Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Resistant People

"Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." Article 13(2) Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In his explicitly racist apologia for Israel's running amok in Gaza last December-January, Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan trotted out one of the classic tropes of Zionist propaganda: "Because the existence of Israel radiates an affront to the Muslim world, only Palestinians have been sequestered from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to a special agency. That agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNWRA] for Palestine Refugees, has warehoused displaced Palestinians for decades because it has been in the interests of the Arab world for this problem not to be solved. Gaza has become a giant warehouse of misery. It has no economic growth, no prospects, almost no civil order, yet about half the population is under the age of 17. The population has exploded amid economic privation. Women, living under Sharia law, are used primarily as breeding stock." (It's too easy just to blame Jews*, 12/1/09). [*See my 13/1/09 post Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH.]

I was reminded of Sheehan's little stinker when I came across a 1973 interview with American Harry N. Howard, UN adviser, Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian & African Affairs, 1949-1956. Howard's testimony not only refutes the hoary Zionist canard of Palestinians as pawns of the Arab states, but provides a fascinating insight into US cluelessness in the Middle East in general and the grip of the nascent Israel lobby on the US Congress in particular. Best of all, through Howard's recollections, comes a real sense of the stubborn resistance of the Palestinian people, well before the rise of the armed Palestinian liberation movement, to all attempts to deflect them from the path of return to their homes and lands in 1948 Palestine.

Tellingly, Palestinian refugees (1948 -) are referred to throughout the interview simply as 'Arabs', surely a major impediment to a simple understanding that all the Palestinian refugees ever wanted (and still want) was (is) to return to their Palestinian homeland, rather than be fobbed off on one or other of the surrounding Arab states. Zionists, of course, routinely refer to Palestinians, either in or outside Israel improper, as Arabs, a linguistic circumlocution designed to perpetuate the idea that Palestinians qua Arabs can comfortably be accomodated in any of up to 25 Arab states and territories. A convenient untruth indeed. The complete interview can be found at

Richard D McKinzie: "You were an adviser to the UN delegation at the time when a lot of relief activities were being sponsored by the United Nations. I speak specifically of the Arab refugee problem. Do you recall particular problems in getting... Department of State acceptance for that? There was some talk against some of these projects as being 'international WPA'. [Works Progress Administration - the largest of President Roosevelt's New Deal agencies. The WPA employed millions of unemployed Americans on public works projects in 30s America.]

Howard: Yes, and that the money was all wasted, and the Arab refugees were living high and so on... I served as the Acting US representative... on the UNRWA Advisory Commission. I got around to practically all of the refugee centers during the 7-year period that I was there. Generally speaking, I think even Americans who have dealt with the problem - even Department of State officers - have not understood what has happened. This is certainly true of many Senators and Congressmen who visited the area. We have put into UNRWA more than $500 million. [Firstly,] we have assumed that the Arab states have done nothing at all except raise hell about the [refugee] problem. As a matter of fact, by my own calculations, which are based on UN documentation, the Arab host governments and other Arab governments, directly and indirectly, have probably contributed... at least $200 million in goods, services and cash. The assumption here is that they do nothing constructive at all. Secondly, there is also an assumption that these people, who are poor, are not worth the candle. Thirdly, there is a misconception that all the refugees have done is to lie [around] rotting in camps, being too lazy to work in the earlier years, and are now [1973] guerillas fighting in their frustration. It is assumed that all UNRWA has done is to spend money on food and shelter and keep the problem from being 'solved'. [However,] UNRWA also has an educational program which meets some of the educational needs of close to half a million people, from first grade through to secondary school. It issues scholarships of about $550 per year which send qualified Arab refugee students to the American University of Beirut, the American University in Cairo, Damascus University, and the new Jordan National University. [UNRWA] also has one of the best vocational training programs. As a matter of fact, the largest percentage of UNRWA funds now go into education and training, not into relief, ie food and shelter. One of my friends, who used to direct it, tells me that the UNRWA Health Service, run on the basis of some 4 cents per day per refugee, is probably the best public health service in any developing area. As a matter of fact, the entire budget for UNRWA represents about 10 cents per capita per day. Once, when the US representative at the UN General Assembly was raising hell about the UNRWA budget, charging that UNRWA was supporting guerillas who were attacking Israel, and urging various cuts in expenditure, the UNRWA Commissioner General, Lawrence Michelmore, replied: 'Let's be clear about what we're talking about. We are talking about 10 cents a day for people... not $50, or $100, or $200 a month, which we have here in this country, but 10 cents a day'. I, frankly, was very much impressed with what I saw and what was done, and, as I say, I went all around.

McKinzie: All that was assumed to be quite temporary?

Howard: We assumed in the beginning it would be very, very temporary, and it is very interesting to read the records on this point. Back in 1949 and 1950, it was assumed that the problem was going to be solved within roughly a year or so. This was a basic assumption, I would say, clear down to 1956 - that any day now it was going to be ended. Well, it wasn't. People like Gordon Clapp, who used to head the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and who headed a UN Economic Survey Mission in the Middle East in 1949, had a much clearer view of the long-range, complex character of the refugee problem. Gordon Clapp made one basic point about some of the things which were then being contemplated as a solution. He said that to engage in large scale economic development projects as a solution to [the refugee] problem was only to invite frustration and failure. The Arab refugees were not ready for this approach. Neither were the Arabs generally, nor the Arab governments. Three years later, in January 1953, we went in for a big $150 million program. We tied all that up with refugee resettlement. That ruined it immediately. President Eisenhower sent out Eric Johnston as his personal representative to examine the situation and push the project. Ralph Bunche [UN's Chief Palestine Mediator following the Stern Gang's assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte] told me once that Eric Johnston was the worst qualified person he had ever known going out to the area to work on that problem. Among other things, he was a member of the American Christian Palestine Committee, a strongly pro-Zionist group. Well, every time Johnston went out to the Middle East, he would come back here and make a statement. One such statement, for example, said: 'We are now at the one-inch line'. He did not say which goal post it was. He added that as soon as the project, largely covering the Jordan Valley, was completed, some 250,000 refugees could be resettled. He had no idea, of course, that he was killing the project with the remark about resettlement. The average Arab response to that kind of statement was: 'The hell you say, you are not going to resettle anybody'. That did not mean that the Arabs did not believe in economic development. It did, however, mean that they were not going to support economic development if we were going to tie it up with refugee resettlement. I'll give you another example. In 1961, Senator W Stuart Symington was in the Middle East. He is a very able Senator and, among other things, wanted to look into the refuggee problem. We took him down to UNRWA Headquarters for a briefing session. He had just read a truly dreadful article by Martha Gellhorn, also from St Louis, on the refugee problem in the October 1961 Atlantic Monthly.* It was one of the worst articles I've ever read on the subject, although he obviously believed it. We got together other items for him to read, including Don Peretz's book Israel & the Palestine Arabs, one of the very best books on the subject. Both Don and Martha Gellhorn happen to be Jewish, although Don is a scholar and knew something about the subject, while Martha Gellhorn knew nothing about it. After the briefing session with UNRWA officers, we took Senator Symington, with John Newhouse, his assistant, down to the new vocational training centre for refugees near Sidon, and also took him through the Ein Hilweh refugee center nearby, which is not a bad place. John Newhouse and I were determined that we would also get Senator Symington, if he had time, to see the worst, since, like Martha Gellhorn, he had the impression that the Arab refugees were living high off the lamb - if not the hog. As it turned out, Senator Symington did have an extra day or two in Lebanon. So we took him over to a refugee center named Gouraud, named after the French Field Marshal, just around the corner from the ancient ruins of Ba'albek. This was an old Ottoman army barracks used after World War I for some 300 French soldiers. Some 3,000 Arab refugees were now housed there. It was about the dirtiest, filthiest place one could imagine. As we went through the refugee center, Senator Symington kept repeating: 'This is very sad, this is very sad', and I will never forget it. I think he did forget it, but we'll let that pass. I told the UNRWA area officer, Khalil Ja'abari, a Palestinian Arab from Nablus - something of an extremist - that Senator Symington was very pro-Zionist, but very able as a senator, and should be completely free, in view of the character of the place, to go wherever he wanted to. Senator Symington kept repeating that this was all 'very sad', and my friend Khalil remarked: 'Well, Senator, I guess you have seen another side of this problem'. Senator Symington asked me to ride back into the mountains with him when we had finished the tour. On the way I offered to take him through another dreadful refugee center, named after the British Field Marshal Wavell but he protested that he would become ill if we did. Then he asked the usual silly question - the fundamental question - 'What do you think is the solution of this problem?' I replied: 'Well, if you are thinking of a political solution, I don't even think in those terms at all'. Senator Symington remarked: 'Don't you think that it is primarily because of [Israeli] Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's intransigence?' Symington would never have said this publicly. I remarked that, in my opinion, as long as Ben-Gurion lived, and as long as his spirit dominated the political scene in Israel, there would be no hope of a political settlement, and that I would not now want to wager that the Arabs would make an adjustment if Israel did move in the direction of compromise and peace. Then we talked about projects for economic development. I told Senator Symington that Eric Johnston used to come out to the Middle East on the matter of the development of the Jordan Valley and the sweet waters of the Nile Valley. But he made the same fatal mistake, every time he returned to the US, of saying: 'When we finish the project, some 250,000 people will be resettled'. I added: 'That ended the project'. 'But', Senator Symington added: 'If I didn't say that, I'd never get the money out of the US Congress'. I replied: 'This is precisely the case. If Mr Johnston did not say it, he wouldn't get the money out of the US Congress; if he did say it, he wouldn't get the project'. And that was that. There are nuances in this kind of development which, I am afraid, Americans have never really understood or appreciated. Harry Labouisse left his post as director of UNRWA in the spring of 1958... When he paid his farewell call on [Jordanian] Prime Minister Samir Rifai, the latter begged him to ask the US Government not to force him to make a public statement of his own conviction that the Arab refugees would be staying right where they were, not returning to their former homes. He would be murdered, he thought, if he said so publicly. Well, there was much in that sort of thing, and I think we have never appreciated this nuance in this country - not at all. When Norman Burns was head of the AID program (USOM) in Jordan in 1959, he negotiated an agreement with the Jordanian government on the construction of the East Ghor irrigation canal, which included land reform. The project involved only the US and Jordan, not Israel. You will read the agreement in vain to find any reference to the fact that there were some 100,000 refugees in the East Ghor of the Jordan Valley who would benefit both from the irrigation and the land reform. The Jordanian and US governments knew this. Both knew that to put it down on paper would be disastrous for the project, so there was no mention of it in the agreement."

