Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Myth Is Born 4

Whatever could The Australian's contributing editor, Peter Van Onselen, possibly mean by this:

"... the lessons from Marrickville and Balmain are not to take voters for granted by preselecting candidates with controversial pedigrees." (Green dream turns to ashes, 31/3/11)

Keeping in mind the abuse hurled at both Fiona Byrne ("advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht") and Jamie Parker ("wanted to turn Balmain power station into a gas chamber"), quoted in my last post, is he suggesting that...?

No, of course not! How could I possibly have thought such a thing? No, read on a bit and you see that he's actually referring, courtesy of his disinterested interlocutor Anthony Albanese, federal Labor minister and husband of state Labor MP for Marrickville, Carmel Tebbutt, to "the Israel boycott voted for by Byrne on the Marrickville Council."

But wait a minute! What's that got to do with Byrne's and Parker's "controversial pedigree"? What is Van Onselen really getting at here?

Ah, I see, can't fool MERC: Fiona's really Fatima and Jamie's really Jamil!

As Van Onselen goes on to write, "Local resident and Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes is convinced that if the Greens had selected another candidate they would have won the seat."

So there you go Greens - if only you hadn't run those two Arabs!

Kahane Down Under?

Anti-Zionist journalist and blogger Antony Loewenstein's newmatilda.com essay, Are the Greens ready for hard ball? (30/3/11) shines some light on the dirty war waged behind the scenes against the Greens' candidates in the seats of Marrickville and Balmain in the context of last Saturday's NSW state election:

"Jamie Parker revealed to New Matilda the extent of the hatred directed at him during the campaign due to the Greens BDS policy. He had countless letters sent to him calling him a Nazi and Jew hater. His car was vandalised and campaign signs spray-painted with swastikas. He received death threats and some abusers said they knew where he lived. 'One letter said I wanted to turn Balmain power station into a gas chamber and the light rail would take people there', Parker tells me. 'Lefty Jews told me that you can't be surprised if extreme people do extreme things but they wouldn't come out in public and condemn it'. He was appalled. When the Murdoch press editor David Penberthy wrote that '(Fiona) Byrne's been busy advocating a polite modern rendering of Kristallnacht in the Inner West', Parker hoped progressive Jews he knew would condemn the offensive comparison. They did not. 'These Jews provide cover for extreme actions if they occur. If there's a sniff of you being critical of Israel, such Jews will attack you and cut you loose'. BDS simply made many Jewish people unreasonable and extremely upset, Jews told Parker. Parker says that the reaction of the Zionist lobby and local Jewish community during the election has revealed that they are willing to allow smears and violent actions against the Greens. Parker, who has spent years working on collaborative projects between local Jews and Palestinians, is now fed up with what he sees as Jewish silence. Local Jewish leaders have contacted him since Saturday to try and repair the damage but they still refuse to apologise for aggressive Jewish behaviour."

So who are these extremists? I have aleady, in a previous post on the Greens and BDS, alluded to the late US Rabbi Kahane's fascist, terrorist Jewish Defense League (JDL), and wonder if we are now seeing here the first stirrings of our own version of this creature.

For those unfamiliar with the JDL, Robert I. Friedman's The False Prophet: Rabbi Meir Kahane - from FBI Informant to Knesset Member (1990) provides the best intoduction. Here, for example, is Friedman on the founding of the JDL in New York in 1968:

"Preaching Jewish pride and Jewish power, [Kahane] captured the imagination of thousands of Jews, particularly from the lower-middle-class sections of Brooklyn and Queens that were near black ghettoes. His slogans were 'Never Again' and 'Every Jew a .22'. With a Torah in one hand and a gun in the other, Kahane set up a weapons and martial arts training camp in the Catskill Mountains in New York State, just a shotgun blast away from Grossinger's, the famous Jewish-owned hotel. A handful of his elite bodyguards, known as chayas (animals), were trained in munitions and sharpshooting by former officers of the Irgun and Stern Gang. Soon the JDL graduated from confronting black militants to bombing Soviet and Arab diplomats in Europe and America." (pp 83-84)

In his Forward to Friedman's study, Christopher Hitchens succinctly described the JDL as a "movement which spits on democracy, reviles the secular Jew, borrows the language and tactics of the Munich beer-hall and elevates the Fuhrer principle while boasting of an addiction to war, expulsion and triumphalism." (p xi)

One can only hope I'm barking up the wrong tree here, but the behaviour described by Parker, and the silence of so-called progressive (Zionist?) Jews in the face of such behaviour, is a worrying trend indeed.

Loewenstein's expose also quoted the recently retired Greens MLC Ian Cohen. Cohen's words, interestingly, contain no hint of condemnation of the smears and thuggery perpetrated against his fellow Greens, and leave little doubt as to where his sympathies lie:

"Many pro-Israel people worried about the lack of consistency and this included Greens members. Nothing was said about dictatorships in the Arab world from the Greens... I believe there is a huge scope for criticism of Israeli behaviour against the Palestinian people but BDS for the Greens was an old style, in the trenches method of pushing a campaign. It wasn't properly assessed how it would affect the NSW election campaign. The Jewish community outrage had a significant impact on our candidates."

It is surely time for the Greens to break with Zionists of whatever hue, euphemistically referred to by Cohen as pro-Israel people, and come out strongly and unapologetically in support of BDS.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Myth Is Born 3

Colorful Labor identity, Graham (Whatever It Takes) Richardson, pronounces that the NSW Greens are so extreme they're practically an al-Qaida affiliate!:

"One thing they [the mob] worked out were the Greens. They were shoo-ins to win two lower house seats: Marrickville and Balmain. In the former, deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt ran a brilliant campaign... She was fortunate to have an opponent who could only be described as being on the very fringe of Australian society. Someone very easy to attack for being way too far out of the mainstream... The problem is that in NSW the [Greens] lurch further and further to the loony left in places and not even Brown can sell that." (NSW Labor has lost its base, & the plot, The Australian, 30/3/11)

Funny that. I wonder why, then, the Greens' 'fringe-dwelling' Fiona Byrne managed to pick up 48.3% of the after preferences* count in Marrickville. [*As of 30/3/11 with 83.5% of the vote counted.]

Does this mean that almost half the Marrickville electorate are loony lefties? And what's a loony leftie in Richo's book anyway? He doesn't say so, but might it not have something to do with the NSW Green's support for BDS? Well, if that was the decider in Marrickville, how come the virulently anti-BDS Liberal/Zionist candidate (as opposed to the merely opportunistically anti-BDS Tebbutt) picked up only 18.8% of the primary vote?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two Uneasy Pieces

"Every fighter for justice in the world should ask himself/herself: what have I done against Israel today?" The Angry Arab

Today I watched two YouTube videos posted by Max Blumenthal on his website.

The first, from occupied East Jerusalem, was captioned: Jewish settlers filmed themselves humiliating a local Palestinian man, or, as they call it, 'lowering the confidence of Palestinians in the neighborhood':

The video opens with a title in Hebrew. A young, neatly dressed Palestinian man emerges from a house. An off-camera voice hails him in Hebrew. Calling him over? He approaches, answering in Hebrew. Maybe he's asking what they want. There is no aggression in him, he appears completely unaware of what's coming. The 'voice' proceeds to tip a bucket of what appears to be white paint over his head. The thick white substance covers his head and face, and drips down onto his clothes. He appears stunned, gasping for breath. He walks off, muttering something, occasionally looking over his shoulder, to the accompaniment of a jaunty piano piece provided by the maker of the film. I am suitably awed by the creativity and humour of those who created this filmic bon bon. And the piano accompaniment, so cute! Next year's Tropfest? The next Israeli film festival perhaps?

The second video was simply captioned Settlers assault Palestinian girls on the way to school in occupied Hebron:

A group of teenage Jewish settler girls are standing on a hillside by a path. A young female international volunteer appears to be trying to negotiate passage with an Israeli policeman. In the distance, a group of Palestinian schoolgirls led by their teacher and another volunteer approach. The settler girls mill around excitedly. They begin chanting. It sounds Arabic to me. I catch ma fi filastin (There is no Palestine) but the rest is unclear, apart from the word Israel. The settler girls block the path as the schoolgirls near. A scuffle ensues. An Israeli soldier appears, making a desultory effort to separate the two groups. One of the settler girls kicks the Palestinian teacher, a middle-aged woman, from behind. Another soldier, or perhaps the same one, urges the remonstrating teacher to move on. I can hear the Arabic word imshi (Let's go). The path soon ends at the wall of a tall building where a set of narrow steps lead steeply down to a street below. As the schoolgirls begin the descent, in full view of the street, they come under fire from a group of settler boys throwing stones. The girls cry out in distress, but push on down the exposed steps. There are police and troops down on the street but they make no effort to stop the stonethrowers. The first schoolgirls reach the bottom of the steps, scurry around the corner of the building and run up the street which leads away from their harrassers. By this stage the settler boys have been joined by the settler girls from the hillside. The camera pans up to show a group of schoolgirls trapped midway down the stairs under a hail of stones. A police vehicle finally wedges itself between the strategic corner at the bottom of the steps and the stonethrowers. Finally, the last of the schoolgirls has rounded the corner, followed by the teacher and one of the volunteers. One of the schoolgirls has been struck by a stone on the face and is holding a handkerchief over her nose. The settler youth hoot and shriek as the police and troops prevent them from chasing the schoolgirls. The Palestinian teacher, gesturing toward the girl with the handkerchief over her face, says to a soldier in English, See? There is nothing we can do, he replies in English. Of course, I feel sorry for the poor young soldier placed in an impossible situation. And the kids? If only they could hang out together and dialog, I'm sure they'd get along just fine. Oh yeah! And for sure those Palestinian teachers have got to put a stop to all that dreadful anti-Semitic incitement going on in their schools NOW!

