Monday, March 30, 2009

I've been to Israel too

Rambam (v) To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia for a grooming session conducted by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel, when required, in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.
Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)

"Why are Israel scholarships such as Rambam important for our community? We started Rambam 3 years ago and have sent around 200 politicians, journalists, trade unionists and student activists to Israel. This gives them an understanding of the history and politics of the area that they could not get from reading the daily news. How has the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) helped to change the way Israel is viewed in Australia? As a director of AIJAC, it is our intention to ensure that the real story is told and bias is eliminated from the media. It has enabled politicians and journalists to have real discussions about the issues. If you look at the media you will find a fairly balanced view, far more so than if AIJAC did not exist." Brian Sherman, The Australian Jewish News, 28/7/06

This post is dedicated to documenting the Australian rambammed. Who are they? When did they have the pleasure? Where did they go? And what, if anything, have they said about their experience in public? Necessarily sketchy, it will be updated as the relevant data comes in...

2016

AIJAC Rambam Israel Fellowship Program (See my 26/5/16 post They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Rambam)

Victorian Labor MPs:
Lizzie Blandthorn
Colin Brooks (parlt sec. to premier)
Don Nardella
Ros Spence
Marsha Thompson
Vicky Ward
Paul Edbrooke
Nick Staikos
Gabrielle Williams

Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce (See my 20/5/16 post Ladies Who Rambam)

Lucy Turnbull
Diane Smith-Gander
Jillian Segal (AICoC)
Karen Penrose, 
Alison Deans
Belinda Hutchinson (Sydney Uni Chancellor)
35 senior businesswomen inc. the above

NSW Government Trade Delegation - March (See my posts Magic Mike Does Upstart Nation 1-5, 30/3-13/4)

NSW Premier Mike Baird
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione
Lucy Haslam, medicinal cannabis campaigner
Others...?

2015

Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue - December (See my posts: Pyne & Bishop Do Ramallah (18/12/15); Memo to Dr Sabri Saidam (19/12/15))

Christopher Pyne, Industry Minister
Bronwyn Bishop, former parliamentary speaker
Tim Wilson, Human Rights Commissioner

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies/AIJAC Journalists Study Tour - November (See my 23/11/15 post Sharri Markson Goes Feral.)

Sharri Markson, senior writer, The Australian
Ben English, deputy editor, Daily Telegraph
Bevan Shields, Fairfax Media federal politics editor
Alex Hart, Channel 7 reporter
David Lipson, Sky News, political reporter
Aaron Patrick, print editor, Australian Financial Review

Anthony Bergin of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) - November (See my 12-13/11/15 posts Bergin of Beersheba 1&2)

?

Delegation of 50 "entrepreneurs" led by Wyatt Roy, Asst. Minister for Innovation - November (See my 29/10/15 post Looking for Inspiration in All the Wrong Places.)

AIJAC Rambam Study Tour - July (See my 24-26/10/15 posts 'Insights' from Israel by Bird/Butler/Matheson)

Sharon Bird (Lab. Cunningham, NSW)
Terri Butler (Lab. Griffith, Qld)
Russel Matheson (Lib. Macarthur, NSW)
Peter Hendy (Lib. Eden-Monaro, NSW)
Rob Mitchell (McEwan, VIC)
Chris Ketter (Senator, Qld)

?

Retired Major General Jim Molan - June (See my 11/6/15 post Gullible's Travels)

AIJAC Rambam Israel Fellowship - May (See my 10/6/15 post, Is AIJAC Getting Its Money's Worth?)

Mal Brough (Lib. Fisher)
Andrew Leigh (Lab. shadow asst. treasurer)
Dean Smith (Lib. senator, WA)
Bridget McKenzie (Nat. senator, VIC)
Joanne Ryan (Lab. Lalor)
Sean Edwards (Lib. senator, SA)

2014

Australia Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD) December (See my 4/1/15 post Recently Rambammed.)

Paul Frayne (Office of Andrew Giles MHR)
Kent Rowe (ALP Secretary NT)
Mitchell Wilson (NSW ALP Organiser)
Jessica Malnersie (President NSW Young Labor)
Tim Hammond (barrister)
Adam Slonim (AILD)
Kaila Murnain (Asst Federal Secretary ALP NSW)
Michael Vaughan (Office of Tanya Plibersek MHR)
Greg Holland (ALP candidate, NSW state election)
Rose Butler Jackson (Asst Secretary NSW ALP)
Michael Borowick (AILD Chair & ACTU Asst. Secretary)

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies/AIJAC Journalists Mission to Israel (See my posts Why So Shy? 2 (15/11/14) & Our Most Recently Rambammed (22/11/14)

David Wroe, Fairfax national security correspondent
Joe Aston, Australian Financial Review columnist & Nine Network roving reporter
Laura Jayes, Sky News
Rowan Dean, The Spectator Australia editor

... ?
... ?
... ?
... ?

Australia-UK-Israel Leadership Forum, July (See my 20/8/14 post Israeli Junkets Continue During Gaza Genocide.)

Christopher Pyne, Education Minister
Michael Danby, MP Lab
David Feeney, MP Lab
Others?
 
Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (See my 20/8/14 post Israeli Junkets Continue During Gaza Genocide.)

Cameron Clyne, NAB
John Pataridis, Optus  
+ 30 business executives
 
AIJAC Rambam Israel Fellowship (See my 23/6/14 posts Liberal MPs Blown Away by Israel (23/6/14) & Liberal MPs Not Quite Blown Away by Israel (24/6/14))

Craig Kelly, MP Hughes, NSW
John Alexander, MP Bennelong, NSW
Wyatt Roy, MP Longman, QLD
Anne Ruston, SA Senator
 
AIJJAC Israel Rambam Study Tour, May (See my 9/6/14 post Israeli-Occupied Labor.)

Penny Wong, Lab Senate
Gai Brodtmann, Lab MP
Stephen Jones, Lab MP
Dr Bill Chalmers, Lab MP
Tim Watts, Lab MP
 
AIJAC, January

Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Opposition Leader & Shadow Foreign Affairs

2013

Daniel Andrews, Labor VIC (See my 3/12/14 post Rambamming Pays Off in Victoria)

Unionists

AIJAC Rambam Mission (See my 24/2/14 post Let's Do the Rambam Again.)

Michael Borowick, Asst Secretary, ACTU
Daniel Mookhey, Federal Electoral Campaign Coordinator, ACTU
Scott McDine, National Secretary, AWU
David Bliss, Asst Secretary, Newcastle branch, Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association
Phoebe Drake

AIJAC? Victorian State Labor Politicians (See my 3/12/14 post Rambamming pays off in Victoria)

James Merlino
Martin Foley
Marsha Thomson
Frank McGuire
Telmo Languiller
Judith Graley
Xavier Williams
Janice Munt

Media

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies/AIJAC Journalists Mission to Israel (See my 28/11/13 post Why So Shy?)

... Sydney Morning Herald
... Sky News Business
... SBS Television World News
... Channel 10 News

AIJAC

David King, The Australian (See my 28/11/13 post Why So Coy?)

Politicians

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel (See my posts Parliamentary Trip? What Parliamentary Trip? (25/1/13) and Doing the Donkey in the NSW Knesset 1 (15/3/13))

Fred Nile, MLC, Christian Democrats

Paul Green, MLC, Christian Democrats
David Clarke, MLC Liberal
Matthew Mason-Cox, MLC Liberal
Gabrielle Upton, MLA Liberal
Luke Foley, MLC, Labor
Walt Secord, MLC, Labor
John Barilaro, MLA, National Party
Rick Colless, MLC, National Party

Rob Borsak, MLC, Shooters Party
And partners...


2012

Student Politicians

AIJAC Rambam Israel Fellowship Program (See my 30/9/13 post Do You Want a Trip to Israel With That?)

Jade Tyrell, UTS SRC President
John Barlow, NUS Gen. Sec.

Unionists

Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) ACTU Fact-Finding Mission (See my 30/12/12 post Union Frodos Brave Mordor Rockets.)


Michael Borowick, Assistant Secretary ACTU
Barbara Nebart, Shop Distributive & Allied Employees' Association
And 14 others

Media

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission

Simon Benson, national political editor, Daily Telegraph
Brooke Corte, Sky News presenter
Judith Whelan, Saturday editor, SMH
Michael Ebeid, managing director, SBS

Politicians

Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (See my 14/6/12 post Onward Corporate Soldiers.)

Bill Shorten, Minister for Financial Services
Ross Jones, Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
Steve Tucker, MLC
Jeremy Cooper, Challenger Group, ASIC chair
Damon Kitney, Technology correspondent, Fairfax

Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) (See my 6/1/12 post Here We Go Again!)

