Saturday, July 31, 2010

Expert Advice

Former Labor prime minister (1983-1991) Bob Hawke, currently out & about on the hustings, pressing the flesh on Prime Minister Julia Gillard's behalf, was this month both the subject of a telemovie, Hawke, and a biography, Hawke: The Prime Minister, by his wife, the novelist Blanche d'Alpuget.

Hawke, of course, probably the most pro-Israel of any Australian political leader, not only took on those in the party who had the temerity to defend the Palestinians, but actively campaigned in the late 70s to secure the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel. His love affair with Israel is extensively documented in d'Alpuget's earlier 1982 biography of Hawke: Robert J Hawke: A Biography. The following passage, the biography's thumbnail sketch of the Palestine/Israel problem, is, as you'd expect, vintage Zionist propaganda, and of little value other than as an example of the genre. However, d'Alpuget's footnoted source is a corker.

But first, the offending passage:

"Israel had not been an issue in Australian politics before the escalation, in 1964, of the Vietnam War. In that year the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was founded with the major aim of its charter the total destruction of Israel. This aim was inspired by rankling over injustice: the United Nations decision of 1947 to divide British Mandated Palestine, a colony of the Empire, into two countries, allotting one to Palestinians and the other to Jews as a national home, was, from the Arab point of view, both a colonial act of theft and an insult to the whole Arab world. The Arabs had never accepted the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that such a Jewish national home should be created in Palestine; they discounted the fact that already, before World War II, Jews who had been returning to live in Palestine since the 1880s had bought a great deal of land there from the Arab and absentee Turkish landowners. That by 1947 European Jews were desperate for somewhere to live was of little concern to the Arabs for it was not they who had set up the gas chambers and slave camps. They saw the partition of Palestine as a European attempt to assuage European guilt. The Arab policy was to reject half a country and gamble upon winning by force of arms a whole country - or to lose the half they already had. But despite four major wars, 87,000 killed in action, hundreds of thousands wounded, billions of dollars spent on armaments which could have been spent on improving the lives of people, orgies of propaganda to encourage hatred, there is no Palestinian State and Israel has increased its territory. On the day in 1948 when Israel was declared an independent State the Arabs launched a war and as a result lost territory to Israel. They continued to harass until 1956 when Israel launched a war and won more territory. The Arabs continued to harass, and after 1964 became better organised in their campaign for the total destruction of Israel, which in 1967 made a pre-emptive strike. In six days Israel won a victory which astonished the world. The Arab nations reacted to defeat by increasing the price of oil to what was at the time a staggering $US5 a barrel, more than double the old price. Israel, by now, had the image of permanent military invincibility, and slowly her status as underdog began to change. In the years after 1967 the Arab nations, with a population of 120 million, were able to cast themselves as the plaintiffs against Israel, with a population of 3 million, as defendants. The Palestinians, refusing to acknowledge the legality or the reality of the State of Israel, lived in refugee camps. In the early 1980s children in the Palestinian camps born there and born of parents who were born there would reply to the question 'Where do you come from?' with the name of a village, now part of Israel, that their grandparents had once lived in and which they had never seen. (1)" (p 247)

"1. Briefing to author in Tel Aviv by staff of Australian Embassy."

Beats me why we didn't (don't?) just rent a room in the Israeli foreign ministry.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Get Thee to Israel!

An interesting portrait of Mark (whatever it takes) Arbib by Deborah Snow in today's Fairfax press:

First, the context: "Fast forward to the events of nearly 5 weeks ago in Canberra, when Rudd fell to Julia Gillard. Arbib, a senator and a junior minister in Rudd's government, was again at the centre of the action, rustling up numbers for the coup. His was not the only hand holding a knife, of course. Other chieftains from Labor's right - particularly Bill Shorten, David Feeney, and Don Farrell - were prime movers. And Rudd's autocratic style had left him ripe for the toppling. Nevertheless, Arbib's role in Rudd's downfall was 'pre-eminent', according to one of Arbib's mates, Senator Glenn Sterle*, from Western Australia. 'Let's make no mistake: Mark put Kevin here [as leader] in the first place, which is why to take him out was a bloody big call', the plain-spoken former truckie says. 'It's like taking your granddad out'... Asked some years ago whether he agreed with the philosophy of 'whatever it takes', the title of Graham Richardson's autobiography, Arbib replied: 'We'll do whatever it takes to win an election. Definitely'." (In Richo's footsteps, Labor's new Mr Fix-it)

Then this fascinating little anecdote: "He kept a tight rein on the state's MPs. Julia Irwin, then the member for Fowler, says he responded to a speech she gave on the rights of Palestinians by ordering her to take a trip to Israel and asking her to submit further speeches on the Middle East to him for clearance. She refused and the demands were not followed up. Arbib has denied asking her to travel to Israel."

[*Chair of the Australia-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thank GOD I'm a Liberal Boy

"The Liberals' candidate for Chifley is Venus Priest. They now have an Abbott, 2 Bishops and a Priest. God is sooo on their side right now." (Letter of Paul Romas, Reservoir, The Age, 27/7/10)

Dear Agony Aunt:

I've been with this guy for a while now, but I don't think he really cares about me or my feelings. And sometimes he just lashes out in public. Reckons everyone's out to get him. He can just drop a guy and kick the shit out of him for no reason at all. Then he starts screaming that the guy attacked him! It's so embarrassing with everyone looking at us. And if I say something to him he totally flips out and starts abusing me. Trouble is, I can't help myself, I love him too much. I mean, I want to hate him and be angry with him and leave him, but I just can't stop loving him. I guess it's just the way he is. I mean, I know he's got a few issues and stuff. Do you think it could be my fault he treats me this way? I'm so confused, I don't know what to do. Please help.

Antonia

I hear the cottonwoods whisp'rin' above/ Tony! Tony! Tony's in love:

"I have to say that it's a little disappointing, given the deep affinity between the Australian people and the Israeli people that the current Australian Government has somewhat weakened our longstanding bipartisanship on Israel... I want to reiterate here today, the Coalition's unshakable committment to Israel's security and I want to assure you that a Coalition government would never support a one-sided United Nations resolution against Israel to curry favour with an anti-Israel majority in the General Assembly... And we would never overreact to any international incident, because we appreciate that Israel is under existential threat in a way that no other country in the world is." (Abbott swipes at Labor Party's stance on Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 23/7/10)

The quality of Liberal Party candidates is not strained:

"I am going to win this seat. I claim it as mine and when I get in I will give my votes all of them to God who is on the side of the Liberal Right./Tony Abbott is God's mouthpiece in politics./ I vote for freedom of worship if the worship is of Jesus Christ or The Jewish God anyone else well they are worshipping a false god anyway so who cares./Someone get me into parliament... and watch me go. They will see my talent as the voice of... God himself./As far as I'm concerned every Muslim in Parliament is a step towards a Muslim Parliament, but I'm not against Muslims./I would stand up against the Muslim belief and ethics... well, I don't believe the Muslim faith actually has a place in Australia." (Thought bubbles emitted by David (Voice of God) Barker, disendorsed Liberal candidate for Chifley, as reported in the press this past week.)

God's mouthpiece speaks:

"Mr Abbott, why did the Liberal Party endorse David Barker as its candidate? - Well, he's unendorsed. He's disendorsed. He's gone. He's finished. And now we have a new candidate, our new candidate in the seat of Chifley is Venus Priest. She's a 41-year old small business person. [Question Inaudible] - Look, the point is that attacks on people based on their religion should have no place in this election campaign." (Tony Abbott, Joint Press Conference, Parliament House, Canberra, 25/7/10)

Here a Muslim, there a Muslim, everywhere a Muslim:

"We have to be careful of who we're going to be letting in. They might be a threat like everyone. In every place there's Muslims everywhere. They should have the same priorities as other people." (Venus Priest, Barker's replacement, Priest 'tough' on Muslims, SMH, 29/7/10)

That Julia Gillard is really a card-carrying Leftie who hates the US & Israel - dinkum!:

"For the whole of her political life, Julia Gillard has been a member of Labor's Left faction. This has not been a youthful indiscretion, as she remains a committed member of that faction even today. She is the first Left leader of the federal Labor Party in my lifetime... The policy decisions of the left-wing of the ALP have been consistent ever since I was at university in the late 1970s... On the foreign policy front, the Left was afflicted with a virulent strain of anti-Americanism. It disliked our traditional ties to Britain and clouded its hatred of Israel by pretending that its main Middle East foreign policy objective was Palestinian self-determination... What is it about these policies that attracted her to the Left, where she remains today... The truth is that Gillard today is... a total phony and a policy fraud. Gillard's strategy is to try to win the election on her personality, hoping like anything that no one will ask what she really believes in." (Despite the gloss, Gillard is just another phony, Michael Kroger [former Liberal Party president, Victoria], The Australian, 26/7/10)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'A Mature Democracy'?