A Myth Is Born 2

Here are some of its baby steps:

"Nor can the Greens continue to indulge their private fantasy that destiny has chosen them as Labor's natural replacement - not even in the post-material Shangri-La of Sydney's inner city (since even there people have mortgages, and perhaps Jewish friends)." (Labor was seriously wounded, but it will not die, David Burchell, The Australian, 28/3/11)

"It appears that Byrne's middle class radicalism, symbolised by her advocacy of a boycott of Israel, was too much even for the inner-city left." (Credit where it's due - they just didn't see him coming, Gerard Henderson, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/3/11)

"There is nothing peaceful about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel... Attempts to isolate Israel in order to facilitate its destruction are not peaceful. The people of NSW saw this violent and racist movement for what it really is and rejected the NSW Greens who advocate this cultural, economic and academic isolation." Navit Shchigel, Noranda, W (Letter, The Australian, 29/3/11)

I wonder how long before it becomes received wisdom.

A Myth Is Born

A Zionist myth is being born: namely that The Greens failed to win the NSW seat of Marrickville because Greens candidate, Fiona Byrne, supported the boycott of Israel. And, sadly, certain key Greens are unwittingly helping to deliver the baby:

"The former Greens MLC Ian Cohen said the party's support for a boycott of Israel may have contributed to disappointing results in Balmain and Marrickville... Fiona Byrne of the Greens has not yet conceded in Marrickville but the former Labor deputy premier Carmel Tebbutt... looks set to retain the seat. Cr. Byrne, who supported a boycott of Israel as mayor of Marrickville, made a series of contradictory statements over whether she would bring the boycott to Parliament if elected... MLC David Shoebridge, who was re-elected, said 'the results were a victory... the most progressive party in NSW politics has not only held onto our vote but grown our vote to a historic high'.* But Mr Cohen, who is retiring, took a different view, calling the inability to secure either of the lower house seats a 'huge disappointment'. He said the Israel boycott had likely contributed. 'Electorally it could have made the difference in both those seats', he said, though he believed the party was right to take a principled stance. The Greens' federal leader, Bob Brown, said the boycott would certainly be looked at in the debrief. 'I'm picking up from the electorate that it was a matter of concern', he said." (Party puts on a brave face despite failing in its campaign to win a seat in the lower house, Josephine Tovey, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/3/11)

[* 10.3% - Lower House; 11.14% - Upper House]

Could you please speak up, Ian? What was that about the party being right to take a principled stance? And Bob - I'll leave my questions for you until after I've quoted this bit of Murdoch fishwrapper:

"The Greens' post-mortem of their NSW election result will consider whether the party failed to win the seat of Marrickville because of candidate Fiona Byrne's support for a boycott of Israel... Federal Greens leader Bob Brown admitted yesterday that voters were upset by Ms Byrne's repeated misleading statements over her decision... to support a motion boycotting goods and cultural exchanges from Israel. Ms Byrne said early in the campaign that if elected to parliament she would push for a statewide ban. However, she subsequently labelled her comments a 'falsehood' when they were reported by The Australian. Ms Byrne later denied she had 'pushed' for the motion, but was revealed to have been planning to speak at an anti-Israeli apartheid rally this week. Asked yesterday whether Ms Byrne's actions, which plagued the latter days of her campaign, had contributed to her failure, Senator Brown said: 'I think it had an effect on it - that's my feedback from the electorate and it's no doubt something that the NSW Greens will be looking at'." (Anti-Israeli stance focus of Greens review, Matthew Franklin & Amos Aikman, The Australian, 28/3/11)

Bob Brown admitted... voters were upset by Ms Byrne's repeated misleading statements is The Australian's spin on Brown's 'I think it had an effect on it - that's my feedback from the electorate...'

Still, if you think about it, despite The Australian's construction, Brown's comments raise more than a few questions about Brown himself. Questions such as: What feedback, Bob? Are you aware you're passing ammo to the Murdoch press, Bob? Are you perhaps undermining your NSW colleagues, and the courageous Fiona Byrne in particular, Bob? What about the swastikas drawn on Fiona Byrne's posters, Bob? Why aren't the federal Greens supporting BDS, Bob? Why do you share a platform with Michael Danby, Bob?

So Ms Byrne's actions... plagued the latter days of her campaign. Really? In fact, it was the Murdoch press and certain swastika-daubing elements* (amounting perhaps to an Australian version of the late Rabbi Kahane's fascist Jewish Defense League) which plagued the latter days of [Byrne's] campaign. [* See my 27/3/11 post A Very Ugly Turn Indeed]

No, I'm afraid I can only accept the myth that BDS was an electoral liability for Fiona Byrne if its propagators are prepared to swallow the idea that NSW Labor's promise of a bilateral trade agreement with Israel* was an electoral liability for the Labor government. [See my 22/3/11 post To Boycott or to Bed?]

The Counter-Revolution Firms 2

Further to yesterday's Angry Arab post on the tripartite (US/Saudi/Israeli) plot to knobble the Arab uprisings, here's an Israeli perspective on the latest, Syrian intifada. 'Better the devil you know...' seems to be the 'thinking':

"When Hilary Clinton said Sunday that the United States would not intervene in Syria militarily, she cited lack of international consensus.* But Washington, Israel, Turkey and Iran** all have great reasons to want Assad to remain at the helm. The Syrian president has grown closer to the US in recent years, earning his reward in the form of the return of an American ambassador to Damascus after a 6-year hiatus. He is seen as a safety valve against a violent attack by Hezbollah on Israel or against its physical takeover of Lebanon.*** He has also made known his disagreements with Iran following the controversial visit of Ahmadinejad to Lebanon. Assad's fall may open a path for Iran into Lebanon, without it having to consider Syria's position any longer." (Assad's fall could deliver Lebanon to Iran and Hezbollah, Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, 28/3/11)

[* Funny that! Lack of international consensus is never a problem for the US when it comes to intervening in the UN diplomatically to protect Israel; ** Bar'el here says Iran wants Asad "to remain at the helm," yet goes on to say "Assad's fall may open a path for Iran into Lebanon..." ?; *** See my 1/1/11 post Clean Up Lebanon]

Now here are the Saudis weighing in:

"Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday to reaffirm his support for the Syrian leadership, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Monday. Abdel Aziz said his kingdom supports Syria in confronting 'the conspiracy targeting [the country] and aimed at harming its security and stability', the report said." (Saudi king reaffirms support for Syrian leadership, nowlebanon.com, 28/3/11)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Counter-Revolution Firms

First the bad news, then the good, from The Angry Arab:

"I will write about how this nasty counter-revolution began. I believe that Saudi Arabia (with tacit Israeli support) decided to abort and hijack the Arab uprisings. This happened right after the fall of Mubarak when relations between Saudi Arabia and the US deteriorated due to Saudi displeasure with US behaviour (as if the US hadn't done all it could to save Mubarak!). But then the US came on board and the two are partners once again. Yesterday, I heard a most bizarre 'report' on Aljazeera: it said that a US/EU delegation is in Yemen to bring about a 'peaceful' transition to power. In Yemen, for potato's sake, where the US has been instrumental in the construction of a military-intelligence regime there. The close relationship between Prince Saud Faysal and the Egyptian Defense Minister Tantawi is the other element in this sinister plot. The US and Saudi Arabia (with Israel in the background) will basically try to guarantee that the emerging regimes are as bad as, if not worse, than the previous ones. Witness them try to bring Rif'at al-Asad [Syrian President Bashar al-Asad's uncle] and 'Abdul-Halim Khaddam [head of a so-called 'government in exile'], along with other reactionary elements from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to power in Syria. The opposition's task right now is to oppose all regimes and their Saudi puppet replacements. The good news is this: no matter what arrangements the plotters put in place, the people are no longer afraid and the old tight security controls will be a thing of the past." (The Saudi-US counter-revolution (with Aljazeera on board, angryarab.blogspot.com, 27/3/11)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speechless

The shit dished out to Palestinians never ceases to appal:

"The United Nations has launched a new plan to teach the Holocaust in Gaza schools,drawing fierce condemnation from Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, school teachers - and even the body tasked with peace negotiations with Israel... The uproar erupted after a UN official told a Jordanian daily in February that UNRWA, the main UN agency serving Palestinian refugees, would introduce a short case study about the Holocaust to Gaza students as part of its human rights curriculum." (Hamas protests UN plans to teach Gazans about the Holocaust, The Associated Press, Haaretz, 22/3/11)

Think about this one:

Here we have the world's supposed international peacekeeping body, still largely a White Man's club in 1947, cynically manipulated at the time by the Truman administration at the urging of Zionist lobbyists* to provide a legal cover for the dismemberment and conquest of Palestine by fanatical colonist bands bent on the establishment of an exclusively Jewish state, a goal which led inexorably to the ethnic cleansing of most of Arab Palestine in 1948 and the dispersal of its indigenous population into refugee camps in surrounding areas, including the Gaza Strip.

