Friday, October 31, 2014

From Serious Injustice to Chickenshit Bibi:

The devolution of America's Middle East policy:

In 1919, American officials had the brains and the moral fibre to recognise that Western backing for Zionist settler-colonialism in Palestine would lead to a serious miscarriage of justice, and had no qualms in saying so:

"The [Paris] Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti-Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be flouted. No British officer, consulted by the Commissioners, believed that the Zionist program could be carried out except by force of arms... That of itself is evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist program, on the part of the non-Jewish populations of Palestine and Syria. Decisions, requiring armies to carry out, are sometimes necessary, but they are surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice. For the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they have a 'right' to Palestine, based on an occupation of two thousand years ago, can hardly be seriously considered." (The Recommendations of the King-Crane Commission)

In 2014, when senior officials in the Obama administration, unencumbered by either brains or moral fibre (too old-fashioned?), refer to that same injustice, this is about as good (and sophisticated) as it gets:

"The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit... He's not Rabin, he's not Sharon, he's certainly no Begin. He's got no guts." (Binyamin Netanyahu 'chickenshit', say US officials in explosive interview, Peter Beaumont, theguardian.com, 29/10/14)

That, of course, is off the record. When one of them is speaking on the record, he invariably reverts to sycophantic drivel:

"There are times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli government and we must raise our concerns, such as our concerns about Israel's settlement policy. We raise these concerns as a partner who is deeply concerned about Israel's future and wants to see Israel living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors." (ibid)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arab East Jerusalem's Israeli Nightmare

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine never stops:

"On Wednesday evening, Abdel Rahman ash-Shaludi, 21, drove his vehicle at high speed into a crowd of Israelis on a light rail platform at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, wounding 8 people. 3-month-old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel Braun died hours later, and Karen Yemima Muscara, an Ecuadorian woman in her 20s, died from her injuries last night.*

"As Shaludi attempted to run away, he was shot by an Israeli security guard. In a video, the guard stood over the mortally wounded Shaludi, pointed a gun in his face at point-blank range and taunted, 'Do you want it?'

"That night, Mohammad Mahmoud of the Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association was prevented by the army from visiting Shaludi in the hospital. He died hours later. As a result of the army banning visitors to the hospital as Shaludi lay dying, Israel prevented any psychological evaluation or statements that could reveal the nature of the incident. This move ensured that nothing would surface that could derail the impending media frenzy.

"Immediately, Israeli media branded the incident a terrorist attack and declared Shaludi was a Hamas operative with a history of terrorism. Yet according to prior Israeli investigations and statements from his family, he was not affiliated with Hamas. Shaludi had spent 14 months in Israel prisons for stone-throwing - not exactly an act of a mastermind terrorist. He was released in December of 2013, arrested again in February and held for 20 days by Israeli interrogators.

"'They kept on harassing him and summoning him for questioning over and over again and they tried to enlist him into working for them, but he repeatedly refused,' his mother told Ma'an News. 'They threatened him, saying he would never find work or be able to continue his education or have a normal life,' she added.

"According to the Shaludi family, he was brutally tortured in prison and suffered severe trauma as a result. Only hours before the incident, his mother had taken him to 'a doctor who advised him to see a therapist after days of exhibiting signs of mental exhaustion.'

"Over the years, Shaludi's East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan has come under attack by Israeli authorities and settlers. Just 3 days before the incident, fanatical Israeli settlers moved into homes in the middle of the night, doubling their presence in the neighborhood.

"For the Israeli public, the possibility that the incident resulted in from severe psychological trauma from torture in Israeli gulags, as well as attacks on Shaludi's neighborhood is inconceivable. Admission of this possibility could implicate Israel's brutal security apparatus in the death of baby Chaya. Besides, insanity is only applicable to whitewash the crimes of Jewish Israelis like Yosef Chaim Ben David, the settler who, with two teenagers, beat Mohammed Abu Khdeir with a wrench before forcing the Palestinian teenager to drink gasoline and burning him alive as revenge for the deaths of the 3 Israeli teenagers this summer.

"The immediate branding of the incident as a Hamas terrorist operation alleviated any potential responsibility from public consciousness. As the news of a terrorist attack spread, the Israeli public demanded the Netanyahu government punish East Jerusalem Palestinians. An op-ed appeared in Haaretz that called for an increased police presence in Jerusalem, signaling consensus from left to right.

"Israel's campaign of escalation and collective punishment began. While visiting the grieving family of Chaya Zissel Braun, Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich announced that he would seal or demolish the Silwan home of the bereaved Shaludi family. Two days later, in an act of provocation, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel,** announced that he planned to move into Silwan. This morning, Netanyahu announced that 1,000 new homes would be constructed in East Jerusalem, a move that increases pressure on Palestinians.

"The day after the incident, Netanyahu convened with Aharonovich, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat, Shin Bet Head Yoram Cohen, and police officials ordering 1,000 more police and troops from the border police, instructing them to 'exercise Israeli sovereignty' over the occupied territory.

"The police carried out Netanyahu's orders with brute force. As a crowd of 150 Israelis gathered at the site of the incident, calling for expulsions of Palestinians, and chanting 'Death to Arabs' and 'revenge', soldiers, police and settlers mounted attacks on neighborhoods throughout East Jerusalem. In Silwan, soldiers ransacked the Shaludi home and arrested family members including Abdel Rahman's 15-year-old brother Izzedin. Settlers threw stones at homes, cars and property and attacked several Palestinians. Fatimah Rajabi, 11, and her 4-year-old cousin Wael were shot in the face while in their home by Israeli soldiers firing rubber-coated bullets.

"In an attempt to expand martial law that Palestinians live under in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem police officials are considering legislation that would hold parents liable for the acts of their children.

"As the Israeli government ramped up its attacks on East Jerusalem, it simultaneously recruited Western governments to internationally legitimize the assault. 'The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's terrorist attacks in Jerusalem,' US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a released statement. The UK and France followed suit and released statements condemning the apparent attack. Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called on the UN Security Council to condemn the incident as a 'terrorist' attack.

"This episode illustrates how anti-Arab racism in Israeli society - what Israeli President Reuben Rivlin recently called 'sick' - makes it susceptible to manipulation of facts in order to advance the far right's agenda. Though the secular elite in Tel Aviv may appear to be ambivalent to the religious settler movement's aspirations to completely Judaize Jerusalem, they practically support it in the name of security measures and counter-terrorism.

"Under the pretext of restoring quiet, the Netanyahu government is escalating Israel's war on Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Led by Moshe Feiglin, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset who has called for genocide of the Palestinians, extremist settlers escorted by armed police have increasingly been visiting the courtyard surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque - a site of huge importance in Islam. Police have attacked Palestinian worshippers on a near daily basis, and in a move that could ignite an intifada, Israeli lawmakers will soon vote on partitioning the mosque. As Netanyahu incites Israelis and ramps up attacks on Palestinian neighborhoods, the future of Jerusalem is anything but quiet." (Under pretext of restoring calm, Netanyahu government is escalating Israel's war on Palestinians in Jerusalem, Dan Cohen, mondoweiss.net, 27/10/14)

[*See my 25/10 post What's Fit to Print in The Australian; **See my 18/5/14 post Our Klutz in... East Jerusalem.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unsentimental Israelis

Today is the 58th anniversary of Israel's infamous Kafr Qassem massacre. The following reference to it, in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, unfortunately hardly does justice to the gravity of the crime:

"Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has acknowledged past and present wrongdoings to his country's Arabs... Mr Rivlin spoke at a memorial ceremony for victims of the 1956 massacre at Kafr Qassem, where Israeli forces killed 47 residents of the Israeli Arab village for breaking a wartime curfew, becoming the first Israeli president to attend the event. 'A terrible crime was committed here,' he said. 'The brutal killings in Kafr Qassem are an anomalous [?!] and sorrowful chapter in the history of the relations between Arabs and Jews living here... Kafr Qassam is adjacent to the West Bank. In 1956, it was under [Israeli] military rule and, on October 29 - the first day of a war with Egypt - Israeli border policemen gunned down residents who were unaware a curfew had been imposed... The Kafr Qassem massacre is taught in the Israeli education system as a case of an illegal military order that must be refused by soldiers." (Killings were crime against Israeli Arabs, says president, AFP/Sydney Morning Herald, 28/10/14)

Notice how, in the ms media, Israel almost always manages to come up smelling like roses? Funny, that.

