Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Little Saints 2

by Layla Anwar

"It took 3 days for the image of little St Rita to fade in my mind. Little St Rita, deformed and blind, lost in a hospital-toilet, bumping into broken chairs and beds without sheets, with her name around her neck like a dog collar... Three days, and I'm wondering just how long the following image will take.

"Yet I know the little saints will never leave my mind, will forever remain a torch of truth, burning bright with the flames of Truth...

"Some brave American boys - killers, rapists, and torturers, stinking of greed and hatred - crossed the oceans and bombed a lone mudbrick house standing in a field on the outskirts of Baquba. Sunni insurgents, they said.

"Then they encircled it, taking away a mother and father, never to be seen again.

"The house collapsed, all except one room. After a while, when things had calmed down, a distant neighbour passed by the field and entered the house. He didn't know why. He just assumed everyone was already dead.

"He still recounts with tears what he saw. In that one, small room, he saw four children, abandoned, emaciated. Three boys and a girl. The eldest boy was 11, the second 7, the third, a 4-year old girl, and the fourth, an infant boy in a crib.

"No neighbour could take all the chidren in. Diyala province had witnessed many massacres and refugees, and the poverty there is staggering. The neighbours decided to repair the one remaining room, collectively provide food and water, and take turns guarding the children until a 'solution' could be found.

"Some time passed and an elderly man arrived, claiming to be a distant relative of the family. No one could ascertain the truth of the claim since the children themselves did not know the man. But he looked to be of 'good faith' so the people gave him the benefit of the doubt.

"More time passed, and one day the neighbour who had found the children decided to pay a visit. The children and the elderly man had disappeared. No one knew where.

"More time elapsed, and the neighbour spotted the elderly man and the 3 boys. He asked what had happened to the 4-year old girl. I'll call her X, little St X.

"The oldest boy, the 11-year old, smiling happily, said, Uncle married her off, not knowing what this meant.

"It turned out that this 'uncle', the so-called distant relative, sold little St X to a matron who runs an overseas brothel. She buys little Iraqi saints and, after a period of 'training', sells them as sex slaves to the highest overseas bidder.

"I don't want to know what the 'training' of a 4-year old saint consists of - I don't even want to imagine it.

"But at night, as I lay down, it creeps into my mind, in between my futile attempts at feigning sleep, through the cracks of a bedroom immersed in darkness. I fight it off by imagining myself singing sweet lullabies to a sleeping girl, or reading her a bedtime story about a beautiful princess safely tucked in bed in shiny, marble castle. But it stays, persists, a torch burning with your Truth...

"NB: A reminder: official Iraqi government figures confirm the number of little orphaned saints at 5 million since 2003, and the number of little street saints in Baghdad alone at 500,000. The little saints of the 'new' Iraq." (arabwomanblues.blogspot.com, 30/5/11)

Little Saints 1

by Layla Anwar

"They are only little, and no statues have ever been carved or erected in their names. They will forever remain anonymous, except to me.

"I haven't seen their faces, but I've heard their stories. Every saint has a story. No, wait. I have seen their faces. I've seen your filth and your ugliness reflected in theirs. And isn't that what saints are made of? Aren't they made of human filth and greed? Aren't saints the ones who take it all in, absorb all of you, and rescue you from your own garbage? Because, make no mistake, you are garbage. Aren't they the ones who witness the unthinkable, as though undergoing the training to redeem you later, you vermin?

"Well, I have many stories of saints-in-the-making... and is Iraq not the land of gods, goddesses, prophets and saints?

"What you are about to read are true examples of your 'Democracy, Freedom & Liberty'. (How I have come to hate these words! They have become mirrors in which I see your lies written in the blood of anonymous corpses. Alive or dead, we have reached a point were the difference has become so blurred that it hardly matters anymore - because death sentences are issued daily, and the living are dead.)

"They hang saints in Iraq. They lynch them at an early age. They penetrate their insides with words turned swords, daggers, knives - slashing, beheading tiny, anonymous faces with no names. The slaying of saints, little saints.

"She was found abandoned in a Baghdad street. Her name is Rita, like St Rita, the saint who answers your prayers. She was left in the street with her name written on a piece of cardboard attached to her neck like a once loved dog. A 3-year old dog, a puppy, a girl... blind. Rita is blind. Totally blind. In your politically correct jargon, you bastards call it visually impaired, because you're so fucking sensitive, aren't you? Yes, Rita's blind, and she is 3. But that's not all. She has a severely deformed face, a cleft lip that goes all the way up to her nose. Split in the middle, a mirror reflection of how you've split us in the middle in every way. A small mirror of your own deformities, your deformed souls.

"She was feeling her way around, blind, with a cardboard sign around her neck. My name is Rita.

"The local police took her to a hospital. The doctors didn't know what to do with her, the little St Rita. She was just left there in the corridor of the hospital, a hospital that looks and feels like a public toilet because your whores stole the money, the money for the little saints...

"Little St Rita wandered the corridors of this public toilet of a hospital, bumping into broken chairs and beds with no sheets, hungry, waiting for someone to diagnose her condition... the condition of a blind street child deformed by your toxicity and abandoned because no one could feed her anymore in your new Iraq.

"I can't go on. Your filth is making me dizzy, its vapours filling my nostrils. The little saints are poking me. They want to play. Let me take little St Rita's hand and go smell the flowers..." (arabwomanblues.blogspot.com, 27/5/11)


And speaking of malodorous vapours: "In Iraq we see the promise of a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy. There, the Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence for a democratic process, even as they have taken full responsibility for their own security. Like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. As they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner." (From Obama's 19 May policy speech on the Middle East)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sheridan's Damning Admission

Welcome to my 99th Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan post, occasioned by the following damning admission.

"I buy most of my books at second-hand stores because the best books are invariably out of print, but occasionally a new book is exciting. Tony Blair's memoir was one recent case." (The Forum, The Australian, 28/5/11)

There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth: despite the veritable flood of new books on all facets of the Middle East conflict, many of which, you may have noticed, inform my posts, Israel's loudest megaphone in the Australian corporate press remains ignorant of the latest research, testimonies, or perspectives. No surprises here, of course. Sheridan's preferred reading matter on Palestine/Israel is, as he admitted in an earlier 2009 emission, a 'wild eastern' such as the 1968 Morris West novel, The Tower of Babel (See my August 2009 series West's Wild East, 1-5).

Sheridan's admission further confirms him as a mere transmission belt for dated (and current) Israeli propaganda. Recall, for example, the reference in the previous post to his peremptory dismissal of evidence of ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces in 1948, culled from the Zionist archives by Israeli historian Benny Morris, as "just rubbish."

Consistent with such Nakba denial, the books of Israeli revisionist historians, such as Morris (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited 2004) and Ilan Pappe (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006), on what really transpired in Palestine in 1948, are bound to be missing from Sheridan's shelves. Apart from musty and profoundly orientalist wild easterns such as Leon Uris' Exodus and West's The Tower of Babel, you're more likely to find musty and profoundly orientalist propaganda tomes such as Encounter With Israel: A Challenge to Conscience (1970) by Ziophilic Protestant theologians Alice & Roy Eckardt, where the Nakba is preposterously portrayed as the human version of whale beaching:

"Why should so many Arabs (some 560,000) have fled from homes and land in areas heavily populated by their own people? No one planned or anticipated such an extensive flight... Certainly the Jews had no reason to expect this outcome. Initially, the Jewish leaders tried to stop the flight. To them, it meant a denial of the ideals of harmonious coexistence they were determined to demonstrate. With respect to the Arab refugees themselves, the major promptings were fear, and the traditional Arab way of responding to approaching trouble... centuries of cumulative experience with invading desert tribes and rapacious armies of Mongols, Turks, and others had taught Arabs of different regions the wisdom of flight.* After the invaders retired with their booty, as usually happened, or order was restored, the people normally returned." (p 173)

"Fear of Jewish reprisals, based on an awareness of Arab atrocities against Jews, was intensified by knowledge of Jewish extremists' actions against the British forces, and a few instances of apparently wanton killing of some Arab villagers. Arab propagandists sought to rouse the populace to a frenzy of hatred and vengeance by spreading stories of Jewish atrocities (some of which were believed by Jews also). The attempts backfired. The stridency of these stories and their exaggerated character, aided and abetted by rumor (the most common news medium of the Arab masses), failed to incite them to violence. Instead, the people were simply terrorized, and there was a panic-stricken rout. The flight tended to create its own momentum. After Israel's forces were able to assume the offensive, Arab multitudes fled before them. The Jewish authorities ceased trying to stop them. Although unanticipated, the flight was perceived, in Weingrod's words as, 'a quick way to 'solve the Arab question'.' Some Israeli troops and commanders changed their behavior at this stage, making more deliberate efforts to get Arabs to leave. Some used purely psychological scare tactics, some resorted to physical eviction. The extent of such harrassment is impossible to determine. Yet there was never an overall plan of any kind to expel the Arabs." (p 174)

Nakba? What Nakba? Who? Us? Now steady on!

