Thursday, September 30, 2010

Round Round Get Around... 5

Jeeesus, do-they-get-around:


"There is a second piece of evidence that suggests Israeli operatives were spying on al-Qaeda in the United States. It is writ in the peculiar tale of the Israeli 'art students', detailed by this reporter for in 2002, following the leaking of an internal memo by the Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Security Programs. The June 2001 memo, issued 3 months before the 9/11 attacks, reported that more than 120 young Israeli citizens, posing as art students and peddling cheap paintings, had been repeatedly - and seemingly inexplicably - attempting to penetrate DEA offices and other law enforcement and Defense Department offices across the country. The DEA report stated that the Israelis may have been engaged in 'an organized intelligence gathering activity', but to what end, US investigators, in June 2001, could not determine... According to the memo, 'the most activity [was] reported in the state of Florida' during the first half of 2001, where the town of Hollywood appeared to be 'a central point for these individuals with several having addresses in this area'. In retrospect, the fact that a large number of 'art students' operated out of Hollywood is intriguing, to say the least. During 2001, the city, just north of Miami, was a hotbed of al-Qaeda activity and served as one of the chief staging grounds for the hijacking of the World Trade Center planes and the Pennsylvania plane; it was home to 15 of the 19 future hijackers... among the 120 Israeli spies posing as art students, more than 30 lived in the Hollywood area... As noted in the DEA report, many of these young men and women had training as intelligence and electronic intercept officers in the Israeli military - training and experience far beyond the compulsory service mandated by Israeli law." (from High-Fivers & Art Student Spies: What did Israel know in advance of the 9/11 attacks? Christopher Ketcham,, 7/3/07)


"Sales people working neighborhoods in Northern Utah County have been asking some odd questions that have nothing to do with making the sale. Folks are reporting that they're asking about the new National Security Agency's data center that is being built at Camp Williams. The sales people say they're Israeli art students and are selling their works to raise money for a gallery. Some have even produced what appear to be legitimate Israeli passports. So, why would art students be interested in an NSA data center?... Saratoga Springs residents have complained to their police department about the art students. Officer Matt Schauerhamer tracked down one group at a restaurant. He does not know if they were spies, but they're definitely not artists. 'I told them, 'If you're actually an artist, why don't you draw something?' I gave them a piece of paper and my pen. They produced a picture that was about on par with what my kindergartner could have done'. Officer Schauerhamer cited the group for soliciting without a city business license and then passed along their information to Immigration & Customs Enforcement. He said ICE is investigating." (From Door-t0-door spies in Utah County? Brent Hunsaker,, 29/9/10)

"The CIA took an internal poll not long ago about friendly foreign intelligence agencies. The question, mostly directed to employees of the clandestine service branch, was: Which are the best allies among friendly spy services, in terms of liaison with the CIA, and which are the worst? In other words, who acts like, well, friends? 'Israel came in dead last', a recently retired CIA official told me the other day. Not only that, he added, throwing up his hands and rising from his chair, 'the Israelis are number 3, with China number 1 and Russia number 2', in terms of how aggressive they are in their operations on US soil." (SpyTalk: Israeli spies wooing US Muslims, sources say, Jeff Stein,, 2/9/10)

Jewish Settlers - Now... & Then

British novelist Howard Jacobson may be a master of "intense, cerebral comedies, which gnaw away at his Anglo-Jewish identity, the convolutions of the male mind and the battle of the sexes," (Interview: Howard Jacobson, Lindesay Irvine, The Guardian/SMH, 25/9/10) but he obviously doesn't have a clue about the Zionist project, which has been gnawing away at the body of Palestine for almost a century now:

"Grief was not the only real-life shock to find its way into [his new novel The Finkler Question]. As Jacobson began working on it, Israel's incursion [!] into Gaza was fueling a rising tide of anti-Zionist feeling in Britain, by which Jacobson was intrigued. 'At what point does anti-Zionism become anti-Semitism? That's the big question that was being asked. I can quite see why one might object to a lot of Israeli policy and much that Israel does. But the hating of Zionism itself is a very strange thing'. He says the country's fiercely secular roots have been obscured. 'I hate the sight of religious Jews wanting to build their settlements. I think they're a curse on the land. But that doesn't make one anti-Zionist. It actually makes one pro-Zionist'." (ibid)

So, for Jacobson, the religious fanatics who have spearheaded the Jewish colonisation of the occupied West Bank since 1967 are a plague and a curse, but the secular Zionists who ethnically cleansed and colonised Palestine from 1948 to 1967 were sterling fellows.

Perhaps he'd find a heart to heart with Likud MK and Speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, enlightening. In railing against those Israeli actors and artists (people not unlike Jacobson) who are currently boycotting a theater in the Jewish colony of Ariel, Rivlin said, "I say to those who want to boycott, beware! Those who expelled Arabs from Ain Karem, from Jaffa, and from Katamon [in 1948] lost the moral right to boycott Ariel." He added that those Jews who settled in Ariel and the rest of the West Bank did so on "the orders of Zionism." (Knesset speaker Rivkin's admission: Israel 'expelled Arabs' across Palestine in 1948,, 3/9/10)

Jacobson, it seems, can't bring himself to acknowledge what is obvious to a plain-speaking (at least in the Hebrew press*), red-blooded Zionist such as Rivlin: that the kibbutz colonists of pre-67 occupied Palestine and the settlers who have gone viral in the occupied West Bank since 1967 are part of the same inexorable and pitiless colonial process of wiping Palestine, from the river to the sea, off the map. [*Rivlin's scoldings were reported first in the Hebrew language Ma'ariv newspaper, 1/9/10]

As for Israel's fiercely secular roots being obscured, as Jacobson has it, the latest Israeli polling indicates that only 42% of Israelis now regard themselves as secular. (See Poll: Fewer than half of Israelis see themselves as secular, Moti Bassok, Haaretz, 13/9/10)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sixteen Angry Men 3

Continued from SAM 2:

Sorry about the anti-climax. The law can indeed be an ass:

"The District Court of the District of Columbia, where the suit was filed, never addressed the merits of the complaint, but dismissed the case on a procedural technicality known as 'standing'. That concept prohibits a plaintiff from going forward on a lawsuit unless he can first show that he has been 'injured in fact, that the injury was caused by the defendant's challenged action and that the relief requested by the plaintiffs would provide redress for the injuries suffered'. Unless a plaintiff can overcome the 'standing' threshold, the suit will be thrown out of court. It was Judge Jackson's decision that few of the plaintiffs suffered a judicially recognizable injury directly attributable to the tax-exempt status of the 6 organizations. For those Palestinian landowners whose land had been confiscated, the judge held that revoking the tax-exempt status of the organizations would not redress their injuries; that the Israeli Government would have committed the wrongs regardless of the 6 US organizations' tax-exempt status. Concluded Judge Jackson: it would be 'more fanciful still to assume here that the government of Israel is so responsive to changes in US tax laws that the withdrawal of benefits from US contributors will work any alteration whatsoever in the character of its occupation of territory it now holds by force in the Middle East'. Judge Jackson ruled conservatively on the issue of standing, refusing to push the definition of injury to include the harm complained of by the plaintiffs. Judicial recognition of injury remained narrow, reinforcing a national trend excluding third parties from seeking judicial relief." (The Palestine-Israel Conflict in the US Courtroom, Rex Wingerter, September 1985,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Zionist Chameleon

In Australia, Harry's grey as:

"It's simple, says Harry Triguboff, Sydney has too much green and not enough grey, and if you want to look at trees - well, go climb a mountain. The views of the Meriton boss, Australia's biggest property developer, are likely to outrage conservationists - particularly his declaration that Sydney has 'too many forests and parks. You go north and we have all these reserves and you go south and you have all these reserves, and they are the best part of the coast. That is crazy. We should be building on this area', he said. 'If they want to see trees, they can go to Katoomba, there are plenty of trees there'." (Triguboff: let's trade trees for homes, Andrew Clennell, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/10/06)

But in Israel, he undergoes an amazing change of colour:

"Harry Triguboff is the best possible example of a Jew, Zionist, and human being', said Jewish National Fund (JNF) World Chairman Efi Stenzler at a ceremony dedicating the newly expanded open theater of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)* on Tuesday, September 14 which has been named in honour of Mr Triguboff's myriad of contributions to the State of Israel... Harry Triguboff, a resident and citizen of Sydney, Australia and a property developer by profession, has for many years been closely connected with JNF Australia**, JNF and the State of Israel. Over the years there have been a great number of worthy beneficiaries of his generosity. His contributions include water reservoirs and facilities, forests and forest rehabilitation, ecological summer camps, river rehabilitation aside from many projects that he has contributed to through other organizations." (New amphitheater dedicated to Harry Triguboff at the IICC,, 19/9/10)

[* That's right, a Mossad museum! **For aficionados of greenwash, see my 14/6/08 post A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group]

Sixteen Angry Men 2

Continued from SAM 1:

Those 'Charities': All Roads Lead to... Jerusalem

"The World Zionist Organization American Section is a component and agent of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) based in Jerusalem. The WZO, founded in 1897, has as its stated objective the establishment and development of the state of Israel in Palestine. Also known as the Jewish Agency (JA), from 1922 until 1948, the WZO/JA acted as the political organization and governing body of the Jewish community in Palestine. After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the state of Israel enacted laws and covenants establishing the WZO/JA as a component of the government of the state of Israel, with particular responsibility for the development and settlement of the country, the encouragement of Jewish immigration to Israel, and the absorption of Jewish immigrants. The WZO continues to fulfil this government function, and is particularly active in planning and implementing the seizure and occupation of Palestinian Arab-owned land in the West Bank for the development of exclusively Jewish settlements. The WZO collects contributions from donors in the US, which are deducted by such donors for US income tax purposes, and acts as a conduit to transfer the funds to its Israeli counterpart where they are used to further the above-described activities and functions.

"The Jewish Agency American Section is a component and agent of the WZO and the JA based in Jerusalem, and is registered as the agent of the WZO/JA pursuant to the US Foreign Agents Registration Act. Through subsidiary organizations, including the American Zionist Council and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, it engages in political propaganda and lobbying within the US.

"The United Israel Appeal... is a principal beneficiary of the United Jewish Appeal. It serves as a conduit for funds raised in the US to the JA for Israel, its operating agent, and then to the WZO/JA in Jerusalem, for the purposes and activities described below. The United Jewish Appeal is the major Jewish fundraising organization in the US. Contributions solicited and received by it are transferred to the UIA, Inc. and thence in conduit fashion to the WZO/JA.

