such as Pakistan and Haiti receive roughly $5 per person and $27 per person, respectively... All this largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is not a poor or devastated country like Afghanistan, Niger, Burma, or Sierra Leone. On the contrary, Israel is now a modern industrial power." (The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, pp 26 & 30)

And here's the big picture: "Conflicts in the Middle East [since WW II] have been very costly to the US, as well as to the rest of the world. An estimate of the total cost to the US alone of instability and conflict in the region - which emanates from the core, Israeli-Palestinian conflict a amounts to close to $3 trillion, measured in 2002 dollars. This is an amount 4 times greater than the cost of the Vietnam war... Even this figure underestimates the costs because certain classes of expenditure remain unquantified. In particular, no reliable figure is available for the cost of 'Project Independence', Washington's lavishly promoted effort to reduce US dependence on oil from the Middle East. That effort... was designed primarily to insulate Israel from any new 'Arab oil weapon' after 1973/74, and may easily have cost $1 trillion... Similarly, aid to Israel - and thus the regional total - is also understated, since much is outside of the foreign aid appropriation process or implicit in other programs. Support for Israel comes to $1.8 trillion, including special trade advantages, preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts. In addition to the financial outlay, US aid to Israel costs some 275,000 American jobs each year." (The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion, Thomas R Stauffer, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Muslim Extremists?

"Size of Islamist menace" read the headline on the opinion(ated) page of The Australian 9/10/08). "About 150 million Muslims worldwide are extremists, calculates Daniel Pipes," read the sub-heading. That allegedly meant that "10 to 15% of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam." Zounds! Head for the hills, NOW! How does Pipes, "director of the Middle East Forum," arrive at such a figure? Let me count the ways, says Pipes, but here's one:-

"Gauge voter intentions: Elections measure Islamist sentiment untidily, for Islamist parties erratically win support from non-Islamists," he says. "Thus, Turkey's Justice & Development Party won 47% of the vote in the 2007 elections and 34% in the 2002 elections... Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization, won 44% 0f the vote in the Palestinian authority [sic: Palestinian Legislative Council] elections in 2006. Which number does one select?"

Of course, those who swallow Dr Pipes' snake oil - and they can't get enough of it over at News Limited - take in his them & us, clash-of-civilizations worldview. With one caveat, however: although Muslims are natural born extremists, if tactics dictate, some can be deemed moderates. It goes without saying, of course, that we are natural born moderates -although again, if tactics dictate, some of us can be labelled extremists.

That's Pipes' ideological context in a nutshell. Then, to take Hamas as our example, there's his sly little syllogism: Hamas is an extremist ("terrorist") organization. 44% of Palestinians voted for Hamas. Therefore, 44% of Palestinians are extremists.

For that to work, however, you have to swallow the Hamas = extremism premise. But, if you're flexible enough to subscribe to the proposition that extremism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, you'd perhaps be interested to know what was in the eye of those Palestinian beholders back in 2006:-

"The primary reason for casting a vote in favour of Hamas was Hamas's fidelity to the Palestinian dream. Most Palestinians, including those who have at various stages expressed their readiness to settle for less, dream of seeing Palestine, all of it, completely free. They imagine the day when millions of Palestinians will return to the towns and villages from which they were driven out when Israel was created in 1948. Hamas, which believes that the State of Israel is an illegitimate political entity that will one day disappear, just as the 11th century Crusader Kingdoms in Palestine and Syria disappeared, keep the dream alive. The 1988 Fatah-dominated PLO's decision to recognise Israel's right to exist in exchange for being recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people was the turning point for many Palestinians. It was from then on that Hamas, which had been in existence for no more than a year, began to be perceived by an increasing number of Palestinians as the alternative to Fatah, which, they believed, had lost its way.

"The second reason for preferring Hamas relates to the record... of Hamas... as a provider of services to the population. Many Palestinians would scarcely be able to manage without the social, educational and medical services provided by the United Nations and an army of NGOs, the most efficient of which have been the ones set up and run by Hamas. As Israel collectively punished the Palestinians, destroying the infrastructure of their society and its organisation, it unwittingly provided Hamas with the greatest of opportunities. Many Palestinians compared the rampant corruption that had spread throughout the Palestinian Authority and amongst the rank and file of Fatah with the clean hands of Hamas's officials. The Palestinian people could not help but admire the decency, honesty and transparency with which Hamas conducted its affairs and provided its services to the public. Hamas officials channelled millions of dollars worth of aid to those in need every year, but continued to live as they had always done. They lived like ordinary Palestinians and many had their homes inside refugee camps. They were part of the people, close to their minds and hearts. Sheikh Yassin passed his whole life in a refugee camp, with a standard of living scarcely different from that of his neighbours. His way of life offered a stark contrast to the leaders of Fatah, many of whom had made fortunes and built empires in the margins of the peace process with the Israelis.

