Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rewriting History at the SMH

"Lebanon's Shiite population is led by Hasan Nasrallah, whose paramilitary organisation Hezbollah has the backing of Iran and Syria, and which provoked a war against Israel in June 2006 after launching a deadly raid on an Israeli border patrol." ($395m budget to catch Hariri's murderer, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/2/09)

It is truly beyond belief that a so-called Middle East correspondent, writing for any newspaper, can get such recent history this wrong: Hezbollah "provoked a war against"... whaaat?!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Double, Double Toil & Trouble

Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman, now in Australia, doesn't want us attending Durban II* (aka the Durban Review Conference) on April 20 (See my 20/2/09 post Danny Boy). [*The first, aka the World Conference Against Racism, was held in Durban in 2001.]

Alan Gold, Zionist apologist, novelist (*sigh*) and Durban I "delegate" (Smith should avoid racist conference, The Australian, 26/2/09) doesn't want us there either.

Gold knows in his bones that Durban II is cursed. After all, "The 120th anniversary of Hitler's birth falls on April 20 which coincidentally is the day nations will gather in Geneva under the banner of the UN to discuss ways of dealing with the growth of racism." "Coincidentally"? Are you sure it's just a coincidence, Alan? Durban I, that "notorious hate-filled gathering that devolved into one of the most racist and prejudiced meetings in the UN's history" also managed to coincide with the anniversary of some other day in Hitler's life (funny that), and "its anti-Semitism and anti-Israel agenda and hysterical crowd of extremists still send shudders of horror through human rights organisations."

Note the familiar conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. In translation, Gold's hyper-ventilating prose simply means that some people at Durban I had sufficient gumption to call a spade a spade. For a fuller discussion of Durban I and the Israel lobby's campaign to thwart Australia's involvement in Durban II, see my posts Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship (18/1/08), Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship 2 (9/3/08), and Betraying the UDHR (10/12/08).

OK, so what foaming, spitting witch's brew does the Durban II draft agenda portend? According to Israel's Haaretz, "Draft resolutions for... Durban II... will brand Israel as an occupying state that carries out racist policies... They refer to 'the plight of Palestinian refugees and other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories'... " (Durban II drafts: Israel is racist, occupying state, Shlomo Shamir, 21/2/09) Quelle horreur!

So how's the line-up at the starting gate, Alan? "Canada and Israel are so appalled at the agenda for this hate-fest that they have already announced their intention of boycotting. Officials in a growing number of European nations also have expressed their concern about attendance... The Obama administration* has said it will attend the preparations for the UN's Durban Review, but this must be viewed as a dangerous move." Thanks, Alan. And Australia? "Foreign Minister Stephen Smith hasn't yet announced whether Australia will attend the review... The 2009 agenda... must give Smith cause for concern... [Damn it!] We should play no part in this conference."

What's that, Alan? Another horreur? Merde! The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are "using the gathering in Geneva to demonise Israel, give official credence to Holocaust denial and legislate against freedom of speech." How so, Alan? "Using the catch-all phrase of Islamophobia, the OIC is attempting to deny nations the right to criticise extremism and violence." You mean, like your mob uses the catch-all phrase of anti-Semitism in order to deny nations the right to criticise Israeli extremism and violence?

[*Alan will be pleased to know that there's been a scratching here. According to The Age of 28/2/09, the United States has decided against taking part after finding out that "the draft document was made even worse after some changes." (US opts out of UN racism conference) What's the guess that Stephen now does a runner?]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Haruki (Jerusalem Prize) Murakami

I've never read anything by 'renowned' Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami - except his reasons (The novelist in wartime,, 20/2/09) for accepting Israel's Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society.

Jerusalem Prize? As in Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan? Surely not? Hang on. Breathe in, breathe out. Apparently, G(JP)S got a different Jerusalem Prize, the one awarded annually by the State Zionist Council of NSW to "someone who fosters and supports the state of Israel and its ideologies, the concept of the Jewish homeland and the Jewish community, particularly in Australia." (Honoring Israel's apologists, Sonja Karkar,, 7/5/07) So glad we sorted that one out! Any other Jerusalem Prizes hanging around out there?

Anyway, back to the "great author" ( Murakami-san, and his 'reasons'. In the business of hosing down Zionist propaganda, I don't need to tell you, one comes across some quality crap. Now while Murakami's 'reasons' can't be pigeonholed as Zionist propaganda, by God, they're up there with the best of the latter.

He opens with "I have come to Jerusalem today as a novelist, which is to say a professional spinner of lies." Well, hasn't he come to the right place! Move over, Mark Regev. It seems that for Murakami, being a novelist and being a human being are two different things, not to be confused: I'm sorry, Your Honour, I was wearing a different hat when I did it. Strewth! But old Murakami's a subtle one, because, as he explains, "by telling skillful lies... the novelist can bring a truth out to a new location and shine a light on it." So he's a liar, but not really... Gawd!

And just when he's left you completely in the dark, he changes hats: "Today, however, I have no intention of lying. I will try to be as honest as I can." And here's "the truth": "In Japan a fair number of people advised me not to come here to accept the Jerusalem Prize. Some even warned me they would instigate a boycott of my books if I came. The reason for this, of course, was the fierce battle that was raging in Gaza. The UN reported that more than a thousand people had lost their lives in the blockaded Gaza City, many of them unarmed citizens - children and old people."

He needed to be warned? He actually needed to be warned? Did he only become aware of Gaza's pulverising (thanks, Phillip) when he got these warnings? Could it be that he really had no idea what was going on there? Or only the faintest? What's this "fierce battle" shit? What battle? There was no battle, Bozo, just the boots-and-all slaughter of a defenceless people by a deranged military machine set in motion by equally deranged politicians. So what the hell was Murakami doing when the literally bleeding obvious was pushing its way into our living rooms and newspapers last month? Smashed on sake? Asleep? Looking for his novelist hat so he could sit down and knock off a few more lies on his computer?

And what's this "blockaded Gaza City" nonsense? Murakami's clearly clueless, and quite possibly doesn't give a damn anyway. But that's fine - why not just say so: Look I was just too damn busy and quite frankly couldn't give a stuff anyway.

Heedless of Pablo Neruda's "blood in the streets," Murakami's only concern is this: "Any number of times after receiving notice of the award, I asked myself whether traveling to Israel at a time like this and accepting a literary prize was the proper thing to do, whether this would create the impression that I supported one side in the conflict, that I endorsed the policies of a nation that chose to unleash its overwhelming military power. This is an impression, of course, that I would not wish to give. I do not approve of any war, and I do not support any nation. Neither, of course, do I wish to see my books subjected to a boycott."

That's right, even if the blood is too far away to concern him, there's still that nagging question: Will I be seen as supporting the "nation that chose to unleash its overwhelming military power"? Well, if he knew anything about anything, the answer's gotta be yes, no? But, like Manuel of Barcelona the guy clearly knows nothing - nothiiing - about said nation or its PR machine - where, you can be sure, the champagne corks were popping like fireworks as soon as they knew they had the bugger in the bag. I mean, he's been on the planet for 60+ years but still doesn't know what's going down in the Middle East? Strewth! Then there's his bloody novels: Will my books be boycotted? What can I say? It's really all about number one now, isn't it?

OK, he's effectively demonstated his ignorance, but you really want to know why he's accepting this prize? "One reason [actually the only reason he gives] for my decision was that all too many people advised me not to do it." That's it! That's his reason for going to Jerusalem! "Perhaps, like many other novelists, I tend to do the exact opposite of what I am told... Novelists are a special breed. They cannot genuinely trust anything they have not seen with their own eyes or touched with their own hands. And that is why I am here. I chose to come here rather than stay away. I chose to see for myself rather than not to see. I chose to speak to you rather than to say nothing." Oh, please! Not the 'I'm a novelist' routine again: I'm a novelist, so I tell lies, but they're not really lies... know what I mean? I'm a novelist, so I don't take advice. I remember at school when I was told to look both ways before I crossed the road, but dang it, I always ran across with my eyes closed, and I'm still alive to tell the tale, so there!

As I've said, quality crap. Cop this: "Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg. Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of what value would such works be? What is the meaning of this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning... each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a high, solid wall. The wall has a name: it is 'the System'. The System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a life of its own, and then it begins to kill us and causes us to kill others - coldly, efficiently, systematically."

Oh, the irony, the irony! Here's this scrambled egghead before an audience of eggs so rotten you can smell the sulphur dioxide in the air. Their armed forces in Gaza have just been cracking thousands of the world's most fragile eggs and making bloody omelletes of them, while just over the way, in the occupied West Bank, a "high, solid wall" is busy cutting some equally fragile eggs off from their land, their water, and their livelihoods. And, as he speaks, some of these fragile eggs are being chipped and even cracked trying to prevent this illegal structure from ruining their lives. All this and Murakami's babbling on about some abstraction he calls "the System" - as though it's something that just comes over us every now and then: Goodness me, I don't know what came over me! Ah yes, the System again! And, of course, this "System" thingie has absolutely nothing to do with the state which has paid for his airfares and accomodation and held him tight as yet another propaganda fig-leaf to hide its nakedness.

You like slapstick? How's this for a conclusion: "We must not allow the System to exploit us."

