Monday, September 30, 2013

Do You Want a Trip to Israel With That?

Further to my last post - it seems that rambamming is as popular among student politicians as it is among their state and federal counterparts.

So what's going on here? Is this the 'me, myself and I' generation we hear so much about:

Well hi there, Winner. Congratulations on your presidency. I'm from the Man from AIJAC.

- AIJAC? Right... I've been expecting a call.

Mm, word does get around! So, as you already know, already, a win like yours is as good as a week-long, all-expenses paid trip to the land of Hope & Glory.

- Bring it on!

Not so fast, Mr President! First, a question. Why do you want to go to Israel?

- Well, I've heard so much about it - really, really good things, of course - but, as a poor, hungry student, the proof is in the pudding, know what I mean?

Sure I do, Mr President! You'll be wined and dined and schmoozed and boozed so well you'll hardly be able to wait to become an MP or a journalist so's you can do it all over again... and again... and again... And, just to tide you over till then, Mr President, you'll also get a gold pass to the nearest Max Brenner outlet, OK?

- Cool, sign me up NOW!

The following expose, by Rafi Alam and Xiaoran Shi, NUS Israel trips are no spiritual pilgrimage (19/8/13), comes from Sydney University's student newspaper, Honi Soit:

"There are few issues more contentious than Israel and Palestine, and this contention is only exacerbated within student politics. The left-right divide on the issue of Israel has been a persistent element of political discord in the student movement since the formation of the state of Israel. The issue was enlivened once more this year when Socialist Alternative, a vehemently anti-Zionist Trotskyist, passed a non-binding motion at the National Union of Students' (NUS) Education Conference condemning Todd Pinkerton, NUS General Secretary, and Mikaela Wangmann, NUS Women's Officer, for travelling to Israel despite the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement promoted against Israel.

"The matter of student office bearers visiting Israel has been a frequent phenomenon in the student movement since the rebirth of the NUS in 1987. [MERC: Misleading: The old Australian Union of Students (AUS) folded in 1984. See my 14/8/10 post The Real Julia Gillard for Gillard's hand in its demise.] Other [recent] visitors have included Jade Tyrell in 2012, who was UTS SRC President at the time, and is the current NUS President, as well as John Barlow in 2012, the NUS General Secretary that year, and Xavier Williams in 2010, the year he was the NUS General Secretary.

"These trips, however, are no spiritual pilgrimages. They began as an attempt to inform student office bearers from mainstream political parties on the situation in Israel and Palestine [MERC: An astonishingly naive statement here!], and are funded by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) through the Rambam Israel Fellowship program.

"When asked for comment Todd Pinkerton confirmed that his recent trip to Israel was indeed sponsored by AIJAC, although the organisation only funded the trip in part, not in full. This is replicated in similar programs with the Parliamentary Friends of Israel cross-political group. AIJAC provides these scholarships, from their perspective, to reduce anti-Israel bias [MERC: Anti-Israel bias? What anti-Israel bias?] among the major political parties, at a parliamentary and student level. From another perspective, these trips are intended to dampen pro-Palestinian sentiment within student organisations, and to prevent a re-formation of NUS's predecessor, the Australian Union of Students (AUS), which in the 1970s, rejected the existence of the State of Israel and supported the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). Apart from advancing a series of pro-PLO motions, it was alleged that the AUS sent money to the PLO in solidarity with its cause.

"While the NUS is far less radical than its predecessor, various minor factions in the NUS, primarily Socialist Alternative, are attempting to revive the pro-Palestine movement. The shift in the ALP since the 1980s towards a strong alliance with Israel and the persistent predisposition [MERC: bias?] towards Israel in the Liberal Party - the two parties which hold the majority of delegates at NUS - have effectively reduced the anti-Zionist segment within student politics.

"Student recipients of the Rambam Fellowship come from the Liberal, Labor Right, and Labor Left factions. For members of Labor Left who accept the fellowship, the matter is particularly complicated as their actions contradict the faction's stance against Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Former USYD SRC President and recipient of the Rambam Fellowship, Elly Howse, was said to have taken part with strong anti-Zionist views, but returned home more sympathetic to Israel. Honi was unable to reach Howse for comment.  [MERC: See my next post.]

"Another student member of Labor Left who received the Fellowship in 2010, Jesse Marshall, was NUS President in 2011 and rejects the idea that AIJAC is trying to silence pro-Palestine activists. 'I still believe the Palestinians need an independent state,' Marshall said. 'It's selling people short to think that just because a trip was funded by the Jewish community [MERC: JC=AIJAC?] that it's blindly pro-Israel.' Marshall says he went on the trip in order to better understand the barriers to peace, something he believes can only be learned through being in the Middle East. When asked about the Socialist Alternative motion, Marshall accuses SA of attempting to coerce the student movement into 'supporting a one-state solution that dismantles Israel. Marshall also argues that BDS is a distraction and will not lead to peace. ...

"Antony Loewenstein, in an article in New Matilda, argues that these trips are used to create a favourable impression of Israel as a pursuer of a peaceful two-state solution, even though - in his opinion - the two-state solution would not achieve justice for Palestinians or Arab Israelis, not least due to the settlement policy in the West Bank. Lowenstein also states that another reason is to portray the debate as 'complex' and frame hardline pro-Palestinian positions as anti-Semitic. [MERC: See AL's Zionist lobby courts Aussie students, New Matilda, 16/8/12.]

"Cat Rose, an NUS Queer Officer who helped pass a motion at EdCon condemning two NUS office bearers for participating in the AIJAC-funded trips, largely agrees with Loewenstein... When asked for comment on the EdCon motion, she compared the 'Israeli occupation of Palestine' to apartheid in South Africa and stated that the trips were a 'PR exercise for a racist regime' which 'exists on stolen land' and 'disregards basic human rights.' Rose, as a member of Socialist Alternative, strongly supports BDS and is quick to stress that Israel is, in fact, a state under 'international boycott,' which student politicians are contravening by participating in sponsored visits..."

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Transformative Experience, Anyone?

"A group of non-Jewish student leaders had a transformative experience during a recent visit to Israel as part of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's (AIJAC) Rambam Fellowship Program. The 3 Young Labor members and 3 Young Liberals spent a week travelling through the country and the West Bank, meeting with prominent Israeli commentators, as well as representatives from the Palestinian Authority."

Hm... I bet these bright young things, aflame with a longing for Truth, Justice and the LibLab Way, were put right by those PA "representatives."

Er... maybe not:

"Mikaela Wangmann, national women's officer of the National Union of Students, said, 'The experience has made me a lifetime defender of the State of Israel - not in the knee-jerk, geopolitical sense but in the way you would defend any people who are just trying to build for themselves a better world' [while] Australian Liberal Students' Federation president Christian Street said that he feels 'far more able to talk to people about Israel with confidence now that I have some practical experience of the issues at play, the trip was worth it for that alone'."

And the point is?

"AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein said the program helped foster 'an informed and constructive awareness of Israeli/Palestinian issues among some of Australia's future leaders'." (Future in their hands, The Australian Jewish News, 27/9/13)

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

So this lot are Australia's future leaders, eh?

OK, then, maybe we should know a little more about them:

1) According to Tharunka (1/59 2013), our NUS women's officer, Mikaela Wangmann (Adelaide Uni), belongs to the "hard-line Christian social conservative faction of the ALP, the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA)." 

Now whether that means you get a Bible with every purchase I'm not quite sure, but whatever it means, it sounds as if young Mikaela's going places, and soon. Just think, with Israel as the wind beneath her wings, young Mikaela could turn out to be the next Julia Gillard! 

In the event, I thought it might be useful to draw your attention to the following paragraph from a recent thought bubble of hers, which not only casts light on the workings of her mind, but the felicities of her prose style as well :

"Of the forty people who have been featured on Australian money only 10 have been women, while I acknowledge that it is better than I though it would be its still bullshit! Money which is one of the things we value most in our society, and having your face brandished across it is one of the greatest honors that can be bestowed features thirty men and ten women. TEN." (10 out of 40, 'aint bad? Wait.,, 5/6/13)

2) Todd Pinkerton, NUS General Secretary, apparently belongs to the Labor faction 'Student Unity'. Now I couldn't find much on this bloke, but, hey, isn't this retweet interesting?

"IDF ?@IDFSpokesperson 22 Jul NEWS: The truth is spreading. Today, the EU joined the US, UK and others to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization Retweeted by Todd Pinkerton."

(Parenthetically, I can't for the life of me understand why, but this rant of George Carlin's has suddenly popped into my head and I can't get the damn thing out - short of putting it down here that is. So here goes: "And I'm getting really sick of guys named Todd. You know? Yeah, it's just a goofy... it's a goofy fucking name, OK? Hi, what's your name? 'Todd! I'm Todd. And this is Blake and Blair and Blaine and Brent.' Where are all these goofy fucking boys' names coming from? Taylor, Tyler, Jordan, Flynn. These are not real names! You want to hear a real name? Eddie. Eddie is a real name. Whatever happened to Eddie? He was here a minute ago. Joey and Jackie and Bobby and Phil. Bobby and Tommy and Danny and Bill. What happened? *Todd* And Cody, and Dylan, and Cameron, and Tucker. 'Hi, Tucker. I'm Todd.' 'Hi, Todd! I'm Tucker' Fuck Tucker; Tucker sucks. And fuck Tucker's friend, Kyle. You know? Yeah. There's another soft name for a boy. Kyle. Soft names make soft people. I'll bet you anything that ten times out of ten, Nicky, Vinny and Tony will beat the shit out of Todd, Kyle and Tucker." Such a relief getting that off my chest, I can tell you.)