By way of contextualising the final sentence in the AFP report, I draw your attention to the following finding by Israeli educationist Nurit Peled-Elhanan:

"The Kaffer Kassem massacre is remembered in Jewish-Israeli consciousness mainly for being the source for the court's unprecedented ruling against compliance with 'manifestly unlawful orders' [but Israeli textbooks] failed to mention that the verdict was not carried out to its term and said nothing about the suffering of the villagers." (Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology & Propaganda in Education, 2012, p 172)

The following account of the massacre and its aftermath by British scholar David Hirst shows why:

"The Arabs remember Kafr Qasem as the Deir Yassin of the established State. Less revealing, perhaps, than the event itself was the reaction it generated. On 29 October 1956, on the eve of Israel's invasion of Egypt, a detachment of Frontier Guards imposed a curfew on villages near the Jordanian frontier. Among them was Kafr Qasem. The Mukhtar was informed of the curfew just half an hour before it was due to go into effect. It was therefore quite impossible for him to pass the message on to the villagers who would be returning, as dusk fell, from their various places of work. Major Shmuel Melinki, the detachment commander, had foreseen this eventuality, and he asked his superior, Brigadier Yshishkhar Shadmi, what should be done about anyone coming home in ignorance of the curfew. The Brigadier had replied: 'I don't want any sentimentality... that's just too bad for him.' And there was no sentimentality. In the first hour of the curfew, between 5 and 6 o'clock, the Frontier Guards killed 47 villagers. They had returned home individually or in batches. A few came on foot, but most travelled by bicycle, mule cart or lorry. They included women and children. But all the Frontier Guards wanted to know was whether they were from Kafr Qasem. For if they were, they shot them down at close range with automatic weapons. 'Of every group of returning workers, some were killed and others wounded; very few succeeded in escaping unhurt. The proportion of those killed increased, until, of the last group, which consisted of 14 women, a boy and 4 men, all were killed, except one girl, who was seriously wounded.' The slaughter might have gone on like this had not Lieutenant Gavriel Dahan, the officer on the spot '... informed the command several times over the radio apparatus in the jeep of the number killed. Opinions differ as to the figure he gave in his reports, but all are agreed that in his first report he said:

... 'one less', and in the next two reports: 'fifteen less' and 'many less - it is difficult to count them'. The last two reports, which followed each other in quick succession, were picked up by Captain Levy, who passed them on to Melinki. When he was informed that there were 'fifteen less' in Kafr Qasem, Melinki gave orders which he was unable to transmit to Dahan before the report arrived of 'many less - it is difficult to count them', for the firing to stop and for a more moderate procedure to be adopted in the whole area... This order finally ended the bloodshed at Qafr Qasem.'

"All this was established in the trial which, as the scandal slowly leaked out, the government was obliged to hold. The trial was a pro forma affair. There was little moral outrage in the courtroom, and, apart from a few lone voices, very little outside it. During the proceedings the leading newspaper Haaretz reported that 'the eleven officers and soldiers who are on trial for the massacre in Kafr Qasem have all received a 50% increase in their salaries. A special messenger was sent to Jerusalem to bring the cheques to the accused in time for Passover. A number of the accused had been given a vacation for the holiday... The accused mingle freely with the spectators; the officers smile at them and pat them on the back; some of them shake hands with them. It is obvious, that these people, whether they will be found innocent or guilty, are not treated as criminals, but as heroes.' One Private David Goldfield reportedly resigned from the Security Police in protest against the trial. According to the Jewish Newsletter, his testimony merely reflected what most Israelis thought: 'I feel that the Arabs are the enemies of our State... When I went to Kafr Qasem, I felt that I went against the enemy and I made no distinction between the Arabs in Israel and those outside its frontiers.' Asked what he would do if he met an Arab woman, in no sense a security threat, who was trying to reach her home, he replied: 'I would shoot her down, I would harbour no sentiments, because I received an order and I had to carry it out.' The sentences were pro forma too. Melinki and Dahan got jail terms of 17 and 15 years respectively, but it was a foregone conclusion that they would only serve a fraction of them. In response to appeals for a pardon, the Supreme Military Court decided to reduce the 'harsh' sentence; and, following this generous example, the Chief of Staff, then the Head of State, and finally a Committee for the Release of Prisoners all made contributions, so that within a year of their sentence Melinki and Dahan were free men. As for Brigadier Shadmi - the 'no sentimentality' senior officer - a Special Military Court found him guilty of a 'merely technical' error, reprimanded him and fined him one piastre. But the twist in the tail was yet to come. Nine months after his release from prison, Dahan, convicted of killing 43 Arabs in an hour, was appointed 'officer responsible for Arab affairs' in the town of Ramleh. And the last that has been heard of Major Melinki was that, through his influential connections in the army, he had secured a coveted permit, sought after by many an entrepreneur, to set up a tourist centre in southern Israel." (The Gun & The Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, 1977, pp 185-87)

By way of highlighting the obscenity of the judicial farce which followed the massacre (which, incidentally, was covered up for 6 weeks before the troops responsible were charged with murder), it's worth recalling colonial Australia's Myall Creek massacre. Here's the introduction to the Wikipedia entry on it:

'The Myall Creek massacre involved the killing of up to 30 unarmed Indigenous Australians by 10 white Europeans and one black African on 10 June 1838 at Myall Creek near Bingara in northern New South Wales. After two trials, seven of the 11 colonists involved in the killings were found guilty of murder and hanged."

That was 118 years before Kafr Qassem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Palestinian Resistance 101

The Palestinians Right & Duty to Resist by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 26/10/14

"Imagine you're the Palestinians. Perhaps residents of East Jerusalem. Forty-seven difficult years are behind you; a big, depressing darkness lies ahead. The Israeli tyrant that dooms your fate declares arrogantly that everything will stay like this forever. Your city will remain under occupation 'forever and ever.' The defense minister, second in importance in the government that subjugates you, says a Palestinian state will never be established.

"Imagine you're Palestinian and your children are in danger. Two days ago, the occupation forces killed another child because 'he lit a firebomb.' The words 'Death to Arabs' were sprayed near your home. Everywhere you turn, a soldier or Border Police officer may shout at you. Every night, your home may be invaded brutally. You will never be treated like human beings. They'll destroy, humiliate, intimidate, perhaps even arrest you, possibly without trial.

"There are close to 500 administrative detainees, a record number in recent years. If one of your dear ones is arrested, you will have difficulty visiting him. If you succeed, you'll get half an hour's conversation through a glass window. If your dear one is an administrative detainee, you will never know when he'll be released. But these are trivia you grew accustomed to long ago.

"Maybe you've also grown accustomed to the land theft. At any moment a settler can invade your land, burn your orchard or torch your fields. He will not be brought to trial for this; the soldiers who are supposed to protect you will stand idly by. At any moment, a demolition order or random eviction order may appear. There's nothing you can do.

"Imagine you're the Palestinians. You can't leave Gaza and its not easy to leave the West Bank either. The beach, less than an hour's drive from your West Bank home, is beyond the mountains of darkness. An Israeli can go to Tierra del Fuego, between Argentina and Chile, much more easily than you can go to the beach at Ajami. There are no dreams, no wishes. Your children have a slim chance of accomplishing anything in life, even if they go to university. All they can look forward to is a life of humiliation and unemployment.

"There's no chance that this situation is about to change anytime soon. Israel is strong, the United States is in its pocket, your leadership is weak (the Palestinian Authority) and isolated (Hamas), and the world is losing interest in your fate. What do you do?

"There are two possibilities. The first is to accept, give in, give up. The second is to resist. Whom have we respected more in history? Those who passed their days under the occupation and collaborated with it, or those who struggled for their freedom?

"Imagine you're a Palestinian. You have every right to resist. In fact, it's your civil duty. No argument there. The occupied people's right to resist occupation is secured in natural justice, in the morals of history and in international law.

"The only restrictions are on the means of resistance. The Palestinians have tried almost all of them, for better and worse - negotiations and terror; with a carrot and with a stick; with a stone and with bombs; in demonstrations and in suicide. All in vain. Are they to despair and give up? This has almost never happened in history, so they'll continue. Sometimes they'll use legitimate means, sometimes vile ones. It's their right to resist.

"Now they're resisting in Jerusalem. They don't want Israeli rule, or people who set live children on fire. They don't want armed settlers who invade their apartments in the middle of the night, under the Israeli law's protection, and evict them. They don't want a municipality that grants its services according to national affiliation, or judges that sentence their children according to their origin. They also go nuts when the house of a Jewish terrorist is not demolished, while the house of a Palestinian will be torn down.

"They don't want Israel to continue tyrannizing them, so they resist. They hurl stones and firebombs. That's what resistance looks like. Sometimes they act with heinous murderousness, but even that is not as bad as their occupier's built-in violence. It's their right; it's their duty."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bill Shorten's Values

"No faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion."  (Shorten to front Christian lobby over his values, James Massola, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/10/14)

That's what federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten reportedly said to Australia's Christian lobby on the subject of same-sex marriages last Saturday.

One is left wondering how, if he really believes what he says, Shorten can reconcile this statement of principle with his unqualified support for Israel, a state which occupies, oppresses and dispossesses the Palestinians simply because they are not Jewish.

As historian Adel Safty reminds us:

"Had the Palestinians been Jewish, they would have been entitled by law in Israel to automatic citizenship, political rights, subsidized housing and medical care." (Might Over Right: How the Zionists Took Over Palestine, 2009, p 255)

Bill?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's Fit to Print at The Australian

'All the News That's Fit to Print'. That, of course, is the motto of The New York Times. Whatever this means for today's NYT, for Murdoch's Australian flagship (motto: 'The Heart of the Nation'), crazed, preferably Hamas-affiliated, Palestinians are most definitely newsworthy:

"A Palestinian man rammed a car into pedestrians in Jerusalem yesterday, killing a baby and injuring six people in what Israeli police said was a 'hit-and-run terror attack'... The driver, identified as Abed Abdelrahman Shaludeh, 21, a Palestinian from Silwan in east Jerusalem, died from his injuries... He had been shot and wounded as he tried to flee police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The US condemned what it called a 'terrorist' attack. 'We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement... Family members said [Shaludeh] had been recently released from an Israeli prison where he served 14 months for disturbing the peace. Family members confirmed Shaludeh was a nephew of senior Hamas bomb-maker Muhi al-Din Sharif who was killed in the West Bank city of Ramallah in mysterious circumstances in 1998. Israeli officials also identified him as a member of the radical Islamist Hamas movement." (Baby dies as Palestinian rams car in Jerusalem crowd, AFP, The Australian, 24/10/14)

But not the crimes of despicable, land-grabbing settler scum. No way:

"A young Palestinian girl was struck by an Israeli settler vehicle earlier Sunday has succumbed to her wounds, medics told Ma'an. Einas Khalil, 5, died after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli settler near the central West Bank town of Sinjil, medical sources at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah said. The girl and young Nilin Asfour were walking on the main road near the village when they were hit, and were taken to the hospital in Ramallah where their wounds were described as serious. Einas passed away hours later. Residents of Sinjil accused the settler of deliberately hitting the girls... Over 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law." (5-year-old Palestinian girl hit by settler car succumbs to wounds, maannews.net, 19&21/10/14)

Or the latest settler infestation in occupied Silwan, Shaludeh's home patch:

"Dozens of Israeli settlers moved into two homes in the predominantly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem overnight Sunday. The move effectively doubled the number of Jews living in the central part of Silwan, where relatively few Jewish families had lived before." (Number of Jewish Silwan residents doubles in overnight mission, Nir Hasson, Haaretz, 20/10/14)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Visiting Zionist Comedians You May Have Missed

Zionist comedy? I know, it sounds like the ultimate oxymoron, right?

