Wednesday, October 31, 2012

More to the Fall of Rudd Than Meets Maxine's Eye

With the publication of Maxine McKew's new book, Tales from the Political Trenches, the controversial ousting of Kevin Rudd from the prime ministership in June 2010 is once more in the spotlight. McKew's thesis is that the current PM, Julia Gillard, despite claiming that she was a loyal deputy to Rudd till the very day she asked him for a leadership ballot, was as involved in the plot to oust him as the so-called faceless men  (Mark Arbib, Karl Bitar, Bill Shorten, David Feeney, Don Farrell and Paul Howes) who have hitherto received the lion's share of the blame. (See Gillard was a disloyal deputy, says McKew, Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/10/12).

We are of course familiar with the story that Gillard and the 'faceless' ones were hawking internal Labor research critical of Rudd in the days before the challenge, research which Gillard later claimed she couldn't recall. And we're also familiar with the fact that Gillard's staff had prepared an acceptance speech for her in the event she won the prime ministership two weeks before the coup, a speech Gillard claimed wasn't written at her her direction.

I can't help wondering, however, to what extent (if any) commentators and researchers on the subject of the coup have bothered to consult the relevant WikiLeaks cables emanating from the US embassy in Canberra. 

Take WikiLeaks cable 1074 of 6/10/09, for example, the subject heading for which is GILLARD: ON TRACK TO BECOME AUSTRALIA'S NEXT PRIME MINISTER.

Go to paragraph 11 and you'll see this particular sentence:

"Don Farrell, the right-wing union powerbroker from South Australia told us Gillard is 'campaigning for the leadership' and at this point is front-runner to succeed Rudd..."

And then this:

"Several Rudd confidantes have told us that Rudd appreciates Gillard and sees her as a possible PM, but that he wants to avoid anointing her to head off a possible leadership challenge when his poll numbers inevitably sag."

And finally this:

"[A]nother Rudd advisor told us that while the PM respects Gillard, his reluctance to share power will eventually lead to a falling out, while Gillard will not want to acquiesce in creating potential rivals.

As interesting as these are, however,  they're still not the most interesting aspect of cable 1074. As I've already noted in other posts on WikiLeaks cables relating to Australia, particularly in numbers 4, 5 and 7 of my WikiLeaks series (just click on the label below), the more interesting aspect of these US embassy cables is the extraordinary prominence they accord to a small country not only many thousands of kilometres distance from these shores but from those of the United States as well.

To return to cable 1074. Consider its format. It has 11 paragraphs, each with its own heading.

Spot, if you will, the odd one out: 1: Summary; 2: The Gang of Four; 3: A Good Listener with an Even Disposition; 4: A Star at Question Time; 5-6: A Left-Winger Now a Pragmatist; 7: Pro-Israel; 8-9: Labor Reform Passes; 10: The Education Revolution; 11: The Front Runner.

That's right, paragraph 7, Pro-Israel. While one can readily understand an interest on the part of those responsible for the cable in whether or not the then rising star of Australian politics, Julia Gillard, was pro- or anti-American, the burning question, surely, is: Why should whether Gillard is pro- or anti-Israel matter any more than whether she's pro- or anti-Bulgaria?

Now consider the contents of paragraph 7:

"Gillard has thrown off the baggage of being from what one analyst called the 'notoriously anti-Israel faction' of the ALP. As acting Prime Minister in late December 2008, Gillard was responsible for negotiating the Government's position on Israel's incursion into Gaza. Left-wing ALP MPs, a group to which Gillard used to belong, wanted her to take a harder line against Israel. Instead, she said Hamas had broken the ceasefire first by attacking Israel - a stance welcomed by Israel's supporters in Australia. MP Michael Danby, one of two Jewish members of Parliament and a strong supporter of Israel, told us that after the Gaza statement he had a new appreciation of Gillard's leadership within the ALP. Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem told us that Gillard has gone out of her way to build a relationship with Israel and that she asked him to arrange an early opportunity to visit. He will accompany Gillard and a delegation of Australian officials (including newly-appointed Minister Mark Arbib and Liberal Party heavyweights former Treasurer Peter Costello and Chris Pyne, Manager of Opposition Business in the House) to a meeting of the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum later this month."

It is interesting to speculate what the author(s) of this cable would have written if Gillard had been a) critical of Israel's barbarity in Gaza, (b) had not impressed Michael Danby, and (c) had not thrown herself at the Israeli ambassador. Perhaps Rudd would still be prime minister. Maybe serious analysts of the Rudd prime ministership and the circumstances of its demise should be asking themselves the following questions:

1) To what extent was the issue of uncritical support for Israel a factor in Rudd's fall?
2) Why should this issue have played any role at all in it?
3) Why has the ms media thus far avoided this issue?

And before anyone out there dismisses such questions as fanciful, in addition to the aforementioned WikiLeaks posts, please read my two posts The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy (22/6/10) and Julia Irwin Spills the Beans (11/8/10).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Favourite Extraterrestrials

My God the Sunday papers are a mine of information. For example, until this Sunday past I had no idea just how many extraterrestrials were to be found among us in politics and the media. This revelation was triggered by the following item in Murdoch's Sunday Telegraph:

"The Greens are facing a return to political obscurity following election backlashes across the country, but rather than devise a strategy to win back disillusioned voters, NSW Greens MPs have decided to turn their attention to alien life forms. Despite losing 3 of their 4 seats in last weekend's ACT elections and suffering a swing of almost 5% against them - the Greens spent last Monday discussing how they could describe their party to extraterrestrials. A copy of the NSW planning day agenda obtained by The Sunday Telegraph reveals Greens MPs were instructed to imagine they were talking to aliens to outline their policies... The revelations of the bizarre planning day come as political analysts predict the party will return to the electoral wilderness..." (Earth to Greens, Barclay Crawford, 28/10/12) 

'Hm... political analysts? Such as?' I wondered, before ploughing on and running smack into this sentence:

"While University of Western Sydney political scientist David Burchell said the party would not vanish like the Democrats, he said support would continue to fade... " (ibid)

David Burchell said the party would vanish like the Democrats?

What is it with David Burchell and vanishing? Before he vanished from the opinion pages of The Australian last year, David couldn't pen a column without deploying his signature simile, 'vanishing like a wraith'. (See my 25/4/11 post Spooky.)

And now here he is again, back in Murdoch fishwrap, with that verb, but alas, not its wonderful companion, 'like a wraith'! So what's going on? Why has 'like a wraith' simply vanished... like a wraith?

Anyhow, by now I had extraterrestrials firmly on the brain, and David, I decided, just had to be one of my favourites.

And after that, they just kept coming:

"Liberal upper house MP Peter Phelps said: 'This is a party that wants to have imaginary discussions with aliens. They are not fit for government." (ibid)

If you've forgotten PP, he's the one who, whilst on a rambamming to Israel, memorably tweeted that, as he was taking a Gandalf at Gaza, he felt like Frodo gazing upon Mordor. (Not quite in the loop? See my 20/8/12 post Frodos Gaze Upon Mordor.)

Peter, who was recently caned by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell for his somewhat uninhibited tweets (See my 3/9/12 post Biting the Hand), apart from odd lapses such as imagining himself as a character in a Tolkien novel, actually prefers real discussions about serious matters. Like dogs ... For example, here's a motion - if you'll excuse the word - PP moved in the Legislative Council last month:

"1. That this house notes with condolence the passing of Monty, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's beloved corgi, at the Scottish Royal residence of Balmoral, at the age of 91 dog years. 2. That this House recognises the rich life of Monty, who featured in the Olympic opening ceremony and was a direct descendant of Susan, Her Majesty's first corgi. 3. That this House extends its deepest sympathy to Her Majesty on the passing of Monty, and wishes the best for her remaining corgis, Candy and Vulcan." (Doggone crazy! Peter FitzSimons, The Sun-Herald, 23/9/12)

Yes, Peter's definitely one of my favourite extraterrestrials.

And here's another. No, not Maxine, the other:

"McKew has one defining memory of the entrenched sexism of politics, when she was offered a safe Labor seat in NSW some years before she took the leap. She was discussing it with Eric Roozendaal, then state secretary of the ALP. 'I remember vividly, I was in his office and he said, 'You have to understand, Maxine, if we do this, who would own you? Us or your hubby?' And I couldn't wait to get to the lift quick enough...'" (From a 'small, sad girl' to chaos in the corridors of power, Neil McMahon, The Sun-Herald, 28/10/12)

Ah, Eric! Who could ever forget lines such as: "I do not see the BDS campaigning outside a Syrian kebab shop"? Now just how out of this world is that? (See my 14/11/11 post Witches Brew 7.)

Finally, here's the last (for now) of my favourite extraterrestrials:

"Kevin Rudd has penned his own account about the 'betrayal' of being dumped as prime minister and his secret offer to deliver Julia Gillard the leadership... In his written account of the coup, Mr Rudd writes that the ambush was made worse by the fact that he backed Ms Gillard's ambitions. 'I was married to a strong woman, I was the son of one and I was the father of one,' Mr Rudd writes. 'And I too wanted to see a female prime minister. So given all that, I was stunned when the coup occurred. 'Did I feel let down and indeed betrayed? Well of course. I am as human as the next person.' " (Rudd has new view of knifing, Sam Maiden, Sunday Telegraph, 28/10/12)

Er, Kevin, I wouldn't be too sure about that, mate.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hm, Hasmi... Harakat... Hamas...

... I think we may be on to something here, inspector.

Last night's SBS Television's World News was the occasion for a brief outburst of hilarity in this household.

