Friday, August 31, 2012

Rambamming Makes the Front Page - Again! 2

Today's Sydney Morning Herald published 3 letters on the subject of yesterday's investigation into the practice of rambamming (See my previous post).

Unfortunately, however, all of them, in one way or another, missed the one issue that stood out like the proverbial sore thumb, namely that trips to Israel by Australian federal politicians far outnumber, at 44, those to the other destinations listed: Taiwan (16), New Zealand (7), the US (6) and Tibet (5).

Of course, we'll never know just how many letters were sent in that dealt squarely with this matter and raised the obvious questions: Why Israel, of all places, and what impact do the junkets there have on Australian politics?

"One may note that on the list of gifts there is nothing which would teach our pollies a single lesson on peak oil and global warming. Such as a trip to a country where people have to line up for hours to get kerosene, for example. Or how about an exploration on top of the moving Greenland ice sheet? A desert expedition in 50 degrees heat which will be normal in future years?" (Matt Mushalik, Epping) 

While making a valid point about those politicians who still haven't woken up to the fact that what we cause to go around, comes around, Matt completely overlooks the fact that in going to Israel our politicians, Labor or Liberal, climate aware or climate sceptical, are being taught lessons in how to sell an apartheid state to the Australian people.

"It's ridiculous to complain of MPs' perks. These politicians were elected by us to rule us and make sure those who provide perks get looked after when their business interests require help. MPs have to accept perks and so do their families. Without such perks decisions would be based on the ridiculous notion of representing the best interests of the ordinary voter. Imagine the horror of reasonable prices for electricity, rational allocation of taxes and worse. MPs who left Parliament would be unemployed instead of becoming representatives of companies that they looked after in the past. The system would collapse." (Michael Stanbridge, Bonnet Bay)

Michael's otherwise valid sarcasm overlooks the fact that 'perks' are the least of our problem here. Although reprehensible, it is surely one thing for our politicians to cosy up to corporate interests, but quite another, I would've thought, to return from a foreign, warmongering, apartheid state and act as an apologist and propagandist for it.

"I feel uncomfortable about Michael Danby MP belonging to an International Coalition of Jewish Parliamentarians. Does Israel fund his attendances at their conferences? Does he promote Israeli interests in the Australian Parliament? Before I am accused of anti-Semitism, I would be just as uncomfortable with Australian parliamentarians who were members of international coalitions of Muslim, Catholic, Hindu or Protestant parliamentarians." (Roseanne Bonney, Leichhardt)

While getting closer to the rambamming phenomenon, Roseanne's letter unfortunately narrows the whole thing down to Michael Danby. This is bigger by far than just the member for Melbourne Ports. The fact of the matter is that Austalian politicians of all shades, whether Labor or Liberal, federal or state, Christian or Jew, are acting on this particular siren call in such numbers as to raise the question of whether this practice is in the national interest.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rambamming Makes the Front Page - Again!

Until today, the subject of political junkets to Israel, a practice I refer to as rambamming, had only once made it into a ms newspaper. That was in March 2009 in the Sydney Morning Herald (See my 29/3/09 post Rambamming Makes the Front Page).

Considering the unusual nature of the practice (Why are so many of our politicians flocking to Israel? What's in it for Israel?), and its potential for Israeli (and Israel lobby) interference in, or even control over, our foreign policy alignments and decisions (not to mention what we read and watch and protest), you have to wonder at the almost total lack of interest in the phenomenon by corporate media pundits and journalists. (Not that one need wonder too much, because, if truth be known, our media hacks, both government (ABC, SBS) and non-government (Fairfax, Murdoch), are almost as keen on the rambam as our politicians.)

All this is by way of registering the fact that rambamming has again made it to the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald*:

"The Israel lobby, Qantas and mining companies are leading the charge in lavishing federal politicians** with all-expenses paid junkets and other gifts, a Herald investigation has found... Politicians are being serially wooed by foreign interests, with Israel and Israeli lobby groups giving politicians 44 fully or partly funded trips to Israel and other destinations disclosed in the past 2 years. In contrast Palestine sponsored just two trips in the same period." (Sky's the limit for political gifts, Stuart Washington & Tom Allard, 30/8/12)

For the most detailed look at the Australian side of the phenomenon on the WWW, just click on the rambamming label below. For a comprehensive list of the Australian rambammed - politicians, journos and others - going back to 2005, see my 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.

[*And yet why was this 'Herald Investigation' nowhere in view on its website?; ** I should mention that the practice of rambamming is also proving increasingly popular among our state politicians.]

Pen-Pushers for Zion: A Tribute

You've really got to hand it to Zionist letter writers. Ready to swing into action at a moment's notice, they valiantly confront threats to Israel's image in the corporate press whenever these arise.

Could it be, however, that their brave efforts are insufficiently appreciated by broadsheet browsers? Are readers aware, as they imbibe a Zionist letter along with their tea and toast, that they are witness to a truly heroic endeavour? Do they ever pause to consider, as I do, that there, beneath their drips and crumbs, lies the artistry of a deluded soul who has taken on a labour so great, but ultimately so futile, as to make the legendary Sisyphus look positively sissy?

I'm pretty sure they don't, because otherwise the letters page would be flooded with applause at the sheer chutzpah of such an endeavour.

And so, in an effort to draw a jaded readership's attention to the epic struggle of those who have dedicated their lives to wrestling reality to the floor and making it cry 'uncle', I've decided to devote this post to the elucidation, not to say celebration, of that too-often overlooked literary genre, the Zionist defence of the indefensible.

This opportunity arose with the publication in the Sydney Morning Herald of a letter by Stuart Sontag of Bondi in response to Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard's candid report on the decidedly unhealthy interest taken by the heroes of the Israel Defence Forces in Palestinian children, Children on front line in West Bank (27/8/12).

"It is disturbing to see allegations of Palestinian children being harmed in clashes with Israeli soldiers..."

As you see Sontag opens on just the right note. You can tell immediately we're dealing with a master of the genre. In telling us what a sensitive soul he is, he deftly, expertly, sucks us in, disarms us. Here's a typically caring SMH reader, we think, alive like us to the sufferings of the wretched of the earth. And so we don't really notice that what it is that actually disturbs him is that Israel's occupying forces are generating negative publicity in the press. Pretty neat, eh?

And note the deployment of the words 'allegations' and 'clashes', with their wonderful reality-dispersing properties. When Palestinians (or in this instance, self-hating Jewish-Israeli traitors who dare to spit on the institution that tried but failed to make men out of them) report what Israeli troops get up to, it's 'allegations' all round. But when the Israelis talk about the Palestinian 'militants' (I won't even go there) they so regularly gun down in Gaza, the 'a' word never fails to make a non-appearance.

As for 'clashes', what a great word for suggesting that the all-powerful and the completely powerless are equal participants in the unfolding drama. (In the photograph accompanying Pollard's report you may have noticed Israeli troops 'clashing' with a pair of little girls as they protest the manhandling of their mother by Israeli troops.)

So much artful dodging, and we haven't even finished the sentence yet! I told you Sontag was good:

"... many of whom are barely adults themselves."

Awesome, eh? The human rights abuses of state terrorists and occupiers reduced to the dimensions of a schoolyard scuffle between the Year 8s and the Year 9s! But there's more. The master's barely stirred: 

"However, Palestinian minors using apparently primitive weapons such as rocks, Molotov cocktails and knives have killed Israeli soldiers and civilians alike."

 Apparently primitive weapons. How good is that? A rock is only apparently primitive. None of us could possibly have dreamt up the notion that a rock is actually a quite sophisticated weapon, cunningly designed to fit into the hand and incorporating such ingenious built-in features as jagged edges which can be lethal when used against fresh-faced Israeli kiddies carrying apparently sophisticated weapons who may have inadvertently blundered, whilst out on a fun run, into a Palestinian town or village. 

"Responding to such potentially lethal threats using non lethal means will always present operational challenges to Israeli forces..."

But hasn't it been dinned into us that Israel is loaded with entrepreneurial talent, that it is to the Nobel Prize winner what Australia is to Vegemite, meat pies and Holden cars? Haven't we been literally bombarded with the idea that Israel is behind practically every conceivable invention since the wheel? And yet, stone-throwing kids are somehow in the too-hard basket.

But therein lies Sontag's magic, because, while we weren't watching, he's slipped us the idea that it's actually the occupied, rather than the occupier, that constitutes the lethal threat. And so we're out to such simple ideas as: if Israel's inadvertently armed, khaki-clad kiddies are really in such danger, then maybe the Israeli government should simply end the occupation. But that's not all:

"... but also to Australian Diggers in Afghanistan and even to NSW Police in Kings Cross."

The appeal to the Aussie patriot in all of us! Brilliant! And we know he's right: rock-throwing Afghan kids have killed over 30 Australian Diggers in Afghanistan so far, and rock-throwing Australian kids have killed so many NSW police in Kings Cross over the years that the media doesn't even bother reporting it any more.

"The real culprits are Palestinian terrorist organisations..."

A masterstroke that one! Now we're a million miles away from those barely adult Israeli troops. And speaking of PTOs, you've heard about those Palestinians keys, right? No, not the ones associated with the Nakba and being turfed out of your home back in 1948. The ones to be found in every Palestinian kid's back, such that all the PTO operative has to do is wind the kid up, literally, position him on a path frequented by those barely adult Israeli troops allegedly armed with apparently sophisticated weapons, and when the latter finally appear, the joint's rocking. Why, you can just about see the evil gleam in the PTO operatives' eyes as they wind up their pawns and place those deadly rocks in their paws. But the PTOs are not the only ones responsible for the plight of the barely adult, allegedly abusive Israeli youngsters. Sontag has even bigger fish to fry:

"... using Western funds..."

Shame on you, Bob Carr!

"... which indoctrinate their own children via tainted school books,..."

Tainted with talk about some fictional entity called Palestine!

"... official media and some mosques to become media 'heroes'..."

Shame on you Fairfax! Shame on you, Ruth Pollard! Shame on you Islam!