[*The Arabs of Palestine. More on Martha in a later post.]

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Israel's Sock Puppet at the ABC

A more blatant display of Israeli propaganda than last night's 7.30 Report's Gaza conflict - one year on would be hard to find:

"The aim of the attacks was to end the rocket attacks being made on Israel by Islamic militants." (from the introduction on the website)

"The aim was to end the barrage of crude rockets being being constantly fired by Islamic militants towards Israeli towns." (from presenter Chris Uhlmann)

"Operation Cast Lead was launched to put a stop to years of Hamas rockets on Israel's southern towns and cities." (from ABC Middle East correspondent Ben Knight)

That's our (Zionised) ABC for you, folks. It doesn't get much more mantra-like than that.

Well, why did Israel attack Gaza? Quite simply, to get its mojo (aka deterrence capability) back after losing it to Hezbollah in 2006. Don't believe me? Well, just listen to the war criminals behind the Gaza Holocaust:

"The recent military operation in the Gaza Strip against Hamas has restored Israel's deterrence among its enemies and in the perception of the whole world, Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert said." (PM: Gaza op restored Israel's deterrence, Etgar Lefkovits, Jerusalem Post, 26/1/09)

"Hamas was dealt a blow that created 'the deterrence that is now enabling calm'." (Barak says deterrence enabled calm, Hanan Greeberg,, 19/1/09)

"[Tzipi Livni] said the Gaza offensive had restored Israel's 'deterrence' against militant factions seeking to attack it... Hamas now understands that Israel will act 'wildly' to any attacks against it, she said regarding the 'deterrence'." (Livni: Only Israel will decide when to end Gaza offensive, Deutsche Presse-Argentur,

No, it wasn't about rockets, rockets, rockets - that was just the fiction decided on by the warmongers to sell Israel's wilding to the world - it was about deterrence, deterrence, deterrence.

Then there's this gobsmacking exchange where Ben Knight throws all pretense of journalistic objectivity to the winds and becomes a mere sock puppet for the Israelis:

"Yohanan Plessner, Knesset EU Relations Committee: The laws that govern warfare today are in many ways not so relevant to security challenges.

Yohanan Plessner is a former Israeli army commando who now maintains Israel's relations with Europe.

Yohanan Plessner: In the new kind of warfare today, civilians are more likely to get hurt as long as terrorist organisations and their sponsors are... situating the centre of gravity of their forces within the civilian population.

Ben Knight: That's exactly what Hamas did in Gaza, so did Hezbollah in South Lebanon a few years ago."

And, incredibly, he does it again:

Ben Knight: Israel's problem is not just where it fought in Gaza, but how. White phosphorus burns down to the bone. It's not supposed to be used in built-up civilian areas. Jumaa Al Najar was one of those hit with a white phosphorus shell.

Jumaa Al Najar, Victim: All over my legs, it felt like I was on fire.

Ben Knight: Before the war, Jumaa Al Najar was a textile salesman. He can now barely walk and his right hand is paralysed and he can't get out of Gaza for treatment.

Jumaa Al Najar: Before I was wounded I was the breadwinner in my home. Now I sit at home wondering how to support my family.

Ben Knight: Israel knows it's not the only nation faced with the problem of fighting enemies who operate in civilian zones.

Knight seems blissfully unaware that reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Dugard Committee and the Goldstone Report have found no evidence to back Israel's claim that Hamas is using human shields. Nor does he appear aware that such claims were retracted by the Israeli military when they were first used to cover its crimes in Lebanon in 2006. Israeli newspaper Haaretz, for example, had this to say on Israel's massacre of dozens of Lebanese civilians at Qana in south Lebanon: "As the Israel Air Force continues to investigate the air strike, questions have been raised over military accounts of the incident. It now appears that the military had no information on rockets launched from the site of the building, or the presence of Hezbollah men at the time. The Israel Defense Forces had said after the deadly air-strike that many rockets had been launched from Qana. However, it changed its version on Monday." (Livni: Qana attack led to turning point in support for Israel, Yoav Stern, 1/8/06)

And back when Israel was "punishing, humiliating and terrorising" (to borrow Justice Goldstone's exact words) the people of Gaza, Ben Knight was blithely reporting - I kid you not - on how Arab television was punishing Israel with footage from Gaza. (See my 14/1/09 post Choking on My Falafel) And before that, in September 2008, Knight was busy parroting the argot of the Jewish cowboys who rule the range in the Wild West Bank. (See my 6/10/08 post The Media is the Message)

No wonder the local Israel lobby's given the tick to Knight and his equally clueless ABC colleague Matt Brown*: "On the ABC, both radio and television, the standard of Israel coverage has... depended on the quality of the correspondents. Early in the decade, with Tim Palmer and then Jane Hutcheon, the coverage was at times deplorable. More recently, however, correspondents such as Matt Brown and Ben Knight have delivered more thoughtful and even-handed reporting on the whole." (Bias & Balance in the noughties, Jamie Hyam, The Australian Jewish News, 18/12/09) [*See my posts Sleepless in Sderot, Legless in Gaza (16/1/09) & The Beat-Up Goes On (27/7/08)]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Straying from the Party Line

In my thankless trawl through Sunday's Murdoch fishwrap aka The Sunday Telegraph, I came across Tour de farce: our jetset MPs 'study' abroad by 'political writer' Linda Silmalis. The reverse block, spanning the top of two pages and shrieking the words Dicing with dictators; Trekking in Thailand; Chinese hot springs; Weekend in Vegas; Lunch in London, set the tone.

The opening paragraph read: "Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is 'forward-thinking', the Islamist paramilitary organisation Hezbollah is 'not radical' and chickens in Thailand are scrawny. These are among the startling findings of $4.9 million in taxpayer -funded political study tours. Federal MPs spent the record sum in just 6 months of globetrotting to June 30 this year, visiting 31 countries to 'investigate' everything from the global financial crisis to Mekong River hill tribes and upmarket boutiques in Milan."

Well, thought I, if you had to select a useful finding from the above 3, it'd surely have to be the one about Hezbollah. Who, I wondered, was responsible for this statement of the refreshingly bleeding obvious? I read on to find that the 'offending' pollywaffle was Queensland Liberal MP for Herbert, Peter Lindsay, who "had learnt" - where is not disclosed by our crusading journalist - "that Hezbollah - the Lebanon-based Islamist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel - was not the radical group some thought it was, and could be a force for good in the Middle East."

Note the Murdochese: Hezbollah is "paramilitary," but not parliamentary; "Lebanon-based," but not Lebanese. And don't you just love the gratuitous "calls for the destruction of Israel"?

Poor Peter Lindsay, he's crossed the party line here - that being that Hezbollah is a satanic, rocket-rattling, throat-slitting, blood-sucking, baby-shaking incarnation of our worst (Zionised) nightmares. And he's sure to pay the ultimate penalty, which is to be whisked off to Israel for a comprehensive Rambamming* on the first available plane, a journey which, you can be sure, will not elicit a flicker of interest in fearless Murdoch investigative journalists such as Ms Silmalis.

[* See my 29/3/09 post Rambamming Makes the Front Page]

PS: I've just perused Peter Lindsay's 'Master Report' on his 2009 study trip and can declare the Silmalis piece, at least in Lindsay's case, an exceptionally cheap shot. Lindsay's been to Lebanon, has spoken to a number of people there, and concluded sensibly that "Hezbollah is not the radical group that some think it is. Properly engaged, it can be a force for good in the Middle East." He's also concluded that "The new government of Israel needs to be much less heavy-handed and far better engaged in the diplomacy of the region," and that "Palestine is the 'cause' that unites Islam throughout the world. Fixing this single problem will take away much of the angst in the Islamic community." In the real world, these are all (under)statements of the bleeding obvious by a man with an open mind. In the Stalinist world of federal politics, however, they are heresies of the worst kind. Best of luck, Peter Lindsay.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Murky Legacy

Bear with me while I marshal the expert evidence:

1) "For Zionists to succeed you need to have a Jewish state, with a Jewish flag and a Jewish language. The person who really understands that is your fascist, Jabotinsky." (Mussolini on Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of the Revisionist Zionist* movement, quoted in The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir, Lenni Brenner, 1984, p 98)

2) "It is a sign of the bitter hostility of Labour Zionism* to the memory of the man [Jabotinsky] that David Ben-Gurion routinely referred to as 'Vladimir Hitler' that the Israeli government did not issue an order [to transfer his remains** to Israel] until July 1964, 16 years after the establishment of the Israeli state." (ibid p 108) [** Jabotinsky died in New York in 1940 but wanted his remains transferred to a future Jewish state in Palestine.]

