Saturday, January 31, 2015

Zionist Lie Gets Makeover

Israeli human rights organisation B'Tselem has just issued its latest report, Black Flag: The legal & moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, Summer 2014, occasioned by last year's Israeli massacres the Gaza Strip (Operation Protective Edge - July-August), which resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinians (including hundreds of children) and the destruction of about 18,000 homes.

It focuses in part on that notorious Zionist talking point, namely that the Palestinian resistance uses civilians as a shield:

"[Israeli] officials eschewed responsibility for the immense harm to civilians, placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Hamas. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel's 'security forces are doing everything in their power to avoid harming civilians and if innocents are hurt, it is because Hamas deliberately hides behind Palestinian civilians.'

"This argument is unacceptable. True Hamas... do not abide by IHL [international humanitarian law], nor do they purport to do so... Not only did Hamas fire at Israeli civilians and civilian targets, it did so from within the civilian population. Hamas operatives fired from sites located near civilian dwellings, concealed weapons and munitions inside them and dug tunnels under them.

"Given this reality, the issue at hand is what conclusions policymakers may draw from it. The prime minister's statements indicate he believes that Hamas and the [Israeli] military share the responsibility to take precautions. Yet this interpretation is designed to block, a priori, any allegations that Israel breached IHL provisions. Accepting it would mean that there are no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli action and that whatever method it chooses to respond to Hamas operations is legitimate, no matter how horrifying the consequences. This interpretation is unreasonable, unlawful, and renders meaningless the principle that IHL violations committed by one party do not release the other party from its obligations toward the civilian population and civilian objects."

IOW, whatever Hamas does or doesn't do, cannot be used as an excuse by the Israelis for slaughtering Palestinian civilians.

You'll note that the charge leveled at Hamas by B'Tselem, at least with respect to Palestinian civilians and their homes, is simply that its "operatives fired from sites located near civilian dwellings, concealed weapons and munitions inside them and dug tunnels under them."

I've already dealt with the question of whether, in resisting Israel's overwhelming military aggression, they could have done otherwise (and whether the Israeli occupation forces can be similarly accused), in another post: Israeli Militarism (4/9/14).

This post, however, was prompted by the following extraordinary revelation that somehow managed to escape B'Tselem's attention:

"During the conflict, thousands of children were forcibly herded by Hamas as human shields around its rocket launch sites. Like Israeli children taken to shelters, post-traumatic stress levels are high, with estimates that up to 90% of the Palestinian child population suffers from traumatic symptoms." (Hadassah's healing vision, Peter Kohn, The Australian Jewish News, 23/1/15)

Heard that one before? Not only has the basic Israeli 'human shield' talking point been outrageously sexed up, but the AJN has slyly balanced genuine Palestinian suffering with the faux Israeli variety. This smacks of desperation. Could it be that no one's listening to the old plain Jane lie anymore?

But there's more in this instance. This blatant shot at blaming the victim for his suffering, followed by the gratuitous suggestion of an equivalent suffering on the part of the perpetrator, comes bang in the middle of a piece showcasing a rather dubious project:

"Gazan children traumatised in last year's war will benefit from a landmark joint venture between Hadassah Australia and aid agency World Vision to advance Hadassah's Project Rozana,* boosting critical medical services in the Palestinian territories." This will reportedly involve cooperation in "training Palestinian child psychologists to treat children suffering post-traumatic stress after the Gaza war," and forging closer links between World Vision Australia and Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital.

Quite how this joint venture will manage to shrug off the charge that it is exploiting the same traumatised Palestinian kids to burnish Israel's tarnished image abroad is anyone's guess.

World Vision's CEO, Tim Costello, is quoted thus:

"Costello said World Vision Australia has trained around 8,000 Palestinian mothers to recognise symptoms of 'psycho-social trauma' in their children. 'Hadassah is the foremost hospital in Jerusalem and their expertise in dealing with these issues, along with medical issues, is a natural fit for us.' But the high-profile advocate on social issues said another vital aspect of the venture will be to foster better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. 'We cannot solve the political issues but we do know that starting with children's dreams and their rights on both sides is profoundly important'."

Of course we can't solve the political issues - unless we first speak out about them.

Children's dreams and rights on both sides? Is the man serious? Is he not aware that Zionism's wet dream - a Palestine without Palestinians - is the very stuff of Palestinian nightmares? Rhetorical question, of course.

Just to inject an air of reality here, I'll leave you with two summaries of findings from another recent report on Israeli savagery in Gaza, No Safe Place, by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Gaza's Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

This one touches on the unimaginable scale of psychological trauma among Palestinians in Gaza:

"The majority of the 68 patients interviewed suffered insomnia, flashbacks, nightmares, screaming, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression and unstable emotional states. Doctors and nurses said that the trauma they saw was not just from the attacks, displacement, threats of joblessness and poverty, but also the sense of total isolation from the rest of the world. Those interviewed said that Gaza's dire situation affects individuals' life choices, like whether or not to get married and have children." (Investigators: Israel fired on Gaza civilians carrying white flags, Charlotte Silver,, 28/1/15)

And here's the other. Maybe Costello and his opposite number in Hadassah Australia, Ron Finkel (described in a November 2007 Zionist Council of Victoria press release as "a longstanding advocate for Israel and Zionism since his student days in the 1970s when he served as President of AUJS") could explain how they envision Hadassah Hospital dealing with the Palestinian survivors (?) of these hellish devices:

"Flechette munitions (which doctors reported surgically removing from the faces of children); 'explosive barrel' bombs... that were made to be used to clear mines, but were dropped on civilians; what are suspected to be DIME weapons, leading to 'unusual burns' and 'unusual amputations,' with 'charred' black skin that did not smell like burning flesh and black 'tattooing' around cauterization-like stumps of amputees; weapons that left 'computer chips' with Sony markings embedded as shrapnel in people's bodies'; and 'a gas of unknown type,' a white-colored substance with a 'sewage-like' smell' that burned skin and caused respiratory problems and could be seen and smelled from 500 meters away"? (Independent investigation details Israel's deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza, Ben Norton,, 29/1/15)

[*On Project Rozana, see my 9/6/13 post Palwashing.]

Thursday, January 29, 2015

MSM Journalism 101

"Five civilians and two soldiers were killed when rebels fired a barrage of rockets and mortar rounds at central Damascus, a monitoring group says. The rebel attacks came two days after they threatened to retaliate for air raids by the Syrian regime against an opposition-held area on the capital's edge." (Seven die in Damascus as rebels retaliate, AFP/The Australian, 27/1/15)

In Syria, government air raids always come first, whereas in Gaza, Palestinian rockets always come first.

Got it?

Et Tu, Greg?

We live in interesting times.

Greg Sheridan, Tony Abbott's Partner In Crime (Monash U, 1977*) and Suppository of All Wisdom, the foreign editor of Murdoch's Australian and (self-styled) Most Influential Foreign Affairs Analyst in Australia, is now pointing the bone at his erstwhile (?) bosom buddy:

"Giving Prince Philip an Australian knighthood is the worst decision of Tony Abbott's prime ministership." (A decision both dumb & dumber, 28/1/15)

What? Worse than last year's horror budget? Worse than Operation Sovereign Borders? Worse than...

But I digress:

"It is wrong in principle... There is no place for knights and dames in Australian honours... They correspond to no Australian social reality. They have no general acceptance or broad legitimacy within Australia."

Et tu, Greg?

Of course, if only Abbott had knighted Netanyahu instead, or - like Sheridan (2007) - had received Israel's Jerusalem Prize, Sheridan would be heaping praise on him, and justifying it on the grounds that 'it corresponds perfectly to Australia's current foreign affairs reality.'

