Friday, July 21, 2017

The Incredible Lady Di

Two union leaders, Diana Asmar, state secretary of the Health Workers Union (HWU), the biggest union within the HSU, and Dr Henry Pinskier, a former vice-president of the ALP, "have described a Health Services Union (HSU) motion supporting a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as 'anti-Semitic, misguided, ignorant and quite frankly, mad'." (BDS Health warning, The Australian Jewish News, 1/9/16)

They added: "It is not a trade union's job to delve into international geopolitical affairs or to raise misguided and anti-Semitic motions."

In which case then, why has Ms Asmar recently returned from an AIJAC Rambam Fellowship Trade Union Study Visit to Israel, where she "noted how incredible she found it to see Jews and Arabs working together in Israeli hospitals to treat all citizens without prejudice or favour," and "commented on the incredible medical technologies coming out of Israel, expressing incomprehension as to how BDS supporters could want to boycott such life saving techniques." (Returning trade unionists praise Israel at AIJAC function,, 30/6/17)

(For the record, the only other Israel-bound unionist named by was "Glen Chatterton of the Plumbers Union Service Trade Queensland." They were "accompanied" by Michael Borowick of the Australia/Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD).)

So what kind of unionist is one minute laying down the law that unions shouldn't be bothering their pretty heads with international geopolitical affairs, and the next is up to her neck in a certain international geopolitical affair?

Well, in addition to being  an apparent expert on international geopolitical affairs and anti-Semitism, Asmar's certainly an interesting (and innovative) character, as the following profile indicates:

"Asmar is a former Labor mayor with the trouble Darebin council in Melbourne's northwest. As a novice leader of a small to middle-sized union branch, her salary has raised eyebrows inside the HSU, especially after pay packet excesses of [Michael] Williamson and [Kathy] Jackson. Asmar boosted her salary to $182,000 in the 2014 financial year... On $182,000, Asmar was the highest paid union official in Australia... Asmar's perceived mastery of the industrial landscape and how the modern world came to be has prompted some mirth among her colleagues. At a 2013 national council meeting in Sydney, they recall Asmar referring to 'World War Eleven' - apparently mistaking Roman numerals for the higher number. In all seriousness, what her colleagues do find astounding is the remarkable 'cashing out' of a $25,975 paid maternity leave entitlement that Asmar secured for herself in the 2015 financial year... World experts on gender and employment... say 'cashing out' maternity leave is unheard of, and defeats the whole purpose of the entitlement as leave... There is more that is murky about Asmar. During royal commission evidence in 2014, Asmar claimed she did not know about her election campaign funding because she left it to her husband, David, a former staffer of recently-departed senator Stephen Conroy." (From Diana Asmar: Bill Shorten's no 1 union mate, Brad Norington, The Australian, 7/11/16)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Art of the Barrister

Some light relief:

"Sameh Bayda allegedly had gruesome videos depicting Islamic State violence on his phone and a note from his young wife detailing how she wanted a child to keep as a memento after he died... Geoffrey Foster, the defence barrister for the husband and wife, submitted the Crown had failed to show there was a conspiracy between the pair. He also argued there could be alternative hypotheses for why the concerning material was on Bayda's phone. 'Mr Bayda could be seen as a scholar with a deep interest in the Muslim faith... with a curiosity in propaganda,' he gave as one example." (One half of 'Bonnie & Clyde' too soft to launch attack: court, Ava Benny-Morrison, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/17)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tunisian Jihadis

A group of revealing July 13 tweets by Lebanese journalist Jenan Moussa (lightly edited for clarity) on Tunisian jihadis in Syria:

I gained access to ISIS prisoners captured by Kurds in Raqqa. One of them was a Tunisian ISIS member...
I sat for 2 hours with a 34-year-old Tunisian ISIS prisoner. During the interview he never looked me in the eye because I'm a female reporter.
I asked him why he joined ISIS. He said, When the Muslim Brotherhood government was in power*, they encouraged the youth to go to Syria.
He said, In Tunisia the mosques said, Go to Syria for jihad. And we were told there'd be no repercussions when we returned. So I left.
My friend and I flew to Turkey. When the customs officer at Istanbul Airport realized we were going to Syria, he said, Yalla, go fast!
It was just so easy to join ISIS in Syria. Now I look back and I think, Was this all a conspiracy to get us all in one place and kill us all?

[*Presumably a reference to Rached Ghannouchi's Ennahda Movement government of 2011-14. Abdel Bari Atwan has this to say on the subject: "I have observed Tunisians in the ranks in previous jihads, but only in very small numbers... former Tunisian dictator Ben Ali suppressed all jihadist activity and imprisoned even moderate Islamists. The 2011 revolution and the subsequent victory of Islamist parties inspired a revival of hard-line Islamism in that country. Now, groups like Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of the Law, based in Libya) are able to recruit openly and have funded and facilitated the passage of Tunisian jihadists to the frontline." (Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, 2015, pp 165-66)]

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Where Do You Even Begin?

Maybe in somewhere in the wilds of Georgia, where her parents originated.

Unfortunately, at some point in time, they conceived/received the mad idea, the delusion, that they weren't really Georgians, but part of a grander scheme, something called 'the Jewish people,' and that that, therefore, required them to migrate to a place called Israel, which had been, up until its majority Arab population were driven out by bomb and bullet in 1948, an integrally Arab country known as Palestine.

Their daughter, Tzipi Hotovely, the subject of our post, was, again unfortunately, too stupid, or too indoctrinated, or both, to see through the delusion she'd inherited from her parents, although in Israel, of course, this category invariably goes far, particularly in politics.

And so here she is, Israel's deputy foreign minister, telling Palestinian Israeli representatives in the Knesset, apropos UNESCO's listing of occupied Hebron and the Mosque of Ibrahim as "endangered Palestinian heritage sites," that:

"You are history thieves. Your history books are empty, and you are trying to co-opt Jewish history and Islamicize it. I recommend to UNESCO and the Arab Knesset members to read these two books, the Bible which tells the story of the Jewish people, and Assaf Voll's new bestseller, A History of the Palestinian People: From Ancient Times to the Modern Era. It will captivate you because it is empty. Because the Palestinians don't have kings and they don't have heritage sites. The Palestinians are appropriating Jewish heritage sites and displacing them, just as they are trying to change the Western Wall into an Islamic site and just like they are attempting to sever the Jews' connection to the Temple Mount." (Hotovely to Arab MKs: You are thieves of history,, 13/7/17)

Cliocide on a grand scale.

Par for the course in Israel.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bill Clinton's Handshake Charade

However appalling, Trump is really only the tip of the iceberg of American ignorance and narcissism. Take our latest US visitor, for example, Clinton/Obama diplomat Dennis Ross, currently wowing them at Murdoch's Australian:

"Ross grew up in a non-religious Californian household, the son of a Catholic father and Jewish mother. At 19, inspired by the Six-Day War, he became religiously Jewish." (Long road to Israeli-Palestinian peace littered with broken deals and lost will, Brad Norington, 15/7/17)

Note that Ross was radicalised at 19. It seems that, in the US, such radicalisation, from all American boy to Zionist fanatic, is the perfect qualification and starting point for a career in US-style Middle East diplomacy. Sort of puts Jared Kushner in perspective, doesn't it?

And here's the pinnacle of that career, according to Norington:

"During an impressive career, Ross... helped facilitate the historic White House handshake between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israel's Yitzhak Rabin."

Leaving aside discussion of the endless peace-process charade, and the preposterous, childish idea of Clinton's that this then (1993) 76-year-old colonial running sore could be solved by a cheap theatrical handshake, rather than by the hard yards of a decolonisation process and the rendering of justice to Palestine's dispossessed and occupied, let's just look at the minutiae of this supposedly "impressive" achievement, as described elsewhere by Ross himself.  Here he is interviewed by Jason M. Breslow of PBS's Frontline program (6/1/16):

Were you in the Rose Garden when [President Clinton] forged the handshake between [Yasser] Arafat and Rabin?


Tell me about that.

-There is an interesting back story to this... So we [Ross and Secretary of State Warren Christopher] get a call from Rabin... and he says, 'Look there's been a breakthrough with the PLO'... still... he's skeptical. He wants to know what our reaction to this is going to be. Well, our reaction is, this is a historic breakthrough between Israel and the PLO, two national movements competing for the same space, and for the first time they're prepared to recognize each other."

[Note here the false framing. The reality is otherwise. These are not two, long-resident communities living in one patch, in some kind of parity, but struggling to get along. This is the old story of a foreign, usurping settler-colonial movement vs an indigenous resistance movement trying to hold on to or reclaim its ancestral homeland.]

- Now [Israeli foreign minister Shimon] Peres tells us... that there should be a meeting at the White House to sign a Declaration of Principles, but it's too much for the Israeli public to see Arafat there. It's just too much to take.

[Yes, it's simply too much for the colons to stomach their PM meeting with the leader of the people they've been slicing and dicing for the past 76 years - eeeuw! What to do?]

- So it should be Peres and Abu Mazen [Arafat adviser, Mahmoud Abbas] who would come. We actually don't question this...

[Of course you don't, you've been a card-carrying Zionist since 1967 for Christ's sake! Those sniffy colons are your volk! Notice how, even in 1993, the Israelis had their eye on Abbas as a stooge?]