3) "To some British officials... the atrocity at Deir Yassin [perpetrated by the Revisionist Zionist terror organisations, the Irgun and the Stern Gang] came as a revelation about the nature of the new Jewish state. Sir John Troutbeck, the head of the British Middle East Office in Cairo, wrote that 'Deir Yassin is a warning of what a Jew will do to gain his purpose'. On the eve of the Arab-Israeli war the British were apprehensive about its outcome, but virtually no one anticipated the extent of the Arab collapse and the Israeli victory. The British associated themselves with the Arab cause as one that was ultimately compatible with their own sense of mission in the Middle East, and during the course of the war they became convinced that a grave injustice was being perpetrated because of American support of the Israelis. The resentment towards the US still smoulders in the files at the Public Record Office. It existed as the main sentiment underlying official policy, and it was perhaps most indignantly expressed by Troutbeck, who held that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by 'an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders'." (The Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez & Decolonisation, William Roger Louis, 2006, pp 445-446)

4) "When a real and final catastrophe should befall us in Palestine the first responsible for it would be the British and the second responsible for it the Terrorist organisations built up from our own ranks. I am not willing to see anybody associated with those misled and criminal people." Albert Einstein's written response to an American Stern Gang (LEHI) fundraiser on 10/4/09, the day after the Deir Yassin massacre. [Einstein's letter can be viewed at Deir Yassin Remembered,]

5) "In September 1948 Churchill was in the South of France... Among those who visited him there was a Conservative Member of Parliament, Robert Boothby, a strong supporter of Zionism, who had written to The Times protesting against the Arab Legion shelling of Jerusalem. Boothby later recalled that when the conversation turned to the future of the Jews then fighting for their survival on the battlefield, 'I said that they were going to win hands down in Palestine, and get more than they ever expected'. To Boothby's remark, Churchill replied: 'Of course. The Arabs are no match for them. The Irgun people are the vilest gangsters. But, in backing the Zionists these Labour people backed the winners; and then ran out on them'. Churchill also told Boothby he was 'quite right' to send his letter to The Times." (Churchill & The Jews, Martin Gilbert, 2007, p 270)

[*Although the difference between the Revisionist and Labour Zionism is more a matter of style than substance, Uri Davis has pointed out that: "Labour Zionism is an attempt to reconcile the basic tenets of political Zionist and colonial practice with the tenets of the Enlightenment. Since these two sets of values are mutually exclusive, Labour Zionist literature has been largely predicated upon obfuscation of Zionist colonial practice, and upon mystification, ignorance and cultivated deception. Revisionist Zionism has largely escaped the Labour Zionist predicament of attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. In contra-distinction to Labour Zionism, it has attempted, with considerable success, to locate Zionism ideologically and practically inside the tradition of modern secular racism and imperial colonialism." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, p 19)]

Hm... gangsters, terrorists, criminals, fascists and Nazis. Well the progeny of this lot, via the mechanism of Irgun leader Menachem Begin's Likud Party, are now in power in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu's father was a senior Jabotinsky aide. Ex-Likud, now Kadima leader (reportedly being 'wooed' by Netanyahu) Tzipi Livni is the daughter of Eitan Livni, the Irgun's Chief of Operations. And they're so proud of their legacy of gangsterism, terrorism, criminality, fascism and Nazism that they want Israeli kids to share it:

"The Education Ministry is introducing a study unit on the 12 underground fighters who were hanged or committed suicide in prison during the British Mandate in Palestine. The 12, known as 'Olei Hagardom' ('those hanged on the gallows'), belonged to the pre-state militias Etzel [Irgun] and Lehi [Stern Gang]. The program, intended for eighth and ninth grades, will include lessons plus a national competition for essays, poems and drawings on subjects such as 'an imaginary conversation I had with one of Olei Hagardom in his last moments in prison' or 'the last letter of a condemned man to his family'. The new unit is already proving controversial. 'Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is advancing ideological matters close to his heart in the education system', a ministry official charged. 'His ideology is entering the curriculum'. 'It's worrying that the education Ministry is conveying a message sanctifying death and portraying it as sublime', added a senior university historian. Until now, details of the 12 Olei Hagardom - 9 Etzel combatants and 3 Lehi fighters - were taught as part of history lessons, ministry sources said. In a letter announcing the new program, Sa'ar wrote, 'I hope the program, recounting Olei Hagardom's devotion to the struggle for Israel's independence, will bolster the students' ties with their people and heritage... and that their devotion will serve as an ideological model for our youth'... The education system intends to mark Jabotinsky Day next week as required by a law enacted in 2005, the Education Ministry said Monday. Schools were instructed earlier this month to prepare ceremonies and special activities, including lessons about Jabotinsky's character and work. Sa'ar himself will give a civics lesson on Jabotinsky in a high school in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim." (New study unit on pre-state fighters proves controversial, Or Kashti, Haaretz, 22/12/09)

Way to go! Except that Zionist propagandists of whatever stripe are nothing if not hypocritical. Here's David Feith* in the Wall Street Journal on August 21 pondering (in the words of The Australian where I found it) "the murky legacy of Fateh leader Yasser Arafat": "What's Arabic for plus ca change? Because that was the message last week from the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, where the 'moderate' Fateh party held its first general congress since 1989. Fateh - founded by Yasser Arafat in the 1960s and led since 2004 by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - demonstrated that Palestinian national politics remain mired as ever in conspiracy, duplicity and the glorification of terrorists... Fatah's leaders continue to walk in their founder's footsteps... Fatah's demonstration last week that it remains ideologically stuck in the terrorist pleasantries of the 70s ought to be a stark reminder that when it comes to Palestinian 'moderates', moderation remains a highly relative term." (Fatah's 'moderates' still rejoice in their founder's terrorism, 26/8/09) [* That's correct, son of neocon Douglas]

It doesn't get much more pot & kettle than that.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Not So Merry Palestinian Christmas

Watching SBS Television's 6.30 pm bulletin today, you would have heard reporter Kathy Novak say that "[t]he Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem warned that peace would not come to the Holy Land until Palestinians and Israelis respected each other" (Leaders deliver messages), and you would probably have inferred that the Patriarch's approach to the so-called Palestine/Israel conflict was essentially along the lines of a-pox-on-both-your-houses.

You would, of course, be wrong. Here's the Ma'an News Agency account of the Patriarch's Christmas message: "Efforts to bring peace to the Middle East have failed, Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal said Tuesday in his annual Christmas message. 'Our dreams for a reconciled Holy Land seem to be utopia. Despite the praiseworthy efforts of politicians and men of good will to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, all of us, Palestinians and Israelis, have all failed in achieving peace', said Twal, the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land. 'The reality contradicts our dreams', he said. 'Palestinians still do not have their own state where they can live in peace and harmony with their Israeli neighbors; they still suffer from occupation, a difficult economic situation, destruction of houses in East Jerusalem and internal divisions', Twal added. He highlighted the Israeli blockade of Gaza as a concern. 'A year after the Gaza war, Gaza still suffers from an economic siege, lack of freedom of movement and from the contamination of its sea and water, which endangers the health of 1,500,000 citizens among which 50% are under the age of 14', he said. The Patriarch went on to note Israeli infringement on the sanctity of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. 'Unfortunately, the Al-Aqsa compound recently witnessed confrontations between fundamentalist Jews who tried to invade Al-Haram Ash-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary] and the young Palestinians, who wanted to defend their holy place', he said. But the Patriarch urged his followers not to give up hope. 'Hope means not giving in to evil, but rather standing up to it', he said, quoting from a document signed recently by Palestinian Christian leaders calling for resistance to the Israeli occupation and rejecting Christian Zionism. The 'Kairos Palestine'* document, modeled after a 1985 document issued by South African Christian leaders calling for an end to Apartheid, declared the Israeli occupation 'a sin'." (Patriarch's Christmas message: Mideast peace efforts failed)

You can read the full speech at Kathy Novak seems to be simply making it up as she goes along. In doing so, she has completely misrepresented the Patriarch's message. (I should also add that Novak's 'quote' is not to be found in Twal's 25 December speech, Homily From Midnight Mass in Bethlehem, either.)

*Here is the preamble and first part of the The Kairos Palestine Document (, 11/12/09):

"We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God's divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land. Inspired by the mystery of God's love for all, the mystery of God's divine presence in the history of all peoples and, in a particular way, in the history of our country, we proclaim our word based on our Christian faith and our sense of Palestinian belonging - a word of faith, hope and love.

Why now? Because today we have reached a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people. The decision-makers content themselves with managing the crisis rather than committing themselves to the serious task of finding a way to resolve it. The hearts of the faithful are filled with pain and with questioning: What is the international community doing? What are the political leaders in Palestine, in Israel and in the Arab world doing? What is the Church doing? The problem is not just a political one. It is a policy in which human beings are destroyed, and this must be of concern to the Church.

1. The Reality On the Ground

1.1 "They say:'peace, peace' when there is no peace." (Jer. 6:14). These days, everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom and all that results from this situation:

1.1.1 The separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, a large part of which has been confiscated for this purpose, has turned our towns and villages into prisons, separating them from one another, making them dispersed and divided cantons. Gaza, especially after the cruel war Israel launched against it during December 2008 and January 2009, continues to live in inhuman conditions, under permanent blockade and cut off from the other Palestinian territories.