Paul Fletcher, Lib, Bradfield
David Bushby, Lib, Tasmanian senator
Bob Baldwin, Lib, Paterson, shadow minister for regional development & tourism
David Fawcett, Lib, SA senator, shadow parliamentary secretary for international development assistance
Teresa Gambaro, Lib, Brisbane, shadow parliamentary secretary for citizenship and settlement
Luke Simpkins, Lib, Cowan

Australia Israel UK Leadership Dialogue (See my 13/1/12 post Ain't Love Grand?)

Politicians

Michael Danby, Labor, Melbourne Ports
Mark Arbib, Labor, Minister for Sport
Joshua Frydenberg, Lib, Kooyong

Media

Greg Sheridan, foreign editor, The Australian
Hamish McDonald, Asia-Pacific editor, Fairfax

Politicians

Australia/Israel &Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Israel Study Tour (See Vic MPs experience Israel, AJN, 6/8/12)

Neil Angus, Liberal, Vic MLA
Elizabeth Miller, Liberal, Vic MLA
Clem Newton-Brown, Liberal, Vic MLA
Bill Tilley Liberal, Vic MLA
Nicholas Kotsiras, Liberal, Vic Minister for Multicultural Affairs & Citizenship
Peter Phelps, NSW MLC
Jonathan O'Dea, NSW MLA


2011

Politicians

Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) (See my 22/10/11 post Class of 2011)

Amanda Rishworth, Labor, Kingston
Mark Furner, Labor, QLD senator
Catryna Bilyk, Labor, Tasmanian senator
Nicholas Champion, Labor, Wakefield
Geoffrey Lyons, Labor, Bass

Media

Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce
Peter Hartcher, international editor, Sydney Morning Herald

Gerard Henderson, columnist, SMH ?: "Around this time [11/12] last year, I visited Sderot..." (Hamas will never achieve a Palestinian state while killing Israeli civilians, SMH, 20/11/12) NB: I'm taking this as a belated acknowledgement that Henderson has been rambammed.

2010

Media

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission

Miranda Devine, columnist, Daily/Sunday Telegraph (See my posts Dear Miranda... (31/10/10); Dear Miranda... 2 (6/11/10); Miranda Does Israel (27/11/10))
Amanda Wilson, Sydney Morning Herald editor
Angelos Frangopoulos, Sky news CEO
Jason Morrison, 2UE presenter

Politicians

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program (January)

John Della Bosca, NSW LAB
Joel Fitzgibbon, LAB, Hunter
Belinda Neal, LAB, Robertson

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program (December) (A liberal view of Israel, AJN, 11/2/11)

Stuart Robert, shadow minister for defence science, technology & personnel
Gary Humphries, Liberal Senator
Alex Hawke, Liberal MP
Mathias Corman, shadow assistant treasurer
Stephen Parry, Liberal senator
Dan Tehan, Liberal MP

[Daniel Flitton, Senior Correspondent, Fairfax: "The Rambam program of sponsored trips to Israel... A separate trip is run for journalists, and in 2010 included this reporter." (Messages from the war zone, Daniel Flitton, SMH, 24/11/12) This is the only record I have of this particular rambamming.]

Australia Israel Leadership Forum (December) (See my posts Record Rambam (25/10/10) & The Kevin Rudd Road Show 1, 2, 3, 4 (18/12-22/12))

AILF: Albert & Debbie Dadon

Labor politicians

Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister
(Peter Khalil, Rudd's "former foreign policy & national security adviser" (AJN, 11/2/11))
Kim Carr, Sen. Industry Minister
Stephen Conroy, Communications Minister
Bill Shorten,
Richard Marles, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Affairs
Mike Kelly, MP
Michael Danby, MP
Anthony Byrne, MP
Bernie Ripoli,
Mark Bishop, Sen.

Liberal politicians

Julie Bishop, Deputy Opposition leader and Shadow Foreign Affairs
Christopher Pyne, MP
Andrew Robb,
George Brandis, Sen.
Kevin Andrews, MP
Brett Mason, Sen.
Mitch Fifield, Sen.
Steve Ciobo, MP
Guy Barnett, Sen.
Kelly O'Dwyer, MP
Scott Ryan, Sen.

Media

Chris Uhlmann, ABC
Greg Sheridan, foreign editor, The Australian
Peter Van Onselen, contributing editor, The Australian
Steve Lewis, News Ltd
Lenore Taylor, national affairs correspondent, Fairfax
Naomi Levin, Australian Jewish News
Tom Scotnicki, Canberra bureau chief, Business Review Weekly
Tony Walker, Australian Financial Review

Others

15 descendents of Aboriginal activist William Cooper (names unknown):

The remaining junketeers:
Margaret Andrews: wife of Kevin Andrews, family values enthusiast
Dr John Byron: Cooperative Research Centres Committee, higher education & research policy
Ron Cross: CEO Park Trent, property investor
David Dinte: NSW President Friends of the Tel Aviv University
Eitan Drori: Australian Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Mary & Amanda Easson: ex-Labor MP & daughter
Andrea Faulkner: Ambassador to Israel
Con Gallin: ?
Rohan Ganeson: Man Dir Optus, Small & Medium Business Group
Shelley Kelly: ?
Peter & Lydia Khalil: Lowy Institute/counter-terrorism
Master Yong-Sup Kimm: martial arts expert
Prof Douglas Kirsner: School of International & Political Studies, Deakin Uni
Maha Krishnapillai: Optus, Director of Government & Corporate Affairs
Dr Marion Lustig: Balint Society of Australia, psychiatrist
Amanda Mendes Da Costa: Michael Danby's wife
Yair Miller: NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Mark Paterson: Secretary, Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research
Emmanuel Santos: photographer
Jessie Sheridan: ?
Kristy Somers: Dadon's AICE/AILF
Niv Tadmore: Clyton Utz, international tax expert
Evan Thornley: Chief Executive, Better Place Australia
Dr Carl Ungerer: Program Director, National Security Program at Australian Strategic Policy Institute
John Weiss: Peres Center for Peace, Aust. chapter
Thom Woodroofe: AILF, Left Right Think-Tank, foreign affairs analyst
Nicola Wright: Dadon's AICE/AILF
Antonio Zeccola: founder/owner, Palace Cinemas

KKL-JNF  (See my 1/10/13 post A Transformative Experience)

Student politicians:

Xavier Williams, Labor, NUS Gen. Sec.
Jesse Marshall, Labor
Eloise Howse, Labor
Jesse Overton-Skinner, Labor
Duncan McDonald, Liberal
John Shipp, Liberal

2009

Politicians

Australia Israel Leadership Forum

Julia Gillard, Deputy PM (leading a 40-strong delegation - See my 29/5/09 post Her Brilliant Career)
Senator Guy Barnett, LIB
Senator George Brandis, LIB
Peter Costello, LIB, Higgins
Mark Dreyfus, ALP
Christopher Pyne

Warren Mundine, former ALP national president

Allan Howe, columnist, Herald-Sun (See my 25/7/09 post Awesome Israelis...)

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Helen Polley, ALP, Tas

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Julie Bishop, Shadow Foreign Minister (See my 11/7/09 post Hot on Gillard's High Heels)
Bruce Bilson, LIB
Senator Simon Birmingham, LIB SA
Louise Markus, LIB, Greenway
Senator Scott Ryan LIB VIC

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

South Australia's Minister for Environment & Conservation Jay Weatherill ("Last month... visited the Yatir Forest for the dedication of the South Australia-Israel Friendship Forest." AJN, 1/5/09)

Media
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission

Michelle Ainsworth, senior producer, Channel 7
Peter Hartcher, political & international editor, Sydney Morning Herald (See my 18/11/09 post No Hidden Agenda)
Connie Levett, foreign editor, Sydney Morning Herald
Nick Tabakoff, associate editor, Daily Telegraph
According to the NSW JBOD At the Board, Vol 1-2010, the above were "accompanied by 4 colleagues who were guests of AIJAC."
(See my 15/3/10 post Pawns in a Propaganda Game)

Commerce

Skills 2009 Trade Mission to Israel (September)
Sponsored by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and "led by Paul Howes, National Secretary of the Australian Workers Union and other senior business, government, philanthropic and academic executives." (Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Winter 2009)

2008

Politicians

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program

Tony Abbott, Shadow Minister for Health
Cory Bernardi, LIB, SA
Mark Bishop, ALP, WA
Jacinta Collins, ALP, Vic
Jason Clare, ALP, NSW
Peter Dutton, LIB, Qld
David Johnston, LIB, WA
Michael Keenan, LIB, WA
Shayne Neuman, ALP, Qld
Andrew Robb, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, MP for Goldstein ("While I have been a student of the Middle East since I was 17 years of Age, my 6-day visit to Israel has greatly honed my perspective... I found it a profound spiritual experience... It confirmed to me that the Israeli strengths and achievements derive from the Jewish brain and spirit as there aren't many resources... While I was in the Golan Heights it was brought home that the only stable thing within the Middle East is instability..." andrewrobb.com.au, 5/8/08)
Jason Wood, LIB, Vic

Australia -Israel Cultural Exchange

Michael Forshaw, ALP, NSW
Brett Mason, LIB, Qld

?

