Monday, February 27, 2012

Pull the Other, Paul

Paul Fletcher, the Liberal federal member for Bradfield, NSW, recently visited Israel as a guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) (See my 6/2/12 post Here We Go Again!). His account of his journey, titled Visiting Israel is an education, appeared in The Australian Jewish News of 17 February.

For aficianados of the steady stream of Australian politicians, journalists and other sophisticates who self-sacrificingly leave the Balinese or Thai bodyrub to the hedonistic hoi polloi in favour of the more cerebral Israeli brainwash (a process I refer to as rambamming*), Paul's account will be of consuming interest:

To begin with the perils of Pauline have nothing on those of Paul. When he's not dodging Arab rockets on his El Al flight to Eilat, or Hamas rockets in Sderot-Stalingrad, or Hezbollah rockets from southern Lebanon, he's observing the excruciating pain of security screenings "in cities and towns throughout Israel" or listening, awestruck, as grief-stricken Israeli parents relate "grim accounts" in "deep, quiet anger" of terrorists who, although having master-minded the deaths of Israeli children, receive heroes' welcomes in Jordan when released from Israeli jails.

But then, following all this sturm und drang, comes this curious, perfunctory paragraph:

"On a visit to the West Bank, we saw the controversial security fence. Spending time with Palestinian officials, we were shown new Israeli settlements visible from Bethlehem; checkpoints which are randomly shut by the Israeli army; and a West Bank refugee camp."

A towering 8m wall is just a fence. And it's controversial, not illegal. Israeli settlements monster Bethlehem on every side, but Paul is mum. Checkpoints make a Palestinian's day, every day, but it's strictly no comment from Paul. And there's a refugee camp - but what that's all about elicits not a word from him. No, Paul only has words for Israel:

"The security challenges Israel faces naturally leave a profound impression on a visitor to Israel. But what struck me most forcefully was the determination and willpower that run through the story of modern Israel. Even establishing the country required heroic effort; then immediately upon declaring its statehood in 1948, Israel was attacked by surrounding Arab states; and Israel has of course fought multiple wars since that time."

And that's as close as you'll get to the riddle of the refugee camp. After all, it's heroic effort, not ethnic cleansing or refugees, that the punters want to hear about.

"Quite apart from the security threat, the country was tiny, much of the land it did have was inhospitable desert, water was scarce, and there were few natural resources. To have moulded a modern, prosperous nation of nearly 8 million people (20% of them not Jewish), and to have successfully absorbed several massive waves of immigration along the way, is an extraordinary feat."

Yes, just bare rock and sand dunes, stretching as far as the eye could see, with your odd Arab listlessly littering the place, stirring from his eternal somnolence only to stab in the back our heroic Jewish pioneers busy watering the desert with little more than the sweat of their brows but somehow, miraculously making it bloom.

"What lessons do I draw from my visit? Three stand out. First, a narrative which portrays Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as victims is hopelessly simplistic."

God forbid that we call ethnic cleansers and occupiers oppressors, or refugees and occupied victims. Hopelessly simplistic! No, you need a much more sophisticated narrative than that. Once you understand that it was really the so-called Palestinians who were occupying Jewish land which they should have had the good grace or common sense to vacate as soon as the real owners came back after thousands of years, then and only then have we got ourselves a serious narrative. Seriously.

"This is so for several reasons, but one is that as a democratic state with a free press, Israel examines its own failings - including during war - much more publicly than its enemies do."

I mean we all know that public displays of humility, soul-searching and self-criticism are everywhere to be seen in Israel; that acknowledgments of guilt, expressions of regret and apologies all round are commonplace; that truth and reconciliation sessions are practically an artform; and that sackcloth and ashes is the latest fashion, right? Right.

"Secondly, the scale of what modern Israel has achieved, in just over 60 years, is truly impressive. The country's natural resources may be limited, but the determination, courage and hard work of its people have taken Israel a long way in a short time."

Absolutely! It's gone from practically zero land in Palestine in 1917, to around 6% in 1947, to 78% in 1948-49, and finally to 100% in 1967, with chunks of Syria and Egypt thrown in for good measure! Yes, it's amazing what determination, courage, hard work, brute force, dispossession, daylight robbery, and the good old Yankee dollar can do.

"Thirdly, it is instructive to compare what has been achieved in Israel with the message that the Greens like to give us in Australia: our land is at (or over) its carrying capacity and we must immediately cease population growth or we risk catastrophic collapse. Israel supports 7.5 million people on around 20,000 square kilometres; Australia's 3 times larger population occupies a landmass around 380 times as big as Israel."

Yeah, you can truly work wonders once you've driven out the undesirables, stolen their lands, homes, businesses and assets, and kept their millions of descendents on ice for over 60 years.

[*See my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.]

Ziocon Hard-on

"Every so often we'd have a visit from nonmilitary VIPs like the gaggle of 'fellows' who flew in from a prominent national security think tank. These scholars wrote serious books important people read, they appeared on important Sunday morning talk shows, and they served as consultants to even more important people who made decisions about this war and others to come. One of them was on the staff of a General whose name was dropped more often than Jesus's at a Southern Baptist AA meeting. Another was coming back to Iraq as an adviser to the Embassy, having advised in the glory days of 2003.

"One guy was a real live neoconservative. A quick Google of his work showed he strongly supported going to war in Iraq, wrote apology pieces after no one could find any weapons of mass destruction ('It was still the right thing to do'), and came back to see exactly how well democracy was working out for a paper he was writing to further justify the war. He liked military high tech; he used words like awesome, superb, and extraordinary (pronounced EXTRAordinary) without irony to describe tanks and guns. He said in reference to the Israeli Army, 'they give me a hard-on'. Another fellow had a habit of bouncing his legs up and down while sitting. Strapped into the MRAP vehicle with the four-point harness that came up through his legs, he bounced and bounced, like something a dog did that embarrassed you when company came over. This guy basically advanced the thesis that anything that happened in Iraq before he started advising was a 'fucking disaster' (it was so cool when academics used swear words) and whatever had happened after he started advising was 'innovative'. He insisted on using the phrase tipping point to refer to just about everything, including lunch. He called people in the news by their first names (Barack, Joe, Meatloaf). He looked at his smartphone for messages a lot, even though we were several hundred years away from the right kind of cell phone coverage.

"The best thing of all was that when these two fellows were together they did not talk about bands of brothers, Israeli wood, or Iraqi democracy, but instead, riding in an armored vehicle through the badlands outside of Baghdad, they compared book deals and literary agents and gossiped about people they both knew who were getting big advances on memoirs. It became clear to me why this war had played out so well, with people like this intellectually backstopping the policy makers." (We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts & minds of the Iraqi People, Peter Van Buren, 2011, pp 196-198)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Do As We Say...

... not as we do:

"The test for journalists must always remain the pursuit of the facts, respect for sources, scepticism about being misled, and an obligation to share the reality with the public, free from any hidden agenda." (Editorial: Media lessons in ALP jibes, The Australian, 25/2/12)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jeremy Buckingham Crosses the Rubicon

Let me venture a prediction. As Labor fades away and the Greens slowly emerge as the new Labor, the ideals and principles that once characterised the party will inevitably fall victim to the compromises and accomodations with power that so marked the decline of its forbear and made it virtually indistinguishable from the Liberals.

A depressing prediction, certainly. Yet for those concerned for the direction of the Greens in the 21st century, it is important to keep an eye open for any indication that that is indeed where they are heading.

That is not to say, I hasten to add, that we have had no such indications to date. However, as any regular reader of this blog will be aware, it is my firm belief that the Palestine/Israel issue is the greatest ever litmus test for sorting out those with intellectual and moral courage from the rest. And God knows, as the current spectacle in Canberra amply demonstrates, intellectual and moral courage, which should be the sine qua non for any who aspire to political office, is the last thing you'd look to any of our Lib-Lab politicians for.

And what, you're wondering, has prompted this gloomy train of thought? Well, we have in Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham's decision to join the steering committee of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel the most spectacular failure of that Palestine/Israel test in the history of the party so far:

"Board of Deputies President Yair Miller addressed the re-launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel group. Over 60 NSW Members of Parliament turned out at State Parliament House for the event. Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton MP was elected chair and Walt Secord MLC deputy chair. A committee of 13 members was elected to form the steering committee: David Clarke MLC, Jonathan O'Dea MP, Luke Foley MLC, Gareth Ward MP, Scot MacDonald MLC, Rev Fred Nile MLC, Chris Spence MP, Eric Roozendaal MLC, Melinda Pavey MLC, Dominic Perrottet MP, Ryan Park MP, Don Harwin MLC and Jeremy Buckingham MLC." (Parliamentary Friends regroups, At the Board, Vol 1-2012)

What exactly was behind the move, whether sheer ignorance, pig-headedness, the pressures of groupthink or the blandishments of the usual suspects, or a combination of same, we can only speculate.