- ... but when we raise it with Clinton... he simply dismisses what we've told him, and immediately leaves the impression that if Arafat wants to come, he's welcome. And he's right... because his instinct is, the only way to bind the two leaders to this is to have this colossal event where they're kind of obligated before the world... We're telling him how uneasy Rabin is, first to even be there and secondly the idea that he's going to shake hands with this guy who, in Rabin's mind, is responsible for  all sorts of acts of terror that, for him, are just very hard to swallow. It's difficult for Rabin to overcome this.

[Notice the fact that Rabin's hands are covered in 76 years of Palestinian blood nowhere occurs to Ross as a possible difficulty for Arafat or the Palestinians? This is America's idea of honest brokerage.]

- Now Clinton kind of raises this in private with the two of them before they go out.

[Bill doesn't want anyone spoiling his show!]

So they both agree to kind of come, and they're hanging around the Oval Office?

- Well, you come in advance, before we go out.


- To the last minute, Rabin is insisting that Arafat can't come in anything that looks like a uniform.

[And of course Ross cannot help but oblige. His Master's Voice after all:]

- We're telling Arafat, 'You can't come with a -- you don't bring a weapon.' You know, he always had a pistol. 'You don't bring a weapon to the White House.' So they come in, and the president talks to both leaders. He is already encouraging them...

[We wouldn't dare tell Rabin...]

Have they met before?

- No.

How are they with each other?

- Rabin is very uneasy. The idea of personally shaking hands with with this guy is physically difficult for him.

[With this guy...?!]

- He couldn't hide his feelings... So here is Clinton, who sees this guy give this remarkable speech on the one hand, and physically, it's hard for him to shake hands with this guy. So the iconic photograph - he literally envelops them with his arms. But he knows he has to create that image... to make peace, and how can you do that if you're not prepared to shake hands? (

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Palestinians Finally Recognise Israel as Jewish State

The problem (one of them anyway) with Greg Sheridan, Australia's "most influential foreign affairs analyst" as he's trumpeted in The Australian, is that he relies on his readers (to the extent, of course, that he has any) not to look too closely at what he writes. And, of course, they don't look too closely, because reading what he writes is really all about confirming existing prejudices and reinforcing existing ignorance.

Which, I guess, explains why we had not one but two Sheridan pieces in yesterday's emission of The Australian: the first, a report, Beazley baulks at Palestine push, stamped, as always, EXCLUSIVE; the second, an op-ed, Nod to Palestine an ignorant and regressive idea. Both, of course, bewail Bob Carr's "nasty anti-Israel resolution [which] has embarrassed senior ALP leaders."

Parenthetically, you'd have to be a rusted-on Zionist fanatic to wade through either piece of poo, but what sort of extra lunacy, I wonder, would be required for one to read both, except of course for purposes of demolition? (Hell, maybe I'm the only person in the country to have soiled my boots.)

Anyway, let's start with this in the op-ed:

"Last week I had lunch with Dennis Ross, who was the Middle East co-ordinator for Bill Clinton and then a senior adviser on the Middle East for Barack Obama. It would be pretty hard to call him a neocon or a Likudnik or a supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu... Ross... tells me one of the main obstacles to peace is that the Palestinian leadership has never accepted the legitimacy of a Jewish national movement, which is why it won't recognise Israel as a Jewish state."

OK, so Ross doesn't have horns quite as long as those of His Satanic Majesty, Benjamin Netanyahu. Nonetheless, the real problem is that those obdurate Palestinians won't recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

Now, if we turn from the op-ed to the 'report,' we find this from HSM:

"In an exclusive interview with The Australian earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for the two-state solution long term. 'The question is not whether the Palestinians get a state but whether that state will recognise Israel..."

Which compels us to conclude that, as much as Sheridan would like to have us believe that there is some fundamental political difference between the fast-talking US Zionist and the foaming Israeli war criminal, the truth is that the two are one and the same when it comes to demanding that the Palestinians perform the mother-of-all-grovels.

Which, in turn, had me imagining just what form that MOAG might take:

Yes, you guys were right all along, and we Palestinians were wrong. We really were, as your great patron Lord Balfour put it in his Holy Declaration, merely the "existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine," of no particular consequence therefore.

And as for those "civil and religious rights," which he graciously offered us in his Declaration, and which we scorned back then as manifestly inadequate, we should have seen that they were good enough for us.

And of course, when your saintly Chaim Weizmann indicated, soon after, that he wanted a Palestine as Jewish "as England is English and France is French," we should have embraced the idea without so much as a raised eyebrow, nay, happily, joyously strewing flowers in your path as you disembarked in your thronging thousands at Jaffa on ships coming from Poland or Russia.

Yes, we should have seen the superior, God-like wisdom in the good Lord's decree that "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," as he once so eloquently put it.

So, here it is, for what it's worth, our belated recognition that yes, Israel is a Jewish state.

So sorry to have troubled you all these years, we'll get out of your way now...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Great Advances in French Colonialism

Saladin, we're back!

- General Henri Gouraud on entering Saladin's tomb, July 25, 1920

I do not require Assad's departure.

- French President Emmanuel Macron, July 13. 2017

Almost 100 years after the French destroyed Syria's first independent Arab state in 1920, Macron continues to channel the malign spirit of French colonialism. Of course, you can guarantee that this arrogant Gallic fool has never even heard of General Gouraud.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Classic PEP (Progressive Except Palestine)

"Radiohead's lead singer Thom Yorke has responded to criticism by film director Ken Loach over the band's upcoming performance in Tel Aviv. Loach wrote in a comment piece in the Independent: [Radiohead's] stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side - the one that supports apartheid... Radiohead need to decide if they stand with the oppressed or with the oppressor.' After tweeting the link to Yorke, the singer replied with a statement: 'Playing in a country isn't the same as endorsing the government. We've played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America. We don't endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America'." (Radiohead's Thom Yorke responds as Ken Loach criticises Israel gig, Ben Beaumont-Thomas,, 12/7/17)

What an ignoramus! It's hard to believe that someone with a name like Thom Yorke can be so ignorant of his country's direct responsibility for creating the Palestine problem 100 years ago. Seriously, could there possibly be a more appalling indictment of the UK's education system than this?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Portrait of a Grub

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, protesting against French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, was blown up by French intelligence agents in Auckland harbour on July 10, 1985, killing Portuguese freelance photographer Fernando Pereira.

Christine Cabon was one of these agents and had been chosen to infiltrate the Greenpeace crew by posing as an environmental activist.

A vile grub by any standards. But note this particular twist in the tale:

"Retired [NZ] detective superintendent Allan Galbraith, who tracked Cabon to Israel, said he didn't expect to see her extradited. But he would like to talk to her: 'I'd be interested to know what she knew about what her information was leading to. Whether she knew there was going to be a sabotage of a ship...'... It was a surprise to find her in Israel,' Galbraith says now. 'I think the Israelis were very well aware she was an intelligence agent'." (No apology as spy tracked down, Cecile Meier, Sunday Star-Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 10/7/17)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In the Beginning Was the Word... 2

OMG - An up-close look at the "apostle-prophet team," aka Indigenous Friends of Israel, the Israel lobby's latest pop-up grouplet, on the tail of the dastardly Bob Carr:

Selections from


*"Part of the vision of the Centre [for International Reconciliation & Peace Inc] is to be a prophetic end-time church without walls and a house of prayer for all nations and Israel is to raise up the Tabernacle of David... Norman and Barbara have received prophetic words that they have a Jeremiah 1:10 mandate "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."

*"Their local Church took on the name Tabernacle of David in 2000 and they hosted Tabernacle of David conferences in the Gold Coast and Cairns in 1995. They have a strong focus on spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare... They work as an apostle-prophet team. The Centre hosted an Apostolic and Prophetic conference in Cairns in Sept 2001 with speakers from Christian International in the USA and the conference ended on the same night as the Twin Towers of 9/11. The Lord showed Norman that Amos 9:11 is His answer to terrorism i.e., raising up the Tabernacle of David."

*"Through the CIR&P the Millers have hosted Psalm 24:7 conferences to open the gates to the King of Glory and close the gates to what is not Godly (Isa 62:10) in a number of cities... "

*"They have held conferences on transformation and are working towards revival and transformation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. They also have a heart for the people of the Pacific and hosted 'The Islands Will Look to Me' conference in Cairns for Purim 2014."

*"Norman and Barbara were (2005-2012) the leaders of the Bethany Gate Australia under the Jerusalem House of Prayer for All Nations and hosted the Bethany gate & All Pacific Prayer Assembly of 2,000 people in cairns in May 2006 timed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the proclamation by Ferdinand de Quiros over the Pacific of 'the South Lands of the Holy Spirit'. Barbara later wrote a book about de Quiros. They were the founding national co-ordinators for the International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem under Eaglewings USA."

*"The Millers teach on Israel and have celebrated the Biblical feasts since 1997. They lead a team of Australians to Israel regularly...