Wrong!

Meet Breakstone and Hendel:

David Breakstone, vice-chair, World Zionist Organisation (WZO):

"We have to keep hammering home that we also feel terrible distress over the death of so many innocent Palestinian civilians, particularly the children. The other thing I think we need to do is present the human side from Israel. Although our children have not been killed in this conflict, they've certainly been traumatised." (WZO vice-chair in Australia, The Australian Jewish News, 22/8/14)

Dr Yoaz Hendel, former communications director for Benjamin Netanyahu, currently chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies:

"Human rights is not the monopoly of the radical left and it's not the monopoly of liberals. It's part of Zionism. The fact that we have minorities in Israel, it's part of what we are... This is Israel's character." (Israel champions human rights, The Australian Jewish News, 22/8/14)

I rest my case.

Gough Whitlam: To PLO or Not to PLO 3

"The next speaker was Lionel Murphy. He opposed the final position put by Gough and reminded Cabinet of the decision taken to force the Australian Wheat Board to honour its contract to supply wheat to Egypt on credit. He said that had we not stood by correct principles then, we would not have escaped the consequences of the energy crisis as we did. It never pays in the long run, he said, to forsake principles, and in this case, we had people who, so far as we knew, were law-abiding citizens merely wanting to come to our country to put the case for the Palestinians. It didn't matter, he argued, whether we were for or against that case, justice demanded that they be given a chance to put their case to the Australian people. He said it didn't matter how Whitlam's final decision was dressed up, it was discrimination based on political expediency and would not stand the test of history. He concluded by saying he supported my case without qualification.

"It was a splendid defence of our position and had a vote been taken straight after Murphy's speech we would have won! I was now quite confident of winning, but I was not to know that Willesee would follow Whitlam and ask Cabinet to reject his own proposition. I half suspected that something was amiss because Willesee had leaned over to whisper something to Whitlam which caused him to nod approvingly to whatever it was he had said.

"Opposition then came from Minister for the ACT Gordon Bryant who charged that the PLO was not only at war with Israel but also at war with anyone who got in their way. He supported Beazley's argument that a visit by the PLO would stir up local tensions. He was not concerned about the electoral consequences, but although normally we would accept visits from both parties to a dispute, we had to remember that the PLO was at war with mankind.

"It was at this point that Don Willesee was brought into the debate for the second time. He had spoken only briefly when introducing his proposal. It was obvious now that he had changed his mind; and to me equally obvious that this is what he had whispered to Gough because he called Willesee even though he had already spoken once, and even though he had not asked for the call. He began by saying that he wanted the discussion kept within Ministerial circles until the dispute relating to Hartley and the PLO was known. He was not keen, he said, on the delegation coming to Australia. A report had been received through Peking suggesting that it might be preferable to defer the visit. He said it was a very difficult situation and he 'now' believed that we should tell them not to come at this time.'

"It was indeed a very difficult situation for Willesee! There were elements within his own Department who had counselled against the visit. His own Prime Minister had switched sides after hearing Wheeldon and Beazley. But Willesee came from the same state as the chief Ministerial protagonists for the Jewish cause. Don liked all three, and had a very deep personal respect for them and an admiration for their intellect. By an intelligent count of heads he could tell that the voting would be extremely close and he just didn't want his vote to result in a one vote win for all the things that Beazley and Wheeldon had warned against. If Cabinet was going to split down the centre he was not prepared to take any risks!

"Faced with what seemed the certain defeat of the original proposal to accept all the delegates, everyone accepted the view that the one vetoed by West Germany should be excluded. I sought to salvage something from the wreck by proposing an amendment that would admit the two who had been accepted by the United Nations General Assembly. There seemed to be no reason why anyone could object to them, and our acceptance would show that we were not taking sides. But the vote showed I had badly misjudged the mood of Cabinet, for it was only Whitlam's vote that saved Beazley's amendment from being lost, and the votes of Whitlam and Willesee that prevented my amendment from being carried.

"Gough had insisted on treating Beazley's opposition as an amendment to the motion to admit the four delegates. It probably didn't matter much because the die had been cast; but it was, of course, contrary to all the rules of debate to accept an amendment that was a direct negative of the motion. He apparently believed there was some technical advantage in doing this whereas, in fact, it was a disadvantage; because an even vote would have meant its defeat and the same rule would have applied if a vote were taken on the motion. In fact, it was this that forced Gough to vote in the show of hands I demanded. He frequently abstained from voting on issues whenever his own vote would make no difference to the outcome. So, when he declared the so-called amendment carried on the voices, I immediately called for a show of hands. Gough correctly guessed my motive but when only 9 of the 18 Ministers put up their hands in support of Beazley's amendment he was forced to show his own or see it defeated. So the amendment was declared carried by 10 votes to 8. Bowen had voted against the amendment and Morrison for it, but as the meeting was almost finished, and before my motion could be put, Morrison and Bowen tacitly paired by leaving the Cabinet meeting together. My motion was then put and declared lost on the voices which was confirmed on a show of hands, 7 for and 9 against, with Gough voting against giving entry visas even to the two delegates who had been given credentials to UNGA."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gough Whitlam: To PLO or Not to PLO 2

"Lionel Bowen appeared to sense that Gough was about to somersault and that Willesee and I were going to be left high and dry, so he took the point that the matter should never have been brought to Cabinet and ought to be left to the Minister for Labor and Immigration. He said, 'Clyde has already said that he is willing to let them in. We should do that if he wants to.' But Gough, no doubt realising that the issue had already gone too far and that it was therefore too late to sweep it under my carpet, reminded Cabinet that both Willesee and I had sought Cabinet's guidance because we feared the consequences of a decision taken either way. There were enough 'hear, hears' around the room to convince Bowen that a decision could not be avoided so he did not persist with his point.

"Bill Hayden took the line I had expected. He said that he would be disappointed if Cabinet decided not to issue the visas. Israel, he said, had been successful in getting its story across in Australia and other countries and the Arabs had been equally unsuccessful. To talk about the PLO threatening the boundaries of Israel, he said, was sheer nonsense because there were no internationally acceptable boundaries of Israel. He argued that the Arabs had been treated quite badly, but as they were accepted into society they would become more responsible. But responsibility, he said, could not be expected from them while the world treated them as terrorists and outlaws. 'We shouldn't play for teams; and so to deny the delegation the right to even put their case would be establishing an unhappy principle.' The Government, he declared, shouldn't allow emotions to overshadow the real issue.

"I had been waiting for Beazley to come into the debate because I wanted to reply to him as I knew his contribution would be a telling one. I had expected him to speak earlier, but apparently he was well satisfied with Wheeldon's contribution. However, Hayden's argument was too persuasive to ignore and Beazley immediately followed. He agreed with Hayden about the emotional issues involved, but took another view. It was not opportune for the PLO to come to Australia now, he argued; neither would he accept a delegation from the IRA while they were responsible for bombings in the UK. 'I mean,' he said, 'that I wouldn't accept IRA supporters as representatives of the IRA while they are planting bombs in London.' For these reasons he was against any of the delegation members being permitted to enter Australia.

"Beazley's speeches were always good, but coming after Wheeldon's, this was something of an anticlimax. It fell far short of what I had expected. But I could tell from Gough's affirmative 'head-nodding' that he had already decided to switch. He was beginning to see the political consequences of his original stance. Joe Riordan was heavily dependent upon Jewish support in his elctorate of Phillip. Joe Berinson was an influential backbencher and shared with Riordan the distinction of being the most powerful backbench debater in Caucus. And there were other reasons: not the least of which of which was the financial backing given to the Leader's fund by Jewish sources. And, in any event, if the decision went against the Arabs, Cabinet anonymity would guarantee that no one would question the reasonable assumption that Gough had been over-ruled.