But not only does Buckingham's decision mean that, as the Greens' cog in the Zionist steering committee, he's meshing with the likes of Clarke, Nile and Roozendaal, he's also had to stomach none other than the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, at a gathering of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel on 21 February, traducing fellow Greens in the overweening tones so typical of Zionist apologists and ranters:

"The candidate for Marrickville, Fiona Byrne, tripped over herself in many public statements, confused that her Utopian vision of a world with a weakened Israel was poorly received outside the confines of her urban hamlet. BDS in Australia has since become a media byline... for another failed movement of radical activists which, shamefully, attached itself to a municipal councl for a few months." (Cause for Israel stronger after boycott attempts, The Australian, 23/2/12)

"Where Lee Rhiannon's Greens looked likely to pick up a cluster of seats in the NSW election, they left demoralised, finishing behind Labor on primary votes in the only seat they ended up winning... When we hear about BDS now, it's not coming from the mouths of prominent politicians and mayors or respected journalists of record. It's being shouted from poorly attended protests, or from the back of police cars, or from the former communists who stayed with Stalin even after the Wall fell." (ibid) [On Rotem's speech, see my 23/2/12 post The Essence of Israel.]

Buckingham is also having to stomach being smarmed in the Murdoch press by the likes of Imre Salusinszky:

"Mr Buckingham has emerged as a leader of the 'deep-green' or conservation-focused section of the party in NSW, which has pushed back at the hard-Left faction associated with Senator Rhiannon. He successfully led a push last December for the state party to abandon BDS." (Israel's man lets fly at BDS backers, The Australian, 23/2/12)

Not to mention the Israeli ambassador:

"I thank those Greens MPs and candidates who stood tall and opposed BDS, citing their own values of principle and justice, for which some of their colleagues have no tolerance." (ibid)

That Buckingham may even have acquired a taste for such things is hardly to indulge in wild speculation. Having crossed this, his Rubicon to the dark side, the question remains: Will Jeremy Buckingham be the first Australian Greens politician to take the Kool-Aid in Israel?

What a bloody sad business this is for the Greens.

[On Buckingham's slide see my posts Which side are you on? (9/9/11) and A Cautionary Tale (16/9/11)]

The Devil & David Irvine

"There are hundreds of terrorist plots under way in Australia... [This] startling and disturbing figure... comes from an important speech this week by David Irvine, director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [ASIO]... In Irvine's important speech, he points out that the death of Osama bin Laden has not changed the dynamics of anti-Western, transnational terrorism. He comments: 'Ideology remains, in the absence of leaders like Osama bin Laden, and it is virulent'. He goes on to say: 'Of particular concern to us in Australia is the current targeting of this message to young English-speaking Muslims, specifically, through both al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine, and the readily available English language lectures by radical Yemen-based US sheik, Anwar al-Awlaki'." (The unheeded steps of a psycho killer, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 28/7/11)

While the above may sound plausible, face it, Anwar al-Awlaki's lectures can only provide work for so many spooks.

So, what with ASIO's 471% expansion between 2001 and 2010 and its shiny new $590 million headquarters in Canberra*, there must be a helluva lot of potential for thumb-twiddling over at HQ.

With this in mind, therefore, the Devil could well be finding work for idle ASIO hands at Melbourne's Preston Mosque:

"Heavy-handed ASIO attempts to recruit young Muslims from Preston Mosque, bullying and harassment are creating fear and disquiet among the community, according to a Muslim leader. Young Muslim men at the mosque for Friday prayers yesterday described how ASIO agents would not take no for an answer when they asked to meet 'for a chat' and had recently changed from insistent requests to making legal demands, threatening 5 years' prison for refusing. One told how an ASIO agent provocateur tried to get him to transfer money to a terrorist organisation... ASIO said yesterday that to protect Australia it relied on public help. It maintained dialogue with representatives of a wide range of groups, but such engagement was confidential." (ASIO tactics creating fear in community, say Muslims, Barney Zwartz, The Age, 18/2/12)

[*See my 31/1/12 post Beautiful Sets of Figures.]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Essence of Israel

"Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." Moshe Dayan

Although Australia plays host to hundreds of foreign ambassadors, you'll usually only ever see one hogging the opinion pages of our newspapers - Yuval Rotem, the Israeli ambassador.

Today, for example, he's popped up on the The Australian's opinion page with Cause for Israel stronger after boycott attempts, an edited extract of a speech given to the NSW Parliamentary Israeli Friendship Group on Tuesday.

Yuval's wonderful speech contains heaps of highlights and piles of pearls.

Did you know, for example that:

1) "John Howard... stood firm for freedom across the world at every opportunity"?

2) "Doc Evatt...helped to negotiate the re-foundation [!] of the state of Israel"?

3) "Common sense does not comply with vigilante local councils wreaking self-imposed economic sanction on one nation that is locked in a struggle for peace"?

4) "BDS in Australia has... become a media byline, like the S11 and G20 protests before it, for another failed movement of radical activists, which, shamefully, attached itself to a municipal council for a few months?"

5) "When we hear about BDS now, it's not coming from the mouths of prominent politicians and mayors or respected journals of record. It's being shouted from poorly attended protests, or from the back of police cars, or from the former communists who stayed with Stalin even after the Wall fell"?

6) "[Israel is] a tiny, miraculous country in the Middle East, awash with the principles of democracy, values of freedom and the colours of culture not enjoyed by the subjects of autocratic and theocratic regimes that surround [it]"?

But the following is my all-time favourite because something quite extraordinary occurs in it. Despite the bombast, Yuval manages to capture and communicate the very essence of Israel in just one word:

7) "It was another example of the way we defeat Israel's detractors in the West: using our minds, appealing to common sense and exhibiting that of which we are truly proud: our culture, our innovation, our way of life, our language, our technology, our teachings, our art - unleashing our contribution to the world."

Savage dogs are unleashed.

Thanks, Yuval, for that invaluable Dayanesque insight into exactly what it is that makes Israel Israel.

Tony Abbott's Foreign Policy: The Fine Print

Australia's next prime minister, Tony Abbott, takes time out from his ceaseless round of photo-ops in workplaces throughout the land to remind Australians that his foreign policy focus will be... well, substantially less foreign than Rudd's:

"Sensible countries focus their foreign policy on what's clearly in their national interest. That's why I keep saying that the next Coalition government's foreign policy would have a 'Jakarta focus rather than a Geneva one'. What happens in our region usually matters much more to us than what happens elsewhere... As foreign minister, Rudd visited Liechtenstein before he made it to PNG... " (On world stage, Rudd spoke loudly & carried a small stick, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/2/12)

Yes, most sensible, Tony. But wait, what's this?

"Clearly, Labor's obsession with winning a temporary seat on the UN Security Council is warping our priorities. For example, the government has softened Australia's support for Israel, the only mature democracy in the Middle East." (ibid)

Increased support for Israel? Forget Indonesia and PNG. See you in Tehran, mate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Excuses Anymore

The spin and bullshit that is sometimes inexcusably dignified with the label 'the Zionist narrative' pervades much of what we see and read in the mainstream media. So pervasive is it that even the most progressive, intelligent, competent and humane among our journalists, commentators and writers can fall victim to its insidious memes. They really should know better.

I'm thinking here of Fairfax journalist David Marr.

You may recall my earlier posts on David Marr: Howler (29/12/10) and Howler 2 (25/1/12).

They both relate to his misleading use of the Zionist fairy tale constructed around an attempt by Mossad in 1947 to breach the British naval blockade of Palestine using a vessel carrying displaced European Jews and renamed for the occasion Exodus in an article on the plight of boat people seeking access to Australia from Indonesia.

I emailed Marr a link to the second of my posts, and received the following terse response on January 26:

"My subject is - and has been - violence on refugee blockades and the British navy's detestation of the work they were ordered to do off the coast of Palestine. Whether the British government was right or wrong to blockade the coast is a subject for another time. So is the propaganda use the Jews made of those violent confrontations. There was a blockade; it was violent; the Royal Navy hated the work; that view has passed to the Australian Navy."

Feeling that Marr hadn't quite, to say the least, taken my point, indeed seemed somewhat resistant even to being reminded of the implications of what he'd done, I replied as follows:

"Thanks for your response. I take your point, but your earlier reference to the British 'preventing Jews from reaching their homeland' (the subject of my 29/12/10 post Howler), followed this time by your reference to the [Otto Preminger] film Exodus, as though it were some kind of historical documentary rather than a cheap Zionist propaganda flic, suggests the uncritical adoption of a Zionist perspective here.

"The plain fact of the matter is that Palestine was then no more the homeland of European Jews, whether displaced persons or not, than Australia was the homeland of our convict forbears or their jailers. Palestine was then, still is, and will always be, pre-eminently the homeland of its indigenous Arab inhabitants. I reacted to the content of your opening paragraphs because I feel you have given, albeit unwittingly perhaps, a free plug for what some term 'the Zionist narrative', not once but twice.

"Although I am generally in complete agreement with the positions you take in the Herald or on the ABC and admire your style as an exceptionally insightful investigative journalist, I have this thing about absolute historical fidelity to the historical record, especially in relation to that of Palestine, which has been falsified and distorted like no other. I hope you understand."

No response has been forthcoming. I can only hope that for Marr the penny has dropped. I can understand (just) the literati getting Palestine wrong in the 1920s, but in 2012? No way.

The Nub of the Matter

The topic under discussion on SBS Television's Insight program last night was Iran: Is Iran a threat? And what would happen if it was attacked?

I couldn't help but notice that the program, and its presenter, Jenny Brockie, more than bent over backwards to accommodate the views of assorted Israeli warmongers such as Michael Herzog, Brigadier General (Ret.), Efraim Halevy, former head of Mossad, 1998-2002, and General Danny Yatom.

That being the case, had I been a member of the studio audience I would have felt compelled to make the following statement:

I'm sorry, but I have to say I'm finding the HYPOCRISY in this studio quite unbearable.