[*See my 13/9/12 post Greg & Tony Do Monash 1.]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Glass Wall

Back in August last year, journalist and writer Tim Robertson couldn't help but notice something missing in Morry Schwartz's Saturday Paper:

"There's been high praise for the Saturday Paper... the paper's commentary is insightful and well-informed: it has a stable of some of Australia's best writers... and it's a welcome addition to the Fairfax/News Ltd duopoly that's been one of the great scourges of Australian democracy... Nonetheless, the Saturday Paper's coverage of Israel's assault on Gaza has been conspicuously, well, non-existent. As the death toll rises and more atrocities are committed, the Saturday Paper's pages remain, to date, devoid of any comment. One might consider this highly unusual. After all, it's long been left to independent Left-wing media to support the Palestinian cause in the face of the grossly more powerful Israeli state and its supporters here in Australia. But for long-time readers of The Monthly, which, like the Saturday Paper, is published by Morry Schwartz, the coverage might not come as such a shock. (Mr Schwartz also publishes Black Inc. and the Quarterly Essay.)" (Excerpt from Palestine & the Saturday Paper,, 1/8/14)

Robertson went on to quote John Van Tiggelen, former editor of the Saturday Paper and now staff writer at The Monthly, speaking at the June 2014 Wordstorm Festival in Darwin. (Since Robertson's original quote is highly edited, I've reproduced the Van Tiggelen quote below more fully):

"I have to be careful here because I still get most of my wage from The Monthly. But, um, it's very different from Fairfax. I have to be honest here and say that at Fairfax, at the Good Weekend writing the long features, I never experienced political interference... Whereas when you work at a small publication, and it doesn't matter whether it's Graeme Wood at The Global Mail or Morry Schwartz... at The Monthly, you work very closely with a publisher and things do get spiked and you have raving rows about what goes through and what doesn't. And there are certain glass walls set up by the publisher that you can't go outside of. And we were talking about it beforehand with Antony [Loewenstein] - one of those is Palestine. [The Monthly's] seen as a left-wing publication but the publisher is very right-wing on Israel. He's Jewish, um, and he's very much to the Benjamin Netanyahu end of politics. So you can't touch it. We just don't touch it. There's just a glass wall goes around it." (, 25/6/14)

Robertson concludes correctly that the editorial regime which prevails at the Saturday Paper (and by extension at Schwartz's other publications such as The Monthly and the Quarterly Essay) "is no different to the Murdoch press' universal support for the Iraq War (though the scale is smaller): top-down, institutionalised censorship based on the political beliefs of one individual," adding that "It's fundamentally undemocratic and undermines the whole notion of a free press."

But that's not all - apart from being destructive of journalism per se, the erection of glass walls (and the phenomenon of self-censorship that accompanies it) leaves the consumer of that journalism in something of a quandary.

Take, for example, the following passage from Van Tiggelen's admiring profile of Labor's Tanya Plibersek in The Monthly of November 2014:

"If deputy leaders didn't get to choose their portfolios, foreign affairs might have eluded Plibersek. Her reputation has been built on tackling social issues, such as homelessness, domestic violence and discrimination. More significantly, she is of the Left, a faction less inclined to bipartisanship (and, specifically, to pro-Israel views) than the portfolio generally demands. Back in 2002, in an otherwise sharply argued speech dismantling the case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Plibersek described Israel as a 'rogue state' for its flouting of UN resolutions. She also called its then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, a war criminal. Today, though, you'd be hard-pressed to find a crack between the Government and the Opposition on security or Middle East policy. Plibersek has long recanted her comments on Israel and appears to be in lock step with the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, on the matter of Australia's renewed military engagement in Iraq."

Take that highlighted bit. I may be wrong but Van Tiggelen seems to be suggesting that, but for the references in the speech to Israel, the speech was fine. And yet he makes no attempt to explain why those references are in any way problematic. More importantly, what about his failure to probe the issue and circumstances of Plibersek's recantation of those references, surely a matter that goes to the very heart of Plibersek's intellectual and moral courage? I mean, isn't that what any journalist worth his salt would do? Could Van Tiggelen be self-censoring or Schwartz red-penciling?  Who is really speaking here, Van Tiggelen or Schwartz? See the problem?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who Needs Kafka?

"Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think.

"In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let's call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let's call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

"One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family's private land in an effort to force them off.

"This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family for generations other than by appealing to the Israeli legal system. They petition the Israeli Supreme Court to order the synagogue demolished.

"In the courtroom, the settlers argue that the land is not under Kiryat Arba's control - it's private Palestinian property - and therefore it is outside the court's jurisdiction. The judges have no right to issue a ruling in this case, they claim.

"The court disagrees and says the land is under Kiryat Arba's control - ie the judges treat it as part of Israel - and therefore the court can issue a ruling. The judges' verdict is a triumph for justice: the synagogue should be demolished.

"However, now that the settlers have a piece of paper with the court's decision stating that the land belongs to Kiryat Arba, they can bill the Palestinian family for years of arrears on property taxes amounting to $22,000 - more than the family earns in several years. If they don't pay, the settlers will seize the land and sell it.

"Heads the Jaabaris lose; tails they lose too. That's Israeli occupier's justice.

"What do you think? Have I gone a bit too far? Too crazy to be credible?

"Or have I simply plagiarised this story from the Times of Israel, where exactly this has happened to the Jaabari family?" (Occupier's justice: heads & tails you lose, Jonathan Cook, 23/1/15)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day Awards 2015

If you were thrilled by the award of a knighthood to Phil the Greek (aka Prince Philip), you'll be over the moon at the award of a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) to Sam the Zionist (aka Sam Salcman):

"For service to the community through a range of organisations:

"Senior Vice-president, Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) (formerly the State Zionist Council of Victoria) 15 years; Executive Member 1972-2010. ZCV Delegate to the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (formerly the Jewish Board of Deputies) since 1973.

"Member of the Executive of the Jewish Board of Deputies as Chair of the Overseas Jewry Committee, 4 years.

"National Secretary, Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), 6 years; Executive 1974-2012 and since 2014.

"Honorary Treasurer, Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) 1992-1995 and 2000-2007; Honorary Life Member of ECAJ since 2008; Chairman, Overseas Jewry Committee, now known as the Australian Committee for Soviet Jewry (part of ECAJ) 1982-1990.

"Treasurer, Lamm Jewish Library of Australia Board (formerly Makor library) 1994-2003.

"Honorary Treasurer, Australian Reform Zionist Association (ARZA) 2003-2007.

"Vice-Chair, Australia Arava Partnership Committee since 2013 and Committee Member since 1998.

"Founding Member, Australian Friends of Labour Israel (Victoria), 1974; Vice-Chair, 1976-1997.

"Member, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce Victoria since 1985.

"Secretary, Victorian ALF Foreign Affairs Committee 1976-1980; Member 1975-1982.

"Member, CPA Australia since 1984.

"Foundation Member, Institute of Certified Management Accountants since 1980; Chartered Tax Advisor, Taxation Institute of Australia since 2012.

"Member, Governance Institute of Australia since 1989.

"Recipient, Community Recognition Award, Jewish Community Council of Victoria, 2009.

"Recipient, Jerusalem Prize, Zionist Council of Victoria and Zionist Federation of Australia and World Zionist Organisation, 2003." (Australia Day Awards 2015,, 26/1/15)

Reading through the above, I found myself wondering whether the Zionist Federation of Australia had nominated Sam for the above award. Wondering thus, I recalled the ZFA's recent (5/12/14) gripe about the 2014 Walkley Awards for journalists.

Railing against awards going to Middle East correspondents Paul McGeough and Ruth Pollard (Fairfax), and John Lyons (News Corpse), the ZFA griped that "Perhaps the only sure-fire way to win a Walkley these days is by spouting Palestinian propaganda and making sure you only tell half the story." (

The ZFA's gripe was titled:

How to win a Walkley Award - Step 1: Become Middle East Correspondent, Step 2: Write incessantly against Israel.

But would I be so churlish as to detract from Sam's considerable achievements by titling this particular post:

How to win an Australia Day Award - Step 1: Become a Zionist lobbyist, Step 2: Campaign incessantly against Palestine?

No way!

Still looking for an Australia Day 2015 award to a Palestinian lobbyist...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

SMH: Independent. No More.

"More stringent approval procedures for cartoons have been introduced at The Sydney Morning Herald, following the publication of a cartoon last year that was described as 'clearly anti-Semitic' by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry." (Gaza cartoon breached Press Council standards, Australian Jewish News, 23/1/15)

So begins the AJN's report on the Press Council's adjudication of Glen Le Lievre's Gaza cartoon. (You can read the PC's adjudication, and my comments on same, in my 20/1/15 post Je Suis Le Lievre & Carlton.) The only real interest in the AJN's report, however, lies in its airing of SMH editor Darren (Yes Sir!) Goodsir's comments on just how Herald staff are now being put through their paces by Zionist trainers:

"Previously section editors had been able to approve illustrations themselves but I raised that, so that myself or the news director, who is effectively my deputy, would need to approve all illustrations,' Goodsir said. He said that there have been several positive outcomes from what was clearly a bad situation. 'The other thing that I did last year, and intend to do again this year, was work with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) to run a two-hour talk and Q&A session about anti-Semitism.' Goodsir said the first half was about the history of anti-Semitism, and how the media has played a role in that, while the second half was a very productive conversation between the JBOD presenters and senior editors about how things can be interpreted in different ways."