3) "The liberal hard right at UNSW is run by Nik Kaurin, formerly a staffer to NSW MLC David Clarke and now working for senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells." (Honi Soit, 2/10/12)


4) Phoebe Drake, Labor, is President of Sydney Uni's SRC. There's not much to report here, folks, except to note that over at her twitter account Phoebe describes herself as a "Lover of chocolate, coffee... and a good book."

I'm thinking, shouldn't that now be amended to 'Lover of chocolate and coffee - Max Brenner, of course! - and a good book... by Leon Uris'?

5) Christian Street, Liberal from Melbourne Uni. Not much on this bloke out there in cyberspace, but in case any of you out there in realspace ever find yourselves buttonholed by a young man confidently banging on about Israel somewhere within cooee of Melbourne U, and he terminates the convo with an  abrupt 'Anyways, I was there, so there!', it'll probably be Christian, OK?

6) On Jessica Wilson, the third Lib, I drew a complete blank, but as serendipity would have it, I did come across a certain Jess Wilson, an American currently living in Beersheva, Israel. Curious, I began trawling  through her tweets when, lo and behold, I struck gold, or, more accurately, fool's gold.  Now I've read some pretty mind-blowing takes on Palestine/Israel before, but this particular tweeted take... takes the cake:

"Israel is like STOP TOUCHING ME and Palestine is like YOU'RE TOUCHING ME and Hillary is like I WILL PULL THIS CAR OVER."

Like, I haven't read anything quite as, like, memorably moronic since, like, rambammed NSW MLC Peter Phelps tweeted from, like, Sderot on his last rambam: "Just peered into Gaza - now I know how Frodo felt when he first gazed upon Mordor."

Friday, September 27, 2013

What Would Santa Say?

Tony Abbott's Suppository of All (Foreign Policy) Wisdom, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan declared in yesterday's Australian that:

"Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop intend to reverse the anti-Israel direction in Australia's voting patterns in the UN resolutions that Kevin Rudd oversaw as prime minister, and which Bob Carr continued. This is an immensely important sign of the Coalition government's values and direction." (Unstinting support for Israel back in place)

Yes, a sign that we are now entering an era of uncritical, knee-jerk support for Israel of the kind typically displayed only by the United States, Canada and a handful of non-serious Pacific statelets.

"Canberra will revert to the voting pattern established by John Howard and Alexander Downer: less ambiguous, less apologetic."

Yes, Sir, no, Sir; three bags full, Sir.

"Bishop has not issued any general voting instructions but she has made it clear she intends to restore the Howard voting pattern and to reverse the votes Rudd changed. She has also made it clear she expects to see every significant Middle East resolution. Nothing will be done by autopilot. Her view is that Australia's vote on each resolution will be decided on its merits but that she will not support any unbalanced, one-sided or unfair resolutions on Israel."

A quick perusal of the rest of Sheridan's piece reveals the Israeli agenda which will henceforth determine how we vote in the UN:

1) Whenever any criticism of Israel finds its way into a UN resolution, it must always be offset by a criticism of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

2) Israel's "presence in the Old City of Jerusalem" is to be taken as a given.

3) Any references to the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to "Palestinian territories" should be accompanied by an "acknowledge[ment] that Israel already voluntarily observes its humanitarian provisions."

4) Any resolution that calls for Palestinian self-determination must also mention Israeli self-determination.

Now given Tony Abbott's stated devotion to the man he describes as his "political mentor," the late B.A. (Bob) Santamaria, you'd perhaps be forgiven for expecting that Santa's views on the Palestine/Israel conflict would carry some weight in how an Abbott government relates to Israel, if not act as its ultimate guide.

So what are Santa's views on this issue?

"My viewpoint about Israel," wrote Santamaria in 1975, "has always been the same. I became unpopular many years ago... with many of the Jewish community because I was opposed to the establishment of the state of Israel, before it was established. My reason was that I did not believe people should be forcibly thrown out of their ancestral lands."

Santa saw the Palestinian people as the indigenous and rightful owners of Palestine and recognised that Israel was created at their expense. He also acknowledged the Palestinian Nakba of 1948.

"I dissented as strongly from the acts of terrorism which were committed by the Haganah, the Stern Gang and the Irgun Zvei Leumi, as I object to the terrorism of the Viet Cong and to the terrorism used by some elements of the PLO today. My objection to terrorism has been increased by seeing the results of terrorism at first hand in Vietnam."

Santa acknowledged that Israel had emerged out of the barrel of a terrorist's gun.

"Since I know the history of the irregular military activities which accomplished the establishment of Israel, I am not greatly influenced by the protests against PLO terrorism today when it comes from the descendants of the same people."

Santa recognised the hypocrisy of Zionists who label resistance to their crimes as 'terrorism'.

"Despite my opposition to the establishment of a state on this basis, the state of Israel did come into existence and today there are something like 3 million people in Israel. There is thus a new historical fact. And, while I think it was a mistake ever to have established the state, in the light of this new situation I do not believe that the state should be obliterated. I believe that the Israelis would be treated as badly as they themselves in the past have treated others."

"As they themselves have treated others." Indeed.

"Furthermore - and this does not influence me substantially - I do not think that they will give up lightly. I believe that they have nuclear weapons and that, if they are faced with the certainty that their state is going to be destroyed, they will not hesitate to use them. As they see it, the alternative is their own extinction anyway."

"As they see it..."

"Hence, the policy which we have pursued is this. We believe that there should be a settlement in Israel based on the existence of two states: (1) An existing Israeli state, backed by international guarantees, but having given up the territories which it occupied after the 1967 war."

Note the territories which Israel occupied in 1967. Not some of it - all.

"(2) A new Palestinian state, taking in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and with some kind of legal presence in Jerusalem."

Indeed: Palestinian sovereignty over Arab East Jerusalem.

"(3) That, in order to achieve this settlement, the Arab states should at some point be brought to say that, if the Israelis give up these territories and if adequate compensation is made to the Palestinian refugees, they will simultaneously recognise Israel."

Santa acknowledged the right of Palestinian refugees, at least in part. I have no idea where he stood in relation to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but, assuming he subscribed to its principles, he'd have backed the Palestinians' right of return.

"I understand very well that it will be hard to reach this solution. Nevertheless, it is the solution which we think is best in all the circumstances today. We do not accept the obliteration of Israel as a state in favour of a new Palestinian state in which they would be a small minority, simply because we believe that within such a state their life would be very bitter indeed and they would not have much of a future..."

I'm sure that Santa would have been the first to admit, had it been put to him, that the life of Palestinian refugees in their camps is very bitter indeed and that they do not have much of a future. And I'm equally sure he'd agree that if white South Africans could be expected to deal with their post-apartheid bitterness, so too could Jewish Israelis when Israeli apartheid finally gives way to a secular, democratic Palestine following the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands.

"[This] is the best available - even if very inferior - method of achieving a kind of justice in a situation which should never have arisen." (B.A. Santamaria: Your Most Obedient Servant, Selected Letters: 1938-1996, 2007, pp 309-310)

IOW, says Santa, even were the Israeli occupation to end, this would be at best rough justice for the Palestinian people.

So "the greatest Australian of his time,"* had a clear understanding of Israel's original sin and freely acknowledged the justice of the Palestinian case.

Be that as it may, if it ever came down to betting on which side of the divide an Abbott government would come down if presented with a clear choice between the Israeli way or the highway, the latter being Santa's principled position, I'm pretty damn sure the Israeli way would win hands down.

Hell, I'm a thousand per cent sure Abbott doesn't even know what Santa's position was on this issue.

[*Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott, David Marr, Quarterly Essay, 2012, p 9.]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Geraldine Doogue: Still Clueless After All These Years

I don't know about you but I find the ABC's Geraldine Doogue profoundly irritating. This is primarily because, on those occasions - alas too frequent - when she discusses the Palestine/Israel conflict, little more than Israeli talking points emerge.

The latest example came on last Sunday night's Compass program - Why I'm still... Jewish - when she talked with 4 members of Australia's Jewish community:

"Can I raise the issue," she chirped at one point, "and it's amazing that I am raising this, but what about the rockets, what about Hezbollah, what about Hamas?"

So Doogue was amazed that none of her interlocutors had thus far started banging on about Palestinian fireworks - these, of course, being the be-all and end-all of the conflict in her view. (Hers was no mean feat actually: not only did she reduce the conflict to the level of a Zionist cliche but managed to stereotype her guests as knee-jerk Zionist propagandists at the same time.)

Doogue's unblushing invocation of this particular propaganda trope came like the proverbial shot-in-the-arm for the show's beleaguered (because terminally smug) Zionist ultra, Timmy Rubin. "Thank you. Thank you, Geraldine," she gushed, as Doogue babbled on: "In other words if you are going to give it [the West Bank] back..."

Until, that is, she was interrupted by the sharpest of the four, Ronni Kahn, who labelled her nonsense "scare-mongering."

To which an incredulous Doogue could only retort: "Is it?"

The thing is, Doogue of all people has no excuse whatever for such ignorance.