On the one hand, we have a state - Israel - which is armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons, and God knows what else besides.

On the other, we have a state - Iran - which has no nuclear weapons whatever.

Yet what is the question uppermost in the minds of the folk behind this program? Is a Iran a threat?

Ms Brockie, when is Insight going to devote a program to Israel's nukes?

Might I even be so bold as to suggest a suitable title? Israel: How much longer must the world put up with the stifling hypocrisy of a bellicose, nuclear-armed Israel, and its nuclear-armed Western proxies, constantly banging on about Iran's imaginary nukes?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Helen of Zion

One of the most bizarre phenomena in Australian political life is the periodic emergence of certain Australian politicians as unabashed public advocates for the state of Israel. Yet, strangely, it remains largely ignored as a matter for comment or investigation by the ms media - partly, I imagine, because so many of its representatives indulge in the same practice. What other foreign policy issue, it must be asked, elicits this degree of advocacy from so many of our elected representatives, both state and federal?

The latest to emerge in this capacity is Victorian Liberal senator Helen Kroger. Only the other day, she's lashing SBS's managing director at a Senate estimates hearing for daring to screen The Promise (See my previous post). Next thing you know she's attacking the film (and SBS) online in an opinion piece at The Punch. One wonders where she's going to pop up next.

Now I may be wrong but I seriously doubt that Kroger has a real and abiding interest in Israel per se. So who or what has activated her? Hint: Kroger went on an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council-sponsored junket to Israel in 2007.

Could her Punch piece, SBS shouldn't be allowed to re-write history (17/2/12), to which I now turn, be the long-ripened fruit of that journey? If so, you'll need your smelling salts. The bloody thing's gone off!:

Although history is just sooo frightfully difficult to call these days, Kroger informs us, there's still, she insists, "a difference between bona fide perspective and malevolent falsehoods."

As examples of the latter she cites the Passover Blood Libel, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and - surprise, surprise - (though not quite as "sinister" as these two, she adds) The Promise!

The sheer outrageousness of the association aside, the fact of the matter here is that for Israel lobbyists The Promise, being in large part a realistic dramatisation of the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe), is far and away the greater concern, undermining as it does one of Israel's key foundational myths: that Israel, declared in May 1948, was the outcome of a genuine independence struggle against the British and the miraculous survivor of a David and Goliath struggle against the Arabs.

Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Israel, though atypical of the breed, is really just another colonial implant.

The plain facts are that without British patronage, collusion and cold steel, the European colonial-settler movement known as Zionism would never have been able to gain a foothold in Palestine, subject it to wave after wave of Jewish immigration (against the wishes of its indigenous Arab population), buy up much of its best land from absentee landlords (evicting Arab peasants in the process), build an armed state-within-a-state, eventually take up arms against its former imperial patron (who had finally twigged to the cock-up it'd created), and go on to ethnically cleanse Palestine's majority Arab population, steal their homes and lands, and prevent their return.

It is the final stage of the Zionist takeover in Palestine, what Churchill called the "hell-disaster,"* that The Promise so graphically lifts the lid on. And this is what Zionist propagandists, who have lied about and misrepresented the events of 1947-1949 for over 60 years now, most fear. Hence their assault on Kosminsky's film, and the conscription of one of their useful parliamentary fools to wage a campaign, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, against it.

Here are Kroger's key propaganda points, followed by my commentary:

1) "Many Arabs left their homes before Israel's Declaration of Independence and subsequent invasion by her Arab neighbours."

Oh! Just like that, eh? Just up and left, for no apparent reason. No fuss whatever. Enough said. And this is a "bona fide perspective"?

2) "Erin does not... encounter a single Palestinian militant, despite the prominence of groups including Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the Territories."

Maybe, just maybe, Helen, members of these groups aren't prancing around with the words 'Fatah', 'Islamic Jihad' and 'Hamas' in neon lights on their foreheads because they know how trigger happy Israeli troops are.

3) "Nor does Len encounter the anti-Jewish Islamic extremism inspired by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem."

And maybe, Helen, that's because Palestinian opposition to the Zionist takeover of their homeland in 1948 had nothing to do with Islam, and everything to do with resisting the loss of their patrimony. Here, for example, is part of a 1921 Memorandum from a joint Muslim-Christian delegation to a visiting Churchill:

"Had Zionists come to Palestine simply as visitors, or had matters remained as before the war, there would be no question of Jew or non-Jew. It is the idea of transforming Palestine into a home for the Jews that Arabs resent and fight against. The fact that a Jew is a Jew has never prejudiced the Arabs against him. Before the war Jews enjoyed all the privileges and rights of citizenship. The question is not a religious one. For we see that Christians and Moslems alike, whose religions are not similar, unite in their hatred of Zionism..." (Palestine Papers 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict, Doreen Ingrams, 1972/2009, p 118)

4) "No attention is given to the mainstream Jewish paramilitary Haganah (later the Israel Defence Force), who like the British engaged in counterinsurgency against the minority Irgun."

Pull the other Helen! But don't believe me. Read this:

"On the day [Operation Agatha (29/6/46), involving the search of Jewish settlements,] was launched Chaim Weizmann, playing his role of injured innocence to perfection, and with chutzpah, told Sir Alan Cunningham that the British reaction to Jewish violence was a battle against world Jewry. Not all Jews would have agreed. In any case, the following day Ben-Gurion called a meeting of X Command, the existence of which was well known to Weizmann. Palmach, the offensive wing of Haganah, had prepared a plan to destroy the building in which government offices were housed in the south-west wing of the King David Hotel, Jerusalem. At the meeting were representatives of Palmach, Haganah, Irgun and Stern. It was decided the operation should be undertaken by Irgun. X Command issued written instructions. On 1 June, Menachem Begin, the Irgun terrorist leader, began planning the King David Hotel outrage." (A Captain's Mandate: Palestine 1946-1948, Philip Bruton, 1996, p 36)

And this:

"On the margins of the main Jewish military power operated two more extreme groups: the Irgun... and the Stern Gang. The Irgun had split from the Hagana in 1931 and in the 1940s was led by Menachem Begin. it had developed its own aggressive policies towards both the British presence and the local population. The Stern Gang was an offshoot of the Irgun, which it left in 1940. Together with the Hagana, these 3 organisations were united into one army during the days of the Nakba, although as we shall see, they did not always act in unison and coordination." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pape, 2006, p 45)

5) "I am particularly troubled by the character of Clara Rosenbaum, who alleges to be one of many Jewish women 'paid by the city' to seduce British soldiers. Her inclusion is a smear against all Israeli women."

Troubled eh? Better shield your wide, innocent eyes from this then, my dear:

"'The Jewish Agency set up special clubs for the purpose of propaganda', said Motti Golani, a historian of the British Mandate at Haifa University. 'There were dancing parties, clubs with lectures, dinners. The [Jewish] Agency pushed young girls, of around 18 or 20, to have relationships with British soldiers. It was a kind of spying." (Dances & dalliances: legendary Jerusalem bars opens once more, Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian, 13/11/11)

6) "Statements such as 'the Jews want it all - all the land', 'we found Jews living in our houses', or 'that's what the Jews want' have no place on Australian television."

What intolerable nonsense this is. Here it is, 2011, almost a century since the perfectly idiotic Balfour Declaration was issued by the government of Lloyd George, with Israel in control of 100% of historic Palestine, with the majority of Palestinians in exile and the rest under occupation, losing homes and land on a daily basis, and Kroger's telling us that to say the above is offensive! She's certainly no Lord Curzon. Here's the British Foreign Secretary's frank assessment of Zionist aims in a 1920 letter to Zionist arch-dupe, Balfour:

"As for Weizmann and Palestine, I entertain no doubt that he is out for Jewish Government, if not at the moment, then in the near future... On December 17th, he [Weizmann] telegraphed to Eder of the Zionist Commission at Jaffa: 'The new proposal stipulates first that the whole administration of P. shall be so formed as to make of P. a Jewish Commonwealth, under British trusteeship, and that the Jews shall so participate in the administration as to secure this object'. Further 'The Jewish population is to be allowed the widest practical measure of self-government and to have extensive powers of expropriating the owners of the soil, etc'. What all this can mean except Government I do not see. Indeed a Commonwealth as defined in my dictionary is a 'body politic' a 'state' an 'independent community' a 'republic'. I feel tolerably sure therefore that while Weizmann may say one thing to you, or while you may mean one thing by a National Home, he is out for something quite different. He contemplates a Jewish State, a Jewish nation, a subordinate population of Arabs etc. ruled by Jews; the Jews in possession of the fat of the land, and directing the Administration. He is trying to effect this under the screen and under the shelter of British trusteeship." (Palestine Papers 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict, Doreen Ingrams, 1972/2009, pp 57-58)

That Kroger apparently has nothing better to do than peddle this kind of propaganda - and that at taxpayers' expense - is a scandal which cries out for serious investigation.

[*See my 5/2/10 post Hell-Disaster.]

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Offended

Christian Kerr's at it again. No, not Lee Rhiannon this time. You can only flog a topic so many times without tedium setting in. This time it's The Promise:

"SBS screened the controversial drama The Promise in the knowledge it would offend the Jewish community, Liberal senators have claimed." (SBS knew Israel drama would offend Jews, Lib senators insist, The Australian, 16/2/12)

Got the buzz word? The Promise is controversial.