"The Jewish National Fund... (JNF), by virtue of covenants and statutes of the state of Israel, is directed by the Zionist Executive of the WZO for the 'reclamation' and development of the land of Israel and the territories under military occupation by Israel. The JNF acquires land (through confiscation or otherwise) from the Palestinian Arab residents of Israel and the occupied West Bank for the exclusive occupation and use of Israeli Jews... Contributions solicited and raised by the American component of the JNF are also transferred in conduit fashion to Israel.

"The Americans for a Safe Israel acts as the agent for the sale - exclusively to American Jews and to no others - of land on the West Bank acquired by confiscation or otherwise from the Palestinian Arab residents, for the establishment of exclusively Jewish settlements.

The Legal Argument

"Because of the tremendous benefits accruing to private individuals and organizations as a consequence of tax-exempt status and because of the loss to the federal treasury of tax revenue that would otherwise be collected, organizations which are tax-exempt pursuant to 26 US Code Section 501(c)(3) must strictly confine their activities to those furthering the religious, charitable or educational purposes for which tax-exempt status is provided by law, and must not engage in activities that contravene the public policy and interests of the US. Contributions by US taxpayers to charitable organizations or governmental entities outside the US are not deductible by such donors. Likewise, contributions by US taxpayers to charitable organizations in the US are not deductible by such donors where such organizations serve merely as conduits for the donated funds... to charitable organizations or governmental entities outside the US...

"The WZO AS, the JA AS, the UIA, and the JNF... are merely conduits of funds donated to them, which flow directly to components of the State of Israel. The above-named US-based Zionist organizations continue to have recognition of tax-exempt status, and the ability to attract deductible contributions, despite the fact that their activities contravene fundamental public policies of the US and despite the fact that a substantial portion of their activities are neither religious, charitable, nor educational as defined by US tax laws. Specifically, each of these organizations supports, financially and politically, the confiscation of land on the West Bank owned by Palestinian Arabs for the establishment of exclusively Jewish settlements. These settlements contravene [& continue to contravene] the stated foreign policy of the US as expressed since 1977 by President Carter and later by President Reagan. They also contravene the public policy of the US in that the settlements are discriminatory on the basis of race and national origin.

"The above organizations are not engaging in educational activities within the meaning of US tax laws, since they engage in one-sided and prejudicial propaganda designed to misinform the American people with regard to the genuine dignity and continued suffering of the Palestinian people. These organizations support policies aiming at the 'desertification' of Palestinian land, destroying crops through defoliation and other means, uprooting orchards, and directing water from cultivated land. The organizations in question deliberately and systematically suppress information about these actions and proclaim instead, in propaganda broadsides, that they are supporting policies designed to make the desert bloom. The JNF comingles funds raised in the US into the general funds of the State of Israel without any US control, where they are used apparently for military, and not charitable, purposes...

"The continuing refusal by the defendants, Secretary of the US Treasury and the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, to disallow charitable deductions, claimed by US donors for contributions to these conduit organizations, constitutes a violation of their responsibilities and a violation of federal law."

To be continued...

[Those of you wondering just how many tax deductible Australian dollars have recently found their way to Israel via the UIA conduit, will be interested to know that the UAI's Melbourne office alone, run BTW by former Israeli naval commander and Israeli citizen, Meir Buber, "over 5 appeal campaigns... raised $87 million - per capita the highest amount of any UIA... or JA appeal." (Buber's $87 million charity achievement,, 21/9/10)]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Synagogue Busters

If the following paragraph, from a Fairfax travel feature on Beirut, doesn't dispel any lingering confusion you may have over the difference between Judaism and Zionism, I don't know what will:

"The streets fanning off downtown are a jumble of cranes and construction sites. A new marina and clubhouse flank the corniche. Half-built hotels compete for air space: a Grand Hyatt, a Kempinski, even a purported '10-star' hotel. The city's main Jewish synagogue, Maghen Abraham, is slowly being restored among surrounding construction sites. Built in the early 1900s by the then sizeable Jewish community, it was reportedly protected by the Palestine Liberation Organisation during the 1975-76 fighting and then, according to the Associated Press, all but razed by Israeli shelling." (Middle East meets West: Leisa Tyler is dazzled and exhausted by Beirut's frenetic pace as the war-ravaged city is rebuilt, Sydney Moring Herald/Age, 25/9/10)

And have you ever seen a better example of a journalist covering her arse than Tyler's "according to the Associated Press"? Now what could she possibly be afraid of?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sixteen Angry Men 1

In my last post, I touched on one of life's little mysteries: the designation, in such fond and foolish places as Australia, of Israel's global, quasi-governmental fundraising agencies (such as the United Israel Appeal) as charities and, hence, deserving of tax-exempt status. Predictably, this lurk has not gone legally unchallenged.

While researching the subject, I happened on the compelling story of one such challenge. With its cast of Palestinian victims of Zionist terror and dispossession, an Israeli dissident politician, an anti-Zionist rabbi, a Zionist defector and others, and the strength of its challenge to a clear and present injustice, the case of Kareem Khalaf et al. v. Donald Reagan et al. would have had all the ingredients for a rivetting courtroom drama - but for its wimpish denouement, yet another example of the law's capacity to be a total ass.

What follows is taken from an article dealing with the genesis of the challenge by Rex Wingerter, US Zionist Organizations: Their Tax-Exempt Status Challenged. It comes from the Fall 1984 edition of the Journal of Palestine Studies. Given the length of the article, I've decided to break it into two separate posts, with a third on the judgment itself from a later article by the same author. I've also abridged it, and added some data and comments of my own in square brackets. The headings and highlightings are mine:

The Background

"In October 1983, 10 Palestinians, 1 Israeli and 5 American citizens brought suit in the US Federal Court in Washington, DC calling on the Secretary of the US Departnent of the Treasury and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to revoke the tax-exempt status of 6 Zionist organizations based in the US. The organizations are the World Zionist Organization American Section, Inc., also known as the Jewish Agency; the Jewish Agency American Section; the United Israel Appeal; the United Jewish Appeal; the Jewish National Fund; and Americans for a Safe Israel. If the plaintiffs succeed, their action could stop the flow of the millions of dollars that are transferred yearly to the state of Israel by American Zionists. The US government is the defendant in the suit, not the Zionist organizations, because it was the decision of the US Department of the Treasury to grant tax-exempt status to the organizations. Being granted tax-exempt status by the Treasury Department... can be the financial life line for many organizations. It permits individuals who donate money to a tax-exempt organizations to deduct the same amount from their yearly income taxes paid to the US government. Many, if not most donors, would not contribute to organizations if they could not 'write off' the contribution in their income taxes. Indeed, because of the way US tax laws are currently written, individuals with high incomes find their yearly tax burden reduced if they make substantial contributions to charitable, tax-exempt organizations. For many American Zionists, this tax deduction increases their willingness to give millions of dollars yearly to pro-Israeli organizations... Total charitable transfers from the US to Israel have been estimated at between $950 million and $1 billion for the last several years...

The Palestinian Plaintiffs

"The Palestinian plaintiffs include Karim Khalaf, Bassam Shaka'a, Ibrahim Tawil, Fahd Qawasmeh, Wahid Hamdallah and Ahmad Mustafa Sbeih. The first 5 were the elected mayors of Ramallah, Nablus, al-Bireh, Hebron and Anabta, respectively, located on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, who were dismissed from their positions by the Israel authorities. Mustafa Sbeih is the mukhtar of the village of Aqraba on the West Bank. The mayors bring suit, on behalf of themselves and their constituents, complaining that they suffered physical injury*, the denial of their basic human rights because they sought adequately to represent their constituents, the loss of their land and the diversion of water due to the oppressive actions of the Israeli forces. These were supported in substantial part by contributions, for which deductions have been claimed by US donors made to the [above] US-based Zionist organizations... Ahmed Mustafa Sbeih brings suit, on behalf of himself and as the representative of the 7,000 residents of Aqraba, complaining that tax-exempt US-based Zionist organizations have deprived him and his fellow villagers of their land... Altogether, some 80,000 dunums of [Aqraba's land] have been seized by the Israeli authorities for acquisition by the Jewish National Fund (JNF)... The four remaining Palestinians bringing suit are landowners in the West Bank... They have suffered the illegal confiscation of their land, and the destruction of their orange groves, olive trees, and wheat fields by the Israeli occupying forces for the purpose of establishing settlements... for the exclusive use of Israeli Jews... [*Karim Khalaf and Bassam Shaka'a were maimed by a car bomb rigged by Israeli settlers in 1980.]

The Israeli Plaintiff

"The one Israeli plaintiff is Charlie Biton, an elected member of the Knesset and a member of a minority political coalition, the Democratic Front for Peace & Equality. He argues that funds contributed through the tax-exempt Zionist oeganizations in the US go to their Israeli counterparts which are, in fact, departments of the Israeli government, and are utilized to support the policies and persons of the ruling Likud Party. This outside interference with the political process in Israel works to deny him and his colleagues an equal opportunity in the Israeli political arena and thwarts efforts for the establishment of a democratic structure and practice in Israel.

The American Plaintiffs

"The 5 American plaintiffs include include Moshe Hirsch, John Davis, Edward Keenan, Subhi Widdi, and Charles Fischbein.

"Rabbi Hirsch complains that the religious community to which he belongs has lived in Jerusalem for more than 200 years in peace with its neighbors, until the establishment of the state of Israel, which Rabbi Hirsch and his community, the Neturei Karta, believe to be an anti-Jewish state. Contributions raised by the tax-exempt American Zionist organizations are forwarded to the state of Israel and are used in part to oppress the Neturei Karta to the detriment of Hirsch and his family. The claimed damage to Hirsch and his family includes the arrest of his son for refusal to serve in the Israel armed forces.