I swear, if ever this clown makes it to these shores, he should be greeted not with shoes, but eggs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Not Happy, Phillip

This is a 'not happy, Phillip' post. That's Phillip, as in Phillip Adams, trenchant critic, from his perch at ABC Radio National's long-running current affairs program Late Night Live (LNL), of the former Howard and Bush regimes, and of this country's servile, mercenary involvement in the war on Iraq. Yet always, for as long as I can remember, strangely muted on the subject of Israel's relentless, decades-long, round-the-clock throttling of the pitiful remnants of the Palestinian people grimly hanging on in their tiny, shrinking enclaves.

For so many of us in Australia, as in the rest of the world, Israel's latest mad-dog rampage in Gaza, hot on the heels of its earlier one in Lebanon in 2006, shook us to the core. Every newscast worse than the one before, horror piled on horror - direct to your living room courtesy of Al-Jazeera. In our anger, we flocked in our thousands to demonstrations around the country -4 in the space of a month in Sydney alone. We were appalled, consumed, able to focus on nothing else. And yet, so far as I am aware, not a peep from Adams on LNL or in his weekly columns for The Australian and the Weekend Australian Magazine. Until now (21-22/2/09) that is, in the latter.

Adams spent his Christmas holidays in, of all places, Egypt, presumably indulging his well-known passion for Egyptian antiquities. That's right, in Egypt, cheek-by-jowl with Gaza, in a veritable ring-side seat. And now, at long last, having chosen to touch (and I use the word deliberately) on the issue which convulsed Egypt as much as anywhere else on the planet, what does he have to say?

Not much. His inside back page piece is divided into 3 columns. The first is about how devout Egypt's Muslims are. As is the second, except that Adams reports, half-way down, asking one of the faithful whether 'angry' words are being uttered in the mosques: "'No', says his interlocutor, 'that cannot happen. The government is listening. There would be arrests'."

Then comes our first mention of the carnage on Egypt's doorstep: "Perhaps that applies in the mosques, but with the Israelis pulverising Gaza there's great anger spilling out into the streets. As the sandstorms clear... there are mass rallies from Cairo to Alexandria." But, I can't help asking, where, Phillip, was your anger? What did you feel when the little guys next door to your (luxury?) hotel were being pulverised? No, the agony in Gaza des not seem to have been front & centre in Adams' mind. He was more interested in another subject, Pharaoh Mubarak: "But the protests are not so much addressed at the Jews as at Mubarak. Egyptians are angry with their President - and throughout the Middle East wild voices are calling for his assassination. Mubarak is deemed a quisling, a puppet of the US and Israel."

Adams went on to recall "earlier visits to Egypt when, every day, the Israelis would send jet fighters screaming down the Nile, flying over Cairo's bridges with just metres to spare, mocking the anti-aircraft gunners crouching under their camouflage nets - reminding Egyptians that a few dam-buster raids on the High Dam at Aswan could send the mightiest of all floods pouring down." Unbelievable! Can you imagine any other country on the planet behaving this way? But where did/does Adams stand? Phillip, how did you really feel back then as the Israeli bully strutted its stuff up and down the Nile?

Not a clue is given, Adams simply opining that it was then president Sadat's fear of war with Israel that led to "a peace deal that provoked his assassination on October 6, 1981." We're well into the last column now, with Adams reflecting that "now Sadat's story is overlapping with Mubarak's and the country is on high alert - with the demonstrations reminding us that Israel feels free to bomb Gaza because the Arab world remains fractured, incapable of forming a united view - let alone a united front. And with the US changing administrations the timing for Israel was perfect. Egyptians are enraged by what many see as their Government's complicity in the war on the Palestinians."

Yes, Phillip, true, but what do you feel about that pulverising "war on the Palestinians"?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Redundancy of Courage

"There's no such thing as a hero - only ordinary people asked extraordinary things in terrible circumstances - and delivering." (The Redundancy of Courage, Timothy Mo, 1991, p 407)

Palestinian-American Abdelhaleem Ashqar, a former associate professor of business at Washington's Howard University, showed no emotion as US District Judge Amy St Eve sentenced him to more than 11 years in prison and fined him $5,000 for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the funding of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas on June 25, 2003.

Before being sentenced Ashqar delivered a passionate, two-hour long statement describing the suffering of his people under Israeli occupation. He proclaimed that he'd rather go to prison than divulge the secrets of the resistance. "The only option was to become a traitor or collaborator and that is something I can't do and will never do as long as I live," he told the court. (Based on US man refusing to testify in Hamas funding case jailed for 11 years, Associated Press, Haaretz, 21/11/07)

Abed Rabbo, a 40-year old employee of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza's Jabaliya Refugee Camp, was at home on the morning of January 5 when he heard a knock on the door. After opening it, he found a Palestinian man and a group of Israeli terrorists, one of whom had his rifle jammed into the man's back. Abed Rabbo, like the man who'd knocked on his door before him, was then taken for use as a human shield by the Israeli terrorists.

Later in the day, a fierce firefight broke out between the terrorists and Palestinian resistance forces hiding in his neighbour's empty home. After it was over, the terrorists told Abed Rabbo that they had killed those inside, and ordered him to enter the house, remove their clothes and bring back their weapons. When he refused, he was simply told to 'obey orders' or else. He entered the house to find three men still very much alive. They told him to tell the Israeli terrorists they were still alive.

After firing missiles at the house, the terrorists sent Abed Rabbo back in. He found the building on fire, but the fighters still alive, despite one being wounded. They sent him back to the terrorists with the following message: 'If you are real men, come and face us yourselves'. Incensed, the terrorists called in an Apache helicopter which rocketed the house. Shooting continued until midnight when Abed Rabbo was sent in for the third time. He found two of the fighters buried under the rubble but still alive. The third was unhurt and armed. When he returned to the terrorists with the news, they would not at first believe him.

Early next morning, Abed Rabbo was sent in again. He found the men badly injured, but still alive. The terrorists taunted them over a megaphone, calling on them in vain to surrender. They even sent in a dog which was shot and killed by one of the fighters. Finally, a military bulldozer was employed to bring the house down on their heads. (Based on Gazans say Israeli troops forced them into battle zones, Don Nissenbaum,, 2/2/09 & Gazans: IDF used us as 'human shields' during offensive, Amira Hass, Haaretz, 20/2/09)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Rise & Rise of Greg Sheridan

"Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop's move into foreign affairs now means the Opposition has had 5 separate defence and foreign affairs spokespeople in its short and unhappy period of less than 16 months away from the government benches," lamented Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan in The Australian of 17/2/09 (Passing parade of novices hurts Liberals). "This is a sign of an Opposition that doesn't take foreign affairs and defence seriously, and that is just about as stupid as it gets."

Of Bishop's predecessor, Helen Coonan, Sheridan was scathing: "Coonan is a nice woman but she was hopeless in foreign affairs. Her office was chaotic. She had little to say and what she did say combined cliche and banality in equal measure. She had almost zero profile in her portfolio." The Opposition, he grumped, "just doesn't seem to get foreign affairs and defence. They are two of the most complex and demanding areas of government... You cannot swot up on foreign affairs in a couple of days. Most people involved in it have spent their lives on it. Sometimes that makes them myopic, but it also means they have a lot of knowledge and a vast range of contacts."

You just know what his verdict on Bishop's going to be. What to do? The answer's obvious, isn't it? Sheridan, with his myopia, knowledge and contacts, is surely the only possible choice for the job. And why, considering Rudd's rise and rise from shadow foreign minister to opposition leader to sitting prime minister, should we not look forward to a similar trajectory for The Australian's foreign editor? What then can we expect Australia to look like under a Sheridan government? Here are just some of the exciting things we can expect to see:-

Australia will be renamed AUSrael.
The Union Jack will be replaced by the Israeli flag.
Planet Janet will be DP and Colin Rubenstein GG.
Paul Sheehan will be AUSraeli ambassador to Israel.
Anti-Zionism/Israelism will be made a hanging offence.
The AUSraeli Defence Forces will be tasked with wiping Iran off the map so Israel can get on with wiping Palestine off the map undisturbed. Conscription? How'd you guess?
The prime minister's journalistic scribblings will be reincarnated as a book called The Judeo-Christian State.
AUSrael will be declared a Judeo-Christian state. All non-Judeo-Christians will be ethnically cleansed.
A Law of Return will be enacted enabling anyone in the world with a Judeo-Christian mother to assume AUSraeli citizenship. Those who haven't got yummy Judeo-Christian mummies... well, tough titties.
Oh, and Fairfax will be run out of town... not to mention country.

Pray Julie Bishop succeeds in her new shadow portfolio.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whose Conclusions?

In my 17/11/08 post Rambam Alert, I drew attention to the imminent rambamming of a group of 4 Australian journalists, including Paul Sheehan of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian's Janet Albrechtsen. Both Sheehan and Albrechtsen duly sang for their supper in their respective rags. (See my posts Janet's Dream, 28/11/08, & Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH, 13/1/09, & OFMIPR 2, 19/1/09)

I note, however, that in today's Australian Jewish News, there were actually 8 journalists on "the Jewish community study mission to Israel," 4 sponsored by the Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD), and 4 by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC). The JBD group, in addition to Sheehan and Albrechtsen, also included Peter Charley, EP of SBS TV's Dateline and Jacinta Tynan of Sky News. The AIJAC group was made up of Margaret Easterbrook (The Age), Alan Kirk (foreign editor, The West Australian), John Roskam (ED Institute of Public Affairs Australia), and Rebecca Weisser (The Australian).