Controversial is a code word at The Australian. Its special application there might be explained by one of its operatives thus: 'Whoever (or whatever) deviates from the Zionist party line is anathema to us here at The Australian, and one of our resident witch-finders - Kerr, Saluszinsky, Neighbour - will be given the task of beating him/her/it up in article after article, thus allowing us to slap on the warning label, controversial, designed specifically to distance the reader from the abhorred deviation and its perpetrator. Works wonders!'

Now you'll notice that not only did SBS dare to screen something controversial, but it knew that in doing so "the Jewish community" would be offended! That of course means the Jewish community in its entirety, not just the Zionist ideologues and propagandists of the Israel lobby for whom toeing, defending, and promoting the party line on Israel is the alpha and omega of their existence, and for whom The Australian is their mouthpiece of choice.

"Under questioning from Victorian Liberal senator Helen Kroger in estimates..."

Ah, Helen Kroger, rambammed into service back in 2007 (See my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too).

"... SBS managing director Michael Edeid [sic: Ebeid] said the broadcaster entered into a pre-sale deal with the producers of The Promise knowing the subject matter would be controversial." (ibid)

So here we go from the fantastic allegation that SBS deliberately set out to stick it to the entire Jewish community to SBS simply knowing, both from the hue and cry which accompanied The Promise's screening in the UK, and decades of Zionist pressure to bend SBS to its will, that any film on Palestine that flouts the Zionist party line is ipso facto controversial, let alone one which dares to shine the light on the bloody Zionist takeover of Palestine in 1948.

Senator Kroger opined that "SBS appears to have put a business decision ahead of independent assessments, which determined that it was offensive to the Jewish community." (ibid)

Independent assessments... determined that The Promise was offensive to the Jewish community? Rich comedy indeed! The extraordinary premise here is that media outlets should refer all items pertaining to Palestine/Israel to one or other branch of the Israel lobby (the Executive Council of Australian Jewry in this instance) for an independent (!) assessment of the item's offensiveness to the Jewish community (!) before they are published or broadcast. Or, IOW, the Israel lobby decides what we read and see.

Thank God SBS's Ebeid had the gumption to say to Kroger, "SBS accepts that it will, from time to time, broadcast programs that offend some individuals or groups." (ibid)

How I'd love to see a debate between the rambammed Kroger and The Australian's also-rambammed (2008) columnist Janet Albrechtsen, who once wrote a column called The freedom to be offensive (20/4/09). In that essay, Planet Janet pronounced that: "You are either for free speech - whoever exercises it - or not. Freedom of expression is simply meaningless if it does not include a right to be wrong and a right to be offensive." Maybe Christian Kerr could chair the debate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Day You Won't Have Israel to Kick Around Anymore

It may surprise you but every so often in The Australian I come across a letter that I wish I had written.

Wednesday's edition bore just such a letter.

Israel can't win was the title of this deeply-felt meditation on all that Israel has done, and is about to do, for us, and how lacking in gratitude and recognition our response has always been and will be again, undoubtedly because, at bottom (where we belong, face it) we are all just snivelling anti-Semites.

This much-needed wake-up call comes from the pen of John Dawson, Chelsea, Vic, and here it is, with only my warm and appreciative words to break its divinely-inspired flow:

"Some morning soon, the world will wake to the news that Israel has bombed Iran's nuclear facilities causing massive devastation and loss of life. The first reaction will be a sigh of relief from Washington to Moscow to Riyadh to Paris to Ankara to nearly every capital in the world."

Yes, John, like you, each and every one of us across the planet has been sweating - SWEATING! - at the thought of an Iranian mushroom cloud (or clouds, why not?) messing with his mien or buggering up his 'burb. That baneful thought has for too long now been the very stuff of our nightmares, and has cast a pall over our every waking moment. And how right you are! I can hear it now in my mind's ear, that universal sigh of relief, rising to the very Throne of God himself who, in his Judeo-Christian benevolence, has sent among us valiant little Israel, his Avenging Sword, to smite the Evildoers. Shame about the massive destruction and loss of life you mentioned, but, hey, if it doesn't faze a man of your calibre, why should it faze the likes of me? They're just brown people after all, right? And when you're brown, you go down, right?

"By afternoon, from nearly every capital and the UN, a tsunami of condemnation will swamp Israel. Its embassies will be besieged, its PM declared the new Hitler and Jewish businesses around the world will have been sacked."

Spot on again, John! We're only too happy when Israel rolls up its sleeves and selflessly does our dirty work for us, downing those browns. But then what do we do? We hypocritically point the finger and treat it as some kind of monster, when it's actually quite shy and retiring, and ever so cute and cuddly. And hot, I'm sure you'll agree! Why, some among us even have the gall to suggest that it's really the Israelis who are the hypocrites because they've got shitloads of nukes. Can you believe this? Some even say that this shy, retiring, cute, cuddly (and totally gorgeous) creature just wants to be boss cocky in the Middle East when, as we who read The Australian know, she's more your naked, trembling, white virgin circled by pitiless, lecherous, leering, hairy, unbelievably sweaty, garlic-munching, tea towel-wearing, scimitar-waving, shitty brown bikies, right?

"Israel's days will be numbered, but the world will have gained a nuclear breather while keeping its hands clean by scapegoating the Jews - they have always been useful for that."

Yes, John, and when the peerless Israeli virgin is finally deflowered and lying there lifeless, her corpse hideously disfigured by the slash of a 1001 scimitars (though somehow still radiantly beautiful), we'll think of her when we ourselves, in her unlamented absence, are forced to fight off the same swarthy, scimitar-waving hordes to the apocalyptic backdrop of 1001 mushroom clouds, won't we?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Secord of Armenia

In my post before last, Useful Fools (With Foreign Passports), you'll recall useful Anglo-Israeli fool Matthew finding that his Mossad-returned British passport had magically acquired, among others, a stamp from Azerbaijan, a former Soviet satellite which borders the Caspian Sea to the east and Iran to the south.

Why Azerbaijan? In a word, Iran:

"'This is ground zero for intelligence work', [says Shimon, one of dozens of Israeli Mossad agents who work in Azerbaijan at any given time]. 'Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country'." (Where spy wars are waged on Iran, Sheera Frenkel, The Australian, 14/2/12]

A fact the Iranians are understandably not too happy about:

"Azerbaijan has angrily denied an Iranian claim that it has been helping Israeli spies plotting against Iran. Iran says agents of the Israeli secret service Mossad were behind the recent killings of Iranian nuclear scientists. The latest victim was Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, killed by a car bomb in north Tehran on 11 January. Azerbaijan's foreign ministry called Iran's claim 'slander'." (Azerbaijan in row with Iran over 'Israeli spies',, 13/2/12)

Which dispute means that Iran has been "'support[ing] and grow[ing] ties with Armenia, with which Azerbaijan has a territorial dispute', said Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent news agency Turan." (Where spy wars...)

Hmm... tell me more:

"An Iranian delegation led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is making an official visit to the Armenian capital Yerevan to increase bilateral ties. Ahmadinejad is making the visit upon the formal invitation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan... Iranian and Armenian officials signed 5 memorandum of understanding governing a variety of fields of cooperation, including the construction of hydroelectric turbines for the Aras dam, cooperation between the Institute for Standards and Industrial Research of Iran and the Armenian National Institute for Standards as well as cooperation in the fields of social welfare, employment and environment protection. Other major topics of discussion include Iranian oil exports to Armenia and the construction of railways, which builds upon a July 2007 MOU starting feasibility studies on the possibility of constructing an Armenian-Iranian railway." (Armenia, Iran to deepen cooperation, UPI, 23/12/11)

OK, got that? Iran's in Armenia because Israel's in Azerbaijan.

But, hey, what's this? NSW Labor MLC and deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, Walt Secord, "has incurred the wrath of Azerbaijan for visiting one of its disputed territories and siding with the sovereignty claims of the seperatist Armenians... A supporter of various separatist causes, Mr Secord visited the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh last [December] as part of a self-funded trip that also took him to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Kurdish Iraq... 'While official recognition of the mountainous Karabakh Republic is a matter for the federal Australian government', Mr Secord said, 'I feel I have a duty as the co-deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Armenia to see Armenia and the mountainous Karabakh Republic first-hand'." (MP's separatist sympathy prompts ire in Azerbaijan, Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/1/11)

Right. What does Secord think he's doing dissing Mossad's top tourist destination, the wonderfully porous Azerbaijan? What could possibly have possessed him to take his eye off the main game and go troppo in the wilds of Nagorno-Karabakh?

Buggered if I know, but guess what happened to me only the other day.

I was sauntering down Macquarie St in the immediate vicinity of State Parliament when I happened upon a truly mountainous figure, a sort of Nagorno-Karabakh X 2, whom I instantly recognised as Walt Secord. No kidding! He was in heated conversation with a more molehill-sized individual, whom I also recognised instantly as Vic Alhadeff of the Jewish Board of Deputies, a figure much given these days to ducking into state parliament to gee up the anti-BDS brigade. He was tearing strips off Secord, let me tell you. And this, I swear, is what I heard him saying:

Walt, maaate, Israel's got a thing going with Azerbaijan, and you, co-chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel for Zion'sake, you reckon you have a duty to see Iranian-backed Armenia! Are you off your rocker?!

I mean, our friends, the Azerbaijanis, are furious! Listen to this: "Officials from the Azerbaijani embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, complained to the Australian mission in the same city about the visit by the 'senator of the Australian state of NSW, Walt Secord'." (ibid)

Who the bloody hell do you think you are? Secord of Nagorno-Karabakh for Zion's sake? Walt, maaate, keep this up and the next thing you know you'll be deserting us for the NSW Parliamentary Friends of the Palestinians!