Senator Glen Sterle, LIB, WA ("The Chair of the Australia/Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group Senator Glen Sterle has echoed the sentiments of his Labor colleagues and called for Australia to seriously consider its participation in the Durban Review Conference..." (WA Senator calls for Durban rethink, AJN, 10/4/09)

Media

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission & the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Janet Albrechtsen, columnist, The Australian ("... an entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism... Look at the website of Palestinian Media Watch..." Hostages to fear & systematic loathing in Israel, The Australian, 26/11/08 - See my 28/11/08 post Janet's Dream)
Peter Charley, producer, Insight, SBS
Paul Sheehan, columnist, SMH (See my posts His Master's Voice 27/11/08, Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH 13/1/09 & 2 19/1/09)
Jacinta Tynan, journalist, Sky News

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program

Margaret Easterbrook, The Age
Alan Kirk, foreign editor, The West Australian
John Roskam, ED, Institute of Public Affairs Australia
Rebecca Weisser, opinion editor, The Australian
(See my 20/2/o9 post Whose Conclusions?)

Jewish National Fund Mission to Israel

5 Australian water experts + Fairfax journalist Jewel Topfield (See my 23/2/08 post Rambammed)

NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund

Lynette Riley, Aboriginal academic ("Riley, who will be speaking on the Aboriginal-Israel connection, is a graduate of the YSF and went to Israel to learn about educational advances with disadvantaged students. Her studies led her to develop approaches for addressing issues sensitive to indigenous people in their home communities." Aboriginal academic to launch UIA campaign [19/2/09], AJN, 13/2/09)

2007

Media

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Journalists Mission

Tim Blair, opinion editor, Daily Telegraph
Joel Labi, journalist, 2GB ("Jewish radio announcer Joel Labi had visited Israel previously, and said seeing the security fence up close 'hit home that Israel's enemies are a lot closer than people make it out to be'." (Journalists reassess Israel, AJN, 22/2/08)
Kirsty Needham, deputy foreign editor, SMH ("She said she was impressed by the vibrant multiculturalism, community spirit and vigorous media debate in the country, and added that her visit to the Lebanese border and the town of Sderot had allowed her to witness the fear Israelis are forced to live with daily." ibid)
Glen Wheeler, announcer, 2UE ("[Wheeler] said for the first 47 years of his life, he had only heard negative information about the country. [As] a Catholic, [he] was excited to be in Israel over Christmas but said he found the reality of Christ's birthplace different from what he had envisioned. Wheeler was struck by the close proximity in which Jews, Muslims and Christians live, particularly in Jerusalem." ibid)

Politicians

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program

Cory Bernardi (SA Lib senator)
Craig Emerson (ALP)
Helen Kroger (Victorian Liberal powerbroker & election candidate
Joe Ludwig (ALP)
Michael Ronaldson (Lib senator)
Glen Sterle (ALP)

This lot travellled to Israel in March. "[Bernardi] said a meeting with Fatah representative Abu Ziyad opened his eyes to the difficulties confronting Israel, after the former Palestinian Legislative Council member refused to condemn suicide attacks. 'Sadly, my belief that this hateful behaviour was the exclusive preserve of the Hamas terrorist group proved very short-lived', Bernardi told parliament. 'Given my experience with the so-called 'moderates' on the Palestinian side, peace in Israel is a long way off. Abu Ziyad blamed the Israeli occupation for the lack of peace, but there was a persistant refusal to acknowledge or accept that his own people must refrain from terrorism and meaningfully recognise Israel'." (Senator returns from Israel with darker view of Fatah, AJN, 22/6/07)

10 senior political advisers travelled to Israel in June. They included Simon Berger, adviser to Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, Alan Anderson, adviser to Treasurer Peter Costello, and advisers to Human Services Minister Senator Chris Ellison and shadow attorney-general Senator Joseph Ludwig. (Rambam fellows share insights, AJN, 10/8/07)

A group of student leaders travelled to Israel in July, including Monash Student Association's Zoe Edwards (Socialist Left!), who said "visiting Yad Vashem... helped her better understand the importance of Israel." (ibid)

George Cash, WA MLC
Nick Griffiths, WA MLC
Ray & Judith Halligan, WA MLC
Bob Kucera, WA MLC
Karen Newman, WA MLC

These pollie waffles visited the ANZAC cemetery and the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, toured Sderot, met Israeli leaders (Ephraim Sneh, Yochanan Plesner), and listened to Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus. (AIJAC sponsors state parliament visit to Israel, AJN, 25/1/08)

Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce & the Israeli Trade Commission

Tim Holding, Victorian Water Minister
Nathan Rees, NSW Minister for Water Utilities ("[The Battleground at Be'er Sheva] is a site of extraordinary significance, to Australia and also to Israel - a place where the actions of our troops in a breathtaking feat of arms became part of a historical chain of events that played a part in the formation of the Israeli state many years later... We [also] visited Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea... Masada... Jerusalem Hospital... a Bedouin camp [and] Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum..." Poignant, pertinent, passionate, Nathan Rees, Rhapsody, Jan-Mar 2008)
Craig Wallace, Queensland Water Minister

Invitation by former speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin to-

David Hawker, Speaker, Federal Parliament ("I think the important thing is that Israel is the only fully-fledged democracy in the Middle East." Parliamentary speaker in Israel, AJN, 2/2/07)

Trip to Israel of 11* Young Labor members funded by Mary (ex-MP for Lowe) & Michael (ALP senior vice-president) Easson. They met "dignitaries and political figures," and "donated blood to Magen David Adom at the Knesset." ("A series of visits at a younger age drew Mary Easson's attention to Middle Eastern politics... Despite their non-Jewish ancestry, [they] have longstanding links with the Australian Jewish community... 'A wall in principle sounds like a terrible thing, but you go and see it and you think, 'Oh well, yeah, I can see why you would need that'." Husband-&-wife team's Labor of love for Israel, AJN, 2/2/07)
[*Including Amanda Easson and Cale Johnson]

2006

Politicians

Robert McClelland, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs ("Mr McClelland noted his historical association with Israel's formation because he holds the seat of Barton, which was also held by Labor's 'Doc' Evatt, who played a pivotal role in the UN Resolution 181, which led to the formal establishment of Israel in May 1948." McClelland: support for Israel & peace, AJN, 15/12/06)

Malcolm Turnbull, head, Office of Water Resources

NAB Yachad Scholarship Fund

Carol Martin, WA MLA for Kimberley ("... I want to learn about Israel's programs in areas such as preventing violence against women... We have many remote indigenous communities that experience significant disadvantages... My hope is that the Israeli experience of community capacity-building will provide ideas..." First female Aboriginal MP to visit Israel, AJN, 13/1/06)
Warren Mundine, ALP national president ("Mundine spent his time in Israel investigating Israeli programs to counteract individual and community welfare dependency, as well as programs that deal with domestic violence and youth initiatives." Mundine's recollections of Israel for NCJWA, AJN, 14/8/09)

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Mission

Kelly O'Dwyer, Costello staffer, Liberal candidate in 2009 Higgins by-election (See my 23/11/09 post Meet the Candidates)

Media

Board of Deputies' Journalists Mission (NB: the BoD states that "about 50 journalists have participated since the mission began 50 years ago." (At the Board, Vol 1-2006)

Tom Allard, SMH National Security Director
Paul Cutler, SBS TV News & Current Affairs Director
Paul Sheehan, SMH columnist (See my 19/1/09 post Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH 2) ["... were briefed by political, military and security commentators and flew over the country by helicopter." At the Board, Vol 1 - 2007]

Clergy

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program

16/17 (?) clergy, including:

Geraldine Hawkes, Chair, Commission for Australian Catholic Women
Rev John Henderson, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)
Graeme Mundine, Executive Officer, National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission of the NCCA
Debra Porter, communications officer, NCCA
Maureen Postma, General Secretary, Victorian Council of Churches
Rev Sesorosa Carroll, Uniting Church inter-faith representative
Michael Tate, former Keating govt. senator turned Catholic priest
Dr Rowan Strong, president West Australian Council of Christians & Jews
?... National Catholic Bishops Conference
?... Australian Council of Churches in Australia
?... Australian Catholic University