"I followed Beazley and told Cabinet we would be doing ourselves less than justice if we debated the question in a climate of heat. We ought to look at the question calmly and make an objective assessment of the real issues and reach a rational conclusion. I said that it was not history that was important, but whether we adopted a correct national approach to the principles involved. This called for a sensible and rational understanding of what was being proposed. 'I will clear the visas,' I declared, 'unless Willesee says 'No', and providing they are cleared of any suspicions of being involved in terrorist activities.' I reminded Cabinet of the decision taken on 15 October 1973 in response to a motion put on the notice paper by DLP Senator Kane concerning the Middle East war when it was agreed by the Government that there should be no departure from its neutral and even-handed policy in the Middle East. The government, I said, should not be taking sides in the Middle East dispute and should not be seen to be taking sides either. 'The PLO is fighting a war! War itself is terrorism,' I argued. However, I said I would be prepared to support a deferment of the matter if that would solve anything. 'But deferment would not solve this issue,' I went on, 'we must take it head-on and face the political consequences whatever they may be. If the PLO comes here, the Government will lose votes and we ought to recognise this, but we must not submit to blackmail from any group.'

"For the third time Gough came into the debate. This time, he began ambivalently. He said that he had been put in a non-partisan stance. Freedom of entry and the right of the PLO to be heard were something we ought to support, he said, but lamented the fact that the granting of visas would not get the government any votes. He said he was worried! 'The PLO,' he confided, 'had approached us through diplomatic channels and we put them off.' They are aware that Hartley is not supported by the Government. This was a clever tactic because he knew that most of his Ministers shared his dislike for Hartley. However, only two or three were swayed by their hostility to Hartley. Gough said he recognised that the Palestinians were entitled to have a country of their own 'but if we take Beazley's point, it will exacerbate feelings within the Australian community to allow entry to a delegation from the PLO. However, if we refuse them entry we would also have to deny entry to Zionist groups.' He argued that all PLO members were not terrorists and that Israel was just as intransigent as the PLO. He concluded: 'Although it may be against our principles, I feel we ought to advise the Ministers not to issue visas. These representatives can't tell us anything we don't already know.'

"Once again, Gough had caved in under pressure. He was afraid of the political, rather than the electoral, consequences of standing by proper principles. I was the one who would have been forced to accept the odium for the decision and it made me angry that after leading us to believe he supported our line, he should leave us holding the bag. Even so, I still thought there was a good chance we could win, but I was determined that if we were defeated on the voices I would call for a show of hands and thus force Gough to register a recorded vote."

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gough Whitlam: To PLO or Not to PLO 1

Vale Gough Whitlam (1916-2014). With respect to the Middle East conflict, we've all heard about his Labor government's (1972-75) so-called 'even-handed' Palestine/Israel policy. But what did it look like in practice, and just who in the Whitlam government was doing what (and why) for Israel at the time?

What follows is an edited extract, over three consecutive posts, from then Labour & Immigration Minister Clyde Cameron's The Cameron Diaries (1990), pages 35-40:

 "The matter came before Cabinet on 29 January 1975... via Senator Willesee, who proposed that four members of the [Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)] delegation be granted entry visas...

"Gough opened the debate in support of visas being issued to all members with the exception of one who was suspected by the West German Government of being involved in the massacre of Israeli athletes attending the Olympic Games in Munich... He referred to the Party's platform and to the need to maintain an even-handed policy in the Middle East. In fact, Gough had made such a powerful and persuasive case that I felt it was unnecessary to speak. Willesee, who had already been assured of Gough's support, shared my belief that the proposal would be endorsed notwithstanding the opposition we knew would come from Kim Beazley. So, he contented himself with a brief, almost casual, outline of his proposition.

"But then Senator John Wheeldon charged into the debate with a spirited and at times bitter denunciation of Gough's argument. He accused Gough of inconsistency in that he had issued instructions against granting even transit visas to South African sporting teams en route to New Zealand and on the grounds that South Africa was practising apartheid. The PLO, he taunted, were not prepared to even recognise the right of Israel to exist. In no circumstances, declared Wheeldon, should the Australian Government issue visas to PLO representatives as such. To do so, he argued, would lead to the inescapable fact that that we were granting official recognition to Arab terrorist organisations. The PLO, he said, had openly boasted of their terrorist activities and had publicly and specifically refused to disclaim that their goal was the destruction of the state of Israel.

"Wheeldon asserted that if the PLO were allowed entry to Australia they would most certainly engage in pressure tactics here. Indeed, he continued, they are already doing this from the PLO office in Melbourne which operates under the spiritual guidance and camouflage provided by Bill Hartley [of the Victorian Socialist Left]. No other government, he claimed, had received PLO delegates; and we would be guilty of splitting principles and of gross hypocrisy if we granted entry visas to a delegation representing the PLO. Moreover, it would be highly damaging electorally to the Party and to the Government.

"Wheeldon's outburst caught me by surprise. It caught Gough too! We knew that Kim Beazley had often expressed his opposition to the PLO and to Hartley's involvement in their cause. But hardly anyone had been prepared for Wheeldon's emotive blast. And yet, upon reflection, I should not have been surprised because he had often echoed Beazley's sentiments about Hartley. Moreover, it was well known that he was very close to Joe Berinson, the highly respected and very talented Jewish Labor Member for the Division of Perth.

"Berinson, a qualified pharmacist who had later won a law degree, was dedicated to the cause of Israel. Beazley had been influenced by his brilliant intellect, and it had now become evident Wheeldon had come under his spell as well.

"As soon as Wheeldon finished, I knew that one or two Ministers might have doubts about the advisability of granting the request, but with Whitlam, Willesee and me supporting the proposal I had little doubt it would be carried. Lionel Murphy, Rex Connor and Bill Hayden too, had on previous occasions indicated their support for an even-handed policy for the Middle East. However, to my surprise, Gough began to back and fill, and as soon as Wheeldon finished, he again entered the debate to say that he had received a note from Al Grassby, Special Consultant to Murphy on Community Relations, to the effect that the delegation may not come even if it were approved. I began to wonder whether under the ferocity of Wheeldon's attack Gough was going to water."

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Shadow Minister Afraid of His Own Shadow

I always thought Mark Dreyfus, Australia's Shadow Attorney-General, was elected by his Australian constituents to look after Australia's national interests.

Silly me! It seems that for some of us out there his primary political responsibility is - or should be - to defend Israel whenever they think the occasion demands.

Of course, their baying and yapping over his refusal to reflexively fall in with their peculiar Israel first obsession wouldn't much matter if Dreyfus had the inner fortitude to simply shrug it off and get on with the Australia first business for which he and his fellow parliamentarians were elected.

But no, Dreyfus, for reasons best known to himself, takes the concerns of the Israel first crowd very seriously indeed. So seriously, in fact, that he feels he owes them an explanation for not frothing at the mouth and going for the jugular whenever Israel is critiqued in his vicinity.  Hence his letter in The Australian Jewish News of October 10:

"Several people have written to me and The AJN regarding my participation in the ABC's Q&A program on September 22, and in particular my decision not to directly respond to a comment made by another of the panellists, Randa Abdel-Fattah, that was highly critical of Israel in the context of the recent conflict in Gaza."

Just to remind you what Ms Abdel-Fattah said on Q&A that night, by way of contextualising the phenomenon of Muslim youth radicalisation: "... the one thing we never address is the role of Western foreign policy and the grievances - the legitimate grievances - that cause [radicalisation]... Why is it that we choose to ignore that elephant in the room? The role of Western foreign policy in creating the mess in the Middle East that we see... the fact that we had the decimation of Gaza by Israel two months ago, and the conspiracy of silence - in fact, I'll go even further, the legitimating and justification giving Israel a licence to kill, does that not fuel anger? Does that not plant the seeds? We go around in the West trying to cut down the trees of terrorism even as we plant seeds of terrorism and we do that when we allow Israel to get away with its war crimes..."

A mere statement of the bleeding obvious, I would have thought. But not to Dreyfus:

"One thing on which I and all the letter writers agree is that all the views expressed by Ms Abdel-Fattah were wrong."

All the views?

So Gaza wasn't decimated?
So Israel doesn't get a free pass to kill and maim over and over and over again?
So Israel doesn't do war crimes?
So the sun doesn't rise in the east and set in the west?

But I digress.

Here are Dreyfus's (heavily pruned) reasons for not taking Ms Abdel-Fattah down, Israeli-style:

"I will briefly explain my reasons for not engaging Ms Abdel-Fattah in a debate on Israeli actions on Q&A. First, the recent conflict in Gaza was not the topic of Q&A... Secondly, Ms Abdel-Fattah's views clearly reflected a well-known perspective, and I find it hard to believe that her statements could convince anyone who did not already subscribe to her views on this topic... Finally, I respect the right of Australians to hold and express a diversity of views, including views with which I vehemently disagree."

Well and good. But then he concludes: "I will continue to take real opportunities to sensibly discuss Israel's future security."

Oh, really? Is that your job?

Apparently so.

So, readers, next time you hear the Australian shadow attorney-general going in to bat for Israel, think of the Israel first pack snapping at the poor man's heels, and keep in mind that in Mark Dreyfus we have a shadow minister seemingly afraid of his own shadow.

Oh, and contemplate too the delicious irony of Dreyfus representing the seat of Isaac, named after former Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs, who had no problem whatever, bless him, with putting the boot into Zionism and its dirty deeds in Palestine.*

[*See my 29/10/11 post Greg Sheridan's Worst Nightmare.]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mission Accomplished

"Driving down Saadoun Street, we swing past Firdos Square. There, the stump of the plinth from which a bronze of Saddam Hussein was famously toppled - the dictator's right foot remains - prompted a local to observe: 'Everyone talks of how safe it was, if not good under Saddam - you were safe if you didn't discuss politics.' Now, it seems, everyone is talking about politics - and no one is safe." (The city of burnt trees and bravado, Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/10/14)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Tanveer Ahmed Strikes Again!