In January 1991, at the time of the First Gulf War, she presented a current affairs slot on ABC television called The Gulf Report. For expert opinion on events as they unfolded, the program turned to Macquarie University Arabist Dr Robert Springborg, a move which angered reigning Prime Minister (and uber-Zionist) Bob Hawke and catapulted Doogue and her colleagues, particularly Peter Manning, head of ABC News & Current Affairs, into the centre of a political storm. As a result, Doogue underwent something of a learning curve which she described in the Spring 2003 issue of The Griffith Review. Here are the relevant paragraphs:

"It was on! Day after day, new criticism turned up. We learned there was a 'war room' in Parliament House where the prime minister, with his widely acknowledged emotional attachment to Israel at full throttle, and several Cabinet colleagues, including future opposition leader Kim Beazley, pored over every detail. I became aware for the first time of the Israel/Jewish lobby and its power. Naive little me had never experienced organised opposition in my previous reporting life. In an odd way, it was enthralling to watch in practice what I had read and heard about. I just wish I hadn't been at the centre of it. This campaign was conducted in public and private. Letters arrived by the dozen, plus phone calls to the program (including utterly sexist diatribes directed at me; I was after all, one of the first Australian women to be allowed to report a war on television)."

Unfortunately, while Peter Manning, whose courage under fire Doogue acknowledged in her essay - "Peter Manning, I salute you," is her concluding sentence - has since gone on to study the Middle East conflict in some depth, even writing a book on the subject, Us & Them: A Journalist's Investigation of Media, Muslims & the Middle East (2006), Doogue, it seems, has not only failed to build on her initial awareness of the power of the Israel lobby by developing a real understanding of the Palestinian case, but has actually moved in the other direction, and now simply recycles Zionist talking points and cliches as the occasion demands.

Laziness? Self-protection? The price of retaining a perch at the ABC? Who knows? Perhaps it's time for her to pen another piece for The Griffith Review.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Is the Murdoch Press Taking the Piss...

... out of Tony Abbott?

Arthur Sinodinos, assistant treasurer, reckons he's "a higher primate who has learned from experience..." (From Spartacus to Fabius, The Australian, 17/9/13)

A "higher primate," eh? (Hm... not quite sure about "higher" there.)

Is it his hairy chest and back, his simian gait, or both?

Murdoch pundit Nick Cater reckons: "Abbott's cultural detractors have consistently underestimated the man, and would dearly love to categorise him as reactionary, stupid or mendacious. Yet Abbott is a more substantial figure than that... Abbott is an intellectual who has fought political correctness from his student days and is not about to give up." (Abbott muscling up in fight for ideas, The Australian, 24/9/13)

He means he's a boofhead, right?

Finally, another Murdoch pundit, Miranda Devine, wrote this in a piece ostensibly about Julie Bishop:

"During the election campaign she explained Abbott's success. He wasn't a leader in the Great Man mould." (Women should learn from Julie, Sunday Telegraph, 22/9/13)

"A leader not in "the Great Man mould"?

I see, more like jock itch then. What a bitch! (Miranda, that is.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BDS: The Greens' Achilles' Heel

Ever get the feeling that Labor governments spend way too much time paving the way for Liberal slashers and burners? Here, for example, is a case in point: "Labor leadership aspirants Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten say they will try to reverse the Gillard government's decision to move single parents onto the dole when their youngest child turned eight... The Coalition, however, allowed the cut to go through, and has no plans to reverse it." (Leadership rivals agree: cut for single parents was wrong, Tim Colebatch, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/9/13)

Unfortunately, Labor's not alone in this practice. The Greens too have unwittingly handed the Abbott Government a stick with which to beat them and their pro-environment constituents.

But before I go further, it's useful to recall just how unforgivably wobbly on the subject of the pro-Palestine BDS movement certain leading Greens politicians have been:

"Senator [Bob] Brown said the Israel boycott proposal was against his advice and had alienated NSW voters when the party should have been focusing on bread-and-butter issues." (Greens leader Bob Brown slaps down Lee Rhiannon on Israel boycott policy, James Massola & Joe Kelly, The Australian, 1/4/11)(1)

"Like all Greens, I strongly support the Palestinians, but I watched dismayed as the [BDS] issue was elevated to national prominence." (Greens won't get much further if we repeat poll blunders, Cate Faehrmann, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/4/11)(2)

"The BDS urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law. I agree that this tactic has been extremely controversial and its success in Australia has been brought into question." (Cate Faehrmann, NSW Legislative Council, 30/9/11)(3)

"New federal Greens leader Senator Christine Milne has given a fresh assurance that her party does not support the global BDS campaign against Israel. 'That issue is behind us'[,she said]." (Greens leader: BDS 'is behind us', The Australian Jewish News, 20/4/12)(4)

Well, their cowardice and cluelessness on the subject of the Palestinian BDS movement may well be in the process of returning to bite them - and the broader green movement - on the bum:

"Conservation groups seeking boycotts of products linked to alleged poor environmental practices may soon be liable for prosecution under consumer law... Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck told The Australian the move would prevent Green groups from holding companies to ransom in their markets. 'We'll be looking at the way some of the environmental groups work because we are very concerned about some of the activities they conduct in the markets,' Senator Colbeck said. 'They have exemptions for secondary boycott activities under the Consumer & Competition Act.(5) We are going to have a complete review of that act... The timber industry has long complained about green groups organising boycotts and campaigns to pressure their customers not to accept products sourced from so-called high-conservation-value forests." (Companies to get protection from activists' boycotts, Matthew Denholm, The Australian, 23/9/13)

(1) See my 1/4/11 post Bob Brown & A Failure of Courage;
(2) See my 7/4/11 post Murdoch Spooks Faehrmann on Palestine;
(3) See my 16/11/11 post Witches Brew 8;
(4) See my 21/4/12 post Some Questions for Christine Milne.
(5) See my 9/8/11 post Criminalising BDS.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our Man in Tel Aviv 3

Dave Sharma is Australia's new ambassador to Israel. Or should that be Israel's ambassador to Australia?

While other Australian diplomats quietly attend to the myriad needs of Australians abroad, Sharma's busy blowing Israel's trumpet in the Murdoch press, celebrating its latest PR stunt, the treatment of a handful of Syrian refugees in an Israeli hospital. A sample:

"Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges." (Origin no bar to Israel lifesavers, The Australian, 31/8/13)

(For a more liberal serving of same see my 3/9/13 post Our Man in Tel Aviv 2.)

Now was it Dave Sharma or one of his underlings who was on hand to witness the following example of Israel's "humanity and decency at its most compelling"?

"Khirbet Al-Makhul, West Bank: Israeli soldiers manhandled European diplomats on Friday and seized a truck full of tents and emergency aid they had been trying to deliver to Palestinians whose homes were demolished this week.

"A Reuters reporter saw soldiers throw sound grenades at a group of diplomats, aid workers and locals in the occupied West Bank, and yank a French diplomat out of the truck before driving away with its contents. 'They dragged me out of the truck and forced me to the ground with no regard for my diplomatic immunity,' French diplomat Marion Castaing said. 'This is how international law is being respected here,' she said, covered with dust...

"Locals said Khirbet Al-Makhul was home to about 120 people. The army demolished their ramshackle houses, stables and a kindergarten on Monday after Israel's high court ruled that they did not have proper building permits... Israeli soldiers stopped the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivering emergency aid on Tuesday... Diplomats from France, Britain, Spain, Ireland, Australia and the European Union's political office, turned up on Friday with more supplies. As soon as they arrived, about a dozen Israeli army jeeps converged on them, and soldiers told them not to unload their truck.

"'It's shocking and outrageous. We will report these actions to our governments,' said one EU diplomat... '(Our presence here) is a clear matter of international humanitarian law. By the Geneva Convention, an occupying power needs to see to the needs of people under occupation. These people aren't being protected,' he said...

"The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement that Makhul was the third Bedouin community to be demolished by the Israelis in the West Bank and adjacent Jerusalem municipality since August." (Israeli forces manhandle EU diplomats, seize West Bank aid, Reuters/Sydney Morning Herald, 21/9/13)

Whoever it was, he/she was remarkably short of words this time around. As Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard wrote, in an appendage to the Reuters report: "A spokesman from the Australian Embassy in Israel said the embassy was 'looking into' the incident."

I for one won't be holding my breath for an opinion piece in the corporate press by ambassador Sharma addressing this, the latest example of Israeli ethnic cleansing in occupied Palestine. Nor, for that matter, for a word of protest from our new foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fact-Checking Greg Sheridan

Further to my 21/9/12 post Behind the Sacking of AusAID, I quoted The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, thus:

"The PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] is a proscribed terrorist organisation under the relevant UN list, Australian legislation, and of the legislation of numerous other countries." (Don't give aid to groups with terrorist connections, 3/6/12)

Now for someone billed as "Australia's most influential foreign affairs analyst," you'd expect the bugger to at least get some of the basics (if nothing else) right, right? Well, let's see:

Take that "UN list" for example. Ever wondered what's on it, and who's responsible for maintaining it? Wonder no more:

"The United Nations maintains only one list (the '1267 Committee list' or 'the list') of names of individuals and entities that are linked to terrorist activities. The list, which was introduced as part of the Taliban sanctions regime through Resolution 1267 (1999) of the Security Council, was subsequently amended and extended various times, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks... Resolution 1267... created a Security Council Committee recently renamed the 'Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1267 (1999) Concerning al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated Individuals' ('1267 Committee' or 'the Committee') which oversees the implementation by States of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council on individuals and entities belonging or related to the Taliban, Usama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda organization... It is worth emphasizing that the list kept by the United Nations is limited to entities linked to Al-Qaida and the Taliban regime, and is not a general list which is meant to include all forms of terrorism. In part, this is due to the fact that there is no agreed definition of terrorism in international law and the United Nations can only act and deal with very specific situations as mandated by its membership."  (Listing & De-listing of Terrorist Organisations: the Cases of the United Nations & the United States, Chiara Giorgetti, April, 2006,

You will, of course, have noted that the PFLP doesn't come, as we say here in Australia, within cooee of being on this list.

But what about that "Australian legislation"?