And the best the UN could do for these refugees, who only ever wanted to exercise their inalienable right of return to their homes and lands, is pass over 60-year's worth of General Assembly resolutions affirming that right, but to no avail. And this hopelessly emasculated organisation, mere putty in the hands of Israel's US bitch, which shamelessly uses its veto in the Security Council whenever Israel and its US lobby give the thumbs down, now proposes to tell the sniped at, shell-shocked children of the Gaza Ghetto that they have to study the Holocaust, an entirely European matter for which neither they nor their parents were in any way responsible, but which is shamelessly exploited by Israel and its agents overseas as a licence to keep them as brutalised, stateless refugees while the rest of the world turns a blind eye.

As the incomparable Norman Finkelstein put it so succinctly: Goebbels to teach Jews in Warsaw Ghetto history of German persecution by Mongols.

[* See my 25/6/09 post Now Honestly...]

A Very Ugly Turn Indeed

"The battle for Sydney's inner west took an ugly turn yesterday when police were called to investigate vandalism of Marrickville Greens' candidate Fiona Byrne's campaign posters that were defaced with swastikas. The Nazi symbols appeared on Ms Byrne's posters in Petersham and Enmore on Friday night, some scrawled with the words: 'Watch out for the Nazi'. Other threats have been made. Ms Byrne is the mayor of Marrickville Council, which controversially voted to boycott Israel 4 months ago. The boycott has sparked threats to other Marrickville councillors." (Swing to Greens is tinged red, Rachel Browne, Sydney Morning Herald, 27/3/11)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Israel's Man in the Australian Senate

"A resolution moved by Liberal Senator [Mitch] Fifield condemning Marrickville [Council's] decision to implement a boycott was just passed in the Federal Senate. The Greens were the only ones who opposed it." (Fear & loathing in Marrickville - BDS in Australia, Sabawi & Karkar, australiansforpalestine.com, 25/3/11)

Mitch - again!

In 2009, Mitch was in the Middle East's "Beacon of Hope & Liberty" on a Yachad Scholarship to study "the role of women in the Israeli military." (See my 11/7/09 post Hot on Gillard's High Heels)

In October last year, he was making moan in the Senate over the fate of an Israeli soldier captured by the Palestinian resistance whilst taking part in one of Israel's periodic killing sprees in the Gaza Ghetto. (See my 10/10/10 post A Productive Parliament)

In December last, Mitch again popped up in the Middle East's "Beacon of Hope & Liberty," performing with the Kevin Rudd Road Show. "It will be my fourth visit to Israel," he said in an adjournment speech (17/11/10) prior to departure. ( See my posts The Kevin Rudd Road Show 1-5, December 2010)

On March 22, this year Mitch fumed in a media release that: "The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Chris Evans, has today refused to condemn Marrickville Council's boycott of Israel... This is part of a campaign to delegitimise Israel."

On the following day, a Mitch media emission revealed that: "The Senate has today supported a motion by Senator Mitch Fifield denouncing Marrickville Council's boycott of Israel. The motion acknowledged Israel as legitimate, democratic and a good friend of Australia."

Mitch obviously has more go than the Energizer Bunny - at least when it comes to those things that really matter to this country.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mother of All Gerrymanders

This week has been Get Fiona Byrne Week at The Australian.

Today's Murdoch fishwrapper, however, in addition to the usual sniping, featured a 'commentary' by one Bruce Louden, described as "a senior writer with The Australian who has worked in both South Africa and the Middle East as a foreign correspondent."

Louden sets the scene thus: "Fiona Byrne, the Greens candidate who is favoured to win the [state] seat of Marrickville, is being plain silly in trying to draw parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa." (Green foolish to liken Israel & apartheid)

Silly because she supports "the so-called BDS movement ('boycott, divestment and sanctions' against 'Israeli apartheid')" apparently.

He writes, "Contrast Israel's democracy with the situation in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid when a small elite of whites held virtually all the political and economic power and members of the overwhelming black majority - 30 million to fewer than 3 million - were, simply because their skin was the wrong colour, discriminated against at every level..."

What Louden, of course, leaves out is that, at the beginning of 1948, the year in which the leaders of the Jewish colons in Palestine declared the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine, the Palestinian Arabs were a majority in their homeland. By the end of 1948, however, they had become a precarious minority in the new Jewish state, dubbed Israel.

Why?

Simple. They'd been ethnically cleansed, driven beyond the limits of the 78% of Palestine overrun by Zionist forces at the time. In this way, and no other, did the minority Jewish colons become a majority in most of Palestine. Think of it, if you will, as the mother of all gerrymanders.

Needless to say, if at any point thereafter, those Palestinians who had been driven out had been allowed to return to their ancestral lands, there would today be a Palestinian majority in Israel proper, but one lorded over by a small elite of Jews holding virtually all the political and economic power, to borrow Louden's words. However, having gone to the trouble of driving out the vast bulk of Palestine's indigenous Arab population, Israel's leaders were not about to risk such a quintessentially South African scenario and so lose Israel's trumpeted Jewish and democratic status.

Now, if only South Africa's whites had simply driven South Africa's blacks out in the same way...

For the full story on why, even without a Palestinian majority to lord over, Israel proper is still an apartheid state simply click on the Israeli apartheid label below and read my 24/5/10 post Second-Class Khaled. And for why Israel's occupation in the remaining 22% of Palestine merits the same designation, read my 21/9/09 post Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Gripe About The Greens

ABC Television's Q&A on Monday night led with the following question from an audience member:

"The United Nations belated intervention in Libya allowed Gaddafi to continue his brutal attacks on innocent civilians. Now that the no-fly zone is in place lives may be saved but are the Western nations capable of taking on this enormous responsibility in Libya?"

Predictably, the rambammed (2008) Labor Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason ("We all remember where we were on September 11...") Clare, a parliamentary spruiker for Australia's military involvement in Afghanistan, had no reservations whatever:

"... the fact that the UN has moved this resolution means that there are people alive today in Benghazi who would have been slaughtered by Gaddafi if it hadn't passed. This is a person who said that he would ensure there was no mercy for his citizens. His sons said there'd be rivers of blood... Now when you have a situation like that, I think there's a responsibility on the countries of the world to take action to try and stop [it]... "

Nor - surprisingly - did the next panelist, the Deputy Leader of The Australian Greens, Christine Milne:

"Yes, I agree and I think we've all been inspired over the last short while [by] the courage and bravery, particularly of young people, right throughout the Middle East as they pursue their dream of democracy, and it was so heartening to see the UN eventually get its act together and to now see the response of those holding out in Benghazi and to see that the international community has finally come to their assistance for the protection of civilians. So I think this is really important because you cannot leave a million people to the butchery that would have occurred had Gaddafi been allowed to go in there in the way he intended."

She seems to have no comprehension whatever that the UN's role here may simply have been to provide the necessary legal cover for a further expansion of US power in the Middle East. Nor does it occur to her, it seems, to say something about the appalling double standards inherent in the US actively championing freedom-seeking Libyans, while continuing to prop up those regimes which suppress the freedom-seeking peoples of Bahrain, Yemen, and Palestine.

What a sad state of affairs for a party which aspires to become a real third force in Australian politics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Natural Born Zionists

Follow the thread...

"The federal government will give the Remuneration Tribunal new powers to set pay for federal politicians in a move which could boost MPs' salaries in return for scrapping several existing entitlements... The base salary for MPs [is] $136,640 for a backbencher... Depending on how many entitlements were cashed out, this could lift the baseline salary of a federal backbencher to as much as $180,000... " (Federal politicians' pay will be set by independent tribunal, Mark Davis, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/3/11)

"Julia Gillard has stared down internal unrest over proposed welfare changes... During a robust caucus meeting yesterday, about 6 MPs and senators criticised a government bill that will crack down on dole recipients who fail to show for interviews or training. The bill will suspend payments immediately... Members of the Left faction, including Doug Cameron, Stephen Jones and Sharon Grierson, complained the loudest about the compliance crackdown, saying it was too harsh... The WA senator Glenn Sterle said there were sufficient 'bludgers' to warrant the crackdown while the former employment minister, Mark Arbib, pointed out it was the former Labor social security minister Brian Howe, not John Howard, who introduced a mutual obligation." (Gillard to push on with dole proposals, Coorey & Taylor, SMH, 23/3/11)

Julia Gillard: "[As a student] she was more inclined to deal with the Liberals, the Zionists and various right-wing groups than she was with the Left." (She's got it, Stevenson & Banham, SMH, 5/7/03) (See my 24/6/10 post Julia Gillard: A Retrospective)

Glenn Sterle: Chair of the Australia/Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group; Rambammed, 2008.

Mark Arbib: "The federal Labor minister and right-wing powerbroker Mark Arbib is one of the US embassy's valued confidential contacts, providing inside information and commentary on the workings of the government and the ALP." (Yank in the ranks: The powerbroker Mark Arbib has been America's Labor Party insider for years, Philip Dorling, SMH, 9/12/10) (See my 10/12/10 post WikiLeaks 6: Working for the Man)

"Julia Irwin, the member for Fowler says [Mark Arbib] responded to a speech she gave on the rights of the Palestinians by ordering her to take a trip to Israel and asking her to submit further speeches to him for clearance." (See my 30/7/10 post Get Thee to Israel!)