*"Norman and Barbara organised a very special tour and led an ANZAC/Lighthorse team of 14 Australians and 7 New Zealanders to Israel in 2010 to pray over battle scenes of World Wars I and 2, pray at the borders and visit holy sites. It was timed for the October 31 anniversary of the battle at Be-er-Sheva which opened the gateway to Jerusalem and the end of 400 years of the Ottoman Empire rule over Jerusalem. With the Balfour Declaration, it paved the way for the British mandate and eventually the modern state of Israel.

*"The Millers took the group to Richon Le Zion which is built on top of Ayun Kara, where NZ, in World War I greatly outnumbered, were victorious. The team lay wreaths at the newly completed statue to the NZ Mounted Rifles at Ben Gurion School in Ness Ziona. Norman and Barbara facilitated a time of repentance for revenge killings of Bedouins in Surafend and left a letter of apology to go into the city archives of Richon Le Zion.

*"Norman and Barbara returned in Dec 2010 for the honouring of Australian Aboriginal William Cooper at Yad Vashem. He is recognized as leading the only private protest worldwide against Kristallnacht in 1938. Barbara has written a book about his life including his stand on Aboriginal advancement."

But there's more! How about joining the Millers on their "life-changing" Sons of Abraham and ANZAC Centenary Tour to Beer Sheva?

"Is the Lord calling you to Israel this year for a once in a lifetime opportunity to be there for the 100th anniversary of the Australian daring victorious Lighthorse charge straight into the Turkish canons with planes flying at them from above? This would not have been possible but for the Allied forces who fought all day and the NZ contingent who took the high place. We are not glorifying war but the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy as the Battle of Beersheba made it possible for the breakthrough to free Jerusalem from 400 years of the rule of the Ottoman empire so that a Jewish homeland could be set up in Palestine. We are calling forth the ANZACS fought ((including battles special to Kiwis like Ayun Kara.) We will pray for breakthrough on Israel's borders and in Judea and Samaria. Not only that, we will be in Tel Aviv Nov 2 for another not to be missed once in a lifetime opportunity which is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by the British Parliament supporting the formation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine."

Words fail me.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

In the Beginning Was the Word... 1

... and the word was - well, there were actually two - Bob Carr:

"The Indigenous Friends of Israel has been established to counter Bob Carr's anti-Israel comments and to maintain Australia's bipartisan support for Israel. Indigenous Friends of Israel spokesperson Munganbana Norman Miller..." (Indigenous Friends of Israel,, 6/7/17)

That's Pastor MNP, folks, but j-wire doesn't let on - but, we'll return to that in a follow-up post.

"... said the national organisation is concerned at the incendiary language of Bob Carr who is leading the Labor Party down a dangerous path in his attempt to get NSW and then federal Labor endorsement of a Palestinian state while Palestinian leaders do not accept the right of Israel to exist and support terrorism The new organisation has been founded in NAIDOC (National Aboriginal & Islander Day Observance Committee) Week.

Now just how cynical is that?!

"Mr Miller said today from Cairns, one of the higher population areas for Indigenous People, 'I support a two-state solution and Israel has offered it in 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2014 etc., but Arab leadership including Yasser Arafat and current Palestinian Authority Mamoud [sic] Abbas have rejected it. Also, Hamas who are in control of Gaza have vowed to annihilate Israel and drive every Jew into the sea. It is a terrorist organisation, recognised as such by the Australian and other governments. At this stage there is no viable Palestinian state...

And that's just the way we and our friends want it, eh Pastor?

"... until the government's of the West Bank and Gaza sort out their difficulties.

Those "difficulties" having nothing whatever to do, of course, with one of history's longest-ever occupations.

"Who will the Labor Party and possibly Labor in government recognise?

Oh yes, an absolutely burning question for all of Australia's Indigenous people, eh Pastor?

"Miller added: 'A unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state is likely to further discourage the Palestinians from coming to the negotiating table...

From which they're bound to walk away, past practice and all, eh Pastor?

"... for a peaceful settlement, something they have shown great reluctance to do already. Land swaps have been discussed to make a Palestinian state viable but such a state needs to recognize Israel as a Jewish state with secure borders and call off terrorism including spending millions of overseas aid money on payments to the families of terrorists and promoting hatred of Jews in its schoolchildren. It is simply untrue to maintain that Israel is an apartheid state. As Indigenous people, we know what apartheid is...

So Australia's an apartheid state, but Israel's not... right... So what's Israel then?

"Israel is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East and has Arab Members of the Knesset and has Arabs living peacefully and working in all walks of life enjoying their democratic freedoms. I want to finish with a well-known quote from Edmund Burke, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do thing. Barbara Miller told J-Wire: 'We have ten initial members and growing. We'll make a real effort to build it with contacts we already have all round the nation."

Stay tuned for In the Beginning Was the Word... 2

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bob Carr Responds to Norrington:

"For the record, your feature article (Carr alarms pro-Israelis, 6/7) implies extreme language from me out of my recent speech making the case for recognition of Palestine and an end to the occupation.

"In my speech I was doing no more than advocating what every former head of Shin Bet and Mossad has advocated, although in more pungent language than mine. Paragraph 4 of the article has this dastardly Carr accusing Israel Israel of implementing a 'looting bill' and condoning 'war crimes'. Let's make it clear: this was Carr quoting Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Likud Knesset member Benny Begin. They were not Carr formulations. Two other Israeli prime ministers have used the word 'apartheid' - Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. The assassinated Yitzhak Rabin is reported to have used the same language.

"'Massacres' in 1948 was a conclusion of Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, who detailed this from Israeli army archives. As I said in an op-ed published in The Australian on November 8, 2014, Morris's revelations were a tribute to openness in Israeli society. And I began my speech by paying tribute to Jews who opposed the occupation - a number in attendance at the meeting - and said they were the best allies of the cause for Palestinian recognition. It would have been nice if that had been included." (Letter to The Australian, 7/7/17)

The irony here is that "Benny Morris' revelations," far from being "a tribute to openness in Israeli society," as Carr says, reveal only the extreme pressure brought to bear on any academic who departs from the Zionist narrative. Rather than stand and defend his revelations, let alone draw universal moral conclusions from them, Benny Morris long ago effectively reverted to the role of a shill for Israel. (My May 2008 posts on the subject make for harrowing reading, Bob. Just click on the Benny Morris label below.)

In today's Australian, there's more from Norrington on how Carr has been instrumental in "rolling" the NSW ALP's foreign affairs committee [dominated by Mike Kelly MP], which had recently assured Bill Shorten that the current "soft language" of its Palestine/Israel policy - "committing Labor in government only to 'discussing' recognition [of Palestine] with like-minded nations if there was no progress in peace talks," would be retained at the upcoming NSW Labor Conference. This Carr has done by coming up with an alternative policy, resolution 23 on the party's agenda, reportedly agreed to by shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, Jason Clare MP, and state secretary Karla Murnain, which the foreign affairs committee has to accept. "Carr's supporters," says Norrington, "wanted an even stronger resolution, but accept the revised Murnain wording," which they are "confident the federal conference will adopt next year." (How Carr turned ALP from Israel to Palestine)

Oh, and an op-ed by ALP political has-been-turned-defender-of-Israel, Peter Baldwin, in which, despite Zionism's age-old stranglehold over the ALP, he contends that "the Labor Party risks becoming a vehicle for sectional interests."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Reading Between the Lines on Bob Carr & Israel

I've always been intrigued by the question of why it is that so many people allow themselves to fall under the influence of clearly nonsensical, even downright nasty, ideas. Ideas such as Zionism, for example.

Certainly, Jewish Zionists are easy to read and can be assumed to have been indoctrinated from their earliest days. Those classic lines of the English poet, Philip Larkin, spring to mind here: "They fuck you up, your mum and dad/ They may not mean to, but they do." Ditto for Christian Zionists. (So that I am clear here let me acknowledge that in the past most Jews were anti-Zionists, and that growing numbers of today's Zionised Jews are coming to see through, and to reject, their early Zionist indoctrination. May that welcome trend continue.)

That said, it's gentile Zionists of the political and scribbling classes who interest me the most, simply because, given their positions of influence within the prevailing political power structure, it is they who have the greatest potential for aiding and abetting, covertly and overtly, the Zionist cause.

Both Bob Carr and Bob Hawke fall into this category, and if they are both at last, thankfully, evolving into critics of Israel, if not yet of its underlying Zionist rationale, they must surely acknowledge their part (albeit, in the scheme of things, minor) in aiding and abetting the monster they now find themselves grappling with.

The rusted-on Zionist Murdoch press cynically attributes all such deviations from its own party-line on Israel to pressure on Labor MPs representing electorates with high numbers of voters of Arab origin, and will even feature lists of seats where Jews and Arabs make up one percentage point or more of the electorate, as though these were the sole determinant of the matter.* This is because it is ideologically incapable of conceding that such deviations have anything to do with intellectual/moral growth, let alone, particularly in the cases of Carr and Hawke, as regret for something which may once have seemed to them like the proverbial 'good idea at the time', but which, they have subsequently discovered, has been anything but. Yet there is much to support this thesis, especially if one reads between the lines, in Brad Norington's feature in yesterday's Australian, Carr alarms pro-Israelis:

"As a young union education officer and aspiring politician, Carr was so passionate in his support of Israel that he set up a Labor Friends of Israel group in 1977. His inspiration was reading a pamphlet written by then ACTU president Bob Hawke that put the case for Israel. Carr was a member of the dominant NSW right faction and a 'Cold War warrior'. He was wooed to a cause opposed by the party left, which had thrown its support behind the Palestinians. In her biography of Hawke, Blanche D'Alpuget writes that he was of the generation that, in its youth, was stunned by the news of the Holocaust and then exhilerated by the founding of the Israeli state.... While Hawke's first visit to Israel fired his passion, he was also influenced by a mentor, Clyde Holding, who showed 'uncanny foresight' about changing ALP attitudes to Israel in the 1970s by encouraging prominent Labor people to speak out in its defence. Holding told D'Alpuget that young radicals were a bit lost for a cause when the Vietnam War wound down: 'They were on the lookout for the next wretched depressed victims of American capitalism - and there were these benighted Palestinians'."