Follow the thread:

"Richard Aedy: Hello. Welcome to the Media Report... We begin with plagiarism. It's a very bad thing... one of the worst things you can do in journalism. So last month when Media Watch caught out psychiatrist and Fairfax columnist Dr Tanveer Ahmed it had an immediate impact. Jonathan Holmes (MW): In a recent column about narcissism, Dr Ahmed wrote of 'the timeless human desire for attention and admiration.' Well actually most of that phrase and indeed almost a quarter of that column was lifted from a five-year-old article in The New Atlantis. Even more came from a four-year-old article in The New York Times. I'm afraid it doesn't look to us as though these examples are uncharacteristic." (Confessions of a plagiarist, abc.net.au, 19/10/12)

"The Sydney Morning Herald suspended columnist Dr Tanveer Ahmed earlier this year amidst plagiarism accusations... But 3 months later, the, the Herald hasn't told readers 'how the paper plans to stop it happening again,' Australian media program Media Watch says. And, even though Ahmed apologized in a column, that column was published by... The Australian. [Fairfax's] editor-in-chief Sean Aylmer told MW the newspaper didn't publish Ahmed's apology because 'it wasn't considered appropriate'... In Ahmed's Oct. 15 apology, which noted that the Herald 'ended [Ahmed's] tenure,' he admits that 'I've been a plagiarist for the past couple of years'." (Mystery of the missing Sydney Morning herald column: Plagiarist Apologizes, Sydney Smith, imediaethics.org, 12/12/12)

"After the second recorded beheading by Islamic State last month, a group of the most senior clerics in the world, from the Grand Mufti in Egypt to the Mufti in Palestine, released an open letter refuting theological points that were the basis of Islamic State. The letter notes it's not for liberal audiences, code that the most uncomfortable aspects of Islam are better suppressed from Western audiences... For example, the letter says that unbelievers should not be killed unless they openly express their lack of belief and faith..." (Muslims must engage with Islamic ideas that give rise to terrorism, Tanveer Ahmed, The Australian, 8/10/14)

"In the opinion piece (Muslims must engage with Islamic ideas that give rise to terrorism, 8/10) Tanveer Ahmed referred to an open letter by 120-plus scholars 'refuting theological points that were the basis' of the Islamic State group. According to Ahmed, the letter 'says that unbelievers should not be killed unless they openly express their lack of belief and faith.' The actual reference to the specific case of declaring a Muslim as a non-Muslim states: 'It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief'." (Letter from Zachariah Matthews, Just Media Advocacy, Sydney, published in The Australian, 16/10/14)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Britain's Moral Responsibility for Palestine

Just imagine the following scenario in our own heavily rambammed, Israeli-occupied Federal Parliament:

"Yesterday the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly (274-12) to recognize a Palestinian state, and if you listened to the debate, one theme above all explains the crushing victory: The British public has been horrified by Gaza and its opinion of Israel has shifted. Even Conservative members of Parliament cited pressure from the public. As Labour's Andy Slaughter said, Britain has witnessed a new 'barbarism': I think British people have been on the same sort of journey as the right hon. Member for Croydon South [Conservative Sir Richard Ottaway] described - it is certainly true of the Labour movement - from being very sympathetic to Israel as a country that was trying to achieve democracy and was embattled, to seeing it now as a bully and a regional superpower. That is not something I say with any pleasure, but since the triumph of military Zionism and the Likud-run Governments we have seen a new barbarism in that country. Slaughter and a fellow Labour member, Kate Green, said that just as the British Parliament sent a message to Obama a year ago in voting to oppose the Conservative Prime Minister on attacking Syria, a vote Obama heeded in reversing course on a Syria attack, today the British Parliament aims to influence US policy on Palestine..." (British Parliament sends a message to Obama: the people see Israel as a 'bully', Philip Weiss, mondoweiss.net, 14/10/14)

Excerpts from the many pro-Palestine speeches given in that debate can be read at mondoweiss.net, and I urge you to do so. And as you read, wonder at the yawning moral and intellectual chasm which clearly separates these MPs from their Australian counterparts.

What particularly interested me were those MPs who acknowledged Britain's historic responsibility for the plight of the Palestinian people by citing Britain's infamous anti-Palestinian Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised to 'view with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.' Those MPs did something quite rare in contemporary public discourse on the Palestine/Israel issue - namely, call into question, even if only in the most tentative fashion, the wisdom of the near 100-year-old decision that led eventually to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. By doing so they, in effect, lifted the lid on the origins of the most enduring crime of British colonialism. (See in particular my posts Britain, It's Time to Apologize (17/1/13) and Manifesto of All People of Good Conscience (12/11/13).)  

Grahame Morris, Labour: "As the originator of the Balfour Declaration and holder of the mandate for Palestine, Britain has a unique historical connection and, arguably, a moral responsibility to the people of both Israel and Palestine. In 1920, we undertook a sacred trust - a commitment to guide Palestinians to statehood and independence. That was nearly a century ago, and the Palestinian people are still to have their national rights recognised. This sacred trust has been neglected for far too long. As the hon. Lady has just said, we have an historic opportunity to atone for that neglect, and take this small but symbolically important step... It is now more than 20 years since the Oslo accords, and we are further away from peace than ever before. An entire generation of young Palestinians - the Oslo generation - has grown up to witness a worsening situation on the ground. We have seen a significant expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, heightened security threats to both sides, punitive restrictions on Palestinian movement, economic decline, a humanitarian crisis in Gaza of catastrophic proportions and the construction of an illegal annexation wall through Palestinian land. It is clear that both Israel-Palestine relations and our foreign policy are at an impasse, which must be broken..."

Nicholas Soames, Conservative: "This House should need no reminding of the terms of the Balfour Declaration, which rightly endorsed 'the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' but went on to add that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.' Ninety-seven years later, the terms of the Balfour Declaration are clearly not upheld with respect to the Palestinians, and in Britain that should weigh very heavily upon us indeed."

David Ward, Liberal Democrat: "Israel is in breach of the contract set out in the Balfour Declaration stating that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' In the light of the Nakba and everything since, that seems like a sick joke. The failure of the international community to recognise the state of Palestine has helped Israel to ignore this commitment."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ach Mein Gott!

Truly, Zionist stuff and nonsense gets more gob-smackingly bizarre by the day.

Take the full-page Jewish National Fund (JNF) ad in this week's (10/10) Australian Jewish News, for example. It's simply beyond parody:

SUPPORTING ISRAEL'S FRONTLINE COMMUNITIES IN THE SOUTH

JNF NSW ANNUAL DINNER
Tuesday 28th October 2014

GUEST SPEAKERS:

Dr BERND WOLLSCHLAEGER

Dr Bernd Wollschlaeger, the son of an Iron Cross decorated NAZI officer, shares his remarkable journey to Judaism, service in the IDF and insights into the banality of evil. Learn how the resurgence of anti-semitism in Europe and around the world can and must be defeated.

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Major G, injured leading an elite unit in Gaza will give a personal account of Operation Protective Edge. Hear his chilling testimony.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nothing New Under the Sun

The day Islamic State forces came to the Yazidi village of Kocho:

"On the morning of Friday 15 August [2014] the nightmare that had haunted the residents of Kocho for the previous 12 days came to pass, when IS fighters killed at least a hundred... of the village's men and boys and abducted all the women and children... Survivors of the massacre told Amnesty International that the IS fighters assembled the village residents at the secondary school... where they separated men and boys from women and younger children. The men were bundled into pick-up vehicles... and driven away to different nearby locations, where they were shot." (Ethnic cleansing on a historic scale: Islamic State's systematic targeting of minorities in northern Iraq, Amnesty International, 2014)

The day Jewish State forces came to the Palestinian village of Dawayma:

"One of the worst but best-documented massacres during the offensive took place at Dawayma [on October 28, 1948]. The town was taken by a company of the 89th Commando Battalion which was composed of former Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists. A veteran of the unit has published an account of the massacre. He notes that in order 'to kill the children they fractured their heads with sticks. There was not one house without corpses.' After murdering the children, the Jewish soldiers herded the women and men into houses where they were kept without food or water. Then the houses were blown up with the helpless civilians inside. The Israelis were particularly sadistic in their treatment of Arab women. One Zionist soldier in Dawayma 'prided himself upon having raped an Arab woman before shooting her to death. Another Arab woman with her newborn baby was made to clean the place for a couple of days and then they shot her and her baby.' The conscience-stricken Israeli veteran who revealed these events stressed that they were committed by 'Educated and well-mannered commanders who were considered 'good guys'.' They became 'base murderers and this was not in the storm of battle but as a method of expulsion and extermination. The fewer the Arabs who remained, the better'." (The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, Michael Palumbo, 1987, p xii)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From Gush to Gosh

The gushing Geraldine Doogue is never so gushing as when she's gushing over an Israeli guest.

On this week's Saturday Extra (Radio National, 11/10) the object of her gushing was Israeli historian Yuval Noah Hariri (of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, "a very ambitious work indeed... about how our branch of humans, Homo sapiens, conquered the earth."

Sapiens was predictably "a very ambitious work indeed," abounding in "fresh insights," and "extraordinary thinking." What's more, it's received "rave reviews in the northern hemisphere," and "65,000 [are taking] his online course." Doogue even urged her listeners to rush out and buy a copy.