Such is Sontag's witchery that, in our anger at this parade of villains - PTO puppet masters, their Western funders, tainted Palestinian textbooks, a lying Palestinian media, virulent sermonising in Palestinian mosques, and a gullible Western media - we've all but forgotten the Palestinian kids left shackled and bleeding in Israeli dungeons.

"... by deliberately seeking confrontations."

How masterful that substitution of 'deliberately' for 'allegedly', and, what with the synonym power that adds 'confrontations' to the earlier 'clashes', Pollard's words about "the [Israeli] military's consistent arbitrary invasion of villages and homes... to create [in Palestinians] the feeling of being chased" are way down the memory hole.

So let's hear it for Stuart Sontag of Bondi. Without his tireless efforts, and those of his fellow pen-pushers for Zion, constantly pushing poop uphill, always setting us straight on Israel's trials and tribulations, we might actually be confronted by the scary thought that this great pillar of Judeo-Christian civilization, this mighty bulwark against Islamic barbarism, isn't really all it's cracked up to be.

Perish that thought!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Lotos-Eaters

Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined
On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind.
For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl'd
Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl'd
Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world;
Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands,
Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands.

(From The Lotos-Eaters, Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

No doubt you've heard of the SBS series Go Back to Where You Came From?

The Australian's TV reviewer, Graeme Blundell, in his introduction to the second series, screening tonight, had this to say of the first in today's issue:

"Six Australians risked their lives to trace in reverse the journeys that refugees have taken to leave Australia. They travelled to some of the most desperate corners of the world with no idea of what was in store for them along the way. Even if it didn't change a single attitude either way, the series challengingly exposed the refugee reality of arbitrary arrest, harassment, despair, extortion and imprisonment." (Twists & turns in this social experiment, 28/8/12)

Is it just me or are you too prompted to ask such questions as these:

Is direct experience of the push side of the refugee problem the only way to open Anglo-Australian eyes and minds to the reality of asylum-seeking?

Are we really so retarded that we can't even imagine what it's like to be at the pointy end of war and persecution? To be dodging bullets or machetes? To be faced with the impossible choice: stay and die, or get out, somehow, anyhow? Do we really need to be in the thick of it for the penny to drop? Are we that cushioned from the real world?

God help us!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Exhibition Not, Repeat Not, Anti-Israel

"[Chrisoula Lionis, curator of Beyond the Last Sky, an upcoming exhibition of Palestinian photography and video at the Australian Centre for Photography in Paddington, Sydney] was adamant that the exhibition was not anti-Israel." (Humour surfaces amid conflict, Andrew Taylor, The Sun-Herald, 26/8/12)

Heaven forbid! We wouldn't want to give the impression that Palestinians have an Israeli problem, now would we? Quite the contrary! In reality, it's the long-suffering, peace-seeking Israelis who have a Palestinian problem.

Would you believe these buggers have the gall to hang around on Israeli turf? And they just never seem to learn! Despite being whacked repeatedly over the years for walking on the grass, they're still doing it! To give you some idea of just how profoundly annoying they are, they were actually hanging around on it, turning it into a bloody desert of all things, before the Israelis even got there!

And perish the thought that Mr Hourani's difficulty in getting an Australian visa has something to do with Israel:

"One of the artists, Khaled Hourani, has been invited to speak at the University of NSW on September 8. But Ms Lionis said the artist's Palestinian passport had made it difficult for him to obtain a visa. 'The delay in his visa is a reflection of the trouble of travelling in and out of the territories,' she said." (ibid)

Hey, some places are just harder to get out of than others, OK?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Zionising the Draft Modern History Curriculum 7

ACARA's final dot points, nine and ten, provide excellent scope for students to acquire a critical overview of the Middle East conflict.

The ninth reads as follows:

"The consequences of the involvement of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union in the Middle East over the period, on both the continuing conflict and the peace process."

As far as Britain is concerned, the key lesson for students is that, without Britain and its seriously dumb and immoral Balfour Declaration of 1917, there would be no conflict because no Jewish state. As that incomparable moral compass, JMN Jeffries, solemnly reminded his countrymen back in the thirties: 

"All we can do, and must do, is to see that any settlement is in accordance with the Arabs' rights. Justice, and not expediency of any kind, must guide us. We must avoid particularly false solutions based on forgiving all round in Palestine, based on Arabs and Zionists and Britons being deemed as involved in a common misfortune and upon their all starting afresh, under some scheme which will be the old scheme disguised. Forgiveness all round is, as a doctrine, only a label for forgiving ourselves. We are no victims of circumstances in Palestine along with the Arabs and the Jews. We made the circumstances: we, by the acts of our rulers, and we alone, are primarily responsible for the state of that country, and there must be no self-absolution proposed by us." (Palestine: The Reality, 1939, p 711)

With the United States, an excellent opportunity exists for students to compare the US's first intervention in Levantine politics, President Wilson's admirable King-Crane Commission of 1919, with the escalating rise in US support for Israel beginning with President Truman in 1948 and the hijacking of US Middle East policy today by the Israel lobby (AIPAC and Zionists embedded in government administrations, with GW Bush's neocons being only the most egregious examples).

By contrast with Britain and the US, the Soviets were only ever bit players in the Middle East conflict.

And here's the tenth and final dot point:

"Interpretations and representations of conflict in the Middle East, including those of participants, observers, international agencies and foreign governments."

There is scope here for exposing Israel's dominant Zionist narrative as a false historical narrative by placing the Zionist project in Palestine squarely in the context of the rise of European nationalisms and settler-colonial movements, and for viewing the Middle East conflict correctly as an ongoing, unresolved colonial conflict.

ECAJ's Peter Wertheim has chosen not to comment on either of these two dot points, adding only the following remark: 

"We would also suggest that an item be added about the core issues of the Israel-Palestinian conflict (Israel's right to exist, Palestinian statehood and borders, settlements, Jerusalem, refugees, water rights, security arrangements) and polling and other evidence of public attitudes to those issues on each side (eg Tel Aviv University's 'Peace Index' and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)." 

This suggestion, if taken up, would conveniently focus students' attention on Israel's current wet dream: Palestinians abandoning their inalienable right to 78% of their historic homeland, with an apology for ever having bothered its 'real' owners in the first place; as much of the occupied Palestinian territories as Israel can squeeze out of the current bunch of Palestinian quislings known as the Palestinian Authority, allowing, if that, for a Swiss cheese statelet hemmed in on all sides by Israeli forces and settlements; an undivided Jerusalem; Palestinian refugees remaining in situ in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan or farmed out further afield; Israeli control of West Bank aquifers; and Palestinians forswearing forever the right to bear arms.

Except that that isn't really Israel's wet-dream. Israel's real wet dream is still that of Theodor Herzl's: the spiriting of a penniless [Palestinian Arab] population across the border

That concludes this 7-part series. I will of course be running a critical eye over this part of the final senior history curriculum when it finally emerges to see whether any of Wertheim's wish list has been incorporated. Watch this space.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Israel Now Core NSW Government Business

Who could have predicted that when the O'Farrell government came to power in NSW some 17 months ago rooting for Israel would come to rival the core government business of slashing and burning the state?

Who could have predicted that the Premier would be threatening to sack a Sydney Council over its brave decision to boycott Israeli goods and services?

Who could have predicted that NSW parliamentarians would be falling over one another to denounce BDS in the parliamentary bear pit?

Who could have predicted the formation of a NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel with a Green on its steering committee?

Who could have predicted that NSW Police would be going to the Supreme Court to head off a Nakba commemoration?

 Who could have predicted that state politicians would be aping their federal colleagues by embarking on pilgrimages to Israel?

And now this: "Premier Barry O'Farrell delivered the keynote speech at the official foundation event of the Liberal Party Friends of Israel (LFI), held at Parliament House last Tuesday night. Over 100 attendees - comprising ministers, MPs, councillors and community members - were in attendance to launch the group, which has been set up to provide a forum for Liberal Party supporters to join their parliamentary representatives in supporting Israel." (NSW Liberal Friends of Israel launched, The Australian Jewish News, 24/8/12)

LFI's chairman (and NSW Jewish Board of Deputies vice-president) Yaron Finkelstein spoke of the launch as "a perfect marker in a calendar that will be filled with ongoing activities to strengthen the bond between the State of Israel and those that support the Liberal Party," and added that "[i]n time we hope that this will be a group that attracts members from right across NSW, both Jewish and non-Jewish, to stand in support of Israel." (ibid)

And Premier O'Farrell had these passing strange words to say at LFI's launch: "We use grassroots as a word in politics, but I'm talking to people whose nation is only there because of grassroots action over a very long time that led up to the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948... And it's grassroots action that continues day in day out within the boundaries of Israel to ensure that it continues to exist in an environment, in a neighbourhood that is incredibly, incredibly important." (ibid)

Now I don't know about you but for the life of me I've never before heard ethnic cleansing described as "grassroots action."

So what can we expect when LFI's up and running?

"The groups's program will include intelligence and policy briefings, visiting speaker functions and ongoing Australian-Israeli political exchanges, among other activities." (ibid)

Ah, but that's just the beginning. Just wait till they drop 'Parliament' for 'Knesset', open a Max Brenner outlet inside, hang portraits of Theodor Herzl in both chambers, turn the visitor entry into an Israeli-style checkpoint, kit the staff out in IDF uniforms and Uzis, and run the Scar of David up the flagpole.

Oriana Fallaci & George Habash: A Correction 3

My last two posts were predicated on the fact of Oriana Fallaci's having fabricated, in her 2004 Islamphobic rant, The Force of Reason, a whole new jihadi version of George Habash out of the interview she did with him for Life magazine back in 1970.

Having re-read that interview, I now believe that As'ad Abukhalil is absolutely correct: Fallaci was also in the business of putting words into Habash's mouth in 1970.

