Monday, March 31, 2014

Games Israel Plays

The Australian headlined the following 'report' Rare Iranian praise for Israel, but I've got a better idea: Israeli proxies provide rare opportunity for Israeli disinfo on internet:

"The killing of an Iranian hostage soldier by militants in Pakistan has prompted a surge of criticism via social media over Tehran's handling of the crisis - and brought unflattering comparisons with Israel's handling of a similar situation. The failure to secure the release of 5 border guards snatched by Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice) has been condemned across the country, and contrasted with Israel's resolve to free soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for 5 years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eventually exchanged 1027 Palestinian prisoners for his safe return. Tehran confirmed this week that one of the 5 men seized last month had been killed after it refused to release hundreds of Sunni prisoners. The group has threatened to kill another soldier next week. 'Keep saying 'Death to Israel' but they freed 1027 Palestinians in return for the release of one of their own,' one Iranian wrote on Facebook, which is banned in Iran. 'Yes, I admire Israel. The same Israel they have been wanting to wipe off the map. The same Israel who for 5 years tirelessly did everything to save one of its soldiers,' said another." (Hugh Tomlinson, The Times/The Australian, 29/3/14)

See also my 7/3/14 post Games Bibi Plays.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

George Brandis Launches Zionist Festival of Hypocrisy

"Fredrick Toben always insisted he wasn't a Holocaust denier because you couldn't deny something that never happened. The German-born Australian [!?] says there was never any systematic German program to kill Jewish people, denies the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz and claims that Jews exaggerated the numbers murdered during World War II, sometimes for financial gain. When Australia passed racial hatred laws in 1995, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry decided to take Toben on, led by its then director Jeremy Jones and the solicitor in the case, Peter Wertheim. Their first complaint was in 1996. It took until 2002 for it to get to the Federal Court, which found that Toben's views weren't part of academic debate about the Holocaust, but were designed to 'smear' Jews. Toben refused to remove the material, citing freedom of speech. In 2009, he was sentenced to 3 months' jail for contempt of court. Wertheim is the executive director of the Council, which has used racial hatred laws aggressively to fight serious examples of anti-Semitism - cases have been conciliated through the Australian Human Rights Commission and several have found their way to the Federal Court. The influential Jewish group and every major ethnic organisation in the land will not let these laws go without a fight." (Locked in a war of words to define free speech, Gay Alcorn, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/3/14)

So begins but the latest in an avalanche of articles, op-eds, opinion pieces and letters in the corporate press on the Attorney-General George Brandis' challenge to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

If you've been sampling this coverage, you'll have noticed the frequency with which Wertheim and other Israel lobbyists are quoted, all opposed to 18C's removal from the Act, presumably because it's the only thing preventing attacks, routinely defined as anti-Semitic, on the official Holocaust narrative.

Now leaving aside the question of whether or not that or any other official narrative should receive legislative protection, and leaving aside the glaring contradiction that these crusaders against racial abuse in Australia are all advocates for Israeli apartheid, it's the monumental hypocrisy that comes with defenders of the official Holocaust narrative denying or minimising the Palestinian Holocaust - the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948 - that really gets me going.

Here's Wertheim, for example, on the subject:

"The question of Palestinian refugees from 1948 takes on a less daunting perspective when one realises the small numbers of them who are still living." (Israel has and will negotiate over land for peace deals, The Canberra Times, 9/8/13)

Of course the subtext here is: if, like Israel, you create a body of refugees and then refuse to allow them to return for long enough - 65 years now - the problem of the first generation of refugees will literally die away. Dare I say it - a final solution for the refugee 'problem'.

As for the second and third generations:

"Few would begrudge them or their descendents the opportunity to become Palestinian citizens within a State of Palestine. But the descendents of refugees cannot truthfully claim to be refugees themselves. There can be no right of 'return' to the territory of Israel for those who were never there."

There is both insufferable hypocrisy and extreme disingenuousness here.

To take the former first. Wertheim, as a Zionist, believes that the brief existence of a fabled Jewish kingdom in Palestine thousands of years ago somehow entitles Jews such as himself (whose ancestors - converts to Judaism at some less distant point in time - have lived for centuries in Europe) the right to 'return' to Palestine/Israel. 

And yet the descendents of the original Palestinian refugees who share a direct 65-year connection with Palestine, including title deeds and door keys, have no such right. WTF!

It's worth quoting here a passage from former Israeli politician Avraham Burg's 2008 book The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise from Its Ashes:

"Not long ago I went to a dinner in Jordan. A group of young and old Middle Easterners sat around the table. Three were Lebanese, successful and articulate, media and business people of the newer generation. Although we were from two sides of the divide in the Middle East crisis, as long as the conversation centred on neutral subjects, there was no sign of rivalry... Then, late in the evening the topic of the [Palestinian] refugees came up at the table. The smiles and easy atmosphere were gone. Each of us told his story, recalled his parents' unending poverty, and missed a city in which he had not been born: in Jaffa, Acre, or the Old City. Then the conversation ebbed and all eyes were on me. Why are you not taking responsibility? You've asked us to control terror, to rout religious extremism, to commit to democracy, to act for liberty and women's equality. And you are willing to give us only very little in return. Words and no more. Suddenly, 'I saw that I was naked and I hid.' (Genesis 1:9)."

I can't in a million imagine Wertheim & Co. being so humbled.

Now for the disingenuousness. At the same time as Wertheim talks of admitting the by now millions of descendents of the Palestinian refugees of 1948 into a "State of Palestine," he defends, in the very same opinion piece, the Israeli settlement enterprise which makes a viable, contiguous Palestinian state nigh impossible.  Go figure!

And here's Israel lobbyist Colin Rubenstein of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) writing on the subject of the Palestinian refugees:

"While it is understandable that Palestinians remember the suffering of 700,000 Palestinians who fled or otherwise lost their homes in 1948..." (The time for peace has come, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/4/08)


So, while we may (as a mere afterthought) remember their suffering, we're most definitely not going into details as to how they actually lost their homes (not to mention their lives).

Seriously now, is this (along with the significant underestimate of refugee numbers by at least 50,000) really any different to what Toben has been jailed for? Hey, now there's an idea!

[See also my 17/5/12 post Nakba? What Nakba? on Vic Alhadeff (of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies) and the Palestinian Nakba.]

Friday, March 28, 2014


The judicial horror unfolding in Egypt at the moment, with 529 pro-Morsi protesters given death sentences as 'terrorists', and another 683 facing execution for the same pretext, coincides with the release of a new Amnesty International report, Death Sentences & Executions: 2013.

China topped the list, judicially executing more people (estimated to be in the thousands) than any other country last year, followed by Iran (369), Iraq (169), Saudi Arabia (79), and the United States (39).

Turning to the section of the report on the Middle East and North Africa, apart from the above Middle Eastern nations, we see the following data on judicial executions: Yemen (13); Kuwait (5); the PA (3, in Gaza); judicial executions could not be confirmed for Egypt and Syria.

No Israel. Of course not! Israel doesn't do judicial executions.

But don't get too carried away. Israel does extra-judicial executions.

No charge. No trial. Just ZAP! Not in AI's report therefore.

In 2013, Israel extra-judicially executed - or ZAPPed - 36 Palestinians.

As Jessica Montell, executive director of Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem, said of this practice: "In [the Israeli 'justice' system] almost no one is required to take responsibility for the killing of Palestinians, and it provides no deterrence and reflects contempt for human life." (B'Tselem report: Israel killed 27 West Bank Palestinians, 9 Gazans in 2013, Gilli Cohen, Haaretz, 31/12/13)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Curly Questions for a Traumatised Tanya

In an interview on RN Breakfast yesterday morning on the subject of the government's draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, Deputy Opposition leader Tanya Plibersek commented that:

"It is a sad thing that one of the first priorities of this government is to make it easier to racially abuse people."

Among other things, she also said that "neither the Prime Minister nor the Attorney-General can say that the Holocaust-denying hate speech that we had from Fredrick Toben would be captured under the draft law..."

If hierarchy there be in these matters, it would seem that "Holocaust-denying" comes pretty close to being at the head of the queue when it comes to "hate speech."

However that may be, I'd like to focus here on Plibersek's own experience of "hate speech," which appears to have been so traumatic at the time that she's been reduced to a numb silence, though only on one particular subject, ever since.

Back in 2002, this once frank and fearless politician, in the thick of a parliamentary debate on Iraq (RIP), uttered the following words:

"I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions whose ruler is a war criminal - it is called Israel and the war criminal* is Ariel Sharon."

Now despite what she said at the time being factually correct, a Mr Michael Lipshutz of Victoria's Jewish Community Council branded her a borderline anti-Semite:

"If they [Plibersek and Irwin] want to condemn Israel, well, that's probably [?!] their right but they have to do that in a fair and reasoned way. When their condemnation is unfair, when their condemnation borders on anti-Semitism that's unfair..." (ALP's attitude towards Israel under the spotlight, Lateline, 1/9/03)

A former Labor minister at the time, one Barry Cohen, went even further, calling her an anti-Semite:

"When the likes of Tanya Plibersek... call Ariel Sharon 'a war criminal' and Israel a 'rogue state'... I told a Labor legend: Anti-Semitism is now rampant in the Labor Party..."

This came in the form of an article published in The Age. Its title: The Anti-Semitic Labor Party (25/10/04).

That did it, apparently. The frank and fearless politician of 2002 is now but a shadow of her former self. On the subject of Israel, she is mute. Mumbling the party line (and then only if prodded) is the best she can manage these days.