1.1.2 Israeli settlements ravage our land in the name of God and in the name of force, controlling our natural resources, including water and agricultural land, thus depriving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and constituting an obstacle to any political solution.

1.1.3 Reality is the daily humiliation to which we are subjected at the military checkpoints, as we make our way to jobs, schools or hospitals.

1.1.4 Reality is separation between members of the same family, making family life impossible for thousands of Palestinians, especially where one of the spouses does not have an Israeli idenity card.

1.1.5 Religious liberty is severely restricted; freedom of access to the holy places is denied under the pretext of security. Jerusalem and its holy places are out of bounds for many Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Even Jerusalemites face restrictions during the religious feasts. Some of our Arab clergy are regularly barred from entering Jerusalem.

1.1.6 Refugees are also part of our reality. Most of them are still living in camps under difficult circumstances. They have been waiting for their right of return, generation after generation. What will be their fate?

1.1.7 And the prisoners? The thousands of prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons are part of our reality. The Israelis move heaven and earth to gain the release of one prisoner, and those thousands of Palestinian prisoners, when will they have their freedom?

1.1.8 Jerusalem is the heart of our reality. It is, at the same time, a symbol of peace and a sign of conflict. While the separation wall divides Palestinian neighbourhoods, Jerusalem continues to be emptied of its Palestinian citizens, Christians and Muslims. Their identity cards are confiscated, which means the loss of their right to reside in Jerusalem. Their homes are demolished or expropriated. Jerusalem, city of reconciliation, has become a city of discrimination and exclusion, a source of struggle rather than peace.

1.2. Also part of this reality is the Israeli disregard for international law and international resolutions, as well as the paralysis of the Arab world and the international community in the face of this contempt. Human rights are violated and despite the various reports of local and international human rights organizations, the injustice continues.

1.2.1 Palestinians within the State of Israel, who have also suffered a historical injustice, although they are citizens and have the rights and obligations of citizenship, still suffer from discriminatory policies. They too are waiting to enjoy full rights and equality like all other citizens in the state.

1.3 Emigration is another element in our reality. The absence of any vision or spark of hope for peace and freedom pushes young people, both Muslim and Christian, to emigrate. Thus the land is deprived of its most important and richest resource - educated youth. The shrinking number of Christians, particularly in Palestine, is one of the dangerous consequences, both of this conflict, and of the local and international paralysis and failure to find a comprehensive solution to the problem.

1.4 In the face of this reality, Israel justifies its actions as self-defence, including occupation, collective punishment and all other forms of reprisals against the Palestinians. In our opinion, this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity. This is our understanding of the situation. Therefore, we call on the Israelis to end the occupation. Then they will see a new world in which there is no fear, no threat but rather security, justice and peace.

1.5 The Palestinian response to this reality was diverse. Some responded through negotiations: that was the official position of the Palestinian Authority, but it did not advance the peace process. Some political parties followed the way of armed resistance. Israel used this as a pretext to accuse the Palestinians of being terrorists and was able to distort the real nature of the conflict, presenting it as an Israeli war against terror, rather than an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance aimed at ending it.

1.5.1 The tragedy worsened with the internal conflict among Palestinians themselves, and with the separation of Gaza from the rest of the Palestinian territory. It is noteworthy that, even though the division is among Palestinians themselves, the international community bears an important responsibility for it since it refused to deal positively with the will of the Palestinian people expressed in the outcome of democratic and legal elections in 2006."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

USrael's Arab Whores

Reports that Egypt is constructing an American-designed metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip in an effort to block Gaza's smuggling tunnels, and has declared that the Rafah crossing will be closed to over 1,000 international Gaza Freedom marchers intending to enter Gaza at the end of the year, should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the history of USraeli-Egyptian collaboration since 1978. It is useful, however, to review the genesis of Egypt's current involvement in Palestinian affairs on USrael's behalf. The following account, Egypt & the Rise of Hamas, comes from an excellent new anthology: Egypt: The Moment of Change, Edited by Rabab El-Mahdi & Philip Marfleet, Zed Books, 2009:

"From 2002 onwards Egyptian officials began to play an active role in the 2 key areas of Palestinian politics. First they continued to transmit US and Israeli pressure to the Palestinian Authority, particularly by means of a reformed Palestinian security apparatus. The Egyptians claimed to be acting as impartial mediators between Palestinian factions, hosting talks between Fatah and the Islamists of Hamas, and brokering ceasefires when in 2007 the 2 factions came into conflict. Meanwhile Mubarak dealt directly with the Israeli government, facilitating the latter's strategy of 'disengagement' from Gaza. Under plans agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon, Egyptian security advisers were to police the Palestinian security services after Sharon had organised evacuation of Israeli settlements. A joint statement by the Palestinian factions in June 2004 condemned Egypt's role as 'part of a policy of deception and fraud whose goal is to imprison the Palestinian people in a giant jail in Gaza while controlling the sea, the air and the borders and simultaneously widening the occupation of the West Bank with settlements and the separation fence'.* Egyptian officials countered that security advisers would only go to Gaza with a clear invitation from the PA. During 2005, Egypt appeared to be steering the PA (now under Arafat's successor Mahmoud Abbas) towards accepting an expanding Egyptian security role in the Gaza Strip. By August 2005 Egyptian security officials were training 5,000 Palestinian policemen in the Gaza Strip in preparation for Israeli withdrawal. Meanwhile, progress towards Egyptian-Israeli normalisation resumed with the return of the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv and the signing of a $2.5 billion deal for the sale to Israel of Egyptian natural gas, which later caused uproar among the Egyptian opposition. In September 2005 Israeli settlements in Gaza were dismantled and Israeli troops withdrew from the area. Under the terms of an agreement brokered by the USA, the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was to be under joint Palestinian and Egyptian control, but overseen by a European monitoring force. [*Surprise, surprise!]

"This neat division of responsibility between Fatah, Egypt and Israel was upset by Palestinian voters, who in January 2006 returned a majority of Hamas representatives in elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council. A new Palestinian government under Ismail Haniyeh soon faced an ultimatum from the Middle East Quartet (the UN, the USA, Russia & the EU), the major financial sponsors of the PA. Hamas, they insisted, must commit to 'non-violence' and to recognition of Israel, or forfeit all aid. In the absence of such guarantees, in April 2006 the USA and EU withdrew all support to the PA, adding to intense pressure on the population of Gaza produced by an Israeli blockade and chronic food shortages. Two months later Israel reinvaded Gaza - but failed to crush Hamas.

"The US officials now turned to Fatah, with Egyptian support, to achieve what the Israeli army had been unable to achieve. Egypt was to play a key role in preparing Fatah's militiamen for civil war, with the aim of destroying the Palestinian Islamists. In December 2006 Abbas called for new elections and dissolution of the Hamas government. Meanwhile Egyptian arms began to flow across the border to Fatah-controlled PA security services... Fatah security forces also received training in Egypt. In June 2007, however, Hamas routed Fatah's forces and seized military control of Gaza, pre-empting a US-backed military coup organised by Muhammad Dahlan, former head of the PA's Preventative Security Service. One factor prompting the Hamas initiative was a report in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that Abbas had asked Israel to allow passage to a further arms shipment from Egypt, including 'dozens of armored cars, hundreds of armor-piercing RPG rockets, thousands of hand grenades and millions of rounds of ammunition'.

"Fatah's humiliation in Gaza contributed to worsening relations between Israel and Egypt. Israeli officials accused [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak of turning a blind eye to arms smuggling to Hamas and increased their pressure on the USA to block or reduce aid to Egypt. Mubarak was now facing an acute dilemma, which came to a head in January 2008. Israel had tightened its siege on Gaza, periodically cutting off electricity supplies, blockading almost all goods and causing immense suffering to the civilian population. On 22 January, Palestinian women demonstrated in Rafah, calling on Egyptian forces to open the border. A series of explosions breached the border fence and soon hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were pouring through into Egyptian territory. Publicly the Egyptian government welcomed the Palestinians, laying the blame for their plight on Israel's policy of blockade. At the same time it ordered suppression of demonstrations in Cairo. Some 1,000 people, mostly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, were arrested on 24 January as they attempted to gather in support of the Palestinians. Mubarak was eventually compelled to begin direct negotiations with Hamas over policing of the border.

"In December 2008, when Israel again assaulted Gaza, and Egypt refused to permit its residents to escape by entering Egypt, Mubarak was widely accused of having collaborated with the Palestinians' tormentors. Mass media across the region noted the visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to Cairo a day before the attacks on Gaza, suggesting that Mubarak had known in advance of the assault. From Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah broadcast live on Arabic-language satellite channels, declaring cryptically: 'I am not calling for a coup in Egypt... but if you [the Egyptian government] do not open the Rafah crossing, if you do not help the Palestinian people, you will be considered accomplices in the massacre and the blockade'. In an unusual step Egyptian security services permitted a number of closely controlled demonstrations in central Cairo, although protests which began in universities and in provincial centres were attacked and many activists arrested." (pp 143-145)

If you found that depressing, how about the big picture of USraeli-Arab collaboration? The following overview, The Arab States as Instruments of US Policy is taken from Dishonest Broker: The US Role in Israel & Palestine, Naseer H. Aruri, South End Press, 2003:

"Arab regimes are among the principal tools of US foreign policy in the Middle East. The Jordanian military onslaught against the Palestinian movement in September 1970 inflicted structural damage, the effect of which continued to set back the Palestinian struggle for decades to come. Not only had the late King Hussein terminated the Palestinian-enforced de facto dual authority in Jordan, he also enabled the United States and Israel to maintain their strategic advantage in the east Mediterranean vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Likewise, when Palestinian fighters regrouped in Lebanon after the 'Black September' debacle of 1970 and began to threaten the delicate balance inside Lebanon and in the region, Syria was tacitly accepted by the United States and Israel as the logical candidate for the role of policeman in 1976. The Palestinian national movement once again had to be reduced to manageable proportions, this time, however, not by a conservative pro-Western monarchy, but by a self-professed 'revolutionary' Arab nationalist regime. The agreement, in which Israel and Syria came to share suzerainty over Lebanon, with US blessings, was the product of that mission.