Our Boofhead in Afghanistan

Take up the White Man's burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk & wild
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil & half-child.
Rudyard Kipling, 1899

"A neo-Nazi organiser from Victoria has been working as a private military contractor in Afghanistan, mocking locals and holding secret ceremonies commemorating the deaths of German soldiers in World War II. Kenneth Stewart, 36, has worked as a military-trained paramedic, accompanying aid workers around Afghanistan. His Facebook page shows a swastika flag in his room in Kandahar, and another picture shows him surrounded by Afghans he refers to as 'my nignogs' with a friend adding the comment 'it's lovely to see a white man back in control of the subhuman'. On Stewart's Facebook page he regularly makes disparaging comments about Afghans, Aborigines, Jews and others... In Melbourne, he helps recruit white supremacists to the local branch of the Southern Cross Hammerskins, an international neo-Nazi group. He described himself on one internet forum as a 'skinhead, mercenary, pork-eating viking; not bad just misunderstood'." (Victorian neo-Nazi as medic in Afghanistan, Staff Reporter, The Age, 23/3/11)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To Boycott or to Bed?

That is the question:

"The Greens have refused to retract a statement on their website that misleadingly denies they intend to push for a statewide boycott of Israel if they are successful at the NSW election on Saturday. Fiona Byrne, the Greens candidate in the inner-western Sydney seat of Marrickville, posted the statement last week after The Australian reported she planned to push for NSW to support the anti-Israel global boycott, divestments and sanctions movement (GBDS) if she is elected... Labor campaign spokesman Luke Foley... said... 'Her boycott policy is divisive and destructive'." (Greens Israel boycott confusion, Imre Salusinzky, The Australian, 22/3/11)

OMG! The Greens believe in boycotting the apartheid state!

Shouldn't they be bedding it instead, like NSW Labor:

"According to the [Labor] party, 'Industry & Investment NSW has been in discussions with the [Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce] regarding a memorandum of understanding for research and development technology over the last 12 months'. These discussions have included both Eric Roozendaal in his capacity as Minister for State Development and Jodi McKay, the Minister for Science and Medical Research. 'While an agreement has not yet been reached, it is anticipated the further steps in negotiations would take place in the middle of the year'." (Labor's Israel trade plan, The Australian Jewish News, 4/3/11)

And wouldn't it be safer for NSW to bed Israel - considering that, if we boycott, we might end up on the wrong side of the feared Israel Defense Forces:

"Military Intelligence is collecting information about left-wing organizations abroad that the army sees as aiming to delegitimize Israel, according to senior Israeli officials and Israel Defense Forces officers... The new MI unit will monitor western groups involved in boycotting Israel, divesting from it or imposing sanctions on it." (Military Intelligence monitoring foreign left-wing organizations, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 21/3/11)

See what I mean? If you thought Mossad purloining our passports last year was a bit of a worry, what about the prospect of MI rifling through our drawers and filing cabinets this year?

Barack's Busy Right Now...

The Bahrain Foreign Minister, Khalid Al-Khalifa responds to foreign journalists (twitvid.com):

I [Toula Vlahou, CBS] had a very bad experience yesterday which is contrary to what I've experienced in Bahrain. I've been here a month.

Where? Where is it?

I was in a village outside my hotel in [inaudible]. I was fired upon by the riot police along with a colleague who happens to be Bahraini. He was terrified.

It's a very delicate situation.

Sir, I was in the car. I didn't do anything. They didn't ask me to stop.

They just fired on you?

We came up... yes!

It could be a... it's a very sensitive...

No, they fired. They were riot police. They had helmets and guns and tear gas, and because of the tear gas we decided to leave.

You should report that to a police station.

We did.

OK, then you did the right thing.

But why would they fire on a car?

(Moving away) I don't know. It's an incident that should be investigated.

(2nd journalist) There seem to be an awful lot that should be investigated...

(Bridling) You're not telling me there's a clear order for them to fire at any car? That's not true.

Apparently, they thought there was.

(Agitated) No, no, no, no. They're police. They're not high officers giving those directives...

[Inaudible]... riot police because they searched the car, they slashed the tyres, they smashed the windows. We found it that way. I did not see them...

(Moving away) Wait for your police report.

(3rd journalist) Look, how long can this continue? Basically, you're waging war.

No, we're not waging war. We're restoring law and order. Any suggestion that we are waging a war on anyone, especially our own people, is wrong and unacceptable.

You've cleared the roundabout. In Shia villages there have been clashes. I mean, how do you resume talks with any oppostion, how do you resume national dialogue?

There'll be a dialogue when their leaders come and resume talks. We've seen situations similar to that in the 90s and we came out of it and we know we're going to come out of it.

There are staffers at the hospital saying that they've been in Salmaniyeh for 3 or 4 days. They're not allowed out.

Which hospital?

Salmaniya. And when they leave they're beaten and sent back in.

I'm just hearing it from you.

I've spoken to 3 doctors... [indistinct]...

Nobody knows how many people have been beaten before they came to the hospital.

Nurses and doctors were not beaten. They're terrified and won't leave.

Have you seen the bruises? Have you seen the deaths of police?

I've seen a lot more dead protesters.

No, no, no. This is, this is...

Meanwhile, back on the ranch... John Kerry (D-MA), when asked why Libya was getting the treatment, but not Bahrain, "insisted that Iran and Hezbollah were secretly to blame for the protests" there, and, and, and, chipped in Admiral Michael Mullen, anyways, "Bahrain has been a critical ally for decades," but Libya hasn't, so there! (US struggles to explain difference between Bahrain, Libya, Jason Ditz, news.antiwar.com, 20/3/11)

And Barack, what's he got to say about this? Well, nothing really, because right now he's got weightier matters on his mind: "President Barack Obama marked the Persian New Year, Nowruz, by reaching out to Iranian youth, saying the future of their country is in their hands and that he supports them. 'The future of Iran belongs to the young people - the youth who will determine their own destiny', Obama said on Sunday in a video posted on the White House web site. 'Your talent, your hopes and your choices will shape the future of Iran, and help light the world. And though times may be dark, I want you to know that I am with you', Obama said." (Obama sends message of solidarity to Iran's youth, Reuters, nytimes.com, 20/3/11)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jogging Uri Avnery's Memory

Spare a thought for that oxymoron, the progressive Zionist. The Israeli peace movement's leading luminary, Uri Avnery, in his latest essay, A dirty word (zope.gush-shalom.org, 19/3/11), uncritically hearts Western intervention in Libya - and manages, not surprisingly for a rusted-on Zionist, to forget all sorts of things along the way:

"On Thurdsay evening I could not think of anything except Libya. First I heard the blood-curdling speech by Muammar Gaddafi, in which he promised to occupy Benghazi within hours and drown the rebels in a bloodbath."

So Libya took your mind off the Israeli air strikes which have been pounding the Gaza Strip of late, Uri?

"I was extremely worried and extremely furious with the international community and especially with the US, which had wasted days and weeks of precious time with empty phrase-mongering, while the dictator reconquered Libya bit by bit."

Yeah, and while the Israeli air force was pounding Gaza... to bits.

"Then there was the almost incredible sight of the UN Security Council... unanimously adopting the resolution calling for military intervention. The scene that ensued in Benghazi's central square and broadcast live on Aljazeera reminded me of Mugrabi Square in Tel Aviv on November 29, 1947, just after the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state. The feelings of joy and relief were palpable."

Took you back, did it, to that glorious time when the Truman administration, acting under Zionist pressure, had to twist a few arms to ensure the passing of a resolution giving the UN's imprimatur to the dismemberment of Palestine, over the heads of its people, and on behalf of recently arrived Jewish colons such as yourself. (See my 25/6/09 post Now Honestly)

"The hesitation of the US... to intervene militarily in Libya was... monstrous... For me, 'non-intervention' is a dirty word."

Oh, really? It wasn't a dirty word in 2003 when you noted - sensibly then - just prior to the US's intervention in Iraq: "As for democracy: Americans don't give a damn. Some of their best friends in the Islamic world are dictators, some more, some less cruel than Saddam. As the old American adage goes: 'He is a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch'" (The smell of war, 8/2/03).

And you were right in predicting then that: "For sure, Bush will try to set up some native Iraqi government, in order to disguise and lend legitimacy to the American occupation. There are any number of volunteers, ready to serve as Quislings. Then again, Bush may prefer some new Saddam Hussein, a dictator appointed by them." Their son-of-a-bitch, eh? But what you wrote then is of no relevance to the US's latest intervention in Libya now? Are you implying that the US is intervening there purely because, this time around, they do give a damn about democracy, and that they have no intention whatever, this time around, of instaling their son-of-a-bitch, whoever he may be? Not, of course, that Gaddafi hadn't been their son-of-a-bitch these years past.

Oh, and didn't you tell us back in 2003 that: "I do not belong to those who can speak of war with equanimity. I have seen war. I see the thousands who will be killed, the tens of thousands that will be wounded and maimed, the hundreds of thousands that will become refugees, the ruined families, the sea of tears and human suffering. I join the millions all over the world who say NO." How prophetic you were back then, but again, have those wise words of yours no relevance for US intervention in Libya today?

"It reminds me of the Spanish civil war, which took place when I was very young. In 1936, the Spanish republic and the Spanish people were viciously attacked by a Spanish general, Francisco Franco, with troops imported from Morocco. It was a very bloody war, with untold atrocities. Franco was decisively aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. German Air Force planes terrorized Spanish cities... The Western democracies adamantly refused to help the republic and coined the term 'non-intervention'. Non-intervention meant in practice that Great Britain and France did not intervene, while Germany and Italy did, and did their worst. The only foreign power to help the beleaguered democrats was the Soviet Union... At the time, it looked like a clear fight between good and absolute evil. Idealists from all over the world joined the International Brigades of the republic."