And what a wonderful, compassionate gent Yuval turned out to be too, blowing the whistle, for example, on the dreadful impact of the agricultural revolution on domesticated animals, which "subjugated them to a regime of exploitation... geared to further the interests of Homo sapiens while ignoring their subjective interests."

So, what fresh insights and extraordinary thoughts, wondered I, must this exceptional man have on the vexed issue of Palestine-Israel? Surely, I thought, if he can sort out the distant past, why not the present?

Imagine my disappointment then, when I read his views on the subject in Haaretz. Gosh, golly, gee, it was just the same old, same old Zionist shit:

"Israel is the only country in the world that... faces an existential threat from its neighbors. Most of the countries in its vicinity refuse to recognize its right to exist, and frequently declare their intent to wipe it off the map." (Only in Israel, or only in Palestine? 7/7/14)

"Only the Palestinian refugees... are still considered refugees. For a wide variety of reasons, their host countries, as well as international organizations, preferred to perpetuate the refugee status of the Palestinians... [they] should be allowed to strike roots, even if that falls short of giving them justice."

Gosh, golly, gee what a fucking let-down.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Was Mustafa Dirani Targeted on September 18?

Remember the press hysteria generated by last month's 'terror raids' in Sydney? (SYDNEY UNDER SIEGE, screamed the Sydney Morning Herald on its front page of September 19.) Remember the weapon of mass destruction, aka a sword, confiscated by the Australian Federal Police from a certain Mustafa Dirani at the time? Remember the alleged plot to behead a random victim, presumably with that same WMD?

Well, as we now know, the sword has apparently turned out to be plastic:

"Dirani was detained and later released without charge. His parents' Marsfield home was searched for about 8 hours and several items taken including computers, mobile phones and the sword. The sword had an Arabic inscription that... roughly translates to: '[There is] no hero but Ali; [there is] no sword but Zulfiqar'. The sword - a Zulfiqar or Dhu al-Fiqar - is one of the major symbols of Shiite Islam that one leader said 'wouldn't be able to slice a cucumber'. Dirani's family are Afghan-born Shiite Muslims, however, the terrorist groups seeking to overthrow governments in Syria and Iraq are almost exclusively Sunni Muslim. Dirani said his parents bought the plastic sword at a night market in Sydney. It has been on display in the family home for years. He is still waiting for the police to return it. The Australian Federal Police refused to explain why the sword was seized or to confirm that it was plastic. 'The AFP does not comment on ongoing investigations,' a spokeswoman said... Dirani said he had been living in fear since the September 18 raids and was too scared to go to the shops... The warrant from the Australian Federal Police still sits on a bookshelf in the family's duplex home. It says: 'Between 8 May 2014 and 17 September 2014 in the state of NSW and elsewhere, Mustafa Dirani did engage in other acts in preparation for or planning terrorist acts contrary to Section 101.6 of the Criminal Code'." (Sword removed in counter-terrorism raids a common plastic decoration, owner reveals, Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/10/14)

The real interest here though lies not in the sword itself, but the fact that Dirani is Afghan Shia (Hazara?) in origin, a matter which apparently has no one but me scratching his head.

I mean, if our spooks are after Islamic State-inspired Sunni extremists, why target a Shiite youth like Dirani?

Is it possible that, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars currently being thrown their way, not to mention the constant trotting out of the Sunni/Shia divide in the mainstream press, they are simply unaware of the difference? In which case, could the raid on Dirani's home be yet another AFP bungle in the tradition of Dr Haneef? Alternatively, was Dirani included in the operation (with others?) just to make up the numbers in a production designed to be bigger than Ben-Hur?

OK - so what's your take?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Israel: A Light Unto the... Far Right

Here's just a snippet from an edited extract from Shlomo Sand's new book, How I Stopped Being a Jew. Sand is an Israeli historian and author of those two myth-busting must-reads, The Invention of the Jewish People (2009) and The Invention of the Land of Israel (2012):

"I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologise. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of antisemitism is only too well known.

"To live in such a society has become increasingly intolerable to me, but I must also admit that it is no less difficult to make my home elsewhere. I am myself part of the cultural, linguistic and even conceptual production of the Zionist enterprise, and I cannot undo this. By my everyday life and my basic culture I am an Israeli. I am not especially proud of this, just as I have no reason to take pride in being a man with brown eyes and of average height. I am often ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the 'chosen people'." (Shlomo Sand: 'I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew', theguardian.com, 11/10/14)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Zionism & German Anti-Semitism Before Hitler

Re my last post, you'll recall the Stern Gang's assertion that it is "well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government... towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans."

There is, of course, a wealth of evidence which testifies to that goodwill - see, for example, my 28/1/13 post Ben Elton's 'Two Brothers': A Quibble.

However, as the following account of a remarkably prophetic book indicates, it seems that a modus vivendi had been reached between German Zionism and German anti-Semitism long before the Nazis came to power in 1933:

"City without Jews, subtitled A Novel for the Day after Tomorrow, was published in 1922 by the pulp-fiction Viennese publishing house Gloriette... Its author, Hugo Bettauer, was a Jewish convert to Christianity... In Bettauer's novel, as in real life in 1922, Vienna is in the throes of rampant inflation and crisis. The people elect a would-be political savior, Dr Karl Schwertfeger, from the Christian Social Party. This figure was an obvious reference to Dr Karl Lueger, the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910. Lueger forcibly modernized the city and protected the interests of the poor and the Christian middle classes while railing against the Jews... The number of Jews cited in Bettauer's novel, 500,000, corresponded to the number living in Germany at the time; in Austria, the Jewish population numbered only around 200,000. And in the first half of the novel, all of those half-million Jews are expelled from the city.

"The narrative starts with a crowd scene in which all of Vienna seems to have taken to the streets: 'the bourgeois and the workers, fine ladies and common women, adolescents and old men, young girls, small children, invalids in wheel chairs.' It is a warm day in June, and everyone is milling around, sweating in the sun and shouting about politics. There are repeated cries of 'Jews out!' and 'Long live Dr Karl Schwertfeger, long live Austria's liberator!' Slowly, a black government vehicle makes its way through the crowd. Schwertfeger gets out of the car. Like Lueger and later Hitler, he is a man who has remained single and lives to serve the nation. He ascends the staircase of the Austrian parliament and enters the chamber where he will speak in defense of the long-planned 'Law on the Expulsion of Non-Aryans from Austria.'

"The proposed law gives all Jews six months to get their finances in order and quit the country... 'Descendents of Jews,' defined as children of mixed marriages, are likewise required to emigrate, as are Jewish converts to Christianity. After a bit of debate, the rule is waived for 'descendants'...

"The savior Schwertfeger has but a single argument for the necessity of his law. He describes Gentile Austrians as members of a 'naive, true-hearted, good,' but rather slow-developing mountain people, who are 'no match' for Jews. This is the reason he sounds the alarm: 'The Jews among us cannot tolerate such tranquil evolution... Who is driving the automobiles? Who is splurging in nightclubs? Who is filling the coffee houses and the expensive restaurants? Who is draping his wife with jewels and pearls? The Jew!' Schwertfeger also has an answer for how the Jews could have gotten so much further ahead in Austria than the Gentiles: 'With their uncanny sharpness of mind, their cosmopolitan sensibility divorced from tradition, their catlike flexibility, their instantaneous intellectual grasp of things, and all the skills they have honed in millennia of subjugation, they have overwhelmed us. They have become our masters and have seized control of our entire economic, intellectual, and cultural life.' Schwertfeger's speech earns him thunderous applause.

"When he is finished, the only Zionist deputy of parliament, the engineer, Minkus Wassertrilling, gets his turn to speak. He welcomes the law because, as he says, 'half of those expelled will gather under the Zionist banner' and leave for Israel. After Wassertrilling's speech, as a precautionary measure, some thugs arrive to remove certain deputies from the parliament building, and the law is approved unanimously. The remaining formalities are quickly dispensed with, and people celebrate until deep in the night." (Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Envy, Race Hatred, & the Prehistory of the Holocaust, Gotz Aly, 2014, 142-44)

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy...

Murdoch's Australian is a relentless peddler of Zionism, Arabophobia and Islamophobia, particularly, but not always, on its opinion pages. The trifecta was there in full in its regular Cut & Paste column on October 7, headed All it takes Fairfax is a little moral equivalence to turn Hitler into a crusading Christian. The final item in this 'Hitler-hated-Christianity-but-loved-Islam' miscellany, predictably invoked that iconic figure of Zionist demonology, the Mufti of Jerusalem (1897-1974):

"Meeting of German chancellor Adolf Hitler and grand mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945, Series D, Vol XIII, London, 1964, pp 881 ff:

"The Grand Mufti - wished to seize the opportunity to convey to the Fuhrer - admired by the entire Arab world, his thanks of the sympathy which he had always shown for the Arabs and especially the Palestinian cause - The Arabs were Germany's natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists. Therefore they were prepared to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts and stood ready to participate... not only negatively by the commission of acts of sabotage and the instigation of revolutions, but also positively by the formation of an Arab Legion. The Arabs could be more useful to Germany as allies than might be apparent at first glance... they had had close relations with all Muslim nations, of which they could make use in... the common cause."