Sheehan is quoted as reporting back to a JBD plenum on 17/2/09: "The highlight of the trip 'was the quality and lucidity of so many of the experts. You simply can't replicate this intensity of experience second hand'." So intense were they that, as the AJN informs us, "Sheehan later wrote in one of his... columns that Israel has a 'plethora of warrior-scholars', people who were once in elite military units and are now members of elite academic institutions." (Journalists delve deeper into Israel on study tour)

Planet Janet confided at same that she was hot to trot for more: "[T]he trip had left her 'brimming with ideas and a deeper understanding of the problems facing Israelis, Palestinians and the complicated patchwork of conflicts that is mistakenly - and with a degree of laziness - described as the Arab-Israeli conflict. As soon as I left, I wanted to return to learn more'."

AIJAC ED Colin Rubenstein told the AJN: "[T]he group 'saw the geographical and strategic dimensions of the country and we exposed them to as many people as we could. You try to convey the reality and the complexity of the situation and they draw their own conclusions."

Pull the other!

Danny Boy

He's the pot which calls the kettle black: "The world cannot afford to live with a nuclear Iran."

People he doesn't like will get to sleep with the fishes : "Israel has made it very clear that it will not live with a nuclear Iran, and I believe that Israel has the ability and the capacity to make sure that it will not happen."

He does the time warp: "We all paid a huge price for not taking seriously the ranting of another small, moustached leader who some people considered as crazy, and I don't think we have the luxury to show the same indifference and apathy as we did before."

He speaks, we listen: "Keep away from Durban."

He's such a smoothie: "Countries like Australia who, to my mind, represent the best of what democracy and civilization can be, shouldn't take part in this charade."

He's the doting dads' doting dad: "I think the Israeli troops should get a medal for the way they conducted themselves in [Gaza]... There is no army in the world as moral and as careful about not hitting civilians as the Israeli army."

He's a stand-up comedian: "For us every dead Palestinian child is a horrible mistake and a tragedy. For Hamas every dead Israeli child is a huge success and a cause for victory, and that's the kind of people we are fighting."*

He's Dan Gillerman, Israel's immediate past UN ambassador.

And he's coming our way.

We should be so lucky.

[* I wish I could credit him with originality, but... Here's our own Mark Leibler: "For Hamas and Hezbollah, every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration. Every dead Palestinian child is a tragedy and a mistake."]

[Quotes from Israel ready to strike Iran: ex-envoy (14/2/09) & Boycott UN forum, says Israeli ex-envoy (16/2/09), Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nobel Prize Winners On the March

A certain Zionist troll out there is given to the practice of hawking a list of Jewish and Arab Nobel Prize winners - the list of Jews being longer than the list of Arabs - on blogs such as this. You can view it as the first comment to my 8/2/09 post On Planet Sheridan... This peculiar behaviour tells us much about the workings of the Zionist mind. There's the obvious conflation of the religious descriptor 'Jew' with the political descriptor 'Zionist', for example. All Jews, no matter whether they support or oppose the concept of a Jewish state in Palestine, are simply assumed to be Zionists. Then there's the amusing 'My-list-is-longer- than-your-list' bragging reminiscent of an adolescent male with a phallic fixation. But what comes through most strongly is the regressive tribalism of the exercise: in posting his downright silly and utterly irrelevant list, the troll in question is above all alleging the superiority of what he believes to be 'his' tribe over someone else's. Sadly, for such Zionist ethnic supremacists, it's really all about ubermenschen and untermenschen. How very dated.

I was reminded of our troll by a work of Zionist propaganda published in New York in 1946 - J Mitchell Rosenberg's The Story of Zionism: A Bird's-Eye View. Rosenberg, a lawyer, tried to sell the Zionist project to an American audience in ways they could easily understand as the heirs of an analogous colonial-settler movement: "History has its 'waves of the future'... One of history's 'waves' was our own great democracy, America. In 1492 or earlier the American continent was first discovered. North America was then a sprawling giant occupied only by several hundred thousand Indians... Europeans in the centuries to follow, driven by economic necessity, religious persecution, political tyranny, etc streamed by the millions from all over the globe into the United States. None of them stopped to ask the question: Shall we migrate where there already are inhabitants? No! Necessity knew no questions. It knew no doubts. They poured in generation after generation. (This is not meant as a condonation of unwarranted acts of bloodshed against Indians which soil some early pages of American history.) They built up the greatest democracy the world has ever known, the greatest laboratory of human experimentation." The native Americans just got dumped by one of those inexorable European "waves of the future." Nothing personal, of course. When you're riding one of those "waves of the future," you've got to expect some collateral damage.

As in America, so too in Palestine - but with a difference: "The Jews in going to Palestine are returning to a country they once occupied as an independent country, for some 1500 years. They were a normal people rooted in their soil. As an autonomous, soil-rooted people they gave to the world the collective contribution of the Jewish people, Prophetism, the message of the immortal prophets, the message of equal treatment for the widow and the orphan, of justice and mercy, of peace and international law." Prophetism? Didn't the great Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) say that "all nations possessed prophets, and that the prophetic gift was not peculiar to the Jews"? And as for their supposed message - equality, justice, peace and international law - these are certainly not words anyone would associate with Israel today. Try instead inequality, injustice, war and jungle law. But at least, in the 40's, Zionists hadn't yet discovered the utility of Muslim-bashing: "The Hebraic contribution to civilization is the foundation of Christianity and Mohammedanism..."

Volkisch nationalism, culminating in the deadly hyper-strain of Nazism, was all the rage in pre-war Europe. Zionism, with its concocted national mythology and elevation of the national collective over the individual, was no exception: "[A]fter a valiant struggle... by dint of the force majeure of Rome, the Jews were driven from Palestine in 70 CE and dispersed all over the globe. They then ceased to live the life of a nation rooted in its soil. Their contributions to civilization thereafter were not the contributions of collective Israel, but those of individual Jews. The Jew today is seeking to return to Palestine, to restore the balance and pick up the thread where it was cut asunder in 70 CE. He wants to live the life of a sane, normal people and once again make a collective, national contribution to world civilization." Sane? Normal? Israel? How quaint this looks today.

A bogus national narrative, however, was not in itself persuasive enough. So that old standby, historic "necessity," which always played well with Americans, was wheeled in: "Economic necessity and wholesale extermination, religious persecution and cultural imperative are driving the Jew to his old homeland in droves, to a country largely unoccupied and vastly deserted. If the Jews rescued by Palestine had stopped to ask: Shall we migrate to Palestine? they might have found a haven of refuge in the nethermost regions of the high seas and in the gas chambers of Hitlerite Europe." No choice, eh? Why then did only 25.7% of German Jewish emigrants choose Palestine from 1933-1938? (Before Catastrophe: The Distinctive Path of German Zionism, Hagit Lavsky, 1996, p 252) And after the war? What then? Israeli academic Yosef Grodzinsky's book In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Story of Jews in Displaced Persons Camps & Their Forced Role in the Founding of Israel (2004) reveals that, at most, only 40% of Jewish DPs actually went to Israel, and tells the story of how Zionist agents took control of the DP camps, discouraging (and even blocking by force) the emigration of Jews to other places and forcibly conscripting them into the ranks of their armed forces in Palestine.

But make no mistake, for Rosenberg the Zionist, the real driving force was not so much "necessity" as "historic instinct": "'Historic instinct' is driving the Jews of Europe to Palestine, their ancestral home, waiting to receive them with open hands in the broad daylight or in the dark of night, 'legally' or clandestinely, their ancestral home where they can find security for their body and peace for their soul and help in creating the great treasurehouse of democracy, the America of the Middle East, for the benefit of all mankind." All mankind, eh? And that 'historic instinct' for Palestine? Funny how lacking it was in American Jews: "Despite Ben-Gurion's exhortations, American Jews simply ignored the Jewish state's call for their immigration. From 1948 until 1967, approximately 10,000 permanent immigrants to Israel came from the United States... the most populous and wealthiest nation of the Diaspora... " (Irreconcilable Differences? The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel, Steven T Rosenthal, 2001, p 27) And what of our author, J Mitchell Rosenberg? Not an ounce of "historic instinct" in him: after lawyering, he went on to become a lecturer in political science at the New School, Brooklyn College, and the University of Rhode Island, passing away in the US in 2000.

"In Palestine, the song of Judaea reverberates through the valleys and through the streets, the song of free men in the only country where they feel masters and where the winds of discrimination will not blow. It was the Jews who made Palestine the Holy Land in the past, not the Canaanites nor the Arabs, and it is the Jews who will make it the Land of Promise for the future. The Arabs who have occupied Palestine for the last 1300 years, under changing and Turkish hegemony, have sorely neglected the country and have contribited not a whit either to Palestine or to the world at large. The Jews are bringing in culture and civilization to Palestine and the Middle East." Sound familiar? Seems our Zionist troll hasn't progressed since 1946.