So, are you suggesting that the International Brigades of the Spanish civil war now the cruise missiles of Libya?

I've already had to remind you that Israeli warplanes are, even now, striking defenceless Palestinians in Gaza, but do I also have to remind you of what was going on in your 'own' backyard from 1936-39, when you were 13-15 years old? That's right, non-interventionary Britain, with the aid of Jewish mercenaries recently imported from Europe, were doing their worst to the Palestinians who had bravely risen up against their British masters. As Mike Marqusee, writing about his Avnery-like, progressive, but hopelessly Zionist, grandfather, EVM, pointed out in his memoir, If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew (2008):

"The White Paper of 1939 - opposed in the House of Commons by the Labour Party and from the Conservative benches by Winston Churchill - was a concession [to the Palestinians] made necessary by British priorities after the brutal suppression of the Arab Revolt of 1936-39, of which EVM shows, unsurprisingly, no awareness. In contrast to the Spanish Civil War... the most intense and sustained anti-colonial insurgency of its time was ignored by the left in Europe and North Anerica, and actually denounced by the British Labour Party as 'fascist'." (p 127)

And, since Marqusee's open before me and your memory seems shaky, let's remind ourselves of the dimensions and significance of that insurgency: "The Arab Revolt had begun in April 1936 with a general strike of Arab Palestinian workers that ran for 175 days, throughout which the Zionist trade union federation, the Histadrut, acted as strikebreaker-in-chief. By the strike's end in October, there were 37 British, 80 Jews and 1,000 Palestinian dead. The revolt now spread into the countryside, and for the next 2 years much of Palestine was in the hands of the rebels who also controlled significant urban areas, including at times the old city of Jerusalem, and mounted constant attacks on the Iraq Petroleum Company's critical pipeline to Haifa. After the Munich Agreement in September 1938, the British were able to deploy sufficient forces to crush the revolt. Punitive expeditions were mounted against villages, which were also bombed from the air. Mass arrests were followed by torture and hangings. In all this the British were aided by the Haganah, the Jewish military 'defense' force in Palestine founded in 1920; it was at this time that its elite unit, later known as the Palmach, came into being under British supervision. Meanwhile, the Irgun, the Revisionists' military wing, mounted a terror campaign against Palestinians, bombing marketplaces in Haifa, Jerusalem, and Jaffa. The suppression of the revolt left 5,000 dead, the Palestinians leaderless, disorganized and largely disarmed, while the Yishuv emerged with a strengthened infrastructure and well-trained armed force. Thus the British laid the foundations for the Zionist victory in 1948." (pp 127-128)

My God, Uri, could it be that, by recalling your enthusiam for the Spanish republicans, you're actually trying to block out your choice as a 14-year old in 1938 to join the Irgun, which, as Marqusee reminds us, was busy at the time bombing Arab marketplaces ? (For a more detailed account of same, see my 27/6/08 post Breathtaking Zionist Hypocrisy)

"If I had been only a few years older, I would without doubt have volunteered, too. In 1948, we sang with gusto the songs of the International Brigades in our own war."

Oh, did you now? But are you sure you were on the right side in that dirty war of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people? (See my 1/6/08 post Uri Avnery's 1948: A Critique)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

False Messiah

"... A light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany... & you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama." Barack Obama, Lebanon, New Hampshire, 7/1/08

For Obama so loved the Libyan people that He...

"... approved US missile strikes on Libya, warning a defiant Muammar Gaddafi that 'actions have consequences' but stressing that no US ground troops would deploy to the North African nation... Pentagon officials said US and British warships and submarines fired 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libya's air defence systems in 'Operation Dawn', the first phase of military action against Libya to impose a UN-mandated no-fly zone. 'We must be clear: actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced', Obama told reporters... 'I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice, and it's not a choice that I make lightly', Obama said. 'But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells the people there will be no mercy, and when his forces step up their assault on cities like Benghazi and Misrata where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government'." (Obama OKs missile strikes on Libya, AAP, 20/3/11)

Yet, for the innocent men and women of Bahrain, all He could manage was a lecture on restraint:

"At least 6 people were killed and hundreds wounded in Bahrain Wednesday when security forces crushed protesters camped in Manama, witnesses said. Explosions were heard and smoke seen billowing over the capital, al-Jazeera reported. A curfew was imposed on downtown areas including the Pearl Roundabout and the Bahrain Financial Harbour. Witnesses said the forces - armed with tanks, helicopters and jeeps mounted with machine guns - fired tear gas, rubber bullets and possibly live ammunition into crowds of protesters, as well as trashing vehicles, The New York Times reported... King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa Tuesday imposed martial law. On Monday, 2,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to the island monarchy... A White House spokesman called for calm and restraint, and expressed concerns about violence from all sides." (6 deaths reported in Bahrain crackdown, upi.com, 16/3/11)

And for the innocents of Yemen, a mere tap on the wrist:

"Beleagured Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered a state of after regime loyalists on Friday killed at least 46 protesters, according to medics, in the bloodiest clash in weeks of unrest. Witnesses said pro-Saleh 'thugs' had rained bullets from rooftops around a square at Sanaa University, the centre of demonstrations against Saleh, adding that more than 400 were wounded... The violence drew international condemnation, with US President Barack Obama calling on his key anti-terror ally to live up to a pledge to allow peaceful protests and engage with the opposition." (46 dead in Yemen protest bloodbath: medics, al-Jaberi & Mounassar, news.smh.com.au, 19/3/11)

As for the innocents of Gaza 2008-2009, how could we possibly forget His deafening silence?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

When Will the West Intervene to Protect Bahrainis from... the West?

The freedom-fighting people of Libya are being slaughtered by a madman who has tyrannised over them for the past 42 years. This is intolerable and must stop NOW:

"That the G8, comprising the world's 8 most powerful industrialised nations, has adopted a limp-wristed response to the Libyan crisis is a sad comment on the failure of the international community to respond effectively to Muammar Gaddafi's atrocities... This is a tragedy for those fighting for democracy as much as it is for international morality. Standing on diplomatic niceties while people are being slaughtered is a gross betrayal." (Editorial: Libyans will pay the price, The Australian, 17/3/11)

"[Australian] Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd hit out at G8 nations for failing to back the establishment of a flight-exclusion zone over Libya... Mr Rudd said the international community should look at the UN's record: 'Rwanda - fail, Darfur - fail, the Balkans - partial fail'." (Rudd raps G8 as 'weak' on Libya, Daniel Flitton, The Age, 17/3/11)

The apparently freedom-seeking, but obviously IRANIAN-manipulated SHI'ITE people of Bahrain are being lovingly laid to rest and otherwise well taken care of by an eminently sane and reasonable SUNNI dynasty, which has selflessly and thanklessly lavished STABILITY on them for the past 200 years. This is intolerable (the sheer ingratitude of these IRANIAN dupes, that is) and they (the dupes, of course) must be stopped NOW:

"In Bahrain, where a Sunni King Hamad is under threat from an uprising by the Shi'ite majority with highly significant Iranian involvement, Saudi Arabian troops and police from the UAE have arrived to restore order without approval from the Arab League or Security Council. While legitimate questions may be raised about this incursion, it shows a decisiveness that eludes the world on Libya." (Libyans will pay...)

"Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said... 'These protests and protesters should be conducted peacefully... The response to them should be by peaceful means as well'." (Rudd urges restraint in Bahrain, AAP, afr.com, 18/3/11)

So runs the current rhetoric of the corporate media and the servants of empire. But, if Libyans need the West to protect them from Gaddafi, then surely Bahrainis need the West... someone... anyone?... to protect them from... the West:

"According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the branch of the government that coordinates sales and transfers of military equipment to allies, the US has sent Bahrain dozens of 'excess' American tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The US has also given the Bahrain Defense Force thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, from large-caliber cannon shells to bullets for handguns. To take one example, the US supplied Bahrain with enough .50 caliber rounds - used in sniper rifles and machine guns - to kill every Bahraini in the kingdom four times over... In addition... the Pentagon in coordination with the State Department oversaw Bahrain's purchase of more than $386 million in defense items and services from 2007 to 2009, the last 3 years on record. These deals included the purchase of a wide range of items from vehicles to weapons systems. Just this past summer, to cite one example, the Pentagon announced a multimillion-dollar contract with Sikorsky Aircraft to customize 9 Black Hawk helicopters for Bahrain's Defense Force... Bahrain is, of course, a small island in the Persian Gulf, but it is also the home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which the Pentagon counts as a crucial asset in the region. It is widely considered a stand-in for neighboring Saudi Arabia, America's gas station in the Gulf, and for Washington, a nation much too important ever to fail. The Pentagon's relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries has been cemented in several key ways... Bahrain alone took home $20 million in US military assistance last year. In an allied area, there is the rarely discussed triangular marriage between defense contractors, the Gulf states and the Pentagon. The 6 Gulf nations (along with regional partner Jordan) are set to spend $70 billion on weaponry and equipment this year, and as much as $80 billion per year by 2015. As the Pentagon looks for ways to shore up the financial viability of weapons manufacturers in tough economic times, the deep pockets of the Gulf states have taken on special importance... An even more significant aspect of the relationship between the Gulf states and the Department of Defense is the Pentagon's shadowy archipelago of military bases across the Middle East. While the Pentagon hides or downplays the existence of many of them, and while Gulf countries often conceal their existence from their own populations as much as possible, the US military maintains sites in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and of course Bahrain - home port for the Fifth Fleet, whose 30 ships, including 2 aircraft carriers, patrol the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea." (Murder in Bahrain, Nick Turse, original.antiwar.com, 15/3/11)

God help the freedom-seeking people of Bahrain - because no one else will.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What a Mensch!