And so, if I may address myself to Tanya directly, seeing she's weighed in at last on the subject of "hate speech," and at the risk of opening old wounds, here are some questions bearing on the current debate over section 18C of the RDA:

What do you think, Tanya? Is a false allegation of anti-Semitism not also an authentic example of "hate speech"?

Should those of us who still defend Palestinian rights, simply be expected to shrug off such a smear? Or should we (or you), while section 18C is still standing, be hauling the likes of Barry Cohen before the courts?

Should 18C be reserved exclusively for 'Holocaust-deniers'? Or should it also be used to nab Nakba-deniers?

Finally, on a more mundane matter, would you be so kind as to explain this:

"Labor will launch a blitz on Liberal-held marginal seats to warn migrant communities about the Abbott government's plans to water down race hate protections... Literature... explaining the government's plans for the [RDA], will be printed in Indian, Chinese, Hebrew and Arabic." (ALP to rally migrants in grassroots campaign, Heath Aston & Jonathan Swan, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/3/14)

[*Just some of Sharon's triumphs in his long career as a wc: Qibya - 1953; Sinai - 1956; Sabra & Shatila - 1982; Operation Defensive Shield - 2002; massive settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories and occupied East Jerusalem - 2001-06]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jake Lynch Update 3

"Lawyers for a Sydney University academic who is accused of unlawful discrimination for his boycott of Israel say the case against Jake Lynch is full of 'pumped-up claims' that are 'embarrassing in the legal sense, and embarrassing in the non-legal sense'... In court on Tuesday, Lynch's solicitor, Yves Hazan, said the statement of claim brought against his client was 'completely infected with... general narrative', rather than material facts, and that it failed to explain exactly how Lynch's conduct had breached laws against racial discrimination. As an example, Hazan read from Shurat HaDin's statement that Lynch had allegedly 'refused to sign documents that would have provided Professor Dan Avnon access to a funded fellowship, because of the respondent's support for the BDS movement'. 'What was the respondent's obligation to sign documents?' he asked the court... Shurat HaDin's solicitor Andrew Hamilton, who is also an applicant to the case, is arguing that the statement of claim has been brought under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act, not the Racial Discrimination Act, and therefore 'one doesn't have to plead out every element', he said. 'You'll have to do a lot of work to persuade me of the correctness of that position', the judge, Alan Robertson, said. In a day that was otherwise thick with legal technicalities, Hazan prompted laughter in the courtroom, filled largely with Lynch supporters, when he quoted the applicant's claims that the Sydney University academic's support for BDS had contributed to artists such as Santana, Elvis Costello and Snoop Dogg choosing to boycott Israel on their tours. 'What are the primary facts that link these artists not performing in Israel with Jake's conduct?' he asked. Robertson told the solicitors that he was aware of the case's high profile and that he wanted it to stick to material facts, and not 'get carried away with labels and slogans'. The case was adjourned until 24 April." (Israeli boycott case: Sydney academic's lawyers say claims are pumped up, Michael Safi,, 25/3/14)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Two-Bob Media Watch

What's this? ABC Television's Media Watch tackling a Middle East-related item:

A Syrian homecoming: What the Good Weekend did not reveal in its story about a young woman travelling to Syria to see her father (24/3/14)?

No, it can't be! For as long as I can remember, the routine pro-Israel bias that pervades the Australian ms media (including the ABC), and provides so much fodder for this blog that I can barely keep up with it all, routinely escapes MW's radar.

But not Syria!

Now what appears to be the problem here:

"The story sidestepped the brutality of president Assad's Syrian regime."

You're kidding me, the ABC has been sidestepping the brutality of the Israeli apartheid regime since, like, time immemorial.

"So is Reme Sakr just an ordinary Australian woman? Well, no. She's a leading light in Hands Off Syria, which backs President Assad, refuses to admit he's used chemical weapons, and paints the popular uprising as a foreign invasion."

OMG, HOS! You mean Reme doesn't want Syria getting the Iraqi makeover? She doesn't believe the msm's necessarily the last word on chemicals in Syria (or on anything else for that matter)? And she knows, unlike MW, that Syria has - how can I put it? - COME A LONG WAY SINCE 2011. Off with her head! (That is, if the invading foreign jihadis don't get there first.)

"She also joined a delegation from Hands Off Syria and the WikiLeaks Party to express solidarity with Assad. That's her in a meeting with the president..."

Is this the same MW that's been turning a blind eye for aeons as caravan after caravan of politicians and journalists have made the pilgrimage to the apartheid state, and returned, singing like canaries?

"... and its worth remembering their visit was roundly condemned by all sides of Australian politics."

For MW this includes Tony Abbott, who'd have Australian troops on the ground in Syria if President McCain so much as whistled, and who has not only shaken the hand of Israel's Netanyahu but invited him to these shores, and The Greens' Richard Di Natale, who baulks at BDS.

"Good Weekend... rightly damned the terrorists and fundamentalists who are trying to establish an Islamic state. But it made no mention of the moderate Syrian opposition."

Good luck in your search for the fabled MSO, MW.  And keep a look out for the unicorn while you're at.

"The story was... powerful PR for a brutal regime led by a man the UN has branded a war criminal. We think readers deserved more balance and a lot more disclosure."

Once MW gets around to:

a) exposing the powerful PR for another brutal regime cum serial violator of UN resolutions routinely generated by its own employees, Geraldine Doogue, Phillip Adams, Ben Knight, Robyn Williams, Matt Brown, David Hardaker etc; and then

b) moves on to tackle Zionist shills in the corporate press such as Greg Sheridan, Paul Sheehan, and Christian Kerr,

I might take it a little more seriously.

In the meantime, MW, as George Galloway said last year to the ABC's James Carleton on the subject of the ABC and Syria: "Don't pretend you got a fur coat on because I can see your drawers." (See my 16/7/13 post Our ABC Owned.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Now He Speaks Up?

"NSW Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari is set to lash his own party's asylum-seeker policies and predict Australians will one day be as embarrassed by offshore processing as they are about the White Australia policy... The speech, to mark the Iranian new year festival of Nowruz, will be the first time the Iranian-born senator has spoken publicly about the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati on Manus Island last month. The senator will say he was shocked by the 'brutal murder' and that he will not allow the Australian government to criminalise and further 'persecute young families fleeing their homes'. 'It could have been me and my sister,' he will say." (Dastyari will break ranks with Labor on offshore policy, James Massola, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/3/14)

So it's taken this long, and the murder of an Iranian asylum seeker, for Dastyari to speak up on the cruel Howard/Rudd/Gillard/Abbott policy of transporting asylum seekers to remote Pacific islands and abandoning them there to mayhem, madness, and now murder?

Dastyari, who you may remember took over as State Secretary of NSW Labor from Zionist enforcer* and US embassy habitue** Mark Arbib in 2007 and entered federal politics as a senator for NSW at the 2013 election, has presumably had no problems whatever with Labor's long flirtation with the Israeli apartheid state, the entity responsible for orchestrating the international sanctions regime which is destroying the Iranian economy and forcing young men like Berati abroad.

In fact, Dastyari is on record telling NSW Labor MLC Shaoquett Moselmane, who bluntly and bravely told the Israeli ambassador last year to "butt out of Australian politics," that his remarks were "completely inappropriate." (See my 27/5/13 post Shaoquett Moselmane Speaks Truth to Power.)

[*See my 30/7/10 post Get Thee to Israel!; **See my 10/12/10 post Wikileaks 6: Working for the Man.]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pathetic Delusions, Real Consequences

Rebecca Weisser, The Australian's opinion editor,  was obviously so impressed with the following Quadrant online piece (16/3/14) by Murray Walters that she included it in yesterday's Cut & Paste column at the foot of the letters page:

"How much should your sense of personal meaning impact on my right to question its authenticity... Section 18C is the muddled product of the inadequate scrutiny of these issues. Here are some examples:

"1) If I claim to have a particular affinity with Thailand on the basis that I have visited 10 times in the last five years, have married a ladyboy I fell in love with in a Bangkok brothel and now claim to identify as Thai for the purpose of the new government's National Rental Assistance Scheme for rich foreign students who want to live close to a university of their choice, should I be: a) given rent assistance because as long as I identify as Thai... that's good enough for the taxpayers of Australia... d) told to go away because my claim to an authentic Thai identity is just the pathetic delusion of a vulgar, fat, ugly, late middle-aged Australian totally oblivious to my narcissism and my inability to see that I am an addled, infatuated daddy cum meal-ticket...

"2) I have two grandparents who were born in Scotland and I come over all maudlin when I hear Paul McCartney's Mull of Kintyre. I now want everyone to recognise me as Scottish. I think I'll apply for cheap housing next to the University of Tasmania to further my studies into Scottish convicts on the First Fleet. They were treated particularly badly... (and) I bear the stain of their oppression to this very day. I should a) be given rental assistance because my sense of belonging and my James Bond impersonation makes me more of a Scot than Sean Connery... c) be told (very respectfully) that my claim will need to be adjudicated by a panel of Scottish elders. Further, I will have to dance the Highland Fling as proof of my ethnicity."

Most amusing. But while we're on the subject of spurious ethnic identities and the benefits accruing therefrom, I can easily top Walters' fictional examples with the actual case of a bloke who not only gets a $3 billion + annual subsidy from the US government, based solely on his particular brand of pathetic delusion, but also gets to parade it - true! - at international forums.

I'm not sure, however, that Ms Weisser would ever be inclined to give him the satirical attention he so richly deserves in her little collection of snippets.

