Saturday, April 30, 2011

Only in The Australian 3

What is it with The Australian and that fine French-Canadian film Incendies?

First, its film reviewer, Evan Williams, just didn't seem to cotton on, despite an abundance of evidence throughout, that its female protagonist, Nawal Marwan, is an Arab Christian. (See my 24/4/11 post Only in The Australian 2)

Now we have another Australian journalist, Michael Bodey, in a story about the film, writing this confounding sentence: "Central to the story is the brutality of Nawal's life under Muslim regimes." (Journey to the battle zone, 27/4/11)

I mean, has actually viewing the film you're reviewing/discussing gone out of fashion at News Limited?

To begin with Nawal doesn't live under Muslim regimes, whatever they are. The film's setting is obviously civil war Lebanon (1975-1990), but if Lebanon is what Bodey means by a Muslim regime, then he knows as much about that country as I do about quantum physics.

And yes, Nawal's life is exceedingly brutal, beginning with the murder of her (obviously Muslim/Christian/whatever Palestinian) lover by her Christian brothers, and her narrow escape from the same fate at the same Christian hands.

Then there's her other narrow escape from an ambush staged by a Christian militia (note the pictures of Jesus and Mary on the stocks of their AK-47s), followed by her payback assassination of a Christian warlord, and finally her incarceration and torture in a Christian prison (modelled on the notorious Lebanese prison/torture chamber at Khiam in south Lebanon operated by Israel's proxy Christian South Lebanon Army (SLA) from 1985 - 2000).

One has to wonder, when it comes to the Middle East, whether the culture over at News Limited is so irredeemably anti-Arab/ Islamophobic that its journalists are simply blind to the bleeding obvious.

Rolling Back the Sadat-Mubarak Legacy

"Egyptians appear prepared to overturn the 3-decade-old peace agreement that has been a cornerstone of the country's relationship with Israel. By a margin of 54% to 36% Egyptians say their country should annul the treaty with Israel. One-in-ten offer no definite opinion." (Egyptians embrace revolt leaders, religious parties & military, as well, pewglobal.org, 25/4/11)

"March & Stand-In in front of the Embassy of the Zionist Entity: The Supporters of the Palestinian Revolution invite you to a march and stand-in in front of the embassy of the Zionist entity, starting from the main gate of Cairo University on Wednesday 27 April, 2.30pm. We make the following demands: 1) Condemn the Zionist occupation of our land, which is Arab in flesh, blood, roots and history. 2) Annul normalization with Israel in all its forms. 3) Halt the export of natural gas to the Zionists immediately and return everything they have stolen from us during this period of normalization. 4) Halt the construction of the steel Wall of Shame immediately. 5) Treat Palestinians in the same way as Egyptians are treated in Egypt, granting them the same rights to residency, education, work and health as Egyptians. Shimon Peres has called on Egyptian youth to embrace normalization. This, therefore, will be our response to him in front of his embassy." (Cited at angryarab.blogspot.com, 23/4/11)

"Persistent public suspicions about corruption and mismanagement that swirl around Egypt's secretive deal to sell natural gas to Israel prompted Egypt's public prosecutor on Friday to extend the questioning of former President Hosni Mubarak for 15 days, judicial officials said... Adel el-Saeed, the prosecutor's spokesman, issued a statement saying that among other issues Mr Mubarak was being questioned about gas exports to Israel at a low price that amounted to 'hurting the country's interests'. Egypt lost more than $714m in the deal, the prosecutor said... Selling gas to Israel was deeply unpopular in Egypt from the time the pipeline opened in 2008, given the sour public mood toward its neighbor, and it was a rallying point for the Tahrir Square protest movement since its start in January. But the deal was protected at the highest levels as long as Mr Mubarak was in power." (Mubarak faces more questioning on gas deal with Israel, Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, 22/4/11)

"Egypt's foreign minister said in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Thursday that preparations were underway to open the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on a permanent basis. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi told Al-Jazeera that within 7-10 days, steps will be taken... to alleviate the 'blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation'. The announcement indicates a significant change in the policy on Gaza, which before Egypt's uprising, was operated in conjunction with Israel. The opening of Rafah will allow the flow of people and goods in and out of Gaza without Israeli permission or supervision, which has not been the case up until now. Israel's blockade on Gaza has been a policy used in conjunction with Egyptian police to weaken Hamas, which has ruled over the Strip since 2007. The policy also aims to reduce Hamas' popularity among Gazans by creating economic hardship in the Strip. Rafah's opening would be a violation of an agreement reached in 2005 between the United States, Israel, Egypt and the European Union, which gives EU monitors access to the crossing. The monitors were to reassure Israel that weapons and militants wouldn't get into Gaza after its pullout from the territory in the fall of 2005. Before Egypt's uprising and ousting of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, the border between Egypt and Gaza had been sealed. It has occasionally opened the passage for limited periods." (Egypt FM: Gaza border crossing to be permanently opened, Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, 28/4/11)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meanwhile, on the foreign policy front,

while the prime minister's been

a) sucking up to the Yanks and

"Julia Gillard says she is 'all ears' about the possibility of the US placing more military forces on Australian soil if it believes this is necessary in the light of the growing might of China and India... Describing the relationship between Australia and the US as the equivalent of 'great mates'...[her] official program [in the US] will begin late tonight, Australian time, when she visits the Lincoln Memorial and is due to announce a $3 million Australian contribution to the US's official Vietnam memorial..." (Gillard open to more US forces, Matthew Franklin, The Australian, 7/3/11)

b) the Chinese,

"Julia Gillard has wound up her first visit to Beijing as Prime Minister by calling for Australia and China to gradually increase their co-operation on defence as a means to promote good relations and maintain regional peace and prosperity. Ms Gillard has also said China's naval vessels are welcome in Australia and that she wants to promote step-by-step collaboration and links between Australian and Chinese military officials... Speaking before the meeting with [President] Hu [Jintao], Ms Gillard confirmed she would raise concerns about China's record on human rights... She said Australia raised such issues because of 'who we are and what we believe'. 'It's part of us to believe in human rights and consequently to raise our voice on human rights', she said. 'I do believe that China does listen to and respond to international opinion'." (Gillard calls for closer defence ties with Beijing, Matthew Franklin, The Australian, 28/4/11)

who've told her to go suck eggs,

"Australia's human rights dialogue with China has achieved little, with Chinese officials laughing off concerns and questioning Australia's human rights performance, confidential US diplomatic cables show." (China laughs off human rights concerns, Philip Dorling, Sydney Morning Herald, 27/4/11)

Kevvie's been doing frantically trying to... ?

"Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has paid another flying visit to Israel - his third in 5 months... His office stated he would be discussing 'the impact of developments in the Middle East on Israel and the peace process'... Rudd was 'encouraged by Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu to take advantage of his proximity to Israel this week to make a short visit', a spokesperson for Rudd said." (Israeli trio of trips for Rudd, Australian Jewish News, 29/4/11)

The Dos & Don'ts of Palestine

don't call it genocide
we don't want to offend anyone
if we offend them
they'll never listen to us
we have to be reasonable

1,400 is just a number
no names
no death
we want peace and negotiations

don't mention Zionism
if you mention Zionism
they'll call you anti-Semitic
and people will believe them

don't cite Palestinian sources
no one will believe you
I won't believe you
trust Israeli sources

don't ever be angry
if you're angry
they'll call you angry
if they're angry
everyone will call them understandably emotional

we have to be pragmatic
pragmatic is not a euphemism
for concessions
although it may feel that way

don't mention Allah or martyrs
it reminds them of Al-Qaeda and 9/11
it's not your job to fix their ignorance

don't talk about refugees
boycott
or a one-state solution
if we want to win
we have to compromise
the road to peace is just ahead

don't make analogies that include
the Holocaust, Nazis, or the Warsaw Ghetto
only Israelis are allowed to do this
when discussing wars on
Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran

don't mention Yaffa, Haifa, Safad
or where your family is from
but if you do
nod when random people say they love Israel
it doesn't matter where you came from
you can't go back

don't
just don't
and that will lead to doing

Remi Kanazi (PoeticInjustice.net)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Onward Judeo-Christian Soldiers 2

"Another feature of the new philosemitism is the attempt to forge a German 'Judeo-Christian' identity... The bogus Judeo-Christian tradition does not correspond to any concrete history; it is an ideological invention invoked against Islam, in which the Jew plays the role of the imaginary other... [I]n a large part of Western Europe, the violence directed toward the Other hides itself behind this need for an Other who is like us. This is another effect of the reduction of the Nazi experience to remembrance of the Jewish genocide: this newly constructed past - the Jew as absolute victim - serves as a cover for a new Islamophobia that cannot but recall attitudes that Europe once had toward the Jews..." (Yitzhak Laor, The Myths of Liberal Zionism, 2009, pp 27-28)*

[*See my 30/1/10 post The Politics of Holocaust Memorial Day for the longer version.]

I've dealt with this particular ideological invention before, in Onward Judeo-Christian Soldiers (9/8/10)

Here it pops up in the heading of The Australian's Easter editorial: Hope & redemption at Easter: Judeo-Christian tradition has shaped a progressive culture (23/4/11).

And to illustrate Laor's contention that it has a clear sectarian agenda, consider this quote from the editorial:

"The commemoration of the Last Supper, Stations of the Cross and the Paschal fire lit outside darkened churches as the Vigil Mass of the Resurrection begins tonight are powerful reminders of what lies at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition... The Easter message inspires our forward-looking attitude to life, built on hope, that for 20 centuries has made enormous strides by encouraging our best endeavours to deliver progress. Backward-looking, repressive cultures fixated on past golden ages are not conducive to progress."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Martin Amis's Internal Drumbeat

I'm rather taken with this sentence by British novelist Martin Amis (about Christopher Hitchens incidentally). It's about free speech and the internal psychological mechanisms which impede its flow, trip it up, or even silence it completely.