Politicians say the darndest things:

"I've never done anything with the Jewish community for votes because my own constituency has very few members of the Jewish community', the [outgoing state Labor] Member for Riverstone [John Aquilina] said [at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies monthly plenum]. 'I do it out of sincerity for people who have carried the world on their shoulders for more than 5,000 years'. He added he felt the Jewish community led the way for the rest of the world." (Community thanks long-time friends, The Australian Jewish News, 18/3/11)

Of course, such priceless insights don't come cheap:

"MP John Aquilina will receive an annual payout of about AUS$170,224." (MPs leave with pots of gold, Aston & Wood, Sydney Morning Herald, 31/10/10)

But I think we can all agree John and his colleagues are worth every cent.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time to Learn from Israel

Today's edition of The Australian's Cut & Paste gives the Green Left Weekly (not to mention the Spanish) a well-deserved pasting for its naivete and failure to call a spade a spade:

"Green Left Weekly on Sunday on the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: MUSLIMS Against Homophobia, a recently formed support group for queer Muslims in Sydney, made a groundbreaking appearance in the parade. In the past, most Muslim societies were sexually permissive. Some Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East, had a widespread homosexual culture that tolerated sexual relationships between men. But the moralistic colonial authorities, mostly strict Christians, disapproved of sex between men and banned it."

"Britain's The Guardian newspaper, June 9 last year: A DELEGATION of gay residents of Tel Aviv has been banned from joining a gay pride march in Madrid because authorities in the Israeli city have not condemned the recent attack on the Gaza flotilla. The Tel Aviv group [has] reacted angrily to the decision. 'Don't they know that Islamist fundamentalists don't just want to finish off Israel but that they also believe homosexuals should 'cure themselves' or die?'"

"BBC News, 2003: "GAY Palestinian men are risking their lives to cross the border into Israel, claiming they feel safer among Israelis.* Gay Palestinians say they are mainly persecuted at home because of religious attitudes. Many Muslims claim that homosexuality is strictly against the Koran."

"Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade travel advisory for Iran, March 4: HOMOSEXUAL acts are illegal in Iran for both men and women and penalities include the death penalty and corporal punishment."

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University, September 24, 2007: IN Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you we have it."

Like Ahmadinejad, those Muslim-loving lefties are in total denial about Muslim homophobia! If only Muslims would take a leaf from Israel's book:

"An Israeli umbrella organization encompassing gay and lesbian groups told prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that ministers in his government are guilty of incitement against the homosexual and transgender community... A Haaretz-Dialog poll has found that nearly half of the Israeli population believe that homosexuality is a perversion. The poll, conducted under Prof. Camil Fuchs, finds that 46% of the people surveyed answered the question 'Do you see homosexuality as a perversion?' In the affirmative, while 42% answered that it was not a perversion. Twelve percent said they did not know. The survey also finds that 71% of the ultra-Orthodox population believe homosexuality is a perversion. So do 67% of the religious (Orthodox), 64% of the Arabs, 57% of the Russian speaking immigrants, 44% of the observant (traditional) Jews and 24% of the secular population." (Gay leaders to Netanyau: Your ministers incite against us, Kosharek, Yaron & Ilani, Haaretz, 6/8/09)

"Rabbis from the religious Zionist community have launched an initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women - with some surprising successes. So far, 11 marriages have been performed... [Rabbi] Harel introduced [Ronni and Etti], and as the first of his gay-lesbian couples, they term themselves 'guinea pigs'. They are careful to keep up normal appearances before the children and the outside world, even sleeping in the same room, though they don't sleep together. Their children were born through artificial insemination." (Israeli rabbis launch initiative to marry gay men to lesbian women, Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, 11/3/11)

"Jewish fundamentalists have displayed severe enmity against Jews who adopt a different sexual life style. Many Israeli rabbis and the Israeli religious political parties in the 1990s reacted sharply against the increased visibility and power of the homosexual and lesbian communities in Israel. According to the Halacha (Jewish religious law), homosexuality is punishable by death by stoning, and, although the punishment is not clear, lesbian relations are forbidden." (Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, Shahak & Mezvinsky, 2004, p xviii)

[*And they lived happily ever after in the Jewish state, right? Well... not exactly: "The man said he fled to Israel. There, he says, he was placed under virtual house arrest because he was viewed as a potential security risk." (Palestinian gays flee to Israel, newsvote.bbc.co.uk, 22/10/03)]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's the Settlements, Stupid!

How to prevent injury to Israeli life & limb in the West Bank? It's really, really simple. Just pack your bags and go:

"What makes [the option of unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories] so significant is that it is instantly available to Israel and has been, at any time, for years. It requires no negotiations, no change in Palestinian attitudes, no trust, and no improvement in the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority. An Israeli major in the Israeli armored corps showed an appreciation of the situation when he said that:

'Make no mistake, Israel has no other reason for remaining in the Occupied Territories than to preserve the existing settlements, even when they are deep within Palestinian centers of population. Maybe the Palestinians are not interested in peace - one of the most commonly heard justifications for our recent invasions - and truly want to push us into the sea. Even then, we would be much better off defending ourselves from the 1967 borders rather than from inside the narrow alleys of Jenin, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. This is why I think that the occupation runs against the most basic interests of the state of Israel, even to the extent of threatening its very existence'.

"The political difficulties involved in getting Israelis to accept the proposal are irrelevant to its viability: they simply mean that Israel may not choose it, and that decision would remain Israel's responsibility. As for the settlers, they pose no problem at all: they can either leave or fend for themselves. Colonial history suggests, moreover, that settlers are not nearly so fierce in their resistance to displacement as they would like themselves and others to believe. This has proven to be the case throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in Algeria. There, despite a large, heavily-armed and well-organized underground movement, settler opposition collapsed when, in 1962, the French government opened fire on a settler demonstration, killing 80 and wounding 200. Presumably, overcoming settler opposition would not require such drastic measures in Israel.

"It is sometimes alleged that complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories is 'impracticable' because the facts on the ground are too deeply entrenched: Israeli settlements are just too extensive and important to uproot. One can hardly take this seriously. If it was 'practicable' for hundreds of thousands of stateless Palestinians to leave their homes, why is this impracticable for half as many Israeli citizens in far more comfortable and peaceful circumstances? Throughout modern history, from the waves of US immigration to the peaceful post-World War II population transfers, there have been far greater shifts than this movement of a few miles. In many cases, if the settlers prefer, they can simply return to their homes in the United States. 'It's impracticable' seems here a stand-in for 'Aw, gee, these towns are too nice to let the Arabs have them'.

"The significance of the withdrawal alternative is not that it represents a just solution. Arguably, justice would require much more than that - not only the abolition of Jewish sovereignty in Israel but a full right of return, with compensation, for the Palestinians, and the eviction of Jewish inhabitants occupying Palestinian property. But the existence of the withdrawal alternative effectively completes the case against Israel. Its willful and pointless rejection of that alternative places Israel decisively in the wrong.

"In the first place, Israel has a right of self-defense, but it does not apply in the Occupied Territories. If the US invaded Jamaica and dotted it with settlements, neither the settlers nor the armed forces could invoke any right to defend themselves against the Jamaicans, any more than a robber who invaded your house. So it is with Israelis in the Occupied Territories. Their right of self-defense is their right to the least violent defensive alternative. Since withdrawal (perhaps followed by fortifying their own 1948 border) is by far their best and least violent defense, that is all they have a right to do.

"In the second place, since Israel can withdraw at will and close its border, Israel can put an end to virtually all the violence. That violence is occasioned by the settlement policy, which is Israel's sole reson for the occupation. Since that occupation has no defensive or strategic rationale, Israel has no good reason to prolong it. Since Israel is willfully pursuing an unjustifiable strategy that it can end at no cost, it is responsible for all the consequences of that strategy. It follows that all the violence, and all horrors of the occupation, are to be laid at Israel's doorstep." (The Case Against Israel, Michael Neumann, 2005, pp 138-140)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Predator & Prey

Here's the first ms press report of this incident I happened to come across. All the others will be much the same, of course. Typically, it tells less than the full story, and, for anyone with half a brain, raises far more questions than it answers (And the papers wonder why no one is reading them these days):

"A Jewish couple and three of their children were stabbed to death in bed in a West Bank settlement in what Israeli officials said... was an attack by one or more Palestinians who broke into their home... In a televised speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed shock that the parents and three of their children - including a baby - were 'brutally murdered on Sabbath eve while sleeping'... The office of US President Barack Obama said: 'There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and their children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack'. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later put out a statement condemning 'all acts of violence against civilians, regardless of who carried them out and their motives'. Netanyahu... said the statements by the Palestinian leadership were not enough and that it must take action to end incitement against Israelis in Palestinian schools, mosques and media. The Quartet of Middle East mediators also condemned the killings and said it 'welcomes the strong condemnation of this attack by President Abbas... Colonel Nimrod Aloni, the Israeli army's division commander for the area, told reporters that troops were searching nearby Palestinian villages... Violence in the West Bank has dropped significantly since its peak during a Palestinian uprising a decade ago. Tensions had arisen earlier in the week when Israeli troops fired live rounds at Palestinians after they clashed with settlers. Ten Palestinians and one Israeli were wounded in the confrontation." (Jewish couple & 3 children killed in W. Bank, Reuters, au.news.yahoo.com, 13/3/11)

A West Bank settlement? Would it help to know that West Bank settlements are illegal under international law? Nah... that'd make this particular crime a little too nuanced. Readers might start asking inconvenient questions about another, much greater crime - the relentless colonisation of Palestinian land - which, as surely as night follows day, is bound to guarantee some bad shit, right? Why, readers might actually start asking what Israeli settlers are doing on Palestinian land anyway, and we, the meeja, can't be responsible for that little thought crime, now can we?