And cop this: "Arab opposition to Zionism stems not from the Arab masses who have nothing to lose but their shackles. It stems from the feudalistic Arab effendis who fear the loss of their vested interests and the end of their stranglehold on the Arab felaheen or peasants who live a life of utter impoverishment and strangling indebtedness. It also stems from Arab political megalomaniacs." Now what could the Palestinian Arabs possibly have to fear from the influx of all these Prophets and Nobel Prize winners? The only possible explanation for their hostility is that they were stirred up by effendis and megalomaniacs, right? And those confining "shackles"? A mere two years after the publication of Rosenberg's brief, felaheen and effendi alike, had been liberated from 78% of their homeland by heavily armoured columns of Prophets and Nobel Prize winners.

But here's the clincher: "Viewing the magnitude and importance of the Jewish problem, its colossal dimensions and tragic depths, and the absence of an Arab problem, the Arab of Palestine must give way without any harm to himself to a case of far greater stringency, of far greater need and dire necessity, of a life and death struggle on the part of the Jew." Our problem's bigger than your problem, sand niggers, so stand aside!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blight Unto the Nations

The most recent BBC World Service Poll, conducted jointly by international polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, makes interesting reading. The poll, conducted across 21 countries, including Australia, Egypt (the only Arab country polled), Turkey and Indonesia (the only 2 non- Arab Muslim countries polled), asked over 13, 500 people their views of the influence in the world of a further 21 nations, including Israel.

Nineteen of the 21 nations polled had a negative view of Israel's influence, with 67% of Australians giving it the thumbs down compared with 60% of Indonesians, 70% of Turks, and 87% of Egyptians. The polling was completed before Israel's recent rampage in Gaza. The results can be viewed at

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Likud Peace

"[Benjamin Netanyahu] is a hardliner on security. However, when he was prime minister a decade ago, he showed himself, like his Likud predecessor, Menachem Begin, willing to make peace deals involving trading land for peace." (Future unclear as voters go Right, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 12/2/09)

This is what is known as received wisdom - that only hardline Israeli politicians can sell 'peace' deals to security-conscious Israelis. Hardliners like Menachem Begin, for instance, who traded Egypt's Sinai Peninsula (captured along with the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights in 1967) for 'peace' with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat at Camp David in 1979. The Camp David 'peace', it should be remembered, came only after a near successful Egyptian-Syrian attempt to win back their respective territories by force of arms in October 1973. But what sort of peacemaker was Likud hardliner Begin, and what was the nature of the 'peace' hammered out under the auspices of US president Jimmy Carter at Camp David? The following snippets from William B Quandt's Camp David: Peacemaking & Politics (1986) give us a pretty good idea:

Carter set out to achieve a comprehensive peace involving Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He had declared that "the third ultimate requirement for peace is to deal with the Palestine problem... there has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years." (p 48 )

Sadat, however, was not quite as forthcoming as Carter on that score: "His views on the Palestine question were the most puzzling, and the Americans were never quite sure how strongly committed to the Palestinians Sadat was. At this stage, however, he had said nothing to indicate that he was prepared for a separate agreement with Israel that offered nothing to the Palestinians." (p 53)

But even if Sadat and Carter had been on the same wavelength regarding the Palestinians, Israel had the Americans by the short & curlies: "[Foreign minister Moshe] Dayan... replied that it was possible to reach an agreement. Israel could go along with the procedures that Carter and [Secretary of State Cyrus] Vance had outlined. In return, Carter should say that all previous agreements with Israel remained in force and that there would be no imposed settlement and no pressure in the form of cuts in economic or military aid. Israel should be free to object to a Palestinian state, and the US should say that Israel did not have to withdraw to the 1967 lines... Dayan could then tell the American Jews that there was an agreement and they would be happy. But if he was obliged to say that Israel would have to deal with the PLO or a Palestinian state, then there would be screaming in the US and in Israel. Carter saw the thrust of Dayan's remarks and said a confrontation would not be good for Israel either." (p 129)

Carter had got the message: "[National Security advisor Zbigniew] Brzezinski at the time worried about the impression left with the Israelis that the president was susceptible to pressure." (p 131)

"Increasingly, Carter and Sadat seemed to be thinking of an Egyptian-Israeli accord, one only loosely connected to an attempt to negotiate an agreement on the Palestinian question. Sadat focused his comments almost entirely on Sinai, where he insisted on a full withdrawal by Israeli forces. He rarely talked in detail about the West Bank or Gaza, preferring to stress general principles such as nonacquisition of territory by force and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination. He did not strongly support the American attempt to mobilise opinion behind a freeze on settlements and the applicability of UN Resolution 242 [which called for 'Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict'] to all fronts. Carter was therefore left in the awkward position of appearing to be more pro-Arab than Sadat, a politically vulnerable position to say the least. Hence the effort was made to get Sadat to put forward a clear proposal on the West Bank and Gaza. When he proved reluctant to do so, Carter apparently began to conclude that Sadat's real interest was a bilateral Egyptian-Israeli deal. This appraisal was probably accurate... " (p 177)

"Turning to the Israeli position, Carter said that even if Israel was not required to withdraw completely from the West Bank, and even if there was no Palestinian state, Begin would still not show flexibility. He would not stop settlement activity; he would not give up the settlements in Sinai; he would not allow the Sinai settlements to remain under UN or Egyptian protection; he would not agree to withdraw politically from the West Bank even if Israel could retain military outposts; he would not recognise that 242 applied to all fronts; and he would not give the Palestinians the right to choose, at the end of the interim period, whether they wanted to be affiliated with Jordan or Israel or to continue the self-rule arrangements." (p 186)

"... Carter had repeatedly pledged never to cut economic or military aid to Israel as a form of pressure, and he had vowed not to impose an American peace plan. So Begin could anticipate that little more than a verbal disagreement would result if the Camp David talks failed.' (p 208)

"The obvious trade... was to drop reference to withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for Israeli willingness to leave the Sinai completely.' (p 236)

"Sadat's foreign minister was later to write: 'In my opinion, Dayan's discussions with Sadat, which lasted less than an hour, was the straw that broke the camel's back and a turning point towards Sadat's involvement in a series of concessions, arriving at the point of total surrender and, in the end, his signing something beyond Israel's most optimistic dreams'." (p 238)

"Dayan suggested that 242 be referred to only with regard to future Jordanian-Israeli peace negotiations. Since in Begin's view King Hussein [of Jordan] had no valid claim to the West Bank... the issue of withdrawal should not arise. For those areas, Begin would agree to only one of 2 possible outcomes: perpetual autonomy or the imposition of Israeli sovereignty at the end of the 5-year transitional period." (p 244)

"[Attorney General Professor] Barak had little support for [Vance's] desire to continue the Camp David talks until the crucial West Bank and Gaza issues could be fully resolved. So his alternative of finding ambiguous language was implicitly accepted. The central idea, worked out between Barak and Vance was to have 2 synchronised sets of negotiations, one involving Jordan and Israel and one involving Israel and the elected representatives of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, joined by Egypt and Jordan. The draft would say that the principles of 242 applied to 'the negotiations' without spelling out what that meant in reality. Egypt and the US could claim that it meant that 242 did apply to the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel would maintain that it applied only to the peace treaty negotiated between Jordan and Israel, where the question of the future of the West Bank and Gaza would not be raised. Few outside observers would have been able to follow the logic of this arcane discussion, but if they had, they would have seen that a basis for future arguments was being laid." (p 244-245)

"In the end, events outside the immediate scope of the Egyptian-Israeli negotiations broke the stalemate. The shah of Iran fell from power in early 1979, and then everyone flinched, Carter most of all. For political and strategic reasons he concluded that he could not let the chance of peace between Egypt and Israel slip away while Iran was caught up in revolution. Even at some risk to his own reputation, he was prepared to once again make a major gamble to reach an agreement. And if Begin could not be moved, then Sadat would have to be." (p 290) And the rest, as they say, is history.

It is worth dwelling on the significance for the Middle East conflict of Sadat's sell-out at Camp David. Egypt's best known journalist Mohamed Heikal reflected: "The October War [of 1973] was a strategic victory for the Arabs. It was almost a tactical victory for the Arab armies, Egyptian and Syrian, which fought the war, but this in the end eluded them owing to miscalculations in the field and America's determination to rescue Israel, whatever the cost. Yet it is a fact that, as 1973 ended, the world was waiting with bated breath to see what this new political and economic giant, the Arab world, would make of its opportunity. Now, as I write, 9 years later, with the war in Lebanon recently ended, the contrast between original hopes and present reality is almost too bitter to contemplate. If it can be said that in 1967 Arab policies were betrayed by Arab arms, it is no less true that in 1973 Arab arms were betrayed by Arab policies. Israel's invasion of Lebanon [1982] revealed to all the Arabs' total impotence - political, military, economic. It was the moment of their greatest humiliation and shame. How Sadat would have reacted to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is impossible to say [Sadat was assassinated in October 1981]. But what is certain is that, by stating categorically in Jerusalem that there would never be another war between Egypt and Israel, he had given a one-sided pledge of non-belligerence of which Israel was to take full advantage. If there had been no such pledge, if Egypt had still been an active element in the Middle East military equation, the Israelis would never have dreamed of committing a hundred thousand troops to the invasion of their northern neighbour. The fact that Sadat's policies had ensured the total and inevitable isolation of Egypt from the rest of the Arab world did more than anything else to give a clear passage for Sharon's tanks on the road to Beirut. Looked at dispassionately, it can be seen that the siege of Beirut was the logical outcome of the Camp David agreements. From the outset it was perfectly clear that Begin knew exactly what he intended these agreements to mean - no Palestinian state, no independent Palestinian entity, and if the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza insisted on claiming to be represented by the PLO, then the PLO would have to be destroyed. The first stage of destruction involved the arrest and expulsion of prominent PLO supporters living under Israeli occupation, seizing land, cutting off water and various other forms of harassment. The second stage took the form of outright war. The Arabs could do nothing to stop Israel because by making a separate peace the state which was the Arab world's natural leader had effectively disarmed all the others as well as itself. The free hand which Sadat gratuitously presented to the Israelis was not exploited by them at the expense of the Palestinians alone; all Arabs east of the Suez Canal thereby became immediately exposed. Lebanon is the most obvious victim, but Syria too has felt the full weight of Israeli weaponry, and even Iraq became the target for the Israeli airforce. Egypt's opting out had a centrifugal effect on all other Arab countries, diverting their attention from what had for long been the dream of unity - however imperfectly understood or pursued, yet a noble and stimulating dream - into barren territorial rivalries, religious conflicts and social strife. The Arab world had become well and truly balkanized." (Autumn of Fury, 1983, pp 284-285)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Backburning the Palestinians?