AIJAC executive director Colin Rubenstein: "We chose to take opinion-forming groups within the Australian community. There have been pockets of hostility from certain church groups in Australia... We are hoping that by taking these groups to Israel we can enhance their affinity and empathy with Israel." (Rabbi leads clergymen on groundbreaking tour of Holy Land, AJN, 17/3/06) Debra Porter: "Members of the group welcomed this opportunity as a way to further engage in the journey of interfaith dialogue... Linking today's Israel to 2000 years ago is... exciting... Visiting the ruins of Dan, Megiddo, Tiberias, Qumran and Massada gave us an opportunity to share common history with our tour leader, Rabbi John Levi, and tour guide, Roley Horowitz... Yad Vashem... The Australian Ambassador Mr Time George... the Armenian Patriarchate... the Hand in Hand program... where Jewish and Arab children learn together... The Maksam Association for Ethiopian Jewry... Bethlehem... Rev Mitri Raheb... The Security Fence is in many parts a wire fence, through which you can see the other side. Any part of the fence where Palestine borders Israeli neighbourhoods is deemed by the Israeli Government to be a high risk area for terror attacks. Along these sections concrete barriers are constructed. There are mixed feelings both in Israel and in Palestine about the Security Fence... Thankfully, many are still crossing the borders, still seeking to have relationships with 'neighbours' on the other side..." InUnity, Autumn 2006

[NB: The following data comes from Antony Loewenstein's My Israel Question (2006) and refers to an AIJAC-sponsored trip to Israel by Australian journalists, probably late in 2005: "The journalists include: Herald & Weekly Times editor-in-chief Peter Blunden and journalist John Ferguson; the Australian Financial Review's Ben Potter and Robert Bolton; chief editorial writer for the Age, John Watson; the Courier-Mail's Dennis Atkins; SBS's Sally Watson; the SMH's Louise Dodson; and Channel Ten's John Hill. The impact that his participation had on the Australian's Cameron Stewart was evident on his return: 'There is nothing like seeing and getting a better understanding of the geography of Israel and its borders. It took all of 3' to fly [by helicopter] to the security border and I think it gives a very good example of the security issues that Israel faces...'" (pp 220-221)]

2005

Politicians

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam Fellowship Program (acc to AJN 11/11/05) Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange (acc AJN 28/10/05)

Michael Danby, Deputy Opposition Whip, MP for Melbourne Ports
Julia Gillard, Shadow Minister for Health ("... anything we [Labor] can do through the exercise of good offices, we will do to support Israel and support a genuine peace process." Labor's rising star at AICC, AJN, 29/9/06 "Gillard said what she had most admired in Israel was the spirit of the people in the face of suicide bombings." Labor MPs share Israeli political drama, AJN, 9/12/05)
Alistair Jordan, Rudd's Chief of Staff
Brendan O'Connor, MP for Gorton
Roger Price, Chief Opposition Whip
Christopher Pyne, Lib ?
Kevin Rudd, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs ("He told the ABC Insiders program... that he had discussed al-Qaeda with 'a lot of academics, analysts, and think tanks' in Israel and the reporting was 'pretty grim'. 'What we are now seeing is reports of al-Qaeda becoming effective in Jordan, Syria and even in Gaza itself', he said. One analyst had talked of 'early tentative contact' and 'some indications of early co-operative agreements' between Hamas and al-Qaeda." Al-Qaeda linked with Hamas, Rudd warns, AJN, 25/11/05)
Kelvin Thomson, Shadow Minister for Human Affairs

"... Israeli Ambassador Nati Tamir told the AJN... highlights would include visits to the north of Israel, Tiberius, the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, the Knesset and Yad Vashem." Gillard, MPs to visit Israel, AJN, 11/11/05) Bill Shorten of the Australian Workers Union also visited Israel as a Rambam Fellow in 2005, although I'm not sure whether he was part of this group. So too did Liberal MP for Wentworth (NSW) Malcolm Turnbull (See my 17/9/15 post, What's Your Problem, Mr Fishman.)

Media

Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange

Alan Howe, ED Herald Sun ("Earlier, I had an insight into Rudd the diplomat. We had been shown some of the steady diet of hate that pours out of the minds of kids watching Palestinian television; pre-teenage kids glorifying the evil of suicide bombers was about the least offensive content. In the office of the then PA's Deputy PM, Dr Nabil Shaath, who was to receive about $16 million of Australian taxpayers' money last year, Rudd raised these sanctioned broadcasts. 'That no longer happens', Shaath said quite forcefully, if not quite truthfully. He said he could not always control the independent broadcasters whose constant theme was to characterise Jews as ruthless, sadistic killers. Rudd may not have been in government, but he spoke for all Australians as he described the appalling broadcasts he had seen and heard the night before. And he made it clear Australians would not support their money going to a body that funded, encouraged or tolerated such broadcasting." Rudd's Middle East moment, Alan Howe, Rhapsody Oct-Dec 2007)

Board of Deputies' Journalists Mission

Louise Dodson, Chief Political Correspondent, Sydney Morning Herald (Wrote an article for the Herald on her return called Lessons that may be learnt from Israel)
Sally Watson, Supervising Producer, SBS
John Hill, Senior Reporter, Network 10
Sharon McKenzie, Presenter, Sky News

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rambamming Makes the Front Page

Rambam (v): To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia on a grooming session conducted by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.*
Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)

"Almost 1 in 4 federal MPs have accepted free overseas travel worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign governments, private companies and lobby groups... since the last election [11/07]... China is the main destination with 19 visits, followed closely by Israel (15) and Taiwan and the US (both 14). The confession of the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, that he had failed to declare 2 trips to China in 2002 and 2005 has thrown the spotlight on this unregulated scheme, described yesterday by one long-time political insider as 'pretend transparency'... 'No independent person oversees these trips and there are no rules. Most of the politicians declare as little information as possible', one insider said. Norm Kelly, of the Australian National University's Centre for Democratic Institutions, called for greater scrutiny. 'If an organization or company or government is spending money on Australian MPs there's a reason for it. They're not doing it to develop democracy in Australia. They see a positive outcome for their organisation and the question is whether that's a positive for Australia as well'. Dr Kelly said it was also at odds with the Government's proposal to ban foreign donations to political parties... 'The argument for banning donations is that [it] can buy influence and access', Dr Kelly said. 'A... trip is doing the same thing and it's probably a more effective way of doing it too because you've got the person captured for that trip'... The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has paid for 13 MPs to visit Israel since November 2007. The executive director, Colin Rubenstein, said the program had been running for several years and offered trips to Australians to help them understand the complexity of the Middle East. Journalists, including some from the Herald, have accepted this trip." (MPs hooked on Chinese junkets, Phillip Hudson, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/3/09)

While I'm happy that this practice has finally made it to the front page (of the SMH at least), there are still many questions which require answers:-

Why didn't the Herald print a list of these politicians and their destinations? When who says what about China or Israel, shouldn't we know if they've first been rambammed? And why didn't the Herald print a list of journalists (or at least its own) who have "accepted" such junkets? It's one thing to refer to a lack of "rules" for politicians, but what about Fairfax's own Code of Conduct which explicitly states, "We will not accept gifts or inducements which could impair our judgment or be perceived to be a conflict of interest, bribe or inappropriate gift"? Why isn't there at least a disclosure at the conclusion of each and every article on Palestine/Israel by a rambammed Herald journalist? Were the Herald's afterthought about junketing Herald journalists and the comment from AIJAC's Colin Rubenstein only included because the paper knew that it might otherwise be accused of hypocrisy on the matter? And finally, given that junkets to 'that shitty little country, Israel' are almost as numerous as those to the mighty Celestial Empire, and that Rubes has been wheeled in to justify them, when is the Herald going to do an 'exclusive' on that?

Another thing: the graphic headed Free For All, which accompanies the above article, is interesting in its own right. Under the sub-heading Trips Paid For we find the following list:-

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council 13
Chinese Govt 11
Taiwanese Govt 11
Australia America Leadership Dialogue 9
Australia-China Development Association 6

Why, when the Chinese and Taiwanese governments are named, are we being led to believe that all 13 trips to Israel were funded exclusively by AIJAC with no Israeli government input? Second, although it is plain from the graphic that more trips were paid for by AIJAC and/or the Israeli government, why is this not mentioned in the body of the article?

In addition to AIPAC's journalists' junkets, it should be remembered, we also have the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (BOD) sponsoring same, including the Herald's Paul Sheehan. Now if we were to add journalists' junkets to politicians' junkets...

[* For my other posts on rambamming just click on the tag following the post.]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Here's How You Do It

"The propaganda chief of the Chinese Communist Party has lobbied the ABC on its coverage of Tibet, saying he wants the Chinese Government's views to be fully represented in ABC reports. The meeting between Li Changchun and ABC managing director Mark Scott came at a time when the ABC is seeking Beijing's permission to broadcast ABC news directly into China... Beijing dislikes the tone of Western media reports it believes wrongly portray Tibetans as noble freedom fighters and China, which invaded Tibet in 1950, as cruel colonisers." (China requests Tibet balance, Cameron Stewart, The Australian, 25/3/09)

Communist Party propaganda chief lobbying the ABC? These guys obviously have a lot to learn. This kind of direct intervention by Chinese government officials is bound to be misconstrued by the chattering classes here as meddling in Australia's internal affairs.

A few tips for Li Changchun:-

If you want the likes of Scotty eating out of your hand, it is imperative that you operate at one remove through your very own domestic lobby. You could call it, say, the Australia/China & Australian Chinese Affairs Council (ACACAC). Its job will be to badger the Australian mainstream media should any wayward member of same dare look sideways, on air or in print, at your extraordinarily celestial and vibrant nation.