[* Isn't it amazing - Israeli Jews too seem to have acquired the exact same wisdom of flight as the Eckardts' Arabs!: "When Iraqi scuds hit Tel Aviv and its environs during the Gulf war in 1991, thousands of Jewish families fled to take their families and children to safety. They went to Jerusalem, assuming that Iraq would refrain from targeting the third holiest city of Islam, and to Elat, assuming that the city is beyond the range of the Iraqi missiles. They were accused by the mayor of Tel Aviv, General (Reserve) Shlomo Lahat, of desertion." (Crossing the Border: An Autobiography of an Anti-Zionist Palestinian Jew, Uri Davis, 1995, p 26)

However, as Davis reminds us, "[N]obody suggested that their properties should be confiscated and distributed among those who remained in the city throughout the war, or that they should be prohibited from return to their homes in Tel Aviv and condemned to remain as refugees in the localities where they had sought shelter. After all, they were Jews - not Arabs."]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pot Calls Kettle Black

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian, Australian ms media's most ardent (if not the world's) Israeluvvie, has the claws out for former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser (1975-1983) on the grounds, wait for it, that "[m]etaphorically, he has crossed the Berlin Wall, except he went from West to East":

Charges Sheridan: "Malcolm Fraser's memoirs, co-authored with Margaret Simons, are the most error-riddled, factually unbelievable, tendentious, consistently nasty and overall disgraceful political memoirs I have ever read." (Fraser's unreliable memoirs rewrite history books, 26/5/11)

Gee golly gosh! Is this pot calling the kettle black or what?

What can I say? I've done 97 posts this far on Sheridan's error-ridden, factually unbelievable, tendentious, consistently nasty and overall disgraceful columns. I sometimes feel, like Macbeth in blood, that 'I am in Sheridan stepped in so far that should I wade no more/ Returning were as tedious as go o'er'.

So, I'll just touch on this one quote from the man's latest emission: "But it is not really this sloppiness and inaccuracy that is the main problem. It is the tendentious misrepesentation of the past."

As if this joker ever had a problem with misrepresenting the past. But forget about tendentiously misrepresenting the past for the moment. What about denying that one of the pivotal events of modern times, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Israeli forces in 1948, ever happened?

"It's all rubbish... just rubbish," was Sheridan's dismissive response on a 2009 Q&A episode when Guy Rundle referred to Israeli historian Benny Morris' "use [of] the Israel Defense Forces archives to document dozens of massacres of Palestinian people in 1948; men, women and children lined up against a wall and machined gun by, among other people, Menachem Begin, who became a prime minister of Israel..." (See my 9/5/09 post Sheridan: Nakba Denier)

Nakba denial. 2009. Enough said.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Right Stuff

Having already written about the Kafkaesque plight of the Rahavan family in my 23/11/10 post Behind the ASIO Assessment, I was reminded of them again by a report in yesterday's Australian, which revealed just how much it was costing the Australian taxpayer to 'protect' us from them:

"They are Australia's most expensive refugees. The Rahavans, a Sri Lankan family of 5, most of whom journeyed to Australia on the ill-fated Oceanic Viking, were until recently costing the Australian taxpayers a staggering $428,861 every 3 months in security bills. Yogachandran Rahavan and his wife, Sumathi, were declared security threats by ASIO 18 months ago over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or Tamil Tigers... The family had all been found to be genuine refugees, meaning Australia was prevented by law from deporting them to Sri Lanka. But their negative security assessment means they can never be given visas, either, potentially consigning them to a life of perpetual detention. Because of ASIO's concern, guards were assigned to live with the family 24 hours a day. For 9 months they had to maintain their dignity as a family with 2 guards in their house at all times... The Immigration Department said that between November 2010 and February 2011 the cost of placing 'static guards' inside the Rahavan's family compound had run to $428,861. That adds up to about $1.14 million in the 8 months the security remained in place." (Million-dollar refugee family caught in perpetual detention, Paul Maley, 27/5/11)

We know virtually nothing of the heinousness of the Rahavan's 'crimes', all evidence of which is kept strictly under wraps by ASIO. What we do know, however, is shocking in the extreme: "Sumathi had worked as a legal officer in the LTTE-run court system in Sri Lanka's north... [but] it is not known what Sumathi's husband, who came to Australia ahead of his family on a separate boat is alleged to have done." (ibid) OK, I did warn you!

Why revisit this bizarre story from Australia's Gulag then? Well, I'd read the following tale the day before and it got me thinking, a dreadful curse I know:

"Variously described as publicity-shy, secretive, even mysterious, Ivan Glasenberg's most prized asset had been his closely guarded privacy. But that came to an end with his dramatic emergence as Australia's second-richest person on the BRW Rich List, worth an estimated $8.8 billion. Before yesterday, few knew the powerful South African-born businessman was an Australian citizen. The decision to partially float the world's largest commodity trader, Glencore, where Mr Glasenberg is chief executive, has made instant millionaires of 485 senior employees - and catapulted the company's boss into the limelight." (Mysterious financier blitzes the rich list, Philip Wen, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/5/11)

You see, it was Ivan Glasenberg's story, and that of the Rahavan family, that led me to ponder the weighty subject of just who is worthy, and who is not, to enter our little South Pacific paradise, who's in and who's out in Godzone country, so to speak.

Well, obviously the Rahavans are a bit of a worry: that Sumathi, for example, working in the Tiger-infested jungles, sorry, Tiger-administered courts of Tamil Eelam. Now if only she'd made a beeline for Colombo, thrown herself on the mercy of the Rajapaksa bruvvers, denounced the Tigers and all their works, and declared her intention of going public with a heart-rending story of forgiveness and peace in the strife-torn island of Sri Lanka, maybe even penning a little number called I Shall Not Hate, containing maybe a photo of her good self cosying up to the Rajapaksas, and even - why not? - eventually turning up at the Sydney Writers Festival like our good friend Abuelaish... Of course, she'd probably have been raped and thrown into a dungeon somewhere along the way, if not just shot out of hand, but hey, wouldn't that (every cloud having a silver lining, as they say) have saved the Australian taxpayer a pretty penny!

But I digress. You can play what ifs? till the proverbial cows come home - the plain fact of the matter is she's brown!

But Ivan - sorry, our Ivan - what a catch! Yes, yes, he's white, but hey, that's just the beginning. The man's a legend. I mean, who in his right mind would not want Ivan to call Australia home? Among his many assets I need mention but the following:

There's his focus on the things that really matter:

"Glasenberg... became intrigued with commodities trading when studying accountancy in South Africa... 'I observed a man sourcing candle wax from South America and selling it to Japan. I thought, 'That's unbelievable. Talking on the phone in his office, that man made money moving candle wax from one country to another'. It really interested me." (Newsmaker-Ivan Glasenberg's long walk to Glencore billions, Webb & Onstad, Reuters/ my.news.yahoo.com, 5/5/11)

There's his (slag) heaps and heaps and heaps of good work all over the planet:

"News that the London Stock Exchange is on the verge of a mammoth flotation didn't spread quite as far as the Zambian mining village of Mufilira. Even if it had, it's unlikely the villagers there would have seen much cause for celebration. While the rich seams of copper that lie deep in the ground beneath Mulifira have helped to make Swiss-based Glencore the largest and wealthiest commodities trader in the world, the African villagers are still struggling to get by on just a few dollars a day. This is barely enough even to feed their families, let alone pay for the medicine they need to treat the illnesses caused by the dangerous levels of pollution spewed out by Glencore-controlled mines... In Zambia alone, Glencore is accused of manipulating its financial accounts in order to reduce its tax bill, deliberately depriving that poverty-stricken nation of much-needed income. Indeed, the foul-smelling sulphur clouds that hang low over Mulifira are not the only thing about this obsessively secret company leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. The truth is that until now, most people would not have heard of Glencore - it's only as a result of the proposed flotation that questions about its practices are being asked... Its empire stretches from the jungles of Colombia to the plains of Australia. It makes its money from metals, minerals, oil, sugar, grain - commodities that form the very building blocks of world trade. And, armed with the best possible knowledge of global events, its traders buy these at the lowest possible price and sell at the highest possible mark-up." (Flotation to shine light on shadowy Glencore, Sunderland & Davies, thisismoney.co.uk, 4/5/11)

There's his sterling commercial pedigree:

"... Glencore grew out of the business empire of a man cited in the biggest tax fraud indictment in history. American oil trader Marc Rich, who founded the company - originally named Marc Rich & Co - in 1974, arrived in the US as a small boy with his parents in 1941, having fled from the Nazis in Belgium. At the peak of his powers, he dominated the global oil market. He traded with African dictators, Cuban communists and, most notoriously with Iran during the embargo on that country imposed by America during the 1979-1981 hostage crisis. He is also said to have financed operations by Mossad... former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit said Rich helped with the intelligence agency's work in Yemen and Sudan in the Eighties, when Israel was evacuating Jews from those countries. His support for Israel, however, did not prevent him also doing deals with Islamic fundamentalists bent on the destruction of the Jewish state. And he also made a 1.2 billion pound profit selling oil to South Africa during the apartheid years, contrary to an international trade embargo. In 1983, he was charged by lawyer and future New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani with 51 crimes, including evading at least 29m pounds in taxes, racketeering, conspiracy and trading with the enemy, Iran. Rich fled to Switzerland, from where he evaded various attempts by the US authorities to seize him. In 1994, he sold his business empire, handing control to his long-time German associate, Willy Strothotte, who reinvented it as Glencore. Rich was eventually pardoned in 2001 by President Clinton after lobbying by his former wife, a songwriter who has penned hits for such stars as Celine Dion. Today, Glencore may have eliminated all trace of Rich from its website, but his ghost haunts the company. Traders who worked with Rich remain steeped in his philosophy of cut-throat negotiation over prices - operating in a murky world, albeit on the right side of the law." (ibid)