Two quotations in particular from the Life interview, which appeared under the heading A leader of the fedayeen: 'We want a war like the Vietnam war' in the June 22 issue, warrant attention:

"Countries like Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland, with many Jews among their population, allow their territory to be used as a base for the Jews to fight the Arabs. If Italy, for instance, is a base against the Arabs, the Arabs have a right to use Italy as a base against the Jews."

"The attacks of the Popular Front are based on quality, not quantity. We believe that to kill a Jew far from the battleground has more of an effect than killing 100 of them in battle; it attracts more attention."

When one compares these quotations (with their suggestion that Jews qua Jews, wherever they live, are potential targets for Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) guerillas) with what the PFLP were really saying at the time, their authenticity immediately becomes suspect.

For example, here's a quote from a PFLP booklet, Palestine: Towards a Democratic Solution. (The booklet, in English, was issued by the PFLP Information Department in 1970.):

"The Palestinian liberation movement is not a racial movement with aggressive intentions against the Jews. It is not directed against the Jews. Its object is to destroy the state of Israel as a military, political and economic establishment which rests on aggression, expansion and organic connection with imperialist interests in our homeland. It is against Zionism as an aggressive racial movement connected with imperialism which has exploited the sufferings of the Jews as a stepping stone for the promotion of its interests and the interests of imperialism in this part of the world, which possesses resources and provides a bridgehead into the countries of Africa and Asia. The aim of the Palestinian liberation movement is to establish a democratic national state in Palestine in which both Arabs and Jews will live as citizens with equal rights and obligations..." (pp 7-8)

Oriana Fallaci, therefore, appears to have perpetrated layer upon layer of fabrication as far as the figure of George Habash (and who knows how many others) is concerned, stretching across 4 decades. Perhaps we should consider the creation of an annual 'Oriana Fallaci Prize for Zionist Fabrication'.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oriana Fallaci & George Habash: A Correction 2

Further to yesterday's post on Fallaci and Habash, after sending As'ad Abukhalil a link, he has responded to my post on his website as follows:

"Oh no, I am not confused. Her profile in Life magazine was NOT an honest piece of reportage, and it was in that profile that she fabricated a quotation by Habash." (23/8/12)

Just to get to the bottom of the matter, here's Abukhalil's post of 4 February 2008, written in response to my original post on the subject, Fabricating Dr George Habash (2/2/08) (NB: The quotation comes from Fabricating Dr George Habash.):

The lies of Fallaci: "There's only one problem - Habash said nothing of the kind, and the text of Fallaci's 1970 Life interview with him gives her lunacy the lie. To begin with, the interview took place in 1970, not 1972, the Palestinian resistance having been purged from Jordan by July 1971. Then there's the nonsense about the gun. In the introduction to the interview, she wrote, 'We met at night in the suburbs of Amman, in a building attached to a refugee camp. The room contained one desk and a few chairs; outside the closed doors, armed fedayeen stood guard. Inside there were only 4 of us: Habash, myself, a photographer and the man who had driven us there'." (thanks Merc)

Now in my 2008 post, Fabricating Dr George Habash, I compared Fallaci's 1970 Life interview with Habash to the reworking of that interview in her 2004 book The Force of Reason, exposing the latter as an obvious forgery.

Now it may well be that Fallaci's original Life interview contained a fabricated quotation. I don't know. If that is the case, as Abukhalil contends, then what we're dealing with here amounts to a fabrication (Fallaci: 2004) of a fabrication (Fallaci: 1970). (I note, for example, that AbuKhalil, in his 18/3/12 comments on Daniel Byman's book A High Price: The Triumph & Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism, mentions that Byman cites "an invented quotation attributed falsely by the fanatical Zionist journalist Oriana Fallaci to George Habash." It would be interesting to know what that quotation is.)

I again refer those who are interested in the matter to my original 2/2/08 post Fabricating Dr George Habash.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oriana Fallaci & George Habash: A Correction

In a recent comment on fabricated quotes by Zionists, As'ad Abukhalil wrote as follows:

"I was thinking about the recent Zionist fabrication of a quotation by Hasan Nasrallah which made it into a front page article in the New York Times. There is a long history of such fabrications: over the decades Zionists have fabricated quotations and attributed them to Nasser, to Ahmed Shuqayri, to Arafat and most recently to Hasan Nasrallah. Oriana Fallaci, the lousy, sleazy, trashy Italian journalist, fabricated a quotation by George Habash which made it into a Life magazine profile of him..." (Zionists & the fabrication of quotes by their enemies, Angry Arab News Service, 17/8/12) 

Abukhalil was first alerted to Fallaci's Habash fabrication by me some years back. Unfortunately, however, in recalling the matter, he's confused her 1970 Life magazine profile of Habash, which appears to be an honest piece of reportage, with her later distortion of same in her book-length Islamophobic rant, The Force of Reason (2004).

I refer those who are interested in the full story to my 2/2/08 post Fabricating Dr George Habash.

Not Quite Kristallnacht

O-MY-GOD! Will you listen to this! (Reads):

Anti-Israel protest win inflames Jewish hatred

"A fresh wave of racial hatred against the Jewish community, including calls for a Hitler clone and ethnic cleansing, has been sparked by the anti-Israel boycott campaign of the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain." (John Ferguson, The Australian, 22/8/12)

NO! Surely, it can't be true!

But wait, it must be. After all, it's a front page EXCLUSIVE in Rupert's Australian, the paper read by the people who matter. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, for two.

I knew it. Just like the more prescient of our politicians predicted, BDS has finally morphed into a new Kristallnacht!

I can see it now: legions of crazed Nazi stormtroopers fanning out through the suburbs, smashing up Jewish shops, burning down synagogues, beating up Jews and News Ltd journalists.

But wait, what's this? (Reads on):

"The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has blasted some coverage of the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign that has fuelled the online attacks."

Oh, I see. Online attacks. That's it? Instead of Jews being beaten up, it's just another Murdoch beat-up!

Why do I go on reading this rubbish?

What's that? Do something more productive?

You're right, I think I'll take the dog for a walk, get some exercise. I'll leave the paper on the table and you can wrap last night's prawn shells in it, OK?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Look Who's Talking!

"The moment [Julian Assange] decided to seek shelter in Ecuador... he betrayed the principles he claimed to represent... Why? Because Ecuador... has become one of the world's leading oppressors of free speech." (Hypocrisy ends hero's freedom to preach, Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/8/12)

The moment Peter Hartcher, the SMH's international editor, travelled to Israel as a guest of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies in 2009* and returned, parroting Israeli propaganda tropes about Hamas' rockets and human shields* and arrogantly dismissing discussion of the historical roots of the Palestine problem as "old grudges and illusions on a Marrickville Council scale,"*** he not only violated the Fairfax Code of Conduct ("We will not accept gifts or inducements which could impair our judgment or be perceived to be a conflict of interest, bribe or inappropriate gift."**), but lost whatever credibility he may have had as an independent journalist along with any moral authority he may have had to pontificate about hypocrisy.

Oh, and unlike Assange, Hartcher had the luxury of choice.

[*See my 18/11/09 post No Hidden Agenda; **See my 20/6/11 post Hartcher Brings the House Down; ***See my 15/3/10 post Pawns in a Propaganda Game.]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Zionising the Draft Modern History Curriculum 6

ACARA's 8th dot point reads as follows:

"The impact of significant individuals and groups both in working for and in opposing peace, with particular reference to David Ben-Gurion, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Hezbollah, Hamas, and 'Peace Now'."

Peace? What kind of peace? Tacitus' famous words in Agricola, quoting the Caledonian chieftain Calgacus, come to mind here. (For Rome, think today's imperial Israel.):

"These [Roman] plunderers of the world, after exhausting the land by their devastations, are rifling the ocean: stimulated by avarice, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; unsatiated by the East and by the West: the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal avidity. To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."

So what kind of peace are we talking about?

A mere absence of organised violence? The 'peace' of a nominally independent Palestinian bantustan? A peace predicated on millions of Palestinians remaining in exile while the likes of Wertheim can settle in any part of their former homeland, rebadged 'Israel', as they see fit? All, I'm afraid, deserts.

Recognising that peace without justice is no peace at all, I'd amend the above point by incorporating the term 'a just peace' or 'peace with justice', and let the apples fall where they may:

David Ben-Gurion's responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and his outright refusal to implement UNGA resolution 194, allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands, would be factored in.

Menachem Begin's role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and his 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon, which merely created new injustices and new enemies, leading to the creation of a Lebanese version of the Palestinian resistance, likewise.

Ditto for Ariel Sharon, whose 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip can in no way be legitimately spun as a milestone on the road to peace, given the memorable words of his adviser, Dov Weisglass:

"The disengagement is actually formaldehyde that's necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians... After all, what have I been shouting for the past year? That I found a device, in cooperation with the management of the world, to ensure that there will be no stopwatch here. That there will be no timetable to implement the [West Bank] settlers' nightmare. I have postponed that nightmare indefinitely... That is the significance of what we did. The significance is the freezing of the political process. And when you freeze the process you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and you prevent a discussion about the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress." (Quoted in The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003, Tanya Reinhart, 2006 p 43)

On the Palestinian side, consideration would have to be given to the transition from Article 6 of the Palestinian National Charter of 1968 ("The Jews who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion will be considered Palestinians."), a position premised on the restoration of the demographic status quo which obtained in Palestine prior to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and therefore a demand for absolute justice, to the emergence of the concept of the secular democratic state in Palestine, accommodating the post-Balfour Declaration Jewish colons and their descendants on a one-man, one-vote basis, regardless of creed, through to the adoption of a two-state solution by the Palestine National Congress in 1988.

On the other side, consideration would have to be given to the Israeli colonisation drive in the West Bank (1967-2012) which has, absent a full withdrawal of all Israeli troops and settlers, effectively rendered the two state solution impossible and brought about the de facto bi-national (but still apartheid) state which is today's Israel, characterised by occupied Palestinians with no rights, Israeli Palestinians with only second/third class citizenship rights, and a stateless, exiled Palestinian diaspora kept on ice so that the Wertheim's of this world can add a second home to their existing one should they choose to do so. 