"Most of us shakily preside over a chaos of vestigial prejudices and pieties, of semi-subliminal inhibitions, taboos and herd instincts, some of them ancient, some of them spryly contemporary (like moral relativism and the ardent xenophilia which, in Europe at least, always excludes Israelis. To speak or write without fear or favour (and to hear no internal drumbeat): such voices are invaluable." ('One of the most terrifying rhetoricians the world has seen', Martin Amis, guardian.co.uk, 24/4/11)

It's these internal mechanisms, the internal drumbeat as Amis calls it neatly, that largely decide what we read and hear in the corporate media.

There's only one fly in the ointment of Amis's analysis, however: ...the ardent xenophilia which... always excludes Israelis.

This reference to Israelis indicates, of course, that Amis himself is listening to an internal drumbeat of a certain kind, one shared by many of his ilk. This one keeps tapping out a very contemporary, very Western tune: We, non-Jews, are collectively responsible for, and must atone for, the Holocaust.

Its presence is evidence of an unspoken bargain between the likes of Amis and the perpetrators of the Zionist project: We'll turn a blind eye to your crimes in Palestine, or maybe even defend them. In return, you go easy on us for our past anti-Semitic crimes, especially the Holocaust.

How do I know this? Here's Amis again:

"I know it's a great tradition on the British left to support Palestine, but when you come up against this question, you can feel the intelligence and balance leaving the hall with a shriek, and people getting into this endocrinal state about Israel. The Jews have a much, much worse history than the Palestinians, and in living memory. But there's just no impulse of sympathy for that... I know we're supposed to be grown up about it and not fling around accusations of anti-Semitism, but I don't see any other explanation. It's a secularised anti-Semitism." (The two faces of Amis, Johann Hari, independent.co.uk, 29/1/08)

There's Amis's pre-eminent prejudice, piety, semi-subliminal inhibition, taboo, herd instinct and internal drumbeat all rolled into one.

At which point I rush out of the hall with a shriek.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spooky!

Here it is Monday. I've got The Australian open at the opinion page and (its been a while now)... still no column by the egregious David Burchell, whose verbal pyrotechnics have many a time made merry my Mondays, as David himself may have written.

But has no one else noticed?

Well, to be frank with you, the matter's got me spooked.

You see, as one who hung on David's every word, I distinctly rememember his love of the word 'wraith'. Wraith. Now that's not a word that exactly trips off people's tongues these days. It's somewhat archaic and conjures up another, shadow world, parallel to our own, something that David seemed to manage in column after column, in fact something, if you think about it, the Australian manages on a daily basis.

But back to that word. In his 28 February column putting the boot into Edward Said, for example, he wrote of the local population at the siege of Tobruk having "vanished like wraiths." And in his column of March 14, he spoke of glancing at his watch only to discover that his "entire afternoon" had - you guessed it - "vanished like a wraith." Which, don't you think? is terribly spooky, even a tad... sinister perhaps.

And now the unthinkable seems to have happened, the etiolated David (or at least it seemed that way to me, judging by his photo at the head of his columns) seems to have vanished utterly... like one of his beloved wraiths. Has he perhaps (my head reels at the thought) been sucked completely, so to speak, into some ethereal, parallel world?

Who can say? But whatever dimension David now inhabits, and whatever weird and wonderful things go on there, I for one like to think that at last and at least he's off with the wraiths that were so dear to his heart.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Only in The Australian 2

Murdoch's Australian, the corporate media's prime purveyor of propaganda, disinformation and spin on the Middle East in this country, can't even be relied on to properly critique a book or a film on the subject.

First we had the spectacle of one of its book reviewers, who, despite reviewing a book devoted solely to a study of the British government's infamous 1917 Balfour Declaration, quoted the wrong document. (See my 12/4/11 post Only in The Australian)

Now we have its film reviewer, Evan Williams, who, after reviewing a film on sectarian warfare in the Middle East, can't get the sectarian identity of the main character right.

The film in question is the extraordinary French-Canadian production Incendies (scorched), set in an unnamed Arab country (obviously Lebanon) during a vicious civil war.

Williams refers to its Christian protagonist, Nawal Marwan, as "a Muslim woman."

He also refers to "[o]ne dreadful scene... [which] shows Christian troops ambushing a bus on a desolate stretch of road and massacring the passengers."

The irony is that it is precisely in this scene that Narwal Marwan's Christian identity emerges most strongly.

Against a background of civil strife, with a clear Muslim/Christian sectarian dimension, Narwal sets out to find the son taken from her years earlier as a baby. Around her neck, clearly visible, is a cross. Trudging along a desolate stretch of road, she sees a bus off in the distance. Sensing that its passengers are Muslims, she hurriedly removes her cross and converts her scarf into a head covering before flagging down and boarding the bus. The bus is eventually stopped at a checkpoint manned by Christian militia, obviously modelled on Lebanon's Phalangists. They shoot the driver and riddle the vehicle with machine gun fire, killing everyone but Nawal, another woman and her young daughter, who have somehow escaped the bullets by laying on the floor of the bus. The gunmen then douse the bus with petrol and set fire to it. Nawal and the others crawl towards the door of the bus. Pulling out her cross, she holds it up and screams out that she's a Christian. Before leaving the bus, which has begun to burn, and knowing that the other woman, as a Muslim, is doomed, she grabs the woman's daughter and runs with her towards the militiamen, screaming 'My child, my child'. The child, however, breaks free and, as she runs back to her mother on the bus, is shot in the back. The gunmen then withdraw, leaving a traumatised Nawal on her hands and knees, framed by the inferno of the burning bus. Seared by the horror and senselessness of the crime she's just witnessed, Nawal will later perpetrate an act of vengeance against the Christian warlord responsible.

So where was Williams through all this? Half asleep? Out for a pee?

He's lucky the director, Denis Villeneuve, lives in Quebec.

Dirty Tricks

In the relentless and highly organised campaign against Marrickville Council's adoption of the Palestinian BDS strategy, the Murdoch press was joined by some shadowy forces who deployed a range of dirty tricks:

"The day after the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, threatened to sack Marrickville Council over its push for a boycott of Israel, councillors received an email headlined 'Death Wish': Today's message from Barry... 'Pull Your Collective Head in or I'll Chop it Off!' Clear enough? Go ahead - Make my day! Hasten and Assure your own extinction. It was one of thousands of missives, many anonymous and abusive, received by representatives of the inner west council in the 4 months after it gave in-principle support for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel...

"[Labor] Cr O'Sullivan... received abusive and pornographic emails attacking her and the boycott... [but] most of the campaigning was directed at the Greens mayor... Swastikas were spray-painted on Greens corflutes, and thousands of anonymous leaflets were distributed throughout the electorate. The night before the election, Greens supporters photographed a group of men putting up posters and stickers accusing the Greens of homophobia, hating democracy and supporting terrorism. The posters have been the subject of complaints to the police and the NSW Electoral Commission.

"The Greens have also criticised a controversial phone poll conducted during the campaign. A group called the Inner West Jewish Community & Friends Peace Alliance claimed responsibility for the poll last week, but denied any wrong-doing. On March 3 a request from the group was accidentally published on the Jewish news website J-Wire and a blog, requesting $12,000 in public donations for activities 'to research what local people really think... carefully targeted media coverage and advertising in relation to the election... Please also pass this information on quietly to like-minded friends'. It was quickly deleted.

"Eleven days later Marrickville Council said it was investigating 4 complaints from residents about a survey 'asking residents to comment on the GBDS against Israel'. At least one resident complained the interviewer had claimed to be from the council. Cr Byrne labelled it a push poll and a dirty trick. The survey and its results, showing only one-third of respondents support the boycott, have been made public. The poll's introduction said the interviewer was doing a 'short five-minute study about your views and opinions of the Marrickville City [sic] Council'. It asked residents what factors should influence council policies and initiatives and provided a list that included climate change, traffic congestion and foreign affairs. It also asked whether the interviewee was aware of the boycott. After saying that the mayor was the Greens candidate at the state election, it asked whether that would influence their vote.

"Uri Windt, who is a member of both the alliance and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said the poll was scientific and definitely intended not to mislead. 'It's not push-polling; it does not fit the definition. It was professionally conducted', Mr Windt said. The alliance has refused to comment on how much it collected and spent on its campaign... Vic Alhadeff, chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said his organisation had no knowledge of the poster campaign, or the phone survey, until afterwards." (Two sides to thinking global, acting local, Josephine Tovey, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/4/11)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Painful Listening

How painful listening to British historian and biographer of Stalin, Simon Sebag Montefiore, on Radio National's Late Night Live (21/4/11), telling us how hard he's tried to be objective in his new history of Jerusalem, Jerusalem: The Biography.

Painful because, whatever the merits of his book, it's clear that once he hits the 20th century if not before (I haven't read the book) he becomes a mere propagandist for the Zionist project:

"One of the greatest challenges of this book is... obviously I'm Jewish, my family has a part in the story. I should just say I sweated blood in this book to ensure that it's even-handed and I've told both stories with ruthless clarity, I hope. So I haven't shied away from recording Jewish atrocities as well as Arab atrocities for example. That has been my great challenge, and, yes, I think that, of course, I'm against any political violence, but people who are terrorists can come in from the cold and be statesmen, and I think some of the PLO leadership have done that and have signed peace and have become or tried to become... um, you know, concilators as well. But to do that, for peace to succeed, both sides have to recognise the heritage of the others, the rights of the others, the claims of the others, and in many cases the Palestinian negotiators and leadership such as Yasser Arafat have denied the Jewish heritage in Jerusalem, and at the same time far right Jewish people, Jewish factions have denied the Palestinian story and the Islamic story in Jerusalem."