Ivan, of course, has unerringly followed the path of the master:

"During Saddam's rule in Iraq, and the UN sanctions which accompanied its final years, Glencore made handsome profits marketing embargoed oil. In February 2001, Glencore bought 1 million barrels of Iraqi crude oil destined for the US and diverted the black gold to Croatia, where it was sold for a premium of $3 million, according to a UN Security council report." (Glencore: Profiteering from hunger & chaos, Chris Arsenault, english.aljazeera.net, 9/5/11)

But, best of all he's a sportsman. And... and... I can hardly contain myself at this icing on the cake, he's also an... Israeli citizen and so practically one of us already!:

"A 54-year-old champion race-walker for both South Africa and Israel (he has dual nationality), Glasenberg runs and swims every day to maintain his lean physique. Selected colleagues accompany him on his early-morning jogs - some say under sufferance - to display their loyalty to the workaholic Glencore 'cult'." (Sunderland & Davies)

We are indeed a lucky country. Shame about the Rahavans though. If only Sumathi had pulled her finger out and listened up as somebody was making money moving candle wax from one country to another while on the phone. We might even have forgiven her for being brown.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Obama: Feel the Love

Gawd! I've said it before (Cartoon Corner, 21/9/10) and I'll say it again: like the paper he cartoons for, the Sydney Morning Herald's Alan Moir simply hasn't a clue when it comes to Palestine/Israel.

Twice this week (24/27) now he's drawn cartoons based on the false and misleading premise that there has been some kind of major falling out between Obama and Netanyahu over the former's reference to Israel's pre-1967 border with the West Bank.

In the first, Netanyahu has fainted at Obama's mere mention of the 1967 borders. In the second, Obama and his wife are watching an erupting volcano through the window of an aircraft. Iceland? asks wifey. Netanyahu, replies the prez.

Why am I drawing your attention to this? They're only cartoons, aren't they? Sure, but while readers will happily skip the Herald's equally lame editorials on the same issue, all of them will view the cartoon and quite possibly be misled into thinking that what is in fact an obscenely close relationship between Obama and Netanyahu is actually on the rocks.

Now Netanyahu knows Bushama's a complete pushover:

"In a video aired on Israel's Channel 10 this summer, Netanyahu was seen during the second intifada bragging to West Bank settlers about how he had sabotaged the Oslo Accords. 'I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders', he told them. In that secretly-filmed conversation, Netanyahu also revealed his dismissive attitude towards the United States. 'I know what America is', he said. 'America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won't get in the way'." (Obama's Israel policy: Speak softly & carry a very big carrot, Maidhc O Cathail, middleeastmonitor.org.uk, 3/12/10)

And hell, if Bushama's not red hot to trot, then I really did come down in the last (cold) shower. I mean, check out the foreplay in his speech to AIPAC on 22 May:

"Good morning! Thank you, Rosy, for your very kind introduction. But even more, thank you for your many years friendship. Back in Chicago, when I was just getting started in national politics, I reached out to a lot of people for advice and counsel, and Rosy was one of the very first. When I made my first visit to Israel, after entering the Senate, Rosy - you were at my side every step of that very meaningful journey through the Holy Land. And I want to thank you for your enduring friendship, your leadership and for your warm welcome today. Thank you to David Victor, Howard Kohr and all the Board of Directors. And let me say that it's wonderful to look out and see so many great friends, including Alan Solow, Howard Green and a very large delegation from Chicago. I want to thank the members of Congress who are joining you today - who do so much to sustain the bonds between the United States and Israel - including Eric Cantor, Steny Hoyer, and the tireless leader I was proud to appoint as the new chair of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We're joined by Israel's representative to the United States, Ambassador Michael Oren. As well as one of my top advisors on Israel and the Middle East for the past 4 years, and who I know is going to be an outstanding ambassador to Israel - Dan Shapiro. Dan has always been a close and trusted advisor, and I know he'll do a terrific job. And at a time when so many young people around the world are standing up and making their voices heard, I also want to acknowledge all the college students from across the country who are here today. No one has a greater stake in the outcome of events that are unfolding today than your generation, and it's inspiring to see you devote your time and energy to help shape the future."

Can you feel the looove? Can you feel it? Make no mistake, this is river deep and mountain high, folks!

"[T]he bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable, and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad."

Damn it, bro', this is Porgy and Bess! Cain't you feel every throbbing inch of it?

"America's commitment to Israel's security also flows from a deeper place - and that's the values we share. As two people who struggle to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedom we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland of the Jewish people."

Why, this is Tammy Wynette standin' by her man, man, and Patsy Cline falling to pieces all rolled into one with maple syrup on top:

"We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel in a tough neighborhood. I've seen it firsthand. When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland. When I went to Sderot, I saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an 8-year old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket. And when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I grasped the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the map."

Do I make myself clear?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blood Grapefruit

If you go out to the supermarket today
You're sure of a great surprise:

"Woolworths announced it would change the way it labels fruit and vegetables the day after the supermarket was listed on the NSW Food Authority's name and shame register for a labelling offence, but said the two were not linked. The food authority fined the Newington branch of Woolworth's $1540 for labelling lemons from the US as being Australian and also fined the Coles store in St Marys $880 for labelling Israeli grapefruit as Australian produce. The two supermarkets were listed on Tuesday in its register that is updated weekly." (Woolies, Coles cop fine for fruit labels, Jen Rosenberg, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/5/11)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gunfight at the Q&A Corral

How refreshing to watch last night's Q&A with writers (in town for the Sydney Writers Festival) instead of politicians for a change.

As it happened, with 3 of the 5 panellists identifying as Jews - UK novelist Howard Jacobson*, winner of the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question, UK academic Gail Dines (Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality), and Australian ethicist Leslie Cannold - Palestine/Israel got quite an airing. An audience question on Obama's latest fudge on the conflict provided a wonderful opportunity to sort the sheep from the goats, know what I mean?

[* See my 30/9/10 post Jewish Settlers - Now... & Then]

Here was the question that got the ball rolling: "President Obama recently outlined a new approach to the peace process in the Middle East, one that's explicitly based on the 1967 borders. Do you think this approach will work, and what would Howard Jacobson's Sam Finkler make of it?"

The limits of the question were obvious, given that there was nothing particularly new about Obama's approach. As Obama himself admitted in his follow-up speech to AIPAC on 22 May: "There was nothing particularly original in my proposal: this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous US Administrations." Nor did the question acknowledge that Obama had hobbled his reference to Israel's 1967 borders with talk of "mutually agreed swaps."

At any rate, it had Howard Jacobson on his hobby horse of "Jews [who are] ashamed of being Jewish because of Israel." Jacobson doesn't like such Jews apparently. "First and foremost," he averred, "I'm an Englishman... [but] I never went around calling myself an ashamed Englishman because of Mrs Thatcher or Tony Blair."

Jacobson gives us no sense that the English Jews he is referring to derogatively as 'ashamed Jews' (presumably his euphemism for the Zionist putdown, self-hating Jews) may be merely reacting, to one degree or another, to the monstrous conceit of a foreign power that calls itself not just a Jewish state, but the Jewish state, claims that it, and not their birthplace, is their true homeland, and has long been engaged in the grinding genocide of another people... in their name.

The problem here is the man's dishonesty. If only he'd owned up to being the unashamed Zionist that he is, instead of hiding behind the word Jew. This would then have clarified the fact that his so-called ashamed Jews may in fact be principled anti-Zionists, that is, Jews who resent and reject the brutal colonising project that recruits them to the cause whether they wish to be so recruited or not. Still, Gail Dines, to whom I'll return later, would have none of it, and cheekily interjected with "I'm an ashamed Jew."

Jacobson, catering to his audience no doubt, was more honest about his Zionism in an interview in The Australian Jewish News of 20 May. There he was asked, "You're one of very few British Jewish celebrities who will stand up in public [but not on Q&A it seems] and proudly admit to being Jewish and Zionist. Why do you think you're in such a small minority?" Jacobsen responded snidely with: "It's about [them] wanting to be loved. It's about a longing for acceptance. It's about fashionable thinking, and the need English Jews have, particularly in theatre or show business, to show they are intellectually and politically in the swim. Anti-Zionism is as necessary as a union card."

So completely has Jacobson swallowed the Zionist myth that real Jews are Zionists, that he simply cannot bring himself to acknowledge that those he scornfully refers to as ashamed Jews are consciously going over to the anti-Zionist camp because they find it impossible to reconcile their belief in universal standards of decency and humanity with support for a vile ethno-national state that indulges in daily killing sprees against Palestine's indigenous population. Still, what we at least get in the AJN interview is the term anti-Zionist rather than the weaselly term ashamed Jews of Q&A.