Hot on the heels of the prime minister discoursing earnestly on her new 'Australia in the Asian Century' white paper (which highlighted the need for Australians to learn one of the major Asian languages) came a report on the foiling by Indonesian police of a new "terror plot" aimed at the US embassy in Jakarta.

There was SBS reporter Marion Ives busy telling us that "Indonesian authorities say a new militant group called Hasmi is behind the plot," when the report cut suddenly to an unidentified, shaven-headed, forty-something Australian male (presumably a spokesman for the Australian Federal Police or ASIO, or one of their proliferating band of counterterrorism 'experts') discoursing earnestly on the ideological intricacies of the alleged Hasmi plot. Caught in mid-sentence, this genius was recorded saying:

"... and the attacks it was about to carry out are believed to be the first ones it had organised. It's almost certainly a successor organisation to Gema [his pronunciation] Islamiyah and similar groups which have a long history in Indonesia. The other is that the first part of its name is Harakat and that is a name of a number of militant Islamic organisations including Hamas, Al-Shabaab..."

Ergo, Hasmi must be directly related to Hamas. Not!

Allow me to explain. 'Haraka' is simply the Arabic word for 'movement', as in 'political movement'. It has no religious connotations whatever. Hamas' official name in Arabic is thus 'harakat al-muqawama al-islamiya' (Islamic Resistance Movement). Likewise, Hamas' secular Palestinian rival, Fatah's official name is 'harakat at-tahrir al-watani al-filastiniya' (Palestinian National Liberation Movement).

It's precisely this kind of cluelessness that has me wondering yet again about our bloated security apparatus, which is based on legislation which, according to the Law Council of Australia, is "contrary to the most fundamental principles of our criminal justice system,"* and costs us over a billion dollars annually. (See my posts Beautiful Sets of Figures (31/1/12) and Behind the ASIO Assessment (23/11/10).)

[*Terrorist laws 'go too far', Harriet Alexander, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/10/12.]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Match Made in Hell

It seems only yesterday that The Australian's foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan was adamant that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was no more right-wing than Malcolm Fraser:

"[Benjamin] Netanyahu, not least in the Australian media, is almost always called 'hardline right-wing'. This would be the equivalent of calling the government of John Howard or Malcolm Fraser hardline right-wing... Netanyahu leads the Likud Party, which has been Israel's centre-right party for decades... It would be much more honest to label Netanyahu's Government centre-right. This question of language is of the first order of importance. The ancient Chinese sage Confucius, when asked what would be the main political reform he would carry out if he achieved state power, replied: 'It would certainly be to rectify the names.' Israel's enemies, heirs to ancient anti-Semitism, are on a relentless quest to delegitimise and demonise it at every point. Mislabelling a democratic government of mainstream, democratic politicians as hardline right-wing is an important part of that quest." (Israeli leaders mislabelled by foes, 9/4/09) [See my 15/4/09 post Selling Lieberman.]

And that was despite Netanyahu's Likud being in coalition with Moldovan bouncer Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu Party, which advocates loyalty oaths and army service for Palestinian Israelis and transferring some of their towns to the Palestinian Authority. At the time Sheridan had gone on to assure us that: "It is fair to say [Lieberman] is to the right of Netanyahu but not fair to say he is an extremist." (ibid)

Now that Netanyahu and Lieberman have tired of living in sin and decided to tie the knot, however, the Netanyahu government has taken on a whole new complexion, much as Dr Jekyll took on a whole new complexion when he turned unambiguously into Mr Hyde before embarking on a nocturnal killing spree:

"Whatever pretense the Likud Party still had as the 'moderate right,' at least by Israel's standards, vanished in a flash yesterday with the announcement of the joint Likud-Beiteinu list in the upcoming election. Hawkish Netanyahu at number one, and super-hawk Avigdor Lieberman at number two, the party is well and truly Israel's War Party... Lieberman's political career has centered around the twin goals of making people swear loyalty oaths and attacking Iran. Netanyahu's last few months in office have been defined almost entirely by a single-minded determination to start a war with Iran at any cost." (Israel's super-hawk merger makes Iran war the election's central issue, Jason Ditz,, 26/10/12)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Reading about the new Australian film Last Dance in the lead-up to its first showing at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August provoked me into taking a swipe at it in my post, One Incredibly Dumb Idea (11/8/12).

Well, now that it's regrettably been given oxygen by a feature in The Australian in its issue of 24 October (prior to general release on November 1), it's time for another. (I won't tire you by revisiting the film's basics - please read my earlier post if you're not already in the know. Just click on the 'Anti-Arab racism' label below.)

A number of things in particular in the Australian's feature/promo got me going:

First there was the headline, Prejudice melts as worlds collide, and its matching paragraph:

"She [elderly Holocaust survivor and mother of deceased Israeli soldier] nurses him [failed but wounded Palestinian suicide bomber] back from the edge of death; he begins to accept that the world is bigger than the deadly prejudices that colour it; and gradually each opens up to the other's stories."

Get it? What motivates Palestinians is simply prejudice - they just hate Jews. Not dispossession, not ethnic cleansing, not occupation, not a stolen homeland - no, that's all too boring - just your common and garden anti-Semitism. Jeeesus!

Then there's the intensely irritating pose in the accompanying photograph (which also includes co-star Julia Blake) struck by Firass (I'm too sexy for my shirt) Dirani. Jeeesus!!

Finally, there's Dirani's lame 'understanding' of the Palestinian issue:

"I think for Sadiq [Dirani's character], if you stripped everything away from what you have now - your life, your language, your wealth - and you lived in a desolate place like Palestine, and your family gets taken from you, then what are you capable of?' Dirani muses. 'You might get manipulated by a particular organisation to act in an extreme manner. But what are you capable of?'" Jeeesus!!!

(Nor BTW is Blake's any better: "Blake is clear on this point, saying: 'People are capable of anything when they're left in a position of no hope. And I think that's what's happened to the Palestinians. They have very little hope left.'" If Palestinians are left in a position of no hope, Ms Blake, it's because not only are they the victims of an immense, ongoing historical injustice but because they're constantly being misrepresented and demonised in the West by trashy films like Last Dance.) 

Interested to see what the reviewers were making of the film, I scanned a few reviews.

There was this: "[G]rapples intelligently with a hot-button international issue." (Last Dance: Melbourne review, Megan Lehman,, 22/8/12) Jeeesus!!!!

But also, praise the Lord, this: "[T]aking a situation as complex as this and reducing it to a story about the way we'd all like people to behave doesn't wash. It results in a humanist fantasy." (In final stages, Lynden Barber,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Apartheid Israelis

"Many readers were surprised, as I was, to read a headline in The Weekend Australian: Living under the cloud of Israel's cruel apartheid. The headline did an injustice to the story, which only used the word apartheid in reporting the comments of one person who was interviewed. The editor of this august journal has confirmed to me that the headline was a mistake, the sort that creeps into newspapers where staff are always battling the pressure of deadlines. The Australian believes, and certainly I personally believe, the word apartheid has no application to Israel, which is a democracy in good standing, which extends basic rights to all its citizens, whatever their race or creed. Too often the misuse of such a word is designed to demonise Israel, wholly unjustly. In this case, it was just a mistake." (Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian, writing in an addendum to his column EU piggies won't go to market, 10/5/12)*

A just-released Israeli survey based on a sample of 503 interviews, commissioned by the New Israel Fund's Yisraela Goldblum Fund and conducted by the Dialog organisation based at Tel Aviv University, has found that:

Most Israeli Jews support the establishment of an apartheid regime in Israel if it formally annexes the West Bank

74% of Israeli Jews favour separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.
69% object to giving Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.
38% want Israel to annex the Palestinian territories with settlements on them. (48% object)

A majority of Israeli Jews explicitly favours discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens:

59% of Israeli Jews want preference for Jews over Israeli Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries.
58% believe Israel practices apartheid against Arabs.
49% want the state to treat Jewish Israelis better than Arab Israelis.
47% want part of Israel's Arab population transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
42% don't want to live in the same building with Arab Israelis or have their children in the same class with Arab Israeli children.
36% support some transferring some Israeli Arab towns from Israel to the PA in exchange for keeping some West Bank settlements.
33% want a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset.

NB: Anti-Arab views were most extreme among ultra-Orthodox Jews, and least extreme among secular Israelis. Source: Israel's dark reality: majority support apartheid, according to new study, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 23/10/12)

[*For the full story of the headline that got away, see my 11/5/12 post Magic Happens and the accompanying list of posts which relate to it. (It's as easy as clicking on the Israeli apartheid label below.) Needless to say this poll wasn't reported in The Australian. A report on it by Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard, however, appeared in both the Sydney Morning Herald (Poll finds Jewish Israeli support for segregation, 25/10/12) and The Age.]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Official: Planet America Revolves Around Israel

Scientifically speaking, we live in a post-Copernican era. That is, we acknowledge that Planet Earth revolves around the Sun.

However, where US foreign policy is concerned, we live in a pre-Copernican era. That is we still think that Planet Israel revolves around America.

Not so! It's actually the other way around: Planet America revolves around Israel.

Still not persuaded?

Here are the relevant clinchers (and a few other gems I took a shine to) from the third foreign policy debate between Barack (Israel is a true friend) Obama and Mitt (We have Israel's back) Romney:

MR: "[T]he greatest threat of all is Iran..."

Channelling Bibi.

MR: "My strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys..."

Not to mention the Lone Ranger.