"John Davis is the former Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief & Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He has served as the Assistant Secretary for Agriculture of the United States, as the Vice-Chairman and Director of the New York office for the American University of Beirut, and is the founder and past chairman of the board of American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), an organization which he presently serves as Chairman of the Board Emeritus. Dr Davis is also the author of The Evasive Peace: A Study of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. For the past 15 years, Dr Davis has labored in the private sector, through ANERA and in concert with other organizations and individuals, to create employment opportunities on the West Bank for Palestinians through economic development of the area, as well as to provide educational opportunities and vocational training for the young Palestinians who live there. The Israeli government has adopted a consistent and systematic policy to deny education and employment opportunities to residents of the West Bank because of their religion and national origin, and in order to coerce them to emigrate from the West Bank. These educational and charitable efforts made by Dr Davis... have been undermined, and to a large extent nullified, as a result of the funds contributed through the tax-exempt US-based organizations which go to their counterparts in Israel and are utilized to support policies which deny employment and educational opportunities and vocational training to residents of the West Bank due to their religion and national origin.

"Edward L Keenan is a full professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)... Professor Keenan is presently president of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine (CSPP), an organization founded and registered as an independent campus organization at UCLA for the purpose of bringing to the attention of the American people the injustices done to the Palestinian people and the role the US has assumed in supporting these injustices... The CSPP prevents a viewpoint different from, and in many respects entirely contradictory to, the viewpoints expressed by the US tax-exempt Zionist organizations. The CSPP has not filed for recognition of tax-exempt status since it seeks to influence legislation and public opinion - as do the Zionist organizations named above - and seeks to work not merely in a charitable and educational framework but to function politically as well - as do the Zionist organizations named above - and is not therefore entitled to recognition as a tax-exempt organization, in the same way that the above-mentioned Zionist organizations are not entitled to such status.

"Subhi Widdi, a resident of Brooklyn, New York, is a naturalised citizen of the US and a native of Palestine from the village of Beit Hanina, a short distance north and west of Jerusalem. He owns land at Beit Hanina which has been in his family for at least 300 years... In 1970, after he had become an American citizen, approximately 10 acres of Widdi's land in Beit Hanina were confiscated by the Israeli authorities, over his objection and the objection of his family. Because of the proximity of Widdi's land to Jerusalem, it is worth approximately $100,000 per acre. The Israeli authorities have offered $16 per acre as compensation, but have not paid even that amount to the plaintiff or the members of his family. The seizure of his land and the construction of Ramot were substantially supported by funds raised through contributions - for which charitable deductions have been claimed by US donors - made to the US-based organizations, named herein.

"Charles Fischbein, until his resignation in March 1984, was the Executive Director of the Washington regional office of the JNF... where his official duties included fundraising. [And thereby, as they say, hangs a tale!] After his resignation, Fischbein founded the Institute for Middle East Conflict Resolution (IMECR), which has as its purposes the promotion of a dialogue and understanding among Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, and advocacy of a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As a result of the continued and improper recognition by the US government of the tax-exempt status of the JNF, despite its status as a foreign conduit, Fischbein claims to have suffered harm to his professional reputation as a fundraiser and therefore to his ability to earn a living... Fischbein swore in a signed affidavit that he had resigned his position as a fundraiser and executive for the JNF because he could no longer close his eyes to the legal and moral violations committed by these organizations. He described how he had chosen from a JNF Projects Manual the task of raising funds for the construction of a sheltered playground for children at the kibbutz of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel, close to the Lebanese border, with a projected budget of $500,000. He obtained a number of gifts and pledges in the total amount of $275,000 in the first year. A husband and wife, prominent members of the Washington DC Jewish community, pledged $75,000, with approximately $20,000 donated immediately in cash. Because of the size of the pledge, it was arranged that the playground would be named after this couple... After 18 months, Fischbein had transmitted $270,000 in funds specifically earmarked for this project to the JNF national office in New York for transmittal to Israel. In the spring of 1982, the couple who had pledged the $75,000 told Fischbein that they planned to visit Israel that summer and they wished to visit 'their playground'. The previous winter, the JNF had given a dinner in their honor at which the playground project was officially dedicated to them. The couple did travel to Israel and to the site of the playground. Upon their return, they told Fischbein that when they arrived at Kiryat Shmona, they found no playground and no construction underway. Instead, at the supposed site of the playground, they found an Israel Defense Force staging area littered with garbage and beer cans. They told him that they were furious, and that the JNF had raised money under false pretenses. Also as a result of this, another contributor, the person who had pledged $50,000 and contributed $20,000 in cash, told Fischbein that he would not see him again and that he did not deal with people who do not keep their word. Fischbein subsequently learned that the money for the playground had gone into the general funds of Israel, and that there are no US controls with regard to the use of funds raised in the US for special projects. Because the couple has threatened publicly to expose the misuse of their contribution, Fischbein understands that the JNF in Israel plans to commence construction of the playground with other funds. Fischbein's disillusionment with the JNF deepened, he stated in his affidavit, when he took a trip to southern Lebanon in the summer of 1982 with other leaders of the JNF. The trip was arranged in order to bolster support in the US for the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Immediately upon their arrival at Tel Aviv Airport, the group boarded buses and were taken to northern Israel and then into Lebanon to the area occupied by the Israel Defense Forces. Accompanying them were Moshe Rivlin, director of the JNF in Israel, and Dr Samuel I Cohen, Executive Vice-President of the JNF in the US. During the bus ride, Dr Cohen announced that JNF bulldozers were an integral part of the military effort since they had preceded the troops in forging the path of the invasion. Further, he boasted that the JNF was 'up to its ears' in the development of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. When the group arrived in southern Lebanon, they saw the devastation caused by the Israeli bombing. When some persons expressed dismay and horror at the destruction, Dr Rivlin stated that no-one must express any doubt or misgivings about the invasion when they returned to the US, or they would immediately be fired from their positions with the US-based JNF offices. Fischbein further swore that he had been deceived by the JNF, and misled as well by the US government, into believing that the JNF was a charitable organization. He now understands that the funds raised by the JNF in the US were not controlled by the JNF in the US; the JNF instead served as a conduit for a foreign state and thus became a foreign agent. In addition, the funds raised by the JNF in the US were not all used in Israel; indeed, much of the money was diverted instead into the West Bank and Lebanon for purely military purposes and for the continuation of the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and were used in a discriminatory fashion exclusively on behalf of some Israeli Jews, and specifically to the detriment of the Palestinian residents of these areas."
To be continued...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

That's What Friends Are For

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for

In good times, in bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
Oh, that's what friends are for

Dionne Warwick

"TRICOM boss Lance Rosenberg called on character evidence from the top ranks of the business world, including his 'close personal friend', Westfield managing director Steven Lowy, as he battled a 4-year ban from corporate life. 'I find Mr Rosenberg to be a gentleman of high integrity, intelligence and enthusiasm', Mr Lowy said in his character reference. Mr Rosenberg also received glowing testimonials to his honesty from Investec Bank executive Geoff Levy, Sydney QC Malcolm Holmes, former Mallesons partner David Fairlie and leading tax lawyer Mark Leibler... Mr Lowy, the son of Australia's richest man, Frank Lowy, was the most high-profile figure to provide a character reference. Mr Lowy told the Australian Securities & Investments Commission [ASIC] he had known Mr Rosenberg for 27 years... 'We have a close personal friendship, communicate frequently, and currently sit together on the board of a charitable organisation, United Israel Appeal' [UIA]... Geoff Levy, the former chief executive of South African investment bank Investec's Australian arm, said he had 'interacted in business with Mr Rosenberg for some 20 years'... Mr Leibler, senior partner at Melbourne law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler and one of Australia's best tax lawyers, said he had known Mr Rosenberg 'for approximately 5 years'. The Leibler family super fund had used Tricom as its sharebroker, while Mr Rosenberg was a client of Arnold Bloch Leibler, he said... " (Lowy's role in defence, Ben Butler, The Age, 21/9/10)

Did I hear United Israel Appeal? Yes, Lance isn't the only cause that has our friends rallying around:

Lance Rosenberg and Steven Lowy sit together on the board of the UIA. Frank Lowy is 'Life Governor' of the NSW UIA Executive. Mark Leibler (National Chair of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council) is a former chair of the UIA's World Board of Trustees. And, while Geoff Levy, deputy chair of Investec, may not be directly connected with the UIA, Investec's chairman, David Gonski, is a member of the UIA's 'extended executive' (as well as being on the board of Lowy's Westfield Group).

And what exactly is the UIA? Nothing less than the "central fundraising organisation for Israel throughout the world." ( And blow me down if it isn't a tax-exempt charity. Work that one out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sabra-Shatila, September 1982

The Israeli-engineered massacre of the Palestinian inhabitants of Beirut's Sabra and Shatila refugee camps followed the evacuation of the armed Palestinian resistance from the Lebanese capital in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Marking one of the most horrific chapters in the contemporary history of the Palestinian people, the massacre took place 28 years ago this month, on 16-18 September, 1982. Approximately 3,500 defenceless men, women and children were murdered over that 3-day period.

The following paragraphs, from the memoir of Singaporean-born British doctor Swee Chai Ang - From Beirut to Jerusalem: A Woman Surgeon With the Palestinians (1989) - recall this appalling atrocity:

"It was early in the afternoon when we got to the Commodore Hotel. We went to the press room, where TV crews had just returned from the camps, and were reviewing what they had just videoed in Saba and Shatila.

"First there were shots of the main road of the camp, the road we had marched down earlier that morning. Heaps of corpses on both sides of the road. The people rounded up by the gunmen had been shot after we had left. Then close-ups of the bodies filmed in the side-alleys of the camp. Bodies pilled on top of each other - mutilated bodies, with arms chopped off - bloated, decaying bodies that had obviously died a day or two before. Bodies whose limbs were still tied to bits of wires and bodies which bore marks of having been beaten up before their murder. Bodies of children - little girls and boys - and women and old men. Some bodies lay in blood that was still red, others in pools of brownish black fluid. Bodies of women with clothes removed, but too mutilated to tell whether they were sexually assaulted or just tortured to death.

"I started to cry. For the first time I grasped the scale of what had happened. The truth hit me painfully. I had been so busy that I had no time to think. But now, I knew that while we had been trying to save a handful of people in the operating theatres of Gaza Hospital [in Sabra camp], the camp folks had been dying by the thousands outside. Besides being shot dead, people were tortured before being killed. They were beaten brutally, electric wires were tied around limbs, eyes were dug out, women were raped, often more than once, children were dynamited alive. Looking at all the broken bodies, I began to think that those who had died quickly were the lucky ones.