On Q&A, in fact, before a largely non-Jewish audience, Jacobson appeared to me to be playing down his Zionist allegience, saying vacuously that he "hopes that Obama's speech will lead to peace," and obfuscating the issue with this pretentious gobbledygook: "You will get no peace in the Middle East as long as Israelis do not understand the equivalent centre of self of a Palestinian... and you will never get peace unless the Arab countries understand the equivalent centre of self of an Israeli."

Which brings me back to Dines' interjection and this pointed exchange:

DINES: And I'm an ashamed Jew
JACOBSON: You should be ashamed of being an ashamed Jew.
DINES: No, I'm not.

Unfortunately, it was at this point that compare Tony Jones paraded his own utterly superficial understanding of the Obama-Bibi-Lobby menage a trois by asking Jacobson irrelevantly, "Do you think it's what Obama is trying to do while taking on both the Israeli government and the Israeli lobby in the United States?"

IOW, is Obama himself, utterly clueless on, and entirely indifferent to, "the centre of self of a Palestinian," in the business of getting Bibi (who once said that the only way to deal with Palestinians is to "beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it's unbearable"*) to understand the "centre of self of a Palestinian"? To which Jacobson lamely waffled, "Netanyahu should have taken a deep breath and said... we'll have to discuss precisely what one means by those borders and of course there were problems with those borders, which is why we kept having wars. But... it's a speech in the right direction."

[*See Fibi Netanyahu, Liel Leibovitz, tabletmag.com, 15/7/10]

Then it was on to Leslie Cannold, who, after saying that she found "Howard's book... just fascinating" on the subject of Jews' "self-absorption," rambled on in the following outrageously self-absorbed fashion: "I am Jewish by background and so often it is seen like I ought to have an opinion and ought to have some say in what, in particular, is going on in the Middle East and in some ways I guess I do because the way that the law is set up in Israel is that I have the right of return because I have a Jewish mother. I'm Jewish and therefore if I ever wanted to go and live there I could and I also feel somewhat attached because I have, you know, a knowledge of history and family and know that when we didn't have a state I definitely accept that that was part of what made us vulnerable..."

Cannold here reveals herself as someone who has simply not thought about the issue under discussion, a condition not helped, no doubt, if all she's ever read on the question of Palestine is Jacobson's novel. The question arises: Do Jewish by background people such as Cannold, with a Jewish mother and a sense of Jewish vulnerability at various points in the trajectory of European history, but comfortably and successfully ensconced in countries such as Australia, Canada, the US or the UK, ever ponder the question Why is Israel holding the door open for me but keeping it slammed shut on Palestinian refugees uncomfortably and unsuccessfully ensconced in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan for the past 63 years?

Sure she goes on to say that she'd like to see "Israelis have as much insight into the need that Palestinians have for land as well, because they are not safe or secure either without a state as we have that kind of understanding about ourselves," but really, how pathetic is that? If only Cannold would take time to read say Ilan Pappe's The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine she might then desist in dishing out liberal Zionist inanities such as the above. One lives in hope. Maybe if someone out there could perhaps post her a copy?

Parenthetically, seeing she's raised the issue of Israel's Law of Return, I'd like to dedicate this pithy little gem thankfully archived on the Jews Sans Frontieres website (1/12/05) from the unfortunately extinct Fat old Jewish New Yorker blog:

"People want to know what I, a Jewish guy, think about Israel. I want to make something clear. I live in New York. I do not have a right and do not want a right to 'return' to Israel. I never was there. I want to skip all the arguments about whether or not today's Jews descend from the people of the Old Testament. I don't care if I do or I don't. It doesn't matter nor should it. The territory that is known to many as Palestine had been peopled by Arabic-speaking folks for centuries. Mainly they were Muslims, many were Christians, and a few of them Jewish too. Most of those people were kicked out of their lands and homes in 1948 by people like David Ben Gurion and Ariel Sharon and more were expelled in 1967. They are the ones who have a right to return, not me."

Anyway, back to the fray. I'm afraid, it was left to the fiesty, unashamedly ashamed Jew Gail Dines to lively up the discussion. After Jones had asked her what she meant by identifying herself as an ashamed Jew, she responded with some very plain speaking indeed:

"Well, I lived in Israel for quite a while. My son is actually an Israeli. I'm an Israeli citizen as well, so I have a vested interest and I was part of the Israeli peace movement as well as the feminist movement, and I think that Jews in Israel have an inability to empathise with the Palestinians because we believe that because of what Hitler did to us, that kind of cleansed us of any future wrong-doings. And I can tell you when I lived there during the Sharon years and the Begin years - and it's gotten much worse now - the Left has been virtually annihilated by the government. Everytime I go back there and meet with my friends, they are under siege by the government. And so I think as Jews, who live in the diaspora, that we need to speak up and we need to say it is absolutely unacceptable that Israel is building all these settlements. It is unacceptable what they did in Gaza. It is unacceptable what they did in Lebanon and we need to say that there needs to be some morality here and that the Palestinians have a right not to be refugees, and that we, as Jews, given what we have suffered, should empathise with them."

But this was too much for the unashamedly Zionist (at least in the AJN) Howard Jacobson, who reverted to the last refuge of the Zionist scoundrel when on the ropes - the conflict is sooo terribly, terribly complicated, and it's been going on, like, since time immemorial:

"I think it's an extremely complex business and what upsets me, as a Jew thinking about it all, as a Jewish novelist thinking about it all, is simply really that people really don't know enough about it. You often hear people talking about the occupation. No one wants the - I don't know anyone who wants the occupation. I don't know any Israeli who wants the occupation. But people speak about it as if it just kind of happened. One day there was an occupation. Out of a clear, blue sky Jews dropped - Israelis - Israeli people dropped down and said, 'We'll have that piece of land'. It's not what happened. The people in that part of the world have been fighting for over 100 years. They have been killing one another for more than 100 years. It's a long and complex story. So when we use a word like 'the occupation' we should know what it is that we are talking about but I agree with you entirely that the settlements are vile and I know no humane person that supports the settlements."

Sorry Guv, someone who does know something about the Six Day War of 1967 - in fact he's written what's probably the definitive history of it based on the Israeli archives - begs to differ. Israeli historian Tom Segev knows of heaps of Israelis who wanted the war and its spoils real bad. Some snippets:

"The generals were in their forties, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed that war was what Israel needed at that moment, not necessarily because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 296)

"[Prime Minister] Eshkol gathered the members of his party's political committee. 'We have been given a good dowry', he told them, 'but it comes with a bride we don't like' - the Palestinians... At that point he was ready to keep Gaza... 'perhaps because of Samson and Delilah'. But Gaza too... 'was a rose with many thorns'. A committee of experts was already looking for areas where refugees could be settled'." (p 369)

"The main pressure to seize the Golan came from General David Elazar of the Northern Command... In the 2 years preceding the war he had broached the matter not only with his superiors in the military, but also with Eshkol... with whom he even discussed the possibility of occupying Damascus." (p 388)

"The effort invested in talks with [Jordan's King] Hussein was intended to largely convince the US that it was genuinely trying to achieve peace. The fear in Jerusalem was that the Americans might force Israel to withdraw [from the West Bank]." (p 568)

But I digress. What was Jacobson banging on about? Oh yes, vile settlements unsupported by any humane individual he's aware of. God bless Dines for pricking that little balloon, which really set Jacobson off, arms flailing:

DINES: The Israeli government supports them.
JACOBSON: Yes, but the Israeli government is run by people I am prepared to accept are...
DINES: Then we should be organising as Jews with a morality against the fact that the Israeli government are supporting the settlements.
JACOBSON: No [NO?!!!], but we know perfectly well that these settlements will be part of the bargaining thing. The Israeli government has to deal with the problem that the people with whom it must negotiate - some of the people with whom it must negotiate - say you've got no right to exist... So they're frightened. Well, blow me [down], the Israelis are frightened. It's not often understood how frightened the Israelis are. They are there surrounded on all sides by people who would like them to not be there. They may...
DINES: See, I think this is the wrong mentality to have as a Jew.
JACOBSON: The poor Israelis...
DINES: I think this is incorrect.
JACOBSON: The Israelis made the terrible mistake of winning the Six Day War. If only they'd lost the Six Day War everything would have been...
DINES: We're not just victims.
JACOBSON: No, we're not just victims.
DINES: We're aggressors in the Middle East as well.
JACOBSON: And we're not just aggressors. We're sometimes victims and sometimes aggressors. It's complicated. It's been going on a long time. [Now where have we heard this before?]
TONY JONES (saving Jacobson's bacon whilst lending credence to his when-on-the-ropes argument): OK. It is, indeed, very complicated. We are not going to resolve it here. We are going to move on to other issues...

I don't know about you, but I'm good for a rematch.