The magic word is 'balance'. Should a rogue documentary or opinion piece or letter on Tibet inadvertently find its way onto Australian television or into the press, rally your cyber-sleeper cells, hit the phones, and demand as one that the offending item be followed the very next day by one of your own. Pretty soon, the magical phenomenon of anticipatory compliance* will kick in, and instead of you urging them for a right of reply, they'll be asking you - in advance - to supply an antidote. Why, eventually (and this is sooo beautiful), they'll even be thinking twice before running anything at all!

With regard to the language of news reports, you've got to lay down, and insist on, a few ground rules. These should be as follows:-

1) Any Tibetan who dares look sideways at a member of the Chinese Defense Forces (CDF) or at any of your brethren engaged in the holy redemption of... of what? You really need another name entirely for Tibet, an ancient Chinese name that suggests that once, many many moons ago, it was actually Chinese, but, unfortunately, somehow dropped off the national radar. I'm sure you can come up with some old codswallop in some ancient tome that'll do the trick. Shit, that's it! You can call it Codswallop! Pure genius! Anyway, back to your swivel-eyed Tibetan. He's a terrorist, obviously, but you may have to put up with him being labelled a 'militant' or a 'Buddhist extremist' - as opposed to those Tibetans who happily lie down and let you walk all over them or even dob in their swivel-eyed brothers. No, for them 'moderate' is surely the word of choice.

2) That cunning old fox the Dalai Lama, of course, is behind the swivel-eyed ones. Although his merry mien has so far managed to fool the world (but not, of course, your good self), he should be framed as a 'terrorist mastermind' hellbent on wiping China off the map. And, as those of us in the know know, terrorist masterminds, ipso facto, cannot be peace partners.

3) Tibet - or Codswallop - must never be described as 'occupied' - for obvious reasons. 'Disputed' yes, you can at a pinch let that one pass, but never, ever, 'occupied'.

4) Finally, and you must remember this, whenever the situation flares up in the disputed territory of Codswallop, you must ensure that any account of same always begin with bug-eyed Buddhist terrorists casting the first stone, and that such an apocalyptic event is always framed as an existential threat, the first phase of a push to drive the Chinese people into the sea. Likewise, any response by your troops (the second most moral in the world) must be framed as vegetarian self defense.

I do hope these tips have been helpful. Should you have any further enquiries, I can put you in touch with experts.

[*See my 28/4/08 post of the same name.]

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

That Shitty Little Country 2

"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)

What follows is a companion piece to my 6/2/09 post That Shitty Little Country.

Whether it's Operation Peace for Galilee (1982), Operation Defensive Shield (2001), or Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), the Israeli terrorist seems to have a serious problem with his woos & poos:-

"After the Israelis left [Beirut/1982], we began to hear of the most extraordinary aspect of the occupation. Arrests, harassment, shootings, even the obligatory looting: these were what everyone expected, and indeed, they had occurred. But the thing that no one expected was what we, on hearing about it for the first time, greeted with hesitant laughs. Gradually, we discovered that what had seemed like a single incident had become, in fact, a trademark and taken on more serious dimensions. The Israeli soldiers, wherever they had been, had defecated in choice places. On books, furniture, clothes, and carpets; on bedroom floors; near toilet seats and in bathtubs; on school desks and in shop windows, people found rotting feces. Someone swore she knew of one house near the airport where the distraught housewife had discovered feces in her washing machine and dishwasher. One man, we heard, went to his office and saw on every single desk except his own the offensive, stinking pile. Triumphantly, he sat at his desk and gloated over his unhappy colleagues. Then he opened his drawer, and there, neatly lying among the files, was his bequest from the Israeli army. And so, after all the ruination and tragedy, the destruction and pain, the dead and the dying, the lacerated bodies and blinded eyes, the burned and disfigured faces, the widows and orphans - after all this there was left only a great heap of excrement. The fires had died, snuffed out in a mound of dung. A ghastly joke, symbol of an overrriding contempt, a cosmic stink had become the memorial to those months of agony." (Beirut Fragments: A War Memoir, Jean Said Makdisi, 1999)

" No one deluded himself that the Palestinian Ministry of Culture [in El-Bireh]... would be spared the fate of other Palestinian Authority offices in Ramallah and other cities - that is, the nearly total destruction of its contents and particularly its high-tech equipment. After all, the Israel Defense Forces troops were deployed in the building for about a month... On the evening of Wednesday, May 1 [2001], when the siege on Arafat's headquarters was lifted and the armoured vehicles and the tanks had rumbled out, the executives and officials of the ministry who had rushed to the site did not expect to find the building the way they had left it. Employees of the local radio and television station... also hastened to the scene... But what awaited them was beyond all their fears, and also shocked representatives and cultural attaches of foreign consulates, who toured the site the next day... all the high-tech and electronic equipment had been wrecked or had vanished - computers, photocopiers, cameras, scanners, hard disks, editing equipment worth thousands of dollars, television sets. The broadcast antenna on top of the building was destroyed. Telephone sets vanished. A collection of Palestinian art objects (mostly hand embroideries) disappeared... Furniture was dragged from place to place, broken by soldiers, piled up. Gas stoves for heating were overturned and thrown on heaps of scattered papers, discarded books, broken diskettes and discs and smashed windowpanes... In every room of the various departments - literature, film, culture for children and youth, books, discs, pamphlets and documents were piled up, soiled with urine and excrement. There are 2 toilets on every floor, but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building... They did their business on the floors, in emptied flowerpots, even in drawers they had pulled out of desks. They defecated into plastic bags, and these were scattered in several places. Some of them had burst. Someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier. The soldiers urinated into empty mineral water bottles. These were scattered by the dozen in all the rooms of the building, in cardboard boxes, among the piles of rubbish and rubble, on desks, under desks, next to the furniture the soldiers had smashed, among the children's books that had been thrown down. Some of the bottles had opened and the yellow liquid had spilled and left its stain. It was especially difficult to enter 2 floors of the building because of the pungent stench of feces and urine. Soiled toilet paper was also scattered everywhere." (Someone even managed to defecate into the photocopier, Amira Hass, Haaretz, 5/6/02)

"On January 18, when the [Israeli] forces pulled out, similar sights awaited people whose homes had become military bases in their absence. There were bullet-pocked walls, ripped-up sofas and armchairs, smashed televisions and computers, shards of glass and porcelain dishes and broken wooden thresholds. Clothing was ripped up. And there were mountains of very Israeli garbage - empty tin cans, cardboard boxes, empty bags of potato chips and chocolate, and full bags of sugar and raspberry-flavored drinking powder... There are houses where excrement was smeared on the walls, or where dry piles of it were found in corners. In many cases, the smells indicated that soldiers had urinated on piles of clothing or inside a washing machine. In all the houses the toilets were overflowing and clogged, and there was filth all around. When the Abu Eidas family returned to house No. 5 in Jabalya, they discovered pots of urine and excrement in the refrigerator." (Pots of urine, feces in the refrigerator - how IDF troops vandalized Gaza homes, Amira Hass, Haaretz, 6/3/09)

The crappy performance of Israeli terrorists in the field over decades suggests a deep-seated problem. One shudders to think what the lads in khaki get up to at home. Shitty little country indeed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ubermenschen

"The Israelis are among the most disciplined troops in the world and go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties." Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan (See my 8/2/09 post On Planet Sheridan)

"The delegation recorded numerous accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, in the head, chest, and stomach. Another common narrative described Israeli forces rounding civilians into a single location ie, homes or schools which Israeli tanks or warplanes then shelled. Israeli forces continued to shoot at civilians fleeing the targeted structures... We spoke to Ibtisam as-Sammouni, 31, a resident of Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City. On January 4, the Israeli army forced approximately 110 of Zaytoun's residents into Ibtisam's home. At approximately 7 am on January 5, the Israeli military launched 2 tank shells at the house without warning killing 2 of Ibtisam's children: Rizka, 14 and Faris, 12. When the survivors attempted to flee, Israeli forces shot at them. Her son Abdullah, 7, was injured in the shelling and remained in the home among his deceased siblings for 4 days before Israeli forces permitted medical personnel into Zaytoun to rescue them. After medical personnel removed the injured persons, an Israeli warplane destroyed the house and it crumbled over the lifeless bodies. The dead remained beneath the rubble for 17 days before the Israeli army permitted medical personnel to remove their bodies for burial. We spoke to the family of Rouhiya an-Najjar, 47, who lived in Khoza'a, Khan Yunis. Israeli forces ordered her neighborhood's residents to march to the city center. Rouhiya led 20 women out of her home and into an alley. They all carried white scarves. Upon entering the alley, an Israeli sniper shot Rouhiya in her left temple killing her instantly. Israeli forces prevented medical personnel from reaching her body for 12 hours." (Strong Indications of Israeli War Crimes, National Lawyers Guild, counterpunch.org, 9/2/09)