Israel's adamant rejection of a just peace would also need to incorporate its rejection of every relevant UN resolution under the sun.

Finally, as a "significant individual" working for peace with justice, I'd include the UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte, the author of  the UNGA's 'right of return' resolution 194, who strove for justice for Palestinian refugees only to be cruelly cut down by that penultimate form of Israeli rejectionism, the hail of bullets, in 1948.

ECAJ's Peter Wertheim seeks to pad the 8th dot point with Israeli leaders in order to take advantage of the Zionist-generated image of them as peacemakers:

"The eighth dot point concerning the impact of significant individuals and groups both in working for and in opposing peace should also include 'Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert' and should refer also to 'grass roots efforts to build cross-cultural co-operation and relationships.'"

Note that Wertheim doesn't feel the need to argue the case for the inclusion of Rabin, Peres and Olmert in this section. Maybe because any mileage to be had from Rabin's division of the West Bank into Areas A, B and C, leaving Israel still in occupation of around 60% of the territory, is more than negated by the fact that between 1993 and 1996 the settler population increased by 48% in the West Bank and by 62% in the Gaza Strip, and Peres' fleeting tenure of 7 months as PM saw no particular advance in peace with justice for the Palestinians. As for Olmert... but I grow weary, as I know you do too. Those interested in this particular 'peace-maker' can look up my 30/11/09 post No Bull.

Finally, if Wertheim's "grass roots efforts to build cross-cultural co-operation and relationships," whatever those may be, is to be incorporated in 'The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East' unit, I'd suggest it go under a separate dot point to do with Israel propaganda and smokescreens. Colonisers have never, repeat never, been in the business of "building cross-cultural co-operation and relationships" with colonised people.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Frodos Gaze Upon Mordor

Alas, the brain drain goes on. For NSW to be deprived of these folk, Barry's best and the brightest, even if for only a fortnight, is a loss this state can ill afford:

"State government MPs Jonathan O'Dea [MP for Davidson] and Peter Phelps [Government Whip, Legislative Council] joined a group of their Victorian Liberal counterparts on an Israel study tour last month. Coordinated by the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the tour involved meetings with Israeli media, visits to the Knesset, Temple Mount and Western Wall, and briefings on the history of Israel and its current work in the areas of innovation and research." (NSW state parliamentarians visit Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 10/8/12)

Still, no lasting harm done I guess, because frankly, Messrs O'Dea and Phelps appear, if anything, even brighter of eye and bushier of tail than before they left!

You know, it's quite amazing really. Just two weeks of Israeli spit and polish and it's impossible to say now where Likud leaves off and Liberal begins.

Here's Mr O'Dea*, for example: "[T]here was 'nothing like personally witnessing a difficult situation' in order to better appreciate its complexity and become confident that there are no easy solutions. 'When you see the bomb shelters for children in Sderot outside Gaza and the memorial to Israeli soldiers killed on patrol in the Golan Heights, you better understand the level of Israeli anxiety, especially of those living near neighbouring borders'... 'While 'right' is rarely the exclusive domain of just one nation [sic] group, the merit of Israeli causes is enhanced through their pursuit within a framework of open and democratic institutions.'" (ibid)

And here's Mr Phelps: "The remarkable achievement of Israel lies with its people... The spirit of entrepreneurship, the drive of Israelis who turn the deserts to productive land, the sheer courage of people in a place like Sderot, to the old lady who had never met me but still invited me to Shabbat dinner because she was worried I might be lonely on a Friday night - it was the people that really made the trip for me. AIJAC does a great job in spreading the message about Israel, and their program of events is exactly what I was looking for. Not propaganda, but with all views and perspectives included." (ibid)

Blimey! A bit too starry-eyed for you? A bit too sacharin? A bit too like what you'd expect from one of those pre-war, knuckle-dragging Western commies on his first ever visit to Uncle Joe's workers' paradise? What about a bit of perspective here?

Well, I'm pleased to say, at least with respect to Mr Phelps, there's another version, more unbuttoned, picaresque even, thanks to the miracle of Twitter.com. Introduced to Twitter only late last year by one of his GenY staffers, he's taken to it like the proverbial duck to water, even achieving a touch of notoriety in the Twittersphere by telling one of his 'followers' to "go f*** yourself, commie!"**

Herewith a goodly helping of Mr Phelps' tweets from Israel (Peter Phelps (PeterPhelpsMLC) on Twitter), interrupted by a wee bit of exegesis from yours truly:

11 July: An early morning start for leg one of my trip to Israel, via Bangkok.

[Response tweet: @PeterPhelpsMLC Is this the usual winter junket MPs go on at taxpayer's expense?] 

12 July: @Muzzpol No, I am paying for it myself. Are you OK with that?

12 July: Can't stop singing 'Jerusalem' and 'The Holy City' since I've arrived here.

13 July: @ianfarrow I love kippahs on toast for breakfast!

13 July: Spent ages looking around Jerusalem's Jaffa gate, but still could not find any.

[Phelps is to wit what Abbott is to empathy.]

13 July: Off to Masada and the Dead Sea - with expected temps of +35 degrees!

13 July: Masada in the morning, now enjoying a beer by the Dead Sea.

14 July: Ran into @hannahpandel at the Western Wall last night. Thank God there are no Labor people on my delegation!

 [HP is a Young Libber. When the rambammed start bumping into each other you know the business is getting out of hand.]

14 July: @journo_realdeal Actually, it's remarkably peaceful here. And the Arabs I was having lunch with seemed quite contented.

[Hand-picked House Arabs? Why wouldn't they be?]

14 July: @DBreban Actually, you would be in heaven here, Dan. And the girls are not too hard on the eyes either.

[Jeez... Is AIJAC really getting its money's worth here?] 

14 July: @ChrisAshton Worky-play. It's an AIJAC tour, so lots of meetings interspersed with a bit of sightseeing! Speed dating for pollie tourists!

[Hm, not sure Peter's quite entered into the spirit of his rambamming. I mean, how's a deep and meaningful relationship supposed to emerge with an attitude like this?]

15 July: Israeli Supreme Court and Knesset done, now off to lunch. There really is something great about enthusiastic guides.

15 July: Lunch was at what is probably the only kosher-certified Indian restaurant in the world!

16 July: Visiting PA-controlled Bethlehem, followed by an Israeli settlement. Interesting perspectives from both.

[Oh, it's sooo hard to make up your mind, isn't it? What would Daddy have made of it all? What was his position again? Ah, yes: "There is good and there is bad, and we should fight for the good and oppose the bad. He was the Polaris by which I set my moral compass..." (Is this the greatest maiden speech of all time? Yes. Yes it is, Peter Phelps, menzieshouse.com.au/2011/05/)]

16 July: Met first IDF mega-babe on road to Beersheba; but her ugly Sgt got jealous and demanded we all show passports.

[Response tweet: @PeterPhelpsMLC This would be embarrassing from a young lib, from the LC whip it's ridiculous, joking or not.]

16 July: @aarondibdin If you don't like my tweets, stop following me, you fool.

16 July: Just peered into Gaza - now I know how Frodo felt when he first gazed upon Mordor.

[Damn if this doesn't capture the parallel, up-is-down universe of the Zionist dupe: a caged population of 1948 refugees, kept on a strict diet and periodically hammered by the world's 4th largest US-backed military machine, becomes in an instant the evil hordes of Sauron the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, Sharon, the real Dark Lord, lies comatose at his Negev Desert ranch, with all the resources of modern medicine deployed just to keep the old war criminal ticking over.]

16 July: Just sang 'Hava Nagila' on a sand dune in Negev Desert while drinking Heineken #freedom.

17 July: On my way to the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee. Looking forward to seeing a bit of IDF kit and some burnt out T-62s!

18 July: Off to a Chamber of Commerce Dinner. Low taxes, pro-enterprise culture and can-do spirit very evident in Israel.

[Be still my jutting trousers!]

18 July: Just finished a meeting with a Labor member of the Knesset, Yitzhak Herzog - his views on Israel and Australia were very interesting.

[YH is chairman of the Israel-Australia parliamentary association. See my 25/6/09 post Now Honestly...]

18 July: Great visit to an Israeli hospital which offers free treatment to foreign kids with congenital heart conditions. Very moving and inspiring.

[Were there any from Mordor? Were their hearts black? Did they even have any hearts?]

20 July: Stuffed full of Jaffan falafels.

[Food first. Israel second.]

20 July: Number of Rainbow flags spotted by me in Tel Aviv beach area alone: 6. Number spotted in entire West Bank: zero. PING: @DBreban.

[How very Mordorish of them! Maybe they're a tad distracted by something or other? Think about it.]

21 July: Leaving Israel with sour taste in my mouth after a 90 minute ordeal with with officious security idiot who wouldn't let me get to a national park.

[Response tweet: Isabel McIntosh@greens_bel Imagine if you were Palestinian...]

22 July: @greens_bel Bureaucratic butt-heads happen in all countries.

[Ah Isabel, Peter'll go to Israel alright, but he won't go there. One may offend all & sundry, but not the hand that feeds you.]

Thankyou, Peter.

And the Victorians? Lest we forget:

"O'Dea and Phelps were joined by Victorian Liberal MPs David Southwick, Neil Angus, Elizabeth Miller, Clem Newton-Brown, Bill Tilley and the Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Nick Kotsiras." (NSW state Parliamentarians visit...)