"The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had tried to play down a row with Barack Obama, saying the rift between the leaders had been exaggerated, after a dramatic exchange in the Oval Office [What exchange? Bibi berated. Bushama blissed out on his pheromones.] ... 'Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure', said Mr Netanyahu, addressing Mr Obama next to him but also an evening television audience in Israel. 'The only peace that will endure is one based on reality, on unshakable facts'." (Leaders say borders dispute is overblown, Wilson & Kornblut, Washington Post/Sydney Morning Herald, 23/5/11)

'Unshakable facts'? Of course, what Bibi meant was unshakable facts on the ground.

Monday, May 23, 2011


In America, where brown is now the new black, and Arab/Muslim the new Jew, Iranian-born American academic and author Hamid Dabashi guides us through the brave new world of Obamanation:

"For 8 long and murderous years (2000-08), the world was at the mercy of George W Bush. He ruled the United States - and, with it, the world - with utter disregard for the most basic principles of human decency. He ended his term leaving a desperate and desolate world covered with human corpses and spotted with the bodies of tortured men, murdered mothers, raped women, orphaned children, ruined buildings, burned farms and burning factories, firms, and oilfields, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Palestine to Lebanon to the streets of New Orleans. There has been much talk in the United States about prosecuting Bush and his subordinates for war crimes. But no tribunal could ever issue a verdict harsh enough to equal the pain and suffering that this man caused among the poor and disenfranchised. Aided by his European and Israeli allies, and actively or passively endorsed by corrupt and incompetent Arab and Muslim heads of state, George W Bush looks like a nightmare from which the world has finally woken up; after a clean, cold shower it may once again remember humanity, decency and morality. Bush's last act before getting lost in historical ignominy was endorsing the Israelis' massacre of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

"After 8 catastrophic years, Americans from all walks of life, disgusted with what this man had done to the world in their name, came together on November 4, 2008, in a momentous occasion of collective redemption and catharsis, and chose Barack Hussein Obama as the first African-American to hold the highest office in the land. More profoundly, this was the expression of their highest aspirations and their hope to return to the fold of humanity and to stop embodying the principle source of menace and mayhem around the globe. But it did not take more than a mere couple of days for the euphoria of Obama's victory to begin giving way to an icy cold fear and wonder. From the windy winter cold of Chicago he announced his selection of Illinois Congressman Rahm Israel Emanuel as his chief of staff - effectively the gatekeeper of his White House. Congressman Emanuel comes from a strongly pro-Israeli family. He served in the Israeli army for a short time; his father Benjamin Emanuel, served for a much longer period with the notorious Irgun, the Zionist terrorist organization chiefly responsible for scores of murderous acts, among them the ethnic cleansing of Palestine when Israel was being superimposed on the world map in the 1940s. Throughout his presidential campaign, Obama had remained a suspicious figure to pro-Israeli voters, and no matter how hard he tried to convince them that he held the American relationship with Israel 'sacrosanct', as he put it on a number of occasions, he was not completely successful. In his infamously obsequious speech in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) soon after he declared victory in June 2008 in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, he spent a great deal of time refuting the allegations with which he had been charged - chief among them that he was a Muslim. The appointment of a pro-Israeli chief of staff went a long way toward reassuring pro-Israeli lobbies and voters, and the ground opened up like an abyss under the feet of those who had hoped for something different.

"The disappointment that a wide spectrum of Obama supporters now faced was neither limited to this single appointment nor confined to what their candidate would do toward reconciling the idealism of his youthful community activism (over which the memory of Malcolm X shone brightly) with the pragmatism of his adult presidency vis-a-vis the predicament of Palestinians and the warmongering of the Jewish apartheid state. Every appointment that he made in public in November and December 2008 called for a reassessment of his campaign promises. When he finally announced New York's junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton (who stands to the right of the Likud Party when it comes to Israel), as his choice for Secretary of State, and the news spread that Dennis Ross (a key AIPAC operative) would be his choice to head Middle East Affairs, the disappointment deepened. When Israel commenced the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza late in December 2008, President-elect Obama seemed thoroughly preoccupied with the mounting economic problems that his administration was inheriting; he remained silent on the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians, calling on the mantra 'We have only one president at a time'. While many were dismayed, I for one was relieved that at least he did not repeat the nauseating Bush administration line that Hamas was responsible for the carnage the Israeli army was visiting upon Gaza. As we say in Persian: Ma ra beh kheyr-e to ommid nist, shar marasan. We have no hope in your doing any good; prithee do us no evil.

"It did not help matters when Rahm Emanuel's father, Benjamin Emanuel, gave an interview to the Israeli newspaper Ma'riv in which he predicted that 'obviously' his son 'will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House'. The crudely racist remark delighted Zionists from Tel Aviv to New York and created havoc among the Arab and Muslim communities in the US, forcing the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) - hardly known for its daring imagination or principled postion on anything - to write a letter to Rahm Emanuel demanding that he repudiate his father's comment and send a copy to the president-elect. According to reports, the younger Emanuel called Mary Rose Oakar, the ADC president, to dissociate himself from his father's remark and apologize.

"Under ordinary circumstances this apology would have been the end of the matter. But these are not ordinary times. The unabated and in fact growing racism toward Muslims in general and Arabs in particular in North America (and Western Europe) requires far more serious attention - for it is the newest gestation of classical Christian anti-Semitism and white supremacist racism, now coming together in their fullest unfolding. For what seems to have happened since the events of 9/11, but particularly during the presidential election of 2008, is the semiotic transmutation of 'blacks' and 'Jews' into 'Arabs' and 'Muslims', respectively, in the evolving lexicon of American racism - and for this reason Benjamin Emanuel's remark deserves closer attention, as does the entire presidential election in 2008, during which, on countless occasions, this recodification of American racism was fully on display, particularly when it came to the figure and phenomenon of Barack Hussein Obama himself.

"What does it mean, exactly, to say: 'He's not going to clean the floors of the White House' - of all things? What does it signify? Who has stereotypically, and in a racist cliche, cleaned the floors of the White House? Certainly not Arabs - though perhaps in Israel, where cheap Palestinian labor is systematically abused, Israelis are used to seeing Arabs clean their floors. In Washington DC and the rest of the United States, and certainly in the White House, a whole history of African slavery has determined who, as a matter of racist cliche, cleans the floors. In the racist mind of the aging Benjamin Emanuel - who does not know the language of concealing one's bigotry and speaks like the Irgun terrorist that he was - he simply switches the African for the Arab and lets go of 'the values upon which he has raised his family'. What the senior Emanuel uttered is not all that odd for an Israeli racist. The domain of anti-Arab bigotry in Israel, from which Benjamin Emanuel draws freely, is not limited to Irgun terrorists. 'Mohammed's a pig', and 'Death to Arabs' are the staples of Israeli racism regularly sprayed on mosques and spewed at the residents of occupied Palestine, as is the hurling of severed pigs' heads into Muslim houses of worship. What is embedded in the senior Emanuel's remark is the regenerative transfusion of two differently coded modes of racism: Ashkenazi Israeli racism toward Arabs (and, for that matter, Sephardic Jews) and white American racism toward blacks. In a simple act of cross-codification, the two modes of racism come together and announce not just a mere Israelification of American political culture but also the transformation of racist registers of Blacks into Arabs (or 'sand niggers' as they have been popularly dubbed)." (Brown Skin, White Masks, 2011, pp 112-115)

Labor Pot Calls Liberal Kettle Black

NSW Labor MLC Luke Foley is a vocal opponent of the NSW Greens' support for BDS, having attacked Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon, for her "high profile support in Australian politics of the BDS," which he branded "extremism." (Lee Rhiannon 'no victim of past', James Madden, The Australian, 28/4/11)

Presumably, as someone who opposes boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning the state of Israel, Foley subscribes to the key Zionist proposition that it is right and proper to establish and maintain in Palestine a nation where Jews reign supreme.

Imagine my surprise then to learn that Foley has come out swinging against Liberal MLC David Clarke, accusing him of being "a very right-wing character" who "cut his teeth running organisations in support of white supremacy in southern Africa." (NSW Govt 'pandering to far right': Opposition, abc.net.au, 19/5/11)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SMH Letters Editor No Einstein

Ali Kazak, former ambassador of Palestine to these shores, submitted the following letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. Although it was published on 18 May, the words in bold were omitted by the letters editor:

"Your Middle East correspondent's article Israel points finger over coordinated incursions (SMH 17/5) contains a number of inaccuracies which need to be corrected. Palestinian refugees are not Syrians of Palestinian descent. They are Palestinians who were ethnically-cleansed [replaced by thrown out] from Palestine by Jewish terrorist organisations such as the Stern Gang who created Israel [replaced by when Israel was created] in its place in 1948. They maintain their Palestinian nationality and refuse to replace it with any other as Israel wishes them to do. Furthermore, it is not correct to describe them as penetrating or infiltrating the border since one does not infiltrate or penetrate into one's own country regardless of its occupation by other people who deny them their right to live in their own homeland. Finally, the Palestinians were not marking the 53rd anniversary of the creation of Israel but the 63rd anniversary of Al-Nakba (the Palestinian Day of Catastrophe) of their dispossession of their homeland. Israel's cold-blooded killing of 3 of the refugees is murder and should be strongly condemned by the Australian government."