"Bipartisan support for all overseas military deployments means there is likely to be little heat and light around defence during the [election] campaign. The Defence Minister, John Faulkner, has said no more troops will be sent to Afghanistan, and while Tony Abbott initially hinted that the opposition would consider boosting deployment if elected, he pulled back from that position early in the campaign, saying he supported the 'existing committment' of 1550 personnel. Privately, opposition and government figures characterise the bipartisan approach to the Afghanistan deployment as a great success and the measure of a mature democracy. This is although a poll conducted last month found 61% of the public want our troops withdrawn from Afghanistan immediately." (Main parties will keep Afghanistan off the radar, Dan Oakes, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/7/10)

A mature democracy? They've got to be kidding. Truth is, we've never grown up as a nation, as former diplomat and academic Alison Broinowski has demonstrated so well:

"On 23 January 2003... 350 Australian soldiers and sailors sailed from Sydney, with 1650 more expected to follow them. Apart from there being more women in uniform now, it looked much like all the previous expeditions in our history. The flags, the bands, and the speeches had been much the same when settler Australians set off to fight on the British side in the Zulu War in 1845, in the Crimean War in 1854, in the Indian Uprising in 1857, in the Maori War in 1863, in the Sudan in 1885, in the Boer War in 1899, in the 'Boxer' uprising in 1901, in World Wars I and II, in Malaya from 1948, and in Malaysia and Indonesia in the 1960s. Australians fought in the American Civil War from 1860, and took the United States' side in the Korean War from 1950, in the Vietnam War from 1962, and in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Australians were in action in Rwanda. Four times, Australians fought in the Middle East, including Somalia and Afghanistan. In the 20th century, wars caused the deaths of 102,000 Australians, more than half of them in World War I, defending Britain.

"Three characteristics emerge from this depressingly long chronicle of wars. First, the cause for which Australians fought, every time, was either British or American, and outside Australia. With the single exception of World War II, Australia did not defend its own territory in any of these wars: in all of them, Australia fought for the interests of its allies. Second, since World War II, the United States has invaded or bombed eighteen countries with no formal declaration of war; and for those in which Australia fought, the same applies. And a third thing to notice is the difference between Iraq and other hard places: the fact that, before 2003, Australia had never participated in starting a war. This time, our generals even boasted that the first shots fired were by Australians.

"It's a record of escalating bellicosity that makes Australia appear to be one of the world's most warlike nations. One persistent observer... the American-born Australian journalist Gerald Stone, noted years ago that, while Australians are not among the world's great leaders, we are the world's best followers. Australia allows its allies to choose its enemy for it. Australia still does what colonies are supposed to do, send its troops to fight in the empire's wars. The implied reward is the imperial power's protection when the colony is in danger. But imperial powers always protect their own interests first, not those of their colonies, and particularly not in war-time. When Britain did so in World War II, Australia turned to the United States, which of course did the same. When Australia tried to buy and then to create its own nuclear deterrent in the 1950s and 1960s, the United States prevented it. When Australia hoped for American support during Confrontation, and when Indonesia took over West Irian, the United States looked the other way. Although Howard pleaded for American 'boots on the ground' in East Timor in 1999, they did not arrive. In early March 2003, as war against Iraq loomed, Washington demanded that 300 Iraqis it suspected of spying in 60 countries be expelled. Australia, eager as always to earn its frequent-fighter points, quickly gave an Iraqi diplomat notice to get out. But the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer denied any pressure from the United States: Australia, he explained, is an independent country.

"In fact, until World War II, Australia accepted its foreign and defence policies from London; and after that, from Washington... Australian leaders can hardly wait to send troops to most of the United States' wars, asking for no guarantee of American defence in return, let alone anything like the US$17 billion reportedly offered to Turkey for the use of its bases in the invasion of Iraq. So what do we get back? Australian governments claim we receive intelligence rewards in exchange for providing Americans with Pine Gap, and that we benefit from the security that the United States presence is said to provide for the region. Whatever the quality of the American intelligence it receives, no government in Canberra that has wanted to win its next election has ever risked asking the Americans to leave their bases. The presence of the American bases in Australia, euphemistically called 'joint facilities', prevents us from supporting regional anti-nuclear initiatives. Far from guaranteeing our security, they made us a nuclear target during the Cold War and have made us a terrorist target now...

"Like the little kid in the playground who attaches himself to the school bully, we do his bidding in exchange for protection. So scared are we of the mob that we will keep doing anything for the bully, even when he hasn't asked us, and even when he doesn't do his bit to protect us. The mob, predictably, regards us with contempt." (Howard's War, 2003, pp 11-17)

Understandably.

Round Round Get Around...

They get around:

"Israel is struggling to keep its diplomatic friends in Africa as Iran makes a determined effort to expand its influence there, making the continent an emerging theater in the Iran-Israel confrontation. But these days the Jewish state has a new ally, Kenya, which wants Israeli help to fight the growing menace of jihadist terrorism emanating from war-torn Somalia, Kenya's northern neighbour... Israel is also seeking a foothold in the turbulent Horn of Africa to guard the approaches of the Red Sea. This is a vital shipping route and the access to the Arabian Sea for missile-armed Israeli submarines to target Iran should hostilities erupt... [I]n recent months Israel has been building military and intelligence links with Ethiopia, Nigeria and other African states." (Israel eyes new alliances in Africa, eastafricaforum.net, 9/3/10)

"Two Israeli aircraft appearing to be spy planes flew near Budapest's international airport last week but did not land there, Hungarian media reported Thursday. According to the reports, the planes were on a 'spy mission' that may be connected to the assassination of a Syrian national in his vehicle Wednesday in the Hungarian capital." ('Israeli spy planes flew over Budapest', Attila Somfalvi, ynetnews.com, 18/3/10)

"Israeli and Romanian defense officials said Monday that one Romanian and six Israeli soldiers were missing after an Israeli helicopter in which they were travelling crashed in mountainous terrain in central Romania... Romanian and Israeli troops are taking part in Blue Sky 2010, 11-day joint aviation exercises where troops are trained to fly low at low altitude in search, rescue and medical evacuation exercises." (Six IAF crew missing as Israeli helicopter crashes in Romania, Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, 26/7/10)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What's Not To Hate?

"Results of a population-based epidemiological study [of the residents of Fallujah, Iraq] organized by Malak Hamdan and Chris Busby are published on 3 July 2010 in the International Journal of Environmental & Public Health based in Basle, Switzerland. They show increases in cancer, leukemia and infant mortality and peturbations of the normal human population birth sex ratio significantly greater than those reported for the survivors of the A-Bombs at Hiroshoma and Nagasaki in 1945." (Genetic damage & health in Fallujah Iraq worse than Hiroshima, brusselstribunal.org, 2/7/10)

"There was a program early evening in not-so Great Britain on the new 'debate' around the 'legality' or 'illegality' of the war ON Iraq. Only now, seven years on, is there such a debate. Oh my, are the English having a sudden coup de coeur for Iraq or what?! Or are they just going through the usual mea culpa in an attempt to atone for their crimes? You know, trying to look good in public - stiff upper lip, plum in ass and what have you. You lot really make me laugh, but when I see you pontificate, my contempt for you grows even stronger, spreading through my being like the roots of an old tree that refuses to bend. What is it exactly you wankers are debating? What? After what? You really have no shame whatever. You're a total disgrace. A total failure. A totally immoral, amoral people. So you want a good conscience after seven years of murder and mayhem when we saw and experienced the unthinkable? When the worst violations of human rights were perpetrated by you (and the dumb fuck Americans)? What are you debating, you scum, you perverts of history? The English turd said, Now we need to let go of the past and concentrate on helping Iraqis reconstruct their country. The pervert did not say, ... helping the Iraqis reconstruct what we destroyed. He did not say, ... helping the Iraqis get rid of the criminal Iranian puppets we installed for them. He did not say, ... helping the Iraqis clean Iraq of millions of years of contamination and toxicity. He did not say, ... paying for the horrendous damage we inflicted on an innocent country and an innocent people. No, none of that was said. Help us reconstruct what, you filthy, once-a-month bather piece of shit? What is there left to reconstruct? Why don't you and the American shits tell it like it is? Why don't you say, We wanted to invent a new Iraq, but we failed? Why don't you say, We'd really like to leave it in chaos because this is what we really want, only this will break the Iraqi spirit? General Maude couldn't manage it in the 20s, but you thought you'd give it a jolly good shot today, didn't you? The legality of the war, eh? After you made Blair a viceroy of peace? After you twice voted for him? After you massacred Iraq? After you tortured and sodomised our people? After you used the most lethal weapons on us in Gulf War I and II, leaving Iraqi mothers to give birth to babies with two fucking heads? Now you're debating? As if the reasons for the war were justifiable or not? There is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING justifiable about your actions. NOTHING. And trust me, even if it takes another 20, 50 or 100 years, we will sue your filthy, putrid English arses... and you will pay... you will pay. I've heard that Iraqis take great pleasure in pissing on General Maude's grave - we're not done with you yet." (More English Filth, Layla Anwar, arabwomanblues.blogspot.com, 27/7/10)

"Fifteen months ago a Sky News investigation revealed growing numbers of children born with defects in Fallujah. Concerns were that the rise in deformities may have been linked to the use of chemical weapons by US forces. We recently returned to find out the current situation and what has happened to some of the children we featured. In May last year, we were told the story of a 3-year-old girl called Fatima Ahmed who was born with two heads. When we filmed her she seemed like a listless bundle - she lay there barely able to breathe and unable to move. Even now, and having seen the pictures many times since, I still feel shocked and saddened when I look at her. But the prognosis for Fatima never looked good and, as feared, she never made it to her fourth birthday. Her mother Shukriya told us about the night her daughter died. Wiping away her tears, Shukriya said she had put her daughter to bed as normal one night but woke with the dreadful sense that something was wrong. She told us she felt it was her daughter's moment to die, but of course that does not make the pain any easier. Fatima's father had taken his little girl's hand but it was cold. 'She is gone', he had said to his distraught wife." (The truth of Iraq's city of deformed babies, Lisa Holland, news.sky.com, 1/9/09)

Money Talks 2

In my last post I quoted the jwire.com.au website to the effect that Richard Pratt had "donated upwards of A$30 million to more than 350 Israeli causes in the last 10 years."