MR: "Russia... is a geopolitical foe... [it] does continue to battle us in the UN time and time again."

How dare the Russians disagree with us!

BO: "[We've got to] make sure that [Middle East] countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts... make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel's security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region."

The Arabs must stand by our interests in Israel's security? Sort of love me, love my dog.

BO: "And so everything we're doing, we're doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria..."

In consultation? Don't bullshit us, Barry, you're just following orders.

MR: "Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea. It's the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel. And so seeing Syria remove Assad is a very high priority for us."

I can't find Iran on a map of the Middle East but, hey, anything for Israel, OK?

MR: "We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies, and particularly with - with Israel."

We coordinate? Don't bullshit us, Mitt, you're just following orders.

BO: "And we are making sure that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term and friends of our allies in the region over the long term."

Listen up, Ay-rabs: Israel... what's not to love?

BO: "They have to abide by their treaty with Israel. This is a red line with us, because not only is Israel's security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels."

Listen up, Gyppos, tear up your treaty with Israel and we'll screw you good!

MR: "We have to also stand by our allies. I - I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate.

It's all your fault, Barry!

BO: "[O]ur alliances have never been stronger, in Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel, where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat."

Israel as continent.

BO: "We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined: China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it."

'Cos we gotta look after Israel, OK?

BO: "First of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I've made that clear throughout my presidency."

And if Israel attacks, we'll stand with it too!

BO: "I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we'll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week. But to the issue of Iran, as long as I'm president of the United States Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. I made that clear when I came into office. We then organized the strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history, and it is crippling their economy. Their currency has dropped 80%. Their oil production has plunged to the lowest level since they were fighting a war with Iraq 20 years ago. So their economy is in a shambles. And the reason we did this was because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security, and it is a threat to Israel's national security."

Whose economy is in a shambles?

BO: "[T]hey have said they want to see Israel wiped off the map."

Seriously now...

MR: "Well... I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I'm President of the United States, when I'm President of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That's number one."

Anatomically impossible. How can you have Israel's back if you're joined at the hip?

MR: "[C]rippling sanctions are something I called for 5 years ago, when I was in Israel... I laid out 7 steps, crippling sanctions were number one... Number two... is I would tighten those sanctions... Secondly, I'd take on diplomatic isolation efforts. I'd make sure that Ahmadinejad is indicted under the Genocide Convention. His words amount to genocide incitation. I would indict him for it. I would also make sure their diplomats are treated like the pariah they are around the world. The same way we treated the apartheid diplomats of South Africa."

There's nothing I wouldn't do for Israel!

BO: "The clock is ticking. We're not going to allow Iran to perpetually engage in negotiations that lead nowhere. And I've been very clear to them. You know, because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a range of countries, including Israel..."

A range of countries... including Israel. LOL

MR: "I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel [the Iranians] noticed that..."

What'd I say? Joined at the hip.

MR: "Mr President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and to Iraq. And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region..."

Just who do you think you are, Barry? President?

BO: "If we're going to talk about trips that we've taken - when I was a candidate for office, first trip I took was to visit our troops. And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn't take donors. I didn't attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Beshef (ph), the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable. And then I went down to the border towns of Storok (ph), which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me there where missiles had come down near their children's bedrooms. And I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids. Which is why as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles."

An American president's gotta do what an American president's gotta do!

MR: "Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel, is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way, or their fighters are on the way. That is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before that kind of - "

Famous last words...

PS 26/10/12: Incredibly, but typically, the SMH editorialist (An America where being reasonable is audacious), writing in yesterday's issue on the final debate, simply DID NOT NOTICE that it was ALL  ABOUT ISRAEL. Nor did its cartoonist, Moir, whose lame comment, in effect, was simply that Romney had emerged the worst for wear.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Very Shadow of a Shadow of a Shade

Next time you hear Julia Gillard or any other Western politician droning on about a two-state solution to the Palestine problem, it's worth casting your mind back to the very first two-state proposal for Palestine, that of Britain's 1937 Peel Commission, which proposed dividing the restive territory,  25 - 75%, into a Jewish and an Arab state. (It was of course vehemently rejected by the Palestinian Arab leadership - after all it was their country - and more cautiously by the Zionist leadership, who have only ever paid lip service to the idea of lines on a map.)

The stark fact these days, taking the much trumpeted two-state solution seriously for the moment, is that  the Palestinians can expect far less than what the Zionist immigrants of the 1920s and 30s were offered by the Peel partition plan. The question arises, therefore, as to why any self-respecting Palestinian today should take the notion of a Palestinian micro-state seriously.

The following description of what a Jewish micro-state in Palestine may have looked like in 1937, had it ever come into being, was recorded by former Palestine policeman and author Douglas V Duff in his 1938 travel memoir, Poor Knight's Saddle. On a visit there in 1937, he asked the Deputy High Priest of the Samaritans in Nablus the following question:

"'Eminence... will you be good enough to say what you think of this scheme of dividing Palestine between Briton, Jew and Arab.'"

The following conversation (with Duff referring  to himself as "the Scribe") ensued:

"'Do you wish for my opinion as a priest, or as a man who knows Palestine,' he demanded with a twinkle in his deep-set eyes. 'If you want me to speak as a priest, I must refuse, for my people must be considered when we speak as the mouthpiece of Israel.'

"Then as an intelligent man who knows all that there is to be known of this vexed matter,' said the Scribe.

"Well, speaking as an ordinary man, voicing my own personal opinion, I doubt whether this scheme will be very attractive to the Zionist Jews. Why should it? They are being asked to give up the very substantial things which they have won during the past few years, and to exchange for them the very shadow of a shade.

"'This State that is offered them will be sovereign only in name. It will have no rights except on paper. The British will always be there, behind the scenes, with Treaty rights to use their roads, their railways, and the air above their fields. They will have the right to maintain garrisons within the boundaries of the Jewish State. There will be islands of British land in the very middle of the State, at Nazareth and along the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The State will be cut across by the Jaffa-Jerusalem corridor. They are not to have Jerusalem, not even the New City which is entirely theirs, and, to add to the difficulties,, there is to be a free, sovereign and independent Arab City, Jaffa, right on the doorstep of Tel Aviv, their biggest city. I say, honestly, that the Zionists will be mad if they agree to accept so foolish a suggestion. They are not mad, Effendi, they are very capable, honest men, firm in their belief that they are merely the trustees for the generation that will come after them. No, this crazy proposal of your legislators will never do, it cannot be accepted." (pp 117-118)

Uncannily familiar, isn't it?

Now if, as His Eminence averred, the Zionists would have been crazy to accept such a crazy proposal, how much crazier would Mahmoud Abbas's mob be to accept the even crazier proposal - the very shadow of a shadow of a shade if you will - now being dangled before them?

Roll on the one-state solution.

The Summer of Muslim Discontent 7: Conclusion

Concluding an Arab Spring update from James Petras' latest (21/9/12) essay...

"Faced with a sharp and militant backlash to its ongoing counter-revolutionary offensive in the Muslim world, Washington is demanding that its 'new' Muslim client regimes increase 'security' by strengthening the police state apparatus and cracking down on on mass protest movements. Washington is once again on the defensive.

"In the first phase of the revolutionary process, dubbed the 'Arab Spring', Washington and its EU allies were caught by surprise and severely challenged by the mass pro-democracy movements which overthrew or threatened their client rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere. 

"In the second, counter-revolutionary phase, Washington and its allies sought to countermand, halt and reverse the popular pro-democracy movements through alliances with malleable Islamic leaders in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, launching and escalating armed rebellions by Islamic extremists in Libya and Syria, and buttressing the despotic royalist regimes of the Gulf. The restoration of neo-colonial client regimes by the US and the EU, however, soon revealed its fragile foundations, the various fraudulent 'transitions' producing servile rulers incapable of and unwilling to address the socio-economic demands of the pro-democracy movements.

"The third, current, phase of the struggle presents us with a far more complex scenario than the earlier binary conflict of dictatorship vs democracy. We see conflicts between neo-liberal Islamists in power and secular and Islamic trade unionists (Egypt); poor fundamentalist Islamists fighting for the US (Syria), and against it (Libya); and secular (Syria) and Islamic (Iran) regimes joining forces against Western-backed Islamic mercenaries and threats from Israel.

"The Islamic terrain of these struggles reflects a discrediting and decimation of secular rulers and civil society organizations. Religion has become the refuge, the cloak, and the war cry of the dispossessed and the propertied classes.

"A careful study of the two decades of US and EU wars in the Muslim world finds little evidence of corporate oil interests in their conduct. They are rather imperial-military wars. Everywhere we look we see the large-scale destruction of the means of production, the massive dis-accumulation of capital, and the massive displacement of the millions of workers, scientists and engineers who produce the wealth of the area. What investors are going to make large-scale, long-term investments in places like Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria or Libya when their lives and property are in danger from warring ethno-religious bands armed and trained by US Special Forces? Nor do big investors find countries ruled by corrupt, servile, and unpopular US/EU client regimes an attractive proposition. Investors see in Iraq only 10 lost years and billions in oil profits down the drain. The US did not go to war for oil in Iraq as some benighted leftist pundits claim.

"Military imperialism has led to ruin and rule, followed by ruin and run. The only, and the obvious, beneficiary of these Western wars on Muslim countries has been the Jewish state of Israel whose billionaire political influentials and political acolytes in the Pentagon, Treasury, National Security Council, Congress and the mass media designed and promoted these wars. Most recently, they have promoted the US counter-attack which has turned the 'Arab Spring' into a 'Muslim Winter of Discontent'.