So what's wrong with that? Let me count the ways:

1) His failure to differentiate Judaism from Zionism. 2) His failure to deal with his subject in the context of the Zionist colonial-settler project in Palestine as a whole. 3) His uncritical reference to Palestinian resistance to that project as 'terrorism' while failing to acknowledge that the roots of violence in Palestine lie, as in any other colonial situation, in its takeover by European colons against the wishes of its majority indigenous Palestinian Arab people. 4) His hypocrisy in citing Arafat as an example of a terrorist-turned-statesman, while avoiding any mention of the classic cases of actual Zionist terrorists, Irgun leader Begin and Stern Gang leader Shamir, becoming Israeli prime ministers. 5) His monumental failure to acknowledge the fundamental incompatibility between the Zionist goal of a state for Jews, and only Jews, the world over, and the right of Palestinians to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. 6) His intellectually dishonest attempt to portray the Zionist project as a moderate centre under siege by matching PLO 'extremists' on one side and Israeli settler extremists on the other.

And do I need to tell you that it was just as painful listening to his interlocutor and LNL presenter, Phillip Adams, whose mind was long ago horribly scarred by his youthful brushes with Zionism (See my 19/9/09 post He Just Doesn't Get It):

"I must say that in your efforts to be even-handed you point out that at various times in recent years Rabin, Barak, Olmert have all offered to share Jerusalem, including the Old City, but thus far the Palestinians have never agreed to share the city. Would everything change, Simon, if they did?"

So the Palestinians, who long ago agreed to settle, quite mistakenly in retrospect, for a Palestinian state on a mere 22% of their homeland, won't share Jerusalem with those nice folk who've been hankering, if Zionist mythology is to be believed, after a flat in Jerusalem 24/7 for the past 2,000 odd years and have, with a little help from their British and American mates, finally come knocking? Were the Palestinians the ones who said: 'Nick off!'? Well, as it happens, if the documentary record means anything, no they weren't:

"Oslo II was signed on September 28, 1995 in Washington... The protracted negotiations allowed Israel to impose its version of a settlement without addressing issues critical to the Palestinians, such as... the status of Jerusalem. Rabin outlined his vision of the future permanent settlement... an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli control..." (Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process, Amit & Levit, 2011, pp 116-117)

"On July 11, 2000... President Clinton convened... the Camp David II summit. Barak presented himself as a grand master of compromise who was about to make concessions of such magnitude that no Israeli leader before him would have considered. According to the Israeli press... Barak offered to divide the city of Jerusalem... This was believed to be true by many on all sides of the political spectrum, in large measure because of the terminological confusion surrounding the proposal. When dividing Jerusalem is discussed, it is usually assumed that East Jerusalem would be separated from West Jerusalem: East Jerusalem and its mostly Arab neighborhoods would be separated from Jewish West Jerusalem and become the capital of the Palestinian state. But at Camp David Israel did not offer East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as their future capital. It offered 3 villages located next to East Jerusalem, the largest being Abu Dis." (Amit & Levit, pp 130-133)

But even the Abu Dis pocket, which Arafat and earlier Israeli governments had accepted, proved too much for the sharing, caring Barak, who "reneged." (Amit & Levit p 133)

And PM Olmert? His so-called peace plan, which was never officially presented anyway, included no Israeli withdrawal from East Jerusalem. (See Olmert's plan excluded Jerusalem, offered limited 'land swap', Said Bannoura, imemc.org, 17/12/09)

And here's Montefiore agreeing with Adams: "I think so. The recent Palestinian leaks of Palestinian negotiators show that at different times they also offered or probed for this deal, but if they genuinely did offer to share and recognise the Jewish nature of Jerusalem as well then I think that the Israelis would recognise the Arab heritage as they have done by offering these deals throughout the last 20 years. I think there could be peace."

But surely the most painful thing of all is the thought of all those aging baby boomers out there (I'm imagining LNL's audience), who hang on Adams' every word, nodding their heads in agreement (if not actually nodding off to the sound of Adams' increasingly soporific voice), and soaking up the subtext: If only the Palestinians were a little less intransigent, we'd have peace and group hugs all round. And to think that Adams' audience - whether vast or miniscule - probably sees LNL as an oasis of rational and progressive comment in a mainstream media desert. Bloody painful that!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lobby? What Lobby?

When it comes to the Middle East conflict the Sydney Morning Herald editorialist never seems to get it:

"The short-lived boycott of Israel by Marrickville Council has been an interesting study of how distant foreign policy issues can sometimes intersect with local politics. The council and its mayor, Fiona Byrne, would never have envisaged the attention they ended up getting from what they would have regarded as a worthy but probably futile gesture."

Attention? Scan my 8/4/11 post The Australian Goes on the Warpath and tell me that's the word. Bullying, intimidation, thuggery, lies, misrepresentation, but attention?

"After all, many other councils - especially in the gentrified inner areas of Sydney and Melbourne - have similarly 'warned the Tsar' by adopting causes in conflict with Canberra's official policy. They have flown the Tibetan or West Papuan flag, hosted East Timorese resistance leaders, damned the Burmese junta. Why not support Palestinians?"

Causes in conflict with Canberra's official policy? Who is the Herald trying to kid here? Gillard's about to raise the issue of Tibetan human rights in China. Last November she wrote a letter of support for Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi and called for the release of Burmese political prisoners, free and fair elections and a political reconciliation process. At the same time, the Indonesian president complained that she was trying to 'pressure' him to investigate evidence of torture by the Indonesian military in West Papua. As for East Timor, the Howard government's military intervention in support of the East Timorese people seems to have been forgotten. But Palestine? Gillard's been cosying up to their oppressors ever since her university years. (See my 24/6/10 post Julia Gillard: A Retrospective)

"The difference is that Israel is a democracy, at least within its 1967 borders, and is open to argument; indeed in its domestic politics it's riven by argument. By jailing a former president for rape and putting a recent prime minister on trial for corruption, it has shown a strong ethos of impartial justice."

A democracy within its 67 borders? But without genuine equality for its non-Jewish citizens, and with the vast bulk of its indigenous population ethnically cleansed, stateless, and therefore disenfranchised, since 1948. Impartial justice? For Jews maybe, but for Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line?

No, the difference is not that Israel is or is not a democracy. The difference between councils taking up other causes and that of Palestine is that, in the case of Palestine, and only in the case of Palestine, there's a fanatical fifth column on hair-trigger ready to spring into action to snuff out any publicly expressed deviation from its dogmas. In the words of Herald columnist Mike Carlton, "It is a ferocious beast, the Jewish lobby. Write just one sentence even mildly critical of Israel and it lunges from its lair, fangs barred." (See my 12/6/10 post A Ferocious Beast)

The problem with the Herald editorialist is that he/she/it has a memory like the proverbial sieve. The Herald reported back in 2007 on Marrickville Council's first foray into Palestinian solidarity, the formalisation of a sister city relationship with Bethlehem Council. Smooth sailing? Not on your nellie: "The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies says the Palestinian council is controlled by the Muslim organisation Hamas. 'Their raison d'etre, as clearly expressed in Hamas's charter, is the destruction of Israel and worse than that, to kill every Jew', the board's chief executive, Vic Alhadeff, said..." (O little town of Marrickville what a fuss you've caused, Sunanda Creagh, 20/6)

And when Leichhardt Council proposed holding an exhibition highlighting the plight of Israeli-occupied, settler-infested Hebron... Well, you can read about that in my 26/5/08 post A Tale of Two Exhibitions)

And just in case I haven't made myself crystal clear - It's the Lobby stupid! - you may have heard SBS World News reporter Marion Ives saying, in her report on the BDS debate at Marrickville Council last Tuesday night: "The failure of the Israel boycott has raised questions about another council policy. For 12 years Marrickville has had a ban on Burma and one councillor now wants that rethought." (Boycott backdown)

Twelve years and we barely even knew about it. I wonder why?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Slavish Devotion

Can't quite work out why, but these words of Malcolm X just sort of floated into my mind:

"There was 2 kinds of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with the master. They dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved himself. They would give their life to save their master's house quicker than their master would... If the master's house caught on fire, the house negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would... On that same plantation, there was the field negro. The field negro, those were the masses. There was always more negros in the field as there were negros in the house. The negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house, they ate high up on the hog. The negro in the field didn't get nothing but what was left in the insides of the hog. They call them chit'lins nowaday. In those days, they called them what they were, guts! That's what you were, a guteater. And some of you still are guteaters. The field negro was beaten, from morning til night. He lived in a shack, in a hut. He wore cast-off clothes. He hated his master. I say, he hated his master... When the house caught on fire, he didn't try to put it out, that field negro prayed for a wind. For a breeze. When the master got sick, the field negro prayed that he died... I'm a field negro." The House Negro vs The Field Negro

Now, down to business. ABC Radio National's Fran Kelly interviews Marrickville Council's deputy mayor Sam Iskander - with fascinating results:

FK:... But this wasn't just a Greens boycott. The Labor councillors in Marrickville supported the boycott as well, and I can reveal to you earlier this year Labor's left faction in NSW also voted in favor of the international boycott. The Labor Party deputy mayor of Marrickville is Sam Iskander. He's been interested in these issues long before he was elected to council. In 1977 he fled to Australia from the Lebanon civil war. He joins us now. What will happen tonight when Marrickville Council meets to vote on this issue?:

SI: "We are expecting the whole issue will be buried because we discovered after receiving a report from our staff saying it's gonna be very costly and it can't be in any way benefiting our residents. That's why we will kill it."

Hm, pretty strong language for someone who'd voted for BDS before the deluge.