The more informative of the two Pratt Foundation websites, prattfoundation-israel.co.il, states that "the Pratt Foundation supports established organisations that have sustainable projects serving the poorest and most disadvantaged Israelis" (About Us). A click on the site's Projects tag takes us to a page headed Education & Culture and a list of 21 "recipients."

One recipient that caught my attention was Beit Morasha. Beit Morasha's mission statement on its website, bmj.org.il, reads as follows: "Beit Morasha of Jerusalem is a center for Jewish studies and leadership development dedicated to meeting the modern world with Jewish values... Beit Morasha is impacting Jewish and Zionist identity by cultivating a generation of leaders who can convey the relevance of Jewish tradition and values to contemporary society. Through innovative and beit midrash programs, values and training initiatives, research institutes, and cultural activities, Beit Morasha is advancing a vibrant and inclusive vision of Judaism; infusing Israel's army, schools, communities and public square with Jewish values and culture, and binding the Jewish people together with a sense of common identity, purpose and destiny."

Army? Tell me more! Scroll down the list of programs until you reach:

"3. THE CENTER FOR JEWISH IDENTITY & CULTURE is at the heart of Beit Morash's informal education activities. Established in 2006 by Beit Morasha President Prof. Benjamin Ish-Shalom and Lieut. Gen. (Ret.) Moshe (Bogie) Yaalon, now Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Strategic Affairs, the Center for Jewish Identity & Culture fosters leadership and enhances Jewish and Zionist identity through large-scale values-training projects... Identity & Purpose: Jewish & Zionist Identity & Values Training for the IDF - The Center's flagship program, Identity & Purpose empowers IDF commanders and officers to serve as 'commander educators' who can infuse the soldiers under their charge with Jewish identity and values. A strategic collaboration between Beit Morasha and the IDF Education Corps, this program uses a variety of informal educational tools to equip IDF commanders to connect their soldiers with the heritage, land, values, and people of Israel. Since its founding, this pluralistic program has become a mandatory component in IDF officer-training, and has trained over 200,000 members of Israel's security forces in Israeli-Jewish identity and values." The website further informs us that the same kind of program is being developed for national service volunteers, the Israel police and Israeli Border Police.

The Israel Defense Forces, eh? Poor and disadvantaged? Who would have thought? Still, you who care can do something for the poverty-stricken IDF. You can dig deep and send every (tax-deductible?) dollar you can manage to the Pratt Foundation for this most worthy Australian, sorry - Israeli - cause.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Money Talks

Just occasionally, the corporate media manage to shed some light on the activities of the rich and powerful in this country. In The shadow side of a cardboard king, Age journalist Michael Bachelard lifts the lid on the late Visy Industries head and Israeluvvie Richard Pratt.

Here are the more political references:

"A Sunday Age investigation has revealed a dark side to Pratt that played out through decades of questionable business deals and borderline criminality - allegations of bribes, thugs, systematic tax evasion, intimidation, the use of prostitutes and the purchase of political influence...

"The sources, who declined to be named, also allege that many politicians, as well as union officials and executives in competitor companies, were bribed or received favours with an expectation of support. It worked. When Pratt got into trouble with the National Crime Authority in the mid-1990s, very few politicians raised his conduct as an issue - a situation attributed by a Labor apparatchik at the time as being because Pratt 'has been very clever and built up friendships and support'. Sources have told The Sunday Age that former Trades Hall secretary John Halfpenny was regularly handed brown paper bags stuffed with cash. 'Dick hated unions, but believed you could buy them off. But they'd take the money and not do anything', one former executive remembers...

"Then comes a frank admission of what Pratt was buying with his large donations to both big political parties: 'the fact of political donations being followed by letters from Richard Pratt for assistance... could cause embarrassment for the recipient and the author', the document says. Politicians are summed up for their reliability. 'Whilst a number of prominent politicians and others are on side, Daryl Williams QC [the then attorney-general] is to some degree an unknown quantity and Peter Costello is far from over the line'. Williams is considered by both sides of politics to have been a straight shooter, and Costello never crossed the line to Pratt's side. John Howard was publicly praising Pratt during the cartel case between 2007 and 2009 while Costello remained silent... Pratt's wooing of politicians went beyond donations to the two big parties. One document... shows that after he finished as prime minister, Bob Hawke was on the Visy payroll, earning $8333.33 every month between September 1995 and June 1996, or $85,661 for the year, for 'consulting services'. Gough and Margaret Whitlam received $27,000 over the same period." (25/7/10)

Although Bachelard makes a compensatory reference to Pratt's philanthropy, "worth $150 million or more," he skirts completely the issue of how this was spent. While the website (theprattfoundation.org) of Pratt's philanthropic arm, The Pratt Foundation, reveals that both Israel and Australia are the beneficiaries of his largesse, no details are given*. Jewish community news site, J-Wire, talks of "upwards of A$30 million to more than 350 Israeli causes in the last ten years." (Tribute to Richard Pratt at Israeli military commemoration, jwire.com.au, 2/11/09)

[*Interestingly, the website prattfoundation-israel.co.il is a little more informative.]

The one Pratt Foundation project in Israel we have heard about here is the high propaganda value Park of the Australian Soldier at Beersheva, "funded... to honour the Diggers who have fought in the Middle East" (Rhapsody, Jan-Mar 2008)*. Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the following reference to the park and its creator in her June 23, 2009 address to the Australia Israel Leadership Forum in Jerusalem: "It is a wonderful reminder of our shared history and one more part of the legacy of the late Richard Pratt. It will serve as a place of pilgrimage for Australians and a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy today were hard-won."

Australian pilgrims, however, will likely have no inkling whatever of the allegation, in Bachelard's report, that the real damage to the Australian economy of Pratt's cardboard box cartel with APM "would be more in the order of $2 billion rather than the $700 million estimated by lawyers pursuing a class action over the cartel's proven duration, from 2000 to 2004."

But, hey, what the hell. As an earlier press report on Pratt, Friends in high places, revealed: "Pratt has donated about $1.5 million to the Liberals and $500,000 to the Labor Party since 2000. At his $15 million, 12-bedroom mansion, Raheen, Pratt hosts frequent political fund-raising functions. Howard was a recent dinner guest at a Liberal Party fund-raiser. A week earlier, Rudd was the star attraction at a Labor Party function." (Steve Burrell, SMH, 13/10/07)

Verily a "Renaissance man," as his very good friend and Labor heavyweight Bill Shorten was moved to say on the occasion of his death last year (Former trade unionist Bill Shorten will miss Pratt, dailytelegraph.com.au, 28/4/09).

[*See my posts Anzac Day Special: Diggers Die for Israel (25/4/08) & Zionist Myth In-formation (1/5/08)]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Me, A Zionist? How Very Dare You!

At uni she snuggled up to them:

"A fellow student activist says [Julia] Gillard has always been 'very much on the pragmatic side. She was always that way in politics. She was more inclined to deal with the Liberals, the Zionists and various right-wing groups than she was with the Left'." (She's got it, Stevenson & Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/03)

But then she swore blind she wasn't one:

"A recently unearthed document [MERC: Who did the digging & why?] showed Prime Minister Julia Gillard has faced accusations of pro-Israel bias since her student days... In 1984, when Gillard was president of the Australian Union of Students (AUS) - a precursor to today's National Union of Students - she reported extensively on a particularly vicious debate about the group's Middle East policy. During that debate, Gillard wrote 'It was alleged by some sectors of the 'Left' either that I was a Zionist or was actively collaborating with Zionists', at the same time 'AUJS (Australian Union of Jewish Students) representatives were treating me with total suspicion and distrust'. Continuing with the report, Gillard hit back at those who labelled her a 'Zionist'. 'It seems to me the height of ridiculousness that people I had never met could form this unshakable belief that I was a Zionist', she wrote. 'I can only say to them that any rational person would believe opinions formed on the basis of little or no fact are not worth much'. She even went so far as to 'use any legal remedy available to me' to put the allegation to rest. 'I do not intend to have the tag of 'Zionist' follow me around for the rest of my life simply because of the particular brand of play-pen politics that pervades some sections of AUS'." (Back to the future: Gillard deflects Zionist slurs, The Australian Jewish News, 23/7/10)

But today... ?

"Shown the document last week, a spokesperson for Gillard told The AJN, 'In the 1984 student union report, Ms Gillard was writing about a dispute over procedural motions. She was simply refuting claims of bias'. She confirmed the PM's current stance towards the Jewish State. 'The Prime Minister said earlier this month her interest in and support for Israel were longstanding and that remains firmly the case'." (ibid)

Zionism/Shmionism - yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever it takes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kafka In Palestine 2

"Sabbar Kashur wanted to be a person, a person like everybody else. But as luck would have it, he was born Palestinian. It happens. His chances of being accepted as a human being in Israel are nil. Married and a father of two, he wanted to work in Jerusalem, his city, and maybe also have an affair or a quickie on the side. That happens too.