The Victorian firestorm: hundreds of homes, farms, and businesses - charred, smouldering, crushed. Anywhere up to 200 dead. Hundreds more homeless. Livelihoods and futures destroyed. The earlier Gaza firestorm: thousands of homes, farms, and businesses reduced to twisted rubble. Over a thousand dead. Thousands more maimed. Tens of thousands homeless. Livelihoods and futures destroyed. The similarities in the devastation and suffering of the two communities, the Australian and the Palestinian, are stark and obvious to us all - but not to one man, The Australian's Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, the Australian corporate media's most vocal advocate for Israel. No, the stark and obvious parallel between Victoria and Gaza has completely evaded him. For Sheridan, the only parallel - you guessed it - is with Israel.

Why in the first place it fell to Murdoch fishwrapper's foreign editor to write an opinion piece about one of Australia's greatest natural disasters (Crisis survived, we must quickly apply the lessons, 12/2/09) is a mystery (like much that goes on at The Australian) we shall probably take to our graves. Unsurprisingly, the result was predictably cliched ("They breed them tough in the Australian bush, none tougher than the women, who always seem to be at the front of all the volunteer efforts; and none tougher than the men, who fight like tigers to save their homes until it's too late, and then fight to save their families; and none tougher than the children, who manage to stay optimistic, that is, to stay children") and utterly simplistic ("If backburning makes a forest a little less pretty but saves a dozen Australian lives in a rural town, then we must backburn much more aggressively"). Still, if that had been it, I could merely have consigned it to the recycling bin without further thought. But no, there was more. There was this bizarre concluding paragraph: "More people have died in fires in Australia this year than have died from terrorism in Israel in the past several years. I would never trivialise terrorism in Israel. Rather I applaud the national effort the Israelis put into confronting their national danger. We should do no less."

Sheridan's delusional obsession with Israel seems total. When he contemplates the firestorm sweeping south-east Victoria, he sees a firestorm of Palestinian "terrorism" sweeping Israel, and in Operation Cast Lead, an aggressive backburning operation conducted by tough Israeli pioneers fighting desperately to save their homes and families. This is seriously weird. Planet Sheridan indeed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get UNRWA: the Ins & Outs of a Massacre

When Zionist propagandists attempt to justify the legitimacy of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine, they usually cite United Nations General Assembly resolution (181) of 1947, which proposed the partitioning of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state*, as the international community's stamp of legality for their apartheid project. Nevertheless, despite the UN's role in giving birth to Israel, they seldom miss an opportunity to lash out at it. This should come as no surprise given that, as the upholder (however imperfect) of international law, the UN cannot but blow the whistle on Israel as a serial flouter of same.

[* For the politics of partition see my posts The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3 (14/3/08), Insatiable (4/5/08), & Talking Turkey on the Two-State Solution (11/11/08)]

The United Nations Relief & Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is the UN agency Israel-firsters most love to hate. For example, the US Congress (Israeli-occupied territory as Patrick Buchanan reminds us) on 28/1/09 passed a bizarre resolution "that the UN should take immediate steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the UNRWA... to ensure that it is not providing funding, employment, or other support to terrorists."*

[* My favorite paragraphs of resolution 29 are the ones that point out that Ismail Haniyeh, the democratically-elected Hamas prime minister of Palestine, was the graduate of an UNRWA school, and that "on March 16, 2007, the New York Times exposed a new al-Qaeda cell, Fatah al-Islam, that was organizing, training and plotting attacks against the US from an UNRWA-administered and run camp in Lebanon."]

Most recently, however, Israel has been irked by UNRWA personnel indignantly speaking out against the damage inflicted on some 50 UN facilities by the recent Israeli firestorm unleashed on all and sundry in the Gaza Strip. Presumably, they should have simply gritted their teeth and muttered quietly to themselves (and the smoking walls of their schools and compounds). It was inevitable, then, that a beleaguered Israeli propaganda mill would seize on any opportunity to get UNRWA.

This presented itself when the UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Jerusalem issued a clarification that an IDF mortar strike, which killed 43 Palestinians in Jabaliya on 6 January, killed them not while they were sheltering inside an UNRWA school but in the street outside. The clarification came because another branch of the UN, its humanitarian affairs agency, the Office for the Co-ordination of Human Affairs (OCHA), which had, like UNRWA officials, reported on 6 January that the massacre had taken place in the street outside the school, mistakenly reported on 7 January that the school itself had been hit. (Why UN 'reversal' over Gaza school should be treated with caution, Jonathan Miller,, 5/2/09)

Such a slip, however, is grist to Israel's propaganda mill and will be used from now on by all the usual suspects as a stick with which to beat the UN in general and agencies like OCHA and UNRWA in particular.

First cab off the rank here, of course, was The Australian with an extract from Canada's The Globe & Mail in its Cut & Paste attacking UNRWA's Gaza director John Ging for not "setting the record straight" (UN disseminates lies & a willing media swallows them, 4/2/09). Of course, Ging wouldn't have had anything more pressing to do in Gaza, now would he? Next day Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan got in on the act with "Even in this recent Gaza operation, remember the outrage at the Israeli rocket fire on the school in the Jabaliya refugee camp? This dominated the news for days and now it turns out no Israeli munition ever hit the school." (There may be the will but not necessarilly the way)
And then, on 6 February, with Jerusalem correspondent Abraham Rabinovich's report UN backdown on 'school massacre' in Gaza war, it was front page news.

This revelation of UN 'duplicity' was accompanied by a particularly seedy editorial, The evidence is in on Islamist reform: From Melbourne to the Middle East, terrorists want to kill, occasioned by the 15-year sentence imposed by a Melbourne court on Abdul Nacer Benbrika for "terror offences." The editorialist had concocted an extraordinary melange, in which Benbrika, the World Trade Centre terrorists, an alleged Iraqi recruiter of suicide bombers, Hamas, and the UN were blended together: "While Islamic extremists sometimes dress up their motives in the language of conventional politics, they are at war with everybody who does not agree with them. The vast majority of Muslims understand this and recognise there is no place in their faith for terror of the Hamas and Benbrika kind... It is also time for enemies of Israel to stop blaming the Jewish state for war crimes it did not commit, presumably on the assumption that anything that makes Israel look bad helps Hamas, the ostensible ally of innocent Palestinians. Last month, UN officials in Gaza said Israeli forces had mortared a school where they knew civilians were sheltering. It made international headlines and undoubtedly encouraged Muslim anger all over the world. But it wasn't true - and the UN knew it." S0, for The Australian, there is no difference whatever between Benbrika's jihadi cell and an Islamic resistance movement such as Hamas; Hamas is not the democratically elected government of Palestine, but only an "ostensible ally of innocent Palestinians"; accusing Israel of war crimes makes one an "enemy of Israel"; and the UN, like Hamas (and presumably Benbrika), is an enemy of Israel!

Oh, and those 43 dead Palestinians: don't you feel a whole lot better knowing that they were murdered outside rather than inside the school?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Planet Sheridan...

My, it's been a refreshingly long time since we've heard from Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian, on the subject of Palestine/Israel. All good things must come to an end though, and the bugger's back on the opinion pages with the usual Zio-centric tripe: There may be the will but not necessarily the way: Peace in the Middle East is not possible whatever Obama does so long as Palestinians oppose it (5/2/09).

On Planet Sheridan, of course, it's always the Palestinians who want war, and it's always the Israelis who strive for peace, including Likud leader and probable next prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Netanyahu will be demonised by the usual suspects but he will be no barrier to peace."

No barrier to peace? Does The Australian's foreign editor bother reading his own foreign correspondents? Apparently not. Here's what The Australian's Jerusalem correspondent Abraham Rabinovich wrote about Netanyahu on 30/1/09: "Of the 3 candidates for prime minister, Mr Netanyahu is the only one who does not endorse a two-state solution as advocated by the US - a Palestinian state and a Jewish state alongside each other." (Right-wing, one-state party leads Israeli polls)

Did he bother reading The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons' report about Netanyahu vowing to "'completely uproot' Hamas in the Gaza Strip" and "defeat 'the Iranian threat at all levels'"? (We must drive out enemies, says Bibi, 6/2/09) It seems not.