Meet the pathetically (& dangerously) deluded Benjamin Mileikowsky:

"In my office in Jerusalem, there's a - there's an ancient seal. It's a signet ring of a Jewish official from the time of the Bible. The seal was found right next door to the Western Wall, and it dates back 2,700 years, to the time of King Hezekiah. Now, there's a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew. His name was Netanyahu. That's my last name. My first, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin - Binyamin - the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his twelve sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria [sic] 4,000 years ago, and there's been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since." (Transcript of Netanyahu's 2011 UNGA speech*)

[*See my 24/9/11 post Benzion, My Father.]

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Junket That Dare Not Speak Its Name (at the ABC)

Here I was yesterday, listening to ABC Radio National's evening Drive program, specifically its News Quiz segment with Rebecca Huntley.

Her guests were Emma Alberici (Lateline), Grahame Morris (political commentator), and Eric Jensen (editor of The Saturday Paper). They were discussing politicians' study tours. My ears, of course, pricked up.

Morris claimed that most politicians ended up in Rome, Sweden and France. Were they justified? asked Huntley. I've seen politicians go to the Boeing plant and you come back seriously educated, replied Morris.

Emma? asked Huntley. Sure, when you study education or health systems, replied Emma.

Eric? asked Huntley. Any journalist who hasn't been on a junket must be a first year cadet, piped Eric knowingly.

Or they work for the ABC*, chortled Huntley, adding, I would love to go on a junket.

The discussion went on to tick such destinations as the Tour de France, the Nordic Model, a certain big fat Indian wedding, and Ireland's Guinness Brewery, but needless to say, at no point was our politicians' (and our journalists') all-time favorite port of call mentioned. (To see what I mean, scan my regularly updated 30/3/09 post I've been to Israel too.)

Ignorance or self-censorship? Either way is inexcusable. (For a detailed discussion of self-censorship and the ME conflict, see my 28/4/08 post Anticipatory Compliance.)

[*Not strictly true. Chris Uhlmann was rambammed in 2010.]

Friday, March 21, 2014

Clarification Sought

Notice how Netanyahu describes criticism of Israel as vilification:

"In a world where Israel is vilified, castigated, where a beleaguered democracy is defending its very life against radical Islamist forces, we don't always get credit..." Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, quoted in Netanyahu plans historic visit, John Lyons/ Jared Owens, The Australian, 20/3/14)

Notice how local Zionist lobbyist, Peter Wertheim, describes criticism of a "group" as vilification:

"The Jewish community has been at the forefront of opposition to changes to the [Racial Discrimination] Act. Peter Wertheim, head of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, points out laws against vilification operate in Britain, Canada... 'The protections provided by section 18C are similar to those that exist under defamation laws, but the protections extend to groups and not merely individuals'." (The recovery of liberty, Christian Kerr, The Australian, 20/3/14)

When is someone - anyone - in the corporate media going to ask the ubiquitous Mr Wertheim what he means by "group," and specifically, whether the term encompasses Israel/Israelis/Zionists?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Remember Iraq, March 20, 2003

Hands up all those who still think Iraq was mugged for its oil rather than to satisfy an Israeli wet-dream:

"Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So three or more states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north." (From A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, Oded Yinon, Kivunim, February, 1982)

'Australians are Israelis'

Interesting stats from the latest OECD report, Society at a Glance 2014 (Source: SMH, 19/3/14):

1) Proportion of people living with less than 50% of median household income (2010)

Denmark 6%
OECD average 11.3%
Israel 20.9%

2) Public social expenditure as a proportion of GDP (2012-13)

Denmark 30.8%
OECD average 21.9%
Israel 15.8%

Hm... how to explain why Israel,

a) allegedly democratic
b) allegedly the source of so many new widgets, wizzbangs and whoozits (all life-saving of course) that, were the world to boycott even one, it would mean we'd all be back in the stone age
c) a country which claims to represent a category of people who get more Nobel Prizes than you or I get junk mail (well, nearly)
d) a country which gets an annual $3billion plus, no-questions-asked subsidy from the US of A,

occupies the bottom of the 9-nation list in both categories.

My guess is that its national sport of wiping Palestine and Palestinians off the map is such an expensive business that it can't afford to look after its own people properly.

And Australia?

1) 14.4%
2) 19.2%

Not quite as bad as Israel, of course, but still among the bottom five. Yet, with squillions lavished on 'defence', 'security', and keeping people out, it's only to be expected.

Or, as Tony Abbott put it more succinctly: 'As far as I'm concerned Australians are Israelis'. (See my 18/12/13 post Abbott: We Are All Israelis)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

OMG, Did She Really Say That?

Just had to share this with you...

Among the comments following Phan Nguyen's amazing detective work in his post, 'Apolitical' arts organization combatting BDS is front for pro-settler groups tied to Israeli Foreign Ministry (, 24/10/13), was a video convo between Roz Rothstein, CEO of Stand With Us, the US-based organisation which aims to transform otherwise mild-mannered Jewish college students into crusading Supermen for Israel, and Israeli 'communications trainer' Neil Lazarus.

WTF... I muttered to myself, clicking it on. The following jaw-dropping exchange said it all:

RR: For this segment I'd like to talk a little bit about the hottest issues that students are facing when they have to, I hate to say, defend Israel, when they have to have a rich conversation about it.

NL: There's a lot out there. Let's talk about a couple. We always have the issue of criticism of human rights issues. You know they have this fetish about talking about the security barrier which Israel's built, or, um, checkpoints which are there. I live in Jerusalem... I drive past the checkpoints every day. On the one hand I'd like to live in a country which doesn't have a fence, doesn't have a wall, doesn't have a checkpoint. I also know that they stop terrorism... you also have the allegation of apartheid...

RR: Before you leave the issue of checkpoints, I wanna say (places hand on heart) that I live in a country of checkpoints and its inconvenient for me to stand at checkpoints at the airport, but you know, it's funny how Israel is always blamed for the checkpoints as though it's something that's extraordinary that Israel has a checkpoint at the border. That's what's funny to me. 

NL: I think here we have the double standard...

Onward Christianist Soldier

Sydney Morning Hasbara calumnist, Paul Sheehan, attended the Q Society's recent SION shindig in Melbourne*, and met there "a patriotic, articulate Australian intelligence officer, now serving in the Army reserve."

So taken with said PAAIO was Sheehan that he's made him the subject of his latest calumn, Army clueless over religion, claims one of its own (17/3/14):

"Major Bernie Gaynor jnr has served 3 tours of duty to Iraq but he is going to be thrown out of the army this week..."

Not one! Not two! But three! (Any wonder Iraq's still in a heap?)

And just what has Gaynor, who describes himself on his blog as a "conservative Catholic," learned from his time there?

"[The ADF] has spent the last decade at war with people who fight for their religious beliefs... As a Catholic, I understand why people are motivated by religious belief, rather than what would seem to be rational..."


So let me get this straight: The Bushies invaded Iraq in 2003, guns blazing, and blow me down if the Iraqis didn't start shooting back!

A truly astonishing state of affairs! I mean, if the Bushies had invaded, say, Thailand instead, the locals would've retaliated with flower power, not fire power. Why? Because they're Buddhists, of course! But no, not your Iraqis. They shot back. There could only be one possible explanation for this! Islam! What else?

But there's more to Gaynor than his deathless insight into what makes Iraq tick. There's his mathematics. Move over, Isaac Newton:

"The [Australian Muslim community's] participation rate in the ADF is low. There were 88 Muslims in uniform in mid-2013. That means that, while there is one Australian in uniform in every 400, there is only one Muslim in uniform for about 6000 Muslims in this country."

But there's more. Maths, that is:

"This is not because the Islamic community is peaceful. I think there are now 9 Australian Muslims who have died in Syria. On a per capita basis, that is equivalent to the ADF losing over 400 soldiers in Afghanistan. So while the Islamic community is 15 times less likely to contribute to our nation's defence, it is 10 times more likely to see its sons die on the battlefield... for a cause that hates Western life, history and culture."


Seriously now, could you make this bloke up? No way, not in a million.

Now I was going to present my annual Bore of the Year award to Sheehan but, as it happens, the bugger's dug up one even more penetratingly boring than himself!

What to do? Seeing it's just a once-in-a-year award, maybe I should just split it between them.

[*See my 10/3/14 post Then There Were Two.]

FYI: For the bizarre story of another feral soldier who strutted his stuff in Iraq, shot his mouth off big time in 2003, got slapped down for it by Bob Carr, entered federal parliament on a Labor ticket in 2007, embarked upon a glorious parliamentary career as a sidekick of Labor's Zionist enforcer, Michael Danby, and lost his seat at the 2013 election, see my posts Mike Kelly's Mission Impossible (19/1/13) & Nipping at the Heels (11/3/09).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stolen Land Occupies Marrickville

More rubbish in the Sydney Morning Hasbara about "five Israeli musicians" who call themselves 'Orphaned Land', and are, as I write, over here girding their loins to occupy the stage at the Factory Theatre in - wait for it - Marrickville. (Rocking for peace: band that can't play their biggest markets, Bernard Zuel, 15/3/14)

Rocking for peace... and, if you believe the hype, winning hearts and minds too - in all the wrong places:

They have "large fan bases in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon."

How do we know?

Because the "devotion" of those fans "is expressed online and in social media, their listening done sometimes via copies of albums surreptitiously exchanged."

Surreptitiously! (Psst, Mohammed, wanna a hot OL CD? They piss all over Fairuz, and as we OL fans say, They make my desert bloom!)

OL vocalist Kobi Farhi explains:

"[I]t should not be such a surprise that Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Persians find common cause in Orphaned Land... I never write songs about my ex-girlfriend; it's always about the macro situation of the Middle East... So people in Syria or Iran or Palestinians can identify themselves in the lyrics."

Palestinians... not Palestine...