And don't you just love how Netanyahu is shocked? And how Obama - who goes to water every time he's expected to stare down Netanyahu on the subject of settlements - calls on the Palestinian poodle, Abbas, to take a nip at his own tale?

Then's the 'i' word - no, not illegal this time - incitement. Netanyahu is actually saying that, if only Palestinians weren't taught how to hate the theft and colonisation of their land, they might actually enjoy, or even welcome, the process. Ain't he a gem?

Finally, notice how whenever the ms press talks about West Bank violence, it always means Palestinian violence? And notice how these violent Palestinians are forever clashing with (presumably peaceful) Israeli settlers?

Just can't help themselves I guess. I mean, if love is not exactly in the air, then at least all is calm, all is bright, right?

Until, of course, the beast that lurks within every Palestinian is inevitably and inexplicably roused and he/it goes on the ancestral warpath. As Gilad Sharon, son of the late (?) Ariel (no slouch in the settlement construction biz he), channeling ancient colonial wisdom, colourfully reminds us:

"You can put a mask on the Palestinian wild beast, such as a speaker who speaks fluent English. You can even put it in a 3-piece suit and a silk tie. But every once in a while, when the moon is born, when a raven defecates on the head of a howling jackal, or when the pita-bread with za'atar has gone wrong, the beast feels that this is its night, and, out of primal instinct, ventures forth to ambush its prey." (A raging hora on the blood: four notes, Yossi Gurvitz, ygurvitz.net, 13/3/11)

Its prey? But who are the real predators here?

"In this period [8/10 - 3/11] of 'relative calm' [as the Washington Post's Janine Zacharia put it], the Israeli Human Rights group B'Tselem recorded at least 41 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in occupied Palestinian territory. This includes Omar Qawasmeh, the 66-year-old Palestinian civilian murdered in his bed while he slept by raiding Israeli soldiers and two unarmed Palestinian civilians in their twenties shot dead at the same checkpoint less than a week apart. That reports can describe the killings of dozens of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers as 'relative calm' and find them completely unremarkable is disgusting in itself. Still, it's only part of the story. Readers may know that one of our ongoing research projects at the Palestine Center [in...] is the recording and analysis of Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians. This past Fall, we made an extensive presentation of this data that sheds light on a facet of occupation almost never discussed. The presentation covered data from January 2009 - August 2010, and included over 1,000 instances of settler violence. Since then, we've undertaken the charting of settler violence over a 6-year period which will be the most comprehensive analysis I'm aware of... So what instances of settler violence were there in the period [8/10 - 3/11] of 'relative calm' that Zacharia describes? There were, in fact, over 300 instances of settler violence during this period which left over 85 unarmed Palestinians injured, 4 dead, and inestimable property damage, including thousands of torched or uprooted olive and almond trees. Among these events were over 26 acts of arson, 59 acts of destruction of property, 32 physical attacks, 20 shootings, 60 acts of stone throwing and 23 instances of theft. There were also 10 instances of vehicular attacks where settlers mowed down Palestinian civilians including a 5-year old and an 11-year old in Hebron, an 85-year old in Salfit, and this horrifying act caught on video in Jerusalem* [in October last year]." (In Palestine, everything is relative: the settler violence you won't hear about, Yousef Munayyer, blog.thejerusalemfund.org, 12/3/11)

[* Go on... guess who got arrested in this case.]

PS: And while we're on the subject of predators: "Today the village of Awarta, near Nablus, is facing the second day of a severe curfew imposed by the Israeli military, following Friday morning's murder of a settler family in the settlement of Itamar. Three ISM activists - Cinda 23, Chad 25, from Sweden, and Cissy 53, from Norway - are currently trapped in the village. Anyone caught stepping outside of their house is arrested. Soldiers have said that they'll maintain the curfew until they've apprehended the settler family's murderer. The army hasn't presented any evidence that the murderer was from Awarta, and villagers have said to the ISM that they strongly doubt the murderer was even Palestinian as the settlement is so heavily guarded it would be impossible to break in. Soldiers are beating people and continuing their house raids, destroying houses from the inside, cutting off electricity, and polluting the drinking water by throwing mud in the water tanks. Thirty homes were occupied by soldiers last night. Computers and phones have been destroyed and money and property stolen. Over the last 2 days soldiers have been throwing sound grenades inside and outside the houses, and shooting in the air. The ISM activists may be arrested soon, but they intend to stay as long as possible because they feel their presence improves the behavior of the soldiers, and villagers have asked them to stay. As of 12:30pm the ISM activists are locked in a room with the children of the family that they've been staying with while soldiers search the house. They've heard an unconfirmed report that 100 village men were taken into detention at the school for interrogation a few hours ago." (Three Scandinavian ISM activists trapped by curfew in Awarta village following settlers' murder, International Solidarity Movement, 14/3/11)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Return of the Witch-Hunter

Islamophobia, unlike the proverbial shit, doesn't just happen. A lot of money and work go towards making it happen.

In his enormously insightful essay, The Return of the Witch-Finder (10/3/11), prompted by Republican (NY) congressman Steve King's current hearing into the 'Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community & that Community's Response', antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo exposes the re-emergence of a same old, same old industry dedicated exclusively to the whipping up of fear and hysteria among the ignorant and the gullible. Here's my abridged version of Raimondo's superb and timely analysis:

"During the cold war era... [n]umerous right-wing groups sprang up whose only apparent function was to catalogue and 'expose' manifestations of the Commie Menace operating in our midst... [These] professional anti-communists, many of them ex-Communists of one sort or another, created a cottage industry out of their disillusionment: they wrote books, went on lecture tours, set up a multitude of organizations, and made lucrative careers out of the cause. Their ultimate goal, to get on the government payroll, was achieved in all too many instances. The national security apparatus, which was then beginning to burgeon into its present bloated size, was primed to absorb them, with such ex-leftists as Jay Lovestone, former national secretary of the Communist Party, going to work for the CIA. The anti-Communist propaganda apparatus that sprang up in the wake of the cold war deployed platoons of embittered ex-communists and former Trotskyites and gave gainful employment to an entire generation of embittered ex-leftist intellectuals who, otherwise unemployable, would have ended their days sitting in the corner bar, drowning their memories of disillusion and betrayal in drink. Those who didn't manage to weasel their way into government jobs were taken in by right-wing think-tanks, and magazines such as National Review - whose chief editorial contributors, from the very beginning, were recruited from among this league of tattle-tales and turncoats.

"With the sudden implosion of the Soviet Empire, all these people were out of business: like many real estate agents in the wake of the housing bust, these former 'experts' in a field that no longer had much money in it had to find other work - a new bubble, and a new scam, with which to entice a fresh crop of suckers/customers. The first years of the post cold-war era were not promising, and they were indeed lean years for the witch-hunters. There was no enemy, no Satan-with-a-sword, with enough stature or menace to constitute a credible threat - and, therefore, no internal 'fifth column' to vilify, hunt down, and prosecute. What's a witch-hunter to do? The 9/11 terrorist attacks solved that problem for them quite neatly. The new Enemy: Muslims. The Fifth Column: the many Muslim organizations, and the several thousand mosques in the US, along with the entire Muslim-American population. The witch-hunt was back on, and there was more money in it than ever. An entire 'homeland security' industry grew like kudzu, fed and carefully nurtured with lucrative government contracts and the post 9/11 hysteria that gripped the nation and validated a veritable flood of federal dollars poured into projects with little or no congressional oversight. The industry is still growing by leaps and bounds, perhaps the only sector of the economy which is experiencing a boom at this point.

"Most of these corporate entities are involved with the development of various high-tech snooping devices, 'cyber-warfare', and recruiting mercenaries, but a vital and growing subset are the propaganda outfits. These often assume an air of semi-objectivity, like Steven Emerson's 'The Investigative Project on Terrorism', whose very name combines the imagery of both journalism and law enforcement. Others are openly ideological, like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, whose founder and director, Dr Zuhdi Jasser, was Rep. Steve King's star witness at the anti-Muslim show hearings which opened on Thursday. In his testimony, Dr Jasser singled out his rivals among the various Muslim groups as little more than a jihadist fifth column... This is always the method of the Grand Inquisitors: create a fifth column within the alleged 'fifth column'... While repeating his talking points, he kept coming back to one particular point: how 'we' (ie the government) have to come up with the 'resources' (ie tax dollars) to conduct the 'war of ideas' against the Bad Guys... Give us the 'resources', give us the 'drive' and a 'platform' - and that is precisely what the King hearings aim at, aside, of course, from instilling in the public the idea that Muslims are a dangerous fifth column who may one day have to be interned and at the very least closely watched...