"There will be no end to these wars as long as Israel claims supremacy in the Arab world. The US is, and will remain, in permanent war with the Muslim world as long as its foreign policy and political structures are influenced by the Israeli power configuration.

"No previous empire has sustained such huge financial losses and gained so little in economic rewards or destroyed so many countries without establishing a single, viable, productive colonial or neo-colonial regime as the US empire. So to read or hear from most of our prominent journalists that the recent massive, widespread and violent Muslim protests against the symbols and substance of US imperial power are all about an 'amateur film defaming the Prophet' boggles the mind. The pundits ignore the fact that mass unrest and anti-imperial assaults preceded and will follow this kind of film. Given the massive round-up and detention of thousands of innocent Muslim immigrants by uber-Zionist and GW Bush Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff; the FBI surveillance and infiltration of hundreds of mosques; the Zionist-sponsored, rabble-rousing campaign in New York City against a cultural center and the purge of a Muslim educator; the rabid, weekly anti-Muslim, Christian-Zionist rants to 40 million US followers; the AIPAC-promoted US Treasury appointments and subsequent imposition of sanctions against independent Muslim countries, Muslims have a solid basis for believing that Islamophobia is embedded in US culture. And no thinking Muslim anywhere in the world believes that the film was an aberration, since Hollywood's pro-Israel film and television moguls have always demonized and caricatured Muslims, portraying them as either worthless playboy sheikhs or bloody villains.

"Obama's despatch of Marines and warships to defend US missions merely reinforces the image and reality that the US presence in the Muslim world is based on nothing more than force of arms. Nor are there any signs of critical reflection in US political circles on the larger cultural and political issues involved at home and abroad which arouse the passion and rage now spreading to 20 Muslim nations and beyond.

"Islamophobia is not simply the bad attitude of an extremist and marginalized American minority. It is part and parcel of policies which have involved the US in large-scale, ongoing wars in a dozen Muslim nations, in policing millions of US Muslims, and in arming a Jewish state which uproots Palestinians and threatens to bomb 75 million Iranian Muslims."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Summer of Muslim Discontent 6: Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan

Continuing an Arab Spring update from James Petras' latest (21/9/12) essay...

"Massive and violent protests against the US embassy have taken place in Somalia and Sudan. Washington has been heavily involved, militarily, in Somalia for over 2 decades, moving from an initial failed military occupation to the financing of African military surrogates, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It has also engaged in drone warfare. As a result of this intervention, Somalia is a divided, destroyed and destitute country, where piracy flourishes and three quarters of the population are refugees. The 'film protests' are merely the tip of an ongoing war of national liberation pitting radical Islamists against Western-backed surrogates and the 'moderate' Muslim puppet regime of Sharif Sheik Ahmad.

"Sudan was the site of a massive protest and violent attacks on the US and European embassies. The ruling elite, subjected to US and EU sanctions and a Washington/Tel Aviv-funded armed separatist movement in the oil-rich south, was forced to sign off on an accord which cut its oil revenues by 80%. As a result of its appeasement of the Western-backed separatist surrogate, living standards in Khartoum have plunged, inflation is rife, unemployment is on the rise and the regime has turned its guns from the separatists to its own people. The attacks on the US embassy, therefore, have more to do with the division of the country and its impoverishment than with 'the film' itself. At most the latter served as a trigger igniting a profound frustration with a regime which had once upheld the national integrity of the country but of late has sacrificed its natural wealth to curry favour with Washington.

"Pakistan was the site of mass popular protests in both its urban centres and in its north-western periphery. Embassy attacks and flag-burnings reflected an ongoing and deepening resentment against over a decade of US ground and aerial intrusions, violating Pakistani sovereignty. The drone bombing of dozens of 'tribal villages' has aroused the rage of millions. The US war against Islamic strongholds, its armed intrusion to capture bin Laden and its billion dollar funding of massive Pakistani military sweeps has led to thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. Pakistan is a country seething with anger and deep hostility to anything associated with the US. The film merely fed into this cauldron of growing militant, religious and nationalist discontent. For the convicted felon, pro-US President Asif Ali Zardari, the protests have no credibility whatever: he is simply marking time before he is ousted. 

"Lesser protests against 'the film' took place in Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria and elsewhere where the US has been less ubiquitous in its interference in the political and military order.

"The size, scope and violence of the 'film protests' correlate highly with the depth of destruction and destitution brought about by direct US military and political intervention."

Next post in the series: Conclusion...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fearless Opinion at the Herald

Just look at this mealy-mouthed nonsense from Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald editorial about Australia's successful bid to win a seat on the UN Security Council:

"[T]he campaign has already helped dispel some of the outdated stereotypes of Australia through its exchange of visits between leaders and opinion makers... One stereotype is that we automatically fall into line with the US, particularly on Middle East issues, often only in the company of dependent micro-states such as Palau... The empirical evidence of our voting patterns may support these notions but Australian delegates also sit through tirades by Iran and others, without joining US walkouts." (Our two years at the top table of nations)

1) So where's the stereotype if "empirical evidence of our voting patterns" suggests otherwise?

2) While we may or may not "fall into line with the US, particularly on Middle East issues," whenever Israel comes under fire in the UN General Assembly, we almost invariably line up with the apartheid state, alongside the US and a motley crew of Pacific micro-states. (See my 23/12/10 post The Company We Keep.) This bizarre and unseemly group-hug with Israel on the floor of the General Assembly is no stereotype. It's a depressing fact of life in today's General Assembly.

3) What "tirades by Iran and others"? How would the Herald describe Netanyahu's performance in the General Assembly in September, a speech which began with the eye-rolling words "Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital Jerusalem..." and climaxed with the rib-tickling "Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you?" (See my 2/10/12 post General Assembly Goes Grand Guignol.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Julia the Insubstantial

Questions about the real Julia Gillard seem to me to be based on a false premise, namely that, somewhere out there, there really is a real Julia.

There isn't.

And if I had to come up with an example of just how lacking in substance the Australian prime minister is, it'd be this:

"All of us rejoice in marking Gilad Shalit's year of freedom, and his reunification with his family and friends. I trust that the warm embrace of the people of Israel, and the support Gilad engendered around the world, is helping to heal the wounds of his brutal imprisonment. Gilad's ordeal was a lesson for all of us in the unconscionable inhumanity inflicted by his captors in Gaza. But it has also underscored the urgent need to find a way to achieve, at long last, a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. We must redouble our efforts to find the path from the darkness of Gilad's cell to the light of peace for Israelis and Palestinians." (A lesson & an inspiration for us all, Julia Gillard, The Australian Jewish News, 19/10/12)

That the above is merely a statement on paper designed primarily for the readers of The AJN is immaterial. These words are as much Gillard's as anything she says in parliament, scripted or otherwise. You can see the strings, the moving, wooden parts. You can hear the robotic, droning, valium-penetrating voice.

However, the dawning realisation that maybe no one's home comes when one contrasts her propaganda  cliches -  "the wounds of his brutal imprisonment"; "the unconscionable inhumanity inflicted by his captors"; and "the darkness of Gilad's cell" - with Shalit's own words:

"'There was a common denominator between us, sport,' he said of his captors. 'During the day I would play all kinds of games with them. Chess, dominoes. There were moments when a kind of emotion would arise, a kind of laughter, when we watched a good (football) game on television or a movie,' he said, relating their surprise on seeing an impressive Israeli goal during a Champions League soccer match." (Shalit seeks solace in sport, The Australian, 19/10/12)

The full realisation, however, that the Prime Minister is more of an absence than a presence surely has to be the knowledge that, when it comes to the 730,000 occupied Palestinian men, women and children estimated to have served time in Israeli prisons since 1967, many subjected to regimes of ill-treatment and torture, Gillard has said nothing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Now Where Have We Heard That Before?

"Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us." Ecclesiastes

"Ben-Gurion took the opportunity to reiterate his false accusation that 'Abdel Nasser declared day after day that Egypt was at war with Israel and he did not conceal his principal aim which was to attack Israel and wipe it off the face of the earth at the first opportunity.' Through repetition Israel maintained the currency of such charges in the West, although they have never been substantiated by a single documented quotation from Nasser. It is a clever tactic since it is impolitic for an Arab to deny making hostile statements about Israel. Being therefore unchallenged, such Israeli accusations tend, through incessant repetition, to become accepted." (Suez: The Twice-Fought War, Kennett Love, 1969, pp 640-641)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Real US Presidents Stand Up to Israel 2

How typical (of Israel that is) that Ike should find it more difficult to deal with than the British and the French:

"It was Eisenhower who stopped the war and it was Eisenhower who made the victors disgorge in the conviction that unless war, like crime, could be shown not to pay, the UN would be gravely weakened and man would move closer to destruction by his own terrible new devices. 'We not only had a little difficulty in getting Britain and France to come out,' Eisenhower told me in an interview on Suez, 'but later we had much more difficulty in getting the Israelis to come out. Finally we had to be very tough with them, really, but finally they agreed.'" (Suez: The Twice-Fought War, Kennett Love, 1969, p 635)

But then, how could he have known what spiralling madness he was up against?:

"Gaza and Aqaba were the areas to which [Israeli Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion was most stubbornly attached. He resigned himself fairly early to relinquishing the Sinai but Gaza, part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, and Tiran, where Jews of old maintained the tiny state of Yotvat, were more clearly associated with Israel's stated war aims, which included the elimination of the [Palestinian] Fedayeen and the opening of the Gulf of Aqaba. If Ben-Gurion could have fulfilled his dream of restoring Yotvat to the Third Israeli Empire it would have brought the straits [of Tiran] within Israel's territorial waters and freed Israel's shipping there from dependence on the presence of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF)." (ibid, p 663)