"Our findings overwhelmingly point to the use of conventional weapons in a prohibited manner, specifically, the use of battlefield weaponry in densely populated civilian areas. Customary international law forbids the use of weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. We found evidence that Israel used white phosphorus extensively throughout its 3-week offensive in a manner that led to numerous deaths and injuries. For example, Sabah Abu Halima, 45, lived in Bait Lahiya with her husband, 7 boys and 1 girl. It was midday and she and her entire family was home. Within minutes she felt her home shaking and missiles fell through the rooftop. She fell to the ground upon impact. When she looked up, she saw her children burning." (ibid)

"The testimonies [of Israeli soldiers] include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her 2 children. 'There was a house with a family inside... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof', the soldier said. 'The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her 2 children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was OK, and he should hold his fire and he... he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders'. According to the squad leader: 'The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away... I don't think he felt too bad about it, because... as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general... I don't know how to describe it... The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers...' Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered. The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader's soldiers complained that 'we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist'. The squad leader said: 'You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won't say anything. To write 'death to the Arabs' on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It's what I'll remember the most'." (IDF in Gaza: Killing civilians, vandalism, & lax rules of engagement, Amos Harel, Haaretz, 19/3/09)

"Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children's graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques - these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription, 'Better use Durex', next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter's T-shirt from the Givati Brigade's Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull's-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, '1 shot, 2 kills'.' (Dead Palestinian babies & bombed mosques - IDF fashion 2009, Uri Blau, Haaretz, 20/3/09)

"Rules of Engagement: Open fire also upon rescue', was handwritten in Hebrew on a sheet of paper found in one of the Palestinian homes the Israel Defense Forces took over during Operation Cast Lead." (IDF soldiers ordered to shoot at Gaza rescuers, note says, Amira Hass, Haaretz, 22/3/09)

Savages.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Australia Bats for Israel in the UN

Israel and its 5th columns in the US, Canada, Australia, and the European Union must be pleased with themselves. Their lengthy smear campaign, labelling the April 20-24 United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Geneva (or Durban II) as a potential anti-Semitic hatefest, has finally paid off, with references in the draft resolution to Israel as an occupying power that carries out racist policies being dropped.

Yours Truly appears to have played a major role - but you wouldn't have read about it in the mainstream Australian press:

"Australia threatened on Thursday [12/3] to withdraw from a UN conference on racism next month unless the wording of a document it considers anti-Semitic is dropped... 'If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue... Australia will not be in attendance', Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told parliament." (Australia threatens to quit Durban 2 anti-racism meet, Reuters, Haaretz, 12/3/09)

"The latest draft resolution... omits any reference to the Middle East conflict... Israel and Canada said they would boycott this year's meeting... The US and Italy have also vowed not to attend unless countries commit to a balanced declaration. The European Union and Australia have threatened to follow suit unless Muslim countries backed down." (Criticism of Israel dropped from Durban II draft resolution, AP, Haaretz, 17/3/09)

Presumably, the Ruddies are now officially of the view that calling an occupying power an occupying power and racist policies racist is 'anti-Semitic'. The fraying thread tethering them to some semblance of reality has, it seems, all but snapped.

But we shouldn't be surprised. After all, as Rudd himslf has declared, 'Support for Israel is in my DNA'.

Nor should we be surprised that Israel still isn't satisfied: "A senior Foreign Ministry source said Wednesday that Israel rejects the latest draft of the closing statement for the 'Durban 2' anti-racism conference, despite revisions aimed at dropping direct criticism of Israel. While all direct references to Israel and the Israel-Palestinian conflict have been removed in an attempt to keep the European Union from boycotting, it still implicitly singles out Israel. 'The first clause in the new document reaffirms the declaration of 'Durban I', which calls Israel a racist state...' " (Israel rejects revised draft of Durban II statement, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 18/3/09)

In summary, the racist, occupying power which has given the finger to more UN resolutions than any other nation on earth, which had chosen long ago to boycott the conference, and which has been sniping at it from the sidelines ever since, is now insisting on dictating the terms of a draft UN document that doesn't even mention it. And this monumental chutzpah will no doubt continue to have the backing of the Rudd government.

POSTSCRIPT: The Lobby's little helpers in the Senate: Judith Troeth (Lib), David Feeney (Lab), and Steve Fielding (Family First) all spoke out this week in the Senate (prior to the revised draft) calling on the government to boycott Durban II. (Still no Australian decision despite Durban draft change, The Australian Jewish News, 20/3/09)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Giving Poetry a Bad Name

I first came across the following poem on Michael Danby's website. (Before you leap to the conclusion that Danby's a lover of verse, let me stress that it is the one & only poem on his website):-

Yusra

The Public Morals Unit of Hamas
Saw Yusra al-Azzuri, bold as brass,
In Gaza City, walk with her betrothed,
Her sister also present. Half unclothed.
All three behaved as if beyond the reach
Of justice. Laughing, dancing on the beach,
They almost touched. They thought to drive away.
The Unit followed them without delay.
Her young man drove. Beside him as they fled,
Yusra died quickly in a hail of lead.
The other two were hauled out of the car
And beaten senseless. With an iron bar,
The riddled corpse of Yusra, as the worst
Offender, was assaulted till it burst.
She would have prayed for death. It can be said,
Therefore, it was a blessing she was dead
Already. Thus we look for just one touch
Of grace in this catastrophe. Too much
To bear, the thought that those young men were glad
To be there. Won't the memory drive them mad?
Could they not see the laughter in her face
Was heaven on earth, the only holy place?
Perhaps they guessed, and acted from the fear
That Paradise is nowhere if not here.
Yusra, your name too lovely to forget
Shines like a sunrise joined to a sunset.
The day between went with you. Where you are,
That light around you is your life, Yusra.

It was written by expatriate Australian poet and UK TV wit Clive James and published in The Australian's literary supplement The Australian Literary Review of September 7 2007. To the best of my knowledge, apart from Danby's website, its only other airing has been in James' recently published collection Opal Sunset: Selected Poems 1958-2008. Thank God for small mercies.

At first blush, one might assume, as reviewer Benjamin Lytal of the Los Angeles Times did, that Yusra has some basis in fact: "Others, like Yusra, take a name out of the headlines in order to saddle current events with James' metered chivalry." But, like Lytal, you'd be wrong. Yusra al-Azzuri is pure fiction and Hamas has no 'Public Morals Unit'.

The closest I can find to a 'PMU' in the Palestinian territories is a 'morality police' unit set up by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah following Hamas' successful pre-emptive coup in Gaza in 2007. Its job is reportedly to "comb the streets of central Ramallah to maintain 'public order' and 'tradition' [and] bust anyone caught violating the fast during Ramadan..." (Fatah uses 'morality police' to burnish image, Joshua Mitnick, Christian Science Monitor, 11/10/07) And that's "bust," as in take offenders down to the station for a talk - not riddle them with bullets and beat their corpses to a pulp. While noting that the PA's establishment of a 'morality police' unit was designed to compete with Hamas' reputation among all Palestinians for piety and lack of corruption, Mitnick writes that "no such morality squad exists in Gaza," and adds that "local observers say that in a territory known as more traditional than the West Bank, Hamas has been careful not to give its critics a justification for allegations that it is a Taliban wannabe."

James' fabrication cannot simply be excused as poetic licence. Yusra is blatant black propaganda, pure and simple. It tells us nothing whatever about Hamas, Palestinians, or Gaza. Just look at those young lovers: taking the (sports?) car for a spin along the coast as though they were the Gazan equivalent of middle class Lebanese twentysomethings on a jaunt to Beirut's Corniche, for God's sake. The fact that blockaded, impoverished, fuel-starved Gaza has been virtually carless for years, is simply not on James' radar. No, what Yusra is really all about is James and his lurid, post 9/11 orientalist fantasies.

In the unlikely event that James ever chooses to write about the real thing, of course, he could always draw on the actual case of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish divorcee who was beaten to the point of requiring medical treatment in her Jerusalem home by thugs in the pay of an ultra-Orthodox 'modesty patrol' because she had allegedly "stopped maintaining an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle and had relationships with men." The mercenaries who carried out the attack had been, in the words of the Israeli judge who sentenced one of them to 4 years jail, "hired to beat and abuse, to curse and threaten, to humiliate and brutalize" the woman. (Modesty patrol 'mercenary' gets 4 years for assaulting woman, Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, 16/3/09) Fat chance!