"The third reason for voting Hamas was its Islamic ideology, which, unlike Fatah's secular nationalism, was in sympathy with the powerful inclination toward Islam within Palestinian society. Since the early 1970s, Palestine has seen a massive Islamic revival that was in part a reaction to the failure of secular Arab nationalism, which Palestinians blamed for the loss of the remainder of Palestine to the Israelis in 1967...

"The fourth reason concerned the failure of the peace process. Rather than deliver the Palestinians from their misery, the apparently endless process seemed only to have aggravated their suffering. Hamas had predicted all along that Israel would not fulfil its bargain, and that it was using peace-making in order to expropriate more land. The Hamas view was that only jihad would force the occupation to come to an end. Israel proved Hamas right when it turned against its own partners in the peace process, destroying the Palestinian Authority's institutions and literally besieging Yassir Arafat, whom many Palestinians believe eventually met his death by poisoning. Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza served only further to vindicate Hamas, which claimed that it was its efforts which had [forced] Sharon unconditionally to withdraw the settlers and troops." (Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, Azzam Tamimi, pp 220-221)

Now how would you have voted?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Zionist Indoctrination Exposed!

The Australian often acts as an echo chamber for The Australian Jewish News. Here's an editorial echo that could've happened, but, given the prevailing western Zionist zeitgeist, didn't:


In a disturbing account of what is actually going on in Jewish schools and synagogues in this country, The Australian Jewish News yesterday lifted the lid on the appalling level of Zionist indoctrination to which young Australian Jews are forcibly subjected.

The AJN featured - on its front page - the appalling story (Call to arms for Jewish young adults) of how Moriah College graduate and Central Synagogue attendee Jonno Seidler, and his fellow students, were brainwashed by Zionist extremists during their impressionable, adolescent years.

The AJN quoted Seidler as saying, "Despite having Israeli history rammed down our throats for most of our adolescent lives, our basic understanding of the Middle Eastern conflict essentially boils down to this: Israel - good, Arabs - bad."

In an equally disturbing twist to the Seidler story, it is evident from the young man's wholly incorrect use of the word "despite" when he meant 'because' that school literacy standards, a subject to which we at The Australian have sadly been forced to dedicate increasing amounts of editorial space, have continued to plummet.

This combination of virulent anti-Arab hatespeak and declining standards of literacy, exposed by the courageous revelations of the hapless Jonno Seidler, should not be allowed to jeopardize this country's status as a vibrant beacon of tolerance and academic excellence. It is incumbent upon the moderates in the Jewish community - and we have no doubt they exist - to root out those Zionist extremists among them who are engaged in poisoning the minds of Jewish youth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur...

"Today (9/10/08), Yom Kippur, the holiest date in our calendar, most of the world's 13.3 million Jews will be seeking repentance for their - and indeed all of humanity's - sins. And our list is wildly longer than yours. It runs to more than 50 sins. And we say them 10 times during the course of Yom Kippur. As we reel off the list, we ask God to 'pardon us, forgive us, atone for us'."

So writes Dan Goldberg, "a writer and former national editor of the Australian Jewish News," in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald (Fifty sins to get off your chest: the guilt trip with a happy ending). He goes on, "The apology in Parliament was Australia's Yom Kippur - our collective day of repentance, when we asked foregiveness for our sins against Australia's indigenous people*... Our actions were, and are, responsible for terrible sins, and our inaction is often worse... silence, according to the legal maxim, implies consent. Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur... and more than a few cases closer to home. We've been guilty of the sin of silence in the past, and in the present. As for the future? To paraphrase the philosopher George Santayana: those who don't learn from their sins are doomed to repeat them."

And to paraphrase the novelist Joseph Conrad: "The hypocrisy! The hypocrisy!"