What sheer bloody-mindedness?:

"On 3 December, the day [British Foreign Secretary Selwyn] Lloyd announced the Anglo-French withdrawal, Israel drew back 30 miles from the Canal. By 7 January she had withdrawn from half the Sinai, systematically destroying telephone and telegraph lines and breaking up the railroad and asphalted roads behind her with an ingenious giant plow-like device. In despite of protests by [UN Secretary-General Dag] Hammarskjold that this devastation violated Israel's promise to help UNEF maintain the peace, the Israelis destroyed the many military buildings in al-Arish and razed to the ground every single building in the hapless villages of Qussaima and Abu Aoueigila. It took Egypt and the UNEF several years to restore the roads. By 22 January Israel had withdrawn to the frontier except before Rafah and along the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba. Ben-Gurion then set his heels to resist further withdrawal." (ibid, p 664)

What depth of adolescent defiance:

"On 2 February the General Assembly passed its sixth resolution demanding Israel's immediate withdrawal and another resolution calling for restoration of the Armistice and the stationing of UNEF troops on the armistice line. Despite a cable from Eisenhower warning that continued defiance of the UN 'could seriously disturb the relations between Israel and other member nations including the United States,' Ben-Gurion and his Cabinet rejected the Assembly's demands the next day." (ibid, p 665)

But Ike was no Obama. He wasn't one to blink first:

"By now Eisenhower and Dulles were being forced toward taking a stand on sanctions whether they wanted to or not. Majority sentiment for sanctions to compel Israel to withdraw was developing in the UN with the support of the Arabs and the rest of the Afro-Asian Bloc together with the Communist Bloc. If it came to a vote the US would have to make the public choice of whether or not to join the majority or stand out against it as the special champion of Israel right or wrong." (ibid, p 667)

Nor was Ben-Gurion the only problem for Eisenhower. Even at this time Congress was Israeli-occupied territory:

"'It became obvious that the Congressional leaders were too conscious of the unpopularity of the stand that the President was being forced to take against Israel to be willing to share with him the responsibility for it,' [Eisenhower aide Sherman] Adams wrote." (ibid, p 668)

Unfazed, Ike, pulling but one punch - substituting the word 'pressure' for 'sanctions' - addressed the American people directly:

"The Government of Israel has not yet accepted, as adequate assurance of its own safety after withdrawal, the far-reaching United States Resolution of February 2 plus the important declaration of United States policy made by our Secretary of State on February 11. Israel seeks something more. It insists on firm guarantees as a condition to withdrawing its forces of invasion. This raises a basic question of principle. Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agreed that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order. We will, in effect, have countenanced the use of force as a means of settling international differences and through this gaining national advantages. I do not, myself, see how this could be reconciled with the Charter of the United Nations. The basic pledge of all the members of the United Nations is that they will settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and will not use force against the territorial integrity of another state. If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the very foundation of the Organization, and our best hope of establishing world order. That would be a disaster for us all. I would, I feel, be untrue to the standards of the high office to which you have chosen me, if I were to lend the influence of the United States to the proposition that a nation which invades another should be permitted to exact conditions for withdrawal... The United Nations must not fail. I believe that - in the interests of peace - the United Nations has no choice but to exert pressure upon Israel to comply with the withdrawal resolutions." (Eisenhower's radio & television address to the American people on the situation in the Middle East, February 20, 1957 (excerpt),

And, guess what, Ben-Gurion blinked!:

"With the threat of sanctions becoming ever harder, Ben-Gurion gave in in time to prevent the sanctions resolution from being brought to a vote. He ordered Golda Meir to announce in the UN on 1 March Israel's 'plans for full and prompt withdrawal from the Sharm al-Sheikh area and the Gaza Strip.'... Israeli troops moved out of the Gaza Strip and UNEF moved in on the night of 6 March... The Israelis were gone by 6 am on & March except for a rear guard at Rafah, which departed with its vehicles later in the day... The last Israeli soldiers to leave Egypt were men who had struggled back up the coast with vehicles from Sharm al-Sheikh. They crossed the frontier back into Israel at Ras al-Naqb on 16 March." (Kennett Love, pp 669-671)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Real US Presidents Stand Up to Israel 1

If, like me, you're sickened by the unseemly spectacle of US presidential candidates fighting over Israel every 4 years, you probably find yourself wondering what America would be like with a real president, that is, one prepared to treat Israel without fear or favour and stand up to it when the occasion demands.

Wonder no more. Dwight D (Ike) Eisenhower (president 1953-1961) was such a president.

Ike was the real thing because, unlike one or two of his successors who tried to stand up to the Israelis, he actually followed through and emerged triumphant, whip firmly in hand.

It was the Suez crisis of 1956, when Britain, France and Israel invaded the Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser (president 1956-1970), that provided the occasion for Ike to demonstrate what being a real US president is all about.

The following account comes from the new (2012) biography of Ike by Jean Edward Smith, Eisenhower: In War & Peace:

"One week [after failing to receive US backing for the dam], on July 26, 1956, Nasser announced that Egypt was nationalizing the Suez Canal. 'The fat was in the fire,' Eisenhower wrote later in his memoirs. The cancellation of the Aswan Dam was the greatest diplomatic debacle of the Eisenhower era, and the West was totally unprepared to respond to Nasser's action. Britain and France feverishly organized military forces to retake the canal, and [Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles was away from Washington attending conferences in Latin America. Eisenhower, who was still recovering from [an] operation, was thrust back in command. It was a blessing in disguise. With the president back on the bridge, the American ship of state resumed its steady course. Ike refused to panic. What authority did Nasser have to seize the canal? he asked Herbert Brownell. 'The entire length of the Canal lay within Egyptian territory,' the attorney general answered. It was a matter of eminent domain. From that point on, Eisenhower's policy was clear. 'Egypt was within its rights,' he told Dulles, 'and until its operation of the Canal proves incompetent, there is nothing to do.'

"Eisenhower immediately wrote [British] Prime Minister Anthony Eden to emphasise 'the unwisdom even of contemplating the use of military force at the moment.' When Britain and France persisted with plans to intervene, Dulles, the Joint Chiefs, and the congressional leadership, particularly Lyndon Johnson, argued that America's allies deserved moral and economic support. Eisenhower rejected the argument. When Dulles suggested an international consortium to operate the canal, Eisenhower would have no part of it. 'How would we like an international consortium running the Panama Canal?' asked the president. Admiral Arleigh Burke said the Joint Chiefs agreed that 'Nasser must be broken.' Eisenhower disagreed. 'Nasser embodies the emotional demands of the people of the area for independence and for 'slapping the White Man down'.' Unless we were careful, said the president, Muslim solidarity could 'array the world from Dakar to the Philippine Islands against us.'

"Eisenhower went back to working seven days a week. He had temporarily averted war over Suez, the British and French stood down... Except for intensified cross-border skirmishing, the Middle East remained calm, and Eden took pains to assure Ike that Great Britain preferred a negotiated settlement concerning Suez. In reality, Britain, France, and Israel were organizing to retake the canal by force. On October 24, 1956, at Sevres, outside Paris, Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion signed a secret protocol with Britain and France putting the plan into motion. Israeli troops would invade the Sinai Peninsula on October 29 and advance toward the Suez Canal. Britain and France would issue an ultimatum to Israel and Egypt to cease hostilities and accept Anglo-French occupation of the Canal Zone. Egypt presumably would refuse, at which point Britain and France would launch their own invasion of Suez. With American voters going to the polls on November 6, planners in London, Paris, and Tel Aviv assumed the American government could not respond until after the seizure of the canal was a fait accompli.

"When the Israelis struck on October 29, Eisenhower was campaigning in Richmond, Virginia. Ike felt he had been betrayed by Eden and was furious. To compound the problem, American intelligence had failed to anticipate the Israeli attack. The president flew back to Washington and angrily ordered Dulles to fire off a message to Tel Aviv. 'Foster, you tell them, Goddamnit, that we're going to apply sanctions, we're going to the United Nations, we're going to do everything that there is so we can stop this thing.' At a hastily convened meeting in the Oval Office, Ike reminded those present that the 1950 Tripartite Declaration pledged the signatories to 'support any victim of aggression in the Middle East.' When Dulles suggested that the British and French believed we had to support them, Ike hit the ceiling. 'What would they think if we were to go in to aid Egypt to fulfill our pledge?' he asked angrily. 'Nothing justifies double-crossing us. I don't care whether I'm re-elected or not. We must make good on our word, otherwise we are a nation without honor.'

"A good night's sleep did nothing to improve Ike's temper. 'The British and French do not have adequate cause for war,' he told Dulles and Sherman Adams the next morning. 'Egyptian action in nationalizing the Canal is not enough to justify this.' At Eisenhower's direction, Henry Cabot Lodge introduced a motion in the UN Security Council calling for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces. When the vote was taken that afternoon, Britain and France cast vetoes - the first in the history of the United Nations. A follow-on Soviet motion to the same effect was also vetoed. The British and French vetoes upset Ike. Later that afternoon, when Defense Mobilization Director Arthur Flemming warned Eisenhower that the Israeli attack imperiled Western Europe's oil supply, the president barked back that 'those who began this operation should be left to work out their own oil problems - to boil in their own oil.' The United States would not provide assistance. Lodge was instructed to appeal the cease-fire resolution to the UN General Assembly - a procedure that had not been used since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 - and Treasury Secretary George Humphrey was told to look at the financial implications of the invasion for Britain and France. 'This cost of war was not irrelevant,' said Eisenhower.