But there's another twist to this story. George Orwell, who once opined that "during times of universal deceit, telling truth becomes a revolutionary act," would no doubt be turning in his grave if he knew that James had been awarded the 2008 Orwell Prize for political journalism. Here's Jean Seaton, chair of the Orwell Prize and professor of media history at the University of Westminster: "Clive James is a master, in the Orwell tradition, of the essay. Whether written or broadcast, his words are sharp but humane."(Hari & James take Orwell prizes, Stephen Brook, guardian.co.uk, 25/4/08)

Ever read a James essay? One such appeared in The Australian of 10 April 2004. Written in bad blood is James' take on the history of the Palestine -Israel conflict. Unsurprisingly, considering he's the author of Yusra, he manages to get just about everything wrong. For reasons of space, I will deal only with the slanders, distortions, and errors of just the first half of this appalling diatribe:-

According to James, the Palestinians are possessed of "the mad idea that the Jews have no right to exist... and the equally mad idea that the state of Israel can somehow be eliminated." That's "the Jews" anywhere and everywhere, folks, not just those who flooded into Palestine. A bit like asserting that indigenous Australians were not only opposed to those who invaded and colonized their homeland but also opposed the very existence of each and every European in the lands from which the invaders and settlers first issued. For James, the Palestinians weren't simply opposed to the handover of their homeland by a European colonial power to a bunch of European settlers who wanted to turn it into an ethnically exclusive state at their expense - no, they just hated Jews. Full stop. End of story.

This outrageous slander of the victims of the Zionist colonial-settler project in Palestine came about, according to James, because the "Arab nations never studied at the University of the Holocaust [and] saw nothing wrong with Hitler's determination that as many potential colonists as possible should be dealt with at source."

Studied at the 'University of the Holocaust'?! Presumably, "the Arabs" (but not necessarily the Europeans) should have been alive to the fact that another European colonial power, other than the one forcing the foreign settlers on them, had 'issues' with certain European 'tribes' to its east and was intent on rolling them. And not only should they have twigged to that - they should also have jumped for joy at the prospect of helping out the most persecuted of those European 'tribes' by a) prevailing upon their own colonial master to open the gates of Palestine to said 'tribe', and b) prevailing upon the Palestinians themselves to shower its members with rice and rose petals before promptly handing over their house and car keys and then decamping across the Jordan.

Apart from the odd reference to this or that Zionist primer, James appears simply to make things up as he goes along: "Ben-Gurion was ready to accept a partition of Palestine: even though his resulting portion would be tiny..." Oh, really?If 56% of Palestine is "tiny" for those who had bought up a mere 6% of it prior to 1947, how then would James describe the 44% alloted to the Palestinians? Teensy? How, moreover, would he describe a Palestinian state on a mere 22%? Teensy weensy? And how would he describe a Palestinian state on 22% minus Jewish settlement blocs, apartheid wall, Jews-only roads, army bases, etc? Microscopic?

James makes basic errors such as in "when the new state was attacked [by the Arab states] from all sides... the Irgun teamed up with the Stern Gang to massacre over 300 Arabs at Deir Yassin, and the exodus of the Palestinians ensued." The Deir Yassin massacre occurred over a month before the Arab armies entered Palestine, and just over 100 Palestinians were butchered. Moreover, the Palestinian "exodus" was well under way by the time the Arab armies intervened.

Crucially, he glosses over David Ben-Gurion's key role in planning and implementing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, using the Irgun and Stern Gang as fall guys: "Although [the Palestinians'] disappearance suited Ben-Gurion's purposes - already embattled on a half-dozen external fronts, he would probably have lost the war if he had been forced to fight on an internal front as well." As Zionist historian Benny Morris has pointed out, Ben-Gurion was a "transferist... He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst... Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here." To which I would add this from Israeli historian Ilan Pappe: "On 2 November, ie, almost a month before the UN General Assembly [partition] Resolution was adopted... the Executive of the Jewish Agency, Ben-Gurion, spelled out for the first time in the clearest possible terms that ethnic cleansing formed the alternative, or complementary means of ensuring that the new state would be an exclusively Jewish one. The Palestinians inside the Jewish state, he told his audience, could become a fifth column, and if so 'they can either be mass arrested or expelled; it is better to expel them'." ( The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p 49)

And check out these bizarre sentences: "The Jews were suitably sorry at the time. But the Palestinians were sorry forever." Run that past me again. If "the Jews" were in fact "suitably sorry" at the time, all they had to do was facilitate the return of the refugees - as opposed to what they actually did (and have continued to do ever since) - block it and confiscate the refugees' homes and lands. And if the Palestinians, as a consequence of their dispossession in 1948, then became in James' ridiculous phraseology "sorry forever" would that not be sufficient to account for their rage without all that nonsense about anti-Semitism?

Nowhere does James' cluelessness come through better than in this outrageous statement: "There is enough oil money in the Arab nations to give every refugee a hotel suite with 24-hour room service. Instead they have been obliged to remain in camps that are display cases, so that they can testify with their desperation to Jewish inhumanity." If the goose had bothered to find out what the refugees themselves thought about their plight, he'd have discovered that nothing short of a return to what is rightfully theirs is acceptable to them. But face it, research or no research, if you've got a modicum of empathy for anyone who has been rudely shoved aside by those more powerful, you wouldn't even entertain such a callous and insensitive idea in the first place.

Poet? Orwell-Prize-winning journalist? You've got to be joking!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oh Dear!

I'd never heard of Aaron Klein until ABC Radio National's Rachael Kohn interviewed him on The Spirit of Things last year. So 'impressed' was I that I devoted 2 posts to the interview: Schmoozing with Aaron Klein! 1 & 2, 2-3/7/08.

Klein, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for worldnetdaily.com, had just authored a book titled Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans - to a Jew! His book was about Palestinian 'terrorists' and their wicked ways, and his message was essentially that, whatever the label (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad), they're all "pure evil" and killing is "what they do." However, these Spawn of Satan had one, terrible weakness: they simply could not get enough of him. So by cunningly exploiting this fatal weakness, schmoozing with them, and living to tell the tale, Klein was able to reach his counter-intuitive conclusion that 'You gotta talk to the terrorists to know that you can't talk to terrorists'.

Rachael, it seems, couldn't get enough of him either, variously describing him as "exceptional," "intrepid," "courageous," and "frank."

So what's this then? Klein was quietly going about his business at the WorldNetDaily site, sticking pins in an Obama doll and muttering to himself, when all of a sudden he happened to find himself on Fox News courageously and frankly denouncing Wikipedia for censoring the efforts of a certain Jerusalem21, who had been unsuccessfully trying to edit into Obama's Wiki entry information about his alleged links with pastor Jeremiah Wright and 'Weatherman terrorist' Bill Ayers, as well as an allegation that he was ineligible to serve as prez because there is no proof he was born in the US. The Wikipedia administrator had knocked back Jerusalem21's allegations as 'fringe' theories and Klein was angry on his behalf. But all was not quite as it seemed:-

"Klein did not identify who owned the Jerusalem21 account but futher digging by the ConWebWatch blog discovered that the only entry the user had tried to edit other than Obama's was Klein's. Jerusalem21 had created Klein's entry and edited it 37 times, adding several links and pictures. Claims that Jerusalem21 was Klein himself are backed up by discussions by Wikipedia administrators on the talk page attached to Klein's entry. 'It reads as a total puff piece and was obviously heavily influenced by Klein himself and cronies/sockpuppets at WND', one wrote. Further, when questions were raised about the identity of Jerusalem21, Klein edited his original story to remove references to Jerusalem21, replacing them with 'one Wikipedia user'. Eventually, in response to emailed questions from Wired News, Klein admitted that he had a hand in engineering the facts used to stand up his scandal. But he blamed the Jerusalem21 edits on his researcher. 'I am not 'Jerusalem21', but I do know the Wikipedia user (he works with me and does research for me), and I worked with him on this story', Klein said." (Obama Wiki fiddler caught red-handed, Asher Moses, The Age, 11/3/09)

Oh dear!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The SMH Gets Real (At Last)

The Bulldozing Entity has been illegally bulldozing Palestinian homes for as long as I can remember. One hundred and seventy-nine allegedly 'illegally built' Palestinian homes are currently awaiting that fate in illegally BE-occupied & illegally BE- annexed Arab East Jerusalem. (See Ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, Marcy Newman, electronicintifada.net, 10/3/09) We even have the case of a Palestinian resident who, in the certain knowledge that his home is about to be illegally bulldozed by the Bulldozing Entity, has asked a friend to do it for a fraction of the $20,000 demolition fee charged by the Entity. (See Facing Israeli demolition, Palestinian razes his home, Mohammad Assadi, wire.antiwar.com, 6/3/09)

Retired Israeli anthropology professor and co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Jeff Halper is now in Sydney blowing the whistle on such, and related, bastardry. And the usual suspects are upset: Robert Magid, owner and publisher of The Australian Jewish News, has pulled an ad for a talk by Halper in a Sydney synagogue because "I don't like the crowd who are bringing him out... They use their Judaism to bash other Jews and issues associated with the Jewish community" (Academic's visit divides Jewish groups, Andrew West, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/3/09). The "crowd," being Jews Against the Occupation, Independent Australian Jewish Voices, and the Coalition for Justice & Peace in Palestine. And now it seems even the synagogue crowd have developed cold feet: "We have a deep committment to free speech... but [some] members were very worried about what the professor might say," said a synagogue source (ibid).