"For an effective counter-terrorism regime, it is vital that our laws target not only terrorist acts, but also the organisations that plan, finance and carry out such acts. In 2002, a range of new terrorist organisation offences were enacted enabling the Government to deal with organisations involved in terrorism - Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002. These offences apply in relation to 'terrorist organisations'. Either an organisation may be found to be such an organisation by a court as part of the prosecution for a terrorist offence, or it may be specified in Regulations, known as 'listing'. For a listing to be effective, the processes set out in the legislation must be followed. The Government has prepared a listing protocol outlining the process and requirements that apply to the listing of terrorist organisations... There are 18 organisations now officially listed." (Listing of terrorist organisations,

Now would it surprise you to find that the PFLP is nowhere to be found among the 18 organisations on this list?

That leaves "the legislation of many other countries." If the US and its EU and Canadian clients constitute "many," then we'll generously concede him that one, OK? (See 'List of designated terrorist organisations',

Getting one out of three right passes for 'quality journalism' in this country.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Abbott's Backyard: From Islamabad to Beirut

Check out the reach, justification for, and cost of Australia's military madness to come:

"Australia's new Defence Minister David Johnston* says he wants the military to be battle-ready for future conflicts in the unstable Middle East and south Asia, even including the possibility of fresh trouble in Afghanistan. Senator Johnston said that after 14 years of involvement in overseas conflicts from East Timor to Afghanistan, the Australian Defence Force had a strong fighting momentum that should not be lost. In an interview with Fairfax Media, he said he planned to maintain and 'augment our readiness' for future fights, which would most likely be in the unstable region stretching from Pakistan to the Middle East. 'It will be Pakistan across to Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan,' he said. 'That's the area where there'll be instability and that's the area that we might need to go back into at some point in the future. I can't forsee that right now, but... if you were to look at where the next area of instability is likely to be - and we're seeing it unfolding in Syria today - a contribution from Australia is most likely to be in that part of the world in the future... I think Pakistan is also highly problematic.' The West Australian senator... said he did not see Australians fighting in Syria... 'Operationally, we're starting to come down [in Afghanistan] so we've got to maintain some interest for the troops. They've got to keep training, got to keep a level of readiness'... The Coalition has vowed to boost defence spending by about $35 billion over the next 10 years..." (War footing: Mideast the next hotspot, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/9/13)

[*Rambammed: 2008]

Behind the Sacking of AusAID

Tony Abbott's Suppository of All Wisdom, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, is a happy man at last:

"The Abbott government is determined to reform Australia's overseas aid program - and it is in urgent need of reform. The move to scrap AusAID as an independent statutory agency and to make it part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is a huge and welcome step on the road... The government intends to keep the focus on sorting out waste and poor priorities in aid. Partly to this end, Teresa Gambaro... will be the chair of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, defence and trade. Ms Gambaro was a tough-minded critic of the aid program when she was parliamentary secretary..." (AusAID shake-up good for diplomacy, The Australian, 19/9/13)

And you can see why when you recall last year's frustration with these AusAID vipers:

"Australian taxpayers should not be forced to fund organisations with links to terrorists. This is the case with aid to at least one Palestinian group. It's not against the law, but it's wrong. It's morally and politically objectionable. It ought to stop. The Australian government aid agency, AusAID, gives millions of dollars, through the private charity World Vision, to the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which works in the Gaza Strip. The problem is the UAWC and its personnel have deep links with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP is a proscribed terrorist organisation under the relevant UN list, Australian legislation and the legislation of numerous other countries. It is one of the central progenitors of modern terrorism." (Don't give aid to groups with terrorist connections, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 3/5/12)

After all, hadn't these reptiles been exposed by none other than Andrew>Akiva Hamilton's doughty crusaders for human rights, Shurat HaDin?

"[A] group of Israeli lawyers, Shurat HaDin sent a complaint to AusAID and World Vision charging that these bodies would be in breach of the law because support for UAWC could be construed as indirect support for a terrorist organisation." (ibid)

A point not lost on then opposition development assistance spokeswoman Ms Gambaro (rambammed 2006/2012):

"It would appear that AusAID is providing funds to World Vision to fund an organisation that has links to a terrorist organisation." (ibid)

For the full story, read my 6/5/12 post Greg Sheridan On His Hind Legs.

PS: "Then there are the millions of dollars Australian taxpayers have generously stumped up for the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Works Committees. A number of the board members and office-holders of this group are intimately associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the key progenitors of terrorism against Western targets, pioneering especially attacks on passenger aeroplanes." (Rational approach to aid long overdue, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 21/9/13)

Now compare that dogmatic, guilty-as-charged assertion with last year's more measured approach:

"[A] group of Israeli lawyers, Shurat HaDin sent a complaint to AusAID and World Vision charging that these bodies would be in breach of the law because support for UAWC could be construed as indirect support for a terrorist organisation. I think that overstates the legal case but I think the moral and political case against funding the UAWC is overwhelming. In the Palestinian territories, it can be difficult to work effectively on the ground and not rub shoulders with people who have terrorist connections." (Don't give aid to groups with terrorist connections, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 3/5/12)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rape, Pillage, Plunder...

... like there's no tomorrow:

"Resource giants will be told to step up their spending on mammoth new projects or risk losing their rights to tap the deposits, under an Abbott government plan to accelerate investment and kill off fears of an end to the [mining] boom. The incoming government aims to use its power over the vast gas deposits to bring forward up to $180 billion in new investment, sending a blunt message to companies to develop rather than hoard the nation's resources... Incoming industry minister Ian Macfarlane told The Australian that companies should extract 'every molecule' of gas to boost exports and supply the domestic market... 'I want to put the industry on notice that if the deposits are able to be developed they've got to be developed,' he said... 'We've got to make sure that every molecule of gas that can come out of the ground does so'." (Use it or lose it, miners warned, David Crowe, The Australian, 18/9/13)

And who better than Ian 'Chainsaw' Macfarlane to deliver these glad tidings of great joy? Hey, and where better than in 'Dirty Digger' Murdoch's Australian to read about them?

Typically, all you get from bloody Fairfax is wild conspiracy theories from sniveling Green extremists like David Suzuki,* who singles out our great nation's wealth generators for special opprobrium, delegitimising them in the process and practically calling for them to be wiped off the map:

"I would have thought Australia would be leading the world in developing a new economy because climate change is going to devastate Australia. Instead, mining magnates are manipulating the debate in Australia just like they are doing elsewhere. Like the tobacco industry before them, they have known for years that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels is the heart of it. But to maximise their profits they have continued to sow misunderstanding and confusion, funding the sceptics to perpetrate the myth that global warming is junk science." (Ditch the carbon tax at your nation's peril, Mt Abbott - you're dooming future generations, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/9/13)

[*Parenthetically, speaking of visitors to these shores, how is it that David Suzuki can find his way into the opinion pages of the self-styled "Independent. Always." Fairfax press, but not those who defend the human rights of Palestinians, such as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and professor of international law at Princeton University, Richard Falk?]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't Mention the (Palestinian) Refugees

Late Night Live presenter, Phillip Adams, never ceases to amaze. The occasion for my flabbergasting this time around came during his interview (Rethinking Foreign Occupation) with the UN's Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Professor Richard Falk, on September 17.

In discussing the Murdoch press-facilitated Israel lobby attack on him, covered in my 12/9/13 post Anatomy of a Beat-Up, the following exchange took place:

Falk: Israel has tried to discredit the UN auspices and those that are charged with trying to report on what's going on in the occupied Palestinian territories, and it's part of what I call a politics of deflection, getting people to think about the messenger rather than the message. They don't attack my substantive analysis, they attack me as the presenter of that.
Adams: And yet you're a fine young Jewish gent, aren't you?
Falk (embarrassed laugh): I wish.

I cannot help but wonder whether Falk actually squirmed with embarrassment at this point. Be that as it may, the "Jewish gent" quip was as nothing compared to what was to come. Falk is speaking:

"[Israel has] pursued this fragmentation of the Palestinian identity. So when you ask who are the Palestinian people, it's not just those living under occupation, it's the minority in Israel, it's the people in Gaza living under Hamas, it's the refugees..."

Then Adams interrupted, quick as a flash, drowning out the word "refugees" with this most bizarre tangent:

"It's the one and a half million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey and Jordan."

Syrian refugees!!!

Falk must've thought he was talking with a lunatic. He valiantly tried steering Adams back on course:

"Well, in Turkey, they're Syrian refugees, but in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan there are between 2 and 3 million Palestinian refugees who've been living there generation after generation. It's a horrible reality."

Adams was having none of it, however, and retained his grip on the Syrian straw in a desperate bid to avoid being swept onto those dreaded PALESTINIAN REFUGEE rocks:

"In... in... parentheses, Richard, let's look at the broader Middle East for a moment. You've said there's no good endgame to the conflict in Syria. Where's it heading?"

Falk could hardly believe his ears:

"Oh, I didn't hear the last words."

"Where is the conflict in Syria heading?" replied Adams, white as a sheet by the sound of it.

The cognitive dissonance here was positively crackling, capping a sad pattern of same which I've documented on this blog over the years. Adams can grit his teeth and tolerate discussion of Israel's colonization of the West Bank, but any reference to Israel's original sin - the ethnic cleansing of 1948 - elicits a lightning quick change of subject. Clearly, Palestinian refugees are to Adams what garlic is to Dracula.

I can only speculate that, as an old leftie raised on dreams of kibbutz 'socialism', or baloney about making the desert bloom, or some other such zio-colonial fantasy, he finds the fact of Zionist genocide and expulsion in 1948 simply too awful to contemplate.