FK: What about if the mayor... Fiona Byrne puts up a motion that's an in-principle support for the boycott so it doesn't bear any cost? Would you support that?

SI: "Well, we really need to go to the meeting in open mind but I don't see what does it mean in practical. I would really like to go and listen to the debate, but definitely the boycott against Israel is not a goer and since we rule that, and she is ruling that, what principles mean after that? It means nothing clearly. If it's going towards supporting morally the Palestinians to have their rights and to really be supporting for justice in their occupied territories, we all stand for that. Even Israel recognise that the right of the Palestinians to establish their own state it's legitimate. All the issue that really came from the BDS is to support the peace initiatives and the resolution been passed by the UN to establish 2 states and give the Palestinians their rights to live as human beings."

Israel recognises the right of the Palestinians to establish their own state? Oh really? And BDS is all about supporting the so-called peace process?* OH, REALLY? And what UN resolution are you on about, man?

FK: So you say the BDS campaign, which you voted for in December, is a general campaign to support the peace initiatives. Why then would you be backing away from it now?

SI: We are backing off because we can see that it's not something we can do as a council. It's not for us, it's for the federal [government] to decide, and we've been really under a lot of stress from the new-elected premier of NSW which he sent us a letter saying in 28 days we have to respond to his letter asking us to stop the boycott.

What do you know, just what the Israel Lobby and its creatures in the Murdoch press have been saying! And that fiercesome Bazza... oh shit, I've just soiled my pants!

FK: You say it's for the feds to decide. Has your local federal MP, Anthony Albanese, put pressure on the Labor councillors to back down on this?

SI: Not really. We've been communicating and we've been always in support of the 2 states, the Israeli state and the Palestinian state, and, as you know the international community are supporting them so he didn't put any pressure on us, but he always put us on the very clear vision to how can we do it if there is any chance to do it, but there is no chance to do it at all.

No, he didn't put pressure on us, he just sharpened our minds wonderfully.

FK: If there was a motion tonight that expressed solidarity with Palestinians, saying Marrickville Council remains symbolically, though not financially, opposed to the occupation, are you saying you wouldn't support that?

SI: We will definitely oppose the occupation. Definitely we will call for the rights of the Palestinians to establish their own state which the Israelis are working for it. The Jewish community they are very happy to support any peaceful relationship between the 2 sides and to encourage the Israeli government and the Palestinians to achieve the peaceful solution which leads to 2 states. That's what I think the best way to solve all these problems.

The Israelis are working for... whaaat?** The Jewish community are doing... whaaat?

FK: So you agree with Anthony Albanese who said you don't have to be anti-Israel to be pro-Palestine, that's your view. I'm just wondering if you think that will be evident in some kind of motion voted on tonight.

SI: It's not like that really. It's about the BDS, and the BDS to us, it's not a goer, it can't be done in our capacity as Marrickville Council. That's why all of us, we will vote unanimously, that's what I'm expecting, against the BDS. (Marrickville Council Israel boycott under the spotlight, 19/4/11)

Gives the term party animal a whole new meaning now, doesn't it?

[* Iskander clearly has no idea what BDS is all about. To quote from Omar Barghouti's new (2011) book BDS: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights: "The BDS Call, anchored in international law and universal principles of human rights, adopts a comprehensive rights-based approach, underlining the fact that for the Palestinian people to exercise its right to self-determination, Israel must end its 3 forms of injustice that infringe international law and Palestinian rights by: 1. ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands [occupied in 1967] and dismantling the wall 2. recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality 3. respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties, as stipulated in UN resolution 194." (p 6)]

[** Those interested in taking a cold, hard look at the reality of the so-called peace process might like to read another new (2011) book, Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process by Zalman Amit & Daphna Levit: "This book... argues that there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians after 62 years because Israel never wanted to achieve peace with its Palestinian neighbours. In recognition of political expediencies and political realities, Israel has consistently proclaimed its commitment to peace, but its consistent strategy was to sabotage any real possiblity of peace. It did so because its leadership has always been convinced that peace is not in Israel's interest. We argue that this began even before the establishment of the State of Israel. Indeed, one can detect this conviction even among the early Zionist leaders such as Herzl." (p 11)]

PS 22/4/11: Compare MC's final resolution (passed 8-4) with Barghouthi's 3 'forms of injustice' above: That Council: 1. Resolve not to pursue the GBDS against Israel in any shape or form as called for in the December 14 resolution; and 2. Remains concerned about Palestinian human rights and calls on Israel to end the occupation of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; ensure the fundamental rights of Palestinians to full equality; and respect, protect and promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties. Supported by Clrs Hanna (Ind), Iskandar (ALP), Macri (Ind), Olive (G), O'Sullivan (ALP), Phillips (G), Tsardoulias (ALP) and Wright (ALP) It's a bastardized version of Barghouthi, lacks teeth (without BDS), and flies in the face of Iskander's nonsense above about the 'peace process'. What a rabble! Only Clrs Byrne, Kontellis, Peters (Greens) and Thanos (Ind) came out of Tuesday night's meeting with any credit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arsenic & Old Lace

Now, as far as the mugging of Marrickville Council goes, I wouldn't like you to think that the Likud lobby and the Murdoch press deserve all the credit. Sure, they gave the mayor the hardest time, but Fairfax's belated soft cop routine deserves some of the credit too.

After all, who can forget their rib-tickling editorial Truth, justice & the Marrickville way:

"Marrickville Council is being torn apart by Middle Eastern politics. Should Marrickville, or should it not, punish Israel with a boycott for its alleged human rights violations? The question is, of course, on everyone's lips across the Middle East. The fate of nations hangs in the balance. Is a mere boycott enough? Should Marrickville send troops?" (16/4/11)

Alleged human rights violations? Ain't that a corker? And that one about troops, that's sooo Chaser!

Oh, what a coincidence, here's the latest from The Chaser team in the same issue: "Marrickville admits Israel sanctions pointless: plans full nuclear strike." Inimitable!

On a more serious note though, the Herald deserves credit for giving the floor to those lovely old dears, Aunts Gael & Janet:

"The question now is how to heal the rift... When you politicise a protracted international conflict at the local level, the rancour hits hard because it is felt not only in the chambers of government but on our streets, souring relationships between neighbours and community groups." (Councils can help Mid-East peace, Gael Kennedy & Janet Kossy, 19/4/11)

And that wouldn't do now, would it? Better for your protracted international conflict to remain sotto voce in Ozrael so the old dears can flit comfortably from their inauthentic homes in Sydney to their authentic ones in Tel Aviv, or wherever else in occupied Palestine takes their fancy, and back again, which is their prerogative as fully paid up members of The Jewish People. I mean, all that dreadful talk about occupation and settlements and dispossession and... and people might just start asking inconvenient questions like how come some people get 2 homes, albeit one not quite as authentic as the other, just because they've got the right sort of mum, while other people, who have the wrong sort of mum, don't?

And whence this rancour on our streets? That dreadful Byrne woman, of course! Aunts Gael and Janet, you see, unlike that shocking creature, "stand for peace" and "believe in a two-state solution as the only viable path towards a lasting peace.

But what exactly do they mean by a two-state solution? I mean they couldn't possibly be referring to a Palestinian state alongside Israel because at no point in their incredibly sincere striving for peace do they take Israel's ruling Likud Party, whose charter "rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River," to task. So I guess they mean Israel and its neighboring settler state now occupying about 60% of the West Bank.

Ah, but such are their years that for them, "this conflict is extremely complex, with many different narratives and truths. There are no simple solutions..." Nah, the Israelis can't just get off Palestinian backs and out of Palestinian faces, can't simply leave the occupied West Bank to its Palestinian inhabitants. Nah... that'd be much too simple! No, complex is definitely the way to go, and complex, as the old dears say, is what makes this such a "protracted international conflict." Which is why bloody Fiona Byrne should keep her nose out of it!

Just who does she think she is anyway, trying to sort out this PIC in Marrickville of all places? No, the aunts have a better idea: "people-to-people peace building" in Leichhardt! None of that rancorous BDS crap in Leichhardt. No, in Leichhardt they have a "council advisory committee that includes nominees of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies that will focus on support for a joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative."

Wowee, Israel and the Palestine Authority in microcosm in Leichhardt! Cool! Does Ahmad Bloggs of Lakemba get to play Saeb Erekat to Vic Alhadeff's Israeli interlocutor? Does Bloggs get to say those wonderful lines from that smash-hit joint Israeli-Palestinian comedy, the Palestine Papers? Like, If somebody sneezes in Darlinghurst, I get the flu in Lakemba, or I am being executed by Jewish Board of Deputies officials and Jewish Board of Deputies negotiators on the hour, every hour in each session, or The last time we sat with you and played 'neon stupid' on our foreheads. (See my 19/2/11 post Taken for a Ride on the Peace (Process) Train)

And what's this about Leichhardt Council exploring projects?

"An example of a project being explored by Leichhardt Council is Comet ME: an award-winning environmental project developed by Israeli scientists who build renewable energy solutions in various Bedouin villages in the south Hebron hills."

As opposed to Bulldozethebloodylot ME: a record-breaking demolition (x25) of the Bedouin village of Araqib in the northern Negev by Israeli authorities who have engineered a demographic solution whereby the Bedouin, who make up 25% of the population there, have been squeezed into less than 2% of its land area. (Erasing links to the land in the Negev, Noga Malkin, Human Rights Watch, 11/3/11)

Onya, dears!

On Marrickville Bridge

This is how the Sydney Morning Herald reported last night's meeting at Marrickville Council:

"Marrickville Council's controversial push for a boycott of Israel was quashed at a tempestuous, crowded meeting last night. Gallery members reported being spat on, accusations of cowardice were screamed at councillors and flags and banners were waved as police looked on. Labor councillors and 2 Greens who had supported the initial push to support the global BDS campaign against Israel, voted with 2 independent councillors against it. The council's support for the movement has drawn unprecedented ire, including from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and messages of support from figures such as John Pilger and Julian Burnside.