This blatant display of censorship/self-censorship warrants several points:

1) By replacing ethnic cleansing with thrown out the Herald is deliberately obfuscating the plain fact that the Palestinian refugees were thrown out for no other reason than that they were non-Jews whose mere existence in Palestine stood in the way of the creation of a majority Jewish Israeli state. Zionist historian and 1948 specialist Benny Morris certainly doesn't baulk at using the term: "There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing... A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians." (See my 11/5/08 post Benny Unhinged)

2) By omitting the reference to Jewish terrorist organisations such as the Stern Gang, the Herald's letter editor reveals himself to be no Einstein. After all, it was Einstein who wrote the following terse letter, dated 10 April 1948 (a day after the notorious act of ethnic cleansing known as the Deir Yassin massacre, perpetrated by the Irgun and the Stern Gang) in response to an invitation to attend a fundraiser for the American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, aka the Stern Gang: "When a real and final catastrophe should befall us in Palestine the first responsibility for it would be the British and the second responsibility for it the Terrorist organizations built up from our own ranks. I am not willing to see anybody associated with those misled and criminal people."

3) After reading the Human Rights Watch report on Israel's latest massacre, Israel: Investigate Killings During Border Protests (20/5/11), the expression cold-blooded murder seems nowhere near wide of the mark. As the report says, "Using intentional lethal force where not strictly necessary to protect life is likely to violate the right to life in a non-armed-conflict policing situation such as crowd control, even when carried out by soldiers... Unjustified killings should be prosecuted as crimes." The situation Kazak describes in his letter relates to the protest at the Lebanese border. In relation to this, HRW finds that there was "no imminent threat to the lives of Israeli forces that necessitated use of lethal force," and points out that the Israeli murderers were separated from the unarmed protesters by 2 rows of fencing, one electrified, and a thick row of trees.

The following questions therefore arise: Just what was the letters editor afraid of? What pressures was he/she operating under? Was this a matter of censorship from someone higher up in the Fairfax food chain or an act of self-censorship by the letters editor? Does the Herald have in its possession a list of red line words in relation to Palestine/Israel? If so, what was its origin and what are they? Oh yes, and what ever happened to freedom of speech?

For those interested, see my post on the report by Herald Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis, to which Ali Kazak's letter was a response: Palestinians Dying to Celebrate Israel's 63rd Birthday (17/5/11)

The Pledge

The Angry Arab on Nakba Day (15/5):

"On this sad day, one should pledge to the people of Palestine that we shall not forget and we shall not forgive - ever. We shall count your dead and wounded, one by one (we know that all Israeli crimes are registered in notebooks, as Mahmoud Darwish has said). We commit to: No peace with Israel. No negotiation with Israel. No recognition of Israel. That all deeds and treaties between Israel and Arab tyrants represent only the latter's oil, polygamous ruling families and external backers. These tyrants never speak for the Arab people. We commit to full return AND compensation. And when Palestine is liberated, we will ensure a safe, peaceful, democratic and secular transfer of power. All Zionist flags will be torn down, but can be used as bath mats - we should commit to recycling in liberated Palestine."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Decoding Obama on Palestine/Israel

Should it surprise you if that part of Obama's just-delivered speech on the Middle East that focuses on the 63-year-old Middle East conflict begins with him lecturing* the victims?

"For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure."

This one's straight out of Israeli talking points 101. Given its colonial-settler nature, terrorist history and apartheid structure, Israel never had any legitimacy to begin with.

"Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won't create an independent state."

Nothing new here. The US has always coddled and shielded Israel from the international consensus (which, of course, doesn't include Australia, Canada or a couple of Pacific micro-states) in the UN.

"Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection."

The usual inversion of reality: for terror & rejection read resistance and standing up for one's rights.

"And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist."

Another Israeli talking point which means that the Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state, thereby signing away the right of return to Israel of the millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendents ethnically cleansed in 1948.

"As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values."

Friendship? More like the deeply dysfunctional relationship between a permissive parent and his spoilt brat.

"Our commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable."

He/she/it's got us by the balls.

"And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums."

With our wonder-working veto!

"But precisely because of our friendship, it is important that we tell the truth..."

Haven't heard any so far.

"... the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace."

Now I wonder who's been instrumental in maintaining this unsustainable status quo all these years. No names, no pack drill.

"The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself."

What if they give the little king the boot and start heading back home, eh? Have you thought of that, Bibi? Relax, we'll maintain your Qualitative Military Edge so you can go on smiting and smoting 'em to your heart's delight, but face it, the tide'll be coming in one day and no amount of whizz bang QME will help.

"A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people - not just a few leaders - must believe peace is possible."

Hm, leaders like Mubarak, Abdullah etc. Now you see 'em, now you don't, know what I mean?

"The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome."

George Mitchell's just thrown in the towel, Lars von Trier has just called Israel a "pain in the ass" at Cannes, and frankly it's sooo embarrassing every time the world sees you twisting my balls.

"The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with further occupation."

Yep, hang on to the West Bank - sorry, sorry, Judea and Samaria - and one day the Palestinians'll outnumber you and what've you got? South Africa on the Med!

"So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, and a secure Israel."

Relax, viable is always friable if necessary!

"The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."

Those mutually agreed swaps will give my successors something to do.

"The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state."

Don't come all lawyerly with me! What's this define sovereign? define contiguous? Er, sorry, I didn't mean to speak to you like that. No, it'll never happen again, promise - just loosen up on my balls a bit, willya? Pretty please.

[* "Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has lectured President Barack Obama in his own office, warning against 'illusions' of Middle East peace and opening a deep rift in US-Israel ties [...] The Israeli leader then launched into a history of the struggles of the Jewish people, which Obama watched from a nearby chair, his hand over his mouth." (Peace setback as Netanyahu lectures Obama, AFP, The Age, 21/5/11)]

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Miranda Joins the Dots

Rambammed (2010) Murdoch pundit Miranda Devine writing on the 2005 trial of 4 Pakistani-born and -raised brothers convicted of raping non-Muslim women in Sydney in 2002:

"[Dr K] incubated his monsters in one of the most remote and primitive corners of Pakistan, in a small village near the Afghanistan border town of Peshawar where Osama bin Laden lived in the 1980s, plotting against the West*... Police say Dr K, 65, arrived in Australia with a medical degree in the early 1970s, gained local qualifications and became an Australian citizen. He went back to Pakistan to find a wife but, strangely, left her there for the next 30 years while he commuted. His wife bore him 1 daughter and 7 sons. Only when they were approaching adulthood did he bring them to Australia. You have to wonder why he had so little faith in his adopted country that he avoided bringing up his children here. The end result was that the 4 brothers became cultural suicide bombers." (Absent father who bred a gaggle of monsters, The Sun-Herald, 24/7/05)

Obviously, some malign miasma, emanating from Osama bin Laden's person in Peshawar, was enough to infect Dr K's sons with the dreaded CSB virus (although the other 3 brothers and their sister were thankfully, cross fingers, immune).

But the K brothers, as they are known, weren't the only ones to fall victim to this dreadful contagion:

Miranda Devine writing on the rapes perpetrated by the Australian-born and -raised, deracinated, 'Lebanese' Skaf brothers in Sydney in 2000:

"At the time of the rapes, the problems of Muslim integration in western societies wasn't well understood, but a year later came the September 11 terrorist attacks." (Survivor of total horror, Sunday Telegraph, 15/5/11)

It's obvious what's happened here, isn't it? The Skaf brothers, who had never even heard of Osama bin Laden, couldn't locate Pakistan, or even Lebanon for that matter, on a map of the world, and couldn't read a line of Arabic, let alone the Quran, if their lives depended on it, were nonetheless similarly struck down by the long arm of the same dreaded CSB virus, which, after then mutating into the even more dreaded ASB (actual suicide bomber) virus, made a bee line for New York with the terrible consequences of which we are today only too aware.

Thank God we've got Miranda to join the dots for us!

[* In my capacity as Middle East Reality Check, however, I should point out one slight flaw in Miranda's otherwise flawless analysis: in the 1980s Bin Laden wasn't plotting against the West, as Miranda has it. He was actually working for the CIA.]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Australian Corporates MIA on Palestine

The only editorial comment on Sunday's extraordinary Return to Palestine marches in the Australian press was to be found in Murdoch's Australian. Predictably, Zionist rag that it is, the editorialist offers us nothing new, merely deploying the standard Zionist canard that the refugees, ethnically cleansed from Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948, have been artificially kept on ice since that time merely for use as a propaganda tool against Israel when required by the region's incorrigibly cynical and manipulative Arab rulers:

"Only the naive believe the deadly clashes along Israel's borders on so-called Nakba Day (in the Palestinian lexicon Catastrophe Day, the day Israel was founded) are a signal that the spirit of defiance and confrontation that has challenged regimes across the Arab world is now inspiring Palestinians to greater militancy. There is some of that, to be sure. Palestinians desperate to advance their cause could hardly remain untouched by the images of demonstrators boldly rising up to achieve change in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. But the choreography of what happened on Sunday suggests a more complex dimension to the clashes that occurred as Israeli soldiers opened fire on thousands of Palestinians marching from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. Central to that choreography is Syria... which is seriously under threat from demonstrators, together with its close ally Iran and Hezbollah, the catspaw they jointly created to control South Lebanon. For 37 years, the truce between Israel and Syria, where about 500,000 Palestinians live, has kept the border between the 2 countries quiet... Similarly, nothing in South Lebanon - where there are another 500,000 Palestinian refugees - moves without the permission of Hezbollah. That these 2 borders should suddenly be the scene of the co-ordinated demonstrations and violence witnessed on Sunday suggests Mr Assad, as he brutally seeks to survive, is now playing his long-anticipated Israeli card. He is cynically telling countries pressuring him to reform his odious regime that if they persist in trying to force change, he can cause serious problems for Israel..." (Syria playing dangerous game: Israel protects its borders as Assad creates deadly diversion, Editorial, The Australian, 17/5/11)

And with that little Zionist homily, editorial commentary in this country was exhausted, the Fairfax papers having nothing whatever to say on the matter. But how utterly typical! As in the political sphere, when it comes to the touchstone issue of Palestine, the intellectual poverty and moral cowardice of the Australian corporates is nowhere more evident.