Now if you thought O'Dea and Phelps (at least the official Phelps) had arrived back home hot to trot for Israel, wait till you hear what Mr Kotsiras had to say:

"This was my first trip to Israel. A land filled with history, diversity and religious observance. A land filled with fascination and relevance and a land that has now been turned into an oasis thanks to the foresight and hard work of its Jewish pioneers. At first observation, Israel seems to be a peaceful and serene place, yet you are all too aware that violence, danger and hatred surrounds you at every border... My visit to the main sites of religious significance - the Kotel, Temple Mount, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Sea of Galilee, Mount of Olives - evoked strong emotions in me but also raised many questions. While my visits to Yad Vashem, Sderot, Golan Heights, Masada, and the Lebanese, Syrian and Gazan borders invited the question: How can human beings be so merciless and so brutal? How can a nation that seeks only to exist and contribute to the betterment of civilisation have so many who seek its destruction?" (The potential of peace, AJN, 10/8/12)

See what I mean? Just take a Gandalf at that final sentence! No commie fellow traveller ever came on quite like that. I mean, roll over Tolkien, we're talking Manchurian Candidate here, know what I mean? Surely, like Mr Phelps, Mr Kotel - sorry, Kotsiras - has got a GenY staffer or two who could wise him up to the therapeutic benefits of tweeting? How else are our creme de la creme to retain some perspective in this matter?

[*See my 25/2/12 post Jeremy Buckingham Crosses the Rubicon; **NSW Liberal whip Peter Phelps slams Twitter critic, news.com.au, 9/12/11.]

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bob Carr Meets Avigdor Lieberman

I've been checking Foreign Minister Bob Carr's blog, Thoughtlines with Bob Carr, ever since I placed a 'FYI' on the comment thread to his September 10 post, Jordan's tolerance shines a light on the rest of the world, drawing my fellow historian's attention to his egregious misrepresentation there of modern Jordanian history, namely the 1970 massacre of Palestinians known as Black September, as per my post of August 14, Bob Carr Rewrites Jordanian History.

Well, it still hasn't appeared. And so I'm left to ponder, yet again, the puzzle of those who parade as history buffs but whose real forte is fairytales.

Be that as it may, I couldn't help but notice another post of Bob's, Meeting with Avigdor Liberman, dated August 14.

OK, now that I know he's not interested in being corrected, I won't bother telling him he's misspelt Lieberman's name.

However, I couldn't help but notice, as I read his short account of said meeting, the following sentence:

"Senator Carr also raised Australia's concerns regarding Israeli settlement activity in the Palestinian Territories."

Which had me wondering: Does Bob know that Lieberman lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim?

If not, why not? If so, did he bring the subject up? If not, why not? If so, what was Lieberman's response?

And then this troubling thought popped into my weary head: Could our Bob be simply going through the motions here?

'Of course not,' I'm sure he'd say, huffily, 'our conversation was frank, wide-ranging and constructive.'

And, in its own way, I imagine it probably was:

Bob Carr: Nokdim, eh? Nice place to live, Avigdor?

Avigdor Lieberman: The best!

BC: It's on a hill isn't it? All your settlements are on high ground, aren't they?

AL: That's right, Bob. And the views, maaate, the views! Let me tell you about the views! Why, on a clear day you can see all the way to the Nile in the south and the Euphrates in the east - wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

BC: *Sigh* - only too well, I'm afraid. Look, Avigdor, I really don't want to go there, can we change the subject?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Israeli Psycho

If sabre-rattling were an Olympic sport Israel would win gold every time.

Here are just the latest examples:

"Asked how long the Iranians should be given to cease all nuclear activity, Mr Ayalon said 'weeks, and not more than that.'" (Time for talk with Iranians is over, Israel declares, Jodi Rudoren, NYT/SMH, 14/8/12)

"'Lord help us, would you just do it already and be done with it?' wrote Ben Caspit, a columnist for the newspaper Maariv, referring to the Israeli leadership." (ibid)

With sabre-rattling down to a fine art in Israel, the question arises: why, in 2012, with 64 years of Israeli sabre-rattling and wildings, does the ms media persist with the fiction that Iran is the psycho and Israel the embodiment of sweet reason?

The latest example of the genre in the Australian press, by the chief foreign correspondent for Murdoch's UK Daily Telegraph, David Blair, appeared, of all places in Fairfax's Age. (Work that one out!):

"The nuclear-tipped confrontation between Iran and the rest of the world is no exception..." (Secrecy in service to peace)

Does anyone really need reminding that Israel is the Middle East's only nuclear power?

"... - and the urgency of defusing this ticking time bomb beneath world affairs has become greater this week."

Cliche alert!

"Once again, Israel is making clear that its patience is wearing thin:..."

Yep, sure takes a lot to rile Israel.

"... unnamed 'decision-makers' have briefed the local press that if no one else prevents Iran from seizing the ability to make nuclear weapons, then the Israeli air force might have to do the job." 

Now how opaque is that? Allow me to shed a little light on the matter: Psycho, you see, not only has this monumental down on Iran because it thinks he's not so much vibrant as virulent - and dares to say so - but actually expects the rest of the world to just fall in with his psychosis and rub the offender out NOW - unbidden. And when the US/Australia/Palau/whatever doesn't go for the Iranian jugular NOW, there's that famous shrug, a maniacal glint in the eye, and a barely audible: 'Looks like a psycho's gotta do what a psycho's gotta do...'

"Israel is not above sabre-rattling..."

Now that's my entry for journalistic understatement of the year.

"... - and supposed moments of truth in the Iranian crisis have been annual events since at least 2008. But unless something changes, the moment of truth really will arrive one day."

Iranian crisis or Israeli psychosis?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No History, Just Mythology, Ideology & Indoctrination

"In essence, Palestine was 'empty' because it could be easily emptied of its population." (M. Shahid Alam, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, 2009, p 77)

Israeli historian, Tom Segev, is coming to Australia as a guest of Monash University's Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation.

The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, has written a welcome profile of Segev, which focuses on a matter which has rarely, if ever, disturbed the complacent Zionist orthodoxy of Murdoch's Australian flagship: the primacy of mythology, ideology and indoctrination over the historical record in Israel, particularly in relation to the Palestinian Nakba of 1948.

Lyons writes that Segev "is one the 'New Historians' from the 1980s when Israel released its first wave of archival documents. 'You could take out a document and say, 'Wow, this is not how we learnt it at school. It was less heroic, less noble than we had learnt at school. Until then we had no history, we had mythology, we had ideology and we had a lot of indoctrination.' Children were taught that when Israel was established in 1948 it had been empty - it was a land without people for a people without land. These historians demolished that myth with documents showing almost half the Arabs who left were forced out, many violently." (Israeli widows reveal the reality of land built on myths, 11/8/12)*

This kind of plain-speaking, of course, is like a red rag to a bull for those who've made it their business to patrol ms media discourse on the subject of Palestine/Israel lest it deviate in any way from Israel's official line, that is from Israeli mythology and ideology. Hence the following letter from Tzvi Fleischer of the Australia-Israel Review, published in The Australian on August 14:

"John Lyon's article on historian Tom Segev... made the absurd claim that before the 'new' historians such as Segev, Israeli 'children were taught that when Israel was established in 1948 it had been empty - it was a land without people for a people without land'. This is not true. There has certainly been criticism of past Israeli curriculums for having paid insufficient attention to the 1948 Palestinian refugees, and Palestinian plight generally, but students were never taught that the land was completely empty. Indeed, the line about 'a land without people for a people without' has nothing to do with the 1948 refugees. It is the core of a twisted criticism of the whole Zionist movement from 1895 onward by Edward Said and his followers. The misrepresentation is two-fold. First, while there was a slogan used by a small part of the Zionist movement for a few years after 1900 that spoke of 'a land without a people for a people without a land', this is materially different from 'a land without people'. The early Zionists were aware that Palestine had Arab inhabitants but noted they were not considered a separate nationality or people at that time."

To interrupt Fleischer's letter here and draw out his meaning:

What he's saying is that the early political Zionists were certainly aware of the existence of Arabs in Palestine but believed that, unlike the Jews, they did not rate as 'a people'. They saw them, if you will, as generic Arabs, equally at home in other parts of the Middle East where Arabic was spoken and Islam practised. In other words, they were eminently portable, or transferable (to adapt the Zionist buzzword 'transfer' - in use in back rooms whenever Palestine's pre-state Zionists met to discuss their 'Arab problem').

On the other hand, these same Zionists took very seriously indeed the idea that Jews were 'a people', at a time when being part of a people, separate from other people, seemed so terribly important. With religion, including Judaism, generally on the skids at the time, and tribalism and nationalism all the go, these Jewish nationalists conned themselves, and the rest of the world, into believing that being a Jew meant so much more than just being the adherent, to a lesser or greater degree, of the Jewish faith. It meant, they believed, belonging to 'a people' who had once had a glorious past in the land of Palestine, which was cruelly terminated by the Romans, and were now living in doleful 'exile' outside Palestine (or the the Land of Israel as they preferred to call it), a state of affairs which could only be relieved by the reconstitution of ancient Israel in today's Palestine.

Mind you, some of them, and they were all European Jews you'll note, really had to wrestle with the idea of finding a common identity with non-European, Arab, Jews, so concerned were they with matters of pedigree:

"The Jaffa colonists outclass the Halukah Jerusalemites as a shire stallion would a worn-out coster's pony. The Yemenites are for the most part undersized and rather poor-spirited natives. They are not racially Jews. They are black, long-headed, hybrid Arabs." (Palestine Reclaimed: Letters from a Jewish Officer in Palestine, Redcliffe N. Salaman, 1920, p 28) [Italics in the original.]

If the concept of 'a people' has more than a touch of arbitrariness and artificiality about it, how much more so that of concocting a people out of a religion? The simple fact is that anybody today who can't bring himself to acknowledge (and celebrate) our hybridity has a problem with reality. And so, for Zionist true believers in such bunkum, whether they be the first Zionists or the likes of Fleischer today, to pose as authorities on who is or who is not worthy of the designation 'a people' is rich indeed, and to be honest, entirely misses the point.

Whether the Arabs of Palestine, especially the majority fellahin, regarded themselves as 'a people' or not, they had been rooted in the land of Palestine for centuries and had prior occupancy of it. The simple fact of the Palestinian Arab's native title to Palestine may not be quite as entertaining as Zionist mythology, but at the end of the day it is one of those basic moral and legal principles we reject at our peril. Upholding it means, quite simply, that Palestine was, still is, and always will be the land of the Arabs who lived there (and in some parts, against incredible odds, still do).