"The machine-gun rattle that we had heard from the hospital was not fighting between PLO 'terrorists' and Israelis as I had vaguely assumed, but had been the sound of whole families being shot dead in cold blood. The heavy explosive noises we heard had been the shelling of the camp homes. The camps were completely sealed in by Israeli tanks, and not even a child could sneak out past them. When we asked the 2,000 people hiding in Gaza Hospital to run away, they had nowhere to go. So they were all captured when they left the hospital, and indeed, many of them were murdered later that morning. People full of hope and life were now just mutilated corpses. These were the folks who after months of bombardment had come back from the bomb shelters to live in the camps. They had been so optimistic just a few days ago. They had believed the promises of the USA and other powerful nations that they would be left in peace if the PLO left. They all thought they were being promised a chance at life.

"I had watched them rebuilding their shattered lives and homes just a few days before. I had spoken to women who had watched their sons, brothers and husbands being evacuated with the PLO under the peace agreement and then had taken the guns they left behind to surrender them to the Lebanese Army or throw them away on the rubbish dump. I had eaten in their homes and had drunk Arabic coffee with them. My surgical skills had enabled me to treat a few people, to save them so that they could be sent out into the streets, unarmed, to be shot down again, this time successfully. I hated my own ignorance which had deceived me into believing that we all had a real hope of peace in Sabra and Shatila, a real chance of a new life. Like everyone else from the West, I thought things would be all right once the PLO left.

"I had thought the old people could retire when the PLO went, and the children could grow up - instead of having bullets put through their heads, and having their throats slit. I was a fool, a real fool. It had never occurred to me that this would happen. It was a grim moment. I felt forsaken by God, by men, by a world without conscience. How could little children suffer the agony and the terror of watching scenes of torture, of their loved ones being killed, of their homes being blown up and bulldozed over. For these chidren, the mental scars, the psychological wounds, would probably never heal. It was one thing to die suddenly. It was entirely different to watch loved ones being tortured and killed, while awaiting one's own turn." (pp 66-68)

Something Missing

Notice something missing here?:

"Tim Mathieson, the partner of Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has quit his job with ALP benefactor and prominent Melbourne property developer Albert Dadon. A senior Jewish business figure last night told The Age his resignation had been 'inevitable' and that moving away from any such employment was 'the right thing to do'. Last month, The Age reported that if Labor won the election, Mr Mathieson would resign, with senior figures in Labor and the Jewish community concerned about his position with Mr Dadon's Ubertas property business. The ALP increasingly regards Mr Dadon as a conduit to donations, including from the Jewish business community. On the last Sunday before polling day he hosted a large breakfast function at his home, where Ms Gillard met members of the Jewish community. The Prime Minister's spokeswoman said Mr Mathieson had decided to resign from his job only because he wanted to pursue more advocacy and charity work, in line with his responsibilities 'as the partner of a Prime Minister'." (PM's partner quits property job with ALP benefactor, Rafael Epstein, The Age, 22/9/10)

That's right, not a whisper about Dadon's role as a leading Israel lobbyist and sponsor (through his Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange & Australia-Israel Leadership Forum) of Labor heavyweight visits to Israel (Gillard/Rudd in 2005; Gillard in 2009). Or about Gillard's declaration, in the lead-up to the last federal election, that Australia and Israel share a "unique bond [that] endures through good times and difficult ones," and promise to "take our friendship [with Israel] to new heights" should she remain prime minister (See my 20/8/10 post A Pre-Poll Breakfast Tradition).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cartoon Corner

A political cartoon in the hands of a master such as Michael Leunig can take you straight to the (often dark) heart of a matter. In lesser hands, it can misrepresent and mislead.

This was the case with Moir's cartoon in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald: Obama stands atop a small, cube-shaped castle in a desert landscape, leaning wearily on the battlements, the very picture of exasperation. The word 'PEACE' is prominently displayed above the castle door, which bears an 'ENTER' sign. In the desert below, Israel (Netanyahu) and Palestine (Abbas), portrayed as blind men, complete with dark glasses and canes, wander aimlessly in opposite directions, tapping their canes.

The message: Obama, an honest broker, knows exactly what is required for a lasting peace in the Middle East and is doing his level best to achieve it. Netanyahu and Abbas, however, equally blind and equally lost, are obviously incapable of coming to the party. Poor, long-suffering Obama, is destined to be disappointed.

Moir is clearly out of his depth on this issue. He has no understanding of the underlying dynamic: Obama is Israel's ho; Netanyahu a vicious, swaggering bully, pumped on US steroids; and Abbas a shifty, servile beggar.

To approximate this, Moir's 'Peace' castle should be replaced by a rat trap surrounded by smoking ruins and broken and bleeding Palestinian bodies. A crumb labelled 'Palestinian state' sits on the catch. An Abbas rat sniffs it gingerly as Netanyahu and Obama walk off into a sunset labelled 'Israel-US Co-Prosperity Sphere'. Obama's head lolls on Netanyahu's shoulder, his left arm tenderly circling his waist. Netanyahu's right hand vigorously fondles Obama's bum.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lone (Texas) Ranger Strikes Again

Worried about Islamophobia? Here's a story to cheer you up:

"As Islamophobia in the United States reaches bonfire of the vanities proportions - involving a composite of talk show hosts, Republican politicians, Tea Party agitators and wacko preachers, concerned citizens across the world should note that the anti-mosque hate festival this past Saturday [11/9] in front of the proposed site of Cordoba House, the Islamic community center a couple of blocks away from Ground Zero in New York, totally fizzled out; according to ground witnesses, there were way more reporters present than rabid Islamophobes. But as a graphic illustration of Islamophobia defeated, nothing beats what happened in Amarillo, Texas, the same day. David Grisham, the wacko director of one Repent Amarillo organization, who had planned his own Koran-burning session in support of Gainesville, Florida, pastor and instant global celebrity Terry Jones, was about to commit the act in front of around 200 people when, out of nowhere comes...

"... the unlikeliest of heroes; Jacob Isom, a 23-year-old, bespectacled local skateboarder. Isom himself described what happened to the Amarillo-Globe News: 'I snuck up behind him and took his Koran, he said something about burning the Koran, I said, Dude, you have no Koran, and ran off'. The righteous skateboarder even had time to add to a startled Grisham, You're just trying to start holy wars, then handed the unburned Koran to a local Muslim leader.

"Repent Amarillo is one of those typical wacko militia American groups, referring to itself as the 'Army of God' and with promotional material modeled on army recruiting pamphlets. Everyone is a target: gays, Muslims, liberal Christians, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, 'spring break events' and porn shops. Repent Amarillo even led a boycott against the city of Houston after it elected Mayor Annise Parker - a lesbian. Their motto is, 'We are the special forces of spiritual warfare, we're looking for a few good warriors'.

"A lot of people at the would-be Koran-burning site in Amarillo put their hands over a barbecue grill to prevent Grisham from lighting the fire. So this is not only a story about a righteous dude acting like a model citizen. It's in the same spirit of another citizen observing the hate festival near ground Zero, holding a piece of carton with the words 'Real Americans don't burn Korans'. At the center of this response is the respect for the constitution of the United States - which ensures the inalienable right of anyone to freely practice the religion of one's choice.

"Cairo, Kabul, Kashmir, Peshawar should read into this that the vast majority of Americans won't be cowed by fear and hate no more, and won't succumb to a new, politically-engineered, religious crusade. (Radical) maneuvers by free thinkers and righteous skateboard dudes are showing the way; no paramilitary Christian fascist resists being reduced to ridicule. Now if only Americans could redirect their outrage against the Pentagon drone war against Afghan civilians." ('Dude, you have no Koran', Pepe Escobar,, 15/9/10)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Send in the Clown...

"American Jewish publications have received numerous proposals in recent days from senior Palestinian officials to interview Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who will be arriving in New York next week to attend the United Nations General Assembly. The Palestinians hope to utilize Abbas' trip to carry out what they describe as a 'smiles & appeasement campaign' among America's Jewish community, in efforts to raise sympathy and support among US Jews... The non-profit organization [The] Israel Project, which provides information on the Middle East, was planning to hold a special dinner in Abbas' honor during his visit." (Palestinian officials launch 'smiles campaign' in US Jewish media, Shlomo Shamir, Haaretz, 17/9/10)

Supping with the devil...

"About TIP: The Israel Project (TIP) is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel. The Israel Project is not related to any government or government policy. Our team of trusted Middle East experts and former reporters provides journalists with fact sheets, backgrounders and sources. TIP regularly hosts press briefings featuring leading Israeli spokespeople and analysts that give journalists an opportunity to get information and answers to their questions face-to-face. By providing journalists with the facts, context and visuals they need, TIP causes hundreds of millions of people around the world to see a more positive public face of Israel. This helps protect Israel, reduce anti-Semitism and increase pride in Israel... Through its Jerusalem office, TIP operates 'Intellicopter' tours - two-and a-half-hour guided helicopter tours with expert guides that give reporters a bird's-eye view of the situation on the ground. The TIP 'Intellicopter' educates journalists about security threats and opportunities for peace. More than a thousand journalists from more than 450 media outlets have taken the 'Intellicopter' tour, including top journalists from the US, England, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Latin America, Australia and Asia. Millions of people around the world have seen footage shot from these strategic aerial views - views which show Israel's tiny size and enormous security challenges." (

Meanwhile, out of sight of Western 'journalists' on their 'Intellicopter' tours of the Apartheid State, or Palestinian quislings on their 'smiles & appeasement' tour of New York, life goes on as normal in occupied Palestine:

"Eyewitnesses reported that dozens of armored Israeli military vehicles invaded Tulkarem city and Nour Shams refugee camp at approximately 2:30 am and assassinated Iyad As'ad Shilbaya, 38. As details of the assassination began to unfold, it was revealed that soldiers first broke into the home of Iyad's father and forced his brother to accompany them to his home. After arriving at the home of Iyad, soldiers wired and detonated the main door and immediately went to Iyad's bedroom and fired at least 3 rounds at him while he was still in bed. One bullet hit him in the neck and 2 in the chest. Soldiers then took Iyad's body and withdrew from the area. His brother said that he heard him shouting 'Who's there?' before the soldiers fired 3 rounds at him while he was still in bed. His wife was not at home as she was visiting her parents in Jenin... Furthermore, soldiers kidnapped 10 Hamas members in Nour Shams and took them to unknown destinations." (Army assassinates a Hamas leader in Tulkarem, Saed Bannoura,, 17/9/10)