Kobi laments:

"Ironically, I can go all the way to Australia, but I can't play around the corner in our neighbour countries... All the border countries of Israel, if it's Lebanon and Syria on the north or Jordan on the east or Egypt on the south, none of them will accept me and my passport..."

That sux! Still, if it's any consolation, Kobi, Palestinian refugees in those countries know exactly how you feel. After all, the bastards who stole their homeland back in 1948 won't accept either them or their title deeds.

Refugees? Palestinian refugees?

That's right, Kobi. You know all about them, don't you? Remember that interview you did with

K: You know, in the 1948 war the Arab leaders told all the Arabs 'Run away from Israel, and when we win the war you will come back.' The thing is that they lost the war and then became refugees, so haven't come back ever since and still wait for those leaders to bring them back. I strongly believe that we should not count on leaders, messiahs or anyone.
MB: You mentioned the messages that the Arab leaders sent to the Palestinians in 48... well, that is propaganda. Those messages were simply never sent, it didn't happen.
K: So how did all the Arabs run away?
MB: They didn't; they were expelled.
K: I will give you an example. I was born in Jaffa; before the 1948 war it consisted of almost 80,000 Arabs. After the war there were 3,000 Arabs left in Jaffa. It's impossible for the 1948 Israeli army to expel 77,000 people out of Jaffa. Take my word for it... (The new folklore: An interview with Orphaned Land)

Monday, March 17, 2014

March In March

Off topic, but hey, it is my blog.

Although yesterday's anti-Abbott March in March rallies/marches were the largest of their kind in this country since Australia marched against the US-led invasion of Iraq in February, 2003, there has been a virtual ms media ban on reporting them, at least here in Sydney.

In Sydney, for example, one could stand at the top of the long Broadway rise, near Victoria Park (next to Sydney University) and look back down the road in awe at the sight of marchers who had only just passed Central Station as the lead marchers were already fanning out over Victoria Park.

Despite a thunderstorm and rain affecting the Belmore Park rally site earlier in the day, Sydney's MIM fielded tens of thousands of angry protesters in an awesome display of people power. Yet the media was largely missing in action.

Here's my tally for the televisual and print media:

Last night's Sydney television:
Channel 7 News 6pm: 0
SBS News 6.30pm-7pm: 0
ABC News 7pm: Covered

Today's Sydney papers:
The Australian: 0
Daily Telegraph: 0
Sydney Morning Herald: 0

The two Murdoch dailies were as expected.

The Sydney Morning Herald came as a shock (but shouldn't have).

What it did cover, however, tells you all you need to know about this sad little rag, which is to the Murdoch papers what Lab is to Lib.

The Herald covered Sunday's St Patrick's Day march: Rain fails to dampen Irish spirit on parade.

It also featured - as front page news - a Fairfax Nielsen poll which purported to reveal that "[v]oters appear to have taken in their stride reports of changes to the pension age and to Medicare, including government speculation of a $6 co-payment for GP visits." (Voters open to tough action on healthcare, Mark Kenny, 17/3/14)

All of 977 voters were polled nationwide, and yet the views of those 977 people (mediated by a poll, with all of a poll's known unknowns - Fairfax's agenda/ how the questions were shaped/ to what degree were those polled aware of the issues, etc) were considered more worthy of reporting than the views of tens of thousands of people who were sufficiently informed to take to the streets of Sydney, let alone those in NSW regional centres and other state capitals and regional centres across the land.

PS (18/3/14): See John Birmingham's reflection - Will you miss us when we're gone? (18/3)  - on the MSM's failure to report MIM rallies at Another nail in the coffin of the corporate press?

Hello, Geoffrey?

Geoffrey Wheatcroft is a British journalist and writer, whose books include something called The Controversy of Zion.

His Spectator review of a) Ari Shavit's My Promised Land: The Triumph & Tragedy of Israel, and b) Shlomo Avineri's Herzl: Theodor Herzl & The Foundation of the Jewish State, were republished in the Weekend Australian Review. (Needless to say, while absolute gems on the Middle East conflict, such as Max Blumenthal's Goliath (and so many others) are routinely ignored by Murdoch/Fairfax reviewers, these two Zionist confections are getting the kind of attention they don't deserve.)

Wheatcroft's review, as you'd expect, is nothing if not uncritical. Here are some of the itches I just couldn't help scratching after reading it. I'll begin with his comments on Shavit's book:

"Shavit's father and uncle were closely connected with the building of an Israeli nuclear bomb at Dimona. Shavit meets one of their colleagues, the anonymous head engineer of the Dimona project, whose father was killed by an Arab gunman in 1943, and who worked on the great secret project as a form of recompense." (Duality of a Zionist state,15/3/14)

Hello, Geoffrey?

So dreamy little Shimon (or Menachem or Yitzhak or Ariel or whatever) Toogoodtobetruestein, who used to ask such questions as 'Daddy, what lies behind the stars?' and 'Mummy, why do other boys pull wings off flies? It's sooo cruel', and who was wont to lie in bed at night talking to the moon through his bedroom window, was sooo mugged by reality in 1943 that he decided to be a nuclear engineer when he grew up just so he could blow up every Arab within cooee of Israel's ever-expanding borders?

Hello, Geoffrey? 

About that mysterious "Arab gunman" of 1943. Seriously now, the only gunmen running around Palestine in 1943 were members of the Haganah, Irgun and Stern Gangs.

"Towards the end of My Promised Land Shavit muses that, 'if Herbert Bentwich [Shavit's British great-grandfather] had not been overcome by an obsessive yearning for Zion' the family would have remained in England. 'I like to think I could have been a literature don at Oxford or a producer at the BBC. My life would be much more relaxed and far safer than my Israeli life. My children's future would not be under a cloud. But would I have had a richer inner life?'"

Hello, Geoffrey? 

Millions of Palestinians in exile, millions more under Israeli occupation, and a smaller number hanging on as third-class citizens in a 'Jewish' state, just so Shavit can lead "a richer inner life"!  And Joe Hockey reckons we've got a sense of entitlement?

Now for Avineri:

"But [Herzl] was an irenic moderate, who pursued the remote ideal of a bi-national state shared by Arabs and Jews..." and a "romantic [who] imagined that the Arabs would welcome the Zionists with open arms."

Hello, Geoffrey?

Is this "irenic moderate" the same Herzl who wrote of Palestine's indigenous majority Arab population in his diary in 1895: "We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying employment for it in our country"?*

Hello, Geoffrey?

Is this "romantic" the same Herzl who, on his one and only trip to Palestine in 1898, dismissed its scenery as "Arab-blighted"**?


[*See my 4/1/13 post What would Herzl Do?; **The Middle East: Temple of Janus, Desmond Stewart, 1972, p 161]

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rachel Corrie (1979-2003) RIP

Born: April 10, 1979 in Olympia, Washington, United States
Murdered: March 16, 2003 in Rafah, Palestine

"I feel like I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive... Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realise there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I'm having dinner with." Rachel Corrie

Saturday, March 15, 2014

First Blacktown, Then Hatikvah 2

Under Vic's expert guidance, "an inspirational corps of representatives dedicated to figuring out how best to engage their youth..." has at last emerged in Blacktown, and at the top of their wish-list, says Vic, is a "community centre." (A community shift takes shape out west, Vic Alhadeff, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/3/14)

Well done, Vic! I'm sure it'll be up and running before you can say 'If you will it, it is no dream'.

A community centre for African refugees in Hatikvah, however, seems to be the last thing on the minds of Israel's movers and shakers:

"At 1am on January 10, 2012, the Knesset passed an amendment to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law, a bill originally authorized to consolidate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that began in 1947. The new law authorized the government to arrest and hold anyone the government deemed an 'infiltrator' - namely, non-Jewish asylum seekers and migrants - in internment camps for a period as long as 3 years and without being charged or receiving trial. Even the handful of Africans who managed to garner refugee status or permanent residency from the Israel government would now be labeled criminal 'infiltrators'. The bill passed by whopping majority of 37-8... The anti-migrant bill included substantial funding for the expansion of the Saharonim facility at Ketziot, a Negev Desert mega-prison that once held thousands of Palestinians detained during the First Intifada, and which was due to be renovated to hold around 8,000 Africans fleeing persecution - 'infiltrators' - for an indefinite period... The Independent, a British newspaper, wrote that Ketziot would amount to 'the world's biggest detention center.' Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Knesset, described the planned center in much starker terms. 'As a democrat and a Jew, I have a hard time with concentration camps where people are warehoused,' he remarked. But Netanyahu countered the critics by arguing that the desert prison was a 'humanitarian solution' that would prevent non-Jewish Africans from 'chang[ing] the character of the state'." (Goliath: Life & Loathing in Greater Israel, Max Blumenthal, 2013, p 336)

Still, it's never too late! In the land where the sword was once beaten into a ploughshare, I'm confidant that if he ever gets over there, Vic will set about beating the Ketziot concentration camp into a community centre.

But hey, I've got an even bigger job for this miracle worker.

When he noted in his Herald piece that "some immigrants [to Australia] have arrived from countries where men in uniform are to be feared," that got me thinking. Israel's probably got more scary, trigger-happy men in uniform in the West Bank than is good for its fabled soul, right? So while he's over there beating concentration camps into community centres, why can't he also work his considerable magic and have them removed from the West Bank at the same time?

Just think of the applause, Vic. The Nobel Peace Prize. Even better, the Sydney Peace Prize!

C'mon, Vic, if anyone can end the occupation - although you probably wouldn't call it that - you can!