"He knew that he had no chance with the Jews, so he adopted another name for himself, Dudu. He didn't have curly hair, but he went by Dudu just the same. That's how everyone knew him. That's how you know a few other Arabs too: the car-wash guy you call Rafi, the stairwell cleaner who goes by Yossi, the supermarket deliveryman you know as Moshe.

"What's wrong? Is it only fearsome Shin Bet interrogators like 'Capt. George' and 'Abu Faraj' who are allowed to adopt names from other peoples? Are only Israelis who emigrate allowed to invent new identities? Only the Yossi from Hadera who became Joe in Miami, the Avraham from Bat Yam who became Abe in Los Angeles?

"No longer a youth, Sabbar/Dudu worked as a deliveryman for a lawyer's office, rode his scooter around Jerusalem and delivered documents, affidavits and sworn testimonies, swearing to everyone that he was Dudu. Two years ago he met a woman by chance. Nice to meet you, my name is Dudu. He claims that she came on to him, but let's leave the details aside. Soon enough they went where they went and what happened happened, all by consent of the parties concerned. One fine day, a month and a half after an afternoon quickie, he was summoned to the police on suspicion of rape.

"His temporary lover discovered that her Dudu wasn't a Dudu after all, that the Jew is (gasp!) an Arab, and so she filed a complaint against the imposter. Her body was violated by an Arab. From then on Kashur was placed under house arrest for two years, an electronic cuff on his ankle. This week his sentence was pronounced: 18 months in jail.

"Judge Zvi Segal waxed dramatic to the point of absurdity: 'It is incumbent on the court to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth, sweet-talking offenders who can mislead naive victims into paying an unbearable price: the sanctity of their bodies and souls'. Sophisticated offenders? It is doubtful that Dudu even knew he was one. Sweet talk? He says that even his wife calls him Dudu.

"The court relied, as usual, on precedents: the man who posed as a senior Housing Ministry official and promised his lover an apartment and an increased National Insurance pension, and the man who posed as a wealthy neurosurgeon who promised free medical care and other perks. Dudu had nothing to offer but his good name, Dudu, and still his fate was sealed, just like those who promise apartments and perks. Not only fraud, but rape, almost like the convicted serial rapist Benny Sela.

"Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein had, after all, defined the test of conviction for rape on 'fale pretenses': 'if in the view of an ordinary person this woman would have agreed to have sexual relations with a man who did not have the identity he invented'.

"In tune with the public, Kashur's judges assumed, rightly, that the woman would not have gotten into bed with Dudu were it not for the identity he invented. She also might not have gotten into bed with him if he had told her in vain that he was available, that he was younger than he really is or even that he is madly in love with her. But people are not prosecuted for that, certainly not on rape charges.

"Now the respected judges have to be asked: If the man was really Dudu posing as Sabbar, a Jew pretending to be an Arab so he could sleep with an Arab woman, would he then be convicted of rape? And do the eminent judges understand the social and racist meaning of their florid verdict? Don't they realize that their verdict has the uncomfortable smell of racial purity, of 'don't touch our daughters'? That it expresses the yearning of the extensive segments of society that would like to ban sexual relations between Arabs and Jews?

"It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse." (He impersonated a human, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 22/7/10)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kafka In Palestine

One morning, after mouldering away in his grave for 86 years, Franz Kafka found himself transformed in his coffin into a... Zionist.

Israel's supreme court recently ordered the opening of 10 safety deposit boxes containing the papers of Czech writer, Franz Kafka, who died in 1924. The papers had been in the possession of Esther Hoffe, the secretary of Max Brod, Kafka's friend and biographer. On her death in 2007, Hoffe left the papers to her daughters, who wanted to sell them to the Archive of German Literature in Marbach. Hoffe's will, however, was challenged by the Israeli National Library, which claimed the collection on behalf of the state of Israel: "Kafka scholar Mark Gelber, a professor at Ben Gurion University told The New York Times that the writer's 'intimate connection to Zionism and Jews' was among the prime reasons his lost writings should remain in Israel. 'This material belongs in Jerusalem', he was quoted as saying. 'Brod became a Zionist before the First World War, lived and worked here and is buried here. Less well known is the fact that Kafka was a totally engaged Jewish personality and writer with many intimate connections to Zionists and Jews'... Gelber and other Kafka scholars say... that Kafka was not only devoted to Zionism and the study of Hebrew, but possessed a life-long dream to move to Israel." ('Kafka's life-long dream was to make aliyah': Remnants of Franz Kafka's estate found in Tel Aviv flat prompt speculation of writer's Zionism, Haaretz, 18/8/08)

That's it then. Kafka, author of those nightmarish classics, The Trial and Metamorphosis, was a card-carrying Zionist. Not!: "But in his new book, 'The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay', Louis Begley posits that despite the writer's preoccupation with his Jewish identity, he was neither a Zionist nor an active member of the Jewish community. 'I admire Zionism and am nauseated by it', Mr Begley quotes from Kafka." (ibid)

A curiously ambiguous verdict indeed. But if Kafka had lived to see the fruits of Zionism for himself, I feel sure that his verdict would have been far less nuanced. And, were he alive today, who would be better qualified than the man who gave us the adjective Kafkaesque to sum up the experience of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation:

"[T]he particular nightmare of the Palestinians is best described in the pages of Franz Kafka. In Kafka's world the prevailing theme is uncertainty and unpredictability. There are no set rules for behavior and the orders given by authorities seem arbitrary and even contradictory. You do not know what the laws are. The 'authorities' in Kafka's work sit in their fortresses and periodically intrude upon the lives of the confused and apparently helpless protagonists. This Kafkaesque situation describes life in Occupied Palestine. Israeli authorities suddenly intrude themselves into the lives of the Palestinian population, and do so in an unpredictable and arbitrary manner. They also destroy in an arbitrary manner. Israel's message to the Palestinians reflects one of Kafka's more depressing maxims: Why build knowing destruction is inevitable? A Palestinian might be safe one moment and in danger the next. You cannot predict if you will make it to work, the grocer, or school, or for that matter back again. As a result many Palestinians could identify with Kafka's character Joseph K in the novel The Trial who, 'without having done anything wrong was arrested one fine day'." (Orwell & Kafka in Israel/Palestine, Lawrence Davidson, counterpunch.org, 3/4/04)

The opening sentence of Metamorphosis might read today, for example: One morning, after a night of consensual sex with a Jewish woman, Sabbar Kashur, a non-Jewish man, woke to find he'd been sentenced to 18 months in prison for rape...

And how exquisitely Kafkaesque the words of the Israeli judge who sentenced Kashur: "The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price - the sanctity of their bodies and souls." (Palestinian man jailed for rape over Jewish lie, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/7/10)

Their souls for Jehovallah's sake!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Rough Beast...

What rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats

One of Israel's prophets, Gideon Levy, speaks:

"This piece might not be meant for everyone. Nationalists, racists and fans of militarism and fascism can continue to be satisfied by the developments of the past few months. For them, democracy means only an election every few years, tyranny of the majority, and the crushing of the minority, lockstep thinking, the state above all else, Judaism before democracy, a coopted media and clapped-out control mechanisms, an academia under supervision and citizens subject to a loyalty oath - and to hell with all the fundamental values, which are being trampled before our very eyes. This piece is not meant for the false patriots, the brutes and the brainwashed, for those who want a Jewish, Arab-free Knesset; a Jewish, foreigner-free society; and a state without B'Tselem or the High Court of Justice.

"But they are not the only components of Israeli society. There remains another significant component. The legions who gathered to protest the Sabra and Chatila massacre of 1982 are still with us. There are many people here who know the history, who understand democracy, who should be terrified by what is going on.

"Terrified? That's exactly the point: they're not. They hear what happened to MK Hanin Zuabi*, and are silent. They hear MKs from the center and the left verbally bullying their Arab colleagues, and turn a deaf ear. They read about the torrent of dangerous draft laws, and show forgiveness. They witness the McCarthyist witch hunt against nonprofit organisations, MKs and university professors, and remain complacent. They realise something is happening here that poses a greater threat than all of the external threats, whether real or imagined, that lie in wait for Israel, and they persist in their indifference.

"From history they have learned that regimes that begin to act this way are doomed, that Israel is on a slippery slope, mainly because its control mechanisms have all been rendered impotent, and yet they do not protest. They sense that something terrible is happening, but fool themselves into believing 'it won't happen to me'. They hear every day about the growing danger, and they cluck their tongues, sigh, complain and abandon the field. This piece is meant for them.

"Zuabi is hounded, MK Ahmed Tibi is threatened - so what, they're Arabs. Those who express unconventional views are denounced as traitors, boycott organisers will be fined, Gaza flotilla participants punished, human rights activists and critics of the Israel Defense Forces outlawed - and the majority of Israelis think that nothing bad will happen to them as a result. They think that to be a good citizen it's enough to support Gilad Shalit. If some Jewish community abroad were under siege they would put together a solidarity flotilla, but when Zuabi is punished for performing a simple act of identification with her people, they do not care.

"They hear about the rabbis who inveigh against leasing apartments to foreign workers, about the witch hunts against foreigners who cross the border illegally in search of work, about the deportation of the children of refugees, and about rising police violence. They think it's not nice, but that it won't happen to them. They see the representatives of Kadima, their party of hope, joining this campaign of incitement. They see the representatives of this false 'centrist party' out-Liebermaning Avigdor Lieberman. They see their leader, Tzipi Livni, cloaking herself in disgraceful silence, and they do not protest the deception being perpetrated against them by their fraudulent party. Why? Because they are convinced that they themselves are in no danger.