Oh to be a fly on the wall!

And now that Vic Alhadeff (of JBoD) has his foot well and truly in the door, I can see these "very productive conversations" really taking off - wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean? (See my 9/2/12 post The Chosen.) 

But if you think it's only Herald editors who are getting the treatment, check out what's going down at NSW Police HQ (see my 28/10/11 post Israel 101 for Cops) or in your nearest high school (see my 14/12/13 post Building Bridges... to Israel).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pulling Punches?

Playing it safe in the ms media inevitably involves pussyfooting around with words:

"On tribalism we're much more conflicted. Easily the best counter to tribalism would be to ban religious schools. Not religion. That's fine. But segregating children on religious grounds inculcates Chosen People Syndrome from birth. Be it Wahhabist, Jewish or Anglican, in Saudi, Paris or Bronte, chosenpeopleism makes war, not peace. This is not God's doing, though religions lend themselves to tribalism." (Tribalism lets out our inner fascist, Elizabeth Farrelly, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/1/15)

'Wahhabist, Jewish or Anglican'. An interesting choice of words. Wouldn't 'Muslim, Jewish or Christian' have been more to the point?

And if, as is the case with Farrelly's op-ed, the focus is really on the interface between tribalism and religion, where the going really gets rough,wouldn't the logical choice have been 'Wahhabist, Zionist or Christian Zionist?

But just imagine the conniptions which would have followed.

Friday, January 23, 2015


American Psycho:

"[Chris] Kyle left soon after [9/11] on the first of 4 tours of Iraq, as a Navy SEAL with an ambition to become a sniper. The book he wrote later makes clear he was gung-ho, full of simple Texas truths and wholesome Christian certainty. Dodging tracers in the helicopter on his first mission makes him fret: 'Damn, I thought. We're going to get shot down before I even get a chance to smoke someone'." (Review of American Sniper, Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/1/15)

Israeli Psycho:

"During the Israeli bombardment and shelling of the Gaza Strip last summer an Israeli soldier approached a 74-year-old Palestinian woman Ghalya Abu-Rida to give her a sip of water. He gave her the water, took a photo with her and then shot her in the head from a distance of one metre. He then watched as she bled to death, the Palestine Information Centre reported." (Israeli soldier gives water to blind elderly Palestinian woman for propaganda, then kills her,, 21/1/15)

Australian Psycho:

"'I think he [killed IS fighter Mahmoud Abdullatif] liked the extreme culture of Islam and I think he just wanted to be part of the violence,' Ms [Sashini] Senadeera [a former girlfriend] told Fairfax Media. 'I think for him Islam was just an excuse to behave like that.' At Brunswick Secondary College in Melbourne's north, Abdullatif and a group of Lebanese friends 'kind of ran the place' and bullied other students, she said. They were kicked out in Year 11 for failing class and causing damage to a neighbouring school. Abdullatif's father and uncle urged him to change his ways and he enrolled in a trade course and started going to the mosque more often but kept partying hard. 'He never really changed but he wanted to show people that he was extreme. I think a lot of them just get bored and want that life over there,' Ms Senadeera said." (Party animal and ladies' man, but still hungry for violence, Rachel Olding, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/1/15)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remember Iran's 'Stolen' Election?

"Even stolen elections have results that matter. The election that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole from the Iranian people last weekend is no exception. Its consequences are almost all bad. If any election is the prelude to conflict, with all the tragedy and terror that entails, this was it. First, the good news. Huge numbers of ordinary Iranians took serious personal risks to demonstrate their disgust at the demented rhetoric and sterile extremism their President and the mullahs behind him offer them. Everything that was good and decent and brave and creative about Iran was alive with hope in the days before the election, and in the heroic resistance afterwards." (Don't pin your hopes on change in Tehran, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 18/6/09)


"Five years after the 2009 post-election unrest in Tehran came under the world's spotlight, stunning footage was shown on Iranian state-owned TV showing Mir-Hossein Moussavi's chief voting inspector Abbas Akhoundi five days after the election telling a meeting of key campaign members of all the 4 presidential candidates with the Supreme Leader that there had 'basically been no election fraud' at work." (Historical footnote made public: key Moussavi campaign official admits to no fraud in 2009 election,, 4/1/15)

See also my 19/10/10 post Was Iran's Election Stolen?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Luke Foley Gets the Koala Vote

You will of course remember my most recent post on NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley: NSW Labor: Out With the Old, In With the Same Old.

In it, I referred to Luke's namesake, Tom 'Fine Cut' Foley, the Queensland Labor Lands Minister who declared open season on koalas in the 1920s.

I'm pleased to see that Luke is an avid reader of MERC.

How else to explain his announcement on Monday that when he's elected Premier of NSW he'll establish Australia's first 'koala national park' on the NSW north coast?

Janet de'Arc

And now for a word from Janet Albrechtsen (rambammed: 2008):

"We cannot wait for imams to lead this debate. So what of our own leaders...? As David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, a global advocacy organisation, told me last year during a wide-ranging discussion about Islamic terrorism, 'Every generation needs a Winston Churchill - a leader who sees events with absolute clarity and courage, who spots the seemingly disparate pieces and the links among them, and who mobilises the tools of language to awaken an often sleeping world and rouse it to resolute action." (Debate Islam's place in the West now, The Australian, 21/1/15)

But Janet, we already have this generations's Winston Churchill. Name's Col. Lives in Port Macquarie. In case you haven't noticed, see my 17/1/15 post Australia's Answer to Winston Churchill.

But here's the thing, while it may have been good enough back in 39-45 to make do with just a Winston Churchill, surely we've moved on since then?

I mean, we have male and female newsreaders, don't we? So why not male and female worldleaders? Shouldn't Col of Port Macquarie be accompanied by a woman of like calibre, this generation's Jeanne d'Arc?

Janet, isn't it time you stopped talking the talk and started walking the walk?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Je Suis Le Lievre & Carlton

Remember Glen Le Lievre's powerful cartoon in last year's Sydney MorningHerald, drawn as Israel was 'mowing the grass' in the Gaza Ghetto, and many Israelis - with kippahs (some incorporating the Star of David) and without - were enjoying the spectacle from a nearby hill (some sitting in lounge chairs)?

Remember the knee-jerk allegations of anti-Semitism which followed it?

Remember the equally powerful essay by columnist Mike Carlton which shared the page with it?

Remember how the Herald got the wobbles when the usual suspects began hurling the usual accusations of anti-Semitism at him?

Remember how Carlton ended up resigning from the paper rather than kiss the ring?

Remember the dark threats in Murdoch's Australian about "the organised [Jewish] community getting legal advice and looking closely at its options"?

Well, here's the final (?) chapter in the saga - Press Council Adjudication 1634 of January 15, the subject of which, I note, is exclusively Le Lievre's cartoon. What rubbish it is:

"The Press Council has considered whether its Standards of Practice were breached by a cartoon in the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 July 2014. It was associated with an opinion piece on the conflict in Gaza and depicted an elderly man with a large nose, wearing the distinctively Jewish head covering called a kippah or yarmulke, and sitting in an armchair emblazoned with the Star of David. He was pointing a TV remote control device at an exploding cityscape, implied to be Gaza. Implied to be Gaza!

"The Council asked the publication to comment on whether the cartoon had placed gratuitous emphasis on race or religion. It also asked the publication whether the cartoon could reasonably have expected to cause offence and showed insufficient concern for balancing the sensibilities of some readers with the broader public interest.

"In response, the publication agreed that the cartoon had placed gratuitous emphasis on the Jewishness of its subject and in so doing had inappropriately emphasised religious persuasion rather than Israeli nationality, thereby causing offence. It pointed out that a 650-word apology had been published about a week later."

So the cartoon was thought too Jewish and insufficiently Israeli. The kippah is Jewish, but worn by countless Israelis, including, when it suits him, Netanyahu. The Star of David is Jewish, but is emblazoned on every Israeli flag and death-dealing fighter jet, not to mention on many Israeli kippahs.

