Now that Australian passport holders have become accomplices (witting or otherwise) in Mossad's latest murder, it's worth asking if the proverbial penny has at last begun to drop for some of our political and media elites that something is indeed rotten in the State of Israel.
Let me tell you there are some pretty pained people out there. Take today's Australian for instance. Now I know that the more scrupulous among you wouldn't even use it to wrap the malodorous remains of your latest fishing expedition in, let alone buy it and read it, but Murdoch's Australian does have a heart - after all, why else would it bill itself as The Heart of the Nation? Yes, I know, I'm full of them - and that organ, while it couldn't really be described as breaking at the moment, is at least suffering unprecedented palpitations over the Loved One's brazen betrayal of his nearest and dearest.
How best to capture the feeling? I think perhaps The Righteous Brothers had it about... well, right. Remember their priceless tearjerker, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling? - "You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips/ And there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips/ You're trying hard not to show it, baby/ But baby, baby I know it/ You've lost that lovin' feeling/ Whoa, that lovin' feeling/ Now it's gone, gone, gone, wooooooh." Ah, takes you back, doesn't it?
OK, you probably never dreamt you'd be reading the likes of the following cris de coeur in the pages of The Australian, but here they are (along with my own knifework of course) culled from not one, not two, but three pages of coverage:
"Foreign Minister Stephen Smith summoned Israel's ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem, early yesterday to express his 'grave concern' about the issue. 'I've made it crystal clear to the ambassador that if the results of (our) investigation cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was in any way sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend', he said. The Prime Minister vowed the government would 'get to the bottom' of the case. 'We will not be silent on this matter', Mr Rudd said. 'Any state that has been complicit in the use or abuse of the Australian passport system, let alone for the conduct of an assassination, is treating Australia with contempt and there will therefore be action by the Australian government in response', he said." (Aussies caught in Israeli spy hit, Cameron Stewart/Paul Maley, The Australian, 26/2/10)
Treating Australia with contempt, eh? Well try this on for size: "Israeli officials conceded nothing and promised nothing in response to Australia's demands." (ibid) And this: "Australian authorities quietly approached the Israeli government in the 1990s to seek assurance that Australian passports would not be abused after it was feared Israeli agents had doctored several New Zealand passports. The Australian has been told that during that meeting with Israeli government officials, the Israelis responded with 'enraged self-righteousness' at the suggestion that they would condone such identity theft." (ibid)
Enraged self-righteousness? How completely out of character! How totally unlike Godzone in the Middle East! Who would have thought yesterday's Godzone would be today's Godzilla? Quick, pass me the smelling salts, I'm feeling faint!
Well hello, Stevie, Kevie? It's a no-brainer, guys. Other than contempt, what else would you expect from a homicidal thug and bully whom you've sucked up to for decades? Like, gratitude?
And I bet you've never seen this before in The Australian: "The normally voluble Jewish lobby group Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIPAC) last night declined to comment on the looming diplomatic spat. An AIJAC spokesman told The Australian its director, Colin Rubenstein, was seeking more details." Normally voluble? Are Cameron and Maley taking the piss or are they what? And that bit about old Rubes seeking more details. OK, Cameron and Maley, you mightn't have actually said it, but I know what was on your minds: he's on the line to spinmeister Regev and can't be disturbed until he's learnt his latest (party) lines by heart, right?
Then there's this headline: Shock for unlikely bunch of killers. Killers! Killers! The Australian is actually calling Israelis - at least those who murdered al-Mabhouh - killers! Well I never!
OK, so the title's ironic, and the report is not about the actual killers, but those 3 Australian passport holders, currently residing in Israel, whose identities were allegedly stolen by Mossad, and who wouldn't kill a fly. Well, if they're Israeli-Australians, that's the ms media presumption. Yet if an Israeli or American had been knocked off, and Arab-Australian passport holders somehow implicated, wouldn't it be a case of guilty until proven innocent at The Australian? And wasn't Mossad whistleblower Victor Ostrovsky, author of By Way of Deception, telling ABC Middle East correspondent Anne Barker only this morning on Radio National's AM that Mossad had this quaint custom of asking visiting dual nationals, "if, when you're here in Israel, we may need to use your passport for security purposes, would you allow us to do that? And," he added incredibly, "people would say yes. And there were shelves of real passports just waiting to be used." Now, in light of Ostrovsky's disclosure, are we not entitled to presume that our 3 Israeli-Australians were not in fact the victims of passport theft after all, but willingly surrendered their passports to Israeli security officials? Consider the implications of that one! And on another matter entirely, wasn't one of the report's authors, The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, only a short while back, enthusiastically making out that just about every Tom, Dick & Harry in the Arab world had it in for al-Mabhouh and that Mossad was merely one suspect in a veritable queue of assassins? To view the egg on Lyons' face see my 8/2/10 post Disinformation Services.
Finally, we come to Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan and his Comment. The Australian's foreign editor is very much in head teacher mode here, censorious, pissed off, but clearly still smitten by his favourite student. The surly (Greg prefers plucky) young thug has just beaten his victim senseless and left him bleeding in the moonlight, but, alas, has broken one of the school's baseball bats in the process. And there's the rub: "Israel has every right to wage war against those who wage war against it but Israel certainly does not have the right to misuse the passports of innocent Australians. This was a very bad mistake by Jerusalem... Morally, there is no difference in Israel's actions from those of the US when it targets al-Qa'ida and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan for strikes by unmanned drone aircraft... But one glaring question out of this debacle is how did it go so wrong. Israel has conducted numerous operations like this, often enough with the co-operation of one or other Arab intelligence agency. [!!!] The reach, expertise and stealth of Mossad is legendary in the Middle East, and a substantial part of Israel's overall military prestige. But this operation has attracted all the wrong kind of publicity and left behind embarrassing video images and evidence of Mossad agents' behaviour. The misuse of Australian passports is a shocking mistake by Israel... Apart from the US, Israel has no better friend than Australia. Similarly, there could be only a tiny handful of leaders in the world as committed to Israel as Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott. A smart nation, and Israel is normally among the smartest, does not ever, under any circumstances, burn friends like that. Canberra has a very close, active and intimate intelligence relationship with Israel. Many of our top intelligence people go there for consultations and even for special short course training. [Now how's that for an admission?] It is astonishing to find a circumstance in which the PM is condemning Israel. To misuse the Australian connection in this way is a very poor show by the Israelis. For God's sake don't do it again." (Theft burned a strong supporter)
Although it may appear on the surface to be merely a case of 'Off you go, lad. I know boys will be boys, but try and show a little more respect for school property in the future', there's much more to it than that. Behind the stern, bespectacled, Jesuitical gaze that peers out from the photograph that graces Greg's opinion pieces, beats today a heavy heart, that of a Righteous Brother: Baby, baby, I'll get down on my knees for you/ If you would only love me like you used to do, yeah/ We had a love, a love, a love you don't find every day/ So don't, don't, don't let it slip away/ Baby, baby, baby, baby/ I beg of you please, please/ I need your love, I need your love/ So bring it on back, so bring it on back/ Bring it on back, so bring it on back/ Bring back that lovin' feeling/ Whoa, that lovin' feeling/ Bring back that lovin' feeling/ 'Cause it's gone, gone, gone/ And I can't go on, no... "