Feel free to browse my other posts on Adams, and you'll see what I mean. If you've only got time for two, try The Remarkable Mr Adams (9/9/10) and He Just Doesn't Get It (19/9/09).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Don't Buddhists Speak Out?

How many times have you heard the question: 'Why don't 'moderate' Muslims speak out against the violence perpetrated by 'extremist' Muslims?' (Curious, isn't it, how those, invariably Islamophobes, who deploy this question rhetorically would never dream of asking why Jews don't speak out against instances of Israeli violence?)

Well, in the spirit of 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander', I want to know why Buddhists such as the Dalai Lama and the sainted Aung San Suu Kyi (soon to grace our shores) aren't, even as I type, springing up from their stereotypical cross-legged posture and loudly condemning Aaron Alexis, perpetrator of the latest massacre in the Benighted States:

"Alexis was a practicing Buddhist. He was deeply into Thai and Buddhist culture... 'He worshipped at a Buddhist temple in Fort Worth, Texas. Monks there told the Los Angeles Times they were shocked that he was behind the DC killings. 'He was a very devoted Buddhist,' said the wife of someone who knew Alexis." (He was a Buddhist? 5 Things you should know about Aaron Alexis, the man who killed 12 at the D.C. Navy Yard, Alex Cane, 17/9/13,

Oops, There Goes the Only Woman in Cabinet

"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous."
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

The Abbott cabinet's Only Woman, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, would have taken note of this extraordinary thumbs-up for the Lib's answer to Lab's Michael Danby in yesterday's Australian:

"Watch out for Josh Frydenberg. The member for Kooyong is a lean and hungry parliamentary secretary. He was the stand-out backbencher of the last federal parliament... Frydenberg had the highest media profile of any backbencher over the past 3 years... He was particularly successful in getting opinion pieces published in newspapers*... Frydenberg has a good pedigree, having worked at length for Alexander Downer when he was foreign minister, then for John Howard, whom he advised on security issues... In some ways he resembles Kevin Rudd in turning professional experience and expertise in foreign affairs into domestic political credentials... Don't be fooled by the seemingly modest nature of his promotion: the emergence from the chrysalis of parliamentary secretary to the butterfly of cabinet minister can be very fast." (Lean, hungry and going places)

After all, it comes from The Australian's "suppository of all (foreign) policy wisdom" and Abbott confidante Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, whose considered verdict on Bishop is:

"Julie Bishop... has produced not a single sentence of substance or originality while in the portfolio." (Bishop's errors of judgment confound the Coalition's woes, 14/2/11)

[*Now which paper could that have been... hm?]

Monday, September 16, 2013

GK Chesterton: Anti-Semitic Zionist

"Readers of this column may possibly know already that I am devoted to GK Chesterton, the creator of Father Brown, the clerical detective." (Greg Sheridan, The Forum, The Weekend Australian Magazine, 14/9/13)

As the Australian media's most vocal Zionist, The Australian's foreign editor might be interested to learn that the GK Chesterton [1874-1936] to whom he is "devoted" was a self-confessed anti-Semite.

This revelation may be found in Chesterton's book The New Jerusalem (1920) - the product of a Zionist-sponsored rambamming in 1919:

"There is an attitude for which my friends and I were for a long period rebuked and even reviled; and of which at the present period we are less likely than ever to repent. It was always called Anti-Semitism; but it was always much more true to call it Zionism. At any rate it was much nearer to the nature of the thing to call it Zionism, whether or no it can find its geographical concentration in Zion."

Anti-Semitism is Zionism?! Perish the thought! How can this possibly be?

"The substance of this heresy was exceedingly simple. It consisted entirely in saying that Jews are Jews; and as a logical consequence that they are not Russians or Roumanians or Italians or Frenchmen or Englishmen." 

IOW, Jews didn't really belong in Europe.

Chesterton elaborates:

"During the war the newspapers commonly referred to them as Russians; but the ritual wore so singularly thin that I remember one newspaper paragraph saying that the Russians in the East End complained of the food regulations, because their religion forbade them to eat pork. My own brief contact with the Greek priests of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem did not permit me to discover any trace of this detail of their discipline; and even the Russian pilgrims were said to be equally negligent in the matter."

The fallacy here, of course, is Chesterton's assumption that just because these East End Russians, unlike other Russians, were averse to pork that somehow made them not Russian.

He continues:

"The point for the moment, however, is that if I was violently opposed to anything, it was not to Jews, but to that sort of remark about Jews; or rather to the silly and craven fear of making it a remark about Jews. But my friends and I had in some general sense a policy in the matter; and it was in substance the desire to give Jews the dignity and status of a separate nation. We desired that in some fashion, and so far as possible, Jews should be represented by Jews, should live in a society of Jews, should be judged by Jews and ruled by Jews. I am an Anti-Semite if that is Anti-Semitism. It would seem more rational to call it Semitism." (pp 264-265)

So, not belonging in Europe, Jews needed a land of their own - outside Europe.

And blow me down if the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in response to such anti-Semitic logic as Chesterton's, didn't come to the exact same conclusion as that of the great British writer: "Everything tends, in fact, to one and the same conclusion, which is clearly enunciated in that classic Berlin phrase: 'Juden Raus!' (Out with the Jews!)" (The Jewish State, 1896, Dover Publications, p 86)

And so it is that Herzl's Zionism and Chesterton's (or anyone else's) anti-Semitism are really just two sides of the same coin.

Speaking of which, a penny for your thoughts on the subject, Greg.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Just Do It!

Nobody over at News Ltd loves the smell of napalm in the morning more than Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, which, I guess, explains why he's so bloody pissed off with the Prez:

"Obama's Syrian operation has been a colossal cock-up... It was Obama himself who declared that the use of chemical weapons... by the Syrian government would constitute the crossing of a red line and there would be fearful consequences. Assad crossed the line and what Obama has provided subsequently is an elaborate policy of impotence... Obama cannot convince the UN Security Council, the US congress, the G20 or the American people that taking any action at all in response to the chemical weapons attack is a good idea. Of course he didn't really need to convince these audiences. If he truly believed it was necessary he should have just done it." (Obama's elaborate ballet of impotence, 12/9/13)

Academic Refuses to Jump Through Zionist Hoop

"A complaint filed at the Australian Human Rights Commission against those involved in the University of Sydney BDS controversy has been dropped after the academic at the centre of the row failed to respond in detail to the issues raised. Jake Lynch, director of the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, will face possible legal action in the Federal Court... 'We expected there would be some attempt (by Dr Lynch) to conciliate, but his response was fairly brief* and he effectively declined to do so,' Mr [Andrew > Akiva] Hamilton said." (Civil rights group** to initiate court action, Kylar Loussikian, The Australian, 11/9/13)

[*Could it have been 'Go jump!' by any chance?; **Civil rights group?! LOL. Only in Murdoch's Australian.]

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zionists Rule, OK?

In my last post I quoted from an opinion piece, Take the free out of speech, by investigative journalist, Elisabeth Wynhausen. Published in The Australian on November 4, 2003, it was a trenchant critique of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's boots-and-all attack on the Sydney Peace Foundation's decision to award the 2003 Sydney Peace Prize to Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi.

Wynhausen, the outspoken daughter of Dutch Jews, died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer. She was 67.

In his obituary in Thursday's Sydney Morning Herald, journalist David Marr cited Wynhausen's book The Short Goodbye (2011), "which investigated the human wreckage of the global financial crisis," and added, tellingly: "Its first chapter is a pithy report of her own sacking from The Australian." 

Honest, unsparing reports on the darker side of Australian society were Wynhausen's trademark. The following snapshot of an Australian Jewish community under the Zionist thumb is surely a rarity in Australian journalism. It comes from Take the free out of free speech:

"Australia's 84,000 Jews make up about 0.5% of the population, or less than one-third of the number of those of Arabic-speaking descent. Only one or two electorates in Australia can be swayed by the Jewish vote. So why do a handful of representatives of a tiny section of the population have so much political influence? To answer money, or political donations, often gets you labelled as anti-Semitic. Indeed, after a couple of federal Labor backbenchers criticised the Israeli Government, Opposition leader Simon Crean hastened to reassure the Jewish community that he was a staunch supporter of Israel. The pressure to toe the party line is even stronger within the Jewish community because it feels perpetually besieged. Some relate this to the high proportion of Holocaust survivors among Australian Jews. In reality, a small, unrepresentative group of hardliners from AIJAC and the Zionist organisations have hijacked most debates, outflanking the moderates and positioning themselves as the voice of the Jewish community in Australia. Dissenters are often stifled."

I simply can't imagine today's Australian publishing anything like this.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just How Bright is Tony Abbott?

"After a big night out in my fourth year of university, a squad car observed me trying to bend over a street sign in a test of strength with a fellow student." (Tony Abbott, Battlelines, 2009, p 9)

Although Zionist propagandists work hard to suggest the contrary, 'getting' Palestine/Israel is hardly rocket science.

That being the case, you'd think a Rhodes scholar would be able to make short work of the issue, right? Well, there's at least one Rhodes scholar around who finds it all a bit of a struggle - Australia's prime minister-elect, Tony Abbott.

The available evidence suggests that on this particular issue (and who knows on how many others?), Abbott's position hasn't advanced one inch since his university days. That position, needless to say, is one of uncritical, knee-jerk support for Israel.

As the Australian's Paul Kelly put it succinctly: "Abbott knows little about Israel yet his views are fixed." (See my 23/12/12 post Tony Abbott On the Prowl.)