"The time has come to tell them, the ones who have withdrawn and who care only about their own lives, that it's coming. Soon, soon, it will happen to uou. It won't stop at the Arab MKs or at the NGOs, not at the universities and not at the demonstrators. It won't even stop at your doorstep. It will enter your daily life. Police violence? It will come to your children, too. Thought police? It will reach you, too. Your newspaper and your television will look different; the Knesset, your courts and your schools will be unrecognizable. It has happened more than once, and it will happen here, too. If not today, then tomorrow. The monster has reared its ugly head, it is approaching all of us, no one remains who can stop it and when it gets here, it will be too late, much too late." (It's coming to you, Haaretz, 18/7/10)

[*Israeli Arab Member of the Knesset, Hanin Zuabi, was stripped of her parliamentary privileges (no diplomatic passport, cannot leave the country, no parliamentary immunity) because she took part in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.]

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Brainy Is Obama?

The above question was posed by Alan Bock in an essay at Antiwar.com on April 8. Shaking his head over Obama's embrace of Bush's war in Afghanistan, Bock wrote, "I'm coming to think that maybe he's just not that smart."

When I read Obama's July 7 interview with Israeli television's Yonit Levi, I can only conclude he's just plain dumb. His every word reflects one or other Israeli talking point. Nothing he says indicates the presence of any independent thinking, let alone knowledge of the Palestine/Israel issue.

Some extracts:

"Israelis, rightly, look at the past and have scepticism about what's possible. They see the enmity of neighbours that surround them in a very tough neighbourhood. They see a track record of attempts at peace where, even when concessions were made, a deal could not be consummated. They see rockets fired from Gaza or from areas in Lebanon, and say to themselves that the hatreds of history are so deep-seated that change is not possible."

When you muscle in on someone else's patch as though you own it, you expect a welcoming committee? There is no excuse for anyone running for office these days, let alone the US presidency, to be ignorant of the underlying dynamics of the Palestine problem. Nor to be ignorant of just who has been lording it over the neighbours all these years. And please, cut the crap about concessions. The only concession required of an occupier is to get the hell out of whatever territory he's occupying - lock, stock and barrel, end of story. What is this? Kindergarten?

"Prime Minister Netanyahu... is somebody who understands that we've got a fairly narrow window of opportunity... a smart and savvy politician..."

Yeah, too damn smart for you: "I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction," said Bibi to his flock back in 2001 (Bibi unmasked, Justin Raimondo, antiwar.com, 18/7/10).

"On the Palestinian side, moderates like Abu Mazen and Fayyad are, I think, willing to make concessions and engage in negotiations that can result in peace... There's a constant contest between moderates and rejectionists within the Arab world. And then there's the demographic challenges that Israel is going to be facing if it wants to remain not only a Jewish state but a democratic state."

Here we go again, the c word - now it's the occupied, the dispossessed, the caged and the impoverished who've got to make the concessions. Even though B'Tselem tells us that municipal jurisdiction of Jewish settlements now covers more than 42% of the West Bank? Oh, I see, it's in the Bible: For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath. So those Palestinians who are happy to have what little they have left taken from them win the coveted moderate label, while those who baulk at the sheer outrageousness of it all are demonised as rejectionists. Right. And what's that about demographic challenges to Israel? What do you suggest; a one-child policy for Palestinians, forced sterilisation perhaps?

"... I've got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emmanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish-American community was probably what propelled me to the US Senate. And my not just knowledge but sympathy and identification with the Jewish experience is rooted in part because of the historic connection between the African American freedom movement here in the United States and the civil rights efforts of Jewish Americans, and some of the same impulses that led to the creation of Israel... And the truth of the matter is that my outreach to the Muslim community is designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West."

So the Civil Rights Movement shares some of the same impulses that led to the creation of Israel? You mean Martin Luther King wanted to ethnically cleanse the United States of non-Blacks and establish a Black state? Oh, and you were just stringing the Muslims along with your little speech in Cairo, which was really all about Israel and its offsider, the West? What a surprise!

"[I]n every speech that I've ever given, [I] talked about the unbreakable bond to Israel... [T]he United states under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we've got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history."

Or, in the sexually charged words of Assistant Secretary, Political-Military Affairs, Andrew J Shapiro on the subject of "the Obama Administration's enduring committment to Israel's security," that would've made Yonit blush if he'd used them: "Our security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before." (The Obama Administration's approach to US-Israel security cooperation: Preserving Israel's Qualitative Military Edge, state.gov, 16/7/10)

What've brains got to do with it?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yes, Dear

Melbourne lobby group Australians for Palestine has just posted the following appeal on its website:

"Last year Australians for Palestine (AFP) initiated a cultural boycott in Melbourne protesting Israel's partnership with the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). The protests continued over the 12 days of the festival to much heated debate in the media over the rights and wrongs of boycotting cultural events. English film maker Ken Loach withdrew his film Looking for Eric, which then sparked an exchange of letters with MIFF's Executive Director Richard Moore who refused to reconsider Israel's sponsorship. This year's festival will be held from 22 July - 8 August and Israel is again a cultural partner. The protest is not directed at any film or filmaker but against the cultural partnership that MIFF has with the state of Israel. We are simply asking you to let MIFF know that you do not approve of normalising relations with an apartheid state that is currently oppressing some 5.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and East Jerusalem and in Israel itself."

So what's Mr Moore's problem? How much bad news from Israel can one absorb before the penny drops?

The Australian Jewish News of July 16 sheds some light on a dark corner. Some excerpts from A chat with Richard Moore:

"This time last year, the MIFF was embroiled in controversy when director Ken Loach withdrew his film because of Israel's support of the festival. Has there been any backlash this year?

"I was very happy to declare this festival a Loach-free zone. I decided not even to bother going to see his film at Cannes this year, because we objected so strongly to what he did last year. I gather it wasn't a terrific film, it didn't get very good reviews. The Australians for Palestine have started up their annual campaign against MIFF but we were undeterred by their protest last year and we approached the Israeli Embassy again this year and they were more than happy to support us. But so far this year, we've had no controversy like that.

"That must be a relief.

"Well yes, I guess so, although from a publicity point of view, it's a terrible result. We're trying, as much as possible, to deeply offend some people...

"You're not Jewish, so where does your affinity with Israel come from?

"My wife is Jewish, I lived in Israel for two-and-a-half years, I speak Hebrew and I've got two Jewish sons, so that goes some way to explaining my affinity with Israel."

I see, so marrying a Jew, and a stint in Israel, renders one immune to independent thought.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Refugees

To rephrase Orwell: All refugees are equal, but some refugees are more equal than others:

Paul Howes, AWU national secretary, anti-Rudd conspirator, Murdoch columnist, and Israel luvvie, believes, correctly, that Australia's refugee policy should conform strictly to the requirements of international law, it being crystal clear on the subject:

"I have always been a strident (some would say overly strident) believer in our responsibility to welcome refugees, regardless of how they arrive in this country. I don't hold this belief because I'm some bleeding-heart lefty. I believe this because I feel it is our responsibility, as human beings, to demonstrate compassion to the most vulnerable people on the planet. But I'm in the minority on this. Most Australians, if we look at the polls, want to take a firm stance against those refugees arriving by boat. Most people, despite international law being crystal clear on the subject, still incorrectly believe that if you arrive by boat, you are an illegal immigrant. In my opinion, I think it's sad that we, as a nation of immigrants, are unable to feel more compassion and be more welcoming to those who arrive here after us." (Our sad boat policy, The Sunday Telegraph, 11/7/10)

International law, as our learned friend (we are talking law here) says, is crystal clear on the subject of refugees. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), for example, says unambiguously: "Article 14 (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

Now I'm assuming that Article 13 (2) is equally crystal clear to our learned friend: "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

At the risk of giving my learned friend a bad dose of cognitive dissonance, can I therefore assume that he supports the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands in what is today known as Israel, but was then (1948) known as Palestine?

Orwell again: All refugees are equal, but some refugees aren't even refugees:

Interestingly, Julia Gillard made her first official statement on the issue of refugees on July 6 at Frank Lowy 's think tank, the Lowy Institute. Of Mr Lowy, Australia's second richest man, she had this to say:

"I am very thankful to the Lowy Institute for hosting me today. This Institute has established a reputation for independent, robust and forceful analysis of our nation's place in the world. It is exactly the right place to make today's address: Moving Australia Forward. I first would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution of the Institute's benefactor, Frank Lowy. Frank Lowy is a great Australian. He was a refugee who escaped to Israel after World War II in a crowded boat full of asylum seekers. After fighting for Israel, he arrived on our shores as a very determined 21 year old. He worked hard and went from factory worker to milk bar owner to Blacktown shopping centre developer and, in time, to the largest retail property group in the world - truly great achievements, and what a remarkable story... But moving forward means we must agree on the organising principles for developing policy, and believe we can agree on most principles. That we should be prepared to accept people in legitimate need just as a young Frank Lowy was accepted 60 years ago." (From the Prime Minister's speech Moving Australia Forward)

So, according to Gillard, Lowy was a refugee who escaped to Israel after World War II in a boat crowded with asylum seekers, and in legitimate need when he later reached Australia.