[*And another thing. Goldberg may not have thought this through, but it's clear he subscribes to the false notion of collective guilt. It's worth quoting Israeli activist and author Uri Davis, always a reliable guide: "There is no collective guilt. Children are not guilty of the crimes of their parents; Germans in general are not guilty of the crimes of the Nazi occupation of Europe; western Christians in general are not guilty of the genocide of the holocaust; and Europe in general is not guilty of crimes against humanity perpetrated against Jews. Only anti-Jewish racists are guilty of what they did and continue to do to Jews. And, by the same token, children of Zionist settlers in geographical Palestine are also not guilty of the crimes perpetrated by their parents. Responsibility is, however, a different matter. While children of Zionist settlers in geographical Palestine are not collectively guilty of the crimes perpetrated by their parents against the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people, citizens of the the State of Israel have a responsibility, a duty, which citizens of other states do not have in the same way, to raise their voices against these crimes, act in defence of the victims of these crimes and work for due reparations, compensation and return of the dispossessed and expelled Palestinian Arabs. This is the case not because children of Zionist settlers are collectively guilty of these crimes, but because these crimes were committed and continue to be committed by the successive governments of the State of Israel in their names." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, p 12)

Ditto for those (both Jewish and non-Jewish) engaged in the task of selling Israel and the Zionist project to the rest of us. Goldberg might like to consider adding the sin of wiping Palestine off the map to his list.]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lowy's Israeli Charities?

Australia's now richest man (Lowy tops rich list as crisis knocks twiggy off perch, The Australian, 3/10/08), shopping centre magnate and Haganah veteran* Frank Lowy has been receiving some media attention of late for allegations of tax avoidance - from ABC television's 4 Corners program (Tax me if you can, 6/10/08) and from the Sydney Morning Herald (The quiet benefactor: Lowy's dedication to Israel, Jason Koutsoukis, & The lowdown on Liechtenstein, Elisabeth Sexton, 29/9/08).

[*See my 2/8/08 post Charities of Middle Eastern Appearance Only]

Some extracts from the latter two articles:-

"When a US Senate Committee alleged Frank Lowy concealed $US68 million from the Australian Tax Office in Liechtenstein, Lowy said he had given the money to Israeli charities and insisted he had met all his tax obligations." (Koutsoukis)

"This week Australia's politicians get their chance to air the issues raised in Washington... The Australian [Joint] committee [of Public Accounts and Audit] members will be acutely aware of Lowy's good reputation and high standing in the Australian business, sporting and foreign affairs communities, courtesy of his chairmanship of the shopping centre empire Westfield Group, of the Football Federation of Australia and of the Lowy Institute for International Policy. Lowy... is also a long-standing and generous donor to both sides of politics. Last yeat Westfield gave $335,000 to the Labor Party and $246,000 to the Coalition." (Sexton)

"It may not bear his name, but the Israeli version of Sydney's Lowy Institute for International Policy - the Institute for National Security Studies, attached to the University of Tel Aviv - is equally his creation... Its vice-chairman is Dan Meridor, a prominent lawyer and former politician in the centre-right Likud party. Meridor served as justice minister and finance minister in the 1990s, and is contemplating a return to politics with the Likud." (Koutsoukis)

"One man who has known Lowy for almost 25 years is Avinoam Brog, president of Israel's leading market research and polling firm Market Watch, and brother of the former prime minister and current Labour Party chairman, Ehud Barak. Brog got to know Lowy in the 1980s, when he was executive director of the Sydney branch of Keren Hayesod*, the central fund-raising organisation for Israel throughout the world... Brog... said [Lowy] had been a 'very, very generous donor to Keren Hayesod' since the 1980s. 'And I would expect that that financial support has only increased in the years since'. According to a handful of Australian and Israeli businessman who are active in Israel and keep an eye on Lowy's movements in that country, the money that he puts into the Institute for National Security and Keren Hayesod are the two main concerns he devotes time to outside his business interests." (Koutsoukis)

[*"Keren Hayesod - United Israel Appeal (UIA), through a partnership between Israel and diaspora communities, mobilises support for Israel and the rescue of Jews in distress, by encouraging and assisting in aliyah and absorption." (UIA Victoria website) UIA's 2008 Appeal featured the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, along with two Israeli government ministers. Entertainment was provided by the Israel Defence Force Entertainment Troupe.]