Thankfully, some overseas outlets, such as the UK's Economist magazine, are able to shed some honest editorial light on the significance of the Return to Palestine marches:

"For many years now, we've heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they'd have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination.

"Palestinian commentators and organisers, including Fadi Elsalameen and Moustafa Barghouthi, have spent the last couple of years pointing out that these complaints resolutely ignore the actual and growing Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement. For that matter, they elide the fact that the first intifada, which broke out in 1987, was initally as close to non-violent as could be reasonably expected. For the most part, it consisted of general strikes and protest marches. In addition, there was a fair amount of kids throwing rocks, as well as the continuing threat of low-level terrorism, mainly from organisations based abroad; the Israelis conflated the autochthonous protest movement with the terrorism and responded brutally, and the intifada quickly lost its non-violent character. That's not that different from what has happened over the past couple of months in Libya; it shows that its very hard to keep a non-violent movement non-violent when the government you're demonstrating against subjects you to gunfire for a sustained period of time.

"In any case, if you're among those who've made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a state if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Ghandian tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived. As my colleague Peter Beinart writes, what happened on Nakba Day was Israel's 'nightmare scenario: masses of Palestinians marching, unarmed, towards to borders of the Jewish state, demanding the redress of their decades-old national grievance'. Israel's Palestinian Arab Spring: the tactics of mass non-violent protest that brought down the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, and are threatening to bring down the governments of Libya, Yemen and Syria, are now being used in the Palestinian cause.

"So now we have an opportunity to see how Americans will react. We've asked the Palestinians to lay down their arms. We've told them their lack of a state was their own fault; if only they would embrace non-violence, a reasonable and unprejudiced world would see the merit of their claims. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of them did just that, and it seems likely to continue. If crowds of tens of thousands of non-violent Palestinian protesters continue to march, and if Israel continues to shoot at them, what will we do? Will we make good on our rhetoric, and press Israel to give them their state? Or will it turn out that our paeans to non-violence were just cynical tactics in an amoral international power contest staged by militaristic Israeli and American right-wing groups whose elective affinities lead them to shape a common narrative of the alien Arab/Muslim threat. Will we even bother to acknowledge that the Palestinians are protesting nonviolently? Or will we soldier on with the same empty decades old rhetoric, now drained of any truth or meaning, because it respects established relationships of power? What will it take to make Americans recognise that the real Martin Luther King-style non-violent Palestinian protesters have arrived and that Israeli soldiers are shooting them with real bullets?" (Here comes your non-violent resistance, 17/5/11)

Thankfully too we have As'ad Abukhalil, aka The Angry Arab, and his indispensible news service, with its eyewitness updates, informed and critical commentary, wit, wisdom, and much else besides. Abukhalil has posted this vivid testimony to the courage and determination of the Palestinian returnees at the border with their Palestinian homeland:

"As'ad - not me - was in [the border village of] Marun ar-Ras. He sent me the following report after returning home: 'I witnessed unbelievable courage and heroism today. Ten deaths and dozens wounded, and these Palestinians would not stop. It was mind-boggling. I was 200 metres behind the fence. At the end, the Lebanese army attacked us and began shooting in the air. They chased us up the mountain. I'll never forget this day. Thousands of bullets were fired over our heads to drive us back. Friends were literally at the fence and I saw them falling. I will upload pics and videos later on FB. I will email you my thoughts later. We are still in shock. We were literally taking cover behind rocks. I don't really know what to say. I swear, if only these Palestinians were trained, armed and supported, Israel wouldn't last a week. Every Israeli bullet, As'ad, killed or wounded people on our side. Dozens of ambulances were leaving with them. But still they wouldn't stop. Showers of rocks were hurled in the other direction, but the damn Israeli snipers were shooting us down, one by one'." (angryarab.blogspot.com, 16/5/11)

Having introduced Abukhalil, I can't let this post go without quoting his spray at the shameful role of the Lebanese army in the massacre at Marun ar-Ras:

"This failure of an army, perhaps one of the greatest failures of an army ever, today shot at anti-Israel demonstrators at the Lebanese border after Israeli occupation war criminals had killed and wounded many of them. The lousy Lebanese army said that it didn't want to open a 'front' now because the situation is critical. I want to scream at the commanders of that lousy army: Wlah (I can't possibly translate this into any other language), you didn't open a front when Israel was attacking Lebanon and bombing your barracks. Wlah, when did you ever shoot to defend Lebanon from Israeli aggression? Wlah, your soldiers were sleeping when young volunteers defended Lebanon in 2006 and humiliated the Israeli occupation army. Wlah, you seriously think that any sane Lebanese (who is not on the payroll of the House of Saud or the House of Hariri) would ever consider you and your lousy soldiers qualified to defend Lebanon and resist Israeli aggression and occupation? Wlah, you are the army of shame, submission, humiliation, regression, withdrawal and cowardice. Go and munch on some snakes* - maybe that'll make you feel tough. What a joke you are."

[* A pathetic and cruel Lebanese army initiation rite]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Palestinians Dying to Celebrate Israel's 63rd Birthday

So what's this Nakba Day jazz we heard about on last night's TV news bulletins, and will be reading about in today's papers?

SBS World News 6:30pm, 16/5/11:

"There were reports that up to 20 people have been killed and dozens more wounded during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. The Palestinians were marking what they call Nakba or Catastrophe Day, an annual protest over the creation of the Jewish state in 1948.' (Deadly clashes on Israeli border)

I see, Palestinian party-poopers were up in arms (clashes) over Israel's 63rd birthday, and 20 people, probably Israelis unfortunately, were killed.

ABC1 News 7:00pm, 16/5/11:

(Spoken against a graphic, chockas with Stars of David and menorahs): "Bloody clashes have marked the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Israeli forces killed 20 people during pro-Palestinian protests across the country. Hundreds more were wounded. The protests came on the day Palestinians call the Nakba or Catastrophe. This is how the Day of Catastrophe began with a suspected terror attack in Tel Aviv..." (Israeli soldiers kill protesters)

Right, so Palestinian party-poopers were actually celebrating Israel's 63rd birthday... with a terror attack!

But, what's this? After featuring Israeli Defence [*sigh*] Spokeswoman Avital Leibovich reading from her autocue that the Syrians were behind it all, the ABC's girl on the ground, Anne Barker, actually said, "... and in Lebanon thousands marched to the border with Israel demanding the right of return for all Palestinian refugees."

The right of whaaat? Anne doesn't let on.

So what about today's fishwrapper?

The Sydney Morning Herald. Rubbing his eyes after a hard night lovingly massaging Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs press releases, Fairfax ME correspondent Jason Koutsoukis writes:

"On Sunday [the armistace line that divides the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from Syria] was transformed into a scene of dramatic confrontation when Israel Defence Forces troops were caught unawares [!] by more than 100 [!!] Syrians of Palestinian descent who trampled the fence and surged across the border. Alarmed [!!!] at the sight of so many people penetrating the border, Israeli troops stationed at a nearby outpost fired on the crowd, killing 3 [!!!!] and wounding several dozen. These were mainly young men joining the 'Nakba Day' protests staged across the region to mark the 53rd [!!!!!] anniversary of the creation of Israel... While the motives of the protesters seemed [!!!!!!] simple enough, the question many Israelis [the only folk who matter, right, Jason?] were asking... was how much official backing the protesters had received from Syrian and Lebanese authorities... Israel's Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor... defence forces spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai... behind the scenes, a top Israeli political adviser... according to the defence forces... one defence forces official said." (Israel points finger* over co-ordinated incursions by refugees) [* Only a finger?]

OK, so Palestinians were celebrating Israel's 53rd [2001] birthday, but those poor Israeli soldier boys - taken completely by surprise and spooked - spooked - into shooting... this is becoming tedious.

The Age. As above. Only the headline changes: Israel fears more unrest after border clashes.

Clearly, we're wasting our time with the Australian ms media (I won't even bother with its Murdoch branch) here. Where is the reader to go for a decent account of why Palestinians from Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Territories were prepared to die in a predictable* hail of Israeli gunfire to uphold one of humankind's most fundamental rights, to return to the land from which they were once driven by men with guns?