If Le Lievre inappropriately emphasised religious persuasion that is because Israel itself, through its appropriation of Jewish religious symbols for its own political ends, inappropriately emphasises religious persuasion.

"The publication also pointed out that the newspaper's Editor in Chief and News Director had subsequently participated in seminars facilitated by the Jewish Board of Deputies to raise awareness about the imagery that could be construed as anti-Semitic. It said further seminars were planned and would be expanded to include the newspaper's senior editorial staff.

"The publication also said that a requirement for extra layers of approval had been introduced for all cartoons prior to publication."

So much for the Herald's slogan "Independent. Always."

"Conclusions: The Council emphasises that cartoons are subject to its Standards of Practice. The application of those standards however, takes account of the fact that readers can reasonably be expected to recognise that cartoons commonly use exaggeration and caricature to a considerable degree and therefore should be interpreted by them with this in mind.

"In this instance, the cartoon's linkage between the Jewish faith and the Israeli rocket attacks on Gaza was reasonably likely to cause great offence to many readers. A linkage with Israeli nationality might have been justifiable in the public interest, despite being likely to cause offence. But the same cannot be said of the implied linkage with the Jewish faith that arose from inclusion of the kippah and the Star of David. Accordingly, the Council's Standards of Practice were breached on the ground of causing greater offence to readers' sensibilities than was justifiable in the public interest.

"The Council welcomes the prominent, extensive and closely-reasoned apology by the publication and its subsequent action to reduce the risk of repetition. The Council commends this approach to other publications."

For the genesis of this complaint to the Press Council see my 7/12/14 post The Whinge Goes On.

As for Mike Carlton, our Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson referred in yesterday's Australian to Carlton "facing a complaint under 18C because of his disgraceful anti-Semitic language." (Charlie Hebdo v 18C: no contest)

Mike's tweeted response (18/1): "I used no 'disgraceful anti-Semitic language' and was not pinged by 18C. Tim Wilson is a posturing fuckwit."

Monday, January 19, 2015

What's Going On at The Guardian?

Check out this incredible headline for Peter Beaumont's 17 January report at The Guardian reads (my emphasis):

Why are French Jews returning to Israel in such numbers?

That has to be deliberate. Funny how it came on the heels of Netanyahu's recent call for French Jews to come "home."

I'll leave you with the following savvy tweet of Charles Edward Frith. It neatly encapsulates the paradox that anti-Semitism and Zionism are basically just two sides of the same racist coin:

"If Hollande said France wasn't their country and all Jews should leave, that would be anti-Semitism. When Netanyahu says it, that's Zionism."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Clive Kessler's Rage Against the Historical Record

Clive Kessler, emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of NSW, is the author of a feature - Islam cannot disown jihadists driven by rage against history - in this weekend's Australian.

His appended bio says, "He has been researching and writing about the politics of resurgent and militant Islam, in Southeast Asia and globally, for half a century."

So where does 50 years' worth of cogitation on the subject of Islam lead? Apparently, to this sage conclusion:

"By the late 19th and early 20th century, much of the Islamic world had fallen under European colonial domination. It was dismembered and parcelled out among different Western powers - notably France, Britain, Italy and The Netherlands... No longer able to live in the world on their own terms according to their blueprint, the lands of Islam fell under derivatively foreign legal systems. They ceased to live, wherever they once had, under Islamic law, the Shariah. This defeat was humiliating. The world of Islam was wounded at its core. This would have been a painful experience for any once-proud but now enfeebled civilisation. But for Islam it was more and worse, than that. It was more and worse because of its long history of worldly success and its conviction of entitlement, an assurance vouchsafed by God, that Islam would forever be in charge."

In brief, ever since the colonial dismemberment of the Islamic world, instead of moving on, it's been stewing, obsessively sharpening the sword of jihad and generally itching for a return to the fabulous days of shariah!

That this kind of post 9/11 clash of civilizations nonsense is peddled at our universities - Kessler's essay originally appeared on the Australian National University's New Mandala website under the heading A rage against history - may come as a surprise. That it's been taken up and recycled in the Murdoch press, though, comes as no surprise.

Where to begin? Leaving aside Libya and Indonesia, let's concentrate on the Levant in the crucial years from 1918-20.

This was the period which followed the defeat of the Turks by British and Arab forces (the latter led by the Amir Faisal, son of of the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein). Critically, it was the period before the implementation of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (dividing the area between France and Britain), and the 1917 Balfour Declaration (imposing a Jewish National Home on the Palestinians), when the Arabs had a narrow window of opportunity to realise their dreams. It follows, therefore, that if these dreams were all about Islamic supremacy and shariah, you'd expect that to be reflected in the historical record.

Well, here's the hero of the Arab independence struggle, Faisal, addressing a public meeting of Syrian notables in Damascus in 1919:

"The Turks departed from our lands and we are now as children. We have no government, no army and no educational system. The huge majority of our people have no understanding of patriotism or freedom, or the meaning of independence... That is why we have to make them understand the blessing of independence... and endeavour to spread education, for no nation can survive without education, organisation and equality. I am an Arab and I have no superiority over any other Arab, not even by an atom... I call upon my Arab brethren irrespective of their different sects to grasp the mantle of unity and concord, to spread knowledge, and to form a government that will do us proud, for if we do what the Turks did [in misrule] we will also depart from the land, God forbid; but if we act in a responsible and dutiful way, history will record our deeds with honour. I repeat what I have said in all my previous positions. The Arabs were Arabs before Moses, and Jesus and Muhammad. All religions demand that [their adherents] follow what is right and enjoin brotherhood on earth. And anyone who sows discord between Muslim, Christian and Jew is not an Arab. I am an Arab before all else... The Arabs are diverse peoples living in different regions. The Aleppan is not the same as the Hijazi, nor is the Damascene the same as the Yemeni. That is why my father has made the Arab lands each follow their own special laws that are in accordance with their own circumstances and people... We should have started first by organising a congress that would have set out these laws [the constitution for the Arab state]. But the Arabs now living abroad are better fit to formulate such laws, and that is why we have postponed this matter until the exiles can meet. Those I have recalled from abroad are people who are competent in drafting good laws that are in the spirit of the land and the characteristics of its people. They will meet in Damascus or elsewhere in the Arab world for their congress." (Faisal of Iraq, Ali A. Allawi, 2014, pp 167-68)

Not a whisper about Islam!

And when the aforementioned congress finally convened in Damascus in March 1920, these were its concerns:

"[A] number of key resolutions were unanimously passed. The preamble to the resolutions summarised the position of the nationalists regarding the total independence of Syria within its natural frontiers, including Palestine, drawing on the right of the people to national self-determination, the promises of the Allies and [US President] Wilson's Fourteen Points. The congress rejected the Zionist plan for a Jewish National Home in Palestine and called for administrative decentralisation and a special status for Lebanon. The resolution then declared Syria to be a fully independent state within its natural boundaries and offered the crown of Syria to Faisal as its constitutional king." (p 272)

Just the kind of focus on national independence you'd expect from any newly liberated people:

Needless to say, the Arabs' wholly legitimate desire for the national independence for which they'd fought was anathema to French imperialism (just as it was to British imperialism in the case of Palestine), and Faisal's popular, non-sectarian, constitutional kingdom - along with the hopes for a brighter future which it embodied - was smashed by the French army at the battle of Maysalun in July 1920. (See my 2/6/12 post French Mandate Redux?)

Ah, but you wouldn't expect to read about that in Kessler's piece.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Australia's Answer to Winston Churchill

The world is teetering on the brink of Islamogeddon. Assailed by the Muslim hordes. Desperate for real leadership. Where, I hear you ask, is the mighty Winston when we need him?

Fear no more. One such has arisen - here in Australia!

Tony Abbott? No way!

Check out Col of Port Macquarie as he holds forth from a barstool in his fave pub:

"We in free democracies need much more urgent action than mega street rallies against an Islamic minority of extremists. They are now emboldened by our weak response to their atrocities and provocations. We need a collective response from free nations to swat these extremists - immediately. A multinational force in overwhelming numbers in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and northern Africa needs to be deployed, now. Yes, there will be many deaths and injuries, but that is the price for defending democracy, our freedoms, and our system of justice. The forces of evil have surfaced many times in the history of mankind, notably when Adolf Hitler annexed much of Europe before the forces of good took action. We must never let evil prevail. It's now time for leaders of free nations to 'man up'. (Letter, Colin, Daily Telegraph, 15/1/15)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Lamentations of Norman Lebrecht

Just how Norman Lebrecht's whine, France turning its back on centuries of Jewish citizenship (Telegraph, London), ended up on the opinion pages of Tuesday's Sydney Morning Herald we'll never really know. Was there really such a dearth of insightful commentary on the terrorist outrages in Paris that it just had to do? Seriously?:

"Our patriarch was Grand Rabbin of the Lower Rhine, the first Jewish preacher to deliver sermons in French. When the Germans occupied Alsace-Lorraine in 1870, we moved to Paris. My ancestors were never going to live under any flag but the Tricolore..."