"On October 30, as planned, Britain and France issued ultimatums to Egypt and Israel to stop fighting, withdraw from the canal, and permit Anglo-French occupation of the Canal Zone to ensure canal traffic would not be interrupted. If they did not, Britain and France would take the canal by force. Dulles told Eisenhower the ultimatums were 'about as crude and brutal as anything he had ever seen.' The Israelis announced their readiness to comply, the Egyptians ignored the ultimatums, and 12 hours later British and French planes commenced attacks on targets in Cairo, Port Said, and Alexandria. The New York Times reported sightings of 'the largest naval concentration seen in the eastern Mediterranean since World War II.' Nasser responded by sinking a 350-foot freighter loaded with cement at the narrowest point of the canal, effectively blocking transit...

"Later that afternoon, at Eisenhower's direction, Dulles presented the United States' cease-fire resolution to the UN General Assembly. Dulles also issued a sharply worded statement pertaining to sanctions against Israel if the fighting continued. At the same time, Eisenhower moved quietly to tighten the screws on Britain and France. 'You are not going to get a cease-fire by saying everybody please stop,' he told Dulles. The administration pigeonholed plans to supply Western Europe with oil in the event supplies from the Middle East were cut off, and the Treasury Department moved to reduce British access to dollar amounts in the United States. The pound stirling was already under siege on world markets, and Eisenhower wanted nothing done to ease the pressure. Also on November 1, Syrian Army engineers destroyed 3 pumping stations of the pipeline carrying Iraqi oil to the Mediterranean. Those pipelines had a capacity of 500,000 barrels a day. With the pipelines shut down, the Suez Canal blocked, and the United States not shipping any oil, Europe's supply of petroleum was dwindling rapidly.

"That evening Eisenhower spoke to a Republican rally in Philadelphia's Convention Hall - his final speech of the campaign. 'We cannot and will not condone armed aggression - no matter who the attacker, and no matter who the victim. We cannot - in the world, any more than in our own nation - subscribe to one law for the weak, another law for the strong; one law for those opposing us, another for those allied with us.' Eisenhower did not mention Britain or France by name, and did not refer to the resolution pending in the General Assembly, but the thrust of his remarks was clear. 'We believe humanity must cease preying upon itself. We believe that the power of modern weapons makes war not only perilous - but preposterous - and the only way to win World War III is to prevent it.'...

"The presidential party arrived back in Washington shortly after midnight. Four hours later Dulles reported from New York that the General Assembly had approved the US cease-fire resolution 64-5, with only Australia and New Zealand joining Britain, France and Israel voting against...

"By the weekend, Israeli troops had taken most of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip; the aerial bombardment of Egyptian targets continued, but British and French forces had yet to come assure...

"On Monday, November 5, the British and French armada finally arrived off the Egyptian coast: some 200 ships including 5 aircraft carriers, 6 battleships, a dozen cruisers, and an assortment of lighter craft. What followed was a textbook World War II amphibious landing. Paratroopers jumped before dawn; commandos went ashore at first light, and by noon most of Port Said, at the mouth of the Suez Canal, was in the hands of British and French forces.... With the British and French ashore, the issue was now a military problem, and Eisenhower instinctively assumed command. 'If we could have for the next 2 or 3 days a period of relative calm while your troops did nothing but land,' he told Eden, 'we might much more swiftly develop a solution that would be acceptable to both sides and to the world.' 

"Ike's solution unfolded quickly. At 10 am the markets in New York opened and the pound came under unprecedented pressure. In 1956, currency exchange rates were fixed, and the British pound was pegged at $2.78. To maintain its value, the British government was forced to liquidate much of its gold and dollar reserves. That afternoon Deputy Prime Minister Rab Butler placed an urgent call to his friend George Humphrey and pleaded for a loan. Humphrey had anticipated the call and was ready with an offer: a $1.5 billion loan with the interest payments deferred. It was available, said Humphrey, as soon as the British ceased firing and withdrew their troops from Suez. Meanwhile in Britain motorists queued at petrol stations and tens of thousands of demonstrators crammed into Trafalgar Square to protest the Suez policy of the Eden government. The British press, without exception, blasted what The Manchester Guardian called 'Eden's war'...

"Tuesday, November 6, 1956, was election day... At 12.30 Washington time, Eden announced Great Britain was ready to accept a cease-fire.

"American financial pressure had done the trick. On Tuesday morning the British government had requested the International Monetary Fund to make available the dollar funds the British had on deposit. The US Treasury Department, as was its prerogative under IMF rules, blocked the transfer. At that point, Harold Macmillan, who was now chancellor of the exchequer, told an emergency meeting of the British cabinet that he could 'not any more be responsible for Her Majesty's exchequer' unless a cease-fire was ordered. Eden had no choice.

"When he learned of the decision of the British cabinet, Eisenhower placed an immediate call to Eden. 'Anthony,' said Ike, 'I can't tell you how pleased we are that you found it possible to accept the cease-fire.' 'We are going to cease firing tonight,' Eden replied. 'Without conditions?' asked the president. 'We cease firing tonight at midnight unless attacked.' Eisenhower pressed Eden to withdraw quickly. Eden was evasive. Perhaps the British would remain as part of the peacekeeping force, or to help clear the canal. Eisenhower - who still held the trump hand - rejected the idea. 'I would like to see none of the great nations in it,' he replied. 'I am afraid the Red boy [ie the Soviet Union] is going to demand the lion's share. I would rather make it no troops from the big five' - a reference to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

"When Eden continued to evade a commitment, Eisenhower got tough. 'If you don't get out of Port Said tomorrow, I'll cause a run on the pound and drive it down to zero,' said Ike. Eden capitulated. France followed suit. Israel did not agree to withdraw until the following day, and did not complete the movement until January 1957, after receiving assurance of its right of free passage through the Gulf of Aqaba." (pp 694-704)

Unfortunately, that final sentence is far too sketchy. It's almost as though, with Eisenhower's bringing Britain and France to heel, the biographer has run out of interest in the subject, even to the point of muffing his dates. In reality, forcing Israel to disgorge the Gaza Strip and the Sinai proved far harder than forcing Britain and France out of Egypt proper. My next post, therefore, will explore this final phase of the operation.

This egregious omission notwithstanding, Smith correctly notes the significance of Eisenhower's achievement:

"Never in the postwar era was American prestige higher than in the aftermath of Suez. Small nations could scarcely believe the United States would support Egypt, a Third World country, in a fight against two of America's oldest allies, or that it would come to the aid of a Muslim state resisting Israeli aggression." (p 705)

Nor, incidentally, did any of this tell against Ike in the 1956 election, which he won, says Smith, with "the largest presidential majority since FDR routed Alf Landon in 1936."

Continued next post...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Time to Revisit the ANZAC's Sarafand Massacre

The militarisation of the Australian mind marches on:

"Ninety-five years after the Australian Light Horse led the charge of Beersheba to claim a pivotal victory in the Middle East theatre, Australians will once again charge through the desert sands. This time they ride in peace. As commemorations gear up to mark the decisive battle, a group of 40 Australians will today start their journey to Egypt, Turkey and Israel in the footsteps of the Light Horse. Members of the Australian Light Horse Association, including descendants of WW1 veterans, will re-enact the charge on the 95th anniversary of the battle on October 31... 'We're keeping the tradition alive,' [ALHA director Barry Rodgers] said. 'One of the reasons we're doing this is to raise the profile of the Middle East campaign. It has been very much overshadowed by Gallipoli and the Western Front'. The charge on Turkish positions and on to Beersheba was regarded as a success that ultimately led to the fall of the Ottoman Empire." (Men of peace cheer charge of the Light Horse brigade, Rosanne Barrett, The Australian, 15/10/12) 

One aspect of the Light Horse's sojourn in Palestine that's unlikely to be mentioned on the ALHA's 'In the Steps of the Light Horse' Tour 2012 is the post-armistace massacre of the defenceless inhabitants of the Palestinian village of Sarafand (often transliterated as Surafend) in November 1918. I've dealt with this particular war crime before (simply click on the AIF label below) but in light of the above and what is sure to follow by way of uncritical ms media attention, and as an antidote to the sickening tendency in this mercenary nation of ours to glorify all things military, it warrants revisiting.

Perhaps the most useful analytical commentary on the matter, which led to the British commander of the campaign against the Turks, General Allenby, writing off the AIF as "cold-blooded murderers," and denying them battle honours, is to be found in Passionate Histories: Myth, Memory & Indigenous Australia (2010) ed. by Peters-Little, Curthoys & Docker:

"In 1923, H.S. (Henry) Gullett, as part of Australia's official war history under the general editorship of Charles Bean, published The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine 1914-1918, where he constructs what we might call the ur-narrative of the Surafend massacre, inscribing the strange mix, part exculpatory, part condemnatory, that provides the motifs, images and tropes for almost all succeeding purported descriptions of what occurred. Post armistace, in their camps at Tripoli and on the Philistine plain, after a very successful campaign that secured the defeat of the Ottoman forces in Sinai, Palestine and Syria, the light horsemen, Gullett writes, participated in an 'unfortunate incident' that was destined to throw a 'shadow' over their last days in Palestine. It has to be recognised, however, he adds, that they were intolerably provoked, by the indigenous inhabitants in one way, and the British high command in another; indeed, they should be regarded as victims of both. Next to the camps of the Anzac Mounted Division of Australians and New Zealanders lay 'the native village of Surafend,' which elicits the following racial typing from Gullett: 'All the Arabs of western Palestine were thieves by instinct.' The 'natives of Surafend,' he continues, 'were notorious for their petty thieving.' At night, the Australians and New Zealanders, 'sleeping soundly were a simple prey to the cunning, barefooted robbers, and night after night men lost property from their tents.' In this image, the Light Horse are 'prey' to shoeless Arabs perceived as stealthy predatory scavengers...