Friday, March 14, 2014

First Blacktown, Then Hatikvah 1

Where would Blacktown be without our new Baruch O'Farrell-appointed NSW Community Relations Commissioner (and CEO of the NSW Zionist - sorry, Jewish - Board of Deputies) Vic Alhadeff:

"The most poignant moment at a recent meeting of community leaders in Blacktown occurred towards the conclusion of the robust 2-hour exchange. A representative of the African Communities Council got to his feet and with more than a hint of angst and despair in his tone, pleaded: 'How do we get the rest of Australia to hear us? How do we get them to hear our voice?... The meeting was one of several that the NSW Community Relations Commission has convened in Blacktown in recent weeks following the alleged gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl in the area."  (A community shift takes shape out west, Vic Alhadeff, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/3/14)

Marvel as he talks the talk:

"As for the appeal of the African representative, if our various communities are to be the best they can, they need to - while proudly celebrating that culture - embrace equally their acquired Australian identity in as many forms as possible: respect for others, a fair go for all, equality of men and women, learning Australian history, familiarising themselves with the Anzac legend, volunteering and always acting within the law."

Now join in the applause: 

"When I put this to the most recent meeting, it was met with enthusiastic applause. Yet the appeal from the African representative hung in the air."

Right, now that Vic's managed to sort out Western Sydney's Blacktown (and said African and other representatives are busy brushing up on Australian history and Anzac), maybe it's time he moved on to bigger things in Israel - in South Tel Aviv's Hatikvah Quarter, to be specific. I hear the locals are also a tad toey there too:

"Throughout May 2012, a gang of about a dozen youths terrorized Africans in Tel Aviv, attacking then with clubs and iron chains, while robbing their stores... Their motive, the youths confessed after they were finally arrested at the end of the month, was to exact revenge for the horrible crimes the Israeli media claimed the foreigners had committed against the Jewish public. On May 22, following weeks of high-level government incitement, [Kahanist MK] Michael Ben-Ari and his minions returned to south Tel Aviv to arouse the angry, left-behind community with the message that the time for action had begun.

"The demonstrations began with Ben-Ari standing before a crowd of fifty at the front door of a small community center that provided services to asylum seekers, claiming without any evidence that Sudanese migrants had urinated on synagogues, desecrating the holiest sites of the 'Jewish people'. Another speaker declared that the greatest threat to Israel was African refugees, claiming they had been shepherded into Israel by the Arab states in a devious plot to upend the Jewish demographic majority. A young woman in the crowd sported a gold Star of David necklace and a white T-shirt emblazoned with the hand-scrawled phrase, 'Death to Sudanese'.

"With Ben-Ari standing a few meters away, a middle-aged man in the crowd took the megaphone and addressed a small group of leftists staging a counterprotest nearby: 'We want to remind you of the new protocol regarding women. If you are pretty, don't leave your home! You'll get fucked in the ass at night by a Sudanese man.'

"A woman in her 30s who was well known in the neighborhood for her activism against Africans charged across the street... There, they confronted two leftists sitting at the door of the community center. 'May you all get cancer! May the cancer spread!' the woman screamed at the two young women... 'May your entire family die in a car accident tomorrow! With the help of God, you piece of garbage! You spawn of Amalek!'

"When the demonstration ended, the protesters set themselves on Yossi Gurvitz, a widely read, left-wing blogger, and his girlfriend, Galina, who had dared to shout back at Ben-Ari. Comprised mostly of women, the crowd hectored Galina with graphic sexual and racial slurs... With Border Police standing by and doing absolutely nothing, an elderly man barked at Galina, 'Who are you married to? You're married to a nigger!'

"'A Sudanese man will rape you and then you'll cry,' said a bald man wearing aviator sunglasses... 'A Sudanese mam will rape you in the ass! May your mother be raped! A Sudanese man will fuck you! Then you will cry out in pain!

"'She wants some nigger dick. She's not getting any from her husband,' said an old woman with bright yellow hair, gesticulating wildly just inches from Galina's face. 'You know why she wants them here?' the old woman continued. 'She wants a man!'

"A young woman from the neighborhood added, 'What Israeli would want her? She wants a nigger!'" (Goliath: Life & Loathing in Greater Israel, Max Blumenthal, 2013, pp 342-43)

Of course, sorting that out should be a piece of cake for a man of Vic's talents. But that's just a start. I've got an even bigger job coming up for him! Tune in to First Blacktown, Then Hatikvah 2 tomorrow...

Sydney Morning Hasbara

The Sydney Morning Herald rendered invaluable service to Israeli hasbara on Wednesday by publishing the following lie:

"Israeli troops shot and killed a Jordanian judge of Palestinian descent at a West Bank Jordan crossing after he allegedly tried to grab a gun from a border guard, causing new frictions with... Jordan. The Israeli military said the judge, Raed Zeiter, lunged toward the Allenby Bridge terminal yelling 'Allahu akbar', or God is greatest, and tried to wrest a weapon from an Israeli soldier. Soldiers then opened fire at his legs to try to restrain him, at which point he tried to strangle a soldier and was shot to death." (Israeli troops kill Jordanian judge, 12/3/14)

It then compounded its culpability on Thursday by failing to publish a corrective as per the following:

"Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a statement of 'regret' today after soldiers killed Dr Raed Zeiter, a Jordanian magistrate judge with a doctorate in international law, at the border crossing. The judge was on a bus which was being screened by Israeli border guards, and got into an argument with one of the guards when he began shoving the passengers to try to hurry them back on board. He was shot and killed, and the rest of the passengers were ordered to quickly return to the bus and leave the scene. Israel's military issued two separate accounts of the incident, initially condemning Zeiter as a 'terrorist' who had shouted 'Allahu akbar' and charged the troops with a rifle, and then later claiming he 'attacked the guards' with a metal pole during the argument. Witnesses from the bus say they saw and heard nothing of the sort, and even after the judge was repeatedly shot they saw no metal poles on the ground, just the judge's body. Israeli officials were quick to point out that there was no surveillance camera pointed at the area where the judge was killed, so there is no footage that might contradict the official military version of events. They have, however, promised an 'investigation'." (Netanyahu 'regrets' Israeli killing of Jordan judge, Jason Ditz,, 11/3/14)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Go-To Man

"A political fight is brewing between Attorney-General George Brandis and the Institute of Public Affairs. Senator Brandis has angered the IPA and other powerful Liberal Party allies, who believe the A-G is using tricky language to dilute his promise to repeal a controversial section of the race discrimination laws... 'After a spirited campaign from some community groups, it seems the A-G has been having second thoughts,' [IPA executive director John] Roskam said. Senator Brandis is now wedged between the Liberal Party's natural allies on the right and a powerful coalition of ethnic groups... Leaders from Australia's Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Greek, Armenian, Lebanese, Vietnamese and indigenous populations have united against abolishing or weakening the race hate laws." (Think tank says Brandis is backtracking on hate laws, Jonathan Swan, Sydney Morning Herald, 12/3/14)

Some community groups? Hm... funny how the list of such groups invariably begins with 'Jewish'. Maybe Swan will go on to quote one of the leaders of one of the other deeply concerned groups. Armenian perhaps? Or maybe Greek? After all, as we all know, an Armenian or a Greek can't put his head out the door here in Australia without being subjected to a hailstorm of racial abuse, right? Why, only the other day I...

Or maybe not:

"Executive Council of Australian Jewry executive director Peter Wertheim said he could not recall 'any other issue on which there has been such unity of purpose and strength of feeling across such a diverse group of communities'."

Now where have I seen Wertheim's name before on this matter? Oh, yes, in another (dare I say more informative?) report by Jonathan Swan - see my 17/11/13 post The Jewish Paradox.

Notwithstanding "such unity of purpose and strength of feeling" among Armenians and Greeks, it's funny how Mr Wertheim always seems to pop up as the go-to man on the subject. Why is it so?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Push for a Judeo-Christian Curriculum

Beware the J-C word:

"The inclusion of an additional cross-curriculum priority that ensures the continued recognition of the 'Western/Judeo-Christian influences on our society may help to address these concerns'." Christian Schools Australia submission to the national curriculum review, quoted in Christian schools eye 'rebalance', Justine Ferrari, The Australian, 10/3/14)

Here's why:

"First used by early 20th century biblical scholars to describe the scope of Old and New Testament studies... The concept [of Judeo-Christian heritage/values] all but disappeared until the 1980s when it was revived by Ronald Reagan... After a 1990s hiatus, the Judeo-Christian tradition was more recently given the kiss of life by the US religious right as anti-Islamist sloganeering. Borrowed willy-nilly from these US sources, where it is code for Christians against Islam, the phrase has now become a constant theme in Australian neoconservative rhetoric..." (Australia's 'Judeo-Christian heritage' doesn't exist, Tony Taylor,, 13/1/14)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Abbott's Anglosphere

Tony - ah - Abbott here. Everywhere you look - ah - our precious Anglosphere is - ah - not only under threat, from without, by - ah - baddies, but worse, from within, by - ah - goodies. I mean - ah - what was New Zealand thinking here?