Notice in both cases the role of party mentors. For Labor politicians back in the 70s a large - how large? - part of their 'decision' to back Palestine or Israel simply came down to whether they were on the right or the left of the party. The actual merits or otherwise of the political cause were seemingly irrelevant. Clyde Holding (Danby's predecessor in the seat of Melbourne Ports btw), for example, hated the party's left faction, led by George Crawford and Bill Hartley, both of whom were anti-colonialists, and therefore, pro-Palestine. Hence Holding's pro-Israel stance. My point here is that, for those on the right of the ALP, little, if any, real thought or investigation went into their choice.

"Carr recalls Hawke turning up to a 'seedy' Trades Hall office he had rented for Labor Friends of Israel. 'He was affected by grog but spoke eloquently, almost coming to tears when he spoke of Golda Meir,' Carr said... Carr says he maintained his loyal support of Israel. When Israel continued its expansion of settlements in occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank, criticism from the ALP's left grew louder. Carr asked one Jewish contact about the settlement increase: he claims he was told not to worry because they would be 'withdrawn' when peace was eventually reached with Palestinians. 'The next time I looked there were more,' Carr recalls. 'I asked, why, if they are going to withdraw, do they keep planting them so deep into the territories?'"

This focus on settlements and settlement expansion is, of course, Carr's most oft-quoted reason for his turn away from Israel. While Israel's West Bank settlements are a good start to a good hard look at the Zionist project in Palestine, a little investigation would have told him that Jews-only settlements/colonies have been the central feature of that project since it began in earnest after World War I. Before 1948 they were called kibbutzes and sold to gullible Westerners as socialism's greatest achievement. Since Israel's conquest of the West Bank in 1967, of course, the utopian socialist facade of the pioneering kibbutz has been discarded, and we have been left merely with settlements, generally inhabited by Israel's version of the Taliban, and no-one, except the usual suspects, sees these as anything other than illegal facts-on-the-ground, a prelude to Israel's outright annexation of the West Bank and the final step in its realisation of the Zionist wet-dream of a Greater Israel. I imagine that for most of his early career in the party Carr was spending what little time he had outside the Labor bubble reading up on the American Civil War, and so that little investigation, unfortunately, never really proceeded and the proverbial penny was left hanging. And of course, the party needed to fund its election campaigns, didn't it? But, frankly, what politician will admit such things in public?

"As NSW premier from 1995 to 2005, Carr claims he remained neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He attended functions of both communities in an official capacity. While harbouring doubts about the settlements, the closest to a turning point came in 2003 when he agreed to welcome Palestinian scholar and activist Hanan Ashrawi, who was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize by the University of Sydney. According to Carr, he had already angered the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network by refusing to condemn Israel's building of a dividing wall with Palestinians. He told them that if bombs were 'going off in central Sydney' while he was premier, he would have built a dividing wall too."

Norrington has stuffed up the timing here with "he had already angered...," which seems to refer to Ashrawi's 2003 visit, while APAN was not, in fact, born until 2011. Carr's idiot remark about the wall, however, was made to APAN, as he relates in his 2014 Diary of a Foreign Minister at pps 95-96. Did no one there at the time pointedly remind him that bombs only went off because Palestine was, hello, under occupation, and that said wall was actually just another a West Bank land grab and will be enclosing around 100 Israeli settlements, including settlers and settlements in occupied Arab East Jerusalem? I ask that question because Bob mentions no such rejoinder in his diary.

"At Ashrawi's welcome, Carr said he had told Sydney's Jewish community that a two-state solution would become more difficult with more settlement activity, and Israel risked insurgency and international isolation if its burgeoning Arab population was denied civil rights. But he stresses he also said, 'Israel will not be bombed into a peace agreement'. Carr says the negative, even vitriolic reaction to his welcoming of Ashrawi, whom he considered a Palestinian moderate, left him puzzled. He still spoke at Holocaust memorials and Jewish museum events - but his 'old fondness' for Israel faded [...] Carr says he has immersed himself more in the history and culture of the Palestinian people, but argues the Israeli settlements issue is his primary motivator."

Of course, immersing oneself in the history of the Palestinian people, can only lead, ineluctably, to one conclusion, and, if what I reported in my last post, Age Shall Not Weary Him, is correct, Carr appears to be getting there, but will certainly not admit it, for now, on the record, to a Newscorpse journalist. One hopes too that Simon Sebag Montefiore's tosh tome on Jerusalem, Jerusalem: The Biography that we see on Carr's bookshelf in the photo of him by John Feder is not what he means by immersing himself in Palestinian history.

[*The Australian, The Electoral Israeli-Arab divide, 5/7/17. There is more of the same in Norington's feature story on Carr.]

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Age Shall Not Weary Him

Nice to see that former foreign minister Bob Carr's advocacy on behalf of occupied Palestinians now includes a reference to the Nakba. Carr's remarks came in the context of a policy forum on Palestine hosted by Anthony Albanese and Tony Burke on 27/6/17:

"[Carr] says Palestinians had stories to tell that had been 'blotted out' until Israeli historian Danny [sic: Benny] Morris checked defence archives and found Palestinians were expelled when Israel was set up as a Jewish state in 1948. 'There were massacres,' Mr Carr says in his speech. 'And that feeds into the stories you're familiar with; of Palestinians having to flee their houses, leave their houses behind, and flee for the borders.' He says the people of Gaza are refugees with links not to that area but with the homes, real or imagined, inside Israel's borders of 1948. Mr Carr berates Israel's continued occupation of territories as a 'cruel' and 'hateful thing' that forces more suffering on Palestinian people." (Carr attacks Israel's 'foul' occupation, Brad Norington, The Australian,  5/7/17)

Bob Carr is yet another example of the phenomenon of the ex-politician who uses his retirement to inform himself and weigh in constructively on important issues such as Palestine/Israel. Malcolm Fraser was another such.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

News Corpse, 500 Years On


It is 500 years from now, and a cryogenically-preserved Greg Sheridan has just regurgitated, in a cryogenically preserved Australian (still owned by a cryogenically-preserved Rupert Murdoch), yet another of his diatribes on the cryogenically-preserved Australian Labor Party's Palestine/Israel policy:

"To call for the immediate diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state is unrealistic, unhelpful, irresponsible and an example of the poisonous ideological extremism spreading through Western politics on the left and right like a spilt ink bottle spreads over a thirsty blotter." (ALP's Palestinian change wrong; bad politics, too, The Australian, 4/7/17)

His cryogenically-preserved readership, of course, will have no problem with his simile. As for the rest...

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Wongder Woman to the Rescue

Only in The Australian could you find a headline like this:

Labor to cast Israel adrift after 40 years

Apparently, casting poor little Israel adrift means that the NSW branch of the party is aiming to pass a resolution at this month's state conference that would "force the ALP national conference to adopt the same position next year, effectively ensuring federal Labor goes to the next election with a foreign policy position of unqualified recognition for a state of Palestine." (Simon Benson, 3/7/17)

Oh, how could they? I am shocked! SHOCKED!

But wait, what's this?

Labor's Wongder Woman has risen up to foil this dastardly plot:

"Penny Wong has said a NSW Labor conference motion that urges the next Labor government to recognise Palestine would not determine Labor's federal Israel." (Penny Wong says NSW Labor won't dictate Labor's position on Palestine, Gabrielle Chan,, 3/7/17)


Monday, July 3, 2017

Israeli Fascism? So What Else is New?

"[Israeli] Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog warned on Saturday that Israel was headed toward fascism..." ('Israel is becoming a fascist state, US can't save the day', Joy Bernard,, 24/6/17)

Was headed toward fascism?

Israel has always been fascist:

"April slid into May in a crescendo of heat. Down the lanes, the mimosa trees were powdered with yellow pollen, and the fragrance hung sweetly in the still air. May Day itself was a blaze of luxurious sunshine. I spent it leaning over my parapet watching the many processions of colony boys and girls marching along, singing, bearing gay blue-and-white banners - the Zionist colours - with the Shield of David and Hebrew lettering embroidered in scarlet and gold. The banners were carried with the dignity and precision of a regiment bearing the colours. And the marching of the children, whose ages ranged from 7 or 8 to near the enlistment age, was as faultless as well-drilled infantry...

"Rising on the clear air above the rooftops came the sound of Hebrew songs as the children marched past, and the rhythmic shouting as they kept impeccably in step. On either side, the road was lined with people from the village - parents, friends of the children who cheered as the columns went by.