As the above German document shows, Haj Amin's links with the Nazis can best be understood not as a reflection of any real meeting of minds, but simply as an application of the ancient principle: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Now you wouldn't, of course, read about it in The Australian, but another enemy of the British in Palestine, the Zionist terrorist Stern Gang, with infinitely less justification than Haj Amin (after all, the Mufti's ancestral homeland was being handed to the militants of Jewish State in the Levant - JSIL - by the Britz), also flirted with the Nazis - and not just on the same basis, but with real ideological feeling:

"The rise of Nazism in Germany, where Hitler had come to power in January 1933 and proceeded to enact anti-Jewish laws, was successfully used by the Zionists to pressure the British into opening the doors of Palestine for more Jewish immigration. In the best Herzlian tradition, the leadership of the Stern Gang, of whom future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was a prominent member, proposed an alliance between Nazi Germany and the future Jewish state, and collaboration for the establishment in the Middle East of a 'New Order' in return for help with the evacuation of Jewish masses from Europe and their settling in Palestine. The leadership of the Stern Gang, which considered itself the 'real' Irgun Zvai Leumi, or 'National Military Organization' (NMO), proposed:

The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that:

1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.

2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and,

3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interests of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.

Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany's side." (From Might Over Right: How the Zionists Took Over Palestine, Adel Safty, 2009, pp 89-90)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Massacre & Incident

Another book review* by Paul Monk in The Australian. Here's how it begins:

"'Barely in modern times has so short and localised a conflict had such prolonged, global consequences,' Michael B. Oren wrote in the opening paragraph of Six Days of War (2002),** his compelling history of the June 1967 conflict in which Israel crushed its Arab neighbours and seized control of Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. He listed some of those consequences: the Black September incident in Jordan (1970), the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes (1972)..." (Partial gaps in revisionist critique of Israel, 4/10/14)

So when 11 Israelis are killed it's a massacre, but when nearly 3,500 Palestinians are killed it's merely an incident.***

Why would you bother reading on?

[*Cursed Victory: A History of Israel & the Occupied Territories, by Ahron Bregman; **From Norman Finkelstein's 2002 review of Oren, Abba Eban with footnotes: "Whenever Israel faces a public relations crisis in the US - ie, a jot of the reality of its brutal policies manages to break free of ideological controls - a new propaganda initiative is launched to lift the spirits and close the ranks of the Zionist faithful. After Israel's bloody invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, the Zionist book of the month was Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial. Soon after the Palestinians entered into revolt in September 2000 and Israel unleashed a new round of violent repression, From Time Immemorial - although definitively shown to have been a hoax - was reissued and soared to the top of the Amazon list, soon followed by Oren's book (Amazon frequently featured them together). While certainly a much more sophisticated enterprise, Six Days of War serves the same political agenda as From Time Immemorial. In the introduction Oren states as his goal that the June war 'never be seen the same way again.' In fact he simply repeats the same old, tired apologetics. Like From Time Immemorial, its real purpose is to reclaim the lost world of Zionist heroism and innocence. With so much water under the bridge, however, except among true believers (admittedly not a small number) it's unlikely to succeed."; ***See my 14/8/12 post Bob Carr Rewrites Jordanian History.]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Phillip Adams: Try-Hard

Poor Phillip Adams. He's been copping some flack over a recent (20/9) column in The Weekend Australian Magazine, in which he mentioned, in passing, the fact that Australian Jews go to Israel to join the army. Merely stating the fact was apparently provocation enough. (See my 23/9/14 post Phillip Adams on the Indoctrinated.)

The following letter, for example, appeared in the latest issue (4/10) of TWAM:

"When will Phillip Adams stop blaming the US and its allies for the ills in the Middle East. And while it may be true that 'generations' of young Australian Jews have headed to Israel to join the army, none has returned radicalised or committed to terrorist acts in this country." Vivian Feldman, East Bentleigh, Vic.

That these little darlings may have been terrorising Palestinians is, of course, neither here nor there to Ms Feldman.

Although Adams doesn't refer to his throwaway line (let alone defend it), or in any way allude to the volume and kind of flack he may have received over it, this week's column, Jewels of the diaspora (4/10), was obviously written in response:

"Though my criticisms of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians have had me branded an anti-Semite in both correspondence and The Australian Jewish News..."

I hate to butt in here, but what "criticisms" is he talking about? Can anyone help me out here?

Anyway...

"... I'm more accurately described as a philo-Semite - someone totally in awe of the Jewish contribution to human civilisation."

The problem with being a philo- is that the fan invariably dons rose-coloured glasses when animadverting on the subject of his fancy. Here's Adams, for example, on his doctors:

"Almost all the doctors, specialists and surgeons who've been keeping me alive are Jewish, many being exiles from apartheid South Africa."

Exiles? Really? From apartheid South Africa or post-apartheid South Africa?

Then there's the use of the word 'diaspora' in his title. Diasporas are exile communities. But I seriously doubt he's referring to places such as Germany, Poland or the former Soviet Union. Whether wittingly or not, in using this term, Adams subscribes to the Zionist foundational myth that Israel, not Europe, is the homeland of Ashkenazi Jews. Adams is, if you like, more of a Zionist than he knows or cares to admit.

Professing philo-Semitism is one thing, but what is one to make of the following:

"Footnote. This atheist christened (pun intended) his firstborn daughter with a Jewish name. Twenty years later, aiming to join that most Jewish calling of psychoanalysis, Dr Rebecca Adams travelled to the US and converted to Judaism in a progressive synagogue. Whereupon my second daughter Meaghan discovered, in an old family Bible, that her dad seems to have had a Jewish great-great-grandmother on his mother's side and is, as a result, almost certainly Jewish. Now that this is public I predict my next criticism of Israel will have me called a 'self-hating Jew'. Shalom."

How curious that Adams, an atheist and, more importantly, reputedly a rational, thinking individual, takes such arcane matters so seriously.

Certainly, if the aim of his declaration of philo-Semitism was to mollify the usual suspects, he wasn't having much success:

"Phillip Adams' column reminds me, as his essays often do, of the Carly Simon song You're so Vain - 'I bet you think this song is about you'. First, having a Jewish great-great-grandmother on his mother's side doesn't necessarily mean he's Jewish, unless that relationship is exclusively matrilineal. And second, criticism of Israeli policies isn't necessarily anti-Semitic. Not unless it fails Natan Sharansky's '3-D test'. Does it demonise, de-legitimise, or apply double standards? To the Jewish nation, an affirmative on any count makes it anti-Semitism." Steve Lieblich, Jewish Community Council of Victoria (Letter, The Australian, 6/10/14)

Natan Sharansky's 3-D test indeed. What gob-smacking arrogance!

Where Mike Carlton might reply with an honest expletive, Adams chooses to tie himself in knots. But seriously, what's the point? No profession of philo-Semitism, or even fantasising out loud that you're Jewish - whatever that means - will ever satisfy a Zionist fanatic.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paul Sheehan's Narrow Escape

The Sydney Morning Herald columnist who wrote that "Women, living under sharia law, are used primarily as breeding stock;"* who spoke of the "shackles of Arab Islam;" who said he could point to "hundreds of pages of examples of bastardry by Muslims living in this country;" who gave us "a sample of more than 100 verses in the Koran that call Muslims to violence against the Unbelievers;" and who championed the visit to these shore of arch-Islamophobe Geert Wilders - I am of course referring to none other than Paul Sheehan - seems to have gone soft of late:

"I think of my car blowing a tyre on a desert highway in Dubai, and the furnace-like conditions when I opened the door, and the shimmering, unsettling heat of the landscape. As I was trying and failing, to get the very tight bolts off the wheel, a passing driver pulled over and got the tyre off for me. It was hard work in oppressive conditions. He was a plumber from Pakistan. A Muslim. A stranger who stopped to help a stranger." (Personal experience of Muslims paints different picture to grim news stories bombarding us, 2/10/14)

Jeez, Paul, what with those 100+ Quranic verses buzzing around in his head, calling him to do violence to Unbelievers like you, its a wonder he didn't beat you to death with the wheel wrench.

[*See my posts: Oriana Fallaci Meets Israeli PR at the SMH (13/1/09), Sheehan: Liberate Egypt from... Islam (18/2/11), It's Not Just Alan Jones 1 (3/10/12), Islamophobia Goes Mainstream (11/6/13).]

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Burqa's Backyard

Australia has some of the most highly paid politicians in the world. (1)

It also has some of the poorest old folk in the world. (2)

Some of these politicians, representing places where Muslims are about as thick on the ground as Mithraists (3), are currently banging on about banning burqas in a parliament where a bunyip is more likely to put in an appearance than a burqa.

(1) "Australian MPs are among the best paid in the world after pocketing a hefty pay rise earlier this month, new research shows. Federal backbenchers take home $195, 130 - almost double that earned by British MPs and nearly three times the national average full-time wage... A report tabled in the British House of Commons this week as part of a proposal to index UK MPs annual wage increases to the growth in average earnings, shows that only Italian MPs earn more than their Australian counterparts." (Australian MPs now among the highest paid in the world, Stephen McMahon, news.com.au, 18/7/13)

(2) "Australia has the highest old age poverty rate in the Asia-Pacific region, according to an international study that ranks Australia 13th for treatment of older people but 61st on a measure of income security." (Old-age poverty highest in region, Patricia Karvelas, The Australian, 1/10/14)

(3) George Christensen, LNP, Dawson (North Queensland); Senator Cory Bernardi, LNP, South Australia; Senator Jacqui Lambie, PUP, Tasmania

Operation Total Bullshit

In August, we got an 'Israeli Film Festival' (for which, you'll remember, the NSW Police sought and obtained a ban on protest from the Supreme Court).*

This November, we'll be getting a 'Jewish International Film Festival', most of whose films originated in... Israel.