Norman's mob apparently weathered the Dreyfus Affair, World War I ("20 members of our family gave their lives for France"), the Nazified French media of the 30s, and the German occupation of World War II ("Uncle Rene went underground with the resistance"). Nothing, it seemed, could possibly come between the Lebrechts and the Republic, with its "celestial values: liberty, equality and fraternity."

Until now that is:

"The alienated populace in the outer suburbs, ignored by the Republic and exploited by radical preachers, contributed to Jewish unease. Some streets were no longer safe to walk in a skullcap. Anti-Semitic rhetoric was heard on the Right, on the Left, and from the banlieues. Murderous attacks on Jewish schools aroused no national outrage on the scale seen in the past week. So Jews fled in their thousands - many to London, where two new communities have sprung up in my own neighbourhood. Some 3300 left for Israel in 2013, rising to 5000 last year... "

Of course, to suggest that this Exodus may have had something to do with Israel's grinding genocide of the Palestinians would be anathema to the likes of Norman.

He concludes:

"My Jewish friends were out on the streets of Paris this weekend, hoping that, after this tragic moment, the tide will turn. For myself, I am unable to pretend that life will go on as before. My history, as a Jew of France, is over."

Now based on that cri de coeur, you'd be forgiven for thinking (absent those words about London) that Norman's Exodus from France was just about nigh, non?

In fact, Norman split for the UK long ago. As Wikipedia tells us: "Norman Lebrecht is a British commentator on music and cultural affairs and a novelist. He was a columnist for the Daily Telegraph from 1994 until 2002 and assistant editor of The Evening Standard from 2002 until 2009."

Sort of takes the wind out of the whine, non?

The real trouble with Norman's whine, however, is that he's said it all before. Long before.

Over at, for example, you'll find, under the heading Norman Lebrecht's warnings, the following editorial note from 2002:

"On 15 April, the London music critic Norman Lebrecht wrote a long and impassioned article in The Evening Standard newspaper suggesting that Britain is no longer a pleasant place for Jews. Observing that the UK's media and intellectual 'chattering classes' have made life a misery by constantly attacking Israel and organising vitriolic boycotts and demonstrations against the Jewish State, Lebrecht asserts that British Jews are fearful of a 1930s-style hatred not seen since the days of Oswald Mosley's blackshirts."

That note was by way of introducing an excellent epistolery rebuttal by Rabbi John Rayner (18/4/02), which, in part, reads:

"There is an old Latin saying... Those whom God wants to destroy, He first sends mad. The article by an important journalist [Lebrecht], indicates that he is the latest victim... [G]iven all that has happened [Rayner had cited Israel's colonisation of Palestinian land since 1967], it is not surprising... that almost the whole world should feel revulsion for Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians in places like Jenin, and that in this anti-Israel (i.e., anti-Sharon) fury several different motives should get mixed up: (a) sympathy for the underdog, (b) contempt for the big bully, (c) outrage against the injustice that has been done to the Palestinians ever since 1948, (d) anger against Israel's persistent defiance of the UN over many years, and (e) common-or-garden anti-Semitism, expressing itself even in attacks on synagogues in the Diaspora? Given all this historical background, for Israelis, supported by Diaspora Jews, and now even by Lebrecht, STILL to maintain the myth of Jewish innocence and to say: we have done nothing wrong, we are merely the victims of world-wide anti-Semitism, is nothing less than madness."

I wonder how long before mad Norman reprises his 2002 whine, concluding My history, as a Jew of England, is over. And don't worry about missing it - it's bound to turn up in the Herald.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From Hippie Hordes to Mohammedan Hordes

Despite a Muslim recently saving Paul Sheehan's bacon (see my 7/10/14 post Paul Sheehan's Narrow Escape), the Fairfax calumnist's momentarily softened heart has once again hardened against the fanatical Mohammedan hordes and their false religion:

"A de facto world war is under way and it has everything to do with Islam. It is not thousands of lone wolves. It is not un-Islamic conduct. It involves thousands of Muslims acting on what they believe is their religious duty to subjugate non-believers, as outlined in the Koran. And the problem is growing, not increasing." (Crimes have everything to do with Islamic faith, 12/1/15)

Charlie Hebdo? Not really. More like memories of a footloose youth. Memories of a time when hair was king, and hippie chicks beckoned and called; when Journey to the East and Dharma Bums were required reading; when a joint was something you inhaled, not complained about; when one could ride the Kombi along the hippie trail all the way to London. Above all, a time when the natives knew their place and obligingly parted way for the hippie hordes:

"Young Australians used to travel overland from Singapore to London. That route has become a hell-hole. Pakistan is dangerous. Afghanistan is a no-go area. Iran is an oppressive theocracy. Iraq is disintegrating. Syria is a disaster area. Lebanon is dangerous. In Turkey, for the first time, Australians travelling to Gallipoli will be going under a security alert. All these Muslim countries used to be safe to travel in."

So what happened? Islam... obviously.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Common Sense on the Charlie Hebdo Backlash...

... from the 10 January letter by Shane Chester of Potts Point in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"As a person of no religion, I don't understand the humour in depicting figures of veneration with objects inserted in their anus. I don't get why all the Muslims I know, who are absolutely wonderful people, will be attacked, sometimes physically, or expected to apologise because some psychopath shouts the name of Allah. I never saw a headline where Jewish leaders apologised for Israel's acts of terrorism. I don't understand why millions who know nothing about the Koran and have never knowingly met a Muslim, continue to vilify Muslims on social media. I think these are also fundamentalists, just as involved in the terrorism as any idiot with a black flag or any government slyly cultivating anti-Muslim votes. As Father Rod Bower, of Gosford, said, 'The Islamophobe is the terrorists' greatest supporter and most effective recruiter'."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remember the Algerian War?

Consider the following Australian ms press snippets arising from recent reportage on the Charlie Hebdo massacre:

"Cherif [Kouachi], 32, and Said [Kouachi], 34, were born in the northern 10th arrondissement of Paris, a downbeat district of railway terminals and multi-ethnic neighbourhoods... The boys' Algerian immigrant parents died when the children were small." (Journey from 'delinquent' rapper to killer, Dominic Kennedy/Sean O'Neill, The Australian, 10/1/15)

"Their parents are thought to have been among the waves of immigration in the decades after Algeria's independence in 1962." (Civilisation under siege, Matthew Campbell, The Australian, 12/1/15)

 "'We are engaged in a new kind of war,' said Alain Juppe, a former French prime minister. 'It spreads from the chaos in the Middle East... Unspoken by Mr Juppe, but understood by all, was the conclusion that the beneficiary in cold political terms from the outrage is Marine Le Pen. The leader of the National Front has turned the party into France's most popular, thanks in part to her anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant discourse." (Jihad born in neglected ghettos on city edges, Charles Bremner, The Australian, 9/1/15)

"... the thousands of demonstrators who gathered at the Place de la Republique on Wednesday night chanted: 'Je suis Charlie' - I am Charlie. We are Charlie. At the centre of the Place de la Republique are three statues entitled [sic] Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. The massacre at the Bastille, where Charlie Hebdo had its offices, is redolent with symbolism, as the Bastille was the flashpoint for the revolution whose rallying cry became liberty, equality and fraternity. This attack... was an attack on liberty, equality and fraternity." (Editorial: Better to die standing than live on our knees, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/1/15)

The connection is never made clear, but each of the above, in its own way, references an earlier episode in French history: the French occupation and colonisation of Algeria (1848-1962) and the bloody war of independence (1954-62) which ended it. In the plethora of reports on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in the Australian press, however, not one - in the spirit of Faulkner's "The past is never dead. It's not even past"  - bothered to join the dots.