"Ruth, the hotel help, who came up to my rooftop to watch, said: 'Ah, but it is beautiful...' And she leant over the parapet with an intense air of satisfaction.

"I shook my head. The picture was certainly gay and colourful. But to me there was something deeper which made the May Day processions a symbol of militant Zionism. I wished that the three-abreast marching could become rigged, that just one small boy or girl would straggle out of the ranks and break the immaculate neatness of the columns.

"Why, I asked myself, were the Jewish settlements bringing up their children in a free land in a way that emulated one of the worst practical expressions of a doctrine they had fled? In conversations with British Government officials and with Arabs, I had heard the Jews condemned for teaching their children to become militant, and I had been told by the Arabs that such training was deliberate because the colonies were preparing for the day when they should rise and seize Palestine by force; that together with this military preparation there was an equally careful mental training designed to convince the children that Palestine was their lawful heritage, that they had only to reach out and take it and Britain and America, faced with a fait accompli, would not interfere. They would, in fact, be satisfied that the Palestine problem had solved itself. Arabs had assured me that this was the Zionist educational policy and that already Jewish children born and brought up in Palestine sincerely believed that the Arabs had no right to the country and that only those who had reclaimed the soil, like the colonists, were the legitimate inheritors of the land.

"'It reminds me,' I told Ruth, as I watched with unhappy fascination another column passing along the road, 'of a procession of boy Blackshirts I once saw marching over the cobbles of Trieste - kindergarten children carrying Fascist banners and moving faultlessly along the waterfront past the Town Hall'." (Reporting from Palestine: 1943-1944, Barbara Board, 2008, pp 45-46)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 4 Months to Go

Here, in part, is Manchester Guardian editor C.P. Scott's editorial of 7/11/1917 on the British war cabinet's November 2, 1917 issue of the Balfour Declaration, the decision by which the world's then dominant colonial power, which had absolutely no right to do so, handed the homeland of the Palestinian people, who were deliberately disregarded in the matter (written off, in the Declaration, merely as Palestine's "existing non-Jewish communities"), to the European Zionist movement, a bunch of East European Jewish-nationalist fanatics hell-bent on transforming a multi-sectarian Arab land into a Jewish state by hook or by crook.

And speaking of crook, the extraordinary thing about today's Guardian, under the editorship of another Zionist, Jonathan Freedland, is that it would, likely as not, 100 years along, find in Scott's outrageous editorial endorsement of British perfidy a source of pride and inspiration. Watch this space, as they say.

"We speak of Palestine as a country, but it is not a country; it is at present little more than a small district of the vast Ottoman tyranny. But it will be a country; it will be the country of the Jews. That is the meaning of the letter which we publish to-day written by Mr Balfour to Lord Rothschild for communication to the Zionist Federation. It is at once the fulfilment of an aspiration, the signpost of a destiny. Never since the days of the dispersion has the extraordinary people scattered over the earth in every country of modern European and of the old Arabic civilisation surrendered the hope of an ultimate return to the historic seat of its national existence. This has formed part of its ideal life, and is the ever-recurring note of its religious ritual. And if, like other aspirations and religious ideals which time has perhaps worn thin and history has debarred from the vitalising contact of reality, it has grown to be something of a convention, something which you may pray for and dream about but not a thing which belongs to the efforts and energies of this everyday world, that is only what is to be expected, and in no degree detracts from the critical importance of its entry to that world and the translation of its religious faith into the beginnings at least of achievement. For that is what the formal and considered declaration of policy by the British government means. For 50 years the Jews have been slowly and painfully returning to their ancestral home, and even under the Ottoman yoke and amid the disorder of that effete and crumbling dominion they have succeeded in establishing the beginnings of a real civilisation. Scattered and few, they have still brought with them schools and industry and scientific knowledge, and here and there have in truth made the waste places blossom as the rose. But for all this there was no security, and the progress, supported as it was financially by only a small section of the Jewish people and by a few generous and wealthy persons, was necessarily as slow as it was. [...]

"Not that it is to be supposed that progress in such a movement can be other than slow. Nor does the British Government take any responsibility for it beyond the endeavour to make it possible. In declaring that 'the British Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object', the Government have indeed laid down a policy of great and far-reaching importance, but it is one which can bear its full fruit only by the united efforts of Jews all over the world. What it means is that, assuming our military successes to be continued and the whole of Palestine to be brought securely under our control, then on the conclusion of peace our deliberate policy will be to encourage in every way in our power Jewish immigration, to give full security, and no doubt a large measure of local autonomy, to the Jewish immigrants, with a view to the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State. Nothing is said, for nothing at present can be said, as to the precise form of control during the period of transition, which may be a long one...

"The existing Arab population of Palestine is small and at a low stage of civilisation. It contains within itself none of the elements of progress, but it has its rights, and these must be carefully respected. This is clearly laid down in the letter, which declares that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing communities in Palestine'...

You will note the blatant admission, right from the very beginning, that the phrase 'national home for the Jewish people in Palestine' implied "the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Riding High in June, Shot Down in June

"Mr Lowy's knighthood citation highlights his 'contribution to the UK economy' through British investments, particularly Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City. He has been active in philanthropy in both Australia and Britain, including founding the Lowy Medical Research Institute and the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy. In Britain he has supported the Cabinet Office War rooms, the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. His community profile here was raised with his role as chairman of Football Federation Australia for more than a decade until 2015, and he personally spearheaded Australia's bid to host the World Cup in 2022. That ended in a rare devastating defeat for the businessman. Mr Lowy said he was 'humbled' and grateful for the knighthood, and the credit 'should be shared with the thousands of Westfield staff who helped contribute to the company's success in the United Kingdom'." ('Humbled' Lowy honoured by Queen for Britain's Westfields, Deborah Snow, Sydney Morning Herald, 17/6/17)*

"Swiss prosecutors have examined [$46 million worth of] Australian taxpayer-funded payments to controversial lobbyists hired at the behest of billionaire Frank Lowy to help Australia win the 2002 World Cup... While the Garcia report does not accuse Mr Lowy... of corruption, it does raise serious questions about [his] oversight of Australia's taxpayer-funded World Cup bid." (Swiss probe into cup bid, Nick McKenzie, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/6/17)

As another Frank (Sinatra) would say: That's Life!

[*"As Frank Lowy tells it, his journey to a British knighthood began with his love of the BBC, acquired as a young teen hiding from the Nazis after the invasion of Hungary. He and his fellow ghetto-dwellers would 'huddle around a radio in a bunker' in Budapest, waiting eagerly for the chimes of big Ben to introduce the World Service. 'It always gave us hope that help was on the way and that the war would end in our favour,' the 86-year old said on Saturday, after the overnight announcement in London that he had been made a Knight Bachelor in the Queen's Birthday Honours List." (ibid) Funny that. Sir Frank's biographer, Jill Margo, tells us that he was living in a "protected house," one of 25, while all the other Jews in Budapest "were forced into a ghetto." Moreover, she quotes him, in the final phase of the war, as waiting for the Russians to save him. Of the BBC there is no mention whatever. (Frank Lowy: Pushing the Limits, 2000, pp 28-29)]

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Saudi Sadat?

You know that love is in the air when the ZiOracle of Vaucluse, aka George Fishman, emits as follows:

"Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia could be a real game changer in the Middle East, in particular in the hostility that has dogged the region for seven decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The crown prince is a no-nonsense businessman who admires and is on excellent terms with President Donald Trump. In forging a peace deal could this be the start of Trump's promise to get it done?" (Letter to The Australian, 24/6/17)

Nonsense here, of course, means rendering justice to the Palestinians.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What Is It About Americans?

The almost perfect tweeted response to a Jerusalem Post article (Reports that Trump considering pulling out of peace efforts 'nonsense,' US official says, 24/6/17) on a recent reportedly "tense" meeting between the US administration's "senior adviser" Jared Kushner and the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas runs as follows:

Wait... you mean sending a 30-something real estate developer to solve mideast peace didn't work? Get outta here... (Joy Read @JoyAnnRead, Jun 24)

I did say almost perfect.

As an American (because she's an American?), the exceptionally witty Joy Read has missed something much more important than the mere fact of Kushner's age and 'profession' - which makes you wonder: What is it about Americans that so many of them can't see the wood for the trees?

All her tweet needed to make it perfect was just the addition of two more words, as follows:

Wait... you mean sending a 30-something card-carrying Zionist real estate developer to solve mideast peace didn't work? Get outta here...

So damn obvious! So why did she leave them out?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

To Hell & Back

Please bear with me here and read At 15 I was tortured in Assad's prisons. I escaped but thousands still suffer (Anonymous, from beginning to end:

"For the 10 months I spent as a detainee in the prisons of Bashar al-Assad, I only saw my family in my dreams. At night, the screams would stop for an hour or two, and I could close my eyes and remember what it was like to be human. When I slept, I would return to my life. Today is the UN's International Day for Support of Victims of Torture. Unfortunately in Syria, there is no shortage of victims of torture. Tens of thousands of us have been thrown in Assad's prisons and tortured beyond what our bodies and minds can take. Many of us die there. Those of us who have survived will spend the rest of our lives being reminded of just how evil humanity is capable of being.