"Gullett's official history provides the template description of how the Surafend massacre occurred. As is often the case with massacres or scenes of violent retribution, a single individual of one's own group is injured or killed. In this case, a New Zealand soldier is shot by a Bedouin, 'the native' who had been stealing in his tent. The New Zealanders, their whole camp immediately aroused, and 'working with ominous deliberation, then trace the 'footsteps of the Arab' to Surafend. The New Zealanders throw a 'strong cordon' around the village, no Arab being allowed to leave. All day, Gullett says, the New Zealanders 'quietly organised for their work in Surafend, and then, early in the night, marched out 'many hundreds strong' and surrounded the village. In his narrative, Gullett stresses that only male Bedouin were harmed. When they entered the village, the 'New Zealanders grimly passed out all the women and children,' and then, 'armed chiefly with heavy sticks, fell upon the men and at the same time fired the houses.' Many Arabs, Gullett tells us, were killed and few escaped injury; the village was demolished and set on fire, and the flames from the 'wretched houses lit up the countryside.' The Anzacs next 'raided and burned the neighbouring nomad camp,' and then went 'quietly back to their lines.'

"Gullett concedes that what happened 'cannot be justified,' and affirms that Surafend 'should not be forgotten.' Nonetheless, he insists, 'in fairness to the New Zealanders and to the Australians who gave them hearty support,' we have to consider that the soldiers 'were the pioneers and the leaders in a long campaign.' They had just lost a 'veteran comrade,' at the hands of a race they despised'; consequently, he feels, they became 'angry and bitter beyond sound reasoning.'" (pp 56-57)

Just for the record, here are two 2 other references to the Sarafand massacre not available on the internet. The first, by our Palestine policeman Douglas V. Duff (click on the label below), reprises (derives from?) Gullett's colonial portrayal of Palestinian Arabs as instinctual thieves. Duff, you'll notice, 'improves' on Gullett in several respects.

"A mile away [from Ramleh] is the village of Sarafand, a place that suffered severely from the Australians during the military occupation. A set of thieving, murderous, cowardly curs are these men of Sarafand; sand-rats who preyed upon the soldiers, and ended by treacherously murdering several. The Australians, maddened by the deaths of their comrades, surrounded the village, sacked it, and killed some of the worst characters who lived there - a lesson that Sarafand has never forgotten. They are no longer active criminals, but any brigand, highway robber, or fugitive from justice, is assured of a welcome from them, always supposing that the Government has not offered a price for his capture, in which case he is certain of betrayal." (Palestine Picture, 1936, p 192)

Much closer to the time comes this brief, teasing reference from the Regimental Medical Officer to the 39th Royal Fusiliers, the 2nd Judean Battalion, Redcliffe Salaman. Salaman is writing to his wife from Ludd (Lydda/Lod) Palestine on 18 December, 1918:

"When I get home I will tell you a rather terrible tale concerning the way that Australians avenged a murder of one of their men here. It was an ordered lynch law - a mixture of chivalry and sternest justice, absolutely spontaneous..." (Palestine Reclaimed, 1920, pp 143-144)

The Summer of Muslim Discontent 5: Tunisia

Continuing an Arab Spring update from James Petras' latest (21/9/12) essay...

"In the case of Tunisia, Washington and the EU leveraged the Islamic Ennahda Party into power in order to abort the pro-democracy transformation. Subsequently, they heavily subsidized the 'free-market' Moncef Marzouki regime which has totally ignored the basic demands which led to the uprising: mass unemployment, the concentration of wealth, and subservience to US-EU foreign policy with regard to Palestine, Libya and Syria. The Islamic regime and party played the usual double game of condemning 'the film' and smashing the protest, knowing full well that the street protest could ignite a much more significant demonstration against the regime's total neglect of the Tunisian uprising's original democratic socio-economic agenda."

Next post in the series: Somalia, Sudan & Pakistan...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just Naughty Boys, Really

Now here's an interesting letter from yesterday's Australian by Ruth Magid, Point Piper, NSW:

"John Lyons equates the shocking human rights abuses perpetrated by Hamas on the citizens of Gaza, as reported by Human Right Watch, with the 'Price tag' vandals in Israel ('Precious little peace as extreme measures rise on both sides', 6-7/10). The latter are a very small fringe group of youths born in the extreme culture of the settlements, who combine religious and political extremism with the fanaticism of young people... The attacks carried out by the Price Tag hooligans usually consist of offensive graffiti. They are directed almost exclusively at property and rarely at people..."

Oh, I see. Fringe group. Only property. Just naughty boys, really. That's all right then. Had me worried for a minute.

But hang on, what's this in the program of the upcoming Jewish International Film Festival (Sydney, 1-18 November; Melbourne, 7-25 November)?

OMG, it's a new Israeli film called God's Neighbours about another group of naughty Israeli boys who don't live anywhere near the West Bank and prefer baseball bats to spray cans:

"Kobi, Yaniv and gang leader Avi live in Bat-Yam, a suburb city close to Jaffa. They wilfully use fists and baseball bats to enforce their Breslev code on the more relaxed Jews, as well as Arabs who dare disrupt the peace on the Sabbath."

Now I know what you're thinking. They couldn't possibly be just naughty boys. They're obviously thugs.

Ah, but you'd be wrong! For, despite the flailing fists and bone-splintering baseball bats, they're actually quite HUMAN:

"One day, a new girl named Miri arrives. She is not familiar with the strict rules of modesty and immediately comes to blows with the gang, although Avi, unwillingly, falls in love with her. Soon, he is torn apart between his feelings for Miri and his dedication to his cause." 

So there you go, folks, as far as Israel is concerned, they're all just naughty boys, really, albeit from the river to the sea.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Out, Damned Spot! 2

The late Gore Vidal once quipped that the 4 most beautiful words in the English language were 'I told you so.'

Which brings me to NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham once again: I told you so, Jeremy.

If the following letter in the Australian Jewish News of October 12 is any indication, your little clarification in last week's AJN, cited in my previous post, went down like the proverbial lead balloon - as predicted:

"The Australian Greens may have never formally endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement as official policy, but any observer of the political landscape will know that there is a latent hostility to Israel among Greens that can be interpreted (at least by this writer) as anti-Semitism. Despite their flowery language about love, peace and a two-state solution, I believe if you scratch a Greens member deep enough you will uncover a supporter of the Palestinian agenda." Alan Freedman, St Kilda East, Vic

You see, Jeremy, you're up against the closed and claustrophobic world of the Zionist mind with its ever-ready, all-purpose bludgeon, the false accusation of anti-Semitism.

The Zionist mind brooks no opposition whatsoever. Take the Palestinians, for example, all they had to do to be labelled anti-Semites way back in the 1920s was resist the flooding of their homeland by thousands upon thousands of European Jews bent on transforming it into a state of Jews, for Jews and by Jews. Get the picture?

And all you have to do to be called an anti-Semite is belong to a party that once raised the issue of BDS, even if you yourself, either out of sheer ignorance or lack of moral fibre, baulked at the idea early on with your nonsense about the "tone and perception" of protests against Max Brenner outlets. (See my 9/9/11 post Which Side Are You On?)

Is the penny starting to drop, Jeremy?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Out, Damned Spot!

The following letter, from NSW MLC Greens member Jeremy Buckingham, appeared in The Australian Jewish News of October 5:

"Your headline 'Labor, Greens say no to motion condemning BDS' (AJN 21/09) implies The Greens support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is incorrect. The Australian Greens have never supported BDS. The NSW Greens membership conducted a vigorous internal debate on the issue and democratically resolved to withdraw support for BDS in December 2011. It is a pity that some politicians in the Liberal Party keep dragging out BDS again and again to score easy political points. It does nothing to advance debate about securing long-term security and peace for Israel or for the Palestinians."

In penning the above, it appears that the clueless Buckingham, a member of the steering committee of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel group as it happens, is basing his plaint on a false premise. As far as Zionist deadenders are concerned, a simple clarification or statement to the effect that The Greens are not now and have never been supporters of the BDS strategy I swear is never enough to get a Greens politician or member off the hook for daring to belong to an organisation that once entertained the idea of making BDS part of their praxis.

No, Jeremy, that's just the beginning. You must now go on to condemn it, attack it, smear it, and otherwise trample it underfoot. Again and again. And even then...

Mitt Romney is No George Marshall

In a speech given at the Virginia Military Institute on October 8, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined his foreign - basically Middle East - policy goals.

Grotesquely but predictably, despite a decade of unprecedented death and destruction in the region unleashed by Bush and maintained by Obama, primarily to keep Israel and its domestic lobby happy, and despite the US taxpayer being slugged to pay for it all, Romney told us that "[t]here is a longing for American leadership in the Middle East."

No amount of rhetoric about US leadership in the Middle East, however, can disguise the fact that these days US policy there is essentially made in Israel, for Israel. Hence Romney's embrace of the bizarre notion that US and Israeli interests are one and the same:

"The relationship between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains. The President explicitly stated that his goal was to put 'daylight' between the United States and Israel. And he has succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran... I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security - the world must never see any daylight between our two nations."