Even if Netanyahu found peace in the way that some people find Jesus, there'd be the slight matter of the Likud charter (aka the Likud Party platform), unheard of in the pages of The Heart of The Nation: "The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as independent and sovereign state."/"The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel... The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting." (Likud Charter does not recognise Palestine, Frank Barat,, 31/1/09)

He's going to tear up that little barrier to peace, is he?

On Planet Sheridan, an entity he calls "Palestine" is going to get "all the land of the West Bank and Gaza except for the large Jewish settlement blocks [sic] that are effectively suburbs of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. These house 80% of the Jewish settlers on 5% of the disputed land. The new Palestinian state would get land from Israel proper to make up for this 5%."

This, of course, is an exercise in prestidigitation: 1) "Disputed land" is Zionist jargon for occupied land; 2) The large Israeli settlement blocs are not "effectively suburbs of Tel Aviv"; and 3) When Sheridan talks about "Palestine" getting "all of the land of the West Bank," he either fails to let on, or is ignorant of the fact, that 30% of the West Bank, namely the Jordan Valley, will be retained by Israel, and that another 10% has been hived off by Israel's apartheid/annexation wall. All of the West Bank, itself only 22% of historic Palestine, thus reduces by 40%.

On Planet Sheridan, poor old Israel, despite its itching to get rid of "all" (or even 55%) of the West Bank, is unfortunately unable to find a "credible Palestinian leadership [which] can put an end to serious terrorism especially cross-border rocket launches," or which "will accept that such a settlement is the end of Palestinian territorial claims."

Shucks! Apparently, neither Abbas nor Hamas are credible. Nor Arafat before them. Nor... In fact, never being able to find a Palestinian peace partner is actually something of a Zionist tradition. As Middle East scholar Gabriel Piterberg has pointed out, back in 1924, when the British proposed to establish a legislative council for all of Palestine's inhabitants on the basis of the existing demographic configuration (Jewish minority/Arab majority), the leader of Palestine's Jewish community, David Ben-Gurion, found himself in a lather as to how to avoid dealing with the (then) leadership of the Palestinian national movement: "Ben-Gurion employed every trick in the book to avoid doing so, from a spurious white man's burden ('we' cannot reach a true understanding with the Arabs until 'we' help them become civilized and progressive, and until 'we' help transform their national movement so that it is led by workers rather than effendis and clerics), through settler-colonial superciliousness to outright cynicism and procrastination. This he did by means of what [Shabtai] Teveth [his biographer] calls the 'class formula'... Only when the Arab national movement is led by workers, proclaimed Ben-Gurion, will such an understanding be possible. Why the need to stall? Ben-Gurion's vision of how the Zionist project would come to fruition was in essence no different from Jabotinsky's 'Iron Wall' metaphor in his 1923 article of the same name, which recognized the genuine resistance of indigenous people to the threat of external dispossession and the corresponding solution of erecting an iron wall - 'the strengthening in Palestine of a government without any kind of Arab influence'. Where Ben-Gurion differed from Jabotinsky was in his view that it was unwise openly to define the reality in Palestine as a conflict between a settler-national movement versus an indigenous one until the Yishuv became ineradicably solid. The class formula was an expedient rationale for stalling, crafted as it was in a language perfectly appropriate to Ben-Gurion's institutional position as secretary general of the Histadrut. For Ben-Gurion such language was expedient; he dropped it like a hot potato as soon as he could." (The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics & Scholarship in Israel, 2008, pp 73-74) Eighty-five years on, Zionist leaders are still stalling.

On Planet Sheridan, it should come as no great surprise to find that the Gaza massacres are all Hamas' fault: "The cost in innocent Palestinian lives was heavy and tragic, and the fault... rests entirely with Hamas, the terrorist death-cult that rules Gaza. I do not believe a single story of Israeli war crimes or atrocities in Gaza. There is no evidence of any such story beyond Palestinian eye-witness accounts and on countless* previous occasions these accounts have been fabricated... The Israelis are among the most disciplined troops in the world and go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties." No mention of the international media being kept out of Gaza, of course.

All Palestinians, it seems, are liars on Planet Sheridan, and the IOF is completely above reproach. But what would Sheridan make of this: "'Fire on anything that moves in Zeitoun' - that was the order handed down to Israeli troops in the Givati Shaked battalion, who reduced the eastern Gaza City suburb to little more than rubble in a matter of days... 'We pounded Zeitoun into the ground', an Israeli soldier who was deployed in the area, told The Times... We pounded them with fire; they never had a chance'." (Israeli soldiers recall Gaza attack orders, Sheera Frenkel, The Times, 28/1/09)

A self-hating Jew perhaps? Or this: "Having interviewed dozens of victims and witnesses and, having examined the ballistic evidence from north to south, we are convinced that Israel did not do everything possible to minimise civilians' harm and death', said Fred Abrahams of Human Rights Watch. The rules of engagement were exceedingly loose, and they dropped the bar on the laws of war. This allowed civilian casualties to rise." (ibid) Bleeding heart definitely, probably self-hating Jew to boot. Or this: "Doctors operating the only brain-scanning machine at an Egyptian hospital near Gaza have been almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children arriving with bullet wounds to the head." (Children found with bullets lodged in their head, Topaz Amoore,, 18/1/09) Gypos, get real!

On Planet Sheridan, remember, Hamas is not an Islamic resistance movement, but merely a "terrorist death-cult." And why, Sheridan asks, did this terrorist outfit goad easy-going, mild-mannered Israel to respond to its constant acts of naked aggression? That's easy: Hamas wanted to "have Israel painted again as the international villain." Pretty fiendish, eh?

You see, on Planet Sheridan, it's always Israel that responds and Hamas that attacks. Here on Planet Earth, however, it's not quite that simple, as Khalid Meshaal of Hamas' political bureau explains: "For 6 months we in Hamas observed the ceasefire. Israel broke it repeatedly from the start. Israel was required to open crossings to Gaza, and extend the truce to the West Bank. It proceeded to tighten its deadly siege of Gaza, repeatedly cutting electricity and water supplies. The collective punishment accelerated, as did the assassinations and killings. Thirty Gazans were killed by Israeli fire and hundreds of patients died as a direct effect of the siege during the so-called ceasefire. Israel enjoyed a period of calm. Our people did not... The logic of those who demand that we stop our resistance is absurd. They absolve the aggressor and occupier, armed with the deadliest weapons of death and destruction, of responsibility, while blaming the victim, prisoner and occupied. Our modest, home-made rockets are our cry of protest to the world. Israel and its American and European sponsors want us to be killed in silence. But die in silence we will not." (Gaza: the great divide -1, The Age, 7/1/09)

But no, Sheridan wouldn't be found dead reading The Age. And anyway, seeing Meshaal's not only a lying Palestinian, but also one of the leaders of the "terrorist death cult" which is Hamas, what he has to say can hardly be "credible" now, can it? All this talk about blockades and extra-judicial murders - baloney - Sheridan knows better: "Hamas's goals and motivation are theological and filled with sectarian hatred and anti-Semitism," and he wheels out the Hamas charter to prove it (See my 30/3/08 post Jerusalem Prize Syndrome). From this hoary document we are supposed to understand that Hamas, in addition to being a "terrorist death cult," is also just another of your generic, Jew-killing jihadi organisations. Which doesn't quite explain why, as Sheridan asserts, "Hamas has engaged in countless* atrocities against Palestinians it doesn't like. It has murdered many Fateh men, but the media subjects this behaviour to very little scrutiny." Much like his own paper, I guess, which has kept schtum about USrael's Palestinian collaborators dishing it out to alleged Hamas supporters in the West Bank*. Nor, for that matter, would you read in The Australian that the Israeli Occupation Forces were instructed by the chief military rabbinate not "to 'be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel'." (Israeli MP: military rabbi turned Gaza into holy war,, 8/2/09). That Israeli MP, Avshalom Vilan, just has to be a self-hating Jew!

[*"The horrific torture of hundreds of people by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank is being funded by British taxpayers... The victims - some left maimed - are rounded up for alleged involvement with the militant Islamic group Hamas, yet many have nothing to do with it." (Financed by the British taxpayer, brutal torturers of the West Bank, David Rose,, 31/1/09)]

On Planet Sheridan, Palestinians are a perennial worry. Sheridan informs us that not only do the buggers carry the dreaded jihad virus ("the wider ideology of Islamist jihad... has currency in the Palestinian population..."), but that they're multiplying like rabbits - and it's not because they're randy as, mind you - but because "they... have a long-term demographic strategy." No, not along the lines of your civilized Peter Costello demographic strategy ("one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country") but popping 'em out like there's no tomorrow (which, come to think of it, there probably isn't in the Gaza Strip): "In 1950, there were about 240,000 Gazans. Now there are about 1.5 million. By 2040 there will be 3 million. Eventually, they believe, they will swamp Israel with sheer numbers."

Here we find Sheridan climbing into bed (gross thought I know) with the SMH's Islamophobe-in-residence, Paul Sheehan, who only last month wrote of the Gaza Palestinians: "Women, living under sharia law, are used primarily as breeding stock." (See my 13/1/09 post Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH) Makes me wonder - Sheridan's a Catholic, right? He's contra condoms, right? But would he consider, I wonder, heading up a 'Condoms for Gaza' campaign if it were necessary to save his "plucky" little Israel from this biological ticking bomb? Now there's a thought!