"The federal government led secret diplomatic efforts to frustrate a New Zealand-led push for nuclear disarmament, according to documents released under FOI laws... because 'we rely on US nuclear forces to deter nuclear attack on Australia'. In October last year, following the election of the Coalition government, Australia refused a NZ request to endorse a 125-nation joint statement at the UN highlighting the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. Australia objected to a sentence declaring that it is in the interest of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, 'under any circumstances'." (Government pushed against NZ on nukes, Philip Dorling, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/3/14)

Just as well we put the kibosh on that one! The - ah - bottom line here, to quote that great American Suppository of all Wisdom, Sarah Palin, is - ah - this:

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a nuke is a good guy with a nuke." (How to stop a bad guy with a nuke, AFP/SMH, 10/3/14)

Then there's Britain! As - ah - my own dear Suppository of all Wisdom, Monsignor Sheridan JP, has written only this weekend past:

"A few years ago I wrote a book about the US/Australia alliance and everywhere I went in research for that book I was surprised to find Britain as a third partner. Most people in both Australia and Britain don't realise how close the operational, political, intelligence, military, diplomatic and economic partnership really is. At AUKMIN [Australia United Kingdom Ministerial meeting] next Tuesday the two governments will sign a joint statement on enhanced diplomatic network co-operation." (Old ties that secure our future, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 8/3/14)

Sadly, however, even - ah - the British these days are deviating from one of their - ah - core historical responsibilities, screwing the Palestinians. Maybe they're getting a little - ah - tired of this after almost 100 years? Whatever - ah - Foreign Minister Palin - sorry, Bishop - is resolved to - ah - show wee willie Hague the way here:

"Bishop, who admires Hague, who has indeed become a globally important foreign minister, disagrees with her British counterpart in his insistence that all Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 borders are illegal under international law. Hague got Bishop's predecessor, Bob Carr, to sign up to that language the last time an AUKMIN was held in Sydney. This was a departure for Australian policy and Bishop has reverted to the far more sensible formulation that these settlements... are part of negotiations now under way." (ibid)

We'll - ah - show them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Then There Were Two

There will soon be two openly Islamophobic parties operating in Australia. The first, of course, is Fred Nile's Christian Democrats - see my post Witches Brew 5 (7/10/11).

Here's the second:

"An anti-Islam party based on the hardline views of Dutch politician Geert Wilders plans to field candidates at the next federal election... Australian Liberty Alliance was registered as a not-for-profit business last month by Debbie Robinson, the president of the Q Society, an anti-Islam think tank that was responsible for bringing Mr Wilders to Australia last year." (Anti-Islam party to contest next election, Chip Le Grand, The Australian, 5/3/14)

An anti-Islam think tank?! Just imagine the conniptions in the ms media if someone were to set up an anti-Judaism or anti-Christianity 'think tank'?

The Q Society, BTW, has just held a Stop Islamization of Nations (SION) 'congress' in Melbourne:

I couldn't help but notice that its panelists included such luminaries as Pamela Geller (awarded the 'Queen Esther Award for Jewish Heroism' by the Creative Zionist Coalition in 2013); Robert Spencer (director of Jihad Watch, "a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center"); Dr Mordechai Kedar (ex-IDF Military Intelligence); and Michael Burd (described as "a passionate Zionist advocate and a critic of the Jewish community representatives' views on multiculturalism and asylum seekers") (See for the complete list.)

Maybe the congress should have been called Zap Islamization of Nations (ZION)?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

John Lyons Slams Sheridan, AIJAC

What follows is a response, in full, by The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, to the bizarre attack launched against him (and the ABC) in last weekend's edition by its foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, over Four Corner's expose of Israel's abuse of Palestinian children, Stone Cold Justice.

To be honest, I had feared a grovel. Happily, though, I was disappointed. Lyon's piece is an absolute must-read for several reasons:

a) It's full of home-truths about the Israel lobby and Sheridan, its main mouthpiece in the corporate media;
b) It's a superb example of the gulf - yawning in this case - that must inevitably develop between a home-based, doctrinaire foreign editor, for whom support for Israel is an article of faith, and a relatively open-minded Middle East correspondent, exposed on a daily basis to the reality of life in a worse-than-apartheid state;
c) Incredibly, it's all happening in the pages of Rupert Murdoch's Australian flagship.


"So a priest at a church Greg Sheridan attended in Melbourne said something possibly anti-Semitic, and somehow ABC1's Four Corners and I are responsible? It's not even certain the priest watched the Four Corners program on Israel's treatment of Palestinian children. But it sounds as if he didn't need anyone to stoke his anti-Semitism - Sheridan said he spoke as someone 'with 2000 years of Christian anti-Semitism behind him'. Sadly, this is the level to which discussion about Israel has sunk.

"Last Saturday, Sheridan said a program I reported for Four Corners was 'a crude piece of anti-Israel propaganda that revived some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes'. Why can journalists put the Australian Army or federal police or US Army through the ringer, but if we investigate the most powerful army in the Middle East it's anti-Semitism?

"As a correspondent in Jerusalem my job is to report through Australian eyes. What the Israeli army does to Palestinian children systematically - such as taking a 12-year-old from his home at 2am and denying access to a lawyer or parent - would be illegal in Australia. Four Corners showed how Israel enforces two legal systems in the West Bank, one for Jews and one for Palestinians.

"For 'exhaustive rebuttals', Sheridan recommended the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council run by Colin Rubenstein, also based in Melbourne. AIJAC is not an elected body representing the Jewish community but a privately funded lobby group for a rebuttal of journalism. Bob Carr recently revealed that when he was foreign minister, AIJAC 'directed a furious effort at trying to block even routine criticism of settlements, as if this were more vital than advocating a two-state solution or opposing boycotts of Israel'. After reading Carr's comments, prominent Israeli Alon Liel wrote: 'Who are you 'Israeli lovers' of the Australia-Israel Council? Who authorised you to put pressure on the Australian government 'on my behalf'? Especially regarding a matter that affects my family's future? Why are you trying to ruin my country, pretending you are 'pro-Israeli'? Liel, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry chief, wrote: 'What would you do, dear Jew, if the risk of such isolation was hovering over the head of Australia, France or Canada, countries whose passports you hold?'

"He echoed Breaking the Silence, 950 current and former Israeli soldiers, who reported on Palestinian children, including one soldier saying a colleague put children against a wall and made them sing Israel's national anthem - if they didn't sing in time, he'd hit them. Another said his commander beat a child 'to a pulp' and put a gun in his mouth, saying, 'Don't annoy me'. When Melbourne Jewish leader Danny Lamm alleged 'crude propaganda', 15 former officers condemned 'Lamm's armchair Zionism, pontificating from afar while true Israelis put their lives on the line'.

"Sheridan repeated AIJAC's claim about settlements not growing - year after year AIJAC says this while construction booms, even outside existing settlements. US President Barack Obama this week referred to 'aggressive settlement construction'. Israeli statistics show settler housing more than doubled last year, and in the first half of 2011 grew 660%. Outposts are also surging - these are illegal under Israeli law, yet Israel tolerates them. Having visited the West Bank hundreds of times, I am astonished that Melbourne-based people such as Sheridan and Rubenstein portray themselves as experts yet ignore reality.

"Last week, Amnesy International said Israeli forces had displayed a 'callous disregard' by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, over 3 years with 'near total impunity'. Last year, Unicef said ill-treatment of Palestinian children appeared to be 'widespread, systematic and institutionalised', and 'children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault'. In 2012, a delegation of British lawyers led by former attorney-general Patricia Scotland, found Israel had breached 6 articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Geneva Conventions.

"There are also now big issues for Australia relating to the Geneva Conventions, under which Israel's settlements are widely considered illegal. Yet Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has cast doubt on whether Australia accepts the Geneva Conventions in that regard. Her new policy may have serious implications for Australian soldiers overseas - the conventions govern not only how civilians under occupation should be treated but captured soldiers. It was after two world wars with their collective death toll of about 80 million that postwar leaders signed up to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The danger of Bishop cherry-picking the Geneva Conventions could expose Australian soldiers who currently have protection.

"Sheridan ignores the fact Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor told Four Corners soldiers were not appropriately trained to detain children. AIJAC critises me for interviewing 'extremist' settler Daniella Weiss - if she is an extremist then so are key members of Israel's cabinet who share her views. Weiss planned settlements with Ariel Sharon to forestall a Palestinian state.

"Leaders of Australia's Jewish community visiting Israel often approach me for a coffee. One opposed the occupation, saying it was against Jewish teachings to rule over others. Another, from Sydney, wanted the occupation to end. When I asked why he never said that publicly, he replied: 'Are you serious? And have the Melbourne guys declare a fatwa against me? This denial - or fear - does not help Israel.

"The film The Gatekeepers, which interviewed 6 former chiefs of intelligence service Shin Bet, warned about Israel's future. Avraham Shalom said of the Israeli army: 'We have become cruel'. But one Melbourne Jewish leader told me the Shin Bet chiefs were 'all left-wing'.

"An insight into the attacks on journalists covering Israel comes from Clyde Haberman, an Orthodox-raised American Jew who has just retired after 37 years with The New York Times. For decades, he says, the paper has had correspondents who, no matter how different or good, were branded anti-Semitic or self-hating Jews. He says correspondents in Israel could expect 'to have your integrity hurled back in your face every single day'. But he thought of a solution: 'If I didn't want to be accused of hating Israel, I should start every story with: 'Fifty years after 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, Israel yesterday' did one thing or the other'.

"Obama told Israel their occupation was unfair. It is possible that Obama, Unicef, Amnesty International, 950 soldiers, Shin Bet chiefs and others are wrong and that Sheridan and Rubenstein are right. But I don't think so." (Distant 'experts' choose to ignore Israeli realities, 8/3/14)

Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Native Police

Zionist propagandists today (it wasn't always the case) just hate being described as settler-colonialists.

They prefer to paint themselves as an indigenous 'people' or 'nation', who, having been evicted from their Palestinian homeland by the Romans nigh on 2000 years ago, just sat around moping until, under the banner of political Zionism, they were able to 'return'.

OK, it's a great yarn, but sadly, that's all it is.

As much as Zionists like to pretend that theirs is a movement for national self-determination, rather than its opposite, just another, albeit highly creative, white European colonizing movement, there are simply too many tell-tale signs for the settler-colonial reality to be glossed over.