A refugee? Escaping to Israel? After the war was over? Really?

The 16-year old Frank Lowy left Hungary in 1946 and boarded the Mossad* vessel Yagur in France, part of a Mossad people smuggling racket (to use the term much beloved of our polly-waffles these days) to transfer as many displaced European Jews to Palestine as possible, despite the British Mandate blockade on illegal Jewish immigration. The Yagur was intercepted by the British and its passengers detained in Cyprus, before being moved to a detention camp in northern Palestine.

Lowy eventually ended up in the Haganah's Golani Brigade which played an integral role in the ethnic cleansing of the Galilee area in 1948.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappe affords us a taste of what the Golanis got up to: "The first targets of the Israeli forces in the 10 days between the two truces were the pockets within the Galilee around Acre, and Nazareth. 'Cleanse totally the enemy from the villages' was the order that 3 brigades received on July 6, two days before the Israeli troops - straining at their leashes to continue the cleansing operations - were ordered to violate the first truce. Jewish soldiers automatically understood that 'enemy' meant defenceless Palestinian villagers and their families. The brigades they belonged to were the Carmeli, the Golani and Brigade Seven, the 3 brigades of the north that would also be responsible for the final cleansing operations in the upper Galilee in October. The inventive people whose job it was to come up with the names for operations of this kind had now switched from 'cleansing' synonyms ('Broom', 'Scissors') to trees: 'Palm' (Dekel) for the Nazareth area and 'Cypress' (Brosh) for the Jordan Valley area." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, p 158)

After fighting for Israel, as Gillard spins it, Lowy migrated to Australia in 1952. How he could be described, as Gillard does, as being in legitimate need at this time is beyond me.

[*Yes, a Mossad vessel. See Idith Zertal's From Catastrophe to Power: Holocaust Survivors & the Emergence of Israel, 1998, p 237. See also my 17/6/10 post Cannon Fodder for Zion: Exodus 1947]

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Confess

"I've got this terrible habit. It's called thinking." George Carlin

My fave rag (its maxi-me The Australian aside), The Australian Jewish News, has just had a go at "self-confessed* anti-Zionist Anthony [sic] Loewenstein," who "admitted he may have overstepped the mark in encouraging comparisons between Israel and Nazism" by posting a "Third Reich-style image of Julia Gillard alongside the Israeli flag and SS soldiers with the Star of David on their helmets." (Nazi comparison a goosestep too far, 16/7/10) [*Self-confessed anti-Zionist! OMG! Antony, are you now or have you ever been a member of the... ?]

Well, I too have a confession to make: I too... *sob*... sorry... I too recently found myself entertaining such a comparison. No, I hasten to add, I did not need Antony Loewenstein's encouragement in this. It just... sort of... *sob*... happened.

It's OK, I've composed myself. Allow me to explain:

I was listening to Radio National's PM program on July 12, and specifically to an item by Anne Barker on the appalling treatment of Palestinian child prisoners by the Israeli military as revealed in a new report delivered to the United Nations by the Defence for Children International organisation (Lobby group alleges mistreatment of young Palestinian prisoners in Israel), when I was reminded of an episode in a little book I'd read on the German occupation of Britain's Channel Islands...

You can see how insidious this business is, can't you? No wonder Antony got caught out. I mean, I tried to resist, but the comparison just goosestepped its way into my consciousness and, well, just occupied it.

The book was John Lewis' A Doctor's Occupation (1982), subtitled "The dramatic true story, seen through the eyes of a young doctor, of life in Nazi-occupied Jersey."

In September 1942, the Germans, for reasons Lewis could only speculate about, decided to deport English-born Islanders to Germany. Of the occupying German troops, Lewis wrote: "The German private soldiers themselves were very unhappy about the whole thing, which they felt was quite unnecessary and cruel. Several even said so, although not when officers were in earshot. Within the limits of their orders, they were as kind and considerate as could be, and many of them were uncomfortable and shamefaced when confronting the sorrowing, bitter Islanders." (pp 177-178)

It was the following description, however, that came to my mind while I was listening to Anne Barker's report:

"On September 25 a further 300 [deportees] arrived at the weighbridge... As before, crowds turned up to bid goodbye, but this time the Germans had blocked off not only all the streets leading to the weighbridge, but also all points having a view of the harbour, so that relations and friends were cheated of their last farewells... Deprived of the excitement of a patriotic demonstration, parties of teenagers marched through the streets, singing and giving the V sign. They were chased away by soldiers, but groups reformed at other points, and carried on baiting the enemy. At last the soldiers, not entirely unreasonably, lost their tempers when a boy knocked off a German helmet and the others started kicking it around. A German officer began bully-ragging one of them, a well grown teenager of about 14, who suddenly hauled off and gave the officer a sock on the jaw which laid him out cold. The soldiers then drew their bayonets, which had a very sobering effect; 14 boys were carted off to prison, where they remained for a fortnight. They were then tried by court martial. Those of 16 and under were released, after having had a thorough fright. The older ones received varying, not very severe sentences, but a man alleged to have incited them was sentenced to 3 years in a German prison. After this drama, we settled down to our customary dull existence." (pp 181-182)

Under-16s released; the rest given a not very severe sentence. I couldn't believe it. Germans for Christ's sake! A German officer - decked!

Now here, in part, is what had prompted my heinous thought-crime:

"ANNE BARKER: Every year nearly 700 minors as young as 12 are prosecuted in Israeli military courts. Hundreds are currently in jail. Nearly two-thirds of those charged last year were accused of throwing stones at soldiers or Israeli settlers, a crime that can carry 20 years in jail. Yet the organisation Defence for Children International, or DCI, which represents many of them in court, says very often minors are arrested who've done nothing at all. Its lawyer is Gerard Horton.

GERARD HORTON: Someone will have thrown stones at a bypass road or the wall or some army facility or a settlement. The army will then come into the nearest village to where that incident occurred and start arresting children.

ANNE BARKER: Gerard Horton says arrests are usually made in the dead of night as a form of intimidation or deterrence.

GERARD HORTON: We have a number of cases where children have woken up at 2 in the morning with an M16 assault rifle at their head, their hands are tied with plastic ties very tight behind their back, they're blindfolded. Generally they're not told why they've been arrested or where they're being taken.

ANNE BARKER: The Israel Defence Force defends its policies on the arrest and detention of Palestinian minors. In its statement to the ABC it says: Rock throwing is a serious offence, placing others at significant risk and endangering both the public and regional security. The same certainly applies to attempts at stabbing a soldier. Offenders of either violation must bear appropriate consequences. But lawyers say, despite what the IDF claims, Israel's treatment of such minors does violate international conventions. DCI says youngsters in custody are usually denied a lawyer until after they make a confession. Often the confession is made under coercion or even torture. Many, it says, are forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew, a language they can't understand. Recently it says another 15-year-old boy accused of throwing stones reportedly had car jumper leads attached to his genitals under threat of electrification unless he confessed. Lawyer Khaled Quzmar says such abuse is common.

KHALED QUZMAR: From experience I can say that most children arrested are tortured according to the definition of torture. When we talk about torture, it's physical and psychological.
ANNE BARKER: Now, a DCI report to the UN Committee Against Torture has documented a litany of alleged abuse. Of the cases it examined, it says 69% of minors were beaten or kicked during interrogation. Two-thirds were arrested at home between midnight and 4am. 92% were blindfolded and 14% were placed in solitary confinement."

I can't really understand now why this incident from the German occupation of Jersey came to mind when I heard the above - there is, after all, no real comparison between how the Germans treated the children of Jersey and how the Israelis treat Palestinian children. So I herewith apologise for my rogue thought. Can we agree that it's all the ABC's fault?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where Do We Get Them From?

Your Australian polly-waffle is best approached with a Lathamesque sensibility:

"Got through the rest of the day by conditioning my mindset, by sending up the absurdity of what I do. Toured the Townsville Show with Anita Phillips, our hapless candidate for Herbert. When I said troops out by Christmas, she told the local media, 'He didn't say which Christmas.' Where do we get them from? And how do I give them back?" (The Latham Diaries, Mark Latham, 2005, p 312)

"A final piece of Caucus cruelty. Sharon Grierson rang me yesterday to say that she should be on the frontbench because she has emotional intelligence; apparently there's a fad American book on this subject. 'Howard wins because he's got emotional intelligence. We need more people with emotional intelligence; I've got emotional intelligence, you know'. What am I here: the leader of Australia's oldest political party or the Hare Krishna? I feel like R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the only sane man in the asylum." (ibid, p 365)

In addition to not knowing which Christmas is which or possessing emotional intelligence, an essential qualification for your Lib/Lab polly-waffle these days is a complete and utter ignorance of the Middle East conflict and/or a total absence of principle or conscience, such that, when the lobby calls, touting a freebie, he or she is as putty in its hands. Here's the latest batch (that I'm aware of):