"Egypt was drafted subsequently to deliver the coup de grace, peacefully this time, against the Palestinians. Camp David had inflicted more damage on Palestinian nationalism by nonmilitary means in 1978 than the two previous armed onslaughts combined. Thus, the first Arab state to assume responsibility for strategic balance vis-a-vis Israel, from the mid-1950s until 1970, was transformed in the late 1970s to an enforcer of US policy and a facilitator for Israel. Not only had Camp David I secured the removal of Egypt from the Arab strategic arena, it also allowed Israel to dodge its legal responsibilities to the Palestinian people and to shrug off its obligation to withdraw from Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese territories, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and international law.

"Even Iraq, the third contender for strategic balance vis-a-vis Israel, had allowed itself to become an instrument of US foreign policy during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. US policy makers were gratified to see Iraq inflict damage on the Islamic republic in Iran without cost to the United States, and to weaken itself in the process, thus undermining its desire to play the role of pacesetter in the Gulf. Moreover, Iraq's war against the mullahs turned Arab attention away from the Israeli threat and toward a presumed 'Shiite Iranian threat'. The Palestinian cause, already battered by Camp David, was further bruised by the redefined priorities of Saddam Hussein. And when Hussein began to exaggerate his own importance for US interests in the Gulf, he was reduced to size, not only with the acquiescence of Arab regimes, but also with the active participation of the Gulf states, Egypt, and Syria." (pp 6-7)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Motherhood Statement

In his 2003 "address"* to the Zionist Council of Victoria, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott briefly noted (and, just as briefly, brushed aside) something mighty peculiar about the State of Israel: "Israel's immigration rules might struggle to pass Australian anti-discrimination tests but so would the immigration rules of many other countries." [*See my 2/12/09 post Tony Abbott: Mouthpiece, Patsy, Tool]

Israel's immigration rules essentially boil down to one: Do you, prospective immigrant, have a Jewish mother? If you can answer Yes to that little corker, you're In Like Flynn. If not, it's All Over, Red Rover. Called the Law of Return, it works a treat on ethnically-cleansed (48 & 67), out-on-their-ears, Palestinian Arab refugees who unfortunately have Christian and Muslim mums.

Blimey! Bit rich, ain't it? I hear you say, Wouldn't stand up in a court of law over here! And you'd be right:

"Britain's Supreme Court has ruled it illegal for a Jewish school that favours Jewish applicants to base its admissions policy on a classic test of Jewishness - whether one's mother is Jewish. 'One thing is clear about the matrilineal test; it is a test of ethnic origin', Lord Phillips, president of the court, said in his majority opinion. Under the law, he said, 'by definition, discrimination that is based upon that test is discrimination on racial grounds'." (Court rules school test of Jewishness is illegal, Sarah Lyall, Sydney Morning Herald/New York Times, 18/12/09)

Tony? Kevin?

Monday, December 21, 2009


The following letter, commenting on the imminent canonisation of Mary MacKillop, appeared in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"My wife is a saint. And I don't need the Pope to confirm it. For nearly 40 years she worked as a nurse in many parts of Australia easing the suffering of the sick and helping to cure many. She is idolised by her 3 children and is a special nana to 2 adoring little girls. Aged 74, she works in a charity shop, and gives part of her age pension to Medicins Sans Frontieres and to World Vision to help a child struggling to survive in Gaza. The Vatican has never heard of her. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, never calls on a Sunday for a media photo opportunity. Yet she has performed scores of miracles in the 50 years I have lived with her. So why the fuss about Mary MacKillop?" Vincent Matthews Forestville

Vincent Matthews' letter also appeared in Murdoch's Australian, although with certain modifications. Of course, these could conceivably have been made by Vincent himself. If not, which words in particular do you imagine got the chop at The Australian?

Cops Are Tops

We'll get rid of the dictator, rebuild your country
Make sure all your kids go to school
We'll clean up the cities, get the sewage plants running
Institute parliamentary rule
We'll bring you autonomy, senators & judges
And a shiny new blue banner
We'll bring you pride & prosperity, food in your bellies
In every home a phone, fax & scanner
After we torture our prisoners

We'll bring you decades of peace, spiritual release
Free religious expression
You can say what you want in the papers you run
We'll never force a confession
After we torture our prisoners

The oil will flow just where it should go
Across the desert and into the sea
And you'll thank your God & the CIA
That finally you are free
After we torture our prisoners

You'll all be safe with us to protect you
And keep you out of harm's way
You'll thank creation & your liberation
From the dark into a new day
After we torture our prisoners

You can all jump for joy, each girl & boy
And look boldly into the distance
You'll be so happy for all that we've done
For such invaluable assistance
After we torture our prisoners

You won't have to worry about tyrants & bullies
Now that you have sovereignty
You can hold your head high, kiss Saddam goodbye
Say hello to democracy
After we torture our prisoners

(After We Torture Our Prisoners, David Rovics)

"Keeping watch over us that evening were policemen in dapper navy-blue uniforms... [T]hese new Palestinian police officers had American gear. They are sometimes known as Dayton soldiers, after [US general Keith] Dayton... [who, beginning under Bush,] set out to overhaul the fragmented and battered Palestinian forces. His first goal was to find better people. All new police applicants were screened by the CIA, the Israeli Security Agency, the Jordanians and the Palestinian services to weed out potential criminals, Islamists and troublemakers. The new recruits were then trained in Jordan... In the northern summer of 2008, Israel finally allowed the first battalion into Jenin, the most chaotic and violent city on the West Bank and the one hardest hit in the 2002 Israeli offensive. It was a success... They do everything the police should do: they fight crime; they chase crooks; they treat people with civility. As of yet, I have found no instance of them angling for baksheesh (bribes) or protection money... Political will is not enough to combat violence and corruption. Improved policing usually takes generations. But, even though Dayton's solution for West Bank security is a temporary fix, it is still a remarkable turnaround. To get out of a swamp you must hold onto something outside it, and the Americans provided the handle... So why has this good news been kept quiet?" (New Order: Nathan Shachar discovers a West Bank success story everyone wants to keep secret, The Financial Review/Prospect, 18/12/09)

"Palestinian security agents who have been detaining and allegedly torturing supporters of the Islamist organisation Hamas in the West Bank have been working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency, new evidence suggests. Less than a year after the US President Barack Obama, signed an executive order that prohibited torture and provided for the lawful interrogation of detainees in US custody, evidence is emerging the CIA is co-operating with security agents whose continuing use of torture has been widely documented by human rights groups. There is a close relationship between the CIA and the two Palestinian agencies involved, the Preventive Security Organisation and General Intelligence Service - so close, say some Western diplomats and other officials in the region, that the American agency appears to be supervising the Palestinians' work. A senior Western official said: 'The [CIA] consider them as their property, those two Palestinian services'. A diplomatic source added that US influence over the agencies was so great they could be considered 'an advanced arm of the war on terror'." (CIA 'guides' torture of Hamas activists in West Bank, Sydney Morning Herald/Guardian, 18/12/09)

"[Palestinian Prime Minister Salim] Fayyad is a strange politician in this part of the world, seemingly not content with siphoning public assets into his relatives' bank accounts... Fayyad's competence is much resented by the old-school, pocket-stuffing, back-door dealers of the Fatah movement. But the effect he has had on Nablus is remarkable. The town's revival - and in particular the overhaul of its police force by Dayton has been little reported in the Western media. But it is a giant step forward for the people of this region and the first move towards reversing the devastating effects of the violence that derailed the peace process in 2000." (Shachar)

"A number of residents of al-Jabryat neighborhood in Jenin complained that they can no longer bear hearing the cries of prisoners being tortured in a neighboring prison that is run by the General Intelligence [Service] of Mahmoud Abbas. Local residents said that a number of residents have actually moved out of the neighborhood because they could not sleep at night hearing those cries, saying that as the prisoners were being physically tortured in the said prison, they were being psychologically tortured. 'We cannot sleep at night because of the cries of the Hamas detainees. We have been like this for the past 2 years and every day we say this problem will end tomorrow, but it seems this story is going to take a long time', said one of the residents. He also pointed out that the prices of property in the area around the General Intelligence headquarters have plummeted as a result." (Residents of al-Jabryat: we cannot sleep because of the cries of prisoners in PA [prison], The Palestinian Information Center, 14/8/09)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sotto Voce at the Herald

The sheer cluelessness of Sydney Morning Herald editorials on the Middle East never ceases to amaze. Yesterday's was no exception. According to the Herald, it is now Time to get tough with Iran. That's right - with Iran!