Libya Update 2

See my 7/2/12 post You Are Now Entering Free Libya.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Useful Fools (With Foreign Passports)

With assassins on motorcycles attaching magnet bombs to vehicles in Iran and India, I'm reminded once again of Mossad's assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai just over 2 years ago. You'll remember how the Mossad agents involved used a variety of foreign passports, including Australian, British, German and French, a liberty which led then Prime Minister Rudd to expel an Israeli 'diplomat'.

So far, so good.

You'll probably not rememember, but can imagine, The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan rapping Rudd across the knuckles for this act of lese majeste and suggesting we should have been a bit more understanding of the behaviour of our dear friend, or, as he put it, adopt the more mature and worldly approach of Germany and France, who chose not to expel an Israeli 'diplomat':

"The Rudd government has overreacted and made a bad mistake in expelling an Israeli diplomat over the Dubai passports affair. Surely the Rudd government is more mature and worldly than [Britain, which also expelled an Israeli 'diplomat']. Australia should not ape its former masters in London in this but embrace some of the sophistication of Berlin or Paris... "(Badly misjudged action will have political cost, 25/5/10)*

Ah yes, if only we'd acted with a touch of French sang-froid. It would have made all the difference, right?

Not really, as it happens. Expel their 'diplomats' or cosset the buggers, give them the cold shoulder or snuggle up close, it's neither here nor there to the Israelis because when they do the things they do, ladies, you're the last thing on their minds. See here what I mean:

"[The Times] said new evidence indicates that foreign nationals in Israel continue to allow Mossad to use their passports - 'on many occasions willingly'. Though it never admitted that Mossad agents were behind the Hamas terrorist's [sic] death, Israel assured London its intelligence agency would stop using British passports. 'Matthew', who moved to Israel from London in 2009 and joined the IDF shortly afterwards, told The Times that just before his first week of army duty he was approached by a young woman from Mossad and asked if he was 'committed to the State of Israel'. 'She was really, really friendly. She gave me a recommendation of a good bar in Tel Aviv, and her favorite place for hummus', he said. When she asked if Matthew was willing to do 'a small thing to help', such as, for example, lend his passport, he did not refuse, The Times reported. He said: 'She pointed out that I wouldn't need it for the next year or so. I'd be doing basic training and everything for the army. So I said 'yes' - I was in that frame of mind of strong Zionism, you know?' According to the report, Matthew received his passport back after 18 months of army service, and was surprised to find stamps in it from Turkey and Azerbaijan, countries that he had never visited. 'She told me it would maybe be a good idea not to go there... for the time being', he told the British newspaper.

"'Peter', a Frenchman who moved to Israel last year, revealed a similar story. A few months after arriving in Israel and volunteering for IDF service, he began meeting 'a sexy woman, who asked me if I wanted to help her'. He told The Times his passport was also taken, and returned a year later with stamps from Russia and several other countries 'I couldn't read. All of a sudden I was like, 'oh!' But it was important work, I think', he told the daily." ('Mossad continues to use UK passports', Daniel Bettini,, 12/2/12)

[*See my 26/5/10 post His Master's Voice for the full story.]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's With SBS World News?

SBS Television's screening of The Promise is one thing. Its 6.30 pm World News coverage of the Middle East, though, is quite another, with some of its reports, on Iran and Syria in particular, in the distinctly dodgy category.

Given that SBS (and the ABC) provides no transcripts of its news reports, the dodgies tend to escape the kind of rap over the knuckles they so richly deserve. One item in tonight's news, however, proved so dodgy that I actually went to the trouble of preparing my own transcript. The offending item, which will probably disappear into the ether within days, if it hasn't already done so, was dubbed Friends of Syria. Here it is in italics, along with my comments:

Lee Lin Chin:

Syria's bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters has drawn global criticism but the country still has a few friends on its side, among them Iran and its powerful and far-reaching Quds security force.

Far-reaching? Please explain! And as for friends, what about the ones that really matter: "Despite the diplomatic crisis Syria now faces, Mr Assad still boasts strong local support. 'There's good reason why 55% of Syrians polled recently still support Assad. They prefer his (flawed) promise of security and stability to the (untested) opposition's offer of a democracy enveloped in blood', Ed Hussain, a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote in The New York Times. 'Assad's appeal is not that he offers freedom, but security'." (Russians to push Assad for reform, Ruth Pollard & Dylan Welch, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/2/12)

Brian Todd Reporting, Al-Jazeera:

Al-Jazeera? The fast-talking American, Brian Todd, is actually a CNN correspondent. Linking him to Al-Jazeera could be a cock-up. It could also, however, be a cover-up. Is SBS attempting to disguise blatant CNN propaganda by passing off Todd as an Al-Jazeera correspondent and hoping we won't notice? Later in the piece, as you'll see, Todd refers to his CNN employer directly.

A crackdown that's brutal, relentless and possibly part of a frightening collaboration. The commander of Iran's notorious Quds force has been inside Syria recently according to various media outlets. One report in the Haaretz newspaper says he's even been inside the war room of Syria's Bashar al-Asad helping Asad direct his forces.

Possibly... various media outlets: How vague is that? Haaretz: Isn't it interesting that Todd omits the adjective Israeli when mentioning Haaretz?

The Quds force, the secretive, lethal arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. Its leader a shadowy, ominous figure, General Qassem Suleimani.

Secretive... lethal... shadowy... ominous: This is the news?

Concern among US officials about Qassem Suleimani goes all the way to the top. Here at the Treasury Department he's been cited more than once for his repression of the Syrian people during this uprising and for taking part in terrorist plots.

Oh well, if the US Treasury Department says it's so, who am I to quibble? Still, for such a secretive, shadowy guy, Treasury sure seems to know a lot about him.

Treasury officials say Suleimani oversaw the Quds force officers involved in the alleged plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, and analyst Matthew Levitt, who's written books about Iran's proxy in Lebanon, the terrorist group Hezbollah, says Suleimani's imprint is on some well known operations:

Matthew Levitt? Deputy assistant secretary for intelligence & analysis at the Treasury Department, former 'senior fellow' with Ziocon think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), that is.

'We have the attacks in Argentina. We have the attack on the Khobar Towers*. We have lots of surveillance of US officials and diplomatic installations'.

Oh, and he'd know wouldn't he? As Sara Roy, of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, has written of Levitt's book on Hamas: "[It] has many serious flaws and merits a detailed critique that extends well beyond the scope of this review. His is not a work of analysis or scholarship, to say the least, and despite certain points that are interesting and accurate, anyone wishing to gain a substantive, reasoned and critical understanding of Hamas would do well to look elsewhere." (Book Review,

Analysts say Qassem Suleimani is known as an aggressive commander. He's been called the sharp point of the Iranian spear, a rising star since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s when he led a series of daring missions behind Iraqi lines. He is such a powerful figure now experts say that he reports directly to Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei, not to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the Syrian conflict... (to Levitt): 'What could he bring to the Syrians that they don't already have?

Well, you took the words right out of my mouth, Brian. Has anyone noticed the following recurring trope: The Iranians were supposedly so hopeless at putting down their own popular protests in 2009 that they needed the help of Lebanon's Hezbollah. Now, apparently, the Syrians are supposedly so hopeless at putting down theirs that they need the help of the Iranians, who were once supposedly so hopeless at putting down theirs they they needed the help of... Get the picture? (See my 28/1/12 post With My Own Eyes! Really!) This is getting rather silly, guys.

[Matthew Levitt speaking] 'We know that Iran, for example, provided Syria with the technical capability to follow Facebook and social media to be able to see where the next protest was going to be. We suspect and are concerned about Quds Force providing training and in fact weapons for advanced snipers and things like that'.

You couldn't possibly expect the technologically-challenged Syrians to handle all this on their own, could you?

It was the Quds force, analysts say, that played the key role in suppressing the 2009 Green Revolution inside Iran. Why would Iran send such a key figure to Syria?

Now I'm confused. If the Quds Force are so damn hot (Iran, Iran-Iraq War, whatever), how come Lebanon's Hezbollah was supposedly needed in 2009?

Aram Nerguizian, Centre for Strategic Studies: 'The loss of a strategic ally like Syria's Asad regime would be a critical blow to an Iran that looks at the region, sees a US that has withdrawn from Iraq, a Gulf that is up for grabs from a geo-political standpoint'.

Analysts say that's because Syria is a key pipeline for weapons, supplies and trainers sent from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and similar aid to another group the US considers a terrorist organization, Hamas.

Analysts? Would that be Ziocon or Israeli analysts by any chance?

Contacted by CNN, a Syrian official at the UN would not comment on the report of Qassem Suleimani being inside Syria other than to say that the Haaretz newspaper is hostile to Syria. An Iranian official at the UN did not respond.

Other than to say, Bugger off, Brian!?

For your interest, these are the SBS junketeers (that I know of) who've taken the Kool-Aid in Israel recently (See my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too):

Brian Thomson, SBS senior correspondent - 2012
Peter Charley, producer, Insight - 2008
Paul Cutler, SBS TV News & Current Affairs - 2007

NB: In a similar report from the UK's Daily Telegraph, its Washington correspondent, Alex Spillius cited the NATO/Saudi/Qatari-backed, Muslim Brotherhood-dominated, anti-Asad Syrian National Council (SNC) as the source for an alleged visit by Suleimani to Syria "to advise the regime on repressing protests and the armed resistance."