On Planet Sheridan, "instead of a solution, we should look for Israel to manage the situation at the lowest level of violence possible, while encouraging any normalisation that can take place." IOW, recruit collaborators, and beat the crap out of the rest. Or better, what obtains now: recruit collaborators to beat the crap out of the rest.

[*Countless: I should explain that Sheridan has this way with numbers, as a general rule preferring 'thousands' to 'hundreds' if it helps bolster his 'case' (See my 4 & 10/2/08 posts When Even the Retraction is Dodgy 1 & 2). It seems now that "countless" (X2) is preferred over 'thousands'.]

Friday, February 6, 2009

That Shitty Little Country 1

"An international spat has developed over disparaging comments about Israel allegedly made by the French ambassador to London at a private dinner party. During a conversation about the Middle East crisis with the owner of the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Conrad Black, ambassador Daniel Bernard is reported to have spoken about 'that shitty little country Israel'." ('Anti-Semitic' French envoy under fire, BBC News, 20/12/01)

It seems we have a new Israeli propaganda genre - the 'Dear Palestinian' letter. Hardly have I fended off one (See my 21/1/09 post Dear Neighbour from Hell), than another has darkened my doorstep. Dear Citizen of Gaza , supposedly written by one Yishai (Reserve Soldier) for the Israeli Hebrew-language daily Ma'ariv and translated into English by Zionist propaganda site IMRA, is designed to persuade world (& no doubt Israeli) public opinion that, while Israelis all exhibit sweetness, light and empathy, those dreadful, brainwashed Gazans obstinately and unreasonably persist in riling them when what they should be doing is pulling out their collective finger, toppling the Hamas regime, and generally getting a life (when they're not busy dying, of course) so that warm and cuddly Israelis might feel sufficiently motivated to pop in for a cuppa. What follows is Yishai's priceless letter in italics, peppered with some reality checks from the killing fields of Gaza and beyond.

"Dear Citizen of Gaza,

"Hello, While the world watches the ruins in Gaza, you return to your home which remains standing. However, I am sure that it is clear to you that someone was in your home while you were away. I am that someone. I spent long hours imagining how you would react when you walked into your home. How you would feel when you understood that IDF soldiers had slept on your mattresses and used your blankets to keep warm. I knew that it would make you angry and sad and that you would feel this violation of the most intimate areas of your life by those defined as your enemies, with stinging humiliation. I am convinced that you hate me with unbridled hatred, and you do not have even the tiniest desire to hear what I have to say. At the same time, it is important for me to say the following in the hope that there is even the minutest chance that you will hear me. I spent many days in your home. You and your family's presence was felt in every corner. I saw your family's portraits on the wall, and I thought of my family. I saw your wife's perfume bottles on the bureau, and I thought of my wife. I saw your children's toys and their English language schoolbooks. I saw your personal computer and how you set up the modem and wireless phone next to the screen, just as I do. I need you to understand me, us, and hope that you will channel your anger and crticism to the right places. I wanted you to know that despite the immense disorder you found in your house that was created during a search for explosives and tunnels (which were indeed found in other homes), we did our best to treat your possessions with respect. When I moved the computer table, I disconnected the cables and lay them down neatly on the floor, as I would do with my own computer. I even covered the computer from dust with a piece of cloth. I tried to put back the clothes that fell when we moved the closet although not the same as you would have done, but at least in such a way that nothing would get lost. I know that the devastation, the bullet holes in your walls and the destruction of those homes near you place my descriptions in a ridiculous light. Still, I need you to understand me, us, and hope that you will channel your anger and criticism to the right places."

"There are many stories. Each account, each murdered individual, each wounded person, each burned-out and broken home, each shattered window, trashed kitchen, strewn item of clothing, bedroom turned upside down, bullet and shell hole in walls, offensive Israeli army graffiti... is important. I start to tell the stories of Ezbet Abbed Rabbo, eastern Jabaliya, where homes off the main north-south road, Salah ed-Din, were violated by bullets, bombs and/or Israeli soldiers. If they weren't destroyed, they were occupied or shot-up. Or occupied, and then destroyed. The army was creative in their destruction, in their defacing of property, in their insults. Creative in the ways they could shit in rooms and save their shit for cupboards and unexpected places. Actually, their creativity wasn't so broad. The rest was routine: ransack the house from top to bottom. Turn over or break every wardrobe, kitchen shelf, television, computer, window pane, water tank... The first house I visited was that of my dear friends, who we'd stayed with in the evenings before the land invasion began. Who we'd huddled with in their basement as the random crashes of missiles pulverised the neighbourhood. And whose father I'd worried non-stop about. After seeing he was still alive, I'd done the tour, from the bottom up. The safe-haven ground floor room was the least affected: disheveled, piles of earth at the base of the windows where it had blown in with a later bombing which caved the hillside behind, mattresses turned over and items strewn... this room was the cleanest, least-damaged. Upstairs to the first apartment. Complete disarray. Feces on the floor. Everything broken. Opened cans of Israeli army provisions. Bullet holes in walls. Stench. To the second floor, next two apartments, all of the extended sons' and wives' and children's rooms. More disarray, greater stench. Apparently, this was the main base from the boxes of food - prepackaged meals, noodles, tins of chocolate, and plastic-wrapped sandwiches - and the left behind IOF soldiers' clothing. A pair of soldier's trousers in the bathtub, soiled with shit. F tells me: 'The smell was terrible. The food was everywhere. Very disgusting smell. They put shit in the sinks, everywhere. Our clothes were everywhere. The last time they invaded (March 2008) it was easy. They broke everything, but we fixed it. But this time, they put shit everywhere: in cupboards, on beds - my bed is full of shit'. She is strong and has handled the invasions before, but the desecration of her house has got her down: 'A minute ago, Sabreen opened her wardrobe : there was a bowl of shit in it! They used our clothes for toilet paper'... The usual perspective and gratitude for surviving overrides what is her right to be indignant, depressed, to cry and lament their suffering: 'Thank God we have a room in our house. Many people's houses were completely destroyed', she says of her own seriously damaged house. The soldiers who ransacked, destroyed their clothes and shelled the home also stole a computer and 2,000 JD, she tells me." (Abed-Rabbo area: one family's story, International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Eva Bartlett,, 27/1/09)

"Around a dozen homes [in Zeitoun, on the southern outskirts of Gaza City] were destroyed, no more than piles of rubble in the sand... Helmi Samouni's 2-storey house was one of the few left standing, despite the gaping hole from a large tank shell that pierced his blackened bedroom wall. During the invasion it had been taken over by Israeli soldiers, who wrecked the furniture and set up sand-bagged shooting positions throughout. They left behind their own detritus... But most disturbing of all was the graffiti they daubed on the walls... Some was in Hebrew, but much was naively written in English: 'Arabs need 2 die', 'Die you all', 'Make war not peace', '1 is down, 999,999 to go', and scrawled on an image of a gravestone the words: 'Arabs 1948-2009'." (Amid dust & death, a family's story speaks for the terror of war, Rory McCarthy,, 19/1/09)

"I decided to write you this letter specifically because I stayed in your home. I can surmise that you are intelligent and educated and there are those in your household that are university students. Your children learn English, and you are connected to the Internet. You are not ignorant; you know what is going on around you. Therefore, I am sure you know that Qassam rockets were launched from your neighbourhood into Israeli towns and cities.* How could you see these weekly launches and not think that one day we would say 'enough'?! Did you ever consider that it is perhaps wrong to launch rockets at innocent civilians trying to lead a normal human life, much like you? How long did you think we would sit back without reacting? I can hear you saying 'it's not me, it's Hamas'. My intutition tells me you are not their most avid supporter. If you look closely at the sad reality in which your people live, and you do not try to deceive yourself or make excuses about 'occupation', you must certainly reach the conclusion that the Hamas is your real enemy."

*"Western governments and most of the Western media have accepted a number of Israeli claims justifying the military assault on Gaza: that Hamas consistently violated the 6-month truce that Israel observed and then refused to extend it; that Israel therefore had no choice but to destroy Hamas's capacity to launch missiles into Israeli towns... [L]et me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further. This was confirmed not only by every neutral international observer and NGO on the scene but by Brigadier General (Res) Shmuel Zakai, a former commander of of the IDF's Gaza Division. In an interview in Haaretz on 22 December, he accused Israel's government of having made a 'central error' during the tahdiyeh, the 6-month period of relative truce, by failing 'to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians of the Strip... When you create a tahdiyeh, and the economic pressure on the Strip continues... it is obvious that Hamas will try to reach an improved tahdiyeh, and that their way to achieve this is resumed Qassam fire... You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they're in, and expect that Hamas will just sit around and do nothing'." (Israel's lies, Henry Siegman, London Review of Books, 29/1/09)

"The reality is so simple, even a seven year old can understand: Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, removing military bases and its citizens from Gush Katif. Nonetheless, we continued to provide you with electricity, water, and goods (and this I know very well as during my reserve duty I guarded the border crossings more than once, and witnessed hundreds of trucks full of goods entering a blockade-free Gaza every day). Despite all this, for reasons that cannot be understood and with a lack of any rational logic, Hamas launched missiles on Israeli towns. For three years we clenched our teeth and restrained ourselves. In the end, we could not take it anymore and entered the Gaza Strip, into your neighbourhood, in order to remove those who want to kill us. A reality that is painful but very easy to explain. You must lead a civil uprising against Hamas.* As soon as you agree with me that Hamas is your enemy** and because of them, your people are miserable, you will also understand that the change must come from within. I am acutely aware of the fact that what I say is easier to write than to do, but I do not see any other way. You, who are connected to the world and concerned about your children's education, must lead, together with your friends, a civil uprising against Hamas."