The Americans and their mercenaries (Hello, Australia!), having comprehensively gang-banged Iraq, are now binging on Afghan and Pakistani blood. Regional psychopath Israel, pumped by its decades-old reign of terror in occupied Palestine, its pockets bulging with nuclear, chemical, biological and state-of-the-art conventional weapons, is baying louder than ever for Iranian blood. (Bushama has reportedly just told the Chinese that he "[will] not be able much longer to keep Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear installations for much longer."*) US bases in Georgia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have Iran encircled. But incredibly, for the Fairfax pundit (presumably foreign editor Peter Hartcher), Iran is our pre-eminent problem! [*US warns Chinese on Iranian threat, The Australian, 18/12/09]

His corporate heart (oxymoronic I know) bleeds, not for the wretched of the earth in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, but for poor, sorely provoked Israel: "Iran's latest test of a solid fuel missile with sufficient range to reach Israel, regional US bases and even parts of Eastern Europe...yadda, yadda... Israeli military experts believe it may be just 6 months before Iran's nuclear program reaches the point of no return...yadda yadda... Tel Aviv already lives with the daily threat from Iran's conventional weapons... yadda, yadda... In the next-to-worst-case scenario, Israel, fed up with Tehran's procrastination and provocation, makes a military strike on Iranian weapons sites to knock out or slow down nuclear development."

But then, just as he's finished fretting for Israel and calling for "tougher economic sanctions" against Iran, a tiny light somewhere in the dim recesses of his memory flickers on: "It is worth reflecting," he muses, ever so tentatively, "on the hypocrisy in the situation. A major if usually unstated component of Israel's global heft is its undeclared nuclear capacity. From Tehran's viewpoint, a nuclear deterrent has proved indispensable to Israeli and to US security. Getting it to give up that goal for itself won't be easy."

Amazing! Iran, which occupies no one and has attacked no one in living memory, is actually conceded a "viewpoint," and the blatant hypocrisy of a nuclear-armed Israel blowing the whistle on a nation which not only does not possess nuclear weapons but denies even the intention of obtaining them is finally accorded a footnote. Will wonders never cease?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For Sale

If the Israelis can buy Pacific pinprick Nauru's vote in the United Nations General Assembly, is it any wonder that the Russians have come knocking?:

"Nauru has achieved a rare moment in the international spotlight by saying it will recognise the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Kommersant reports that Russia is willing to give Nauru $US50 million in aid if it establishes relations with the Russian-backed territories. The Kremlin has been frantic to secure recognition for the regions since its war with Georgia last year, but only Venezuala and Nicaragua have followed its lead; the rest of the world regards the rebel provinces as part of Georgia." (Russia to pay Nauru to recognise rebel provinces, Sydney Morning Herald/Guardian, 16/12/09)

One interesting difference, however, is that, while Russia's (and China's and Taiwan's) Pacific pinprick purchases have all received mainstream media coverage, Israel's purchases, which include Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, have remained well below the media's radar. What, for example, does the vote of a Pacific pinprick cost Israel? And what is Australia's role, if any, in this dubious trade?

For those wanting background information on this one, see my 9/11/09 post Israel's Pacific Solution & Israel's Pacific Solution 2 (12/11/09)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peace After Israel

"I was on the plane last night, thinking, 'I'm in favour of peace in the Middle East. I really am. But I'm not in favour of peace with Israel; I'm in favour of peace AFTER Israel'." (The Angry Arab News Service, 11/12/09)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Murdoch Fishwrapper

"The drum-bangers of the toxic media right... that gaggle of sclerotic reactionaries clustered around the op-ed pages of The Australian... fly in the face of fact and reason. A difficult feat with your head in the sand, admittedly, but somehow they do it. These people are not merely deluded. They are downright dangerous." (And they all drank banana smoothies sadly ever after, Mike Carlton, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/12/09)

Among the swarm of "sclerotic reactionaries clustered [like flies] around the op-ed pages of The Australian," you'll often get Israeli (and pro-Israeli) blow-flies like Professor Gerald Steinberg* settling on the rancid fishwrapper and dropping their bundles along with the native variety. Such exotics are often in the business of keeping young Israeli Jews on the Zionist straight & narrow at one of Israel's tertiary yeshivas (or, as The Australian puts it in Steinberg's case, teaching political science at Bar Ilan University), but the species may also put in time manning the cyber barricades at one of those Zionist 'We've-got-our-unblinking-eye-on-you-so-watch-it' websites that sometimes end in the suffix '-watch' but in Steinberg's case is called NGO Monitor. [*See my 18/11/09 post No Hidden Agenda]

Brazenly exploiting the occasion of International Human Rights Day (December 10), and ignoring the Palestinian blood pooling at his feet, Steinberg points the finger at the usual range of kosher villains, such as Sudan, the Congo, North Korea, Burma, and all-time favourite Iran. "Ignoring the pleas of victims around the world," he rails, "the UN Human Rights Council is locked on to a political agenda that uses the rhetoric of international law as a weapon in the political war targeting Israel." (Day to mourn, not celebrate human rights, 14/9/09)

And rails: "The Organisation of Islamic Conference... controls the UNHRC's agenda and chooses its officials," and "[s]uperpowers like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights and similar groups with multi-million-dollar budgets [are] work[ing] closely with and support the agendas of the UNHCR..." with the result that "human rights values" have been "twist[ed] beyond recognition."

So here we have Steinberg (who, it just so happens, lives in the one place on earth where men know how to treat human rights, right?), allegedly mourning their demise at the hands of assorted tinpot tyrants and, amazingly, 'human rights' organisations - so what do you think The Australian's opinion editor goes and does? That's right, bungs an article by David Ignatius on the same op-ed page celebrating the life of the recently deceased General Saad Kheir (aka Saad Pasha), former head of Jordan's General Intelligence Directorate (aka 'the fingernail factory').

Of which 'great' man, the Washington Post hack writes: "[I]n his prime, he was a genius, and it's hard to think of a foreigner who helped save more American lives than Saad Pasha."

Apparently, for Ignatius, helping Americans have their way in the Middle East is sufficient for an Arab to be labelled a genius. The fact that Saad Pasha's genius lay in fingernail-pulling (and who knows what other dark arts) matters not a whit. So he tortured? He did it for us, didn't he?

Any Arab, on the other hand, who isn't so helpful, who doesn't do it for us, is considered fair game. Here's Ignatius writing about one who wasn't and didn't: "The Iraq war is just and defensible: Taking up arms to depose a dictator who twice has attacked neighbouring countries, tortures his own people and lies to the UN is precisely what a responsible international community should do." (Get ready for the American Ninjas, 25/2/03) No, Saddam was no Arab genius - just another Middle Eastern dictator doing it his way, instead of our way.

Only in Murdoch fishwrapper...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sage Advice

Oh to have been a fly on the wall:

"The Obama Administration secretly sent staff to Melbourne this week to ask religious leaders about winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world. The State Department's head of religious freedom, Peter Kovach, White House religion expert Mara Vanderslice and a Gulf states policy planning head [interesting!] arrived at the Parliament of the World's Religions unexpectedly and asked to meet delegates, senior parliament staffer Tim Mannatt confirmed last night. Mr Mannatt said there was a private meeting on Monday afternoon with a small group of interfaith leaders the staffers invited and a larger meeting on Tuesday afternoon. This one involved about 100 leaders from most of the religions at the parliament. The Age was told the doors were shut and guarded and the usual sign outside the room was absent. One of the Muslims, leading American imam Abdul Feisal Rauf, said the Administration staffers were looking for input and advice, and were extremely well received by delegates. 'It was a great indicator of hope, and an important part of the parliament', he said. 'Their position was 'we are here to learn from you'. They asked 3 questions: what should the Obama Administration do, what should it not do, and have you any immediate or long-term suggestions. They just listened and took notes'. Imam Rauf said he told the trio that religion was an extremely important part of the solution. Because the US formally separated church and state, it tended not to look at religion in its foreign policy. The Parliament of the World's Religions was closed last night by the Dalai Lama, who told delegates that the world faced a moral crisis that only inner values such as compassion could solve. Earlier, he challenged Victorian MPs to travel to Tibet and test China's version of life there*." (Obama team seeks enlightenment on Muslim relations, Benny Zwartz, The Age, 10/12/09) [*How naive is he? Our polly waffles are simply far too busy going to Israel to bother with places like Tibet.]

Now, apart from Imam Rauf's, I haven't the faintest what advice the 100 odd God-botherers actually tendered. Of one thing though I am sure - it wasn't what Bushama really needs to hear, which is, that to win Muslim hearts and minds, the United States needs to adopt a Three-Pull Policy: Pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan; Pull its tits out of Israel's and Egypt's mouths (maybe even just a little tug would do); and Pull its boofhead in at the UN (and elsewhere).

More likely, however, Ms Vanderslice (love the name, don't you?) and her companions will receive the kind of advice reportedly given by the Dalai Lama to brand-spanking new Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott when the two met in Sydney on December 3. Told by Abbott's spokeswoman that "the Opposition Leader was a 'spiritual person' and had long admired the Dalai Lama," His Holiness was described as "holding Mr Abbott's hand many times during the meeting" and "stroking his [exceptionally] hairy chest as he gave him a white shawl symbolising motivation and gentle behaviour." (One is a spiritual leader & the other is an exiled Tibetan Buddhist, Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/12/09)

Hm... Oh, yes, the advice: "I was reassured," quoth Abbott, "that provided [I] approach things in the spirit of truth and compassion [I] will be given the inner resources to cope with the difficulties of daily life."