Or, if you prefer the TIP version, as chanelled by The New York Times: "Israeli troops killed a Hamas militant during a raid in the West Bank... Israel said soldiers were trying to arrest him when he ran toward them, ignoring orders to halt." (West Bank: Israeli soldiers kill militant in raid, Associated Press, 17/9/10)

[See also my 6/9/10 post On the Nose]

The Education Revolution, Iraq-Style

"The Iraqi Ministry of Education issued a statement that almost one fifth of the population is illiterate and established a link between violence and the remarkable increase in dropout numbers. Official figures of Iraqi illiteracy coincided with those issued by UN organizations and which estimated that one fifth of Iraqi adults, that is between the ages of 10 and 49, do not know how to read or write, the London-based newspaper al-Hayat reported Wednesday. The waves of violence that swept the country since the 2003 US-led invasion played a major role in increasing the illiteracy rate in Iraq, said Walid Hassan, Ministry of Education spokesman. 'The high level of literacy since the invasion is mainly because children drop out of schools in order to work and support their families after they lost everything in the war', he said in the statement... In the mid-1980s, Iraq was listed as an illiteracy-free country after the government launched an expansive campaign to eliminate illiteracy." (One fifth of Iraqis are illiterate: Iraqi official,, 15/9/10)

"Immediately after the occupation of Iraq, the American authorities... imposed a new curriculum that removed any criticism of US policy in the Middle East, as well as any reference to either the 1991 war or to Israeli policy in the occupied territories. An estimated $US 62 billion was awarded to Creative Associates Int. and $US 1.8 billion to Bechtel by USAID in April 2003 to re-build Iraq's infrastructure, including schools and higher education institutions. However, these efforts have been plagued by shoddy construction, signaled by the frequent flooding of schools with sewage, by inadequate infrastructure, and the failure to replace outdated equipment and teaching materials. The rapidly deteriorating conditions and a complete failure to establish a functioning education system has produced a spiraling dropout rate of almost 50%." (Cultural Cleansing in Iraq: Why Museums Were Looted, Libraries Burned & Academics Murdered, ed. Baker, Ismael & Ismael, 2010, pp 31-32)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Just a Pussycat?

Remember this from Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton back in June?:

"It is a ferocious beast, the Jewish lobby. Write just one sentence even mildly critical of Israel and it lunges from its lair, fangs bared. 'I rejoice every time a f.....g Palestinian dies, f... them!!!! Israel should flatten Gaza with a nuclear strike and be done with it', said one of hundreds of Jewish emailers this week. 'How dare you insult Israel you overpriviledged [sic] racist white moron, f... you and your stupid article. I wish I could smash your dumb face in'"? (See my 12/6/10 post A Ferocious Beast for Carlton's complete account of his mauling.)

Inevitably, Carlton's comments became the subject of an Australian Press Council (APC) complaint by one, Judy Maynard. The APC, as it turns out, dismissed the complaint and its adjudication appeared in today's Herald.

The following paragraph gives the gist: "In her complaint to the council, Ms Maynard firmly acknowledged that Mr Carlton had the right to express his opinion and that, for example, it is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel. But, she said, the two items contained 'anti-Semitic elements and bring opprobrium on Jews through the use of racist imagery [and] factually incorrect statements'. She referred in particular to what she called the 'bestial' imagery and the implication that all critics of Mr Carlton must be, in her words, 'tools in an orchestrated campaign' by the Israeli government. She complained about use of the term 'Jewish lobby' as depicting advocates for that cause as being 'sinister'."

So the bared fangs and the orchestrated campaign are really just a figment of Carlton's anti-Semitic imagination, eh?

Unfortunately, no.

Remember the saga of the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize, when the Sydney Peace Foundation, led by Professor Stuart Rees, dared bestow that award on Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi? What a brawl that was! Not only were the fangs bared and the claws out, but there was more orchestration than Beethoven's nine symphonies put together.

To refresh your memory, here's an extract from an Alan Ramsey column of the time: "[Foundation chairwoman] Kathryn Greiner... was one of the jury of 6 who selected Ashrawi unanimously in September last year [2002] as this year's recipient... [T]wo weeks ago... she phoned Rees to talk frankly about her concerns with an accelerating campaign against Ashrawi. A file note of their conversation reads: KG: 'I have to speak logically. It is either Hanan Ashrawi or the Peace Foundation. That's our choice, Stuart. My distinct impression is that if you persist in having her here, they'll destroy you. Rob Thomas of City Group is in trouble for supporting us. I think he must have had a phone call from New York. And you know Danny Gilbert [partner in the law firm, Gilbert & Tobin] has already been warned off'. SR: 'You must be joking. We've been over this a thousand times. We consulted widely. We agreed the jury's decision, made over a year ago, was not only unanimous but that we would support it, together'. KG: 'But listen, I'm trying to present the logic of this. They'll destroy what you've worked for. They are determined to show we made a bad choice. I think it's Frank Lowy's money. You don't understand just how much opposition there is. We cannot go ahead. If only there was progress in the Middle East, this would not be such a bad time'. SR: 'I won't be subject to bullying and intimidation. We are being threatened by members of a powerful group who think they have an entitlement to tell others what to do. This opposition is orchestrated. The arguments are all the same - that Hanan Ashrawi has not condemned violence sufficiently, that she was highly critical of Israel in her address to the UN's Johannesburg conference on racism, and wilder accusations that do not bear repetition'. KG: 'But you're not listening to the logic. The Commonwealth Bank - I was at a reception last night - is highly critical. We could not approach them for financial help for the Schools Peace Prize. We'll get no support from them. The business world will close ranks. They're saying we are being one-sided, that we've only supported Palestine. SR: 'Kathryn, we need to avoid the trap of even using the language of 'one side'. That's not the issue. We are being bullied and intimidated and you are asking that we give way to it. The letter writers and the phone callers who this group encourage have spent weeks bullying a 25-year-old colleague of mine who handles the foundation's administration. You are asking me to collude with bullying'. KG: 'I'll tell you how serious this is. [NSW Premier] Bob Carr won't come to the dinner. He'll flick the responsibility to [his deputy, Andrew] Refshauge at the last minute. And you won't get the Town Hall. It is more than [Lord Mayor] Lucy [Turnbull's] life is worth. They will desert us as well. SR: 'I've never given way to bullying. Public life is too much characterised by cowardice. If we give way I'd be so ashamed I couldn't face myself. The image of the Peace Foundation would be shameful. Our reputation would count for nothing. KG: 'My friend, I am telling you what the reality is. The foundation will be destroyed. I'd hate to see its work come to nothing over this. Our critics are saying it's an awful choice'. SR: 'These critics are 'they' and 'them', invisible but powerful people. They stay powerful because they are invisible. They bully and intimidate in the same breath they behave as unblemished pillars of the community. Do you mean to say that in cautious, often gutless, Australia we are not going to follow through on this? No. I remain completely committed to our decision'.' (Here's Lucy, caving in, taking flight, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/10/03)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Round Round Get Around... 4

They get around:

"Donald Perera, who served as Sri Lankan chief of staff during the offensive that ended in the Tamil rebels' surrender after almost 30 years... has since been appointed Sri Lanka's ambassador to Israel... 'I was familiar with Israel before coming here', he tells Yediot Ahronoth daily. 'In the framework of my previous positions as airforce commander and chief of staff, I had a great relationship with your military industries and with Israel Aerospace Industries. For years Israel has aided our war on terror through the exchange of information and the sale of military technology and equipment... Our airforce includes 17 Kfir warplanes, and we also have Dabur patrol boats. Our pilots were trained in Israel, and we have received billions of dollars in aid over the past few years. This is why I asked to be assigned to Israel - a country I consider to be a partner in the war against terror. Many Sri Lankans admire Israel', says Perera... After noting the similarities between the Tamil Tigers and Hamas, Perera says Sri Lanka is a staunch supporter of Israel's fight against terror. 'No one wants bloodshed. The other side should be offered direct negotiations, without preconditions, to determine its level of seriousness. These talks should focus on trying to reach a compromise that would allow both sides to sign an agreement', he says. 'In case the other side shows it is not interested in the compromise, (Israel) must move onto the military phase with full force. (The government) will have to explain to the citizens that Israel is headed for a long and difficult struggle that will exact a heavy price, but at the end of this struggle the country's situation will be much better', says the ambassador. 'Once you have the public support, you should fight relentlessly until all of the terror hubs are destroyed. There is no going back'." (Sri Lankan ambassador: We back Israel's war on terror, David Regev,, 21/7/10)

"An Israeli man was arrested Friday for allegedly running an organ trafficking network in the Ukraine, Army radio reported... According to the report, the network operated for over 3 years and recruited donors via the Internet. Most of the donors were young women who agreed to sell a kidney for $10,000. The organs were then allegedly transferred to Israelis in need of a kidney transplant, which cost over $200,000, said the head of the Ukrainian organization for combatting human trafficking... Ukrainian police estimated that the network made a gross sum of $40 million..." (Report: Israeli suspected of running Ukraine organ trafficking ring, Haaretz, 6/8/10)

"A man the US deems one of the worst offenders among sellers of stolen financial data has been arrested in France. Vladislav Horohorin, 27, of Moscow and a dual Israeli and Ukrainian citizen, was arrested at the weekend in Nice on a US warrant... The US believes the suspect is one of the founders of CarderPlanet, a criminal internet forum for selling stolen credit card data. 'The network created by the founders of CarderPlanet, including Vladislav Horohorin, remains one of the most sophisticated organisations of online financial criminals in the world', said US Secret Service assistant director for investigations Michael Merritt. 'This network has been repeatedly linked to nearly every major intrusion of financial information reported to the international law enforcement community'." ('Credit card crime king' caught, AFP/The Australian, 13/8/10)

"Act's hard line law and order spokesman MP David Garrett has told [the New Zealand] Parliament he created a false identity by applying for a passport in the name of a dead child 26 years ago... Mr Garrett said he had applied for the passport as a prank - to see if it could be done - and had never used the passport, which had since expired. Mr Garrett was arrested years later as part of an investigation into bogus passports, conducted by the police in the wake of the discovery Israeli Mossad agents had used the same method to obtain New Zealand passports. He was discharged without conviction in 2005 and given permanent name suppression..." (Act MP Garrett admits creating false identity, Adam Bennett,, 15/9/10)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Busting Those Mind-Forged Manacles

I'm always inspired by the stories of those who manage to break free of the limitations of their cultural/tribal conditioning - what the great English poet William Blake referred to as "mind-forged manacles" - and see things afresh. Here is one such story. I came across it at and feel it deserves the widest possible distribution. In April this year, grad student Greg Eow wrote the following letter to Ussama Makdisi, a professor of Middle East history at Rice University:

"Dear Professor Makdisi, I don't know if you remember me, but I finished my PhD in the Rice history department in 2007. I was one of Thomas Haskell's students. We ran into each other a handful of times, including once when I helped you with some of the microfilm machines in Fondren Library. Anyway, this is a strange email, both to write and most likely to receive. But I wanted to tell you about some recent experiences which have profoundly changed my view of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have demonstrated an interest in changing how people think about the issue, and so I thought you might be interested in what for me has turned out to be a transformative event.