The headline for Spillius' piece in the February 9 edition of the Telegraph read Syria: Iran's elite Quds force 'advising Assad regime'. Spillius' article also appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of February 11 but the Herald's headline treated the SNC allegation as fact: Iran sends head of elite force to Syria to advise Assad [sic] regime on repression tactics.

[*See US officials leaked false story blaming Iran for Khobar attack, Gareth Porter,, 24/6/09.]

Libya Update 1

See my 7/2/12 post You Are Now Entering Free Libya.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Listen Up, Guys...

If something's worth doing, it's worth doing well, OK?

So please remember; always go the extra mile against Zionism and give it your best shot.

Scene: House of Commons, 24 March 1936. Members are debating the Baldwin government's proposal for the setting up of a Legislative Council in British Mandated Palestine.

Mr Crossley, Member for Stretford, Conservative:

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme... seemed to put forward the suggestion that it was only the Arab upper classes who imagined that they had grievances... To illustrate my point that the opposition to [Jewish immigration and the sale of land to Jews] comes from all classes of Arabs, I would like to tell a story. I was riding on a pony between Beisan and Tiberias with my Arab groom, Abu Daoud. We came to the only works at that time existing in Palestine, the electricity works on the Jordan. We reached a gate on the other side of which was a main road. The Polish-Jewish sentry stood in the gate and would not let us pass through, and reluctantly, because it was a long way round, I felt I had to go back about 20 yards and turn my pony and charge. I did so, and the Jewish sentry in the gate melted to one side. Then I beckoned to Abu Daoud to follow me, and he went back a good 200 yards, crossed his legs over the blankets and saddle bags, and came full charge. His arms flapped, and his legs flapped, and as he got near the gate he began making the most terrific yell, and as he got into the gate he leaned across towards the Jewish sentry, who was shrinking towards one side, and expectorated with the greatest force I had ever seen in my life, shouting at the same time, 'Il'an abuk, al kalb'.

Hon. Members: Translate!

Mr Crossley: It means, Curse your father, the dog.*

[* From Hansard at]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Get Rhiannon! 4

Surely you didn't think Get Rhiannon! 1, 2 & 3 was it, did you?

As night dogs day one of the Australian's rotties-in-residence, Christian Kerr, is baaack for yet another snarl and snap at Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and with yet another plug for Sally Neighbour's Monthly scuttlebut about the NSW Greens.

Most of Kerr's leaps and lunges we're already familiar with, but the first at least reinforces the point I made in my 7/2/12 post Gallant Sir Bob: At a doorstop in the Senate courtyards, party leader Bob Brown was "forced to defend one of his own, the controversial NSW senator, Lee Rhiannon, and play down rifts and instability in his own party." (Greens' big year may sour, 9/2/12))

And it also gives us an insight into the behaviour of the beast - Kerr that is. First manufacture your 'controversy', then badger Brown until he obliges with a comment, after which you can claim it was forced out of him.

Still, it has to be said: Brown leads with his chin. If he'd given Rhiannon the same kind of defence he gave Gillard on Lateline the other night, and named and condemned the attacking Murdoch press while at it, Kerr's little stunt in the Senate courtyards - for who else would have an interest in forcing a defence of Rhiannon from Brown? - would not have been possible.

Here's the second - yet another promo for Sally Neighbour:

"The cover story in the current issue of The Monthly by veteran journalist Sally Neighbour outlines the tension between the hard-left-dominated NSW Greens and other branches of the party. It carries claims by some MPs and activists that the NSW division is run by a small cadre of 'Leninist' ideologues whose activities make members seem like 'lunatics', and counter-claims Brown is a 'megalomaniac." (ibid)

In the original - for what that's worth - the bit about Leninist ideologues comes from an "unnamed source," while the bit about "making us look like lunatics" comes from Ian Cohen and refers to Marrickville Council's support of BDS.

Yet, in Kerr's latest diatribe, your unnamed source and your Ian Cohen become a more substantial some [Greens] MPs and activists.

And when our rottie next bares his fangs, what'll it be? Nine out of ten Greens reckon they're led by Leninist loonies?

Then there's a reference to NSW Liberal senator (and former Howard staffer) Arthur Sinodinos "point[ing] out yesterday Rhiannon is a scion of one of Australia's leading communist families." (ibid)


Consider this:

"Sinodinos absorbed a strong anti-communist world view from his mother, who was shaped by her experiences as a farmer's daughter during the Greek Civil War." (Howard's right-hand man to honest broker, Deborah Snow, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/7/11)

Now since what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, and given Greek anti-communism's many crimes, would Sinodinos have any problems with being described as a scion of one of Greece's (whether leading or not) anti-communist families, with all the baggage that that entails?

And now please put your hands together for a return of the raised eyebows:

The Greens' decision to "award their preferences in this weekend's hotly contested by-election in the South Australian state seat of Port Adelaide to the Communist Party candidate has raised eyebrows in Canberra." (ibid)

No doubt these are the same "raised eyebrows" that "were raised within the party by the presence of upper house MP David Shoebridge at the annual Socialist Alliance conference in Sydney." (See my 5/2/12 post Get Rhiannon! 3)

My God, are we witnessing a raised eyebrow rebellion within the ranks of the Greens?

There's surely only one way to find out. Will the Greens, one and all, kindly assemble for a raised eyebrow count? Here's how it works. As I hold up a picture of a hammer and sickle, or, for greater accuracy perhaps, the letters B, D & S, highly trained raised eyebrow experts will pass among you and assess whether your eyebrows may be considered raised or not and so conclude just how many of you are groaning under the tyranny of the party's lunatic Leninists.

Finally, in case you're still wondering what the hell all this is about, here it is in one sentence:

"The public conflict between Brown and Rhiannon over the NSW Greens' support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign has been the most recent demonstration of the policy tension between the pair."

Oh, and that's public conflict concocted in Israel lobby land and hyped for all its worth by Murdoch's Australian and its rotties.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Chosen

Vic Alhadeff and Yair Miller, chief executive and president respectively, of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies were ushered into the noisy classroom.

At once, as befits the status of these two gents, an expectant hush descended. All eyes were rivetted on the pair, whom, if I may be allowed to surmise, the chattering (for they were all, in fact, journalists) multitude would later, among their own, refer to jokingly as Laurel (Vic) and Hardy (Yair), deriving solely from the rather spare dimensions of the former and the more than ample ones of the latter.

Right, I'm Vic, said Vic.

And I'm Yair, said Yair.

And boy, do we - for at this point they spoke as one - have a deal for you, girls and boys. Hands up if you want a FREE, 5-day holiday in Israel.

Lo, a sea of hands rose from wall to shining wall. Sirs! Sirs! Sirs! The former expectant hush was now a cacophony.

Said Vic to Yair, sotto voce, Works every time!
Said Yair to Vic, sotto voce, Like giving candy to babies, my brother in Zion!

OK, boys and girls, commanded Vic, keep those hands up straight! Only those with the most maniacal grins will be chosen.

An epidemic of maniacal grinning swept the journalists' features, stilling the din. You could hear the proverbial pin drop.

Said Vic to Yair, Aren't they adorable, Yair?
Said Yair to Vic, You said it, Vic.

Now to business, said Vic. Hmm... Now doesn't he look eager, Yair? You, come and stand in front of the class... and so it went until 4 had been chosen and were standing, grinning like maniacal monkeys before their now deflated classmates.

Kol hakavod Chosen Ones! said Vic to the chosen 4.

And then, turning to the unchosen, proferred these words of encouragement: Yair and I are off for another bash at BDS in the Legislative Council right now but we'll be back same place, same time next year, so be good, mind what you say about Israel in the interim, drop in regularly at your nearest Max Brenner outlet, and you too could, like our Chosen Ones here, be lucky next time around.

Or at least, in the absence of any inside information as to how the following fab 4 were chosen for their rambamming, that is how I imagine it:

"A two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is an unlikely dream, according to the 4 journalists who recently returned from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies' Journalists Mission to Israel. SBS Television senior correspondent Brian Thomson, Sky News Business Channel manager Kylie Merritt, Sydney Morning Herald opinion page editor Joel Gibson and Daily Telegraph news director John Rolfe all said that they found the 5-day intensive trip extremely informative, but that they don't see any realistic chance of a compromise between the 2 sides." (Two states is too hopeful, The Australian Jewish News, 10/2/12)

What follows I don't have to imagine. Brian, Kylie, Joel and John sang for their suppers (x5) in the Saunders Hall, Central Synagogue last Thursday night and this is part of what each had to say about this, the most important experience of their lives:

Brian Thomson, senior correspondent, SBS: "Thomson said he could understand the struggles that Israel faces. 'I can't imagine what it would be like to be persecuted for my religion, but after this trip I can understand the Jewish people's desire for a homeland. Wherever Israel looks the picture is bleak, but the economy is thriving and it has a vibrant democracy in a hostile neighbourhood." (Two states...)