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Head-Shaking Stuff 2

This post should be read in conjunction with my 13/9/09 post Head-Shaking Stuff:

"Ten new Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will debut in Afghanistan in the coming weeks, after the Israel Aerospace Industries made the first delivery of the Heron UAV to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on Thursday. Under the $91-million lease, the RAAF will receive 10 Heron UAVs, mission payloads, Automatic Ground control Stations as well as spare parts. Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) already provides maintenance for the Canadian Air Force - which operates Herons in Afghanistan - and will support the RAAF mission as well... The first UAV was delivered to the RAAF during a ceremony at the Ein Shemer landing strip in the North attended by the Canadian military attache, Col. Geordie Elms, the Australian military attache, Col. Wayne Fleming, and representatives from the ministry of Defense, MDA and Israel Aerospace Industries. The RAAF chose the Heron from among a number of competitors after it successfully completed a series of tests of its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Under the deal, the Heron will begin operations in early 2010 for one year, with an option for an additional two years. The RAAF expects the Heron to significantly increase its operational capabilities in the war in Afghanistan. The Heron is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV that can remain airborne for over 30 hours with a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and carry a payload of 250 kg." (10 Israeli UAVs headed for Afghanistan, Yakov Katz, The Jerusalem Post, 10/12/09)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just Do It, Bitch!

Having read the runes, I concluded my 5/12/09 post Tunnel Vision thus: "Given Australia's tendency to cosy up to Israel at various UN and other fora (and Shalom's hugs & kisses for our cold-shouldering of Goldstone and Durban II), I can't help wondering if this hopelessly laid-back land isn't being subjected to the hard word - along the lines of Cut the tease, bitch. If you really love me, you'll move your embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem."

Well, there's no more wondering, folks - the cat's finally out of the bag. Here's part of the report in today's Australian Jewish News on the Melbourne leg of the so-called Australia Israel Leadership Forum (See Tunnel Vision for the Sydney bit):

"If the shared sense of joy underlined the longstanding relationship between the two countries - a common theme in the keynote addresses on the night from [DPM Julia] Gillard and [Silvan] Shalom - one point of contention was raised by [Avi] Dichter when he took to the podium. Insisting that 'Jerusalem will never return to the borders of 1967', the Kadima Knesset member said: 'Australia was the first country to vote for the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state in 1947, Australia was among the first countries to vote against Goldstone. And Israel was among the first countries to support the Australian effort to be a member of the UN Security Council. But Jerusalem is still not recognised by any country as the capital of Israel, even by our closest friend... I think it's time to take another historic first step in our close relations and let's open the Australian embassy in Jerusalem'." (Dancing Deputy commits to Israel)

That's right, folks, the AJN reports Gillard "dancing the hora" (and Shalom "singing Let It Be"). And, if you didn't get it first time around, here's a slice of the AJN's editorial:

"As the successful forum draws to an end, the question that should be asked is what can now be done to raise the bar and take relations between the two countries to the next level? A challenge by visiting Kadima legislator Avi Dichter to the Australian Government may be a key to answering that question. 'Jerusalem is still not recognised by any country as the capital of Israel, even by our closest friend', Dichter told a gathering in Melbourne. 'We deserve and we expect such a step and there would be no better way than to open an embassy in Jerusalem. So my dear friends, I think it's time to take another historic first step in our close relations and let's open the Australian embassy in Jerusalem'. If the European Union can declare, as it did this week, that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a future Palestinian state, Australia can and should be prepared to make a powerful statement of its own on Jerusalem, and finally acknowledge the reality on the ground: that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and is the rightful address for the Australian embassy - today and not tomorrow." (Strengthening the ties that bind Israel to Australia)

Check out the language: We deserve and we expect - Australia can and should - today and not tomorrow.

The opening paragraph of the just issued EU Report on Israel Annexing Jerusalem reveals what is at stake here: "Long-standing Israeli plans for Jerusalem, now being implemented at an accelerated rate, are undermining prospects for a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and a sustainable two-state solution. Although Israel has legitimate security concerns in Jerusalem, many of its current illegal actions in and around the city have limited security justifications. Israeli 'facts on the ground' - including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions - increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Israel is, by practical means, actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem."

And Gillard danced the flogging hora!!!

PS: Here's a particularly juicy bit of the AJN's AILF coverage I missed. The language says it all: "Hailing the success of the forum, AILF chairman Albert Dadon said: 'I think it went particularly well. We achieved all our objectives... to have the Israelis come to Australia, to talk on specific issues, to develop those relationships between Australia and Israel in a way that hasn't been done before. Relations are already very good. But what we have been able to achieve is to have frank and open dialogue on issues we wouldn't normally tackle, simply because they are taboo or because they're usually not on the agenda'." (Dancing Deputy commits to Israel, 11/12/09)

Seems nothing's taboo anymore. The world will not, repeat not, respect us in the morning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pull the Other...

The blind...

"Bare survival is the best Victoria's northern rivers can hope for if the past decade of drought is to continue, according to a new 50-year water strategy for the state's north." (Labor plan to let rivers run almost dry, Peter Ker, The Age, 10/12/09)

... leading the blind:

"Mr Shalom said Australia was considering a request from Israel to help it rehabilitate the Jordan River." (Capsicum spray used to quell anti-Israel protesters, Andra Jackson, The Age, 7/12/09)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doctor Who?

No gathering of Zionists and Labor politicians these days is complete without both parties dropping the name of former Australian Minister for External Affairs (1941-1949) Dr Herbert Vere Evatt (1894-1965):

"[O]n 29 January 1949 PM Ben Chifley announced that Australia would become one of the first countries to recognise the new state of Israel, describing it as 'a force of special value in the world community'. As President of the General Assembly, 'Doc' Evatt then presided over the historic May 1949 vote admitting Israel as the 59th member of the UN." (Kevin Rudd, Federal Parliament, 12/3/08) [See my 14/3/09 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3]

"The pivotal role played by Australia - and one Australian in particular - in the establishment of the State of Israel was celebrated at a gala event in Sydney on Sunday night. The Tribute to Doc Evatt dinner, hosted by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia and the Zionist Federation of Australia, was held on the 62nd anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the partition resolution that led to the creation of the Jewish homeland." (Honouring the Doc, The Australian Jewish News, 4/12/09)

"The work of Australian Labour leader Doc Evatt in 1947 towards the establishment of the State of Israel was acknowledged and Rudd received an ovation when he reminded the audience that 'the first country to vote for the establishment of the State of Israel was the Government of Australia'." (Rudd, Abbott & Shalom talk at Sydney Forum,

Get the picture? Doc Evatt's a Labor icon. Why, there's even an Evatt Foundation, at which you can read that: "[Evatt] realised many of the labour movement's highest ideals... His achievements and uncompromising stand for just principles in public life will always be remembered... Dr Evatt initiated Australia's first independent foreign policy and became widely recognised around the world as a supporter of the right of the smaller nations to peaceful development and equality... At the San Francisco Conference [of 1945], Dr Evatt spoke to the Great Powers on behalf of the other nations of the world with a voice that commanded universal respect. After 3 months of diplomatic struggle, the Charter of the United Nations was adopted, a Charter that had become more humane and larger in scope, now containing provisions for the poor, the weak and the oppressed, provisions that had never been envisaged by the Great Powers... In 1948 Dr Evatt was elected President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The only Australian to have ever held the position, he presided over the adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the cornerstone of human rights protection throughout the modern world." (Doc Evatt: A Brilliant & Controversial Character,

Very impressive, on the surface, yet how does one reconcile the alleged mover & shaper of the UN Charter with his support for the partition of Palestine?:

Article 1(2) of the UN Charter informs us that one of the purposes of the UN is "To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples..." Thus, partition being against the will of the majority of the inhabitants of Palestine in 1947, their right to self-determination was violated.

Article 80(1) informs us that "nothing in [the charter's chapter on trusteeship] shall be construed in or of itself to alter the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the UN may respectively be parties." Thus, the rights of the Palestinian people under the mandate instrument, including the right of self-determination, are preserved.

And how does one reconcile the alleged mover & shaper of the UDHR, Article 13(2) of which reads, "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country," with his evident lack of real concern for Palestinian refugees?:

"Evatt believed that the Palestinian refugees... should be treated as a separate humanitarian issue and that their unresolved status as refugees should not impede Israel's membership [of the UN]." (HV Evatt & the Establishment of Israel: The Undercover Zionist, Daniel Mandel, 2004, p 227)

Displaying a decidedly colonialist mindset, Evatt was clearly blinded by the light (unto the nations): "I believe the State of Israel will become a bulwark of Western Civilization in the Middle East." (ibid p 222); "... Israel has come to stay, will carry out the UN's decisions, and will be a powerful force for peace and justice within the UN." (ibid p 229)

Although laughably naive in hindsight, such a misreading of the Zionist project impelled Australia to back Israel's membership in the UN on May 11, 1949.

Speaking of which, here's the most interesting part of that General Assembly resolution (273 (III)): "Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 [181: partition resolution] and 11 December 1948 [194: Palestinian right of return resolution] and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representatives of the Government of Israel before the Ad Hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions, The General Assembly... 1. Decides that Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the obligations contained in the Charter and is able and willing to carry out those obligations; 2. Decides to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations."

That's right, to win membership in the UN Israel agreed to implement both Resolution 181 (in its entirety) and Resolution 194 which stated that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date." Needless to say, Israel is still a member of the UN and those refugees are still waiting for it to implement their return - 61 years later.