Here's Abbott in 1977, at the age of 20:

"No doubt the silliest thing we did at the [Australian Union of Students] conference [at Monash University] was to attend a Palestinian film night... [W]e heckled the film a bit... the film was stopped and we were told we had to leave." That's Abbott's bestie, the Australian's 'suppository of all wisdom', Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, recalling the good old days. (See my 13/9/12 post Greg & Tony Do Monash.)

Abbott, it seems, not only valued ignorance, but strongly believed that others too should be kept in the dark.

Fast forward 23 years to October 2003, and here he is, addressing the Zionist Council of Victoria:

"Tony Abbott has accused the Sydney Peace Prize winner, Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi, of justifying terrorism against civilians, and declared that the Bali bombing has made all Australians 'Israelis now'... Mr Abbott, responding to criticism of Israel by The Australian's columnist Phillip Adams, said it was not 'anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli government when it's wrong. But what is it, then,' he asked 'to proclaim moral equivalence between an Israeli leadership striving to preserve a liberal, pluralist democracy and Palestinian leadership running a one-party statelet dedicated to destroying its neighbour?" (We're all Israelis now, says Abbott, Dennis Shanahan & Megan Saunders, The Australian, 30/10/03)

Clearly, Abbott hadn't a clue.

In fact, so challenged was he that a tutor had to be engaged to help him out:

"Online magazine reveals that after federal Health Minister Tony Abbott gave a speech at the annual general meeting of the State Zionist Council last week, he joked about the fact that [Colin] Rubenstein had vetted it, saying: 'Did I get anything wrong? Colin, you better correct it so I get the script right.' Abbott told The Australian that he 'asked Colin to have a look at the speech on the Middle East because he's an expert in a way I'm not'." (Take the free out of speech, Elisabeth Wynhausen, 4/11/03)

And here's our Rhodes scholar, 9 years later, on March 9, 2012, parroting the very same lines at Sydney's Central Synagogue:

"In so many ways, [Israel is] a country so much like Australia, a liberal, pluralist democracy... And yet, we are not threatened in the way Israel was and is, and if we were threatened in the way Israel was and is, I am sure that we would take actions just as strong in our own defence. When Israel is fighting for its very life, well, as far as I'm concerned, Australians are Israelis. We are all Israelis in those circumstances'." (See my 18/3/12 post Abbott: We Are All Israelis.)

Almost a decade on, and still as clueless as ever.

Could Tony Abbott, perhaps, be Australia's answer to George W. Bush?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Anatomy of a Beat-Up

*Sigh* - yet another Christian Kerr EXCLUSIVE in the Australian:

The headline: ANU faces rage over conference

Really? It must be a pretty outrageous conference then:

"Australian National University officials have gone to ground in the face of Jewish community outrage for hosting Middle East hardliners at a Human Rights in Palestine conference this week."


So a conference on Palestinian rights is ipso facto "outrageous," and anyone speaking at it is ipso facto a "hardliner." (Definitions courtesy of the "Jewish community," aka the Executive Council of Australian Jewry's Peter Wertheim, and the Australian Union of Jewish Students' Dean Sherr.)

Now if the conference were about human rights in Burma or Tibet, say, it would no doubt be seen as being to the university's credit, but the very fact that the ANU is hosting a conference on Palestinian human rights apparently constitutes a damning indictment of the institution:

"The ANU was included in the international top 30 institutions in the QS World University Rankings released yesterday, but the conference has led to questions being asked about the university's credibility."

And who is asking the questions?

Now for those "hardliners" and their 'crimes'. (Beware, you are about to enter a Zionist twilight zone of false allegations, smear tactics and innuendo.):

There's Richard Falk, professor of international law at Princeton University and the UN's special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, "who was publicly rebuked by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in 2011 for 'preposterous' remarks questioning whether the September 11 terror attacks were orchestrated by the US government."

Falk, of course, has made no such claim. His crime  - apart from standing up for Palestinian rights - seems to consist of being sufficiently open-minded to have once raised the idea of an independent investigation into the 9/11 attacks.

(Incidentally, if it's "preposterous" you want, look no further than Ban - Is anyone home? - Ki-moon: "United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with students at the UN headquarters in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, and admitted that his organisation was biased against Israel. Responding to a student who said Israelis felt their country was discriminated against in the international organisation, Ban confirmed that there was a biased attitude towards the Israeli people and Israeli government, stressing that it was 'an unfortunate situation'." (UN chief admits bias against Israel, Omri Efraim,, 16/8/13))

There's Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi of Sydney Peace Prize (2003) fame, "who was among a few PLO members who in 1996 voted not to remove clauses in the PLO charter calling for Israel's destruction." (That, BTW, is a Zionist distortion of the reference, in Article 15 of the now defunct 1968 Palestinian National Charter, to the need to "eliminate Zionism in Palestine." Eliminating Zionism means no more and no less than dismantling Israel's system of apartheid legislation, which condemns Israeli Palestinians to second class citizenship and Palestinian refugees to eternal exile.)

The simple fact of the matter here is that not one Israeli government has ever lifted a finger to amend any of Israel's discriminatory and exclusionary (that is, anti-Palestinian) laws and practices.

Finally, there's Israeli activist Jeff Halper, who allegedly "claimed in 2011 that Israel has developed 'spectral dust' it could spray over wide areas of land, every grain of which was a sensor programmed with a person's DNA to track, locate and kill that individual."

I'm sorry, I've given up on this one. Trying to track it down to any credible source is about as fruitful as the search for Saddam Hussein's mythical people-shredder.

Having marshaled the suspects and their alleged crimes, judge and jury in the form of Zionist apologist Wertheim and footie fanatic* Sherr (aka 'the Jewish community') are duly wheeled in to deliver the guilty verdict:

Wertheim: "A conference that features fringe conspiracy theorists and ideologues and omits recognised scholars in the field has no academic credibility. It is appalling that one of our top universities, the ANU, seems no longer to understand the difference between genuine scholarship and political advocacy."

Sherr: "It is highly concerning to see someone with such a history of anti-Semitic slurs invited on to [sic] Australian university campuses. We repeatedly come up against extreme anti-Israel groups on campus that blur the line between attacking Israel and attacking Jews. Our fear is Falk will only inflame this."

"Sigh" - only in Murdoch's Australian...

[*Check out his tweets.]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Something Dangerous

Funny how the following didn't make it into today's papers:

"A Belgian writer held hostage for 5 months in Syria has said that his own rebel captors denied that President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the Ghouta massacre. Pierre Piccinin said that he and fellow hostage Domenico Quirico, an Italian war reporter, heard their jailers talking about the chemical weapon attack and saying that Assad was not to blame. Quirico confirmed to La Stampa newspaper that they had eavesdropped such a conversation through a closed door but added that he had no evidence to substantiate what he heard. Piccinin said the captives became desperate when they heard that the US was planning to launch a punitive attack against the regime over the gas attack in the Damascus suburb. 'It wasn't the government of Bashar al-Assad that used Sarin gas or any other gas in Ghouta,' Piccinin told Belgian RTL radio after he was released. 'We are sure about this because we overheard a conversation between rebels. It pains me to say it because I've been a fierce supporter of the Free Syrian Army in its rightful fight for democracy since 2012,' Piccinin added. 'We were prisoners, stuck with this information and unable to report it,' he said... Quirico said he listened to a Skype conversation between 3 individuals whose names he could not confirm. One identified himself as a Free Syrian Army general. The 3 contended that insurgents had used gas in Ghouta to trigger Western intervention... Kidnapped in April, Piccinin and Quirico were freed by their captors and flown to Rome. Quirico said he was treated badly. The Syrian revolution had turned into something very dangerous since he began covering it, he added... According to Washington, strong and incontrovertible evidence indicated that the regime was responsible for the chemical attack in which 1,429 died." (Syria: Assad not responsible for Ghouta gas attack, says freed hostage Pierre Piccinin, Umberto Bacchi,, 9/9/13)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Remember 'Two Israelis, Three Opinions'?

The fable:

"[T]he Israel I know... is intellectually disputatious; any two Israelis will have three opinions and be happy to argue them to a lamp post." (Israel still looks good, warts and all, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 6/5/13)

The reality:

"An international conference by Zochrot, an Israeli NGO which focuses on the Nakba and the 'right of return', is under threat following pressure from right-wing organizations. The Eretz Israel Museum, where Zochrot decided to host the event, has recently informed organizers that due to the risk of demonstrations and public disorder, they will need to pay for increased, onsite security. The museum management has also demanded that the name 'Al-Shaykh Muwannis' mentioned next to the museum's name in the event invitations be removed. Al-Shaykh Muwannis is a Palestinian village that was located in what is today's north Tel Aviv, and which stood where the museum and the Tel Aviv University are currently located.

"The conference, titled 'From Truth to Redress' is due to take place on September 29-30. The museum has informed Zochrot that the event will be canceled should the organization not meet the new requirements. In response, Attorney Michael Sfard sent a letter on behalf of Zochrot to the museum, stating that backing away from the agreement would be an 'illegal act' and 'would constitute intellectual and ideological discrimination.' "The introduction to the Zochrot conference states: 'This year, Zochrot will hold its second international, multidisciplinary conference to discuss practical aspects of the Return of Palestinian refugees grounded in the transitional justice principles of acknowledgement, accountability and a joint Jewish-Palestinian process of redress. The issues discussed in this conference will focus on the implications of Return for the country's physical, cultural and economic space, on the nature of its future society, the status of Palestinians and Jews living here, the nature of its regime, and last but not least, the practicalities of returning property after 65 years of refugeehood and the destruction of Palestinian life on the one hand, and the establishment of a Jewish state and the resulting new reality on the other. The conference will discuss the key question of whether there is a single path to realizing Return.'