Returning to the rest of Fleischer's letter:

"But for those dedicated to Israel's destruction, such as Said, it is more convenient to dishonestly rewrite the slogan to pretend that the 'racist' Zionists declared Palestinians were not people. Moreover, to characterise Zionist and Israeli history on the basis of this single slogan, employed by a few Zionists for only a few years more than 100 years ago, is to indulge in the crudest form of propaganda."

Fleischer should be careful of accusing others of dishonesty. If he had any respect for its converse, he'd acknowledge that the early Zionists, whether they used the 'land without people' slogan or not, acted as if it were true:

"The fact of an overwhelming indigenous Arab majority confronted the Zionists with an imposing ethical problem, which for the most part they chose not to acknowledge. The earlier Zionist writings almost entirely ignored the Arab issue, forwarding the idea of a Jewish national revival in Palestine without regard to the reality that an exclusively Jewish state would entail the expulsion of the existing population. What reference there was to the Palestinian Arabs was generally derogatory and detached, denying their claim to the land and status as a people. The dehumanized image of the Palestinians which the Zionists developed and propagated was instrumental in displacing the moral issue and establishing an aura of legal justification around Zionist goals and activity." (The Zionist Mind: The Origins & Development of Zionist Thought, Alan R. Taylor, 1974, p 48)**

A more ethical (and therefore marginal) Zionist, Judah Magnes, speaking of Palestine's Arab population, warned in 1930 that '[t]he fact is that they are here in their overwhelming numbers in this part of the world, and whereas it may have been in accord with Israelitic needs in the time of Joshua to conquer the land and maintain their position in it with the sword, that is not in accord with the desire of plain Jews or with the long ethical tradition of Judaism..." (The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis & Reader, Arthur Hertzberg, 1997, p 449)

Another, the armchair Joshua and ideological father of today's dominant Likud strain of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, recognised the Arab claim to Palestine, but only to dismiss it by asserting (in 1937) that, although "there is no question of ousting the Arabs," they had better get used to the idea of being a minority in the coming Jewish state because their claim on Palestine "is like the claims of appetite versus the claims of starvation." (ibid, p 562)

Needless to say, those actual Joshuas who followed, the Ben-Gurions and the Begins, having the advantage of a Zionist army, trained and armed over the previous decades for the coming confrontation with Palestine's indigenous Arab majority, had no qualms whatever about "ousting the Arabs," and transforming them, in Zionist parlance, into 'absentees', a term that sits cosily with the old 'land without people' slogan.

Finally, here's a most interesting response to Fleischer, published the next day, 15 August:

"Tzvi Fleischer claims history is being dishonestly misrepresented on the basis of a 'single slogan' used by a few Zionists for only 'a few years more than 100 years ago'. In 1935, my husband (then a teenager, now deceased) spent 6 months in a training camp for German Jews being prepared to work on kibbutzim in Palestine. He was told the land of Palestine was empty except for a few nomadic Arabs down in the desert. Similar 'indoctrination' (my husband's word for the training) must have been practised on Australian Jewish youth in that period, as I've heard older Australians born and educated here reciting similar untruths. Funnily enough, another slogan I've heard recalled implicitly admits the land was already occupied and farmed: 'Yard by yard, goat by goat'." (Robyn Walton, Toorak, Vic) 

[*Segev, author of One Palestine, Complete: Jews & Arabs Under the British Mandate (2000), 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East (2006), and other books, also made the following points in Lyons' report: 1) "Demographically, the Arab population and the ultra-orthodox population in Israel are growing. What that means is that the Zionist element is becoming weaker. In Jerusalem now, in first grade, a majority of children are either Arab or ultra-orthodox. This means Israel is rapidly losing on the front of being Jewish and democratic." 2) "Israel is still trying to project the 'fiction' that the occupation of the Palestinian territories is temporary. 'It is almost 50 years on since we took the territories. The official policy of the Israeli government is a two-state solution but I don't think that the present government actually believes in a two-state solution'... Politically it was 'very clever' of Netanyahu to publicly commit to a two-state solution. 'it enabled him to play for time'..."]

[**For JMN Jeffries' commentary on Zionism's wilful blindness, see my 7/11/11 post None So Blind.]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bob Carr Rewrites Jordanian History

"Foreign Minister Bob Carr has stressed Australia's desire to see a negotiated, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Senator Carr said the need for the resumption of negotiations was 'urgent'." (Australia supports two-state solution: Carr, John Lyons, The Australian, 7/8/12) 

That is, the need to resume the world's longest-running diplomatic charade. Meanwhile, outside in the shrinking scrap of land that is supposed to host the mythical Palestinian statelet, the bulldozers roar, the olive trees burn, the bullets whine, the kids are ripped out of their beds at 2 in the morning by uniformed thugs and taken away, and the desperation mounts. But Bob and Shimon are too busy indulging in a little mutual back-scratching to notice such things:

"Senator Carr and Mr Peres emphasised the warmth of relations between Australia and Israel. They deplored the ongoing violence of the Assad regime in Syria... and noted the stresses the Syrian crisis was placing on neighbouring Jordan, which has a growing refugee problem." (ibid)

Poor little Jordan, they tut. How can the little king there cope with all those refugees?

Jordan? Refugees? Sure, Bob may be a history buff but you can't expect him to remember the time when Israel was packing Palestinian refugees off to Jordan (not to mention Lebanon and Syria too). After all, when the Israelis were busy ethnically-cleansing Palestine in 1948, Bob was less than 2 years old. And anyway, his forte, American history, is so incredibly sexy it really doesn't leave much time for the rest of the planet, especially the bits inhabited by brown people. So when Bob talks about refugee camps in Jordan, he's not talking about those who ended up there from US-occupied Iraq (remember them?), and as for those who ended up there from Israeli-occupied Palestine 6 decades ago, well they aren't even on his radar:

"I have just spent 3 days in Jordan speaking to its leadership, visiting refugee camps..." (Jordan's tolerance shines a light on rest of the world, Bob Carr, The Australian, 10/8/12)

No, no brushing up on the history of modern Jordan for Bob. There are more important things on his mind:

"... and holding discussions on interfaith dialogue and the overlap of cultures." (ibid)

But all that's just by way of introducing today's gripe. This is what really got me going:

"It was hard not to be impressed by the worldliness of a leadership that has steered the country since it gained independence in 1946. Jordan lives in a tough neighbourhood. It lost the West Bank to Israel in 1967 and withstood an attempted Palestinian coup in Black September 1970."

Typical! Those bloody Palestinians again! Not content with remaining mere stateless refugees in Jordan (because Israel doesn't do interfaith dialogue or overlapping cultures), would you believe that these ingrates actually tried to stage a coup against King Hussein in 1970!

Except that they didn't.

I mean does this sound like the opening round of a Palestinian coup to you?:

"At five minutes to five on the morning of the 17th [September 1970], [King] Hussein's army launched a full scale military operation against [Palestinian] guerilla positions in Amman. The King confidently expected it to be complete within 48 hours. Patton tanks of the 60th Armoured Brigade, supported by armoured car units, moved into the city from all sides and concentrated heavy fire on guerilla strongholds, and in particular on their bases on Jebel Hussein, and in the Wahdat and Al-Husseini refugee camps. It was the first time Jordanian armour had invaded the country's capital, and the effect was devastating: any house from which fire was directed at the advancing armour was obliterated, and the commandos responded with anti-tank and sniper fire. The people of Amman, caught helplessly in the crossfire, sought refuge in their cellars, or tried to escape to parts of the city which they believed would be safe." (Hussein: A Biography, Peter Snow, 1972, p 223) 

Remind you a bit of Syria today?

Tough neighbourhood indeed. (You really dig that cool Israeli talk, don't you Bob?) Here's how the  neighbourhood toughs experienced the massacre that came to be known as Black September:

"Amman is burning and death roams in it... The criminal whom they call king used to boast about his love for his people and tribes. He kills the women in their homes and the children in their streets. His name used to be Hussein, but brothers, his name today is Nero - the hateful madman and murderer. Amman is burning at the hands of Nero." (Voice of Palestine Radio, Damascus, 17/9/70)

Here's how the international press saw it:

a) "In almost a quarter of a century of foreign reporting, I cannot recall anything remotely similar to what I have seen in Jordan. I have witnessed inter-tribal massacres in Africa and the slow blood-letting in Vietnam. But there has been nothing like the urban devastation - both in lives and property - that Amman has suffered. And that includes Budapest, when the Russians smashed the Hungarian revolt in 1956." Arnaud de Borchgrave, Senior Editor, Newsweek, 5/10/70)

b) "For ten days and nights during the civil war in Jordan, the [Palestinian] commandos were telling me about the massacre being perpetrated by the Royal Bedouin Army. I believed them - but proof was not available. Now I have found the evidence and I was able to photograph what the Jordan government is trying to hide by various means: The wholesale liquidation of the Palestinians. The king's soldiers (Bedouin) have cut the Palestinians to pieces and stabbed them to death - men, women and children - with hatchets and knives. In the mosque square, on the steps leading into the mosque, in the mosque itself and even on the steps of the minbar (mosque platform). And in their thirst for blood, the Bedouin moved from there to the Ashrafiyah Hospital, where they snatched the wounded Palestinians from their beds and stabbed them with knives in front of the doctors. Then they forced the nurses and doctors to leave the hospital. The decisive point in all that has happened is the following: Hussein cannot behave as if the massacres did not take place and he cannot undo what has been done. Regardless of whether the number of those killed and wounded in the refugee camps is 2,000 (as the Army Command says) or 20,000 (as Arafat says), this will not have a big effect on Jordan's future. The decisive fact is that conciliation between Hussein and the Palestinians has become impossible and that the Palestinians now demand what Hussein has made possible for his Bedouin: Revenge. I hadn't advanced a few steps inside the mosque on Jabal Ashrafiyah in Amman when I felt that my feet were wet. Blood had penetrated through my canvass shoes. I had to walk over torn bodies and through dismembered heads and limbs. The atmosphere was suffocating. I wanted to go out quickly into the open air. Then I saw the child, a girl about 8 years old, laid down in front of the mosque, that holy place. The head was bashed down to the nose, and the lips were parted with the last scream of terror."(Gerd Heidemann, Stern, No 42, October 1970)

King Hussein's shabiha!