Following Israel's membership in the UN, the question of the status of Jerusalem arose. If Israel were to implement all of the terms of Resolution 181, Jerusalem would come under full international control. Having, as we have seen, agreed to implement 181 as a condition of its UN membership, "peace-loving" Israel (and Jordan btw, which had taken control of East Jerusalem) would tolerate only a limited internationalisation of the Holy Places. This proved too much for Evatt, however. "So far as Australia is concerned," he wrote, "we shall adhere steadfastly to the principle of a UN international regime for the whole of Jerusalem and Bethlehem as a corpus separatum." (Mandel, p 260) Australia thus went on to vote for a resolution calling for the internationalisation of Jerusalem.

Consistency surely requires that today's Labor politicians, who can't attend a Zionist gathering without invoking the 'legacy' of 'Doc' Evatt, base their Middle East policy on same. This includes, inter alia, the full implementation of UNGA resolutions 181 and 194, that is a two-state solution based on a 'Jewish' state in only 56% of Palestine (the % alloted to it by Resolution 181), international control of the whole of Jerusalem - East and West - and a return to their homes of all Palestinian refugees and their descendents. Should Israel not agree to this, the Rudd government should immediately begin proceedings to have Israel expelled from the UN.

Alternatively, they could stop dropping Evatt's name.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tunnel Vision

A 35-strong pack of Israeli war criminals and their camp followers, including Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and former Security Minister and Shin Bet supremo from 2000 to 2005, Avi Dichter, lunched with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the latest Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, in Sydney on December 3. This extraordinary gathering (apparently quid pro quo for DPM Gillard's trip to Israel earlier in the year) was inexplicably ignored by the Sydney Morning Herald, and got scant treatment by The Australian, whose reporter, the appropriately named Jodie Minus, really only seemed to have eyes for the Rudd/Abbott handshake and body language: "The Prime Minister didn't waste any time moving in for the congratulatory handshake. But neither man studied at the Mark Latham school of hand manoeuvres and the grip was more passive than aggressive, with Mr Abbott holding on to just 4 of Mr Rudd's limp-looking fingers." (Rivals get hands on, 4/12/09)

In fact, the only reference in Minus' report to the latest Israeli-Australian carry-on came in this sentence: "At the Australia Israel Leadership Forum's gala luncheon... Kevin Rudd and the Opposition leader were asked to the podium to accept a copy of a Jewish picture book, Touching the Stones of Our Heritage."

It wasn't much to go on, but my interest was sufficiently piqued for me to google Stones. At that point the plot began to thicken. Up came this little blurb: "Touching the Stones of Our Heritage: The Western Wall Tunnels by Dan Bahat: Throughout the 2,000 years since the Holy Temple that stood in Jerusalem was destroyed, the Western Wall has stood as the prime symbol of Jewish yearning. Today, more than 50 years since the restoration of Jewish sovereignty, the Wall remains an intense expression of national pride and of the profound affinity between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. Through photographs, text and original drawings, this spectacular album takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the Western Wall and its tunnels. Included is a bonus transparency overlay showing how it was, and what it looks like now... Features of this book:... Includes a full color insert of the Temple Mount with overlays showing how it looked in ancient and modern times... THE WONDER OF THE WORLD THAT WAS (AND IS) MISSED." (

Well, well, well - instead of handing Rudd and Abbott a book containing merely glossies of 'Israeli' landmarks, Shalom had handed them one which represents the third holiest shrine in Islam, the Haram ash-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), containing the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, as, in effect, squatting on the foundations of a structure of far greater importance - an ancient Jewish temple, the subject of much contemporary Jewish "yearning". Not that the Arabic term Haram ash-Sharif even appears in Bahat's book, the term of choice being The Temple Mount.

Now given that a copy of Stones hasn't yet found its way into my hot little hands, I can't be 100% certain, but are we not entering Hint, hint, do you get my drift? territory here? One thing's for sure though, Rudd and Abbott are not going to learn in Stones that the Haram ash-Sharif (not to mention the rest of East Jerusalem) is, under international law, occupied territory to which the Israelis have absolutely no legal claim whatever.

And the book's author, 'archaeologist' Dan Bahat? Here's a revealing snapshot: "According to the man warmly referred to as Israel's Indiana Jones, an ongoing crime continues to be perpetrated against world Jewry. 'The Jewish people around the world are disconnected from The Temple Mount today. The Arabs claim that it has nothing to do with the Jews, but we know better', says Professor Dan Bahat, one of Israel's most famous, respected and colourful archaeologists. 'At every entrance to The Temple Mount today, there are guards there who ask if you are Jewish. If you answer 'yes', they tell you that you cannot go inside. It's a crime forever'... The Temple Mount is the holiest location in Jewish life. According to religious tradition it's where the world originated and where the biblical sacrifice of Isaac took place. It's also where King Solomon built the first Jewish Temple. The Roman King Herod... rebuilt the temple. With Jews kept off the hilltop by Muslim restrictions and both government and rabbinic bans, The Kotel - a retaining wall of the second Temple - is the holiest place at which Jews can pray. 'What concerns me is a political problem connected to The Temple Mount', says Bahat. 'I believe the Chief Rabbinate made a terrible mistake in 1967 by installing signs reading that no Jew should go onto The Temple Mount (until the Temple is rebuilt)'. Asked about Ariel Sharon's famous visit to The Temple Mount in 2000, Bahat left no doubt as to his feelings. 'I am still angry over this', he says. 'Everyone blames Sharon for going to The Temple Mount and starting this Intifada more than 2 years ago. Of course this is not true, but what really makes me mad is that there was such an uproar because a Jew went to The Temple Mount in the first place. This should not be'." (Israel's 'Indiana Jones' addresses Toronto's Jewish community, Some disinterested scholar!

What was that line from the 60s? You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Well here's the wind from "Unfortunately, the Temple Mount presently remains under the supervision of the Waqf, the Supreme Moslem Council, and they have prevented any systematic archaeological studies. In fact, the Waqf has gotten increasingly resistive [sic] to investigations of any kind on the Platform - which they consider to be a huge outdoor mosque sacred to Islam. Who knows what events developing in the history of Jerusalem will one day change the staus quo, allowing scientific investigation of the entire Temple Mount, below ground as well as above? Then, according to the hopes and dreams of devout Jews for centuries, a Third Temple can be built on the foundations of the First and Second Temples and temple worship according to the Torah restored." Notice how "archaeological studies" and "scientific investigation" morph seamlessly into a rebuilding of a third temple? And the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque? Now you see them, now you don't. Hell, you can feel that plot thickening now, can't you? Why, if Dan (Indiana Jones) Bahat had had his way back in 1967, when the site was - ahem - acquired, the Third Temple would be packing them in right now!

Touching the Stones of Our Heritage - some "Jewish picture book," Ms Minus!

But there's more. I mentioned Avi Dichter at the beginning of this post. Although The Australian gave him an opportunity to beat the drum on Iran (Ex-Israeli spy chief warns about Iran, 4/12/09), it was left to an Australian Zionist blogger, present at the luncheon, to remind us that Dichter too has a keen interest in stones. The Ozi Zion Blog informs us that the former Shin Bet head and now Kadima MK concluded his speech "with a powerful story of how he added a 3rd stone (from Jerusalem) to the 2 stone collection of a friend - (from Aushwitz [sic] and Massada [sic]). Jerusalem is the heart of Israel and will remain so." ( In fact, Dichter has real archaeological form: "Police have prevented Muslim burial at the foot of the Temple Mount for several months, as Public Security Minister Avi Dichter responded to pleas to reserve the area as a significant archaeological site." (Dichter rules area near Temple Mount off-limits to Muslim burial, Nadav Shragai, Haaretz, 29/5/07)

And more. With former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert also in town we've got Israeli war criminals coming out of our ears. His visit was described in The Australian Jewish News (4/12/09) as "a precursor to an influx of senior Israeli politicians and other influential figures in the coming week for the second Australia Israel Leadership Forum." Now I don't know whether Olmert put in an appearance at the Forum's galah luncheon, but I do know that, among his other crimes, he's got form in messing with Jerusalem: "As mayor of Jerusalem in the 1990s, Olmert oppressed the Palestinian inhabitants of the city and intensified the process of de-Arabisation. He pressed for opening the 'archaeological tunnel' near the Muslim shrines and encouraged American Jewish right-wing millionaires to build Jewish settlements in the middle of unilaterally annexed Arab districts and pushed for the building of the Apartheid Wall that cuts up Arab neighbourhoods." (The Bible & Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology & Post-Colonialism in Israel-Palestine, Nur Masalha, 2007, p 181) Oh, and he and Indiana go back some years with Olmert penning a forward to another of Indiana's books, The Illustrated Atlas of Jerusalem.

What's really been going on in little old Sydney then? Given Australia's tendency to cosy up to Israel at various UN and other fora (and Shalom's hugs and kisses for our cold-shouldering of Goldstone and Durban II*), I can't help wondering if this hopelessly laid-back land isn't being subjected to the hard word - along the lines of Cut the teasing, bitch. If you really love me, you'll move your embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Dear oh dear, would the world still respect us in the morning? And then what? Shalom, Dichter, Olmert et al take up archaeology in earnest? Watch this space...

[*Australia a 'leader of the free world', Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 4/12/09]

[The following 2 posts of mine are highly relevant to this subject: Who Did What? (28/9/09); Mosque Busters (27/11/09)]