"I was only 15 when I was arrested and subjected to months of physical and psychological torture. I am lucky to have survived. There were times I wished for death. As happy as I am to return to life again, I am equally gripped by sadness and pain knowing more than 200,000 prisoners are still there. My freedom feels incomplete as long as my Syrian brothers and sisters suffer behind those high walls. I am a hostage of my memory. Aleppo is my home. I was forced to leave there in 2013 to try to escape the barrel bombs and besiegement of the city by Assad and his allies. My mother, siblings and I fled to Lebanon. At the age of 14, I had to leave school and begin working to try to sustain our family. At the end of 2014, we were forced to return to Syria because we could not afford Lebanese residence and working permits. On the way home, I was arrested by members of a political security branch in Damascus. They accused me of taking part in the peaceful demonstrations at the beginning of the popular Syrian revolution against Assad.

"This is a regime known for its oppression, its tyranny, and its corruption. But it is also a regime that stands against humanity. It is a regime that could arrest a 15-year-old, a kid, and subject him to months of torture and starvation and psychological trauma. And I am not by any means a unique story in Syria. When I was first arrested, I was taken to security branch headquarters near Damascus, where I was tortured during sessions of interrogation for 58 days straight. After 58 days of this treatment, I had no choice but to sign false confessions that the interrogator himself wrote. I put my name to offences I had never committed, and confessions about people I had never met. I was even forced to sign a document that accused my brother of being an armed rebel.

"I was held in that branch for four-and-a-half months, then moved to the political security administration in Fayha' in Damascus. Here I was tortured in even more ways. I was given electric shocks on sensitive parts of my body; suspended from the ceiling; tortured using brutal methods known as 'wind carpet', 'the wheel' and 'the bed'. This went on for another 3 months. This is when I was transferred to Saydnaya military prison. The Living Persons' Graveyard. The Human Slaughterhouse. These are names that describe Saydnaya. I spent a month there. The mornings for detainees in this place starts with death. Before sunrise, the guards would yell with hate and scorn to wake us up, and we were ripped out of our dreams where we sought sweet refuge. 'You bastards of the cell, who has a corpse?' they would yell. And we would fetch the corpses of our brothers who had left our living hell.

"We survived on scraps of rubbish for food. We became so starved that our bodies stopped looking human. We were whipped, beaten, starved, given electric shocks. We saw people taken to be hanged en masse. There are stories of guards forcing prisoners to kill their own friends and family, or be tortured or executed. Saydnaya is hell on Earth. Every day, we waited for punishment. You don't know anything, and you don't know when you're going to be tortured or killed. Saydnaya is not where you go to be tortured for information. Saydnaya is where you go to die.

"After a month of that living hell, I was transferred to Tishreen military hospital. Don't be fooled by the word 'hospital'. It was not a place of healing and care. There is a reason detainees in Saydnaya do not ask to see the doctor, and refuse to answer when nurses ask who has injuries. While in my months as a detainee I was tortured physically, the psychological torture at the military hospital was unparalleled. I was only there for two days, but that was long enough to witness the worst of humanity. I wasn't fed for 2 days. I was put in a tiny room just 3m by 3m, where dead bodies were piled over one another; one was rotting. My room had 3 tuberculosis patients. We had to carry corpses around. I saw many executions. A guard held his foot on the neck of a detainee to suffocate him to death. Another was given an 'air injection' of poison. The smell of death surrounds you.

"I then returned to Saydnaya, where I stayed for one final, brutal month. One day I was beaten so harshly I passed out - simply because I happened to be born on a street under opposition control. In October 2015, after 10 months of detention, I won my freedom. But my mind will never be free. I am free, but I've been taken hostage by the cries of my fellow prisoners, the groans of their wounds, the screams of their torture, their secret prayers, their emaciated bodies and their deaths once they could bear life no more. My story is like hundreds of thousands of other stories, but I ask you to look past the numbers and think: what if this happened to you? Or to your brother, or sister, or father, or mother, or child, or friend? Would you support the continued leadership in Syria of the man responsible? I have escaped the prisons, and escaped Syria's borders, but I have no future. I have no signs of hope. Assad has ruined the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people. If our children and our children's children have any hope in Syria, Assad cannot remain. As long as he is in power, his forces will continue to crush the spirit of anyone who dares to want freedom." (27/6/17)


Now this sounded familiar.

Where had I heard it before? Then it all came flooding back to me, down the years; four men, Yorkshire men to be precise, in dinner suits, sitting round a table, sharing a drop of the finest... and a few - ahem - memories:

Ahh... Very passable, this, very passable.

Nothing like a good glass of Chateau de Chassilier, eh Josiah?

You're right there, Obadiah.

Who'd a thought 30 years ago we'd all be sittin' here drinking Chateau de Chassilier?

Aye. In them days, we'd a' been glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

A cup o' COLD tea.

Without milk or sugar.

OR tea!

In a cracked cup, and all.

We never had a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

The best WE could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, 'Money doesn't buy you happiness.'

'E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN'. We used to live in this tiny old house, with greaaaaat big holes in the roof.

House? You were lucky to have a HOUSE! We used to live in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture. Half the floor was missing and we were all huddled together in one corner for fear of FALLING!

You were lucky to have a ROOM! We used to have to live in a CORRIDOR!

Ohhhh we used to DREAM of livin' in a corridor! Woulda' been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woken up every morning by having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us! House!? Hmph.

Well when I say 'house' it was only a hole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpolin, but it was a house to US.

We were evicted from our hole in the ground; we had to go and live in a lake!

You were lucky to have a LAKE! There were 150 of us living in a shoe box in the middle of the road.

Cardboard box?


You were lucky. We lived for 3 months in a paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at 6 in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for 14 hours a day, week in week out, for sixpence a week. When we got home, Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!

LUXURY! We used to have to get out of the lake at 6 o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work 20 hours a day at mill for tuppence a month, come home, and our Dad would thrash us to sleep with a broken bottle - if we were Lucky!

Well, of course, we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the shoe box at 12 o'clock at night, and LICK the road clean with our tongues. We had half 2 bits of cold gravel, worked 24 hours a day at mill for sixpence every 4 years, and when we got home, Our Dad would slice us in 2 with a bread knife.

Right. I had to get up in the morning at 10 o'clock at night, half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work 29 hours a day down mill, and pay mill owner for permission to come to work, and when we got home, our Dad AND our Mum would kill us and dance about on our graves singing, Hallelujah'.

And you try and tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya'.

They won't.


Well, you live and you learn, as they say. I had absolutely no idea that the lads from Monty Python had done Syria! Thanks, Guardian.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why Do I Get the Feeling?

OMFG, Jonathan Freedland's Guardian is so bloody depressing.

I've just taken a peek, God help me, at the 1,000+ torrent of (overwhelmingly) garbage and bile, aka comment, on its website following Gabrielle Chan's article, Bob Brown endorses action against Lee Rhiannon as Greens turmoil deepens (26/6/17).

What vile, stagnant swamp, I wonder, breeds these sadsacks and mental defectives? Is it any wonder we've got swamp monsters like Abbott, Trumble, Shorten, Dutton, Hanson and the like plaguing us?

In over a thousand 'comments' only one got why the admirable Senator Lee Rhiannon has come under fire from the know-nothings (di Natale) and has-beens (Brown) in her party:

"Why do I get the feeling that Lee's strong stand on the atrocities happening to the Palestinians is behind the hostility to Lee? The Greens may not accept corporate donations, but that does not mean that there are not forces behind the scene pulling strings."

Whoever you are, you have that feeling because you know what's going on.

Update (28/6/17): "'What is happening here is that someone is anonymously feeding journalists misinformation about me. I know that Greens members and our MPs condemn such behaviour.' The campaign against her was about much more than the Turnbull government's Gonski 2.0 school funding 'con-job', she said. 'It is a vicious attempt to destroy my reputation'." (Rhiannon vows she won't be driven out of Parliament, Adam Gartrell, Sydney Morning Herald)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Rogue State, Rogue President

Seymour Hersh on the chemical attack that wasn't:

"On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the US intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

"The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all US, allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

"Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. 'None of this makes any sense,' one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. 'We KNOW that there was no chemical attack... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.'

"Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world's media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition. The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad's 'heinous actions' as being a consequence of the Obama administration's 'weakness and irresolution' in addressing what he said was Syria's past use of chemical weapons." (Syria: Trump's red line,, 25/6/17)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Israel Can't Fool All of the People All of the Time...

Even in Trumpland:

"An unprecedented [IRmep] poll reveals the gaping void between American identification with Israel and the official position taken by both major political parties. A majority of American adults - 70.3% - do not consider themselves Zionists when defined as 'A Zionist is a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel. Only 24.9% say, 'I consider myself a Zionist' while 4.8% provided other responses." (Poll: Most Americans aren't Zionists, Grant Smith,, 20/6/17)

Some other interesting excerpts from the above:

"... 80 million Christian evangelicals provide a nationwide multiplier at the voting booth, the result of decades of intense Israel lobby cultivation. This critical to the Israel lobby since according to Pew research, 82% of Jewish Americans do not belong to Jewish organizations, 70% are only somewhat or 'not at all' attached to Israel, while 44% think settlement building is a bad idea. This suggests that Jewish supporters involved in the Israel lobby number only around 774,000..."