*"Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process., and largely stuck to it for more than a year... When Hamas unexpectedly won the election [January 2006], Israel and the US immediately sought to delegitimise the result and embraced Mahmoud Abbas, the head of Fatah, who until then had been dismissed by Israel's leaders as a 'plucked chicken'. They armed and trained his security forces to overthrow Hamas; and when Hamas... pre-empted this violent attempt to reverse the result of the first honest democratic election in the modern Middle East, Israel and the Bush administration imposed the blockade... [F]or all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah's rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes." (Siegman, ibid)

**"I'm surprised at how buoyant people are given the circumstances. Talking to them, I find morale high and an overall sense of defiance. At one point I saw a young boy on a donkey cart, unaware I was observing him. As an Israeli jet passed overhead, he shook a fist at the sky." (Defiance & destruction in Gaza, Ben Wedeman, CNN, 16/1/09)

"I swear to you, that if the citizens of Gaza were busy paving roads, building schools, opening factories and cultural institutions instead of dwelling in self-pity, arms smuggling and nurturing a hatred to your Israeli neighbours, your homes would not be in ruins right now. If your leaders were not corrupt and motivated by hatred, your home would not have been harmed. If someone would have stood up and shouted that there is no point in launching missiles on innocent civilians, I would not have to stand in your kitchen as a soldier. You don't have money, you tell me?* You have more than you can imagine. Even before Hamas took control of Gaza, during the time of Yasser Arafat, millions if not billions of dollars donated by the world community to the Palestinians was used for purchasing arms or taken directly to your leaders' bank accounts. Gulf states, the emirates - your brothers, your flesh and blood, are some of the richest nations in the world. If there was even a small feeling of solidarity between Arab nations, if these nations had but the smallest interest in reconstructing the Palestinian people - your situation would be very different. You must be familiar with Singapore. The land mass there is not much larger than the Gaza Strip and it is considered to be the second most populated country in the world. Yet, Singapore is a successful, prospering, and well managed country. Why not the same for you? My friend, I would like to call you by name, but I will not do so publicly. I want you to know that I am 100% at peace with what my country did, what my army did, and what I did. However, I feel your pain. I am sorry for the destruction you are finding in your neighbourhood at this moment. On a personal level, I did what I could to minimize the damage to your home as much as possible. Instead of sinking into self-pity, build a flourishing and prosperous country. In my opinion, we have a lot more in common than you might imagine. I am a civilian, not a soldier, and in my private life I have nothing to do with the military. However, I have an obligation to leave my home, put on a uniform, and protect my family every time we are attacked. I have no desire to be in your home wearing a uniform again and I would be more than happy to sit with you as a guest on your beautiful balcony, drinking sweet tea seasoned with the sage growing in your garden.**"

*"Egypt stopped a senior Hamas official from carrying 9 million dollars and 2 million euros into Gaza on Thursday, a security official told AFP... Hamas has said it plans to distribute 4,000 euros ($5,200) to each family whose home was destroyed and 1,000 euros ($1,300) for each family member killed in the onslaught... In December 2006, Hamas' then-prime minister Ismail Haniya was forced to leave $35 million at the Egyptian side of Rafah. The money was then transferred to a Palestinian Authority account." (Hamas official stopped with Gaza millions,, 5/2/09)

**"On Wednesday they were picking through a sea of rubble [in Johr ad-Deek]. Not a house was still standing. Fences and gardens were gone. The turnip crop, the spring wheat and the orange groves were ripped up by the tracks of 70-tonne tanks. Olive trees were flattened. Worse, for parched Gaza, the platic irrigation pipes that carried water to the fields were torn up and sliced to bits." (Stoic Gaza claws back, to what passes for normal, Douglas Hamilton, Reuters North American Service, 21/1/09)

"The only person who could make that dream a reality is you. Take responsibility for yourself, your family, your people, and start to take control of your destiny. How? I do not know. Maybe there is something to be learned from the Jewish people who rose up from the most destructive human tragedy of the 20th century, and instead of sinking into self-pity, built a flourishing and prospering country. It is possible, and it is in your hands. I am ready to be there to provide a shoulder of support and help to you.* But only you can move the wheels of history."

*"Ammar [Helw, 29, of Zeitoun] said he spent 5 days in Israeli custody, most of it blindfolded and without food and water. After reuniting with his family, who were staying with relatives, they returned to their home Jan. 19, he said, but found it in ruins. Ammar alleges that Israeli soldiers smashed the computer and stole the family jewelry. He said he also found his father's body, 30 feet from the house, haphazardly buried under dirt and chunks of cactus plants. 'These aren't human beings, I swear to God', Ammar said." (Gaza family recounts day of horror, Ashraf Khalil, Los Angeles Times, 26/1/09)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wake Up, Australia

On 22/1/09 a quarter page ad, The Slaughter in Gaza, appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald. It condemned Israel's war crimes in Gaza, and called on the Australian Government to do likewise. There were 38 signatories - academics, union leaders, lawyers, politicians, writers, entertainers and media people.

On 31/1/09 a full-page ad, Irish Call for Justice for Palestine, appeared in The Irish Times. It also condemned Israel's war crimes in Gaza, and called on the Irish Government to impose an arms embargo against Israel, boycott all Israeli goods and services, and work for the suspension of Israel's privileged access to the EU market. There were approximately 300 signatories - academics, union leaders, lawyers, politicians, writers, entertainers and media people.

Ireland has less than a quarter of Australia's population.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sotto Voce at the Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald's editorialist has been trying to tell us something for a while now, but can't quite get out the full story:

On 14/1/08 the editorialist spoke, in the context of Bush's visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, of Israel's "determination to deny the right of return to Palestinians uprooted from their lands when Israel was created in 1948." (Ambushed in the Levant) Who uprooted them? Why are they denied the right of return? Should they be denied the right of return?

On 8/5/08 the editorialist noted, in the context of Israel's 60th anniversary: "[Israelis] know... that even as they celebrate their independence, Palestinians - whether living on the West Bank, in Gaza, in refugee camps, as outsiders in Arab countries or in Israel itself - are mourning what they call the nakba (catastrophe) that befell the 700,000 or so Palestinians who fled or were forced to leave their homes when Israel was created. Current hostilities between Hamas fighters in Gaza and Israeli troops are the latest evidence of long-festering grievances." (Israel at 60: a stunning story) Who frightened/forced them to leave their homes? How? Why are they still refugees? Where does international law stand?

On 22/9/08 he/she wrote, in the context of Tzipi Livni's emergence as leader of Kadima, that: "... her party remains wedded to the problematic idea that the Jewish majority must always dominate Israel...' (Tough tests for Israel's new PM) The Israel lobby may have gritted its teeth at the two earlier references to the Palestinian refugees of 1948, but it spat the dummy at this exceedingly indirect reference to the fact that Israel's Jewish majority was achieved only by ethnically cleansing Palestine in 1948. And so, pressure was brought to bear, resulting in a new editorial the day after, which contained the following 180 degree turn to Zionist dogma: "In our editorial yesterday, the Herald did not intend to imply that Israel's Jewish majority is in any way 'problematic' in itself. Indeed it is the raison d'etre for the foundation and existence of the state itself. Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state is beyond question." (Time for Israel to decide) Oh, really? Why?

Most recently, on 27/1/09, in its Australia Day editorial, the Herald editorialist had emerged from his shell sufficiently to comment that "While [Australia Day] may not be as immediately enraging [for indigenous Australians] as, say, the foundation day of Israel would be for Palestinians, the formal annexation of of this land by Governor Arthur Phillip more than 200 years ago will be recalled by Aborigines as, in Professor Dodson's words, 'the day on which our world came crashing down'." (Stirring the possum on Australia Day) I assume that, reflected in this indirect reference to the catastrophic impact of the Zionist colonial-settler invasion of Palestine on its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants, that there is an inchoate awareness that, unlike Palestine's indigenous population, Australia's indigenous population is not currently living in exile, under occupation, or under a rain of bombs, bullets, shells or missiles, and is equal before the law with non-indigenous Australians whatever its level of socio-economic disadvantage.

What to make of all this? What the Herald desperately wants/needs to say - but is afraid to - is that in 1948, under cover of war, Zionist forces ethnically cleansed those parts of Palestine which they had overrun, and that this allowed the newly-formed state of Israel to both have its cake (a Jewish majority) and eat it too (pass as a democracy). And so, to quote its Australia Day editorial again, the Herald can say this of Australia - "Dispossession of the original people is an undeniable part of our modern history that started on January 26, 1788, and our celebration of that anniversary has to include that, and get us thinking about ways indigenous Australians can come to feel that they too possess our new nation," but not this of Israel - 'Dispossession of the original people is an undeniable part of Israel's history that started on May 14, 1948, and its celebration of that anniversary has to include that, and get Israelis thinking about ways indigenous Palestinians can come to feel that they too possess this new nation'.

This is what passes for press freedom in Australia today.