"Twelve members of the Parliament of Western Australia arrived in Israel for a 10-day visit, including the Minister for Water, Dr Graham Jacobs, on the initiative of AIJAC, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. For all the representatives, this was their first visit to Israel. They toured all over the country, from the Golan to the Negev, and met key figures in government, academia and the media. They saw, at close range, people and places one usually encounters only on the news, in order better to understand the challenges the State of Israel faces... At the present time, KKL-JNF (Jewish National Fund) is completing plans for the ANZAC Route - a series of historical sites along the 'Major Military Outflanking' route, a maneuver [sic] that was executed by soldiers from Australia and New Zealand during World War 1. These sites tell the heroic story of the conquest of Beersheba from the Turks by the Australian Mounted Division*... Adele Farina, MP: 'This visit to Israel has been fascinating and has helped all of us understand the complexity of the problems you are dealing with. We had the privilege of meeting interesting people who presented various points of view regarding Israeli society. Today I have a much better understanding of the special connection of the Jewish community in Australia with the State of Israel'. Tony Krsticevic, MP: 'We hear about Israel all the time, and I wanted to see with my own eyes what is really going on here. I was a little hesitant before the trip, but I have been pleased to discover that Israel is a lot quieter and friendlier than I thought. It is amazing to see how people manage to live normal lives in the shadow of an impossible security reality'. Steve Lieblich, from AIJAC, one of the initiators of the tour, concluded: 'The best way to conduct public relations is to bring people here. One can literally see the change effected in people with regard to Israel over the course of the trip. The connection with KKL-JNF helps a lot, as it is a professional organization that deals with water and ecology, issues that are very important to Australians'." (Western Australian Parliament members visit the Negev with KKL-JNF, jnf.org.au, 13/4/10)

[*The lengths to which Israel and its lobbyists will go to to concoct historical 'connections' with Australia are extraordinary. See my 1/5/08 post Zionist Myth-In-formation.]

But there's more. The lobby sucks these buggers in even before they've become MPs:

"A group of young Australian political leaders has arrived for a visit to Israel, to acquaint themselves more closely with life in the country, understand its complex realities and see how cooperation between Israel and Australia can contribute to both nations. They have been visiting sites all over Israel, have met a variety of local public figures and have viewed KKL-JNF projects in the south. All the guests were surprised to discover that Israel was not exactly as they had seen and heard it described in the news. The visit was initiated by AIJAC as part of the Rambam Israel Fellowship Program. Lauren Jones, who hosted the group on AIJAC's behalf, explained that the study tours provided in Israel for public figures, journalists and interest groups give those taking part a better understanding of Israeli society and the challenges faced by the State... Andrew Porter of Melbourne, who is an advisor to the Australian Prime Minister: 'It's amazing to see how you manage to make use of every single drop of water and develop every bit of land. Australia and Israel share some points of similarity and face some of the same challenges, such as the water issue. It's very important to continue to promote cooperation between the two countries in every area'. Ben Morton of Perth, Liberal Party State Director: 'Israel is very different from what I expected. Until now I knew very little about the country, but here I've learned a great deal about the local security and social situation. There are things that can be understood properly only after discussing them with the local people and seeing the places for oneself; this means that it has been a very important for me'. Sally Cray of Sidney [sic], senior advisor to the office of the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, MP: 'In the area where I work there is a large and active Jewish community with which I maintain constant contact. So, when I heard about the opportunity to visit Israel, I didn't hesitate for a moment. This visit has enabled me to identify with the profound love that Australian Jews feel for Israel, and understand their desire to be involved in what goes on here'. Tim Lisle-Williams, from the office of Mark Dreyfus MP, Federal Member for Isaacs: 'As I work for one of Australia's two Jewish members of Parliament, it was very important for me to visit Israel. I now have a better understanding of the realities of life in Israel and the difficulties the country faces. Australia is a huge country, while Israel is so small - but you don't understand how enormous the difference is until you get here'." (Young leaders from Australia visit KKL-JNF reservoirs, jnf.org.au, May 2010)

But the lobby doesn't just hoover up pollie-waffles, there's God-botherers too:

"A group of 34 Australians, comprising 21 Christians and 13 Jews, recently returned from the inaugural Australian Interfaith Israel Tour. Hosted by the Australian Council of Christians and Jews, the aim of the tour was to explore the religious beginnings and relationship between the three Abrahamic faiths and learn from the archaeology, history, politics and sociology of the region. Organiser Dr Philip Bliss said the trip's packed program was aimed at giving people a taste of Israel. 'By providing all the background and the origins and all this stuff, people understood by the end of that 10 days, if not earlier, the psyche of how Israelis think and feel', Dr Bliss said. An important message he hoped participants learnt was not to trust everything in the media and to delve deeper, he said... It was not lost on Dr Bliss that the group arrived in Israel two days after the Gaza flotilla incident. 'It was particularly interesting having that as a living example on how things can get taken out of proportion or misrepresented - and that there's two sides to every picture', he said." (Seeking similarities in Israel, Australian Jewish News, 16/7/10)

Expletive deleted.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Howes: Apartheid? No Way!

In a previous post (Zionism Red in Tooth & Claw, 8/5/10), I drew attention to an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News for the Jewish National Fund's AGM, featuring the following extraordinary words: "UNION CHIEF WHO SAID: 'I'm proud our nation helped to kill Hamas Terrorist in Dubai'... come to hear outspoken Paul Howes."

Paul Howes is, of course, much more than a mere union chief: in addition to being national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and vice-president of the ACTU, he's the founder of the anti-BDS/pro-Israel front group, Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine (TULIP), a Murdoch columnist, and a member of the Labor cabal which engineered the overthrow of former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

So what exactly did Howes have to say at the JNF AGM? We don't know whether or not he led off with 3 cheers for Mossad, as per the above advertisement, but the AJN does quote him as being "resolutely opposed to BDS because it is part of a campaign to delegitimise Israel and suggest it is a rogue state," and refusing to "accept comparisons between Israel and apartheid in South Africa." (Union boss slams boycotts, 11/6/10)

With regard to the latter, Howes was reported as saying: "'In South Africa, there was legislation and constitutional provisions that denied the humanity of one section of its own people, which barred them by law from jobs, education and health services and denied them the right to participate in free and open elections. None of this is true for Israel's minority communities'... He conceded, though, that in some circumstances, there is a certain bias against Israeli Arabs by Israeli Jews. 'But unlike apartheid South Africa, this bias is not built [legislated] in the political system to deny the right to vote for instance - and Israeli Arabs can agitate for democratic change and have their voices heard in the free media of Israel'."

Howes is here reprising the propaganda patter of Israeli-'Palestinian' and Jerusalem Post 'journalist' Khaled Abu Toameh, a recent lobby-sponsored visitor to these shores: The good news is that Israel is not an apartheid state. The bad news is that there is discrimination inside Israel. (See my 24/5/10 post Second-Class Citizen Khaled)

The punters at the JNF AGM would have lapped it up, of course, but Howes, like Abu T, has it completely wrong. Israel is indeed an apartheid state, and precisely because it legislates the division between Jews and non-Jews. To cite my words in Second-Class Khaled: "Our most reliable guide to Israel's apartheid legislation is Israeli scholar and activist, Uri Davis. In his invaluable treatise, Apartheid Israel (2003), Davis points out that apartheid is a political system where racism is regulated through acts of parliament, and shows that, in Israel's case, the main body of Israeli law, via its incorporation of the exclusivist constitutional stipulations of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency (JA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF), incorporates a distinction between Jew and non-Jew. Although the Israeli Knesset is formally accountable to all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews alike, in the key areas of immigration, settlement and land development, the Knesset has passed laws ceding state sovereignty to, and vesting its responsibilities with, the WZO, the JA and the JNF, which are constitutionally committed to serving and promoting the interests of Jews and Jews only. In Davis' analysis, this legal deception has given rise to a veiled, but no less real, apartheid, which ensures, for example, that 93% of pre-1967 Israel is retained for cultivation, development and settlement by, and for, Jews only."

Telling a JNF audience that Israel is not an apartheid state would be a bit like telling an AWU audience that Australia is not a capitalist state.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'An Element of Political Content'

Ho hum - until, that is, you get to the bit I've highlighted:

"A father has won the right to stop his children from taking part in Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies after a couple agreed they should be able to make their own religious choice. The mother wanted her children to participate in their bar and bat mitzvahs - ceremonies that mark the beginning of boys and girls taking responsibility for their Jewish faith. But the father, a Catholic who irregularly attends church, wanted them to choose their own religion in a 'voluntary and informed' way, once they were of sufficient age and maturity. The stoush played out in the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne where the separated parents... asked the court to determine the religious future of their 3 children... [The mother] had enrolled the children in a religious youth group for two hours each Sunday but [the father] was concerned the groups had 'an element of political content' and wished for the children not to attend." (Father wins right to stop children taking part in Jewish ceremonies, Belinda Kontominas, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/10)

Now what could the father possibly be referring to? Such a mystery!

And one which only deepens when you read the account of this case in The Australian Jewish News (July 9) - because there's no mention whatever of the youth group or that mysterious element of political content.

Hmm...

Still, nothing beats the high comedy of the AJN's front page - a close-up shot of a gavel about to descend; a headline - Judge denies bar mitzvah; and, piece de resistance, the following: "A mother's wish for her three children to have bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies was scuttled this week after their Catholic father took the matter to court. Is this a case of a judge overruling God?"

A judge overruling God - G-D for God's sake! - chumitz!