"The Greens councillor Max Phillips denounced the attacks on the council but said: 'I do not believe there is sufficient understanding or support to justify council [supporting] a boycott of Israel... It must not be imposed'. He was jeered with calls of 'there goes your preselection'. The Labor councillors Mary O'Sullivan and Sam Iskander spoke passionately about their trips to Bethlehem and their support for Palestinian human rights, but said ultimately they could not continue to support the boycott. Cr O'Sullivan moved the motion which brought the boycott down. A separate motion by the mayor, Fiona Byrne, to retain in-principle support for the boycott was rejected. The only councillors who continued their support were the mayor, the independent Dimitrios Thanos and Greens pair Marika Kontellis and Cathy Peters.

"Hundreds of people attended the passionate meeting, which was filled with shouting, flag waving and jeers. Many could not find a seat in the chamber and stood in corridors and on the street. A Jewish blogger and pro-Palestinian rights activist, Antony Loewenstein, said he was spat on on his way in and called a pig. Proceedings were repeatedly interrupted. One woman called Arab councillors [sic] who did not support the boycott 'f...ing cowards', first in Arabic, then in English, before storming out.

"Cr Byrne said she was shocked by the vitriol the issue had attracted. 'I personally don't understand why we've had a sledgehammer used to crack the egg that is Marrickville Council on this issue', she said. Though the boycott was voted down, the council formally registered that it remained 'concerned about Palestinian human rights and calls on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian lands'. Twelve councillors and 18 members of the public addressed the 3-hour debate." (Marrickville Council's move to boycott Israel sinks in stormy sea of debate, Josephine Tovey, 20/4/11)

This is how American journalist Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913) reported it:

"A Moral Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough for but one. 'Down, you base thing!' thundered the Moral Principle, 'and let me pass over you!' The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without saying anything. 'Ah,' said the Moral Principle, hesitatingly, 'let us draw lots to see which shall retire till the other has crossed.' The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an unwavering stare. 'In order to avoid a conflict,' the Moral Principle resumed, somewhat uneasily, 'I shall myself lie down and let you walk over me.' Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange coincidence it was its own tongue. 'I don't think you are very good walking,' it said. 'I am a little particular about what I have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water.' It occurred that way."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Very Dare Marrickville Council!

The Australian's editorialist has never sounded more... Talmudic:

"Chutzpah, in the true Hebrew meaning of the word, is not the admirable sort of audacity for which we tend to use the word now. Real chutzpah it is said, is the sort of impertinence that sees a man accused of murdering his parents beg for mercy on the grounds that he's an orphan. So the term is apt to describe the brazen way the Marrickville Council, in Sydney's inner west, has gotten above its station by implementing an economic boycott against Israel." (Middle East shames inner west, 19/4/11)

You don't chutzpah Israel and get away with it lightly, OK?

Bob Brown "needs urgently to... eliminate the loopy anti-Israel sentiment from his ranks."

Mandatory exorcisms for Marrickville's watermelons maybe?

Julia Gillard "must ensure that her party's strong support for Israel is not compromised again by such jejune antics from elected officials."

A re-education camp for its rats in the ranks perhaps?

But then that's The Australian for you. Don't be surprised if one day you hear that News Limited has moved, lock, stock and Barry O'Farrell, to, say, Kiryat Arba. And just remember - you heard it here first.

As for the rest of us, I think it'd be true to say we're a tad less Talmudic than The Australian, and would tend to agree with Jewish scholar Louis Jacobs when he says of chutzpah that "there is often a grudging admiration for chutzpah in the Jewish tradition... [It] is particularly admired when it consists of standing up bravely against the powerful or when it is an expression of sheer determination to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds." (The Jewish Religion, 1995, p 81)

Now who does that remind you of?

A Labor of Love

"Tamara-Mia Cassey represents the other side of Labor's poll woes. The 21-year-old arts student at the University of Western Sydney identifies with Labor principles but feels the party has lost its way and votes Greens. 'I would have liked to have gone Labor, but I didn't see them standing for anything', Ms Cassey told The Weekend Australian." (Youth vote splits as young desert Labor, Ferguson & Westbrook, The Australian, 16/4/11)

Goodness, Ms Cassey doesn't see the Labor Party standing for anything?

Tosh, Ms Cassey. You have a lot to learn, young lady. The Labor Party not only stands for Israel, it also sits down with Israel, snuggles up to Israel, thrills to his sweet talk, and, intoxicated by his heady masculine pheromones, swoons so at his touch with such consequences that I am frankly too embarrassed to describe here.

And here's the evidence, Ms Cassey.

Israel has a word with Kevvie:

"Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has lashed as 'just plain nuts' a decision by a Greens-controlled local council in Sydney to boycott Israeli products and services over its treatment of Palestinians... 'the bottom line is any local authority should get on with the business of what they are paid by ratepayers to do which is to deliver properly their local services - making sure the garbage is picked up... Foreign policy is the province of the national government and for any element of the Greens party to go out there and call upon the nation's government to engage in a campaign to boycott goods and services, be it from Israel or China or any other country, is, as I said, just plain nuts'." ('Just plain nuts': Rudd pans council's boycott, Daniel Flitton, The Age, 15/4/11)

Kevvie has a word with Albo:

"Marrickville council's boycott of Israel has been slammed as 'costly, clumsy and unproductive' by Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese, who says the resolution should be dropped immediately... The council's 4 Labor members, who previously voted in favour of the boycott, are expected to vote to have it rescinded... Mr Albanese would not say if he too lobbied the local councillors, but said they 'had made it clear' they would vote against the boycott." (Drop Israel boycott, Labor's Anthony Albanese urges Marrickville Council, Lanai Vasek, The Australian, 18/4/11)

Albo has a word with Tanya:

"[Federal Labor Minister] Tanya Plibersek told The Australian she no longer held the views she expressed in parliament. 'The comments that Christopher [Pyne] is referring to were made about 10 years ago, and I acknowledge at the time that I spoke injudiciously', she said. 'Like most Labor Party members and supporters, I'm in favour of a two-state solution. To compare the Labor position with the Greens is simply not right. The residents of Marrickville tell me that they are disturbed by the council's lack of focus on local issues and irrational boycott proposal'." (Israel ban move opens rift in unions, Salusinszky & Franklin, The Australian, 15/4/11)

And Albo and/or Tanya read the riot act to poor old squirming Sam:

"Deputy mayor Sam Iskandar, a Labor councillor, told The Sunday Telegraph he and his party colleagues could no longer support the [boycott] proposal. 'We're not going to support the boycott', Cr Iskandar said. 'That is our position'. The Labor reversal follows the release last week of a council report revealing that boycotting companies with links to Israel would cost ratepayers as much as $4m... Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd branded the move as 'nuts'. Cr Iskandar confirmed he had 'received advice' from his federal counterparts but denied he had been unduly pressured. 'We had advice from the Labor Party... that this is not the way to pursue the strategy of peace in the Middle East', he said. But it is understood Cr Iskandar, who migrated to Australia from Lebanon in 1977 and is a passionate supporter of Palestinian rights, struggled with the decision to back away from supporting the boycott." (Ban on Israel dead in water, Jesse Phillips, Sunday Telegraph, 17/4/11)

There you go, Ms Cassey, Labor stands for... true love! What's not to vote for?

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Handle Zionist Hoodlums...

... by The Angry Arab:

"Zionists have been outraged by my speech at the Palestinian American Women's Association of California (PAWA) event in Orange County*. Notice how they represent this organisation as some kind of dangerous outfit. They are so scared of the future of dead Israel, and so desperate they'd even call Palestinian boy scouts terrorists. And the ouster of Mubarak has made them even more so, so that they're striving to ban any view opposed to their interests. So back to the PAWA event: It was videotaped and I'll provide a link when I get one.

[* Cal. State Prof: 'The Arab world will never prosper until the Zionist regime is removed!', Moshe Phillips, newsrealblog.com, 13/4/11]

"Of course, I stand by every word I said. I take nothing back. Zionist hoodlums should know they're dealing with the Angry Arab, not with your common (especially in the US) equivocating Arab. They're not dealing with UAE propagandists like James Zogby, who has never met a Zionist he didn't feel the urge to bow down to. If they think they can pressure or intimidate me into changing my words or taking back my statements, they're dead wrong. And if they're outraged by my statements against the terrorist entity that is Israel, they can sneak into the audience at my next public appearance and ask me if I recognise Israel or if I accept its legitimacy. I've observed many Arabs in the US squirm and obfuscate and not give a straight answer to that question, while others would say something like 'Israel doesn't have defined borders'. Me? I relish those questions when they come my way. I love to throw it back to Zionists: I'd never ever recognise the legitimacy of that terrible state, and I wouldn't recognise it even if it were confined to an area no bigger than a teacup. No, not in my lifetime. And yes, they understood correctly: I would cheer on and celebrate the demise of Israel. Of course, seeing they can't get me to slip up or pin down any word of prejudice in my rhetoric, they'll resort to fabrications. One Zionist fool conflated the idea of Israel's demise with the elimination of 6 million Jews, as if the demise of the apartheid regime in South Africa amounted to the elimination of whites in South Africa. But you can't teach logic or facts to Zionists. It's a futile exercise.