"First of all, a quick word about presuppositions. I confess that I never previously paid a great deal of attention to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Insofar as I did follow the issue, my sympathies were with the neoconservatives. Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis were my guides. They were realists, I would tell myself, whereas those who quarreled with them - for instance colleagues at Rice who were more interested in postcolonial studies than I - had political axes to grind. Not for me the romance of resistance. I was a good sceptic, an empiricist; and if there was a problem in Israel, it was clear to me it had to do with Muslim fundamentalism, terrorism, and the clash between Enlightenment values and democracy on the one hand and premodern tribalism and totalitarianism on the other.

"Flash forward a couple of years. I'm through with grad school, I finally have some time and money, and I embark on a self-directed course of study on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have my feelings, sure, but I realize that I don't know a whole lot, that a lot of smart people disagree with me, and now I want to make a good faith effort to learn about the issue and test my prejudices against the scholarship in the field. I read Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said, Benny Morris, Patrick Seale, David Fromkin, Juan Cole, Efraim Karsh, Tom Segev, William Cleveland, Bernard Rougier, Albert Hourani. I read your book and article on anti-Americanism. And I spent 2 weeks traveling through Syria, Lebanon, Jerusalem and the West Bank. In sum, I read about 40 books from a number of different standpoints and traveled through the region to see what is going on with my own eyes.

"The result? Well, the whole experience essentially knocked me on my butt. I was wrong about a great many things. And not just wrong, but deeply wrong. Wrong to such a degree that to realize it has left me shaken, wondering how exactly I got to be so intellectually, and in this case morally, obtuse. Just a taste of the data that undid my world view:

"1) The Arab people I met in Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank (and Jerusalem), the vast majority of them Muslims, were almost uniformly lovely, warm and welcoming. I wasn't expecting passersby in the street in all of these places to invite me into their homes for tea to discuss how much they 'hate George Bush, but like Americans'. (This happened too often to count.) Pretty much everyone thought US policy was a disaster, but they were angry about policy and lovely to me in ways that make the 'they hate us for our freedom' line not only inaccurate but criminal. Among the people I met: a 20-year old Shiite Muslim named Muhammad whom I met in the Beqaa Valley. Muhammad supports Hezbollah because of their a) resistance to Israeli incursions into Lebanon (he didn't say anything about Hezbollah provocations); b) their welfare programs; and c) their support of the Palestinian cause (all his words). He's been to mosque no more than twice in his life, eats pork, and likes nothing more than going dancing in Beirut. That is to say, he is entirely secular. With Lewis and Huntington as my guides, I have no way to make sense of such an encounter.

"2) Driving through the West Bank at night allows one to see the proliferation of illegal Israeli settlements with immediate and striking force. They are everywhere, some small, some huge, on the high ground lit up like prisons. I thought the reason why the two-state solution had failed was Palestinian intransigence. A look at the settlements - even a quick look - demolishes such a simple explanation. Traveling through the West Bank at night, and later visiting and talking with people in Ramallah, reinforced an essential point: Israel, or at least powerful forces within Israel, is actively pursuing policies to colonize and annex the West Bank, while simultaneously making life so difficult for Palestinians that they will pick up and leave. The evidence was there for anyone with eyes to see, irrefutable and horrible in its obviousness. How I got duped by the 'Israel wants peace behind the 1967 borders, but extremists deny it to them' line is a question I will be asking myself again and again with embarrassment and not a little shame.

"I could go on, but this (unsolicited) email has gone on long enough and you get the point. What I'm saying is this: keep writing, keep telling US citizens to better inform themselves about what is going on in their name and with their tax dollars. If they're honest, and they go see for themselves what's going on, I can guarantee that the reasonableness of what you and others have written on the matter will soon become apparent."


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Toad

"I used toad because I knew I couldn't get away with turd." (Alan Ramsey on why he called Howard The Toad)

"Sycophancy means obsequious flattery; servility. Alternative phrases are often used such as aple-polishing; ass kissing; ass licking; bootlicker; brown nosing; crawler; fawning; flunky; groveling; hanger-on; kowtowing; lackey; lickspittle; sucking up; toady; yes man" (

"Pandemonium, simply because I called Howard an arselicker in today's Bulletin. If anything, I was restrained - Howard has got his tongue up Bush's clacker that often the poor guy must think he's got an extra haemorrhoid." (26/6/02, The Latham Diaries, Mark Latham, 2005, p 195)

"John Howard was among firm friends on Sunday night at Lincoln of Toorak, delivering the keynote address at a tribute dinner for [former World Jewish Congress senior vice-president] Isi and Naomi Leibler. Acknowledged by Isi as 'the statesman who displayed the greatest support for Israel of the time', the former Liberal prime minister gave some insights. 'It is true that in my time as prime minister I stuck up for Israel... because I thought it was right to do so, because I thought the homeland established for the Jewish people is their right'... Earlier, Isi recalled his trip with the then Australian prime minister to Ramallah in 2000, when the Oslo Agreement still had currency. Isi received an unwelcome embrace from Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat, whom he had railed against throughout his years as the PLO's terrorist chieftain. Afterwards, Isi had privately expressed scepticism to Howard about those peace overtures, and was struck by the Australian leader's 'principled approach and friendship'. 'I will never forget John Howard's response', said Isi, quoting the former Australian leader. 'If Arafat reneges on his commitment', he said, 'the people of Israel and the Australian Jewish community should rest assured that I will not let them down'." (Howard's kind words for Leiblers and Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 3/9/10)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Massacre? What Massacre?

Here's what a massacre - just a wee one - looks like. It occurred sometime between 1920 and 1925, during Spain's Rif War in Morocco:

"I am sitting on a stone, polished by millions of raindrops, smooth like a bare skull. It is a whitish stone, full of pores. It burns in the sun and sweats in the dampness. Thirty yards from me stands the old fig tree, its roots twisted like the veins of a robust old man, its contorted branches hung with the trefoil of its fleshy leaves. On the other bank of the stream, beyond the ravine, the remains of the kabila straggle up the hillside.

"A few months ago a group of huts stood there, built of straw and twigs. Inside, mats of plaited straw. One mat in the doorway, where you left your heelless slippers, the babouches, on entering; another inside, on which you squatted down round the tea cups. A few bigger ones lined up against the wall for sleeping. The kabila was nothing but straw huts and straw mats. Its bread was a kind of cake baked on hot stones and made of grain pounded between stones, a blackish cake bristling with bits of singed straw. The sharp hairs of the dry wheat ears stuck in your throat and bit you there with their hundreds of teeth.

"The kabila would wake up in the morning and its men would come out of the huts, each beating his pitiful little donkey. Then he would mount it and his babouches would flap on the ground, so small was the donkey. Behind him came his wife, burdened, everlastingly burdened. The three would go to the flatter part of the hillside and the man would dismount. The woman would unstrap the wooden plow from her shoulders and harness it to the donkey. Then she would meekly yoke herself to the plow and the man would inspect the knots in the harness of donkey and woman. He would take hold of the plow, and the woman and the donkey would begin to walk, slowly, in step, the donkey pulling the ropes with his collar, the woman pulling the rope crossed over her flaccid breasts, both working slowly, planting their feet deep in the soil and sinking into their knees at each stop.

"The lords of the kabila would begin their morning on horseback, on nervous little horses with thick manes. Their rifles slung on a bandolier, they would disappear into the hills. Nothing remained in the kabila but the chickens, the sheep, and the children, all playing about between the huts, pecking, browsing, tumbling in the dust; all smeared with dirt and slime, all toasted and bleached by the sun.

"A few months ago the kabila was razed to the ground. It was done from so short a distance that the artillery had no need of range finders. The captain of the battery had said: 'What for? You simply fire, just as you throw a stone at a dog'.

"At the first shell, everything had come tumbling down. The straw of the huts burst into blazing chips. The children fled uphill among the rocks. The chickens and the sheep scattered as their instinct drove them. The women gave piercing shrieks which resounded throughout the valley. The lords of the kabila made their horses caracole, brandishing their rifles in the air. When a few shells had been fired, the infantry marched up the hill and occupied the hamlet. The soldiers rounded up the scattered chickens and sheep which returned to their homestead at sunset. They lit their campfires and ate their evening meal. The air was full of the breast feathers of chickens, which drifted slowly around, sometimes settling gently in a bowl. The operation had gone according to plan. At nightfall there was nothing but some heaps of smoking straw and two or three children mangled by the first shell, chicken feathers drifting in the air, and sheepskins, a banquet for flies, stuck on crossed poles. The place where the kabila had been smelled of jute from the thousand sandbags which formed the parapet; it smelled of roast meat, of horses, and of soldiers, of sweaty soldiers with lice in every fold of their uniforms." (The Forging of a Rebel, Arturo Barea, 1943/1972, pp 237-238)

OK? Got the picture? Fast forward to this weekend.

I was skimming the book reviews in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald when I happened on a review of Raimond Gaita's Gaza: Morality, Law & Politics by Bruce Elder. The opening sentence had me coughing and spluttering: "Do you remember the Middle East conflict in Gaza between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009, known variously as the Gaza Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli description) or the Gaza Massacre (the Hamas description)?"

So what happened in those 22 days wasn't really a massacre? That's just Hamas' description?