The last time a group of Australian sectarians tried running that line in public was at Hizb ut-Tahrir's recent Sydney conference - and they came under the immediate scrutiny of The Australian's current* Muslim-finder, Sally Neighbour, and were subjected to thundering headlines (not to mention the obligatory, denunciatory editorial) for their pains: "[Visiting British Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Burhan Hanif] said democracy was incompatible with Islam because the Koran insisted Allah was the sole law-maker, and Muslim political involvement could not be based on 'secular and erroneous concepts such as democracy and freedom'." (Muslims told to shun democracy, 5/7/10)

But then, to borrow Orwell, all sectarians are equal, but some sectarians are more equal than others, right?

[*Remember Richard Kerbaj?]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Bond Between Nazis & Zionism

In an age when "you are not supposed to observe that Islamism... arose in a spirit of harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and 40s"; when "you are not supposed to point out that Nazi inspirations have taken root among present-day Islamists"; and when "you are not supposed to mention that, by inducing a variety of journalists and intellectuals to maintain a respectful silence on these awkward matters, the Islamist preachers and ideologues have imposed on the rest of us their own categories of analysis," one brave soul, name of Paul Berman, is at last saying these very things. And, in an age when you are not supposed to... etc, etc... one brave newspaper, name of The Australian, has provided a forum for him to do so (as well as to spruik his latest book, The Flight of the Intellectuals) in an op-ed piece outrageously titled The bond between Nazis and Islam (13/7/10).

Apparently, reviewers in the US have been less than kind to Berman's polemic, eliciting this little whinge from him: "The piece in Foreign Affairs insists that, to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hitler was merely a 'convenient ally', and it is 'ludicrous' to imagine a deeper alliance. Those in the National Interest and the New Yorker add that 'unlikely alliances' with Nazis were common among anti-colonialists. The articles point to some of Gandhi's comrades, to a faction of the IRA, and even to a dim-witted Zionist militant in 1940, who believed for a moment that Hitler could be an ally against the British."

A dim-witted Zionist militant who only momentarily entertained the mere thought of an alliance with Adolf before recovering and muttering to himself, 'Good God, I don't know what came over me'? So insubstantial and inconsequential as to be hardly worth mentioning, right?

Incredibly, that's Berman's spin on this sentence from Pankaj Mishra's scathing review of his book in The New Yorker: "The expedient notion that my enemy's enemy is my friend even motivated the Jewish militant leader Avraham Stern to try, in 1940, to enlist Nazi support against the British rulers of Palestine." (Islamismism: How should Western intellectuals respond to Muslim scholars? 7/6/10)

Just what is Berman trying to cover up here?

Lenni Brenner's indispensible study, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), retrieves Avraham Stern from Berman's attempt to write him out of history and underscores the (very real) bond between Nazis and Zionism:

"Stern's single-minded belief, that the only solution to the Jewish catastrophe in Europe was the end of British domination of Palestine, had a logical conclusion. They could not defeat Britain with their own puny forces, so they looked to her enemies for salvation... [I]n January 1941 [Sternist] Naftali Lubentschik met two Germans [in Beirut] - Rudolf Rosen and Otto von Hentig, the philo-Zionist, who was then head of the Oriental Department of the German Foreign office. After the war a copy of the Sternist proposal for an alliance between [Stern's] movement and the Third Reich was discovered in the files of the German Embassy in Turkey... In it the Stern group told the Nazis: 'The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question; but this can only be made possible and complete through the settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine, and through the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries. The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government... towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that: 1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a New Order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO. 2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed volkish-national Hebrium would be possible and 3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East. Proceeding from these three considerations, the NMO in Palestine... offers to actively take part in the war on Germany's side...' There was no German follow-up on these incredible propositions, but the Sternists did not lose hope. In December 1941... Stern sent Nathan Yalin-Mor to try to contact the Nazis in neutral Turkey, but he was arrested en route. There were no further attempts to contact the Nazis.... Did Yitzhak Yzertinsky - rabbi Shamir - to use his underground nom de guerre, now [1983] the Foreign Minister of Israel, know of his movement's proposed confederation with Adolf Hitler? In recent years the wartime activities of the Stern Gang have been thoroughly researched by one of the youths who joined it in the post-war period, when it was no longer pro-Nazi. Baruch Nadel is absolutely certain that Yzertinsky-Shamir was fully aware of Stern's plan: 'They all knew about it'. When Shamir was appointed Foreign Minister, international opinion focused on the fact that Begin had selected the organiser of two famous assassinations: the killing of Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident for the Middle East, on 6 November 1944; and the slaying of Count Folke Bernadotte, the UNs special Mediator on Palestine, on 17 September 1948. Concern for his terrorist past was allowed to obscure the more grotesque notion that a would-be ally of Adolf Hitler could rise to the leadership of the Zionist state. When Begin appointed Shamir, and honoured Stern by having postage stamps issued which bore his portrait, he did it with the full knowledge of their past. There can be no better proof than this that the heritage of Zionist collusion with the Fascists and the Nazis, and the philosophies underlying it, carries through to contemporary Israel." (pp 266-269)

Hilariously, when it comes to recognising the bond between Nazis & Zionism, it's Berman who's in full flight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why We're Really in Afghanistan

"Prime Minister Julia Gillard has spoken with US President Barack Obama to assure him of her full support for the military campaign in Afghanistan... Ms Gillard... went beyond the Afghanistan issue to say that the US alliance was the foundation stone of Australia's security policy, and she hoped to strengthen it as leader." (Gillard reassures Obama on Afghanistan, news.ninemsn.com.au, 25/6/10)

"As casualty numbers go up, and community support goes down, it's worth reminding ourselves again why Australia is losing lives and spending billions in a far-away-land called Afghanistan...

'We pursue that mission because Afghanistan is a safe haven for terrorists'. - PM Gillard
'It is absolutely critical for the safety and security of Australians and Australia to help prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a training ground and operation base for international terrorists'. - DM Faulkner
'We continue to be committed to our mission to stop Afghanistan from again becoming a breeding ground for international terrorism'. - FM Smith

"What none of our political leaders will do is give the true reason for Australia's military presence in Afghanistan's bloody tribal war - which is this: 'Australia is fighting in Afghanistan because we support our alliance with the US. It is Australia's cornerstone security alliance, and when America fights a major war, especially in or near our region, Australia needs to provide moral and military support to send a clear message to the US Government that we value the alliance'. That's the true reason for our presence in Afghanistan. If you doubt that, ask yourself this question: would Australia be fighting in Afghanistan if the US wasn't there? Of course we wouldn't." (Telling the truth on Afghanistan, crikey.com.au, 12/7/10)

Yet, despite the government's synchronised bullshitting, and bipartisan support for our "mission" in Afghanistan, at least one member of the opposition, Shadow Minister for Immigration & Citizenship, Scott Morrison, has a slightly different take on why we're there: "Around the world, sadly, there are places that are falling apart and trying to be put back together again. That's our task..." (Gillard warns of further casualties in Afghanistan, Ari Sharp, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/7/10)

That's right, countries around the world are mysteriously losing their balance and just falling to pieces, Humpty Dumpty style, and we're nobly rushing around with super glue rendering assistance. Perhaps someone should remind Scott that "All the king's horses & all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again."

The Heart That Throbs for Bomber Bob

"Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Bob Hawke is her role model, declaring his qualities 'the gold standard for any Australian head of government'. 'For those of my generation, in our 20s for most of the Hawke era, Bob Hawke is the benchmark for the prime ministership', she said last night. Mr Hawke had the capacity to take advice, an orderly sense of administration, confidence in delegating to an exceptional team of ministers, effectiveness as cabinet chairman and 'a wisdom that combined deeply held values with a sturdy political realism'. Ms Gillard, who was launching Hawke: The Prime Minister, by Mr Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget at The Wharf Restaurant in Sydney, said Mr Hawke would be hitting the campaign trail this year." (Hawke the gold standard for any PM, says Gillard, Michelle Grattan, The Age, 13/7/10)

To fully appreciate Hawke's wisdom that combines deeply held values with a sturdy political realism one only has to hark back to 1974:

"The ACTU president, Mr Hawke, said yesterday that if he were the Israeli Prime Minister he would drop an atomic bomb on invading Arabs. This outburst by Mr Hawke, who is also federal president of the ALP has astonished Labor Party chiefs... Mr Hawke said, 'If I had 18-year-old, 15-year-old and 11-year-old kids like mine and saw these Arab tanks coming over the hill to push them into the sea, I would use the atomic bomb to stop them'... Mr Hawke argued with Mr Hartley and Mr McMullin. Slamming the table in emphasis, Mr Hawke reportedly told them, 'If I were the Israeli Prime Minister I would use the bomb on the Arabs. Mr McMullin... told him: 'You cannot justify the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances'. Mr Hawke replied heatedly: 'Why? Because of world morality - the world has stood by for 25 years and watched attempts to push Israelis into the sea without lifting a finger. If I were the Israeli prime minister I wouldn't give a damn about world morality - I would use the atomic bomb to protect my own'." (Hawke: I'd A-Bomb Arabs, Chris Forsyth, The Daily Telegraph, 16/2/74)

And if Hawke is La Guillotine's gold standard she must have her sights set on something like Bob and Blanche's "multi-storey mansion on Middle Harbour" which had former Labor leader Mark Latham musing, "I kept on thinking about Chifley's house in Bathurst and Curtin's in Cottesloe. Yes, we have changed too much as a Party. Maybe I'm the odd man out these days, but I dislike wealth on this scale." (The Latham Diaries, Sunday, 14 March 2004, 2005, p 273)