That Herald report was followed next day by a somewhat exasperated editorial (With friends like these...) which dared to cast doubt on Magid's motives in pulling the ad: "Maybe it's because criticism that can't be easily shrugged off as ill-informed or even as anti-Semitic is harder to answer." The editorial then topped that by linking Magid's move to the US Israel lobby's mugging of NIC nominee Chas Freeman and drawing a rare conclusion of some relevance:- "Unlike the previous failed Obama appointments, the problems with Mr Freeman clearly stem from his outspoken, independent views rather than tax arrears, suspected abuse of office or conflicts of interest. His withdrawal augurs badly for Mr Obama's administration as it shapes up to dealing with a new Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu. As Mr Freeman has bitterly pointed out, many of Israel's overseas supporters identify Israel with one faction of its politics, meaning Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party. That hardly speaks to Israel's great strengths. It will only make many think twice about the shrill messages about Iran's nuclear threat, Shiite extremism or the danger of even attending the forthcoming Durban Review Conference on racism and discrimination... "

The carry-on over Jeff Halper's visit has been comprehensively dealt with by Australian Jewish anti-Zionist journalist and blogger Antony Loewenstein. Suffice it for me to focus in the rest of this post on just two matters arising: the Herald's flawed framing of its otherwise highly relevant editorial, and the issue of what's eating Robert Magid.

The Herald has adopted the pc convention that before you can venture a criticism of the Bulldozing Entity, you've first got to praise it to the skies. Hence the opening sentence: "Israel is a democracy." Bulldust! It's actually a country under the control of a minority Jewish supremacist regime. Think about it. Four to five million of its potential citizens, the descendents of Palestinian Arabs ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948, live, disenfranchised and stateless, outside its borders. The Bulldozing Entity has defied international law now for over 60 years by vetoing their return. Over one million of the Entity's current population of around 7 million are Palestinian Arabs, the descendents of those who escaped the ethnic cleansing of 1948. When the Bulldozing Entity allows the 4-5 million Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were expelled in 1948, and grants them full citizenship rights, including the right to vote, then and only then will talk about the Entity being a democracy cease to ring hollow.

As for Mr Magid, remember the "crowd" he doesn't like? Jews in various stages of bucking Zionist orthodoxy? Those who "use their Judaism to bash other Jews"? Yes? Well, like all dyed in the wool Zionists, he can't bear Jews who don't swallow political Zionism hook, line & sinker, including, I've no doubt, Jeff Halper.

In an extraordinary obituary on the late British plawright Harold Pinter published in his paper on January 23, Magid vents his Zionist spleen at one of that 'dreadful' "crowd". The following extracts reveal infinitely more of the suffocating tribal madness which is Zionism than they do of Pinter:-

"Later in the [Charlie] Rose [2006] interview, Pinter stated: 'I am speaking as a Jew and I deplore what Israel is doing. I deplore the continual harassment of the Palestinians... who are stopped by Israeli soldiers, who are actually [he pauses and screws up his face] thugs'. Pinter should have applied his rich imagination to envisage his only son, straight out of high school, scared, stationed at a checkpoint, evaluating whether the woman before him was really pregnant, or wearing a suicide vest... [H]is website didn't contain a trace of his Jewishness, and this was reflected in Pinter's life - until it came to Israel-bashing. Then surprisingly, he found his Jewish soul. He joined Independent Jewish Voices and underwent a metamorphosis where he found a Jewish voice within a British gentleman's body. And with this voice, he proclaimed, 'Israel's injustice to the Palestinians was an outrage' and 'the central factor in world unrest'. What do we make of this man, who was born a Jew, yet only displayed hatred and contempt for his own?... The tragedy of Pinter's life was that he was a great talent who provided insights into human nature. But his final betrayal, after a life denying his Jewish ancestry, was to define himself as a Jew in order to attack his fellow Jews. This transformation from Lear to Iago is worthy of a play."

IOW, Jews who are not Zionists are traitors to the cause.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who Can It Be?

I think we need a campaign to draft Charles 'Chas' Freeman (see previous post) to replace both United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and ABC Radio National's Tony Eastley, neither of whom seem willing or able to recognise a Zionist lobby when it hits them in the face. You too might agree once you read this exchange between them on yesterday's AM program. Talk about the proverbial elephant in the room...

TE: One of our opposition MPs has called [the UN World Conference on Racism aka Durban II] a 'hate-fest', a term which seems to have caught on amongst those people who want to boycott the conference. What would you say about that sort of description as regards this conference in Geneva?
NP: I'm very unhappy about that description.
TE: How did it catch on so quickly?
NP: It's not 'quickly'. I think that, since the last conference [in 2001], there's been a sustained propaganda campaign against the World Conference...
TE: Who's pushing the campaign?
NP: Who is?
TE: Yes, who's pushing this campaign, this rhetoric if you like.
NP: Well I don't know. I just read very many articles and letters, including in the Australian media, and they all carry the same terminology - 'hate-fest'. They carry the same misrepresentation such as saying that Libya, Cuba and Iran are the vice-chairs when there are 19 vice-chairs and a committee of 20 member states. So I can't tell you exactly who the lobby is. I can just pick out that it seems to be one source putting out this wrong information and labelling this review conference as a 'hate-fest'.

Another One Bites the Dust

"The groups and individuals which make up the [Israel] lobby pursue two broad strategies to encourage steadfast support for Israel. First, they exert significant influence on the policy-making process in Washington... Because political power in the US is divided between the legislative and executive branches, the lobby's tactics sometimes vary depending on which branch of government is involved. In addition to helping get sympathetic individuals elected or appointed to key positions, groups in the lobby strive to shape the political calculations of officials who might be tempted to chart a more independent course..." (p 151)

"... a few years later, in 2001, when Bruce Riedel left his position handling Middle East issues on the National Security Council, the New Republic reported that the Pentagon had 'held up the appointment of Riedel's designated successor, the Middle East expert Alina Romanowski, whom Pentagon officials suspect of being insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state'. The person appointed instead was Elliot Abrams, who had previously pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress during the Iran-contra affair. Abrams is hardly objective about Israel, having previously written in a 1997 book that 'there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart - except in Israel - from the rest of the population'. This is a remarkable comment coming from an individual who holds a critically important position on Middle East policy in the US government. 'For the government of Israel', wrote Nathan Guttman in Ha'aretz, his appointment was 'a gift from heaven'." (The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer & Walt, p 167)

The Israel lobby that knocked off Romanowski has just cut down Obama's nominee for head of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the body responsible for producing national intelligence estimates, one of which, to the chagrin of the lobby, concluded in 2007 that Iran was not in the business of producing nukes. The now politically neutralised Charles 'Chas' Freeman, a former diplomat, had been critical of - you guessed it - Israel, and was therefore considered most unlikely to produce the kind of national intelligence estimate that could have prompted an Israel lobbyist to remark, It couldn't have been better if we'd written it ourselves, namely one that shouted from the rooftops that not only was Iran producing nukes at a rate of knots but that Adolf Ahmadinejad himself was flat out scribbling 'With love from me to you' on each and every warhead as it rolled off the production line, and had, in fact, developed a vicious case of RSI, thus proving, if proof were necessary, that Jehovah was still doing His bit for His people.

And just who were the movers & shakers behind Freeman's termination? Will you please welcome Steven Rosen, former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) director, currently awaiting trial for espionage, to whit, obtaining and transmitting classified US documents on Iran to his handlers in Israel, and Republican congressman Mark Kirk, who has the distinction of receiving more AIPAC money than anyone else in Congress, which of course eminently qualifies him to point the finger at Freeman's ties to a Saudi-funded think tank. And Obama? As per the Gaza killing fields, missing in action.

Freeman, as you'd expect after being mauled by the likes of Rosen and Kirk, had a few extremely relevant things to get off his chest: "I am saddened," he wrote in a statement, "by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends. The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those it favours. There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government - in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the US to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States. The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubts on its ability to consider, let alone decide, what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government."

Now that's one personal intelligence assessment sure to fatten the coming revised and updated version of Mearsheimer & Walt's The Israel Lobby.

And how was Freeman's mugging reported in the Australian press? The Sydney Morning Herald's Washington correspondent Anne Davies had the lobby front and centre, complete with a juicy extract from the document above, but made no mention of Rosen or Kirk (Obama nominee pulls out, blames Israel lobby 'veto', 12/3/09). The Australian, on the other hand, had Kirk muttering darkly about Freeman's "ties" to that Saudi-funded think tank, but was predictably shtum on the existence of the Israel lobby and the money it had spent on him over the years. The other AIPAC operative, Rosen, was nowhere to be seen (Israel critic quits run for top US intelligence post, AFP, 12/3/09)