Like this, for example:

"Known popularly as the Magav, the Israeli Border Police evolved in part from an army division created in the wake of the state's foundation for the explicit purpose of capturing and deporting Palestinian refugees who had slipped into their former villages to reunite with family and spouses. Named the Minorities Unit, the division was comprised mostly of deeply impoverished young men recruited from Druze villages in the north and Bedouin Arab enclaves in the south. Their recruitment of non-Palestinian Arab subgroups served David Ben Gurion's divide-and-conquer strategy, which he dubbed, 'fragmentation'. As one Israeli official said, the Minorities Unit formed 'the sharp blade of a knife to stab in the back of Arab unity'." (Goliath: Life & Loathing in Greater Israel, Max Blumenthal, 2013, p 255)

And here's the same phenomenon closer to home:

"The frontier violence inflicted upon Aboriginal people in Queensland was a refinement of practices in southern colonies and a tradition of violence migrated north with landseekers. Colonialism is inherently violent. Moreover, the concept of using Indigenous troops to further colonisation and suppress resistance was not new. Like the British, other conquerors had found that Native forces enjoyed a number of advantages as imperial soldiers and frontier guards. Indigenous people were familiar with local terrain, customs and languages, and they had an ability to survive off the land without the catastrophic medical problems that affected invading armies and expeditions... By the time the British colonised Australia, several practices were standard. The Native Police, like other armed colonial formations based on the use of Indigenous recruits, took advantage of the fact that Native people had no loyalties to other Indigenous groups. Indeed, in some cases they were sworn enemies, and fought as much in their own self-interest as for other reasons. It has been argued that the search for a Native power base is an essential step in many colonial annexations. The concept of divide and rule, implicit in the recruitment of Indigenous troopers, shows how the British had learned to adapt traditional Indigenous enmity to their advantage." (The Secret War: A True History of Queensland's Native Police, Jonathan Richards, 2008, p 10)

Same old, same old.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Games Bibi Plays

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see through this one:

"The Israeli navy said that it seized a ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday carrying dozens of advanced Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria and intended for Palestinian guerillas in the besieged Gaza Strip. The disclosure came as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was in the US to press his case for tougher international action against Iran over its disputed nuclear program." (Seized rocket shipment was from Iran, Israel says, Dan Williams, Sydney Morning Herald/Reuters, 7/3/14)

I see... "Iranian-supplied rockets made in Syria."

And I thought the Syrians were only up to barrel bombs. Silly me. But wait, what's this:

"Israeli military footage showed a rocket on the floor of a ship hold, with cement bags labelled 'Made in Iran' in English next to it."


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ding-dong, Avnon Calling

Dan Avnon, "a Hebrew University political scientist whose initial bid for a fellowship application was rejected as part of a boycott against Israel has arrived in Australia expressing outrage at the action taken by Sydney academic Jake Lynch." (Boycotted Israeli embraced by other fellows, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 5/3/14)

But what's this? Contrary to what I'd expected, it seems the Avnon Lad's not over here to promote a range of Israeli propaganda lipsticks and cosmetics for Australian consumption. Or to swan around Sydney University going 'Nyah nyah nya nya nya, Jake Lynch'.

No, in Ean (with an 'e') Higgins' "exclusive interview," he describes himself as someone "devoted to overcoming certain undemocratic practices in Israel."

"Undemocratic practices"?

What? Israel? The Middle East's ONLY DEMOCRACY? The very model of a modern "liberal, pluralist democracy" as our dear leader is wont to refer to it.

Nooo... surely it cannot be!

But, hey, what would I know? Thanks to the Avnon Lad calling around my eyes are now open!

Hm... "undemocratic practices"?

Might these be such things as:

1) Occupying and colonizing someone else's land?
2) Booting out the indigenous population and denying it the right of return?
3) Relegating the remnant indigenes to second class status?

You'd imagine so. But wait, isn't that what BDS is all about?

This is all sooo confusing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ground Control to Major Greg

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan's column in last Saturday's Australian was surely the mother-of-all Zionist temper tantrums:

"We are living in a time of infamous lies against the state of Israel and the Jewish people." (Evil & deeply untrue, 1/3/14)

Note the deliberate conflation: Israel = Jews.

"We are witnessing, even in Australia, a recrudescence of some of the oldest types of anti-Semitism."

So Adolf and his hordes have suddenly erupted, zombie fashion, onto the Australian scene?

Er... no, not quite:

"One of the worst recent examples of anti-Israel propaganda that led to anti-Semitic outbursts was the Four Corners episode Stone Cold Justice, purporting to be about treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank."

So, after watching Four Corners on that fateful Monday night, viewers exchanged their thongs for jackboots, and made for synagogues and Jewish-owned shops with consequences so dire that they didn't even surface in the Murdoch press the next day?

"The program featured as a guest reporter John Lyons, of this newspaper. I have the greatest respect for John. He has produced some outstanding journalism in his time."


"In the aerolite he wrote for this newspaper on February 8..."

FYI, an aerolite is a meteorite. A meteorite FFS! Ground control to Major Greg. Ground control to Major Greg.

"... he made some of the same allegations at best unproved and generally unconvincing."

Unproved and unconvincing? Jeez, John, you got off lightly, but watch your back, OK?

But wait, what's this? The Curse of Zion!

"However, the Four Corners program was a disgrace, a crude piece of anti-Israel propaganda that revived some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes."

Sweet Jesus, will Lyons ever be the same again?

"In the year 2014, are we really going to allege again, on the basis of the flimsiest non-evidence you could imagine, that Jewish soldiers systematically physically crucify innocent children? Is there a school of anti-Semitism 101 operating out there? Do you not think that before you would air an allegation like that, if you had any real sense of editorial responsibility, you would be 100% sure that it was true; you would track down the people alleged to have done it and get their testimony?"

What is this tosser on about?

This, it seems:

"Fathi Mahfouz: Because I didn't confess, he sent me to a room that has a cross in it and hung me on it. I was standing on the tips of my toes, and all my weight was on the handcuffs and my toes. I was hung and he kept hitting me."  (Transcript: Stone Cold Justice)

There you have it! This Palestinian Imp of Satan is talking CRUCIFIXION no less!

Well, only in the mind of our cut-rate Torquemada, because Fathi Mahfouz's testimony is entirely consistent with Israeli practice:

"The interrogee is forced to stand with their back to the wall, knees bent either at 90 or 45 degrees, sometimes while standing on the toes rather than on the feet. In this position, we have reports of the use of blows, slaps and punches." (Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel (2011), ed. Abeer Baker & Anat Matar, p 119)

Hey, but you wouldn't expect Greg to have that one on his shelf.

Sheridan, of course, goes on to spin the IDF ("My net judgment is Israel's army behaves with as much consideration for human rights as any modern Western army - US, Australian or European - would do in similar circumstances.") and Israeli settlers ("[P]erhaps 1% or less are genuinely extremist and some of them genuinely violent."), but I won't burden you with that.

There is one other thing though. At the conclusion of his tirade, there's a box which reads: "TALKING POINT NEXT WEEK: JOHN LYONS REPLIES."

It doesn't get much more bizarre than that - a newspaper's Middle East correspondent responding to a bagging by its foreign editor.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Saturday Paper

Is Melbourne publisher (The Monthly, Quarterly Essay) Morry Schwartz's TSP a brave new venture in fearless, investigative journalism? Or just another exercise in Zionist gatekeeping?

"[Peter] Craven [editor of Quarterly Essay 2001-04] is on friendly terms with Schwartz but acknowledges the publisher's heart 'will always belong to Robert [Manne*, La Trobe University academic, author and member of QE's editorial board]. He says Schwartz was always keen for robust editorial debates, becoming noticeably 'toey' on discussions of Israel. Everyone says Schwartz responds viscerally to this question. 'Loyalty to the idea of a Jewish homeland is very important to him,' argues Manne. Says Craven: 'He's very one-eyed on these sort of things. I once said to [his wife] Anna I was going to see [the opera] Tristan und Isolde and she said, 'Peter, I won't even buy German goods.' In 1982, Schwartz published Blanche D'Alpuget's biography of Bob Hawke after Penquin and Melbourne University Press turned it down. 'Morry was very influenced by the fact that Bob was a huge supporter of Israel,' D'Alpuget tells me. 'It was really Bob's connection to Israel that he leapt at.' (Schwartz disputes this; he says he sensed the public was hungry for political biography...) Critics wonder how TSP will cover the Middle East. Schwartz says: 'I think Israel is over-tackled. The media are too obsessed with it; but a balanced view, sure.' He imposed upon Craven his preference for Australian-centric content but concedes a newspaper can't ignore world crises..." (Paper tiger: Morry Schwartz's gamble, Kate Legge, The Australian, 14/12/13)

[*For Robert Manne and QE, see my three posts: Who Speaks for Palestine? (2/9/11); The Silence of the Intellectual 1 (6/9/11) and 2 (7/9/11).]

Charge of the Light Weight

"I think that every Australian, and people right around the world, will be thinking: hands off the Ukraine. This is not the kind of action of a friend and neighbour and I think Russia should back off... You cannot just cross the border of another country with military force, with aggressive intent." Tony Abbott (Quoted in World leaders rally behind Ukraine, Matthew Knott, Nick O'Malley, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/3/14)

Why not, Tony? We did just that in Iraq, and under your watch too:

"The primary role of the Special Forces Task Group was to secure an area of western Iraq from which it was feared that SCUD missiles could be launched. The SAS successfully entered Iraq by vehicle and US helicopters and secured their area of responsibility after a week of fighting." (Australian contribution to the 2003 invasion of Iraq,

And anyway, why are you even commenting on the matter? After all, isn't it your "view that there is nothing to be gained from politicians publicly debating the finer points of international law in this immensely complex area"? (See my 5/9/13 post Election 2013: Pitching for the Zionist Vote.)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Perpetual Nakba

So that Australian (and American, and British, and...) Zionists can lay back in comfort and fantasise about a supposed genetic connection to a set of mythical Middle Eastern figures known as Abraham, Isaac and Joseph, and even, in a manic moment, act on that fantasy by (LOL) ascending ('making aliyah') to Israel, millions of people, refugees from the former Palestine, must perforce remain in exile from their homeland, condemned to lives of never-ending dispossession and turmoil.