"Israeli right-wing groups have focused their efforts in recent years on banning any mention of the Nakba in the public discourse. Among other things, they have attempted to cancel history classes in universities which refer to the Nakba, and in 2009, then Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar renewed the ban on any mention of the Nakba in history books taught in Palestinian schools. A law passed by the Knesset in 2011 and approved by the Supreme Court allowed the finance minister to withhold budgets from state-supported institutions - museums and universities among them - which hold activities that mourn the events that led to the establishing of the state or that object to the definition of Israel as a Jewish state.* Right-wing groups... have urged Finance Minister Yair Lapid to withdraw public funding from the Eretz Israel Museum if it allows Zochrot to hold its conference.

"Zochrot General Director Liat Rosenberg said in a statement: 'In presenting its new demands, the Eretz Israel Museum is caving in to political coercion, threats and bullying by anti-democratic forces intent on delivering a fatal blow to freedom of speech. Violent attempts at silencing by those who would rather not see or hear are encouraged by the museum's actions. By intervening in the contents of the invitation and imposing financial sanctions against the NGO, the museum has become their mouthpiece. Nevertheless, these recent attempts at censoring, silencing, and otherwise removing from the agenda the call for the return of Palestinian refugees and the Israeli public's responsibility for redressing this ongoing historical injustice are bound to fail.'

"Last year, the police prevented Zochrot activists from distributing leaflets on the Israeli Independence Day." (Following right-wing attacks, museum seeks to cancel 'Right of Return Conference', Noam Sheizaf,, 27/8/13)

[*See my 26/8/13 post Ask Not What You Can Do for Your Country...]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Foreign Policy Sophisticates

OMG! That Tony Abbott is sooo unsophisticated:

"We have a civil war going on in that benighted country between two pretty unsavoury sides. It is not goodies versus baddies, it is baddies versus baddies, and that is why it is very important that we don't make a very difficult situation worse." (Abbott calls for caution against Syria's 'baddies', Paul Maley & Rosie Lewis, The Australian, 2/9/13)

No, if it's foreign policy nouse you want, Bob Carr's your man:

"If the world doesn't respond in a way that's appropriate and proportionate, then other dictators will think that they can gas children." (G20: Australia leaves world's media puzzled over silence, AAP, The Guardian, 7/9/13)

Or even better, Kevin Rudd:

"If we hadn't done anything, as of 2 weeks ago, we'd be talking tonight about the butchery of Benghazi... and 700,000 people, big city, whack, Gaddafi up the middle of it, gone." (Q & A, 4/4/11)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Morning After

Feeling a bit queasy this morning?

Now you know how a Palestinian Arab must have felt as he opened his newspaper of November 4, 1917 and read the following: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."

That, of course, is the (black) heart of Lord Balfour's infamous Declaration of November 2, 1917.

In fact, the Balfour Declaration was kept secret from those "existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine" - that is, the Palestinian Arabs who comprised around 93% of Palestine's population at the time - for the duration of General Allenby's campaign against the Turks. The context and circumstances of its suppression (although copies were showered by British planes over those cities in Eastern Europe and Russia with large Jewish populations) are worth recalling:

"A plan had been drawn up between Allenby and Lawrence, who had already discussed it with Feisal, by which the Arabs were to advance from Akaba when railway communications had advanced enough to ensure supplies and if possible to arrive at the Jordan before the end of March [1918]. In a raid they burned the lighters and launches of the Turks and stopped water-traffic on the Dead Sea before January was over... But as the spring advanced the possibility of carrying out the advance into northern Palestine and to Damascus faded away. Troops were taken from Allenby... for the Western Front, then endangered by a German offensive. On the 5th of May Allenby told Lawrence the Arabs would just have to hold on for the present.

"He softened this blow by allotting to them two thousand riding camels which the dissolution of a Sinai force had put at his disposal. This was the chief of a number of allocations of personnel, material and stores to his Arab right, to which he now gave considerable trust. To the Arab political cause Allenby made a species of gift too, a negative one perhaps but having its value. He would not have the Balfour Declaration published in Palestine.

"Arabs in official positions, those who read British newspapers, and others such got to know of it, of course, and as far as they could, began at once to attack it. But from the mass of the people it was kept hid, though there was Zionist complaint of this. 'No official instruction seems to have been given by Whitehall in London to General Headquarters in Cairo as to bringing their action into accord with the new idealist character which the Palestine offensive, in view of the Balfour Declaration, had acquired.' (Zionist Official Report.) The new idealist character! A pleasant concept, this, of Allenby and his mundane army being regenerated by the Balfour Declaration.

"Mr. Graves* suggests that the Declaration was not published (it was only proclaimed in Palestine after two years had passed) because 'when the result of the War was in grave doubt it was not a fitting moment to make any official proclamation of our intentions as regards hostile territory.' What of the Balfour Declaration then? For whom too was a proclamation not fitting? For the enemy? The enemy had spread it about the world as widely as the enemy's wireless-service permitted. For the nations of Europe? For India? For the American continent? They all knew it from universal publication in the Press.

"The only people who could be, and were ignorant of the Declaration were the inhabitants of Palestine and the adjacent war-zones, who probably had not ten wireless-sets between them nor any access to newspapers. So that Mr. Graves unintentionally leads us to the chief reason why the Declaration was not published, which, as it happens, the Zionists themselves have confessed. As they put it, 'There can be no doubt but that General Allenby knew by the time that such a Declaration had been issued. But the military authorities obviously thought that any official mention of that fact in the newly conquered territory might mar the jubilation of certain sections of the population. Naturally anxious to avoid any friction which might hinder the freedom of further military operations, they preferred to abstain from any mention of the fact that the British Government had promised to support Zionist aspirations.' (Zionist Official Report.)

"There is one part of the truth expressed with some marvellous phraseology. In plain English, the Government had issued a Declaration so high-handed, so improper that it would have been a danger to the progress of the army. It had to be suppressed.

"The general evidence points to Allenby having suppressed it himself. There is reason to believe too that while he felt that publication of it would have injured his campaign, there was a stronger reason still for his action. He did not think it was legitimate for him to publish it, because it contravened the Hague Convention to which Great Britain had subscribed. Under the Hague Convention an occupying power must not introduce a new political regime.

"However that be, the non-publication of the Declaration introduces an inescapable dilemma. If Allenby suppressed it himself, the Government had to be censored by its own forces in the field. If it was suppressed by order or agreement of the Government then the Government knew the Declaration was a betrayal of the Arabs, and preferred to conceal it from them till their country was in the Government's control." (Palestine: The Reality, JMN Jeffries, 1939, pp 217-219)

Hm... I wonder what high-handed, improper declarations Abbott's been sitting on until now.

[*Philip Graves: Palestine, the land of three faiths (1923)]

Saturday, September 7, 2013

AIPAC: Syria Today, Iran Tomorrow

"'This [striking Syria] is something that the United States as a country needs to do,' [House of Representatives Speaker] John Boehner said." (Backing grows for Syria attack, John Lyons, The Australian, 5/9/13)

And why is that, John? Simple! The Israel lobby wants it.

Here's the dirt from former AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] staffer, M.J. Rosenberg:

"The media today is full of stories about AIPAC and its decision to push for a 'yes' vote on Syria to ensure that President Obama initiates the war it really wants, with Iran...

"There is simply no way AIPAC and its camp followers would do this for Syria. Israel has no problem with the Assad regime. Like their dearly departed fellow former strongman Hosni Mubarak, both Hafez and Bashir Assad scrupulously kept the peace with Israel since 1973. As for chemical weapons, Israel not only has used them in Gaza but is one of 7 countries in the world (Syria is another one) that has not ratified the treaty banning their use...

"The reason Israel (and its lobby) are going all out to push the United States to attack Syria is as a precedent for a much larger attack on Iran. As AIPAc admits in its own statement of support for the Syria attack: 'This is a critical moment when America must also send a forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hezbollah... America's allies and adversaries are closely watching the outcome of this momentous vote. This critical decision comes at a time when Iran is racing toward obtaining nuclear capability. Failure to approve this resolution would weaken our country's credibility to prevent the use and proliferation of unconventional weapons and thereby greatly endanger our country's security and interests and those of our regional allies.'

"To put it simply, AIPAC fears that if it lets President Obama go wobbly on Syria, it is impossible to imagine that he would undertake a war with Iran that could ignite the entire Middle East and lead to the commitment of US troops in a third major Middle Eastern war in a little over a decade.

"And that is why AIPAC and its satellites are turning the screws on Congress, especially on progressive and liberal Democrats who tend to be antiwar except when AIPAC comes knocking. (Republicans are more immune to AIPAC because they do not rely on AIPAC-directed campaign dollars given that they have so many other sources. Besides, they tend to be hawks on their own, without pressure. So what does AIPAC pressure feel like? How does it work?

"I called a friend who is a foreign policy aide to a House member and, after I promised not to identify him in any form, he told me this:

"'First come the phone calls from constituents who are AIPAC members. They know the Congressman and are nice and friendly and just tell him... just how important this vote is to him and his friends back in the district.

"'Then the donors call. The folks who have hosted fundraisers. They are usually not only from the district but from New York or LA or Chicago. They repeat the message: this vote is very important. Contrary to what you might expect, they do not mention campaign money. They don't have to. Because these callers are people who only know the Congressman through their checks, the threat not to write any more of them is implicit. Like the constituents, the donors are using AIPAC talking points which are simple and forceful. You can argue with them but they keep going back to the script.

"'Did I mention the rabbis? We only have a few in our district but we get calls from all of them and from other rabbis from around the state.