"Many prospective candidates for national office must present position papers on Israel to regional AIPAC officials before being allowed to tap a national network of single issue issue pro-Israel donors for the seed-funding necessary to launch political campaigns. Any subsequent divergence from an essentially Zionist narrative or voting record can result in loss of this financial support, primary challenges and ousting from office."

"It is a testament to the lobby's harmful propaganda campaigns that in 2014, as it battled the Iran nuclear deal, most Americans believed Iran already possessed nuclear weapons. A plurality of Americans - in contrast to much of the world - believe Palestinians occupy Israeli land and not the reverse."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Next One

While any advance...

"The South Australian Parliament today passed a landmark motion calling on the Australian Government to recognise the State of Palestine just as it recognises the State of Israel." (Motion to recognise Palestine passed in South Australian Parliament, Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA)' Press Release, 22/6/17)

... is always better than no advance, may the next AFOPA media release read:

The Australian Government today passed a landmark motion calling on Israel to end its criminal occupation of the West Bank and blockade on Gaza, repeal all apartheid legislation denying full equality between Israel's Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens, and welcome the return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their Palestinian homeland.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Meet Israel's South Syrian Army

Remember Israel's late, unlamented South Lebanon Army (SLA)? They were a proxy sectarian militia led by General Antoine Lahad and strutted their stuff  - which included a notorious torture centre in the Lebanese town of Khiam - in an Israeli-declared 'security zone' north of the Israeli-Lebanese border in the 1980s and 90s. Well, as the Lebanese (particularly Hezbollah) resistance to Israel's occupation of south Lebanon grew in the 1990s, Israel's 'security zone' became its 'insecurity zone' and it was finally forced to withdraw in 2000.

And its SLA proxy? So sad:

"... there were mass arrests of collaborators with Israel who, after interrogation by Hizbullah's security apparatus, were turned over to the Lebanese authorities. More than 1,250 militiamen with their families crossed into Israel before the Israeli pullout was completed on May 27, 2000. The refugees, who were being housed in a camp near Lake Tiberias, complained about the squalid living conditions and expressed their anger at Israel. 'Israel betrayed us... We could have continued to fight Hizbullah for ten years without the Israeli army, but they handed them victory,' said Etian Sakhr, known by Lebanese as 'Abu Arz,' the leader of the Lebanese Cedar Party." (In the Path of Hizbullah, Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh, 2004, p 95)

Well, meet the South Lebanon Army's contemporary Syrian counterparts, the South Syrian Army:

"Israel has been providing Syrian rebels near its [!?] border in the Golan Heights with a steady flow of funds, medical supplies and humanitarian assistance, with one group receiving roughly $5,000 per month, according to rebel fighters quoted in a newspaper report. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing interviews with half a dozen rebel leaders and three persons familiar with Israel's undeclared policy, that the Jewish State is helping these forces, which are opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian, Lebanese and Russian allies, in an effort to help set up a buffer zone on its [!?] border with forces friendly to Israel. According to the report, Israel set up a special military unit in 2016 to oversee and coordinate the transfer of the aid, which helps the groups pay salaries and buy weapons and ammunition... Israel has dubbed this operation in the Golan Heights the 'Good Neighborhood' policy... 'Israel stood by our side in a heroic way, a spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan, Moatasem al-Golani, told the Journal. 'We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance'." (Israel provides steady flow of cash, aid to Syrian rebels, says WSJ report,, 19/6/17)

I sure hope there's still some room left in that squalid 'refugee' camp near Lake Tiberias for Israel's Knights of the Golan...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Coming Russo-American War?

"US, Russian, and Iranian military forces have all been involved in the Syrian War for some time now, and all with differing agendas. As they all increase their involvement, those fights have become less separated, and particularly in the case of the US and Russia, the threat of direct clashes is growing. After several incidents in which US warplanes attacked Syrian pro-government targets, the US yesterday had its biggest attack, shooting down a Syrian Su-22 bomber inside Syrian airspace. The US insisted the attack was 'collective self defense' meant to protect the Syrian Kurds. Russia has responded to the US attack by announcing they're going to start treating US warplanes operating in much of Syria as potential targets for their advanced air defense systems. This comes as Iran increases its own involvement in Syria, firing missiles at ISIS targets." (US, Russia, and Iran edging closer to all-out war in Syria, Jason Ditz,, 19/6/17)

So downing a Syrian plane - in Syria of all places - is just Uncle Sam defending himself...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Wahhabi Campaign to Close the Muslim Mind

The following reflection by Nabil Echchaibi (Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder) rings true:

"My aim here is not to disparage a civilization, but to diagnose its current malaise, one that inflicts Muslims today and prevents them from thinking themselves into the world, not because they are incapable of doing it, but because of a coordinated campaign to deny them the right to do it. Like many Muslims, I feel the weight of this tension every day because the distance between our religious leaders and the world in which we live is a gaping hole.

"The biggest orchestrator of this campaign is not Isis. That is only one of its sad manifestations. It is Saudi Arabia and its rampant Wahhabi religiosity which cripples everything Muslim today. Its literalist theology is suffocating and has no place in the modern world.

"How can we tolerate a religious system which still flogs its people in public squares, denies its women basic rights like driving and looking out windows and criminalizes any form of dissent? Weighty words fit for a colossal peril that is Saudi Arabia. I do not mince my words because this tragedy has gone on for too long and it robs Muslims around the world of their ability to think their religion anew.

"In fact, I agree with Algerian author Kamel Daoud who made a subtle distinction between a 'black Isis' and a 'white Isis.' Black Isis, he says, beheads, pillages, kills indiscriminately, and destroys the cultural heritage of humanity, whereas white Isis - Saudi Arabia - is better dressed and cleaner, but does more or less the same thing." (Muslims today face a deep malaise. We must confront it,, 18/6/17)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Netanyahu's Wet Dream

"US forces have opened fire on Iranian-backed forces in Syria three times in the past month, amid mounting tensions that observers and former officials worry could easily turn into an unplanned, spiralling conflict. The three recent incidents took place at al-Tanf, a remote desert outpost near the point where the Syrian, Iraqi and Jordanian borders meet. There a 150-strong force of US soldiers who are training local fighters to take on the Islamic State was approached by convoys of militias fighting for the Assad regime. They responded with air strikes... The string of incidents has illustrated has illustrated how the eastern Syrian desert is becoming an arena for confrontation between the US and Iran... Trump has portrayed Iranian influence as a global threat on a par with with Isis and al-Qaida." ('The war after Isis': has Trump opened the door to conflict with Iran?Julian Borger,, 18/6/17)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mahmoud Vidkun Abbas

Try getting your head around this. I can't:

"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' effort to cut electricity to the Gaza Strip as a means of 'pressuring' Hamas to hand over control of the region to him is finally getting support from Israel's security cabinet, which today signed off on a plan to cut exports to the Gaza Strip by 40%, meaning about 45 minutes less of electricity per day in a strip that already is in a state of blackout more than three-quarters of the time.

"Abbas had originally sought a 100% cut in Gaza's electricity, but Israel refused, citing humanitarian concerns. Even with this smaller cut, Israeli military advisers are warning a mounting humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip will likely escalate the level of violence along the Israeli border.

"Most in Israel's current far-right government are quite comfortable with that, as wars against the Gaza Strip are pretty popular among their parties, and it has been awhile since they got to spend a few weeks battering the civilian population in the name of national security." (Israel cuts Gaza electricity at Abbas' request, Jason Ditz,, 12/6/17)

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Greg Sheridan Update

Just to update you on the health of Australia's greatest intellectual, foremost foreign policy analyst, and egregious gentile Zionist (not to mention former MP Tony Abbott's trusty 'suppository of wisdom') Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan...

The thing is, contrary to my last report on the subject, it seems he still hasn't fully recovered from his recent attack of that current curse of the scribbling class, Corbynitis. For example:

Trump "has turned out to be not quite as bad as I had feared," but Corbyn (who's still on the UK parliament's opposition benches!) "is 100 times worse than Trump and in every possible sense completely unfit to be prime minister."

And this is apparently because he's "a longtime supporter of terrorists and dictators, a friend of the most extreme forces within British society," and, the fact that he "came so close," "shows how nearly deranged elements of Western politics are." (A revolution that could still end in a riot, The Australian,15/6/17)

Let me run that past you again, at least in part:

Corbyn is 100 times worse than Trump! 


You can see the great man's still got a way to go here. But rest assured, he is fighting back. Hope, as they say, springs eternal:

"So how come France is so different? Macron comes across as a bit prissy and has developed some annoying celebrity tics. But he is a mainstream and credible person [who] leads an apparently blameless life." (ibid)

So frenchy so chic so... mainstream...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Don't Mention the Grovel

Morning Report, Radio New Zealand, 14/6/17. Transcript:

Susie Ferguson: New Zealand and Israel have agreed to restore ties, ending a 6-month crisis between the two countries. Israel recalled their ambassador in December after New Zealand co-signed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's continued settlements. Well, last half-hour on Morning Report we spoke to Gil Hoffman from the Jerusalem Post, and he said that PM Bill English wrote a letter saying he regretted the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing resolution 2334 at the [UN] Security Council. With us now is the foreign minister, Gerry Brownlee.