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Media is the Message

"[K]ey elements in the lobby strive to influence discourse about Israel in the media, think tanks, and academia, because these institutions are critical to shaping popular opinion. They promote efforts to portray Israel in a positive light and they go to considerable lengths to marginalize anyone who questions Israel's past or present conduct or seeks to cast doubt on the merits of unconditional US backing. Pro-Israel forces are well aware that dominating discussions about the Jewish state is essential to their agenda. These efforts do not always succeed, of course, but are still remarkably effective." (The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer & Walt, p 168)

As above, so below. In its annual review of the Australian media, The best (& worst) of the year awards (The Australian Jewish News, 3/10/08), the Israel lobby's pointy end, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), tells us who it believes has been singing in (and out) of tune. There are, of course, NO surprises:

SBS TV has won the MOST IMPROVED category. "Its news service has ... shown greater fairness on Middle East issues this year, with reports generally including more of the necessary context and fewer factual errors and omissions, and interviewees evenly reflecting relevant viewpoints. Its documentaries on the Middle East have also been much more balanced." In the black-is-white world of AIJAC, this means that efforts to pressure SBS TV to toe the Israeli line have been largely successful. "There is, however, still enough room for improvement - especially in Dateline - for SBS to again be a contender next year." Which is AIJAC's way of saying, 'Listen up, SBS! We may be giving you a pat on the head now, but don't let it go to your head (if you know what we mean). Here's the dice: If you don't shape up further, we won't even consider you as a contender for next year's MOST IMPROVED award. Now there's a good boy - go and do something about Dateline!

AIJAC's BEST FIRST YEAR PLAYER was "shared by ABC Radio correspondent Ben Knight and Fairfax correspondent Jason Koutsoukis" who "brought to their often problematic outlets a refreshingly objective approach, simply reporting on the news and attempting to give both sides of the story." Worthy recipients indeed! Maybe Ben's riveting, in-depth piece on that room in his newly-rented Jerusalem house for Correspondents Report (14/9/08) was what did it for him: "I've been in this room more times than I can remember... And I was never quite sure what it was supposed to be. There's no window, it's very bare. It's just concrete walls, a strange shelf running along one wall, also made of concrete, tiled floors [sic], and not much else... But I finally worked out what it was; this is the house's safe room." And, while outside in the real world Israel is literally wiping Palestine off the map, Ben gets the drum from a nice young Israeli soldier who initiates him in the use of gas masks, presumably because those Iranian rockets with their chemical payloads are fairly straining at their moorings to wipe Jerusalem off the map. But doesn't that include Palestinians? Don't ask! And Ben doesn't -neither about the supposed threat nor its unlikelihood. Yep, I can see why Ben got the gong.

Ben's undoubted promise was again in evidence on today's AM program (Israeli settler violence on the rise), where, having emerged from his Jerusalem bunker, he ventured into the wild West Bank to do a cameo on rampaging Israeli settlers, fell in with a right charmer by name of Hillel Ben Shlomo who had God on his side and wanted the Palestinians to hit the road faster than you can say pogrom. In fact, so charmed was Ben by Hillel that he lapsed into settlerspeak, referring to "Arabs/Arab villages" 6 times.

And Jason - what's swung it for him? Could it have been the fearless objectivity of his reporting on the decidedly non-vibrant (try "ramshacle and unkempt") Syria (Slow road for Damascus, SMH 27/9/08), a country which "does not recognise Israel's right to exist*," has had "few foreign or domestic policy successes over the past 4 decades**," and is "host of armed and dangerous groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad." Could it have been that penetrating insight into the mysterious Syrian psyche provided by a "mobile phone dealer" who reckons You Don't Mess with the Zohan is "the best film of the year"? Who knows? Fortunately, Jason's most recent despatch from the front lines of the world's most intractable conflict - on hummus (that's right, hummus, not Hamas!) - (Tasty object of worship for Muslims and Jews, 4/10/08) should make him a shoo-in for next year's award.

[* Tres naughty!]
[** No occupied territories to speak of! No stranglehold over the US Congress! Too busy hosting Palestinian and Iraqi refugees I guess.]

BEST & FAIREST - no! - goes to Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian's foreign editor, for "consistently showing a superior understanding of Israel's situation and the obstacles to Middle East peace." IOW, he's not only with us. Hell, he's practically one of us!

WORST & UNFAIREST - boo! hiss! - goes to Jason's predecessor at Fairfax, Ed O'Loughlin, for "his consistent use of various forms of often subtle but real journalistic malfeasance," including "the use of biased language, factual misrepresentation and half-truths, editorialising in news stories, and one-sided selection of news subjects and interviewees." IOW, try as we might, we couldn't turn him. Oh, and SMH columnist Alan Ramsey gets a "mention" for "his rants about the supposed* power of the Jewish lobby to suppress criticism of Israel." We can't confuse Joe Sixpack & the Hockey Mums with the bleeding obvious, now can we?