"'Then there are the AIPAC lobbyists, the professional staffers. They come in, with or without appointments. If the Congressman is in, they expect to see him immediately. If not, they will see a staffer. If they don't like what they hear, they will keep coming back. They are very aggressive, no other lobby comes close. They expect to see the Member, not mere staff.

"'Then there are the emails driven by the AIPAC website, the editorials in the one Jewish newspaper we have in our state.

"'And then the 'Dear Colleague' letters from Jewish House members saying how important the vote is for Israel and America. They also will buttonhole the Members on the House floor. Because my boss is not Jewish, he tends to defer to his Jewish colleagues. It is like they are the experts on this. And, truth be told, all the senior Jewish Members of the House are tight with AIPAC. Also, the two biggest AIPAC enforcers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Democratic counterpart, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, are fierce AIPAC partisans, and they make sure to seek out Members on the floor to tell them how they must vote. On anything related to Israel, they speak in one voice: AIPAC's.

"'My friend concluded: Obviously, there is no counterpart to this on the antiwar side. No anti-AIPAC to speak of. AIPAC owns this issue. It gets what it wants. It will get this and, sad to say, my boss, who hates the idea of using more war as a means to end war, will probably vote 'yes'. He says he will never support an attack on Iran but, when the time comes, this Syria push will look like nothing. Syria is just a tactic for AIPAC. But its number one goal, at least from the vantage point of Capitol Hill, is war with Iran.

"'Yeah, it's scary.

So where do we fit in, as of now?

"In a minor diplomatic advance for Obama, 11 of the G20 nations signed a joint statement at the end of the two-day summit calling for 'a strong international response to a grave violation of the world's rules' in response to last month's chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, east of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The signatories, including the UK, the US and France, said evidence 'points clearly to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack...' and warned it would not be possible to achieve a UN consensus on action... Other signatories included Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey..." (Obama assembles fragile alliance blaming Assad for chemical attacks, Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, 7/9/13)

Australia just can't help itself.

Friday, September 6, 2013


Little tiny precious vote,
Underneath my overcoat,
Snug and warm against my heart,
You and I will have to part.

I must caste you to the horde,
With your little wooden sword,
And your hopeful marching song;
Little vote of mine be strong.

Should our happy cause be dashed,
And your wooden sword be smashed,
Come back, dear beloved vote,
Dream inside my overcoat.

Michael Leunig

Whichever Bogan Wins, We Lose

This year's federal election comes down to a choice between Bunnings Man:

"In her heartfelt and humanising speech introducing her husband, [Therese] Rein told the story of the day she sent her husband to the hardware store to buy a mosquito candle. He came home with a visionary swag of home improvement items - everything from secateurs to to a step-ladder, Blu-Tac and Roman flares. And no mozzie candle." (Just when you knew it was too late, the visionary Rudd arrived, Jacqueline Maley, Sydney Morning Herald, 2/9/13)

Or Netball Dad:

"'Our dad is not just a politician... Tony Abbott is also a netball dad. Anecdotes followed about the Opposition Leader as a father, taking his 3 daughters... to netball games and barracking loudly from the sidelines. Mr Abbott thought netball was 'just another form of rugby', Frances joked." (Tony Abbott's daughters say he's no headkicker, just a daggy dad, David Wroe, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/8/13)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Election 2013: Pitching for the Zionist Vote

Here's Kevin Rudd's impassioned pitch for the Zionist vote in The Australian Jewish News:

"The Australian Labor Party and the Coalition argue over many policy issues... But some issues should be bipartisan, and I am pleased to say that on the subject of Israel... both major parties are in agreement. The government of Australia supports the State of Israel, not just as an ally , but as a friend. Well before the birth of of the modern State of Israel, Australia has had deep ties with the Zionist dream... The Foreign Minister's recent comments about the international legal status of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories in no way diminishes my government's support for Israel... And it is my view that there is nothing to be gained from politicians publicly debating the finer points of international law in this immensely complex area." (Kevin Rudd's election message)

Typically, while "Labor is committed to supporting an enduring and just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," it will be "based on the right of Israel to live in peace within secure borders," but merely "reflect the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to also live in peace and security within their own state."

Alas, "Israel faces very real threats beyond those arising from its conflicts with the Palestinians," such as  "destabilisation in the region," and "a nuclear-armed Iran."

However: "Israel also faces threats of another kind from misguided programs such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign The federal government strongly opposes and publicly condemns the BDS. Our government expects all institutions in our society to behave in a manner that is ethical and appropriate, and Labor has made clear that in its view the BDS is neither."

Finally, while Labor supports Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, "Abbott has stated... his intent to repeal [it]."

Now here's Tony Abbott's, and like his candidate Jaymes Diaz in the seat of Greenway, he's not giving much away:

"The Coalition's traditionally strong support for the Jewish community has been matched by a firm commitment to Israel's security. This reflects our two countries' shared democratic values and the Coalition's strong recognition that Israel is under existential threat in a way that almost no other country in the world is." (Tony Abbott's election message)

Abbott's very impressed with what he calls "Jewish people": "Jewish people have succeeded in Australia because they've never taken anything for granted. Better products, new services, more effective salesmanship, and above everything, relentless curiosity have been the hallmarks of Jewish people in Australia, especially businesspeople..."

Finally, Abbott will "restore the Australia-Israel friendship to the strength it enjoyed under the Howard government."

For the rest, Abbott merely spruiks his Real Solutions Plan.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Odd Man Out

Remember the fuss back in 2011 when Marrickville Council decided to boycott Israeli products? Remember how it was derided by Labor's Anthony Albanese, in particular, for 'meddling' in a foreign policy issue? Remember how the NSW government of Baruch O'Farrell talked of sacking it? Well, cop this:

"A NSW parliamentary delegation, including a senior government minister, travelled to a disputed region in the Caucasus in defiance of a strong travel warning from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The delegation, which included the NSW Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian, went to the disputed region of Nagorno Karabakh last month, addressed its parliament and had meetings with its president. Nagorno Karabakh... is not internationally recognised as a country and is considered a breakaway region of Azerbaijan... The delegation's trip followed an extraordinary motion passed through the NSW upper house which, in effect, recognised Nagorno Karabakh as a separate country by recognising it had 'the right to self-determination', and calling on Australia to recognise its independence. The motion, which received no publicity, was passed without dissent last October without even the Foreign Minister being aware of it... Following this, the Armenian National Committee of Australia issued an invitation to NSW parliamentarians to visit Nagorno Karabakh. Christian Democrat Fred Nile said MPs had to pay for the trip themselves, which had reduced the number. The parliamentary delegation was made up of 7 MPs led by Liberal MP Jonathon O'Dea and including Mr Nile, Liberals David Clarke and Marie Ficarra, and Labor MLCs Shaoquett Moselmane and Amanda Fazio." (MPs defy Caucasus travel warning, Mark Coultan, The Australian, 30/8/13)

Perhaps the most puzzling part of the whole business is the inclusion of Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane. Why would an MLC who has courageously spoken up in the NSW Legislative Council in defence of Palestinian rights pay for a trip to anywhere with the likes of such pro-Israel zealots as Nile, Clarke, Ficarra and O'Dea?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our Man in Tel Aviv 2

I always thought an ambassador's role, at least in part, was to spin for his country, not the country to which he's been posted.

So how is the appearance in this weekend's Australian of the following blatant pro-Israel propaganda by Australia's new ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, to be explained?

"[I]n the town of Safed in the north of Israel, better known as one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, the frontline of the conflict in Syria feels very close. At Ziv Medical Centre, without fanfare or publicity,* they are treating a steady and growing stream of wounded Syrians from the conflict. About 72 Syrian patients have been admitted to Ziv Medical Centre since February. When I visited earlier this week, 15 hospital beds were being used to treat such victims, the youngest a girl of only 8.


"They have harrowing stories and horrific injuries. Suffering from shrapnel and bullet wounds, burns and crush injuries, they have somehow managed to limp to the border with Israel, from where they are then transferred to Ziv Medical Centre. On admission they are malnourished, fatigued and traumatised. Many have lost family members, but they are immensely relieved - if they had stayed in Syria, the extent of their injuries means most would have died or been permanently incapacitated. At Ziv Hospital they get all the best medical care on offer to any Israeli from surgeons and physicians who are the best in their field. On the day I visited, I saw how doctors had managed to save the leg of an 8-year old girl from amputation by use of some of the most advanced surgical techniques and injury treatment protocols. A 15-year old girl whose leg was amputated in Syria had been fitted with a prosthetic limb. Against the odds, the doctors at Ziv had managed to save her other leg. This girl was learning to walk again, taking her first steps.

"Arabic-speaking doctors, nurses and social workers are all available to communicate with the Syrian patients and help ease their anxieties. They are provided time and space to recover and rehabilitate and supplied with basic provisions, including clothes and toiletries donated by generous residents from Safed. The multi-ethnic staff at Ziv Hospital - drawn from the Jewish, Arab and Druze communities - reflect the diversity of Israel.* They do not stop to ask the patient's nationality or religion* as she is wheeled into theatre in a critical condition. They simply do their utmost to save life and treat injury.

[*Viva Israel's diversity - just so long as it has an overwhelming Jewish majority;**Unlike Israel's ruling ideology and apartheid laws which do.]

"Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely acknowledges." (Origin no bar to Israel lifesavers, 31/8/13)

So let's get this straight: while Australia's ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, is "clearly and directly convey[ing] the Australian government's views on the human rights situation in Tibet,"* our ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, is not only not doing the same with regard to Israeli human rights abuses in occupied Palestine, but instead unashamedly propagandizing for Israel in the Murdoch press.

[*Australian ambassador pulls no punches on human rights concerns after rare visit, Sydney Morning Herald, 30/8/13.]