Well, no it isn't. Others, who weren't asleep at the time, knew a massacre when they saw it unfolding before their eyes:

"The casualty figures* attested not to a war but to a massacre - or, as Duncan Kennedy put it, they were 'typical of a particular kind of 'police action' that Western colonial powers... have historically undertaken to convince resisting native populations that unless they stopped resisting they will suffer unbearable death and deprivation'. Indeed, an Israeli soldier posted in the Gaza Strip later recollected how Operation Cast Lead was largely conducted by remote control. 'It feels like hunting season has begun', he mused. 'Sometimes it reminds me of a Play-Station [computer] game'. 'You feel like a child playing around with a magnifying glass', another remembered, 'burning up ants'." (This time we went too far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, Norman Finkelstein, 2010, p 77) [*1,387-1,444: Goldstone report]

"The fighting in Gaza is 'war deluxe'. Compared with previous wars, it is child's play - pilots bombing unimpeded as if on practice runs, tank and artillery soldiers shelling houses and civilians from their armored vehicles, combat engineering troops destroying entire streets in their ominous protected vehicles without facing serious opposition. A large, broad army is fighting against a helpless population and a weak, ragged organisation that has fled the conflict zones and is barely putting up a fight. All this must be said openly, before we begin exulting in our heroism and victory. This war is also child's play because of its victims. About a third of those killed in Gaza have been children - 311, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry; 270 according to B'Tselem human rights group - out of the 1,000 total killed as of January 14. Around 1,550 of the 4, 500 wounded have also been children, according to figures from the UN, which says the number of children killed has tripled since the ground operation began. This is too large a proportion by any humanitarian or ethical standard." ( Child's Play, 15/1/09, from The Punishment of Gaza, Gideon Levy, 2010, p 103)

Isn't it fascinating that there are so many out there in ms media land who can recognise a massacre everywhere but in Palestine?

And it's not as if Herald reviewer Bruce Elder doesn't know one when he sees it. After all, he is the author of the 1988 book, Blood on the Wattle: Massacres & Maltreatment of Australian Aborigines Since 1788.

Work that one out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Swipe at the Absurdity of Racism

"Fisher-roshi nodded his head sagely and indicated to Gilguli to come forward and kneel down before him on the railroad track behind which the wheelchair was braked. He took up his guitar again and resumed his chant. 'My sweetest friends, and my holy holy soul mate Jake Gilguli, this is so heartbreaking and so deep! Today, amidst the horror of Birkenau and the healing, here in this place of endless crying where the ashes of your former life as Yankel Galitzianer lie scattered, I bestow on you a new name to mark the beginning of your one-thousand-day journey as a lay monk toward dharma transmission, toward more supreme enlightenment and perfection, and to acknowledge at one and the same time the oneness of duality, the oneness of your Zen karma with your Yiddishe neshama, your Jewish soul. Your new name as a monk is Koan - like Cohen, resonating richly of the word for a priest of Israel, kohain. From today and henceforth you will be known as Jake Koan Gilguli - Buddhist monk, Jewish priest. I also present to you on this day of your ordination as a lay monk the first of your koans, the first of the enigmatic questions that through zazen and fidelity to your master will lead you as you set forth in fulfillment of your vows beyond the boundaries of reason to ultimate awakening. Your koan of the week is: Who is a Jew?'" (My Holocaust, Tova Reich, 2007, pp 175-176)

Coming to a screen near you:

"The Reluctant Infidel: Life for Mahmud Nasir (Omid Djalili), a Muslim cabbie working in the UK, has had its challenges. Just as he's learning to live with the suspicious looks and snide comments, his world is turned upside down. An identity crisis ensues when he discovers that not only is he adopted but he is also Jewish. With the help of his neighbour, a Jewish cab driver, he rediscovers his roots in the most unorthodox manner. The Reluctant Infidel is a British farce for the modern age as it takes a tongue-in-cheek swipe at religion, family and the absurdity of racism." (

I hate to rain on this film's parade but it seems to me, after reading the above, that far from taking a swipe at the absurdity of racism, this film may actually, if inadvertently, help reinforce it by adopting the premise of the Jewish religious belief that biology is the determining factor in what makes a Jew. Both the now defunct Nazi Nuremberg Laws (1935) and the Israeli Law of Return (1950) define Jewishness on this basis: in the former, if you had 3 lots of Jewish grandparents, you were a Jew and therefore fair game; in the latter, if you have a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother, you are a Jew and therefore privileged when it comes to entering and residing in Palestine/Israel.

Defining Jewishness biologically would not necessarily these days be problematic but for its use by the Zionist project known as Israel as a yardstick for determining who gets into Palestine/Israel and who is kept out. The absurdity/criminality of this use becomes apparent when one realises that, while Mahmud's newly-discovered biological connection may allow him the option, via Israel's Law of Return, of taking up Israeli citizenship, a fictional Palestinian cabbie colleague, whose grandparents were born there and who still have title deeds to property there dating back to the pre-1948 era, is allowed no such option.

The Reluctant Infidel's creator, Jewish comedian David Baddiel, might in fact be better placed to take a swipe at the absurdity of racism by opening up this particular can of worms. We shouldn't hold our breath, of course, but he does seem to have potential: "For [Baddiel], the notion of Israel is essentially 'a bunch of Jews in the Middle East who are really hard, a bit aggressive, a bit mental, really up for a fight'." (David Baddiel discusses The Infidel, Barry Didcock,, 12/4/10)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Einstein, He Ain't

Did you know that if you stand close enough to Tony Bliar you can actually hear the ocean?

"Let me tell you why I am a passionate believer in Israel. This is a democracy. Its parliament is vibrant. Its politics are, well, not notably restrained, let's say. Its press is free. Its people have rights and they are enforced." (The case against delegitimisation: Tony Blair's Herzliya Speech, The Australian Jewish News, 3/9/10)

Did you know that he's out of his depth - in a puddle?

"Look around the world at what we admire about the Jewish people: their contribution to art, culture, literature, music, business and philanthropy. It's a spirit that is identifiable, open and rather wonderful. Whatever bigotry is, it is the opposite of it. It is a free spirit. On holiday I read the new biography of Albert Einstein. Having in early life taken not much interest in the issue, he became an ardent supporter of Israel. But look at the character of the Israel he supported: like Einstein himself - a free thinker, a rebellious thinker even, but one supremely attuned to the future. That is the Israel people like me support." (ibid)

Two matters arising: a) What Bliar (& consort) really get up to on their hols; and b) Einstein's alleged ardent support for Israel.

a) "The ceremony took place at dusk. Mr Blair and his wife, wearing bathing costumes, were led to the Temazcal, a brick-coloured pyramid on the south end of the beach... Mr Aguilar told the Blairs to bow and pray to the 4 winds as Mayan prayers were read out. Each side of the building is decorated with Mayan religious symbols: the sun and baby lizards representing spring and childhood; a bird to signify adolescence, summer and freedom; a crab to represent maturity and autumn; and a serpent - the most sacred in the Mayan Indian culture - to symbolise winter and transformation... Within the Temazcal, a type of ancient Mayan steam bath, herb-infused water was thrown over heated lava rocks, to create a cleansing sweat and balance the Blairs' 'energy flow'. Mr Aguilar chanted Mayan songs, told the Blairs to imagine that they could see animals in the steam and explained what such visions meant. They were told the Temazcal was like the womb and those participating in the ritual must confront their hopes and fears before 'rebirth' and venturing outside. The Blairs were offered watermelon and papaya, then told to smear what they did not eat over each other's bodies along with mud from the Mayan jungle outside. The prime minister, on holiday just a month before the September 11 attacks, is understood to have made a wish for world peace. Before leaving, the Blairs were told to scream out loud to signify the pain of rebirth. They then walked hand in hand down the beach to swim in the sea." (From New Age Cherie stops Blair being a stick in the mud, Tom Baldwin, The Times, 15/9/01 - quoted in How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short history of Modern Delusions, Francis Wheen, 2004, pp 130-131)

b) Einstein's testimony before Judge 'Texas Joe' Hutcheson, chairman of the 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry into Jewish immigration into Palestine:

JH: It has been told to our committee by the Zionists that the passionate heart of every Jew will never be satisfied until they have a Jewish state in Palestine. It is contended... that they must have a majority over the Arabs. It has been told to us by the Arab representatives that the Arabs are not going to permit such condition as that, [that] they will not permit having themselves converted from a majority to a minority.

Dr Einstein: Yes.

JH: I have asked these various persons if it is essential to the right or the privilege of the Jews to go to Palestine, if it is essential to real Zionism that a setup be fixed so that the Jews have a Jewish state and a Jewish majority without regard to the Arab view. Do you share that point of view, or do you think the matter can be handled on any other basis?

Dr Einstein: Yes, absolutely. The state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.

Ardent supporter of Israel, he wasn't.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Remarkable Mr Adams

Isn't it time the incurably Eurocentric Phillip Adams (of Radio National's Late Night Live) was put out to pasture?

On 6 September, Adams interviewed historian Ben Shephard, author of The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War. LNL's website sums up Shephard's work thus: "Ben Shephard argues that the Second World War's most important legacy was a refugee crisis. His book centres on the Allies' attempt to deal with hundreds of thousands of Displaced Persons (DPs), through the creation of a new international agency: the United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)."

IOW, a subject of deep interest to Adams, at least with regard to its Jewish component. At one point, he remarks: "And in this context, of course, the creation of the state of Israel starts to gain ground."

"Yes," replies Shephard, "What is interesting about this is that the DPs who finally end up in Israel arrived there at the time of the first Israel/Palestine war [47-48], and they themselves occupied, many of them, places which have been abandoned [Just like that!] by Palestinian Arabs, and so you get this sort of strange cycle whereby, in finally finding homes themselves, they are part of a process which is creating more refugees."

At exactly which point, as though a red line has been crossed or profound boredom has set in, Adams' mind simply shuts down and Shephard is dragged back to Europe: "Ben, you're a fine researcher and one of the stories you tell is of a stolen generation from Europe...

Adams professed Judeophilia - he once averred that At the age of 16 I found myself wishing I'd been born Jewish* - could be written off as a harmless eccentricity were it not for the fact that he seems never to have cottoned on to the elementary distinction between Judaism, a confessional statement that, like all confessional statements, belongs strictly to the private realm, and political Zionism, a profoundly negative and destructive settler-colonial program. Given his profile as a prominent left-of-centre progressive intellectual with a perch in both the ABC (LNL) and the Murdoch press (The Weekend Australian Magazine), this is no small matter.