[*See my posts Storms Forecast (22/9/08), Hurricane Herzl (23/9/08) & Hurricane Herzl Fallout (25/9/08)]

AND THE WINNER IS... - you guessed it, clever boy! - The Australian for "its consistently good coverage of the Middle East... led by the best and fairest winner, the excellent Greg Sheridan, [and including] many fine editorials showing a keen understanding of Israel's various predicaments, its right to defend itself and the true obstacles to Middle East peace represented by Palestinian recalcitrance and terrorism." IOW, The Australian's Middle East coverage is sooo good we could've written it ourselves.

Keep up the good work, AIJAC.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In the Genes?

What a hoot! Here's armchair warrior Michael Rubin, "resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute" and "principal drafter of the Bipartisan Policy Centre's taskforce on US policy towards Iranian nuclear development," beating the war drums on the opinion(ated) pages of The Australian. He sagely warns against relying on diplomacy with those taught to lie through their teeth in the dreaded madrasah: "Dialogue may sound good in theory but the diplomacy taught in Western academies and that taught in Iranian seminaries bear no resemblance to each other. While diplomats in the US, Europe, and Australia seek compromise, Iranian diplomats learn taqiyya, religiously-sanctioned lying." (Obama or McCain, Iran stance won't change: Iranian deception will force the next president to ratchet up sanctions, 3/10/08)

From whence the Bush administration's weapons of mass deception?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Folie a Deux

"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 - health care, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, education, immigration - and spirited debates are certain to errupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well. What course of action should the United States pursue in Iraq? What is the best response to the crisis in Darfur, Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia's hostility to NATO, and China's rising power? How should the United States address global warming, combat terrorism, and reverse the erosion of its international image? On these and many other issues, we can confidently expect lively disagreements among the various candidates. 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 personal 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."

Thus spake John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the introduction to their 2007 book The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy.

And so, in the just concluded 'debate' between Democrat and Republican vice-presidential hopefuls, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, the delusional Democrat's "No one has been a better friend of Israel than Joe Biden" was more than matched by the equally delusional Republican's "I'm so encouraged that we both love Israel."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Paul Newman: Zionist Dupe

The following is taken from Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2001), Jack G Shaheen's invaluable compendium of almost one thousand films which portray Arabs as Public Enemy #1:

"Exodus (1960), UA, Otto Preminger Productions. Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, Jill Hayworth, John Derek, Lee J Cobb, Sal Mineo. SP: Dalton Trumbo. D: Preminger. Based on Leon Uris's novel. PALESTINIANS, WORST LIST

"In the 1950s, when Americans were largely apathetic about Israel, the eminent public relations consultant Edward Gottlieb was called on 'to create a more sympathetic attitude' toward the newly established state. And so, he sent Leon Uris to Israel to write a novel, which became the bestseller Exodus. 'Uris' novel solidified America's impressions of Israelis as heroes, of Arabs as villains; it did more to popularize Israel with the American public than any other single presentation through the media'.

"Exodus introduced filmgoers to the Arab-Israel conflict, and peopled it with heroic Israelis and sleazy, brutal Arabs, some of whom link up with ex-Nazis. Set in Palestine in 1947, Arabs aligned with ex-Nazis commit atrocities against fellow Arabs and non-Arabs. Jews wearing Arab garb terminate Arabs. Westerners and others, such as Hank, a Greek businessman, supply needed weapons, and fight and die for Israel. The movie's only 'good Arab' becomes a dead Arab.

"Scene: An American woman's bad feelings about Jews dissipate. Kitty Fremont (Saint), a widowed nurse from Indiana, is asked to tend Jewish refugees. Kitty balks, saying, 'I don't know anything about them'. 'In what way?' asks a British officer. Admits Kitty, 'Now that you mention it, I can't think. It's just a feeling I get'. Soon, Kitty befriends Israeli nationalist Ari Ben Canaan (Newman). She warns him, 'The Arabs won't let you keep it [Palestine]. 500,000 Jews against 50 million Arabs! You can't win'. When she learns that Arabs will attack, Kitty tells Ari, 'I'm with you!'