While the slogan of the French Revolution (1787-1799), Liberty, Equality & Fraternity, would have come easily to the Herald's editor, I doubt the fact of its non-application to the peoples of France's colonial empire would ever have entered his Eurocentric mind.

For example, when the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) issued its November 1954 call for French recognition of Algerian nationhood, with "equal rights and duties" for all French colons choosing Algerian citizenship, and ties between France and Algeria "defined by agreement between the two powers on the basis of equality and mutual respect," far from living up to its revolutionary motto, France opted instead to repress the Algerian independence movement, triggering a brutal struggle "bringing death to an estimated one million Muslim Algerians and the expulsion from their homes of approximately the same number of European settlers."*

As for Algerian Muslim immigration to France, I found myself wondering whether or not the long-deceased parents of the Kouachi brothers may have been among the ranks of the Algerian Muslim harki forces, who had fought with the French against their nationalist countrymen, and fled to France after the Algerian War:

"According to Ait Ahmed, these convulsions of the summer of 1962 cost the lives of a further 15,000 Algerians. But the worst fratricidal horrors were reserved for those Muslims who, like the harkis, had continued to fight for France. De Gaulle had never shown much sympathy for them; to a Muslim deputy, ten of whose family had already been killed by the FLN and who had protested that on 'self determination' 'we shall suffer', de Gaulle had replied coldly, 'Eh bien! vous suffrirez.' As General de Gaulle had feared... the peace agreements contained no guarantee sufficient to save these Algerians now from the wrath of their countrymen, in whose eyes they were nothing but traitors. Out of the quarter of a million who had worked for the French less than 15,000 had managed to escape from Algeria... In France they were, for the most part, to live lives of poverty, unappreciated and unassimilated. Of the fate of those that remained, however, harrowing stories came out of Algeria. Hundreds died when put to work clearing the minefields along the Morice Line, or were shot out of hand. Others were tortured atrociously; army veterans were made to dig their own tombs, then swallow their decorations before being killed; they were burned alive, or castrated, or dragged behind trucks, or cut to pieces and their flesh fed to dogs. Many were put to death with their entire families, including young children. Compelled by the terms of the Evian Agreements to stand by and witness this massacre of their former allies, the agony of the French army was extreme. In some cases, acting under orders, units had been forced to disarm the wretched harkis on the promise of replacing them with better weapons - then sneaked away in the middle of the night, abandoning them to their fate."

As for the reference to the Islamophobic far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen, would it surprise you to know that its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, had been a French intelligence officer during the Algerian War?

[*A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962, Alistair Horne, 1977, p 14;** 537-38]

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making the Most of Charlie Hebdo at The Australian

As you'd expect, over at The Australian, Murdoch's myrmidons are putting the Charlie Hebdo massacre to good use: columnist Brendan O'Neill, for example, would have us unleash our inner Charlie Hebdo and mouth off whenever 'the spirit' (of... ?) moves us:

"So, if you want to pay tribute to the brave souls at Charlie Hebdo don't just hold up a pen in public and then go back to accepting the idea that offensiveness should be strangled - be a bit Charlie Hebdo in your everyday life and blaspheme against gods, prophets, orthodoxies and stupidities in the name of freedom and progress." (Restore the right to offend, 10/1/15)

The trouble with Brendan's urging is that he doesn't tell us which particular gods, prophets, orthodoxies, stupidities, freedom and progress we're supposed to blaspheme against, or whether there's a time and a place for this sort of thing, or (very important this) what we should do if following his advice gets us into trouble. Then, of course, there's that all important question: What if, like Brendan, we know SFA about what we're blaspheming against

But seriously, folks, if from now on you notice an eruption of walking, talking Daily Telegraphs or a rash of Ray Hadleys where before there were none, I think it's probably safe to assume they're following Brendan's sage advice.

Of course, The Australian wouldn't be The Australian unless someone, somewhere in its sandpit, used Charlie Hebdo as a stick to beat the Palestinians with. Meet Jennifer Oriel:

"In the long view of history, the Western world's response to terrorism will be seen as a paradox of criminalising the effects while cossetting the cause. Only a few weeks prior to the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo artists in Paris, the European Parliament uncritically acknowledged the terrorist group Hamas as a standing government in its motion to recognise Palestinian statehood." (Wink at Hamas is a nod for Islamist terror, 10/1/15)

Thanks for conflating the Palestinian resistance with the Charlie Hebdo assassins, Jennifer, but no thanks.

Israel, eh? Now there's one orthodoxy you'll never find Brendan (or, I suspect, Charlie Hebdo) blaspheming against. Funny that.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The 'Islamophobic Antics' of Charlie Hebdo

Yesterday's extensive Sydney Morning Herald coverage of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, by what appear to be Muslim extremists, variously described the 'satirical' magazine in these terms: "outrageous left-wing satire" (Nick Miller); "a history of mocking Islamic extremism" (Nick Miller); "relentlessly satirised Islamic extremism" (Julien Oeuillet); "satirising Islamic extremism and taboos of Muhammad the prophet" (Cathy Wilcox).

The only hint that there might have been more to Charlie Hebdo than met the eyes of Miller, Oeuillet and Wilcox came in Nick O'Malley's piece, Decision time over cartoons that offended, which addressed, albeit only indirectly, the issue of just how offensive its cartooning was. Citing Santiago Lyon, a vice-president of Associated Press, O'Malley wrote:

"The Associated Press distributed no images that included the [CH] cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad, in keeping with its longstanding policy on offensive images. 'We don't want to publish hate speech or spectacles that offend, provoke or intimidate, or anything that desecrates religious symbols or angers people along religious or ethnic lines. We don't feel that's useful."

That Charlie Hebdo regularly indulged in selective, gratuitous offence becomes more apparent when we read the comment by Time magazine's Paris bureau chief, Bruce Crumley which followed the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo's offices in 2011:

"Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by 'majority sections' of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that 'they' aren't going to tell 'us' what can and can't be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?

"The difficulty in answering that question is also what's making it hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam...

"We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your loss Charlie, and there's no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humour-deficient parody on the logic of 'because we can' was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring...
"Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn't bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response - however illegitimate - is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it's pointlessly all about you.

"So, yeah, the violence inflicted upon Charlie Hebdo was outrageous, unacceptable, condemnable, and illegal. But apart from the 'illegal' bit, Charlie Hebdo's current edition is all of the above, too." (Firebombed French paper is no free speech martyr,, 2/11/11)

To see just how problematic Charlie Hebdo has been, check out some of the images at http://indo-pak.

See also my 21/2/08 post A Thorn Among Roses.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tel Aviv Dreaming

In the hoary tradition of Palestine denial, beginning with the Balfour Declaration's (1917) designation of 90% of Palestine's population as "the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine," and Lord Balfour's breath-taking statement that "in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country... The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land,"* comes the following gem from the pen of Ziocon hack Bret Stephens:

"Palestine can never hope to compete with Israel except in the sense that the fantasy of Palestine will always have an edge on the reality of Israel. Over a beachfront lunch yesterday in Tel Aviv, an astute Israeli friend had the following counter-fantasy. What if Western leaders refused to take Mahmoud Abbas's calls? What if they pointed out that, in the broad spectrum of global interests, from Eastern Europe to the South China Sea, the question of Palestinian statehood ranked very low - on a par with, say, the prospect for independence for the Walloons? What if these leaders observed that, in the scale of human tragedy, the supposed plight of the Palestinians is of small account next to the human suffering in Syria or South Sudan?" (Fantasy of a Palestinian state will always have edge on reality of Israel, The Wall Street Journal/ The Australian, 8/1/15)

[*Memo to Curzon, 11/8/19]

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Question of Palestine

"Why is it right for a Jew born in Chicago to immigrate to Israel, whereas a Palestinian born in Jaffa is a refugee?" (The Question of Palestine, Edward Said, 1979, p 234)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I'm Tony, I'm From Australia & I'm Here to Help

According to rambammed (2014) Sydney Morning Herald journalist, David Wroe, PM Tony Abbott used "conspicuously strong language to slam the post-2003 handling of Iraq led by the US administration of George Bush and Dick Cheney, and supported by former prime minister John Howard, Mr Abbott's political mentor." (Abbott blasts Iraq's post-war 'chaos', 6/1/15).

These are Abbott's words, cited by Wroe in his report:

"Iraq is a country which has suffered a very great deal. First, decades of tyranny under Saddam Hussein. Then, the chaos and confusion that followed the American-led invasion. Most recently, the tumult, the dark age, which has descended upon northern Iraq as a result of the the Da'esh death cult. But Australia will do what we can to help."