"But no need to stress: Israel's going down, and faster than we'd imagined. Israel's crimes are expediting its demise, shortening its life span. And when the day comes, I'll be singing Arabic songs from the rooftops, here and in liberated Palestine, every square inch of liberated Palestine. And if you Zionists don't like these words, I'll repeat them in simpler language until you get it. Go fly a kite or weep for Mubarak - but not on our lands." (My message to Zionist hoodlums: go fly a kite or weep for Mubarak, angryarab.blogspot.com, 17/4/11)

Il fiore del partigiano morto per la Palestina

"I come from a partisan family. My grandfathers fought and died struggling against an occupation, another occupation, in Italy, the Nazi-Fascist one. For this reason, probably, in my DNA, in my blood, there are particles that push me to struggle for freedom and human rights." Vittorio Arrigoni

It seems right to dedicate this old Italian song to International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Vittorio Arrigoni, cruelly murdered in Gaza, allegedly by Salafi fanatics, on Thursday or Friday last:

Una mattina mi son svegliato
One morning I awoke
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Una mattina mi son svegliato
One morning I awoke
Eo ho trovato l'invasor
And I found the invader
O partigiano porta mi via
O partisan, take me with you
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Chi mi sento di morir
For I feel I'm dying
E se io muoio da partigiano
And if I die a partisan
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Tu mi devi seppellir
You'll have to bury me
Mi seppellire lassu in montagna
But bury me up in the mountain
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
Sotto l'ombra di un bel fiore
Under the shadow of a beautiful flower
E le genti che passeranno
And the people who will pass by
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
E le genti che passeranno
And the people who will pass by
Mi diranno: 'Che bel fior'
Will say to me: What a beautiful flower
E questo il fiore del partigiano
This is the flower of the partisan
O bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
E questo il fiore del partigiano
This is the flower of the partisan
Morto per la Palestina
Who died for Palestine

Rest in peace, Vittorio.

Boycott German Goods? It's Unconstitutional!

In my last post, I discussed the extraordinary spectacle of an Australian state premier threatening to sack an Australian council on behalf of a foreign power. But, as if that weren't extraordinary enough, we also have the even more extraordinary spectacle of that power's embassy laying down the law to the same council:

"Israeli trade commissioner Ehud Gonen has warned that the Greens-dominated Marrickville Council's policy of boycotting Israeli goods could contravene international trade rules that Australia has signed up to. Mr Gonen told The Australian Online that, under the World Trade Organisation charter, Australia was forbidden from discriminating against goods imported from another member... It's not permitted within the WTO/GATT charter for elected bodies, including local governments, to do any boycott', he said." (NSW Greens-led Marrickville Council boycott illegal, Israeli trade commissioner Ehud Gonen says, James Massola, The Australian, 1/4/11)

But, as the Good Book reminds us, verily, there is nothing new under the sun. History's been here before, and not that long ago either. In thirties America, a propagandist for a foreign power, which had begun abusing part of its population, laid down the law to those who would organise a boycott against it in support of the oppressed:

"[George] Viereck [the leading pro-German propagandist in America]... [lent] his prestige and oratorical powers to a movement directed against the Jewish boycott of German-made goods proclaimed in 1933. The boycott was intended as a protest against Hitler's mistreatment of the Jewish minority in Germany... At Madison Square Garden, on May 17, 1934, he joined with 7 other speakers in denouncing 'the unconstitutional Jewish boycott'. The rally, attended by 20,000, was sponsored by the Friends of New Germany (forerunner of the German-American Bund), and Nazi symbols and trappings were in bold display." (George Sylvester Viereck: German-American Propagandist, Niel M Johnson, 1972, pp 183-184)

Now if only that boycott had succeeded.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When the Order Comes

When I posted Zionist Chutzpah Hits the Hustings on 22 February (in response to the daubing of a certain burqa-bothered graffitist in the Sydney suburb of Newtown), I had no idea that the perfectly correct and commendable adoption of a pro-BDS stance by a mere Sydney council would be elevated to such prominence in the NSW election campaign and beyond that the real political story of the day, the consignment to electoral purgatory of the once mighty Labor Party, would be all but eclipsed.

Anyone who's been following my coverage of the Murdoch media campaign targeting Marrickville mayor Fiona Byrne and her party will understand that The Australian (and lately The Daily Telegraph) is merely a megaphone for the Zionist lobby and its key goal of heading off the BDS herd at the pass.

OK, so the Murdoch press is the plaything of those for whom the realisation of the Zionist wet dream - a Jewish state from the river to the sea, settlements, Jordan Valley, the lot, preferably Arabrein - is all that really matters in life. But if only their sway ended there. Unfortunately though, it doesn't.

As if LibLab's extraordinary parliamentary toast to Israel on its 60th birthday, the ongoing abuse of our vote in the UNGA, our role in orchestrating the boycott of Durban II, our kiss-and-make-up approach to Mossad's purloining of our passports, and our endless political and journalistic caravans to the Middle East's only (gerrymandered) democracy were not enough, we now have a state premier taking his marching orders from you just know where:

"An ultimatum has been given to the Greens-run Marrickville Council by Premier Barry O'Farrell - drop your boycott of Israel or face the sack. He issued the warning yesterday in a stern letter to Greens Mayor Fiona Byrne threatening to use his powers under the Local Government Act to move against the Sydney council if it did not comply. Ms Byrne, who lost her seat because of the backlash against the boycott, could find herself out of a job if she doesn't back down. The letter obtained by The Daily Telegraph, gave the council a 28-day deadline. 'The NSW Government will consider the range of options available to it. I strongly suggest that council rescind the resolution', Mr O'Farrell wrote." (The Byrne ultimatum, Simon Benson, Daily Telegraph)

Sure, Premier O'Farrell can defy the Shooters & Fishers Party and its 2 upper house MPs whose votes he may need down the track if he wants to get his legislation through: "NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell says he won't be held hostage to demands from the Shooters & Fishers Party to allow hunting in national parks [and] shooting as a sport in schools... 'There will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves [and] we're not going to replace literacy and numeracy in our schools with 'How to dismantle a gun in 5 seconds'." (O'Farrell rules out deals with Shooters, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/4/11)

And he can proclaim loudly, as he did in his victory speech: "The Liberal Party was formed to represent all people, not sectional interests." (O'Farrell claims victory, abc.net.au, 27/3/11)

But there's no defying Israel and its fifth column when the order comes to silence Marrickville Council.

What the hell is happening to us?

The Horror in Bahrain

Letter to President Obama

Mr President,

"I write to you from Bahrain, after living through the kind of horrible injustice that I would never wish on anyone in the world.

"The security forces attacked my home, smashing in the doors with sledgehammers and terrifying my family. Without warning, without an arrest warrant, without giving any reason, armed, masked men attacked my father. Although they said nothing we all know that my father's crime is to be a human rights activist. My father was grabbed by the neck, dragged down a flight of stairs and then beaten unconscious in front of me. He never raised his hand to resist them, and the only words he ever said were 'I can't breathe'. Even after he had lost consciousness, the masked men kept kicking and beating him, all the while cursing and threatening to kill him. This was a very real threat considering that in the past 2 weeks alone, 3 political prisoners have died in custody. The special forces also beat up and arrested my husband and brother-in-law.

"Since their arrest 3 days ago, we have heard nothing. We do not know where they are or whether they are safe or not. In fact, we still have no news of my uncle who was arrested 3 weeks ago when troops put guns to the heads of his children and severely beat his wife.

"Having studied in America, I have seen how strongly your people believe in freedom and democracy. Even through these horrible times, many of the people supporting me are Americans who never thought their government would stand by dictators against freedom-loving people. To the American people I send my love and gratitude.

"I have chosen to write to you and not to my own government because the Alkhalifa regime here has already shown that they do not give a damn about our rights or even our lives.

"When you were sworn-in as President of the United States, I had high hopes. I thought: here is a person who would never have become president if not for the African-American fight for civil rights, he will understand our fight for freedom. Unfortunately, so far my hopes have been dashed. Perhaps I misunderstood. What was it you meant, Mr President? YES WE CAN... support dictators? YES WE CAN... help oppress pro-democracy protesters? YES WE CAN... turn a blind eye to a people's suffering?

"Our wonderful memories have all been replaced by terrible ones. Our staircase still has traces of my father's blood. I sit in my living room and can see the place where my father and husband were thrown face down and beaten. I can see their shoes by the door and remember they were taken barefoot. As a daughter and as a wife I refuse to stay silent while my father and husband are probably being tortured somewhere in a Bahraini prison. As the mother of a one-year-old who wants her father and grandfather back, I must take a stand. I will not be helpless. Starting 6pm Bahrain time tonight, I will go on a hunger strike. I demand the immediate release of my family members. My father: Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. My husband: Wafi Almajed. My brother-in-law: Hussein Ahmed. My uncle: Salah Alkhawaja.

"I am writing this letter to let you know that if anything happens to my father, my husband, my uncle, my brother-in-law, or to me, I'll be holding you just as responsible as the Alkhalifa regime. Your support for this monarchy makes this government a partner in crime. I still have hope that you will realize that freedom and human rights mean as much to a Bahraini person as they do to an American, a Syrian or a Libyan, and that regional and political considerations should not take priority over liberty and human rights.

"I ask you to look into your beautiful daughters' eyes tonight and ask yourself what you personally would be willing to sacrifice in order to make sure that they can sleep safe at night, that they can grow up with hope rather than fear and heartache, that they can have their father's and grandfather's embrace to run to when they are hurt or in need of support. Last night my one-year-old daughter went knocking on our bedroom door calling for her father, the first word she ever learnt. It tore my heart to pieces. How do you explain to a one-year-old that her father is in prison? I need to look into my daughter's eyes tomorrow, next week, in the years to come, and tell her I did all I could to protect her family and future.

"For my daughter's sake, for her future, for my father's life, for the life of my husband, to unite my family again, I will begin my hunger strike." (angryarabiya.blogspot.com)

Zeinab Alkhawaja
11 April 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strange Times

The Australian's hate campaign against the Greens over their support for the Palestinian BDS against Israel shows no signs of abating (see my 8/4/11 post - with daily updates - The Australian Goes on the Warpath).