OK, try the UK Guardian's report by journalist Matthew Cassel, who was actually there:

"Climbing up the mountain to reach the Palestinian right-of-return protest in Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon on Sunday felt a bit like being back in Tahrir Square. The thousands of mostly Palestinian refugees were smiling as they joked about the strenuous climb, and helped each other up the mountain to reach the site where they were going to stage their demonstration. Some knew it could even be dangerous, but that didn't matter as much as the rare opportunity to join together and call for their rights. The small elevated Lebanese village just overlooking the border with Israel became a massive parking lot as buses carrying Palestinian refugees and Lebanese from across Lebanon converged for a protest commemorating what Israeli historian Ilan Pappe calls the 'ethnic cleansing' by Zionist militias of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes in 1948 - what Palestinians refer to as the 'Nakba', or catastrophe. Men and women, young and old, secular and religious, were all present. This was the first time in 63 years that Palestinian refugees would go to the border in their tens of thousands and call for their right to return home. For most, it was the first time even seeing the land that they've grown up hearing described in precise detail through the popular stories of elders old enough to remember life in what is today considered Israel. The Israeli regime not only keeps under occupation more than 4 million people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and limits the rights of more than a million Palestinian citizens of Israel, it also denies more than 5 million refugees the fundamental right of return to the place they were forced to flee." (Palestinians in Lebanon, at the lonely end of the Arab uprisings, 16/5/11)

[* "[Israeli Prime Minister Levi] Eshkol had already had reason to be worried about the Gaza refugees roughly two years before the Six-Day War [of 1967]. The refugees were multiplying, and when their numbers reached half a million, he feared the situation would become explosive. Once, he asked the chief of staff what would happen if the Egyptians [who then controlled the Gaza Strip] simply marched the refugees - women and children in the vanguard - toward the border with Israel. [Yitzhak] Rabin said they would not do that, and if they did, as soon as the IDF had killed the first 100, the rest would go back to Gaza." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, Tom Segev, 2007, p 524)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Battered Palestinian Syndrome 2

"The white liberal may be a little taken aback to know that from all-Negro audiences I never have had one challenge, never one question that defended the white man. That has been true even when a lot of those 'black bourgeoisie' and 'integration'-mad Negroes were among the blacks. All Negroes, among themselves, admit the white man's criminal record. They may not know as many details as I do, but they know the general picture. But let me tell you something significant: this very same bourgeois Negro who, among Negroes, would never make a fool of himself in trying to defend the white man - watch that same Negro in a mixed black and white audience, knowing he's overheard by his beloved 'Mr Charlie'. Why, you should hear those Negroes attack me, trying to justify, to forgive the white man's crimes! These Negroes are people who bring me nearest to breaking one of my principal rules, which is never to let myself become over-emotional and angry. Why, sometimes I've felt I ought to jump down off that stand and get physical with some of those brainwashed white man's tools, parrots, puppets. At the colleges, I've developed some stock put-downs for them: 'You must be a law student, aren't you?' They have to say either yes, or no. And I say, 'I thought you were. You defend this criminal white man harder than he defends his guilty self!'" (The Autobiography of Malcolm X, p 391)

Izzeldin Abuelaish, the subject of an earlier post by me (Battered Palestinian Syndrome, 24/2/11) is in town for this month's Sydney Writers Festival. Of course, a bit of PR never goes astray when you've come all the way from Canada to flog your wares, and by a process thus far unknown to us, the Herald's Good Weekend mag has come to the rescue with Healing Heart by David Leser.

If my first brush with a piece on Abuelaish had me squirming in my seat, this one's got me coughing and spluttering as well:

"'My God, my God, they killed my daughters. Shlomi, I wanted to save them, but they are dead. They were hit in the head. They died on the spot. Allah, what have we done to them? Oh God'."

What have we done to them?! We?!!

"Abuelaish was trusted and well respected, not just by members of the Israeli media, but by the country's medical fraternity as well. He'd been the first Palestinian obstetrician and gynaecologist to have been given a residency inside an Israeli hospital. He helped scores of infertile Israeli couples realise the joys of childbirth... He'd proven himself a man of peace, someone prepared to condemn his own side's suicide bombings, in private as well as in a public letter to the Jerusalem Post newspaper. 'Israelis are our friends', he would often tell his daughters, 'and we should love them as we love one another'."

The House Arab (see my final paragraph) always has to earn his master's trust. It's not 'Israelis can be our friends once the occupation is over and our rights as human beings have been restored', but Israelis are our friends, full stop. Honestly, if Malcolm X had heard such nonsense, he would've been too busy trying to find a bucket to get physical.

"Abuelaish was born in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza in 1955... [In 1967] Israeli tanks rolled through Abuelaish's street as they sought to secure the territory from Egyptian rule... [In 1970], the streets of the territory were widened so that Israeli tanks could negotiate their way more easily. Hundreds of houses, including Abuelaish's family home, were bulldozed to the ground."

So Abuelaish was a refugee. As Leser explains, "his family's land - located in what is today the northern Negev Desert of Israel - was lost during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War (The land is today owned by the now-comatose former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and his family.)." His precarious Gaza refuge was invaded by the Israelis in 1956, about which Leser makes no mention, and again in 1967. And then his family home is bulldozed by none other than Ariel Sharon, the butcher who squats on Abuelaish land in the Negev to this day.

But we are expected to believe that all of this took a back seat to his romance with a kind Jewish family on whose farm (whose farm?) near Ashqelon he worked for just 3 months at the age of 15. Just to clarify, allow me to supplement Leser's sanitised sketch above with an account of what was really going on in the Gaza Strip at this time:

"Between 1967 and 1970, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip's refugee camps engaged in sporadic armed resistance against the Israeli occupation. In August 1970, Sharon began mopping up remnant guerilla cells. He operated systematically and with great brutality, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood and from grove to grove. The army imposed day-long curfews and gathered the entire population of a neighborhood or refugee camp (preferred sites were the Shatti and Jebalia camps), thus enabling the soldiers to make house-to-house searches and ensuring easy access for the military to any part of the Gaza Strip. This meant demolishing thousands of homes [not hundreds as Leser has it] and uprooting large portions of the Gaza Strip's citrus groves, the region's only crops. Orders were given to shoot any suspect without trial or inquiry, and over a thousand people were duly shot dead or executed." (Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians, Baruch Kimmerling, 2003, p 61-62)

"'Izzeldin was a special person, with a balanced point of view about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict', Dr Shlomo Usef, the director of Soroka hospital observed. 'He saw it as a conflict with two sides, and himself as the person to bridge the two'."

Just how balanced Abuelaish is may be seen from the inclusion in his book (no, I still don't have a copy) of a 2001 photograph of the good doctor standing, with a broad smile on his face, with Ehud Barak, the war criminal who, as defence minister at the time of Operation Cast Lead directed the murderers of Abuelaish's daughters and hundreds more children just like them. (You can see the photograph at the Youth Against Normalization blog, 13/2/11) The balanced Abuelaish helps perpetuate the pernicious nonsense, referred to again and again on this blog, that the Zionist project of now hot, now cold ethnic cleansing (See my last post), of wiping Palestine and its people literally off the map, is somehow an equal struggle between two right sides which can be bridged if only other Palestinians were more like Abuelaish.

"Now based in Toronto with his 5 remaining children, Abuelaish was last year nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize following the publication of his book 'I Shall Not Hate'... Often a keynote speaker at peace conferences, he is in Spokane to talk at the Second International Conference on Hate Studies, a multidisciplinary forum seeking to combat extremism in all its guises: racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism..."

Hate studies?! My God, you can see this one coming a mile off. Cop this from the Keynote Speech at the First Conference to Establish the Academic Field of Hate Studies by Kenneth S Stern of The American Jewish Committee (AJC):

"But the problem [of anti-Semitism] is also one of definition. A 2002 Anti-Defamation League survey said that while 17% of Americans were anti-Semitic, only 3% of college students were. But during the period when that survey was taken, the ADL and many other Jewish organizations, including the AJC, were spending an inordinate amount of time tackling anti-Semitism on campus... The problems on campus were not coming from those who felt that Jews were greasy or slimy, or who wouldn't live next door to or wouldn't marry a Jew. They were from college students who didn't have a problem with Jews individually, but whose anti-Semitism was manifest in its collective expression, namely in the State of Israel." (The Need for an Interdisciplinary Field of Hate Studies, ajc.org, p 20)

Ah yes, the collective Jew, Israel. What bunkum! But, hey, Stern knows it's a stretch and so he adds the rider, and don't they all?: "This is not to say that criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitism. It clearly is not."

Ah, so we can all go home then? Afraid not, there's a catch, and isn't there always?:

"But to single out only one people on the globe as not having the right to self-determination, or holding their state to a higher standard of behavior than that applied to any other nation, is a form of bigotry that doesn't get picked up in the classic measuring instruments looking at inter-group attitudes."

So this is the agenda Abuelaish is only too happy to lend his name too. Malcolm X has done us all a service in drawing our attention to the phenomenon of the House and the Field Negro*. Now that brown is the new black, if we're incapable of calling a spade a spade here, I'm sorry, but we may as well pack up and go home.

[* See my 21/4/11 post Slavish Devotion]