To begin with the highlighted sentence. The problem here is Abbott's use of the passive voice. It obscures the direct connection between the American-led invasion and the "chaos and confusion" that followed it. It suggests that, well, war is war, and that, to use an expression beloved of Abbott, 'shit happens'. There is no recognition in Abbott's words that the "chaos and confusion" was in fact meant to happen, was, in fact, the actual goal of the invasion.

As I've pointed out in many posts over the years, the whole point of the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq was to destroy it as a functioning nation and break it into mutually hostile, sectarian statelets (a process bluntly described by neocon warmonger Michael Ledeen as 'cauldronization') on behalf of Israel. (See, for example, my posts Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze (22/12/08), Revolted (3/12/09), Neocons: No Beautiful Dreamers (19/6/14) & 30 US Neocons Screw 13 Million+ Arabs for Israel (4/11/14))

Abbott's take on the 2003 invasion is, in fact, a misrepresentation, and entirely in keeping with his 2009 characterisation of it as an altruistic war of liberation. (See my 17/6/14 post Iraq According to Abbott: 2003-2014.) (Notice too, how Abbott omits all mention of the horrendous suffering inflicted on Iraqis by draconian sanctions imposed on the country following the first Gulf War of 1990-91.)

Unsurprisingly, the rest of Abbott's words - on Saddam and on Islamic State  - also misrepresent Iraqi history.

To take the former first, I've written many times before on the theme of Iraq under Saddam vs Iraq under the US boot, tendering testimony after testimony to the effect that life under Saddam was heaven compared to the hell which followed his overthrow. Just click on the 'Saddam' label below if you wish to read any of them. Here's another. The speaker, Scottish civil engineer Chris Walker, worked in Iraq in the 1980s:

"The majority of Iraqis had a very good life under Saddam by any normal standards, including our own. That he himself was an absolute bastard there is no doubt and the large minority of Iraqis who suffered under him suffered terribly. Those who opposed him at a political level often paid with their lives, as they have done in Iraq since time began... Saddam's position and that of the Baath was that in order to have a secularist Iraq he had to have a policy of brutal repression, not least of those we might now call Islamists, especially but not exclusively Shia religionists. However, those religious people who did not challenge his political hegemony such as the Christians of Iraq were left largely to their own devices. The Christians of Baghdad represented the largest Christian community in the Middle East. If you looked across the skyline of Baghdad you could see as many Christian symbols as Islamic.

"Even with the austerities of war (with Iran), for an Iraqi living his daily life was good. Medical services were the best in the region and free. Education was also free and to Western standards. Utilities were very good, especially water. Standard of living generally would be at the level of an Eastern European country at the same time (ie 1980s) and alcohol freely available at corner shops. They even manufactured their own beer (Ferido). Middle-class people enjoyed a life-style as good as blue collar workers here. Her daily life was different from that of his, inasmuch as religious mores kicked in. But if she was from a non-religious background, at least in emphasis, these differences were small. She could drive, shop and conduct her daily life in a normal way... Although 50% of all marriages were mixed - Sunni and Shi'ite - there is no doubt that Sunnis were the ones who enjoyed the more privileged existence, and while middle class Shia did exist in numbers, middle-class tended to connote Sunni middle-class. The poorest tended to be overwhelmingly Shia... I have tried to convey some sense of light and shade here. It is a million miles away from the Baghdad/Iraq of today and from that represented here [in the UK] before the war. But the Land of the Two Rivers has been destroyed as 'freedom and democracy' have been introduced by philistines."  (You'll find the full interview with Chris Walker (An interview with Chris Walker) at

Finally, notice how the "Da'esh death cult" and its "dark age" (the American aggression and occupation presumably being something of a 'light age'), simply "descended upon" Iraq, meteor-like, seemingly out of the blue. Not so. The hard truth is as follows:

"IS must be understood as the worst of the succession of US military campaigns since the 9/11 era - the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The US war in Iraq was primarily responsible for creating the conditions for foreign Islamic extremists to flourish in that country. Furthermore, the groups that coalesced ultimately around IS learned how to create 'adaptive organisations' from a decade of fighting US troops, as then Defence Intelligence Director Michael Flynn has observed. And finally, the US made IS the formidable military force that it is today by turning over billions of dollars of equipment to a corrupt and incompetent Iraqi army that has now collapsed and turned over much of its weaponry to the jihadi terrorists." (The real politics behind the US war on IS, Gareth Porter,, 2/1/15)

Far from being strong, slamming words, Abbott's speech is, as you'd expect from a supporter of the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, a complete evasion of the truth.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Herald: Propaganda In, Truth Out

At the Sydney Morning Herald (dubbed hilariously: 'Independent. Always.'), the door to the letters page is always open to brazen Zionist propaganda:

"The past 6 Israeli prime ministers, including the incumbent, declared themselves in favour of two states for two peoples. A Palestinian state will happen when the Palestinian leadership makes the same declaration." Vic Alhadeff CEO NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (3/1/15)

In the face of the facts, however, it is slammed shut - as the following letter, written by UNSW academic Peter Slezak in response to Alhadeff's, but refused publication, shows:

"Vic Alhadeff (Jan 3-4) makes two statements that he must know to be false. First, he says that past Israeli prime ministers 'including the incumbent, declared themselves in favour of two states.' However, The Times of Israel (13/7/14) reported that in early July 'The prime minister ruled out full Palestinian sovereignty... This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.' As Alhadeff must know, Netanyahu's Likud Party has never accepted a Palestinian State. Its electoral partner, Yisrael Beitenu, likewise categorically rejects an independent Palestinian State. The Likud Charter includes the following explicit statements: (a) 'The Jordan River will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.' (b) 'Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel.' (c) 'The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.'

"Second, Alhadeff says 'a Palestinian state will happen when the Palestinian leadership declares itself in favour of two states for two peoples. As Alhadeff must also know, in 1988 on behalf of the PLO Arafat made exactly such a declaration: 'We accept two states, the Palestine state and the Jewish state of Israel' reported in the New York Times December 8.

"Alhadeff's misrepresentations reveal a great deal about obstacles facing a just solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict." 

Publishing Israel lobbyist Alhadeff's transparent propaganda is one thing. Refusing to publish Slezak's devastating rebuttal is quite another. Yet another example of the Israel lobby's hold over the Herald, so dramatically illustrated last year by the events surrounding the departure of columnist Mike Carlton from its staff.

PS (7/1/15): Peter Slezak's letter has belatedly appeared in the SMH. There's a story here somewhere.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

In Good Company

"The deaths on July 20 of two Americans serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) provided an opening for critics of Israel to compare them to the foreign fighters of the Islamic State... Similar complaints have already called for other governments to criminalize volunteering for Israel to create equivalence to the prosecution of would-be jihadi Islamists. The IDF reports 4,600 foreign 'Lone Soldiers' currently serving, over one-third of whom are American (it is unclear how many hold dual citizenship). Are IDF Lone Soldiers comparable to al-Qaeda-inspired jihadis or the volunteer brigades who joined the Spanish Civil War?" ('Foreign Fighters' for Israel, David Malet, The Washington Post, 22/7/14)

How about both?

As author Christopher Othen reminds us in Franco's International Brigades: Adventurers, Fascists, and Christian Crusaders in the Spanish Civil War (2008):

"Foreign volunteers fought on behalf of General Franco and the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War for a right-wing cause whose aim was to smash democracy. These assorted adventurers, fascists, and Catholic crusaders were on the winning side, but their role has remained strangely hidden until now. Men from Portugal and Morocco signed on for money and adventure. General Eoin O'Duffy organised 7000 Irishmen in a modern crusade; 500 Catholic Frenchmen fought in the 'Jeanne D'Arc' unit; and 30 British volunteers, including aristocrats and working-class fascists, also took up arms. Romanian Iron Guard extremists died at Majadahonda and an Indian volunteer fought in the fascist militia. There were Russians, Americans, Finns, Belgians, Greeks, Cubans and many more. Goose-stepping alongside the volunteers were fascist conscripts from Germany and Italy, in training for the next world war."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recently Rambammed

Sarah Ferguson: How do you account for [the Israel lobby] wielding so much power?
Bob Carr: I think political donations and a program of giving trips to MPs and journalists to Israel.
7.30 Report, 9/4/14

Remember Paul Howes' flirtation with horticulture, TULIP (Trade Unions Linking Israel & Palestine)? Well, ever since Paul left off linking Israel and Palestine (LOL) and took up a position with KPMG last year, TULIP seems to have withered, judging by the sad state of its Australian website. 