*A British soldier tells an Israeli youth, Dov (Mineo), 'Don't wander into the Arab section. Run into one of the Grand Mufti's gangsters [and] they'll kill you, son. They'll slice your throat'.
*Declares British General Sutherland (Richardson), 'The Arabs simply won't keep the peace... The Arabs are fanatic on the subject of Jewish immigration'.
*The camera reveals Jewish refugees aboard the ship, Exodus. They are warned, 'The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who sat out the war as Hitler's guest in Berlin, has met with representatives of the Arab nations to coordinate action against Palestinian Jews in the event partition is granted'.
*The camera reveals Jewish refugees in British detention camps, a 'barbed wire jungle'.
*Aboard the Exodus, the Star of David flutters in the wind. The ship's 611 refugees go on hunger strike. Mothers are willing to sacrifice themselves and their children for freedom in a Jewish state. Cut to a young couple, elderly men playing chess, and violin players.
*Irgun members bomb the King David Hotel. Declares a radio announcer, '91 bodies have been discovered so far'. Throughout, the Irgun terrorists are tagged 'freedom fighters'. Ari Ben Canaan plans to release '93 Jewish prisoners', including those Irgun bombers who ignited the King David Hotel. When an Irgun member asks Ari, 'What about the 400 Arabs in that prison?' Ari quips, 'If you turn 400 Arabs loose they are going to run in 400 different directions'.
*Believing Arabs will attack a Jewish youth camp, 300 children depart. A Jewish soldier is asked about reinforcements, 'How many men did you bring?' Only a few truckloads, but 'from the Arab side it looks like an army'.
*Ari's men enter a Turkish bath; mute Palestinians promptly surrender.
*Ari's father, Barak (Cobb), and a Hagana community leader, cite the Bible, telling General Sutherland what God said to Moses, 'Go unto Pharaoh and say unto him, thus sayeth the Lord: Let my people go, that they may serve me'.
*Barak addresses Jews, saying, '[We] changed these mosquito-infested swamps into such [fertile] fields. On a quiet night you can hear the corn grow... The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has asked you [Palestinians] to either annihilate the Jewish population or abandon your homes, and your land, and seek the weary path of exile. We [Jews] implore you, remain in your homes and we shall work together as equals in the state of Israel'. Ari echoes his father's advice, telling the crowd: 'Now, we'll be equal in the free state of Israel. Why should they [the Palestinians] go anywhere. This is their home as well as ours. Don't you see, we have to prove to the world that we can get along together'.
*As Barak dedicates a new kibbutz, he thanks a charitable Arab village leader who donated the land. Next, Taha, the film's token Arab, utters a few words, 'We dwell together as friends. It is natural that we should live in peace'. Cut to Barak. He condemns Arab brutes, explaining that the kibbutz is named after Daphne, a Jewish girl. Daphne 'was a young soldier [only 17]. And the Arabs captured her and they tortured her to find out things from her. But she wouldn't tell. So they sent her back in a sack, tied to the back of a mule. They cut off her hands and feet and they gouged out her eyes'.
*A German wearing a white suit asks Taha to join an attack on a Jewish youth camp. I have '80 Arab storm troopers' under my command, he says. Taha refuses, saying, 'Why must we slaughter defenseless children?'
*Sighs Taha, 'When the Syrian Arabs murdered my father in his mosque, Ari's father saved my life, and my heritage'. Ari warns Taha not to return to his village. Says Taha, 'I am a Moslem; I cannot kill another Arab'. Cut to Taha's body, hanging from a rope, in his deserted Arab village. Painted on a nearby wall, the Star of David.
*At the Jewish camp Dov tells the refugee Karen, 'Stay down, girl, there are Arabs out there'. Later, the Arabs kill young Karen.
*Ari buries in one grave, the Arab, Taha (Derek), and the 15-year old European refugee, Karen (Hayworth). Says Ari, 'The day will come when Arab and Jew will share a peaceful life in this land they have always shared in death'.
*Prior to the Jewish victory, Ari's men say, 'Arabs... have been infiltrating the valley... There have been two ambushes... uprising in progress... We're heavily outnumbered'. Jewish children in the kibbutz are told, 'Arabs have been leaving [their] villages'. At no time does a character say, Jewish troops are terrorizing the Palestinians, forcing them from their homes.
*Never spoken in this movie are these words: 'Palestinian', 'Palestinian Arabs', 'Palestinian village', 'Palestinian state'. Instead, Exodus' Jews, Arabs, and Westerners say: 'Arab', 'Arab village', and 'independent Arab state'. On two ocassions, the phrase, 'Palestinian Jews' is mentioned." (pp 189-191)

Shaheen's new book is Guilty - Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11.