"As in the past, foreign influences and interests figure in the witch-hunt. Dr Jasser, besides being Rep. King's star witness, was the star of a film entitled The Third Jihad, which purports to 'prove' that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated all aspects of American life, and poses a serious threat of installing an Islamic government in the United States, with shariah law as the law of the land. The film, along with another one, Obsession, was financed by the Clarion Fund, a 'charity' run by Aish HaTorah, which Nation writer Sarah Posner describes as 'one of Orthodox Judaism's most successful outreach programs'. The group, international in scope, has its headquarters in Jerusalem, where the Israeli government has awarded it 40% of the land facing the Western Wall. On one of its websites, dedicated to preventing intermarriage between Jews and people of other faiths, Aish HaTorah notes: 'As one Israeli official explained why Aish HaTorah was chosen to receive these two prestigious locations, 'Unless we get today's youth to identify with our heritage, who will make Aliyah, who will buy Israeli bonds, who will support the Federation drives? Aish HaTorah is doing the job!' The Israeli government funds Aish HaTorah's extensive 'outreach' programs, as well as its international headquarters, including its propaganda activities in the US. No doubt the extremist government now in power in Tel Aviv considers the anti-Muslim sentiment stoked by Jasser and his ideological bedfellows to be a fertile field indeed, to be harvested for all it's worth. The King hearings are a propaganda triumph for the Israeli government, and the Israelis are in the background of this movement, encouraging and even indirectly funding it, as in the case of the Aish HaTorah-Clarion Fund connection. In this way, some of the $3 billion a year we ship to Israel is being used to shape American public opinion and government policy. What with the Park 51 controversy and the recent uptick in anti-Muslim rhetoric by such finger-in-the-wind opportunists as Newt Gingrich (whose film, America at Risk, also featured Dr Jasser), the witch-hunt has been gathering steam in recent days. The King hearings are the culmination of a well-planned and well-financed campaign by foreign interests to foist a ridiculous conspiracy theory on the American public - a conspiracy theory, I'm sad to say, that has resonance with all too many Americans."

One of Life's Little Mysteries

Further to my last post on East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta, this letter was published in The Australian Jewish News of March 4:

"I have recently returned from a trip (working holiday) in East Timor... As a non-Jew who has been a committed and passionate Zionist for over 40 years and a regular visitor to Israel, I am continually delighted while travelling in East Timor at the high level of support for Israel. The East Timorese are over 90% Roman Catholic, yet my experience - admittedly somewhat subjective - is that they are strong and often vocal supporters of Israel. Pro-Israel graffiti is common not only in the capital, Dili, but also in country areas. I have even seen buses with the Israeli flag and pro-Israel slogans painted on them. It is also worth noting that the President of East Timor, Ramos-Horta, recently visited Israel and appears to share the enthusiasm for Israel that I detected among his people... I would suggest that AJN readers who share my own love of Israel might like to give some thought to East Timor when planning their next holiday destination or next overseas aid donation." (Dr Bill Anderson, Surrey Hills, Vic)

So what's going on here? Either the good doctor's 40 years of passionate Zionism has so messed with his mind that he's hallucinating, Christian Zionists are making their malign presence felt even in far flung East Timor, or... ?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Rambamming of Jose Ramos-Horta

East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, was recently in Israel, supposedly to "seek support for agricultual self-sufficiency, food security and maritime security." (East Timor president seeks agricultural, security support, Greer Fay Cashman, The Jerusalem Post, 15/2/11)

Praised by Israeli president Shimon Peres as "representing the highest order of morality," Ramos-Horta returned the compliment by describing Peres as "the best of the Jewish people," and revealed that "he had first become aware of Israel and the Jewish people as a teenager in the 1960s when he read Exodus." (ibid)

In Reflections on a visit to Israel & Palestine (8/3/11), published at The Huffington Post, the "international voice of the Timorese people" during Indonesia's 24-year occupation (1975-1999) of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1996) reveals how impressed he was by everything he'd seen and heard in the Jewish state.

Strangely, for all his post-Exodus experience of struggle (admittedly diplomatic, but no less important for that) against the brutal Indonesian occupation of his homeland, Ramos-Horta's understanding of the Zionist project in Palestine seems hardly to have progressed beyond the colonial vision of Leon Uris' trashy propaganda novel. Indeed, the word occupation appears nowhere in this account of a journey to a land now in its 63rd year of Zionist occupation. And why should it? Essentially, as the East Timorese president argues, the Palestinians have never had it so good:

"I recently completed my first State Visit to Israel and Palestine... During my 5-day visit I met with the elder Statesman Nobel Laureate President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin, President Mahmud Abbas and senior advisers and ministers. I was surprised by the state of peace and economic prosperity prevailing in Israel and the West Bank. Israelis and Palestinians alike are pleased that not one single attack has been launched from the West Bank into Israel in 4 years... Visiting the West Bank I envied the relative prosperity of the Palestinians and the progress being made in their State-building exercise. Palestinians in the West Bank are far ahead of most Sub-Sahara African States, and indeed well ahead of my own country, in economic well-being and the development of the State institutions. Israelis were not bestowed with the same resources available to much of the Arab world. Yet Israelis are ahead of their neighbors, and of many European countries in such fields as humanities, science, food security, information technology, and medicine. They have harvested more Nobel prizes than any other individual country of its size. That this tiny country struggling with water scarcity is a major exporter of high quality agriculture [sic] goods to Europe and Russia illustrates the well-known Jewish resilience and creativity in the face of extreme adversity. Palestinians living in the West Bank, who have been much less fortunate in life [!] than Israelis, are yet ahead of their Arab brothers and sisters in the critical areas of higher education, and serve in key positions in government, business and academia throughout the region, in the US and Europe. In my conversations with Israeli leaders I was struck by the respect I heard for President Abu Maz [sic] and other Palestinian leaders. From the Palestinian side, in spite of decades of betrayal and suffering, I did not hear much animosity towards Israelis and Americans. In spite of obvious long-standing American bias towards Israel, the Palestinians I spoke to continue to favor US mediation. Prime Minister Netanyahu says that he is anxious to restart face-to-face dialogue. He appears to be firmly committed to the two-State concept, to a truly independent Palestinian State, one that is economically prosperous. Yes, the settlements remain a complex issue, but it is a mistake to make them the central issue. The Israelis know that once a final settlement is achieved the settlements have to go. They did it in Gaza and they are prepared to do it in the West Bank with 'minor border adjustments' from both sides."

So says Ramos-Horta today, but in a 1999 interview, he could almost have been talking about Palestine when he said of the Indonesian occupation:

"I don't think it has been their intention to wipe out the entire population but at least to reduce it to a minority. Through the killings, through forced sterilization of women, through transmigration, you achieve precisely that aim: you turn the local people into a minority in their own land. Then you resolve the problem. Similar to the Chinese approach in Tibet." (A profile of East Timor's Jose Ramos-Horta, Conan Elphicke, solidarity-us.org)

Back then, he would, you'd assume, have been aware of Israel's support for that occupation:

"Officially, [Indonesia] is... a country with a hostile attitude toward Israel. Unofficially, however, things are different. According to the CIA (1979), the Mossad has a station in Jakarta operating under a commercial cover. A British journalist reported that Israel has had 'major military contracts' with Indonesia (Coone, 1980). And an Israeli journalist stated that Israeli arms were used in the war Indonesia waged against the people of East Timor (Baram, 1982b). In 1979, the United States arranged the sale of 14 Skyhawk planes from Israel to Indonesia (Klich, 1982a). An American journalist reported at the same time that 'the US government is fronting an arms deal in which Israel, without being publicly identified as the source, is selling Indonesia used warplanes obtained from the United States. Pentagon officials confirmed yesterday that Israel is shipping Indonesia 16 A4 fighters, bought for $25.8 million in the first such third-country sale of US warplanes' (Wilson, 1979, p. A10). In 1983, another squadron was said to be in the process of delivery (Melman, 1983b)." (The Israeli Connection: Who Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, p 32)

And you'd also assume that he was aware of the devastating aerial bombing campaigns waged against the East Timorese resistance and people beginning in 1977:

"Detailing events in Natabora, in the south, a refugee described how: 'Three aircraft - I think they were Skyhawks - bombed the region, killing thousands of people. In particular, women, children and old people were killed, people who couldn't run for cover. They were killed in large numbers. All we could do was pray for God's protection. The planes came in low and sprayed the ground with bullets, with their machine guns killing many people'. Bombing was followed by a campaign of encirclement in which the population was surrounded by concentric circles of troops, with Timorese youths and men forced to march in front of them." (Indonesia's Forgotten War: The Hidden History of East Timor, John Taylor, 1991, p 87)

Of course Ramos-Horta knew about all this: "Ninety per cent of the weapons and equipment that the Indonesians use are American, including the low flying jets that blew apart Ramos-Horta's sister before his mother's eyes, and broke the back of Falantil in the late '70s." (A profile of...)

Yet, speaking during his visit at the Hebrew University's Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations on Peace-Building, State-Building & Reconciliation: Experiences & Perspectives, Ramos-Horta is reported to have said: "We have reconciled with all those who have occupied us, and today we have exemplary relations with Indonesia." (East Timor president seeks...)

Presumably, this reconciliation applies also to those who aided and abetted Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. Would he, I wonder, be so forgiving if East Timor were still under Indonesia's thumb, as Palestine is still under Israel's?

To another matter. While in Israel, the deeply reconciled, cap-in-hand East Timorese president is reported to have perfomed his own version of one of those famous Israeli shrugs: "While keen to enhance relations with Israel, he admitted that the fruits of friendship would be a one-way street because there is very little that East Timor can do that will benefit Israel." (East Timor president seeks...)

How very cute! Now just watch how East Timor votes in the UN General Assembly when an Israel-related matter next arises.