IOW, two Israeli film festivals in 4 months.

Flicking through the program, my attention was caught by the blurb for an entry titled Operation Sunflower:

"This is a thrilling, fictionalised account of how Israel built its nuclear capabilities and the moral implications. It is the 1960s and Israeli intelligence is nervous. Iran is bringing missiles out of its bunkers. Soon it will be just a 'push of the button' away from being able to launch them at Israel. Racing against time, the head of the Mossad and a reluctantly recruited scientist work to create a nuclear option for Israel."

Hm... Israel... Iran... 1960s...

Hang on a minute:

"One Israeli-Iranian project that indicates the intimacy of the [Israeli-Iranian] alliance was to develop a long-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The missile was the product of Israeli research and development, starting in the late 1950s. In the spring of 1977, Israeli Defence Minister Shimon Peres signed a secret agreement in Tehran for the development of a more advanced missile. Iran was to finance it through the delivery of $1 billion worth of oil to Israel, and would also provide a special airport, an assembly plant, and the site for a long-range test. The project was halted by the end of the shah's reign; its details were revealed when the new Iranian regime published documents found in the Israeli embassy building in Tehran. These secret documents also revealed that Israel had tried to interest the Iranians in the Lavi project, the ambitious plan to produce a state-of-the-art jet fighter by the 1990s." (The Israeli Connection: Who Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, pp 11-12)

Wouldn't want history getting in the way of a rattling 'good' Zionist yarn now, would we?

[*See my 20/8/14 posts PAGS Press Release 1 & 2.]

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Monash University Vote

"Leftist group the Socialist Alternative (SA), which was deregistered at Monash University for discriminating against Jewish students, has had its ban upheld at a recent meeting of the Monash Clubs & Societies Council (MCSC). The group appealed the ban, handed down last month, but was comprehensively defeated, with 90 members against the motion, 5 for and 10 abstaining. Every club and society at Monash is a member of the MCSC, and each gets a single vote." (Appeal against Socialist Alternative ban defeated, The Australian Jewish News, 3/10/14)

This bizarre 5/100 vote, if correctly reported, reflects poorly on today's university students.

Could an explanation be sought in the fact that most of these clubs and societies are sport/activity-related, led essentially by bat-n-ball-obsessed jocks and jockettes?

Could it be seen as a reflection of students' lack of interest in political issues in general, and their limited/distorted understanding of the history and dynamics of the Middle East conflict in particular?

Who knows?

Googling around, however, I happened upon the blog of one, Terence Huynh, software engineering student at Monash and self-confessed technogeek.

On the 4th of last month, Huynh posted a piece titled The Socialist Alternative got deregistered at Monash University. What happens now?

Reading through it I came to a comment which (if I can get away with extrapolating from the views of just this one Monash student) might go some way towards explaining the above vote.

Here is Huynh's comment:

"I want to make this point as well, the debate over Israel-Palestine is too toxic [H's italics]. You are not anti-Semitic to question the actions of Israel, nor a supporter of Hamas or terrorism if you support the right for Palestine to exist. We need to reboot the conversation, and the hardline views from both sides are not helping [H's bold] anyone."

Now, in the spectrum of Monash student views on this issue, Terence Huynh's might well be one of the more enlightened.

Having said that, however, the statement hardly does the gravity of the issue justice, something which Socialist Alliance, to their immense credit, are trying to remedy.

Debate?

Terence, if you'd put down your dumbphone long enough to take in some of the recent news footage from Israel's latest wilding in Gaza, you would have seen that thousands of people, with nowhere to run or hide, were being mercilessly slaughtered, day after day after day. Do you seriously think there's anything to debate here?

Too toxic?

Well yes, those who unleashed the recent 2000+ slaughter in Gaza are about as toxic a bunch as you're ever likely to encounter. Their toxicity arises from the very nature of their fanatical, apartheid project, based as it is on erasing Palestine and its people. And it's that toxicity which motivates the delusional defenders of such a project who cheer it on from these shores.

Hardline views not helping?

FFS, Terence, BEFORE you make such a pathetic comment ever again, switch your bloody gizmo off and read a decent BOOK on the history of the issue, OK?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Incredible, Shrinking Opposition

Australia's political arena has long been, and still is, dominated by two political parties, Labor and Liberal. As the latter is now the governing party, the former is currently referred to as the Opposition.

However, when it comes to protecting Australians' basic rights and freedoms from a Government hell-bent on eliminating them (on the pretext that it is necessary to combat terrorism), astonishingly, the Labor Opposition has gone AWOL.

What was the Labor Opposition - some 55 MPs - has now shrunk to just one, Melissa Parke, the only Labor MP to oppose new legislation granting expanded powers to our spies and criminalising reporting on their operations.

Here's an excerpt from her very fine speech in federal parliament:

"Tony Abbott made a speech to the IPA in 2012 in which he referred to the Coalition as the 'freedom party'. However, as Prime Minister Mr Abbott now believes that 'the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift' and that 'there may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others.'

"I do not support a number of key elements in this Bill, and I am aware there are further even more controversial Bills coming before parliament in the near future.

"I question the premise of the government's general approach to this area of policy, which is essentially that freedoms must be constrained in response to terrorism; and that the introduction of greater obscurity and immunity in the exercise of government agency powers that contravene individual freedoms will both produce, and are justified in the name of, greater security.

"So far the debate on this issue has occurred within a frame that posits a direct relationship between, on the one hand, safety and civility in our everyday lives and, on the other, the powers that impinge upon and make incursions into individual freedom.

"If we want to continue our lives free from terrorism and orchestrated violence - so the argument goes - we have to accept shifting the balance between freedom and constraint away from the observance of basic rights and towards greater surveillance, more interference, greater silence.

"Let me say that no one should be fooled into believing it is as simple as that.

"The truth is that the remarkable peace, harmony, and security we enjoy in Australia is in fact produced and sustained by our collective observance of freedoms and human rights, rather than existing in spite of such values and conditions. It is wrong to say we have been complacent about security on two counts. First, because we have strong, well-resourced, and competent security agencies, and second because our commitment to a way of life that puts faith in freedom, respect and tolerance, that puts faith in democracy and the rule of law, is itself productive of peace and shared security.

"These are the reasons we must be so careful when we legislate to constrain those freedoms - because contrary to the reductive argument that says we're making a straight trade of less freedom for more safety, the reality is likely to be, and indeed has proved to be many times in the past, that constraining our fundamental liberties achieves nothing more than making us less free and in fact does ourselves harm through licencing the abuse of powers." (Restricting freedom, privacy could be the real threat to the nation, 1/10/14, melissaparke.com.au)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Marcelo Svirsky's Long Walk for Palestine

MEDIA RELEASE - 29 September 2014

JEWISH-ISRAELI ACADEMIC's MARATHON WALK FOR PALESTINE

"Jewish academic, Marcelo Svirsky will soon complete his marathon 10 day walk from Sydney to Canberra to promote the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel for its continuing subjugation of the Palestinians.

"Marcelo Svirsky, a lecturer in Politics at the University of Wollongong is an Australian-Israeli Palestine activist. He is the author of several academic works on Israel-Palestine, activism and colonialism and is an active member of the National Tertiary Education Union.

"He began his 10-day walk from Sydney Opera House to the Federal Parliament in Canberra to raise awareness about BDS in Australia on September the 23rd. The walk will culminate in the submission to the House of Representatives of a petition calling on Federal Parliament to endorse BDS.

"I've lived in Israel most of my life as a Jew,' Svirsky said, 'and I'm certain that it's a moral obligation to support the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) of Israel until it abides by international law. I'm walking to Canberra to make a simple statement: Israel must end the occupation, give full equality to its Arab citizens, and respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees. This isn't just what's right and decent: it's what international law mandates.

"Svirsky will arrive in Canberra on October the 2nd, having passed through the Illawarra, the Southern Highlands, Goulburn, and Bungendore. He has participated in public meetings at Wollongong and will speak in Goulburn today.

"The shocking butchery in Gaza means that nations that support peace must act to end Israeli violence, Svirsky said. The international BDS campaign is a nonviolent mechanism to put pressure on Israel to halt its oppression of Palestine and my individual walk for BDS corresponds with the growth in prominence of BDS in Australia in recent months.

"Staff and students at Svirsky's university issued the following declaration and commitment: This meeting of students and staff of the University of Wollongong resolves to support the boycott, divestment & sanctions movement. We resolve to support any students or staff who implement BDS. We call on the Wollongong University Students' Association and the unions representing workers on campus, but in particular the UOW Branch of the NTEU to support BDS and implement it on campus...

"University of Sydney academic, Jake Lynch, recently won a case brought against him by an Israeli law centre for spearheading the call for the academic boycott of Israeli institutions. In a major victory for the BDS movement in Australia, Lynch was awarded costs. In Sydney last month, calls to boycott the Israeli Film Festival because of its sponsorship by the Israeli government led to the Supreme Court of NSW banning a protest outside the festival's opening night.

"Svirsky is one of 164 Jews who signed an open letter in August calling on Jewish people to break their silence, to take a public stand... for an end to the underlying conditions of siege and occupation which defy elementary morality, decency and humanity."

PS: Surprise, surprise, Michael Danby MP, the shadow minister for Israel, has emitted the following response to Svirsky's magnificent gesture: "This poor deluded Wollongong academic is not walking to a welcome in Canberra, he is walking to political oblivion." (On the one hand... 1/10/14, jwire.com.au)