So where's a Labor lad/ladette to get his/her Ziofix these days? No problem! Meet TULIP's successor AILD (Australia Israel Labor Dialogue), which aims "to promote and foster dialogue and fraternal links between the Australian and Israeli Labor parties" (

AILD, you'll be pleased to know, had its first rambam last month:

"In the first mission of its kind, the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue has hosted a group of 11 members and officials of the Australian Labor Party on a Study Mission to Israel."  (ALP on an Israeli study mission,, 24/12/14)

Just for the record, the lucky 11 were:

Paul Frayne (Office of Andrew Giles MHR), Kent Rowe (ALP Secretary NT), Mitchell Wilson (NSW ALP Organiser), Jessica Malnersic (President NSW Young Labor), Tim Hammond (Barrister), Adam Slonim (AILD), Kaila Murnain (Assistant Federal Secretary ALP NSW), Michael Vaughan (Office of Tanya Plibersek MHR), Greg Holland (ALP candidate NSW state election), Rose Butler Jackson (Assistant Secretary NSW ALP), Michael Borowick (AILD chair & ACTU Assistant Secretary).

Hm... Rose Jackson, who, like federal opposition deputy leader Tanya (Once Was Warrior) Plibersek, had to recant her views in order to climb the greasy pole. (Just click on the Rose Jackson and Tanya Plibersek labels below.)

Hm... Office of Tanya (Once Was Warrior) Plibersek.

Hm... Assistant Secretary, ACTU.

Here's some of what they got up to:

"The group spent a week touring Israel being briefed by academics, journalists, and policy advisers, the Australian Embassy, the Knesset and spent a morning in Ramallah meeting the Palestinian Authority and PLO spokespeople. Mission highlights included meeting the leadership of the Israeli Labor Party, touring Sderot and the Gaza border crossing, visiting Gush Etzion, and seeing first hand the work of Australian doctors at the Tzefat hospital treating Syrian child casualties of the civil war."


Note how a cup of coffee with the PA is always part and parcel of these Zionist propaganda tours, yet has bugger all impact on the rambammed. What happens I wonder? Do the rambammed a) play with their phones? b) roll their eyes? c) stare out the window? d) dream of the long liquid lunch that awaits back in Jerusalem? e) nap? f) all 5?

Note how the Australian Embassy is part of (complicit in?) the exercise.

Note how the carry on at Ziv Hospital, Israel's cover for its intervention in Syria, has become part of the program. (See my 12/12/14 post A Side of Israel the World Too Rarely Acknowledges.) 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Talented Tony

I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life. Dean Koontz

So then, what about Tony Abbott? What's his particular talent? Let him tell you himself:

Tony Abbott to the Australian and Indian cricket teams at Kirribilli House, Sydney, 31/12/14:

"I couldn't bat, I couldn't bowl, I couldn't field, but I could sledge..." (Prime Minister Tony Abbott reveals he was a good sledger, AAP/Sydney Morning Herald, 1/1/15)

Greg Sheridan on Tony Abbott at the Australian Union of Students (AUS) conference at Monash University in 1977:

"No doubt the silliest thing we did at the conference was to attend a Palestinian film night... [W]e heckled the film a bit... and we were told we had to leave." (The Tony that I - and others - remember was never violent at uni, The Australian, 12/9/12)*

Or, as Tone himself might have put it:

'I knew bugger all about Palestine, I didn't have a clue what was going on there, or why, and I wasn't about to learn, but, hey, I knew how to heckle...'

[*See my 13/9/12 post Greg & Tony Do Monash 1.]

Friday, January 2, 2015

NSW Labor: Out With the Old, In With the Same Old

While NSW Labor leaders may come and go, one thing never changes - their mode of dress. These days, they all sport Zionist straitjackets (hairshirts?). (Even ex-Labor Premier Bob Carr only managed to shuck his when out of office.) Which brings me to the current change in NSW Labor Party leaders:

The old leader was, of course, John Robertson. Once securely strapped in, he'd happily spout waffle such as:

"It is an eternal truth that the state of Israel... will always have a proud friend in NSW Labor," and "I've proudly visited a Max Brenner outlet in an act of solidarity against the BDS movement."  (See my posts Pollies in Love (4/11/12) & Marching Orders (8/5/13))

His same old, same old replacement, Luke Foley, belted and buckled seemingly in the cradle, and alas, infinitely more verbose than Robbo, already has a long history of Ziobabble behind him. For example:

"I recognise that the Palestinians have suffered greatly in pursuit of their legitimate aspiration - a national homeland of their own. I also recognise that Israel cannot make peace with those that seek to deny its existence. International campaigns to impose trade and cultural boycotts [on Israel] feed the eliminationist narrative of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran and all those who want Israel wiped off the map, and they align themselves with the putrid racism of those groups, their holocaust denial, promotion of anti-Semitic stereotypes and raw sewage Nazi ideology." (See my 4/4/12 post Where's Luke Foley Coming From.)

Now what it is exactly that causes the Robertsons and the Foleys of NSW Labor (not to mention their Liberal countrparts) to wear the wretched thing remains one of life's mysteries.

After all, what has Australian state politics got to do with Israel?

History, of course, tells us that it hasn't always been this way.

Take Queensland Labor for example. As historian Evan Whitton points out:

"Labor stood four square for authoritarianism; intolerance of dissent; union-bashing; politicisation of the police, public servants and the law; a rigged electoral system; public and private corruption; agrarian socialism; abuse of the Westminster system; institutionalised ignorance; and 'development'." ('The Hillbilly Dictator': Australia's Police State, 1989, p 3)

All proud Labor values, I'm sure you'll agree.

Face it, if Ziobabble like 'A land without a people for a people without a land' and 'Making the mulga bloom' had been part of that mix, a historian as sharp as Whitton would have included it in his list, right? I rest my case.

Is the present juncture not an opportune time then for NSW Labor to return to such time-honored values as the above?

Maybe Luke Foley could begin by modelling himself on his Queensland namesake, Tom Foley (1886-1973), and advocate for something that might actually benefit the people of NSW - as opposed to those of distant Israel.

For example, as Whitton writes: "In 1927, Lands Minister Tom Foley, intent on developing a fur trade, declared an open season on koala bears; in August of that year, 584,378 koalas were trapped and killed."

Oh well, no doubt it seemed like a good idea at the time...a bit like Zionism, I guess.

Tom Foley's brilliant career, however, didn't stop with wiping koalas off the map of Queensland. For example:

"Tobacco continued in short supply after the war and commanded high prices on the black market. In 1946, a large quantity of tobacco was found in the garage at the home of the old koala-killer, Cabinet Minister Tom Foley. He said that he had no idea how it got there and was 'cleared' of criminal activity. He was thereafter known as 'Fine Cut' Foley." (p 5)

1946?! Howzat for longevity!

In fact, Tom Foley was still at it well into the 1950s, tirelessly serving the people of Queensland:

"A public servant, V.R. Creighton, disclosed in 1956 that Lands Minister Tom 'Fine Cut' Foley was extorting money from Goondiwindi graziers as the price for renewing their leases." (p 6)

Now that's what I call real Labor!

So c'mon Luke, remove the straitjacket, cut the Ziobabble, and get back to those good old-fashioned state Labor values so beautifully exemplified by one of the greats of the Foley clan.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Money Mountain That Gave Birth to a Shithouse Rat

Remember the mountain that labored long and hard - only to give birth to a mouse?

A near perfect metaphor for Australia's $40 million effort, under Krudd, to buy a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

And when, in late 2012, it was finally in the bag, do you remember Krudd's successor, Gillard, droning on about Australia finally securing "its own voice, an Australian voice, in the main decision-making bodies of the world"?

I said near perfect metaphor for a reason, because Australia has just given birth not to a mouse, but to the proverbial shithouse rat, voting with the US against the adoption of a resolution to merely set a date for the end of the 47-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on the grounds - wait for it - that it lacked "balance" and sought to "impose a solution put forward by one party alone."

There you go, folks, $40m of your hard-earned $$$ just to keep Israel in the manner to which it's become accustomed.