"Saying he had returned from the intensive trip 'exhausted, exasperated and exhilirated', Thomson said he 'could not understand what it would be like to have had grandparents murdered in the Holocaust or to be persecuted for your beliefs', but he did 'understand the need for a Jewish homeland'. He also 'seriously questions the viability of the two state solution'." (Four journos report on trip to Israel,, 3/2/12)

Oh Brian, you're sooo understanding and sooo focused! And you've mastered the 'v' word. Well done! 10/10 - Vic & Yair

Kylie Merritt, Sky News Business Channel manager: "I was surprised at the depth of information that we received, the level of people we had access to, and the fact that the politicians didn't sugar-coat anything for us, which was a surprise as an Australian journalist... It took me a few days after I got home to process everything I had seen and heard. I really got the sense of two diametrically opposed beliefs that will not be solved anytime soon." (Two states...)

"Merritt and Gibson both expressed surprise at the depth of views they encountered in Israel, and also at the candour of the political and security leaders they met. It was unusual to speak to politicians who answered questions so frankly, Merritt added." (Four journos...)

Kylie, you're sooo right. Israel is about the strewth, the whole strewth & nothing but the strewth. You go, girl! 10/10 - Vic & Yair

Joel Gibson, Sydney Morning Herald opinion page editor: "Gibson said the trip will allow him to make better decisions, as he recalled editing an opinion story when Richard Goldstone corrected his report about human rights abuses by Israel and the Palestinians to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 'The report was 1000 words but I only had space for 800 words', Gibson said. 'Of course the 200 words I left out were important words and I remember the feedback that flooded in, and that experience is the reason I decided to go on this trip. I don't think anyone would argue that sitting at my desk would make me any better to judge which words I should cut next time, but now I hope I am better equipped'." (Two states...)

"Gibson also said the trip was 'not propaganda', but exposed the journalists to views across the spectrum. He had not returned either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian, but more informed." (Four journos...)

Gibbo, a little ponderous, lad. Really, there's no need to worry your pretty little head anymore about that opinion page of yours. Simply whip whatever over to HQ and we'll knock it into shape for you, OK? Better still, just sit back, sip a hot chocolate (Max Brenner, of course), and just publish what we send you, no sweat. Propaganda? Perish the thought! 9/10 - Vic & Yair

John Rolfe, Daily Telegraph news director: "Rolfe hammered the Marrickville Council resolution to impose sanctions on Israeli products, particularly given that the policy had been adopted by people who had never visited Israel to see and learn for themselves. Rolfe emphasized that it was Palestinian workers who would suffer most from a BDS policy." (Four journos...)

John, hammering BDS! We like! In fact, you took the words right out of our mouths. If we had a hammer/ We'd hammer BDS in the morning/ We'd hammer BDS in the evening/ All over this land. 12/10 - Vic & Yair

[The report concludes with this tantalising detail: "The journalists were accompanied by four colleagues who travelled as guests of AIJAC." The plot, as they say, thickens!; For a list of the past few years rambammings see my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

There But for Fortune...

Last weekend, whilst walking down the street, I noticed a stooped and wizened old codger unfortunate enough to bear a striking resemblance to Sydney Morning Herald pundit Gerard Henderson.

He was standing at a bus stop and reading a copy of the Herald, his face hideously contorted as might his presumed doppelganger's be after reading of a newly elected Rhiannon government. I involuntarily muttered to myself (for I am nothing if not attuned to the plight of those less fortunate than myself), 'You poor old bugger. There but for Fortune go I'. And then, as I drew near, oblivious of all around him, in the grip of some intense inner torment he could not control, the wretched creature crumpled the paper he'd been reading and ejaculated in a mighty rage, 'Typical! Just typical!'.

After initially wondering what it was in the paper that had awakened his inner Basil Fawlty, I thought little more of the incident - until yesterday, that is, when I opened the opinion page of the Herald to see the ancient nutter's lugubrious visage staring back at me, with the name Gerard Henderson emblazoned in red beneath.

OMG, exclaimed I, it was Gerard Henderson!

And then, after a quick glance at the headline - Threat from enemy within makes anti-terrorism laws indispensible - I knew exactly what it was that had loosed the bee in the old bugger's bonnet: Herald journalist Debra Jopson's expose Australian terrorists now bred at home.

I gritted my teeth and read on.

Henderson began by noting that a "large number" of "the 21 men who have been convicted of terrorism-related charges following Operation Pendennis in Sydney and Melbourne and Operation Neath in Melbourne" were "of Lebanese descent." This then was the reason for the very public ejaculation which I had witnessed - sorry - heard on the weekend.

He went on to quote from a certain Monash University academic before fingering Malcolm Fraser for letting the grandparents of these terrorist scum into the pristine paradise which was 70s Australia. And then, in one almighty leap, concluded: "Some Muslim Lebanese-Australians have done well. Many have not. Too many are involved... in criminal gangs in Sydney's south-west."

This could, of course, have been phrased - by way of stating the bleeding obvious - as follows: 'Most Lebanese-Australians have done well. Some have not. And a few are involved in criminal gangs...' But then that would hardly have served his redneck, Muslim-bashing agenda.

But why get all hot and bothered? He's obviously past it, thought I, recalling the pathetic figure I'd seen at the bus stop. The Age long ago gave up on him, I told myself, and the Herald only keeps him on because, for reasons best known to itself, it simply cannot bear the thought of terminating the dubious services of those who've so patently had their day. I mean how else does one explain the continued presence on its opinion page of Paul Sheehan? But that's another story. At any rate, I consoled myself, who but I actually reads the gripes of this garrulous old grump?

But I was wrong about that. Someone other than I had read The enemy within..., for there, among the letters in today's Herald, was a corrective from the very Monash University academic he'd quoted, Andrew Zammit of the Global Terrorism Research Centre. Titled Flaws in arguments over Muslim terrorism, Zammit had written:

"First, Henderson cites me as referring to 33 terrorism convictions. My paper actually referred to 33 prosecutions, not convictions. There were some acquittals, and the 33 did not include non-jihadism-related terrorism charges, such as the 3 Tamil Tiger supporters charged in Victoria.

"Secondly, he accurately quotes me as saying 'while Lebanese-Australian Muslims make up 60% of those charged over alleged jihadist activity, they constitute only 20% of all Australian Muslims'. However, I pointed out we should be hesitant to draw firm conclusions from this sample given how small it is, and that further research was needed. I also stressed that the activities of such few people can't be used to justify generalisations about Lebanese-Australian Muslims as a whole.

"Also, Henderson is correct to point out that the 'Lebanese concession' - the Fraser government's expanded intake of Lebanese civil war refugees in 1976 - was poorly implemented and that Lebanese Muslims often had little support on arrival. However, the findings in my paper do not support Henderson's argument that the 'Lebanon concession' was wrong altogether. The paper did examine Lebanese immigration during the civil war period and consequent social disadvantage; it did not state that convicted terrorists were necessarily children of those who arrived during the 'concession' which was only a short-lived episode in a large-scale immigration intake. In any case, it's a stretch to argue that Australia should not have given refuge to thousands of people fleeing a brutal civil war because of a couple of failed terrorism attempts decades later."

As Zammit's letter may actually prove the last straw for the Herald, and because, as I've said, I'm basically a softie, I for one will be pleading Henderson's case before the paper's editor-in-chief. There but for Fortune go you or I, I'll be reminding him.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Are Now Entering Free Libya

"Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has predicted a 'promising' future for Libya after making a flying visit to the country... He was surprised to find a calm Tripoli and had heard only 'occasional distant and sporadic gunfire'." (From out of Libya, Rudd a believer, John Lyons, The Australian, 10/12/11)

"Now that Qadhdhafi has been killed... the Libyan NATO militias can focus on their priorities: silencing critics, bloody internecine wars, and the gradual imposition of a Bin Ladenite order." (Asad Abu Khalil,, 21/10/11)

"They've had free education, free health, they could study abroad. When they got married they got a certain amount of money. So they were rather the envy of many other citizens of African countries. Now, of course, since NATO's humanitarian intervention the infrastructure of their country has been bombed back to the Stone Age. They will not have the same quality of life. Women will probably not have the same degree of emancipation under any new transitional government. The national wealth is probably going to be siphoned off by Western corporations. Perhaps the standard of living in Libya might have been slightly higher than it is perhaps now in America and the UK with the recession." (Annie Machon, former MI5 agent, quoted in 'Nato has bombed Libya back to the Stone Age',, 19/10/11)

As the media cycle moves on events in NATO-'liberated' Libya have largely dropped from view, overtaken by the violence in Syria which has led to calls from within and without that country for a Libya-style foreign intervention. But when the likes of Hillary Clinton begin displaying an historically unprecedented concern for the suffering of the Syrian people, a closer look at the new, 'free' Libya would seem wise.