More of UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi's moving speech (on the other side of 'the Zionist dream') cited in my previous post:

"Of course, all civilians suffer in Syria. But Palestinians, unlike many Syrians, do not have support networks beyond where they live. They have been buffeted from camp to camp in search of safety. Vastly compounding their plight is the fact that options for external flight are extremely limited. About 53,000 have approached UNRWA in Lebanon, a country hosting also hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, and where the situation of close to 300,000 Palestinians in existing camps is already dire and inhospitable - with limited or no access to jobs, property and services.

"Jordan has an explicit no-entry policy for Palestinians from Syria. Approximately 11,000 have sought assistance from UNRWA there. Throughout the region, in support of Palestinians fleeing Syria, we promote humanitarian principles of non-refoulement and equal treatment of refugees, but to little avail in the case of Jordan. Palestinians are also no longer granted visas to Egypt. Some 5,000 fled the Syria conflict there and are in need of assistance. Making it possible has been a complex exercise in a country undergoing its own, difficult transition.

"Palestinians from Syria are reportedly seeking safety further afield, including in Turkey, in Gaza, even in Asia. Last fall, we saw them board boats by the hundreds towards Europe, and sometimes, tragically, lose their lives at sea. This matches the sad and resigned explanations we are now hearing from Palestinians in Syria and those who have fled to neighboring countries: 'We are not wanted here, we cannot manage any longer. I want my children to have a new life, away from this region, which for us is only trouble.'

"We estimate that at least 70% of the Palestine refugee population in Syria have been displaced, whether inside the country or beyond its borders. It is in fact the largest displacement of Palestinians since 1967, although - one should say - displacement and insecurity have been main characteristics of the Palestinian condition: including the expulsions from Kuwait and Libya, the destruction of camps in the Lebanese civil war and more recently of Nahr el-Bared, and the grave violations of human rights against Palestinians that occurred a few years ago in Iraq.

"And look carefully at pictures of Yarmouk - of the distribution of small parcels of food to thousands of desperate women, men and children coming out of the besieged area. The stark grayness of the people and the rubble remind me of the black-and-white archive pictures from the Palestinian diaspora in 1948: children in tattered clothes and unkempt hair warming themselves by small fires, old people looking into the camera, their lined and leathered faces deep with concern.

"Um Ahmad and many others told me that what is happening to them is as bad as the Nakba of 1948, and in some ways even worse. I first heard this in December 2012, and it has taken me some time to process. How can it be as bad as the seminal story of expulsion and flight from cities and villages, worse than the original forced exile from the homeland? Then, of course, I understood. In 1948, Palestinians fleeing their land were welcomed throughout the region in solidarity. In 2014, there is simply no more welcome. Hence Um Ahmad's question: where do we go? In 1948, they fled with families and neighbours and then set up camps with UNRWA's help that maintained familial and community networks and support systems. Now - in the much more complex patterns of forced displacement that have emerged in the global age - they are often compelled to flee individually, while those networks, built over many years of exile, quickly disintegrate. Economics and logistics dictate that families are separated; young people go alone using the family assets to pay smugglers. Cohesion is lost, solidarity is weakened, hope is threatened. This is a major crisis affecting the scattered Palestinian nation.

"One must understand the special significance that Yarmouk has played in the Palestinian conscience in preserving the precious notions of identity, culture and belonging throughout the exile. Yarmouk was the centre of Palestinian life in Syria, and recognized region-wide as a positive embodiment of diaspora life. An economic and cultural centre, where Palestinian identity was nurtured. It was the example of how Palestinians, though refugees, could thrive on the many opportunities provided by stability, peace, official hospitality and UNRWA services. It was a relative oasis of prosperity in a long and difficult journey. It made the absence of a just solution to the question of Palestine refugees less unbearable. It enabled people to be patient, as they waited for that solution to be found.

"The unfolding tragedy of Yarmouk is therefore devastating to the psyche of every Palestinian refugee in more ways than the sheer suffering of those directly affected by it. There is a ripple effect of anxiety and fear emanating from the Yarmouk experience. Yarmouk has defined Palestinian solidarity and hope, and it now defines the loss and uncertainty not only for its residents, but also for Palestinians all over Syria, and of the wider community.

"Yarmouk has come to represent all places where - for Palestinians and especially refugees - control over one's life is an illusion, where the safety of decades can disappear overnight, where land is confiscated, homes are demolished, rights are denied, travel is restricted, jobs are lost, resentments and prejudices prevail. Yarmouk is Gaza, the open-air prison. Yarmouk is Nahr al-Bared, destroyed by bombs. Yarmouk is Jenin, it is Sabra & Shatila, it is Tel az-Zaater. Yarmouk is the expulsion from Kuwait, it is 1967, all the way back to the Nakba. It was a beacon of resilience. Unless we act quickly, it risks becoming a symbol of dispossession, and of a history of repeated dispossessions."

Whatever Happened to Reading?

Right at the outset, can we all agree on this: 

It is better to be quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.


The following profoundly simple-minded letter appeared in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Your photograph speaks a thousand words ('Picture of misery: the suffering masses in Syria's capital', February 28). Bashar al-Assad has much to answer for." Don Leayr, Albury

The photograph referred to was accompanied by a brief explanation, courtesy of Fairfax's Middle East correspondent, Ruth Pollard. It began thus:

"A tide of people crowds into the space between the devastated buildings of Yarmouk in Syria in the hope they will receive a UN food parcel to stave off death for another week. Many have already starved in Yarmouk, once home to 160,000 Palestinian refugees..."

If Don Leayr had bothered to read that, he'd have seen those two words: Palestinian refugees.


That is, refugees from Palestine, driven from their homeland by Zionist fire and sword in 1948, and refused the right of return ever since in deference to the seriously weird Zionist myth that Jews - from here, there, anywhere/ black, white, or brindle - constitute a people/nation, and that historic Palestine, rebranded Israel, is their exclusive domain.

If that elementary fact of modern Middle East history had lodged in Leayr's consciousness at some point in his long life on this planet (spring chickens most likely do not read the Herald anymore), would Bashar al-Assad, I wonder, have been the sole, or even primary, focus of his ire?

And even if it hadn't, if only Leayr had gone on to read Pollard's short gloss in its entirety, he would have came across this:

"'The people coming from within Yarmouk appear suddenly near this distribution point. It's like the appearance of ghosts,' said UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi..."

Which might - I know I'm stretching it here - have prompted him to google Grandi's account of this appalling event. Had he done so, he would have read the following:

"But it is Yarmouk which has come to symbolize the suffering of Palestine refugees in Syria in the course of the war. Yarmouk was a large, vibrant, urban melting pot of Palestinians and Syrians. It owes its current fate purely to its location: a triangular slice pointing straight into central Damascus, a strategic last piece in the puzzle required to make a strong advance on the capital. Its relative isolation was shattered in mid-December 2012. This is when armed groups came into the camp, the government surrounded the area, and clashes ensued. UNRWA's 28 schools and 3 clinics ceased operation. Armed groups also occupied houses, looted hospitals and stores. Those inside Yarmouk... got caught in a tight stranglehold by the parties to the conflict." (Syrian Arab Republic: Lecture by Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA at American University of Beirut, 25/2/14)


But expecting the Leayr's of this world to do a modicum of research before shooting their mouths off in a letter to the editor is apparently a bridge too far these days. 

As is expecting letters editors to filter out such rubbish.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

In Pursuit of Whose Interests?

"[F]or the first time, DFAT has been forced to release, via Freedom of Information laws, its behaviour bible for Australian officials overseas... It lays out what people and groups they can and cannot fraternise with... It even advises on how to address envelopes for letters to Palestinian authorities or Taiwanese officials, lest the careless use of a capital letter in the wrong place cause diplomatic offence to Israel or China... 'There are no restrictions on courtesy calls, invitation to and correspondence with the PLO, however, no endorsement should be given to the claim that it represents 'Palestine' or the 'State of Palestine', the guidelines say. 'Any correspondence to Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza should be addressed Palestinian Territories'." (Walking on eggshells, Cameron Stewart, The Australian, 28/2/14)

Absurd, I know, but just look at associate editor, Cameron Stewart's (rambammed 2005) bizarre conclusion:

"But for Australian envoys and officials, it is just another bullet to be dodged in the pursuit of Australia's interests in an increasingly complex world."

In truth, this diplomatic beating around the bush with respect to Palestine has bugger all to do with Australia's interests, and everything to do with toeing the Israeli line - as the following Israeli report makes abundantly clear:

"The IDF says it has turned away Gazan medical patients seeking treatment outside their territory because referral letters were marked 'State of Palestine', a status Israel does not recognize. The UN General Assembly recognized such a state in late 2012, an upgrade Israel rejected... The Palestinian Authority, a self-rule government, uses 'State of Palestine' on most stationary, but not in correspondence with Israeli authorities." (Israel rejects 'State of Palestine' letterhead,, 12/2/14)

Not that Australian diplomats' pursuit of Israeli interests comes as any sort of revelation, mind you. After all, as I've amply documented, even our ambassador to Israel is doing stirling work... representing Israel to Australia. (Just click on the Dave Sharma label below and you'll see what I mean.)