Adams' inability, or unwillingness, to make this crucial distinction, and thus to subject the Zionist project to the same degree of critical scrutiny he has commendably devoted to the US imperial project in Iraq, to cite but one example, marks him out, essentially, as a Zionist (albeit gentile). As such, he displays the fatal flaw described by George Orwell:

"All nationalists [Zionism being a particularly toxic variation on the theme] have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians - which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our sise'... The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

A remarkable capacity for not even hearing about Palestinian refugees...


[* See my 19/9/09 post He Just Doesn't Get It]

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The ABC Shoots Itself in the Foot

In July, ABC TV refused to screen the Australian doco Hope in a Slingshot, about the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank, because, in the words of its head of television to the film's distributor, it is an "opinion program" and deals with a "contentious subject."

Incredibly, however, the same ABC TV had no such qualms about airing the BBC's Panorama 'investigation' of the Mavi Marmara massacre Death in the Med (rebadged Collision Course) last night on Foreign Correspondent - one of the most blatant Israeli propaganda pieces ever to darken our screens.

We were treated to the spectacle of embedded presenter Jane Corbin exulting in her "unique access" to the "top secret unit Naval Commando 13," which had "never been filmed by the media before." And, boy, did she do them proud. These young braves were pitted against the sinister and shadowy Turkish IHH, which, intoned Jane darkly, "isn't just known for their humanitarian work," seeing as "Western authorities" - Western authorities?!?! - "have accused them of having links to terrorist organisations." Oh, and, "They strongly deny this."

Well, they would now, wouldn't they, Jane? Cut to terrorist, sorry IHH, leader telling his troops, sorry aid activists - see what happens when you drop the 't' word, Jane? - that if our Israeli heroes attempt to board the ship, they will be resisted. Shiver me timbers, hearties, the 'r' word! Gee, don't these dumb Turks understand that if the pirates are Israelis, they're not supposed to defend their ship? If they're Somalis, OK, but if they're Israelis, you bring out the tea cups and serviettes, right? And besides, as the rest of us know, Israel has long cornered the market on self-defence.

What occurred on the Mavi Marmara 0n 31 May was nothing more nor less than the bloody murder of unarmed aid workers by highly-trained and armed thugs, so, if you're doing PR for the latter, the sting has to be taken out of the 'm' word. Adhering to the strategy of 'sow doubt and the viewer will hopefully consign the matter to the too-hard basket', Jane says authoritatively: "The question of who shot first remains disputed and unresolved."

However, she scrupulously ignores the growing volume of data which fingers Israeli war criminality. Data such as:

a) Three days before the raid, Israeli military officials declared publicly in the Israeli press, "If the people aboard the boats will not agree to turn around, the operation [named Operation Sky Winds* BTW] will transfer to the stage of force."(1)

b) "Several of the victims of the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla were shot in the head from above, presumably from a helicopter, according to the forensics report released Monday..." (2)

c) "Autopsy results on the bodies of those killed during the assault on the Gaza aid flotilla reveal they were peppered [euphemism alert: riddled] with 9 millimetre bullets, many fired at close range and into victims' backs." (3)

d) "Although Israel successfully controlled news of its deadly commando raid on the Free Gaza flotilla during the first crucial 48 hours of media coverage, emerging evidence from witnesses and survivors is challenging the Israeli government's version of the events. These include claims of medical treatment being withheld; beatings and abuse of passengers who never resisted; and the IDF doctoring audio and selectively editing videos." (4)

e) "Israeli Navy officers have attacked their government's version of events related to last week's capture of flotilla ships in international waters... 'First and foremost, we protest the fact that responsibility for the tragic results was immediately thrust onto the organizers of the flotilla', wrote the reserve officers who served as commanders of Navy ships. 'This demonstrates contempt for the responsibility that belongs principally to the hierarchy of commanders and those who approved the mission. This shows contempt for the value of professionalism, the purity of weapons and for human lives'." (5)

Of course, there's heaps more to deal with in Corbin's hatchet job on the Mavi Marmara victims, but rather than reinvent the wheel, I'll refer you to the excellent critique Corbin on the Mavi Marmara: a BBC-hasbara production at

To state the bleeding obvious, no one should have any illusions about establishment outfits like the BBC or our own version, the ABC. When, for example, was the last time ABC TV ever screened a worthwhile doco on Palestine?

Now I don't know whether the ABC's treatment of the Iraq War has ever been subjected to scrutiny, but if it were I wouldn't expect it to be all that different to the following assessment of the BBC:

"More recently, a 2003 Cardiff University report found that the BBC 'displayed the most 'pro-war' agenda of any broadcaster' on the Iraq invasion. Over the 3 weeks of the initial conflict, 11% of the sources quoted by the BBC were of coalition government or military origin, the highest proportion of all the main television broadcasters. The BBC was less likely than Sky, ITV or Channel 4 news to use independent sources, who tended to be the most sceptical. The BBC also placed least emphasis on Iraqi casualties... and it was least likely to report on Iraqi opposition to the invasion. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Andrew Bergin, the press officer for the Stop the War Coalition, told Media Lens: 'Representatives of the coalition have been invited to appear on every TV channel except the BBC. The BBC have taken a conscious decision to actively exclude Stop the War Coalition people from their programmes'... In a speech at New York's Columbia University, John Pilger commented: 'We now know that the BBC and other British media were used by MI6, the secret intelligence service. In what was called 'Operation Mass Appeal', MI6 agents planted stories about Saddam Hussein's WMDs - such as weapons hidden in his palaces and in secret underground bunkers. All these stories were fake'." (Newspeak in the 21st Century, Edwards & Cromwell, 2009, pp 28-29)

And how about this, on Gaza?:

"Despite this carnage [following Israel's 2008/2009 22-day turkey shoot in Gaza], and despite the fact that 89% of Gaza's 1.5 million residents had received no humanitarian aid since Israel began its assault, the BBC refused to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella organisation for 13 aid charities. By refusing to give free airtime to the appeal, the BBC made a rare decision to breach an agreement dating back to 1963... A January 22 BBC website article defended the BBC's refusal: 'The BBC decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story'." (ibid, pp 41-42)

The Beeb's impartiality! How cute.

I leave the last word to ex-marine Ken O'Keefe who was on the Mavi Marmara and featured in Corbin's 'story'. O'Keefe's restrained but devastating Open Letter to BBC Panorama's Jane Corbin says it all:

"Aloha Jane, As you know Panorama aired Death in the Med this week. Well Jane, I have been in the media game long enough to know that moral depravity and lack of integrity are qualities that are rewarded rather than discouraged in your field of work. With such experience it is impossible for me to take commitments from someone like yourself seriously, and that is why I recorded our conversation clandestinely, a conversation in which you confirmed the agreement that was made between the BBC and myself, with yourself and Alys as BBC representatives. In that agreement it was clear that I would agree to the interview only if you included the fact that we let the commandos go. Knowing that was the agreement, and anticipating that I was going to confirm it once more after the interview, you said: 'Well, it's the point about we didn't kill the commandos, we had them in... that will be in there don't worry. (laughing) That's, that is important for us because obviously they would say they felt their lives were in danger but we let them go. I think that's a very strong point'.

"So, instead of your team honouring its commitment to me, you instead aired a farcical report with multitudes of half-truths, lies, omissions, and importantly, Israeli commandos who escaped rather than being set free. Let us be frank, Jane, the reason for that is because it is impossible to square the whole angle that we are 'terrorists' and 'extremists' and 'killers' if we let them go. It just doesn't fit. So for the BBC in this case, when the facts do not work, you lie. In an attempt to justify this, the BBC has written an insulting letter in defence of your fallacious fairytale; this is due to the torrent of complaints that have resulted from Death in the Med.

"I mean what I say here, Jane. I feel sorry for you. From what I can tell you do pretty well for yourself financially. The BBC lauded you as one of its top journalists, and no doubt you have the respect of many influential people, but when you get right down to it, you have become nothing but a propagandist. I would be willing to bet it didn't start that way. I am sure that when you were starting off the idea of selling your soul for the purpose of justifying murder with Orwellian skill was not in the plans. But somehow you have reached this point, and unless you decide to commit career suicide and admit your true role and the pressures that made you what you are today, you will die with the accolades from the powers that be, but your integrity will have died long before. I mean it, Jane. I feel for you and hope you find the strength to do the right thing.

"I do not expect a response from you, any more than I expected you to honour your commitment to me, or more importantly, honour the tenets of the profession we call journalism. But if you can speak the truth, I would be happy to get a response from you.

"In parting, Jane, 9 people were murdered on that ship. Eight of them were fathers. The youngest was aiming to become a doctor. They were on that ship for the same reason I was, to help the people of Gaza, people that include over 800,000 children, innocent children. The world largely sees them as bright lights and humanitarians and your program will have done nothing to erase that. Instead, you have tarnished yourself and the BBC all the more. Deep down, Jane, this is the truth. Programs like yours give the insanity of blockading and bombing and otherwise terrorising innocent people more time. What you are doing in literal effect is aiding and abetting mass-murder. I could not say that but for the fact that you know as well as I that you and your Israeli producer, Israel Goldvicht, went out of your way to produce some first class propaganda for the Zionist project known as Israel. To be blunt, I hope what is left of your conscience pains you to such a degree that the only way to relieve the pressure is to come clean. Not only will you benefit in ways that money can never provide, but you will do a service to the innocent people you currently condemn to futher outrage.

"It is up to you, Jane. Make no mistake, there are BBC insiders who are so disgusted with what you have done, they are making their moves from within the organisation because the benefits of prostituting themselves has finally reached its breaking point. Think about where you stand, think about the world your children will inherit, think about your legacy, and then act with your heart. That is my advice to you. Either way I wish you the best, Jane. I am sorry that I lied by recording you without your knowledge; I do not like doing such things. Truth*Justice*Peace Ken O'Keefe, Aloha Palestine - Managing Director"

[* OMG, how poetic! And when the Israeli military starts assigning poetic names to operations, you know you're in trouble and it's time to head for the hills.]

(1) The flotilla raid was not 'bungled'. The IDF detailed its violent strategy in advance,, 3/6/10
(2) Flotilla victims 'shot' from Israeli chopper, Turkish report shows,, 29/6/10
(3) Flotilla dead shot at close range: autopsies, Robert Booth, Guardian/The Age, 6/6/10
(4) IDF beatings, abuse, doctored evidence emerge, Mel Frykberg,, 7/6/10
(5) Israel Naval officers say flotilla organisers not to blame,, 7/6/10