The supreme irony of his speech was his invoking of the memory of US General George C. Marshall:

"Of all the VMI graduates, none is more distinguished than George Marshall - the Chief of Staff of the Army who became Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, who helped to vanquish fascism and then planned Europe's rescue from despair. His commitment to peace was born of his direct knowledge of the awful costs and consequences of wars. General Marshall once said, 'The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.' Those words were true in his time - and they still echo in ours." 

Marshall would have turned in his grave at the thought of this shameless hijacking of his legacy on behalf of a US foreign policy which caters to Israel's every wish and whim. Such is the ignorance of history, even its own, that prevails in the US that we can safely assume that whichever Romney hanger-on wrote his speech, he/she would've been blissfully unaware that, as President Truman's Secretary of State in the critical period leading up to the birth of Israel in May 1948, George Marshall was the key advocate in the Truman White House for putting as much daylight as possible between a nascent Israel and the United States, in opposition to those such as White House counsel and Zionist dupe Clark Clifford who pushed for the opposite.

Guided only by his belief in upholding and defending US and only US interests, Marshall did not support the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, favouring instead a UN trusteeship. Nor, when the idea of partitioning Palestine was mooted, did he support throwing America's weight behind it.

Finally, when it came to the matter of Truman (at the urging of Clifford) considering a speedy de facto recognition of the new state of Israel on May 15, 1948, with an eye to securing Jewish votes in an election year, Marshall was fiercely and fearlessly opposed to the idea:

"I remarked to the president that, speaking objectively, I could not help but think that suggestions made by Clifford were wrong. I thought that to adopt these suggestions would have precisely the opposite effect from that intended by him. The transparent dodge to win a few votes would not, in fact, achieve this purpose. The great dignity of the office of the president would be seriously damaged. The counsel offered by Mr Clifford's advice was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem confronting us was international. I stated bluntly that if the president were to follow Mr Clifford's advice, and if I were to vote in the next election, I would vote against the president." (Quoted in Remembering General George Marshall's clash with Clark Clifford over premature recognition of Israel, Dr Alfred M. Lilienthal, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 1999)

Unfortunately for the future course of US foreign policy, Marshall stopped short of going public with his principled opposition to Truman's expedient sucking up to Israel firsters. If he had, it just might be the case today that US presidents would be making their own Middle East policy, free of the crippling and demeaning subservience to perceived Israeli interests demanded and engineered by the Israel lobby; that the Middle East would have been largely spared the devastating serial USraeli aggressions so characteristic of our time; and that we'd all be spared the unedifying spectacle of candidates for the American presidency babbling inanely about eliminating daylight between Israel and the United States.

Just imagine...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Summer of Muslim Discontent 4: Yemen

Continuing an Arab Spring update from James Petras' latest (21/9/12) essay...

"The seizure of the US Embassy in Yemen followed 33 years of US arming and financial backing of the brutal Ali Abdullah Saleh dictatorship, months of drone warfare and the repression of mass peaceful protests. The ongoing pro-democracy movement in Yemen, which attained massive proportions, has been blocked by US-Saudi intervention, leaving in its wake thousands of dead, wounded and jailed Yemeni citizens. The seizure of the US Embassy, ostensibly over 'the film', had far deeper and more comprehensive causes: popular discontent with the decades-long US-Yemen alliance and a phony US-promoted 'democratic transition'. As in Egypt and Tunisia, changes in personnel are designed to save the client state apparatus (police, military, judiciary), the mainstay of US and Saudi power in the Gulf region, while sacrificing the incumbent dictator. In all such 'transitions' the US and EU rely on pliable and servile Muslim politicians in order to harness local religious beliefs to their neo-liberal and pro-imperial policies."

Next post in the series: Tunisia...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Truganini in Jerusalem

"They consider every injury they can inflict upon white men as an act of duty and patriotic, and however they may dread the punishment which our laws inflict upon them, they consider the sufferers under these punishments as martyrs of their country... having ideas of their natural rights which would astonish most of our European statesmen." (Gilbert Robinson, 1828, quoted in Tasmanian Aborigines: A History Since 1803, Lyndall Ryan, 2012)

It's 1936, Year One of the Palestine Revolt (1936-1939). Author and former Palestine policeman, Douglas Duff, on a visit to the country, is listening to the speech of a Palestinian agitator in a Jerusalem bazaar when it suddenly takes a most unexpected turn:

"Jerusalem, within the walls, seemed empty and dead; yet it needed very little imagination or knowledge of the East to feel the pulsing, ageless, ancient life that was beating malevolently behind those shuttered walls. At the large coffee-house on the left-hand side, in front of the dark arches that cover the junction of the Spice Bazaar, the Goldsmith's Bazaar and the entry to the Jewish Quarter, I paused for a moment amongst a crowd of elderly Arab merchants who were listening to a young man haranguing the smoking, coffee-drinking crowd in the restaurant. I was curious to hear what latest twist the agitator propaganda was taking, and listened with every nerve in my mind.

"'And so I tell you, Brothers in the Faith,' shouted the young man, 'that this is our last chance to save the blood of the Arab from becoming nothing but a memory in this land of our fathers. If you do not wish to see the sons of Islam barred from the Great Sanctuary, if you wish to have your sons and your sons' sons to have the right of enjoying this land of ours, you must stand loyally by your leaders. If we do not bring the Ingliz to their senses - and we can only do so by frightening them - then we are lost.'

"He paused for a moment. Very ordinary stuff, this. I was not greatly impressed, but his next few sentences startled me, for I had had no idea that the forces working against England were so well trained.

"'You all know the accursed Balfour Declaration by heart?'

"A savage growling arose from the seated mob, and curses against Jew and Briton were shouted. The young man, in his blue serge suit and scarlet tarbush, waited for it to die down with a smile upon his face, and then went on.

"The Ingliz tell us that the rights of the Arabs will be safeguarded. Let me show you what liars they are. Let me tell you of one colony of which they have possession. Listen with all your ears to what happened, in a few short years, to the native population of that country. Remember that we, the sons of the Arab - who were a great nation when the Ingliz were lower than the Blacks of Africa are to-day - are nothing but 'natives' to these proud white men. What they have done to one 'native' race, they will be only too willing to do to another.' 

"By now you could have heard a pin drop in the crowded coffee-house. With strained attention the Arabs, most of them of the village and Bedouin type - for there were few townsmen among them - crouched forward to hear what the young Effendi had to say.

"'What I am going to tell you is true; do not think that my father's son lies. When you go forth to your own villages you must bear the tale I am about to tell you as a warning for all to heed, if they would live and possess the land of our fathers.'

"I began to wonder to which particular colony the young man was going to refer, what unparalleled lie he was going to utter. Unfortunately he had ferreted out the truth.

"'To the south of Australia,' he said, 'the land which sent all those soldiers to Palestine during the last War, there is a large island called Tasmania, nearly three times greater in area than this Holy Land. One hundred and thirty years ago it had a large and happy native population, who had lived for untold ages secure in their own country. I will speak in terms of the Western years, the time of the Franks, for it is in their style that the chronicle is written. This year, as you all know, is 1936, according to their counting. Then, in 1804, the Tasmanians - 'natives' in the eyes of the Ingliz - were a happy and contented people. What happened to them? I will tell you.'

"He paused, whilst the crowd held its breath. Then, in accents of awe, mingled with deadly hatred, he went on:

"'In the year 1869 the last Tasmanian died; in 1876 the last of the Tasmanian women died in London, and the 'natives' of Tasmania were completely extinguished! A nation, a race, a whole people had been stamped out completely in seventy-two years! How was it done? By bullets and bayonets and unjust laws; by English hatred and greed. That is how it was done. How many years have the Ingliz been in Palestine? Nearly twenty! Then how much longer have we left before we suffer the fate of the Tasmanians?'

"By this time he had lashed himself to a lather of fury.

"'I tell you, Brothers in the Faith, that if I were a rich man I would bring the bones of that last of the Tasmanians - the woman called Trukanini - and I would lay them beneath a great monument here in Jerusalem, for a solemn warning to all we men of Arab blood. She should be our example, our guide and our inspiration.'

"He glanced around. 'Is there one who doubts this tale? If there be, let him go to any of the learned men, ask them to consult their books, and he will find that I have spoken naught but the truth. The rights of subject peoples! I tell you that we cannot trust the Ingliz. This time we must be staunch and loyal.

"I walked quietly away, anxious to be absent from the scene ere any of the enthralled Arabs realised that one of the Ingliz was looking on; before any of them, with their passionate fanaticism alight, saw in me a heaven-sent opportunity to revenge the wrongs done long ago to the Tasmanians." (Palestine Picture, 1936, pp 65-68)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Good Turks, Bad Turks

How anyone can take Murdoch's Australian seriously is beyond me.

Take today's editorial, Syrian crisis spills into Turkey, for example:

According to the editorialist, if in response to 5 Turks being killed by a (stray?) mortar shell that may or may not have been fired by the Syrian army, the Turks "launched a series of counter attacks" against the Syrian army, then "the international community, especially NATO, should not shy away from pledging solid support for Turkey in its cross border confrontation with the murderous Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus."

If, on the other hand, in response to the cold-blooded murder of 9 Turks aboard the Gaza-bound aid ship Marvi Marmara by Israeli pirates operating in international waters in 2010, Turkey "expelled Israel's ambassador," then Turkey did not "act in the best interests of its NATO allies" and was "misguided."