The following list of mainly Australian press items on post-Gaddafi Libya is far from exhaustive and I'll endeavour to update it as further items appear. Items are in reverse chronological order:

Revolutionary militias in western Libya unify: "Representatives of about 100 militias from western Libya said Monday they had formed a new federation to prevent infighting and allow them to press the country's new government for further reform. The move was a blow to the National Transitional Council, which helped lead the 8-month uprising against longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi... and has largely failed to decommission or bring under its control the hundreds of militias that fought in the war. Ibrahim al-Madani, a commander whose brigade joined the new federation, said the fighters would not give up their arms to what they considered a corrupt government." (Maggie Michael, Associated Press, 14/2/12)

Five killed in clashes in southeast Libya: "At least 5 people have been killed in clashes between rival tribes over control of territory in the far southwest of Libya, officials said on Monday, highlighting the challenge of policing the country's sparsely populated desert." (Ali Shuaib,, 13/2/12)

Libya unable to control militia violence, looting: "Libya, the country that witnessed the Arab world's most sweeping revolution, is foundering. The government of the interim Prime Minister, Abdel Rahim el-Keeb, is virtually paralysed by rivalries that have forced it to divide power along lines of regions and personalities, by unreachable expectations that Muammar Gaddafi's fall would bring prosperity and by powerlessness so marked the national army is treated like another of the many warring militias. This week one militia assaulted another militia at a seaside base in Tripoli to rescue a woman who had been abducted. When the guns fell silent, briefly, the scene that unfolded felt as chaotic as Libya's revolution - a government whose authority extends no further than its offices, militias whose swagger comes from plentiful guns and residents whose patience fades with every volley of gunfire that cracks at night... A Human Rights Watch researcher estimated there are 250 militias in the coastal city of Misratah... In recent months, those militias have become the most loathed in the country." (Anthony Shadid, Sydney Morning Herald/ New York Times, 11/2/12)

Libyan revolutionaries accused of widespread torture: "Three months after the killing of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, concerns are mounting about the torture of prisoners held by Libyan militiamen who are operating beyond the control of the country's transitional government, as well as by officially recognised security bodies." (Ian Black, Sydney Morning Herald/Guardian, 28/1/12)

Gaddafi loyalists take back Bani Walid: "Fighters loyal to Muammar Gaddafi have seized back the town of Bani Walid and raised the late dictator's green flag, in a blow to Libya's struggling provisional government." (Chris Stephen, The Guardian, 23/1/12)

Libyan NTC offices stormed: "Angry protesters threw home-made grenades and stormed Libya's ruling National Transitional Council offices in the city of Benghazi yesterday, setting its front ablaze." (The Australian/AFP, 23/1/12)

Tripoli militias in gunfight: "Four people were killed here yesterday in a gunfight between militias who helped topple Muammar Gaddafi's regime." (The Australian/AFP, 5/1/12)

Tripoli under lockdown as friend turns to foe: "The Libyan capital has been placed under a security lockdown as the governing National Transitional Council seeks to impose control over local militias, demanding residents give up their weapons by the end of the month." (Christopher Stephen, Sydney Morning Herald/Bloomberg, 8/12/11)

Libya must bring militias into the fold: Local warlords challenge Tripoli for power: "The appointment of a new interim NTC cabinet this week is the right opportunity to jump-start the detente between the militias and the central authorities. The next step will be folding all of the militias into a new national army and police force. Giving them fancy unit names such as the Revolutionary Platoon of Jadu, the Misratah Martyrs Brigade, the Zintani Scourge of Saif, and the Zwaran Zombie Strike Force might help. Yet developments on the ground show that even clever rebranding is unlikely to be enough. Decisive leadership is required, and the NTC has yet to prove it can deliver this." (Opinion Piece, Jason Pack, The Australian, 23/11/11)

Libyan gratitude turns to suspicion : "The former Libyan prime minister Mahmoud Jibril travelled the world to gather foreign supporters to oust Muammar Gaddafi. Now, he views those allied nations with suspicion. As Libya moves through a post-Gaddafi phase and prepares for democratic elections, the US-educated former professor sees ally Qatar meddling in domestic politics by supporting a prominent Islamist. He also has a 'hunch' Gaddafi was 'killed based on a request by a certain foreign power' that wanted the dictator to be 'silent forever'." (Flavia Krause-Jackson & Caroline Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald/Bloomberg, 15/11/11)

Libya's rebels take revenge: "Sitting in their home on the outskirts of Tripoli, a Libyan family is afraid. Their fear is that a knock on the door could come from the rebel militias that toppled Muammar Gaddafi." (John Lyons, The Australian, 5/11/11)

Militias in revenge attacks: "Misratah militia fighters are carrying out revenge attacks on displaced residents of the nearby town of Tawargha, a stronghold of Muammar Gaddafi supporters during the Libyan war, a human rights group says. The New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had credible reports of Misratah militiamen shooting unarmed Tawarghans, and seizing and beating people, sometimes to death." (The Australian/AFP, 1/11/11)

Treasure of Benghazi theft may be one of biggest in history: "A priceless collection of nearly 8000 ancient gold, silver and bronze coins has been stolen from a bank vault in the Libyan city of Benghazi." (Nick Meo, Sydney Morning Herald/Telegraph, 1/1/11)

Conflicting loyalties rule as Libya struggles with life after Gaddafi: "Gaddafi supporters have lost their figurehead leader, and are probably too demoralised at the moment to start the insurgency that some hotheads among them have threatened. But in a land awash with guns there are large numbers of resentful young men, bitter about losing, who might well take up arms if they are not persuaded that they have a place in the new Libya. In places like Bani Walid, such efforts to win them over have not got too far." (Nick Meo, Sydney Morning Herald/Telegraph, 31/10/11)

Signs of massacre at hotel cast ugly shadow over anti-Gaddafi rebels: "In the parched garden of the Mahari Hotel [Sirte], volunteers scrubbed signs of a recent massacre. They collected dozens of bodies, apparently of people executed on the hotel grounds several days ago... The volunteers said the victims included at least two former Gaddafi government officials, local loyalist fighters and maybe civilians. The killers, they believed, were former rebel fighters, belonging to anti-Gaddafi units that had used the hotel as a base in recent weeks. It appeared to be one of the worst massacres of the 8-month conflict but days afterwards no one from Libya's new government had come to investigate." (Kareem Fahim & Adam Nossiter, Sydney Morning Herald/New York Times, 26/10/11)

In Benghazi, a nostalgia for Gaddafi as Libya's rebels fail to keep the peace: "The killing of a senior rebel commander who was spearheading the campaign to topple Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has exposed latent security fears in eastern Libya - particularly about the proliferation of militias and gangs who do not seem to answer to any authority." (Steven Sotloff, Time, 16/8/11)

Gallant Sir Bob

"[Media commentary] is relentless... It almost looks as if [it's] testing a woman to see at what stage she'll break." (Brown condemns relentless sexism against Gillard)

That was Greens leader Bob Brown speaking in defence of Prime Minister Julia Gillard on ABC Television's Lateline last night.

Two fascinating questions arise from his Lateline interview:

1) Why does he never once name the media outlet primarily responsible?

2) Why is he not defending fellow Greens senator Lee Rhiannon from the even more virulent, relentless campaign directed against her by Murdoch's Australian?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Here We Go Again!

The latest batch of Australian polliewaffles recruited for processing in Israel:

"A delegation of 6 federal Coalition MPs travelled to Israel this week. Their program includes meeting Israeli political figures, visits to a range of facilities and locations, and briefings from experts on military, social and economic aspects of modern Israel. It is the third visit for Bradfield MP Paul Fletcher*, who previously visited Israel in 1986 as part of a student delegation and then again in 1999 in an Australian trade mission. Fletcher said he was pleased to have the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of Israel. 'I will be fascinated to see how Israel has changed since I was last there', he said. 'There is much to learn from Israel, including its remarkable economic success in developing and commercialising technology - in fields as diverse as satellite and radio communications, irrigation, desalination and biotechnology. Naturally our group will also be interested to learn more about Israel's security challenges and the prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East'. Other participants are Tasmanian senator David Bushby**; Paterson MP and shadow minister for regional development and tourism Bob Baldwin; South Australian senator David Fawcett; Brisbane MP and shadow parliamentary secretary for international development assistance and shadow parliamentary secretary for citizenship and settlement Teresa Gambaro***; and Cowan MP Luke Simpkins****. The visit has been hosted by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council." (MPs visit the Holy Land, The Australian Jewish News, 3/2/12)

Just the sort of intelligent, free-thinking, eyes-wide-open sceptics Israel needs to win over to its side:

*Fletcher: "'The Rudd Government's decision to expel an Israeli diplomat is a gross overreaction' Paul Fletcher MP, Federal Member for Bradfield said today. 'The state of Israel is the only genuine multiparty democracy in the Middle East. The ties of friendship and of shared values, between Australia and Israel, are longstanding. Even if we are disappointed with a friend - as we naturally would be if the allegations that Israeli security agencies forged Australian passports proved to be correct - there are more appropriate ways to express that disappointment. We should never forget that Israel must fight every day for its survival. Many countries in its region are hostile towards it. Some have openly stated their desire to see Israel destroyed'." (Expulsion of Israeli diplomat a gross overreaction, Press Release,, 25/5/10);

**Bushby was the bozo who meowed while Penny Wong was speaking in parliament in June last year;

***Gambaro was the boza who opined recently that migrants needed to be taught to use deodorant and to form a queue. As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2006 she asserted that only "recognition throughout the Middle East of Israel's right to exist" can bring about a "lasting solution to the conflict." (Perspective,, 11/12/06);

**** Simpkins: "A WA Liberal MP has claimed Australians are unknowingly being converted to Islam by eating halal meat... Mr Simpkins said that Mohammed the prophet of Islam had talked of how the religion could be expanded around the world by getting people to eat halal meat. He reportedly said, 'The non-believers will become Muslims when, amongst other things, they eat the meat that we have slaughtered'. This is one of the key apects to converting non-believers to Islam', Mr Simpkins said. The petition tabled by Mr Simpkins had been organised by the Barnabas Fund, an organisation that supports Christians living in Muslim countries." (Halal meat converting Aussies: MP, Nick Butterly, The West Australian, 25/11/11)

[NB: For a full list of Australian rambammings, see my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.]