Indeed, even Murdoch tabloid the Daily Telegraph is now getting in on the act. But how strange!

What with federal Labor merging imperceptibly with the federal Liberal Party, and Australia transitioning in real time to a one-party state, and its NSW equivalent having just suffered the kind of electoral Gotterdammerung sufficient to prompt mild-mannered Herald journalist Mike Carlton to exclaim memorably, "good riddance. Gone at long last the touts and urgers, the cheats and liars, the knaves and bullies and developers' hustlers, the spongers and careerists, the back-stabbers and branch-stackers, the underpants dancers and shiraz-pickled lunchers and expense account rorters and porn-sniffing web surfers," it's the Greens - the Greens for God's sake - who are bearing the brunt of an orchestrated Murdoch media campaign unparalleled in its ferocity.

The Greens, apparently, are guilty of far far worse than NSW Labor could ever imagine:

They've been accused of 'extremism', 'sectarianism', and 'prejudice'.

Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon of 'hardline leftism', 'marching alongside Sheik Taj ad-Din al-Hilali', and being 'in denial'.

Marrickville mayor Fiona Byrne of being 'juvenile', 'making contradictory comments', and being on a 'strange quest'. No! I'm afraid so.

Newly elected Greens Lower House MP Jamie Parker has been accused of 'patronising and insulting 'progressive' Jews', and 'pillorying Jews who defend Israel's right to exist', God bless them. Yes, guilty as hell!

And Greens leader Bob Brown is copping it for 'double standards', 'hypocrisy', and
'political extremism'.

Enough already! NSW Labor, all is forgiven!

But seriously now, for Australia's Israel lobby and its vile creatures in the Murdoch press the Greens are not the target of this campaign per se. The one and only aim here is to propagate the myth that BDS (or indeed any other display of public support for Palestinian rights) is electoral poison. Let us hope that whatever the Greens do in the wake of last month's NSW state election they don't fall for it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chalk & Cheese

Australian Labor politician circa 2011:

"The decision of the Greens Party-controlled Marrickville Council to 'boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges', is unfortunate and misguided at best. The council goes even further and suggests that any organisation or company with links to Israel should be boycotted also. It is not clear how much of ratepayer funds will be expended on this research... It's not as if there are no policy challenges or local issues facing the mayor of Marrickville." (Anthony Albanese, federal member for Grayndler, writing in Murdoch's Australian, 14/1/11)

Australian Labor politician circa 1968:

"Two similar members [of the NSW state parliament] were Reg Coady, the Labor member for the marginal seat of Drummoyne, and Davey Hunter, the Liberal member for the equally marginal adjoining seat of Ashfield from 1940 to 1976. Reg was a cripple. Davey was blind. During the 9 years when Reg was in parliament they were friends. When parliament sat late it was somehow touching to see them going home together in the same taxi. Both were bachelors, both had sisters as housekeepers, and both were local members par excellence. They very seldom spoke in parliament on an issue that did not directly affect their electorates. They were perhaps the ultimate in the enervating effect of parliament on class hostility. It was not difficult to imagine Davey as Labor, or Reg as Liberal.

"Reg was known affectionately as the member for bus stops and traffic lights. I got to know Reg quite well. I listened with interest to his tales of how he looked after the interests of his constituents whether it involved the Commonwealth, State or Local government, how he gave legal and other advice, and sometimes just a sympathetic ear. He pushed parish pump issues with a greater intensity than any other MP. He just never had time to engage in politics.

"For me Reg's example was rather frightening. Whilst I was willing and anxious to fight for any cause in which an injustice had been done, I did not believe that injustices were confined to the 60,000 men, women and children in my electorate." (George Petersen, state member for Illawarra (1968-1988), writing in his autobiography George Petersen Remembers: The Contradictions, Problems & Betrayals of Labor in Government in New South Wales, 1998, p 34)

George Petersen (1921-2000) campaigned strongly against injustice wherever he saw it, whether in his own electorate, in NSW, in Australia, or overseas. He campaigned against both South African and Israeli apartheid. Were BDS around in George's day, he'd have embraced it unequivocally. Certainly, you'd never have heard him say, 'Any lasting resolution to the conflict in South Africa cannot be at the expense of either blacks or whites', or, to quote Albanese, "Any lasting resolution to the Middle East conflict cannot be at the expense of either Palestinians or Israelis." George was the real thing. Albanese reveals himself to be just another parish pump hack.

The Adoration of the (Jewish) State

"You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shall not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them..." (Deuteronomy 5)

"It is all one whether you make an idol of wood, stone, metal, or put it together out of abstract concepts: as soon as you have before you a personal being to whom you sacrifice, on whom you call, whom you thank, it is idolatry." (Arthur Schopenhauer)

"This week, a group of 53 leading business, defence and intelligence figures presented a peace plan under which a Palestinian state would be created along 1967 lines with certain agreed land swaps. One of the leaders of the group, former Israeli intelligence chief Yaakov Perry, said Israelis were starting to be seen as 'the peace refuseniks'. 'Our continued presence in the territories is a threat to Zionism', he said. 'With every passing minute further damage is done to the state of Israel'. Key political figures in Israel, including Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni, have also said that if Israel does not agree to a Palestinian state the very nature of a Jewish state will be threatened due to the rapid growth of the Palestinian population." (Israel to lobby Canberra on Palestine, John Lyons, The Australian, 13/4/11)

IOW we have to pull out of the West Bank or else we'll be swamped by brown, sorry non-Jewish, people, and then how can we call ourselves a white, sorry Jewish, state, which after all is what Zionism is all about.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Go, Girl!

What is it with Gemmas and the military? Seems only yesterday I was writing about one (Military Madness Miscellany, 18/7/09), and now this:

"Gemma Tapp might not look like your typical aspiring fighter pilot, but the 15-year-old schoolgirl is certain that's where her destiny lies. And the Grade II student at St Margaret's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane wants to be right in the thick of the action, so the Gillard government's decision to fast-track women into frontline combat roles has delighted her. 'I think if women are prepared to work as hard as men, they should definitely be allowed to serve on the front line', said Ms Tapp, who plans to apply for a place at the Australian Defence Forces Academy when she finishes school. She said that when she first began researching a career in the military, she was stunned that there were jobs from which women were banned. 'I obviously went in knowing that women couldn't be on the frontline in infantry and that was... still quite unbelievable in this day and age', she said... Ms Tapp said her dream was to be a fighter pilot but she was keen to find out more about the GDO and ADG frontline positions. 'My goal in whatever I do is to get where I can make the biggest impact, and if that's on the frontline, then that's where I want to be', she said." (Gemma wants force to be with her, Sarah Elks, The Australian, 13/4/11)

OK, Gemma, you want to be right in the thick of the action, right? Then maybe a frontline infantry position would be the way to go, rather than a fighter pilot, which seems a little WWII, no? Just think, you'd get to blaze away at brown people and they'd get to blaze away at you, unless of course they were unarmed civilians, which they often are, in which case, they wouldn't blaze back, just drop and bleed all over the place instead. Either way it sounds like heaps of fun. What more could a young woman such as yourself possibly want out of life?

But then, you say you want to make the biggest impact, correct? In that case, I'd suggest you fly a bomber. You could drop those daisy cutters all over the place, right. Just imagine their impact on a village full of brown people. Now you see it, now you don't. And, like, you could be back to base in a jiffy in time for a spot of binge-drinking, sexual harrassment or worse with your mates! Coool!

In the Beginning Was the School Bus

"This time, Israel intends to exact a very heavy price from Hamas... The only immediate solution is deterrence - and deterrence can only be achieved via plenty of fire. This time, officials will not accept a Hamas request for a lull via secret channels of UN officials in the area, as happened in the past. In the coming days, the cannons, missiles, tanks, jets and rockets will do the talking, until the blood quota is filled." (Op-ed: Hamas must pay dearly, Alex Fishman, ynetnews.com, 8/4/11)

The howling madness of the above spittle-flecked war cry notwithstanding, the Australian corporate press have been singularly focused in their 'reporting' of Israel's latest wilding in Gaza:

"The Israeli air force has promised further retaliatory air strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip this weekend, after Palestinian militants fired 45 rockets into Israel on Thursday, one of which targeted a school bus and critically injured a 16-year old boy." (Israel & Hamas on verge of new war, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/4/11)

"The Israeli attacks were touched off by the demolition of an Israeli school bus by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza." (Bus attack sees Israel pound Gaza, Hamas strike back, Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian, 11/4/11)

"Israel's latest airstrikes on Gaza follow a missile attack by Hamas on a school bus. The laser-guided missile injured the driver and a 16-year-old student." (Arab bid for no-fly zone on Gaza, John Lyons, The Australian, 12/4/11)

In the same period, the corporate press have rolled out the red carpet for assorted Zionist lobbyists, propagandists and rambammed journos:

The ugly double standard behind the Goldstone report, Jonathan Freedland, The Age, 9/4/11

Israel will pay price for Gaza report fiction, Colin Rubenstein, The Australian, 12/4/11

Israeli inertia on peace may saddle state with old regrets, Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/4/11

Israel should bite the bullet on Palestine, Zvi Barel, The Australian, 13/4/11

But the following corrective by Gazan-born Samah Sabawi, public advocate of Australians for Palestine, has been rejected out of hand by both the Fairfax and Murdoch-owned press:

"The media coverage of Israel's ongoing bombardment of Gaza that left many dead and many more injured echoes Israel's claim that it was part of an escalation that began on Thursday [7/4] when Hamas militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus, critically wounding a teenager and lightly injuring the driver. Such claims ignore the reality that sysyematic violence against the Palestinians has never stopped.