And finally, here's the view from the palace:

"It is a sad time here. But we are putting our house in order and soon it will all be organized." (Leila's Hijack War, Peter Snow & David Phillips, 1970, p 102)

Some Palestinian coup that was!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zionising the Draft Modern History Curriculum 5

ACARA's 7th dot point reads as follows:

 "The attempts to settle conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, including: the 1949 Armistace, Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), Egypt/Israeli Peace Accords (1973), Camp David Accords (1978/9) and Camp David Summit (2000), and the role of the United Nations."

ECAJ's Peter Wertheim suggests the following corrections...

"The seventh dot point refers to the 'Egyptian/Israeli Peace Accords (1973), Camp David Accords (1978/9)'. There were no 'Egypt/Israeli Peace Accords' in 1973. In fact, Egypt and Israel fought a war against each other in 1973 and eventually signed a Peace Treaty in 1979. The Camp David Accords were signed in 1978 (not 1978/9). We suggest that the necessary corrections be made."

... and adds:

"Further, in this item, which is dedicated to 'the attempts to settle conflicts between Arabs and Israelis', the entire post-1993 Oslo process has been omitted, as has the Israel-Jordan peace treaty of 1994, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority under the Interim Agreement in 1995; Palestinian elections in 1996 and 2006; the Camp David Summit in 2000, the Taba Summit in January 2001, the Road Map of 2003 and the Olmert Peace offer of 2008. We suggest that these items be added."

Since Wertheim's referencing of the various highly mythologised milestones of the so-called peace (or Oslo) process (1991/1993-?) gives scope for students to be exposed to the false idea, peddled by the Zionist propaganda mill and uncritically broadcast in the ms media a thousand times since, that the process amounts essentially to a chronicle of missed opportunities by obdurate Palestinians unwilling to compromise, students need to be reminded of the following basics:

a) The Palestinian leadership's starting point was an acceptance of a Palestinian state on just 22% of their historic homeland, ie in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a quite unbelievable concession (Edward Said saw it as a Palestinian Versailles);

b) The Israelis, on the other hand, have spent the past 20 or so years of the process arguing that the Palestinians should accept less than this 22% in order to accommodate their illegally-built settlements.

(To take but the best known and most mythologised 'peace process' milestone, the Camp David II Summit of July 2000 (often spun as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's 'generous offer') amounted to offering the  Palestinians a capital in the village of Abu Dis (not in East Jerusalem); an Israeli insistence on an 'end of conflict' declaration, neutralising UN resolutions 194 and 242; the Israeli retention of its main settlement blocs in the West Bank;  allowing other Israeli settlements to remain in the Palestinian state with the option of living under Palestinian rule until further notice; ditto for Israeli assets in the Jordan Valley. With Israeli settlements, their lands, roads and defensive areas remaining in situ, the Palestinian mini-state would have become a mere parody of itself with only around 40-50% of the West Bank under its control. (See Israeli Rejectionism: A Hidden Agenda in the Middle East Peace Process,  Zalman Amit & Daphna Levit, 2011, pp 132-135))  

c) During this period, Israel's colonization of the West Bank with thousands upon thousands of settlers has proceeded apace, giving the lie to its international posturing as an earnest seeker after peace.

d) The US, which, under one Zionised administration after another, has facilitated the process, can in no way be described as an honest broker.

e) In short, what we are dealing with here is what Henry Siegman has correctly labelled "the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history."

I'd suggest, therefore, that ACARA's dot point be amended as follows: 'The attempts to settle conflicts between Arabs and Israelis, including: UN resolutions 194 (1948) [conveniently omitted by Wertheim] and 242 (1967), the 1949 Armistace, the Egypt/Israeli Peace Accords (1978), and the US-brokered (UN-sidelined) 'peace process' (1991/1993-?).'

Further, given that the process' oft-stated goal of a viable and contiguous Palestinian mini-state has been rendered  increasingly unattainable by Israel's escalating colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories, there should be included room for discussion of a one-state solution to the 'conflict' with all that that entails for the dismantling of Israel's apartheid legislation and the transition from a 'Jewish' supremacist to a genuinely democratic state embracing both its Jewish and non-Jewish populations, including the returned Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Ba'th Party: Credit Where Credit's Due

OK...

"Wherever you go in the Middle East today, you see the Arab Spring rapidly turning into the Christian winter. The past few years have been catastrophic for the region's beleaguered 14-million strong Christian minority." (Fatal lot of Christianity's homelands: Syria faces a hardline salafist takeover, William Dalrymple, The Australian, 9/8/12)

Yes...

"Most catastrophically, in Iraq, two thirds of the Christians have fled the country since the fall of Saddam... 'Before the war there was no separation between Christian and Muslim,' I was told on a recent visit by Shamun Daawd, a liquor-store owner who fled Baghdad after he received Islamist death threats... 'Under Saddam no one asked you your religion and we used to attend each other's religious services,' he said. 'Now at least 75% of my Christian friends have fled.'" (ibid)

Hang on!

"[W]hile the regime of the Assad dynasty was a repressive one-party police state in which political freedoms were always severely and often brutally restricted, it did allow the Syrians widespread cultural and religious freedoms. These gave Syria's minorities a security and stability far greater than their counterparts anywhere else in the region. This was particularly true of Syria's ancient Christian communities. The reason for this was that the Assads were Alawite, a syncretic Shia Muslim minority regarded by Sunni Muslims as heretical..." (ibid)

So the Asads protected Syrian Christians from Syria's Sunni Muslims because the Asads are Alawi, but Saddam protected Iraqi Christians from Iraq's Sunni Muslims because he was a... Sunni?

The above contradiction is what you get when you haven't done your homework. What Dalrymple has omitted from his too-superficial argument is any reference to the role of the Ba'th Party, in both its Iraqi and Syrian forms, in combating and suppressing sectarianism (not to mention regionalism and tribalism). The Ba'thist current of Arab nationalism, whatever its other defects, has always vigorously promoted secularism.

Perhaps the best study of the Syrian Ba'th and the issue of sectarianism is Nikolaos van Dam's The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-1980 (1981):

"In the past, the Arab nationalist movement had always been interwoven with a kind of Sunni Islamism. And the Sunni Arabs, who usually played first fiddle in this movement, assigned in their Arabism such an important and central role to (Sunni) Islam, that heterodox Muslims, let alone Christians, were allotted a secondary place: 'timid subordinates' tolerated by (Sunni Arab) 'superiors'. In fact, many Sunni Arab nationalists tended to regard members of the Arabic-speaking religious minorities as 'imperfect Arabs' because they were heterodox Muslims or not Muslims at all. Equally, the religious minorities tended to suspect Arab nationalism as a disguise for unrestrained Sunni ascendancy, similar to the situation that pertained during the Ottoman Empire, the only difference being that Arab rather than Turkish Sunnis now held power.

"Ba'th ideology had a quite different basis. The Ba'th wanted a united secular Arab society with a socialist system, ie a society in which all Arabs would be equal, irrespective of their religion. This did not imply that Islam was of secondary importance to Ba'thist Arabism. In the Ba'thist view Islam consituted an essential and inseparable part of Arab national culture. Other than the Sunni variants of Arabism, however, the Ba'th considered Islam to be not so much an Arab national religion as an important Arab national cultural heritage, to which all Arabs, whether Muslim or Christians, were equal heirs apparent. In the opinion of Michel 'Aflaq, the Ba'th Party's ideologist, Christian Arabs therefore need feel in no way hindered from being Arab nationalists: 'When their nationalism awakens in them completely and they regain their original nature, the Christian Arabs will realise that Islam is their national culture with which they should satiate themselves, in order that they may understand and love it and to covet it as the most precious thing in their Arabism.'

"It was thus only natural that the Ba'th ideology appealed strongly to Arabic-speaking religious minority members who may have hoped that the Ba'th would help them to free themselves from of their minority status and the narrow social frame of their sectarian, regional and tribal ties.

"Finally, the minority members must have been attracted by the idea that the traditional Sunni-urban domination of Syrian political life might be broken by the establishment of a secular socialist political system as envisaged by the Ba'th, in which there would be no political and socio-economic discrimination against non-Sunnis or, more particularly, against members of heterodox Islamic communities." (pp 32-33)

One of the great ironies of the struggle in Syria today is that, by backing Syria's armed sectarian Sunni opposition movement, the Western powers, who once posed as the protectors of  Syria's minorities against Sunni domination (whether Ottoman or post-Ottoman), are now lending material support to their Syrian Sunni oppressors, seemingly with no regard whatever for the fate of these minorities.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

One Incredibly Dumb Idea

Where are those much maligned 'thought police' when you need them?

An odd question, I know, but it came to me when I began reading about a new Australian drama called Last Danceto be screened at this year's Melbourne International Film Festival.

The film's director, David Pulbrook, a former creator of 'cops & robbers' series for the idiot box (Homicide, for one), is quoted as saying that he had first started thinking about it 30 years ago, it being a movie that involved "putting an elderly Holocaust survivor and a young Palestinian in a room, and seeing what happened." (Hostage plot twist still under wraps, Philippa Hawker, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/12/11).

(Er, David, if you don't mind my asking, would a Holocaust survivor these days be anything other than elderly?)

Anyhow, moving along - and just so as we're clear here - I should add that the The Australian Jewish News (27/7/12) and the Brisbane Times (7/8/12), to cite but two press items on Last Dance, both describe the said young Palestinian as a 'terrorist'. Are you getting the picture?

OK, so this Pulbrook bloke once had an incredibly dumb idea in his 30s. Forgiveable, you might argue, at such a tender age. But here he is today, at the advanced age of 64 (having made zero effort to learn anything about Palestine or Palestinians, if the plethora of press reports on his film are anything to go by), turning this utter foolishness into a film!