"In fact, in the weeks before the school bus incident between 16-29 March, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Israel has killed a total of 14 Palestinians, including 6 civilians, and injured 52 Palestinians, including at least 40 civilians (19 children). In that same period, 3 Israeli civilians were injured. OCHA's report makes it clear that all the civilian casualties and 19 of the Palestinian injuries occurred as a result of Israeli tank shelling and mortar fire. So while both Hamas and Israel have targeted civilians, Israel has used force far more lethally against the civilian population. And as tragic as the wounding of an Israeli boy on a bus is, his injury was not a trigger to Israel's bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza which has continued on and off for the better part of this last decade and certainly was not what started this current escalation.

"Unfortunately, Palestinian deaths and injuries and Israeli incursions don't make the daily news in Australia. But the death of every child, woman and man is indeed felt deeply in the close-knit community of Gaza and the rest of Palestine. Failing to understand this is failing to understand the impact of the human tragedy on this conflict. On the political level, this failure to comprehend the human tragedy and how it inflames Arab and Muslim public opinion has (and continues to have) disastrous consequences for world peace and security. Western audiences are spared the images of grieving Palestinian mothers and fathers, but in the Arab and Muslim world, such images are a constant reminder of the brutality of the Israeli occupation and of the hypocrisy of the world powers supporting it.

"The gap in reporting leaves many with the false impression that since Israel's Operation Cast Lead, there has been 'calm' between Israel and the Palestinians. But reality tells a different story. In fact, since Cast Lead and up to February this year, Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem reported a total of 151 Palestinians killed in the OPTs, including 19 minors. During that same period 9 Israeli civilians were also killed by Palestinians, including 1 minor. These statistics, as horrible as they are, don't even begin to describe the daily violence of occupation, including the travel restrictions, the lack of access to medical care, clean water and electricity.

"Indeed, the violence of Israel's occupation comes in many forms, perhaps the most poignant of which is Israel's collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza. Keeping the Gazan economy 'on the brink of collapse', confirmed as an Israeli policy by US diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks, is the goal of the inhumane siege that has rendered 55% of the population food-insecure and 10% of the children victims of malnutrition and stunted growth. Israel's periodic attacks, incursions and invasions, that involve the killing of large numbers of civilians and the systematic destruction of agricultural lands, homes and civilian infrastructure, have barely let up for a single day since the siege intensified in 2007. Restricting the movement of people, prohibiting students and those in need of medical care from leaving Gaza, and prohibiting loved ones and relatives visitation rights to the world's largest open air prison is a form of violent and extreme collective punishment that targets the entire population.

"Let us not forget that 75% of Gaza's population is made up of refugees denied for 63 years the right to return to their homes inside what is now Israel. Israel's denial of this fundamental human right and its 43-year occupation and colonization of Gaza and the West Bank lies at the root of all the violence. Those who focus only on the latest set of incidents as the cause of the violence are missing the big picture." (The horrible truth about Gaza, 11/4/11)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Only in The Australian

Paul Monk's review of Jonathan Schneer's new book, The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, in last weekend's Australian, is one of the dodgiest book reviews I've ever read.

As I'm wont to say: Only in The Australian.

Monk, described as "founder of Austhink Consulting," kicks off How the dragon's teeth were sown thus:

"The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was the foundation stone on which, with British support, the Zionist movement was able to set about creating what would become the state of Israel in 1947 [sic: 1948]. It consisted of two simple but pregnant sentences: 1. His Majesty's government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people. 2. His Majesty's government will use its best endeavours to secure the achievement of this object and will discuss the necessary methods and means with the Zionist Organisation."

Except that that is NOT the text of the Balfour Declaration. For the record this is:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

Monk has simply plucked his two "pregnant" sentences from p 335 of Schneer's book and ignored completely the full and final text of the declaration quoted on p 341. What he claims to be the Balfour Declaration is actually only one of several drafts cobbled together by Zionist lobbyists which were rejected by their British interlocutors until pared down to the final, more deceptive, and so more marketable, version. This would have been abundantly clear to anyone who'd been paying attention.

Several questions therefore arise: Did Monk actually read, as opposed to merely skim, Schneer's book before writing his review? Was he even familiar with the text of the declaration in the first place? If not, why was he chosen to review the book? Did he, perhaps, deliberately choose the earlier draft to fit with his own Zionist prejudices, prejudices which become clear as one reads on? And what does all of this tell us about the knowledge base and/or political prejudices of the editor of The Weekend Australian's Review who had engaged Monk to review the book in the first place?

Monk goes on to write that:

"The more important questions... are why did the British government see fit to make such a declaration and why were the Arabs so opposed to it then and ever after?"

I'll deal with the second question later. In answer to the first, Monk construes Schneer thus:

"Above all, what Schneer shows... is that the British decision to support Zionism was due much less to the lobbying of the Zionists than to the opportunism of British statesmen in the increasingly desperate struggle against the Central Powers and their illusions regarding the true global power and influence of the Jews. He remarks that 'the Balfour Declaration sprang from fundamental miscalculations about the power of Germany and about the power and unity of the Jews'... Schneer argues the idea would never have gotten up had it not been for the British establishment forming the erroneous opinion that the Jews carried enormous influence in world finance and the secret counsels of government and that this should be brought to bear against the Central Powers before the Central Powers themselves exploited it."

Monk would have us believe that, for Schneer, the Zionist lobbyists who argued for, and drafted, successive versions of the declaration before finally 'getting it right' were almost innocent bystanders in the process. But what does Schneer actually say? Certainly he acknowledges British misconceptions:

"Implicit here is the wildly unrealistic estimate of the power and unity of 'world Jewry' that we have seen such British officials as Hugh O'Bierne and Sir Mark Sykes to have displayed. Let an infamous notation, jotted down by Robert Cecil... stand for all such miscalculations: 'I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the international power of the Jews'. In his memorandum... Montagu had discounted 'the anti-Semitism of the present government'. But stereotypical thinking about Jews did play a role in the War Cabinet's decision to issue the Balfour Declaration." (pp 343-344)

Hm... a role, eh? What Monk omits entirely from his review is Schneer's acknowledgment that the Zionists played on these stereotypes for all they were worth:

"It is a further irony that British Zionists had done everything in their power to foster such thinking. The inimitable Harry Sacher wrote long afterwards: 'Many... have a residual belief in the power and the unity of Jewry. We suffer for it, but it is not wholly without its compensations. It is one of the imponderabilia of politics, and it plays, consciously or unconsciously, its part in the calculations and the decisions of statesmen. To exploit it delicately and deftly belongs to the art of the Jewish diplomat'. During 1917 the Zionists did just that. Starting in June 1917, they began warning that Germany was courting Jews. Usually they did not say, indeed it was better left unsaid, that if Germany won Jewish support, then the Entente would lose it - and possibly the war. British officials were capable of reaching the conclusion themselves. On one occasion, however, Weizmann went even that far. The Germans had 'recently approached the Zionists with a view to coming to terms with them', he warned William Ormsby-Gore on June 10. 'It was really a question whether the Zionists were to realize their aims through Germany and Turkey or through Great Britain'. He [Weizmann], of course, was absolutely loyal to Great Britain'. Meanwhile the British Jewish press had taken up the issue. Lord Rothschild repeated it to Balfour: 'During the last few weeks the official and semi-official German newspapers have been making many statements, all to the effect that in the Peace Negotiations the Central Powers must make a condition for Palestine to be a Jewish settlement under German protection. I therefore think it important that the British declaration should forestall any such move'. Thus did the Zionists indirectly play 'delicately and deftly' upon the ignorance and prejudice of British officials..." (p 344)

Monk's omission of the above seriously misrepresents Schneer's account.

With regard to his second question - 'Why were the Arabs so opposed to [the Balfour Declaration] then and ever after?' - Monk's real agenda emerges. He complains that Schneer "nowhere digs down into the roots of Muslim or Arab anti-Semitism, confining his explanation of Arab grievances to the double and, indeed, triple dealing in which Britain engaged during World War I. This, I think is a weakness in an otherwise fascinating work of history."

It is obvious that Monk's disappointment in Schneer is simply because the historian hasn't parroted the usual Zionist dogma. It doesn't occur to him that Palestinian resistance to the Zionist takeover of their homeland arose for exactly the same reason every colonised people has resisted the colonial invasion and settlement of its homeland. But then most Zionists baulk at acknowledging their colonial-settler roots.

In his concluding paragraph, Monk writes that:

"The prospect in 1917 was a Middle East made up of new nations. There were hundreds and thousands of Jews in the Islamic world. Why should they not have been a welcome, constructive part of the Semitic world? That question goes to the dark heart of Islam. There Schneer does not venture."

Monk's Zionist frame of reference aside, his ignorance of the matter at hand is truly astonishing. Those pushing for a Jewish state in 1917 were European Jews, not Arab Jews who, at the time, wouldn't have known Theodor Herzl from T E Lawrence. Then there's his arrogant assumption that Arab Jews were not a "welcome, constructive part of the Semitic world," and could only be so providing they were first uprooted from the homes in which they'd lived for centuries and relocated to Palestine.

So who is Paul Monk? Austhink Consulting's website, austhinkconsulting.com, hypes him thus:

"Paul Monk is a founder, Director and Principal Consultant. He is a polymath and widely known as a public intellectual. He worked for a number of years in intelligence, where he rose to head China analysis for the Defence Intelligence Organisation. Dr Monk may well be unequalled in Australia for intellectual breadth and depth, and his ability to rapidly apply that profound resource to challenges in the broad area of human affairs."

If Monk's review is an example of the application of "unequalled intellectual breadth and depth" to the Palestine/Israel problem, then God help us.

As I say: Only in The Australian.