With Pulbrook's 'brilliant' idea nagging at me, I began asking myself: what the hell was he thinking when he conceived it (if, that is, what was going on in his head at the time can be described as 'thinking')?

Let me speculate: 'If I take an elderly Holocaust survivor, a woman to boot, with the kind of past which, Hollywood tells us, confers infinite wisdom and a holiness akin to that of the saints, and put her in a room with one of those stir-crazy, fire-breathing, anti-Semitic Palestinian terrorists, again straight out of Hollywood, what's going to happen? Will he go straight for the jugular? Will there be blood on the carpet, the walls and the ceiling as well? Will the room be transformed into a makeshift Auschwitz? Will the terrorist do a strutting, goose-stepping Hitler? Or at least a smiling, moustache-twirling Haj Amin Al-Husseini?' (No, not the latter. Pulbrook wouldn't know who he was.) 

'Or will he fall under the spell of the Holy One, and beg her forgiveness for his grandparents' having once cumbered the soil of Eretz Israel before being sent packing by the heroic Zionist poet-warriors of Ben-Gurion in 1948? Will he perhaps try to make amends by volunteering to work in a Holocaust museum, or even better, embark on an 'Israel - What's Not for a Palestinian to Love?' lecture tour with Vic Alhadeff and the lovely Linda?'

OK, MERC, you may ask, aren't you jumping the gun here a little, sounding off before having seen this masterpiece? Shouldn't you maybe give it the benefit of the doubt?

Well, having dug up a thing or three about it on the net, I don't think so:

1) Our Palestinian terrorist, Sadiq, you see, was actually one of a pair who tried to blow up a synagogue (the other succeeding, our guy chickening out but wounded in the blast nevertheless). A synagogue, no less! Now how many Palestinians do you know of who've ever blown up a synagogue?

 2) As he flees from the fuzz, Sadiq finds refuge (as is only to be expected!) in the flat of a Holocaust survivor, Mrs Lippman, whereupon, noticing her obviously Jewish paraphenalia, he puts a knife to her throat and tells her he'd be happy to "rid the world of one more Jew." So forget about Israeli targets, Palestinian terrorists are apparently nowadays scouring the globe for Jewish targets. Well, I'll be damned, why has nobody told me?!

3) And you know what Mr Palestinian Terrorist's gripe is? Apparently, some Palestinian boofheads climbed up onto the roof of his house and, just for a lark, started taking pot shots at innocent Israeli bystanders (who just happened to be hanging around in army uniform and armed to the teeth), thus drawing fire from some equally innocent Israeli tanks that just happened to be sauntering by. This perfectly understandable Israeli reaction  - The first law of Palestinian/Israeli dynamics: Palestinians act - Israelis react - apparently deprived our terrorist of his family. Now being your common and garden ornery Palestinian (as opposed to our eminently rational friends, the Israelis), who does this klutz blame for the loss of his family? Why the Israelis, of course! Can you believe it? This even had the AIJAC reviewer scoffing: "... as though accidental deaths in the midst of war justified murdering Jews in Melbourne." (Film review: Last Dance, Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz, aijac.org.au, 6/8/12)

4) Now, as it happens, our Holocaust survivor, Mrs Lippman, once lived in Israel where she had a son, Ari, killed in the line of soldierly duty, presumably by Palestinian 'terrorists'. The problem here, of course, is Pulbrook's historically false linking of the Holocaust with the state of Israel, as though Israel was first and foremost conceived as a refuge for Holocaust survivors, rather than being, as is actually the case, the culmination of an aggressive process of Zionist colonization which began long before the Holocaust was even a gleam in Hitler's eye. Ah, but that'd involve Last Dance's creator in a bit of reading, wouldn't it? Perish the thought!

5) And wouldn't you know it: Mrs Lippman sees something of her dead son in Sadiq, and when he collapses from his wounds, she nurses him through the night instead of calling the police! But surely that's only to be expected from Mrs Lippman? After all, didn't that Yiddishe mama of all Yiddishe mamas, Golda Meir, once quip authoritatively: "Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us"? There you go, the second law of Palestinian/Israeli dynamics: Palestinians kill - Israelis nurture.

6) Pulbrook says the film "digs beneath the stereotypes to reveal the basic humanity of the... protagonists and transcends the tragedy of their pasts and speaks of optimism, possibilities and tolerance." And yet, by deploying the Holocaust in the way that he has, failing in any meaningful way to factor in the context of Palestinian dispossession and occupation, and falling back on the Hollywood cliche of  the Palestinians as irrationally angry, dyed-in-the-wool, anti-Semitic terrorists who wreak havoc on Israeli Jews and non-Israeli Jews alike (even those, heaven forbid, who live in faraway  Melbourne), he's built stereotypicality into the very foundations of the film.

7) Pulbrook says also that "[w]e were careful not to take sides and worked closely with Palestinian and Jewish communities to ensure a balanced point of view." With respect to working closely with members of the Palestinian community, I simply don't believe him, and challenge him to produce his alleged Palestinian consultants. That, as he also claims, he liaised closely with the Jewish Holocaust Museum and interviewed Holocaust survivors I can believe.

Finally, a word on actor Firass Dirani, who plays the Palestinian terrorist Sadiq. Granted that young Australians of Arab origin (Dirani was born here of Lebanese parents) who happen to be aspiring actors may well find it more difficult to obtain film roles than actors of Anglo-Australian background, the question still needs to be asked: what self-respecting person of Arab origin, with even a modicum of understanding of what is going on in the Middle East today, could possibly stoop to aid and abet that demeaning Hollywood stereotype, the Arab terrorist?

Quite frankly, the deracinated Dirani obviously has no idea what he's doing:

"Firass Dirani... took the role, he says, precisely because 'it scared me', and he relished the challenge of 'creating the journey of the character, and pulling it off convincingly'. Dirani, whose background is Lebanese, had to adopt a Palestinian English accent, learn Arabic phonetically, and most of all, work on the physical and psychological drama of what happens to Sadiq over a short space of time... The other challenge, he says cheerfully, is that he had to grow a beard for the first time. It took a couple of months, and it was like having a pet - 'I shampooed it, I combed it, I fed it from time to time'." (Hostage plot twist still under wraps, Philippa Hawker, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/12/11)

Nor does it appear that he even knows what a stereotype is:

When asked if he worried about being stereotyped playing violent, Middle Eastern characters, Dirani answered: "You've got to outperform the stereotype and maybe they'll give you a chance to spread your wings." (Firass Dirani aims to make killing in Hollywood, Herald Sun, 13/2/12)

Outperform the stereotype?! Have you ever heard such nonsense?

Finally, as if the thought of Last Dance packing them into Australia's cinemas isn't galling enough, add the fact that Award-winning director Julian Schnabel's powerful exploration of the Palestinian tragedy, Miral (2010), has to date been totally ignored by Australian distributors.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zionising the Draft Modern History Curriculum 4

ACARA's 4th and 5th dot points have been spared Wertheim's criticism:

*The significance of the Iranian Revolution for relations within the Middle East and with the West

*Reasons for, and consequences of, other conflicts in the Middle East, with particular reference to the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran/Iraq War, and the Gulf Wars I (1990-1991) and II (2003)

But not the 6th:

*The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East.

I would amend this as follows: The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East and seeking a measure of justice for the dispossessed Palestinian people.

Wertheim, of course, will have none of this, seeing the Arab League as merely another impediment on the road to Israel's normalization in the region:

"The sixth dot point refers to 'The role of the Arab League in establishing peaceful cooperation among the nations of the Middle East'. This suggests that the role of the Arab League has always been a positive one. In fact, for many decades the Arab League led a primary and secondary boycott campaign against Israel (which technically remains extant) and committed its members to maintaining a state of war with Israel. We would suggest that the dot point be amended to read: An assessment of the role played by the League of Arab States as a regional organisation in the Middle East."

A key feature of Zionist propaganda, of course, is its hypocrisy, the Zionist movement happily deploying the boycott tactic to further its interests when required. For example, the Zionist leadership of Palestine's colons advocated and enforced the boycott of non-Jewish labour during the period of the British mandate. And more recently, we have the ongoing spectacle of Israel's crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip.

As for the Arab League's primary and secondary boycott of Israel, correctly imposed in response to the Palestinian Nakba over 60 years ago, this was indeed a positive strategy, as was the League's adoption of the famous 3 No's (no peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel) of the Khartoum summit in the wake of Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, the boycott is now a shadow of its former itself, as is the Khartoum Resolution, dealt a catastrophic blow by Egypt's President Sadat in 1979 when he broke Arab ranks and made peace with Israel.*

As Egypt's most famous journalist, Mohamed Heikal wrote in 1983:

"Egypt's opting out had a centrifugal effect on all other Arab countries, diverting their attention from what had for long been the dream of unity - however imperfectly understood or pursued, yet a noble and stimulating dream - into barren territorial rivalries, religious conflicts and social strife. The Arab world had become well and truly balkanized. No contrast could be greater than the increased practical support by all Arab governments for the Palestinians in general, and for the PLO in particular, during the 1960s and 1970s, and the reluctant agreement by these same governments in the summer of 1982, under American pressure, to receive some of these same Palestinians, after they had fought the Israeli army for nearly 3 months without support, as permanent and unwanted exiles. On foreign insistence the Arabs were dismantling all they had tried for the past generation to achieve. Nor is the Palestinian cause the only one to suffer by Egypt's defection. The Arab League, removed from Cairo to the periphery of the Arab world in Tunis, has lost most of its former authority; the Organization of African States and the non-aligned movement are shadows of what they once were. Under Nasser the 3 circles of which he saw Egypt as the centre - Arab, Islamic and African - had a reality; Sadat made Egypt the centre of nowhere." (Autumn of Fury: The Assassination of Sadat, Mohamed Heikal, 1983, p 285) 

[*See my 15/2/09 post A Likud Peace.]

To be continued...