Ferguson: Are you able to confirm that that was indeed what the letter said?
Brownlee: What the letter indicated was that New Zealand wanted to resume diplomatic relations with Israel and regretted there'd been fallout from the co-sponsorship of the resolution.
Ferguson: So an apology was required to the Israelis?
Brownlee: I think it was a clarification of the fact that we remain good friends of Israel, have been for a very long time, and we respect the fact that they are a democratically-elected government which is not all that usual in the Middle East.
Ferguson: An apology regretting the damage done to the relations between the two countries. Does New Zealand regret the resolution itself?
Brownlee: Well, the resolution is one that's been passed by the UN and that exists. What's important is that the relationship between New Zealand and Israel is on a good footing and so we are able to discuss as friendly nations issues that affect both of us.
Ferguson: That's not exactly what I was asking though, minister. As for this resolution, is that something New Zealand and the New Zealand government regrets?
Brownlee: As I said, and all I'm going to say, is that we regret the fallout that came from that. I think the important thing is that the re-establishment of those diplomatic relations and the discussions we can now have as nations that remain after many, many years of friendship.
Ferguson: Is that a way of saying you do still back the resolution's intent but you still want to be friends with Israel?
Brownlee: It's a way of saying exactly what I've said so far.
Ferguson: So, as for all the work that was done on this by [former NZ foreign minister] Murray McCully, is this essentially all being thrown under the bus?
Brownlee: Look, what is important, and I'm going to keep on saying this no matter how many times you ask me, and different ways you ask it, is that the relationship between two countries that have been friends for a very long time is back on the right foot and that enables a level of discussion you can't have if you're at loggerheads.
Ferguson: Is this a pandering to Israel from New Zealand?
Brownlee: No.
Ferguson: How not?
Brownlee: It's a mark of respect for a country that's a unique democracy in the Middle East.
Ferguson: So was carrying that resolution and taking that forward disrespectful then?
Brownlee: Well, I just told you it didn't matter how many ways you asked me the question I wouldn't be deviating from my response.
Ferguson: But it is an interview, Mr Brownlee, which is where I get to ask questions and, hopefully, you get to answer them.
Brownlee: Where you get to ask questions and I give you the answers that I'm able to give you, and that's what I've been doing despite the fact that what you would desire as an answer from different questions.
Ferguson: So was New Zealand then used as a pawn by the US under President Obama in this territory?
Brownlee: That's a very interesting question. I don't know where you got the idea that New Zealand has allowed itself to be used as a pawn by anyone.
Ferguson: Well, essentially it came up in the interview with Gil Hoffman from the Jerusalem Post on Morning Report. That's why I thought it was something worth putting to you. So is that the case?
Brownlee (inaudible): The problem... Morning Report...
Ferguson: So [US Secretary of State] Rex Tillerson was here recently. Was this something that was discussed during his visit to Wellington?
Brownlee: No.
Ferguson: So there was no request from the US for New Zealand to make this apology?
Brownlee: No, we had a very good discussion with Tillerson. I think we were able to confirm that we're on the same page of a whole range of issues and we were also able to put our disappointment with the US position on climate change and the TPP but that is a perfect example of how two countries that are very close friends... can have differences without getting too fraught about it.
Ferguson: Just to clarify: what is New Zealand's view of the settlements that Israel has made on Palestinian land? Do you view them as illegal?
Brownlee: What we've said is that the settlement issue is one that the parties that are in dispute need to sort out among themselves, and we'll do what we can to assist in that process. In the end it's something for them to determine.

Shifty as...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Odd One Out

"It is a curious notion that Indians and supporters of Israel can rally for a visiting PM but a similar turnout from the Chinese shows sinister forces at work. [Chris] Uhlmann didn't produce one example of that vast Chinese diaspora lobbying MPs on Chinese foreign policy. Not one, although other migrant communities do it routinely on behalf of former homelands." (From Bob Carr's letter to The Australian re "Four Corners-Fairfax investigation [5/6] headlines about Chinese money," 13/6/17)

Just to clarify here. While most Indian and Chinese Australians share a direct connection with India and China respectively, Carr's aforementioned "supporters of Israel" share NO SUCH CONNECTION with the area of the Middle East formerly known as Palestine. The group referred to is overwhelmingly made up of Jews originating in one or other European country (or South Africa), and/or their progeny, who long ago made Australia their home.

Israel is not their "former homeland." 

Which begs the question: why are they rallying (and, frankly, while Netanyahu was in Australia earlier this year, I wasn't aware of any such rally) for Netanyahu?

And also the question: does Carr really believe in the Zionist dogma that Israel is the homeland of all Jews?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Breaking News: Greg Sheridan Has Recovered

Praise Jesus, Mary & Joseph, I see Greg Sheridan's finally recovered from his near catatonic state, triggered by Jeremy Corbyn's electoral surge in the recent UK general election.

I can report that his very first post-recovery word was: "Yikes!" (Populism wins in this volatile new world, The Australian, 10/6/17)

Seemingly, back to his former self, he's spluttering in today's Australian over the sheer yuckiness of UK PM Theresa May's new-found political allies, Ulster's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Calling them "the gargoyle party of Northern Island," he writes that "Few people have any idea just how bad the DUP have been and are." (May has bound her future to the gargoyles of Ulster)

The DUP serves, he declares, "as a kind of exotic museum piece in British politics," and "has rightly been described as the political wing of the 18th century."

And then, in darker tones:

"The party's true heritage is of shocking sectarian bigotry, violence, connivance in extra-judicial killing and official discrimination."

Frankly, I can't see what his problem is with the DUP. After all, isn't he the greatest fan in Australian journalism of Israel, the closest thing to Ulster in the Middle East?

If the DUP are 18th century, surely they're positively modern compared to Israel, which has a leader who believes he's the direct descendant of Binyamin, the son of Jacob, who roamed the 'Judean' hills with his daddy 4,000 years ago.

And if "shocking sectarian bigotry," "violence," "extra-judicial killing," "official discrimination," and much, much more, aren't the defining characteristics of the apartheid state Israel, I don't know what are.

And come to think of it, didn't at least one British colonial official once muse, back in the 1920s, that the anti-Palestinian Arab, British-backed project of a 'Jewish national home in Palestine' (as it was coyly described in the Balfour Declaration of 1917) would "form for England a little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism"?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Deathbed Visions

Deathbed visions in general:

"In 1926, deathbed visions crossed from superstition to science with a book by British physicist William Barrett. He collected stories such as this one from a nurse who wrote about a woman suffering an aggressive and painful cancer. 'Suddenly her sufferings appeared to cease,' she said. 'The expression on her face, which a moment before had been distorted by pain, changed to one of radiant joy. Gazing upwards, with a glad light in her eyes, she raised her hands and exclaimed, 'Oh mother dear, you have come to take me home. I am so glad!' And in another moment, her physical life ceased.' Deathbed visions, as described by Sir William and others who came after him... are a comforting vision, often of friends or relatives, reassuring the patient that they will not be alone, and need not be afraid." (The very last thing we see before we die, Jordan Baker, Sunday Telegraph, 4/6/17)

Deathbed visions in OCCUPIED Palestine:

"That night, Jamal said his wife [dying of cancer] suddenly stirred and spoke to him. She seemed frightened and confused. She asked her husband why her grandchildren had come to the Israeli checkpoint alone. Of course, they had not, this was just a dream or a delusion. The grandchildren were toddlers. They were at home. 'I was surprised by this,' Jamal said. 'I didn't imagine this would be on her mind. But she kept going on about the checkpoint, the checkpoint, over and over.' Jamal said his wife, at her last moments, was not seeing angels but Israeli soldiers." (Mid East ironies, William Booth and Sufian Taha, Washington Post/ Australian Financial Review, 2/6/17)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Makes Corbyn Shine?

So what is it about British Labour's Jeremy Corbyn that makes him shine - despite an unremittingly hostile mainstream media, the constant undermining of Blairats-in-the-ranks, and a smear campaign by the Israel lobby?

If Corbyn can elicit a letter from the Labour Friends of Israel head, Joan Ryan MP (Enfield North), to her constituents that opens thus:

"Dear Resident, I know from speaking to people around here that many who have previously voted Labour are thinking hard this time because, they tell me, they have more confidence in Theresa May as PM than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn" (2/6/17)...

Or if he can prompt a post-election confession such as this from the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland:

"I opposed Jeremy Corbyn when he first stood for the Labour leadership in 2015, and thereafter, and I did so on two grounds. First on principle: I was troubled by his foreign policy worldview, with its indulgence of assorted authoritarian regimes, and by what I perceived as his willingness to look past antisemitism on the left... " (Jeremy Corbyn didn't win - but he has rewritten all the rules, 10/6/17)...

(The Zionist Freedland really means here Corbyn's willingness to criticise Israel.)

... then we have reason to conclude that he passes Kishore Mahbubani's infallible litmus test for intellectual and moral courage, namely, speaking truth to power on the Middle East in general, and on Palestine/Israel in particular.

And all intelligent, right-thinking people respect those qualities in a leader.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

And on the Sixth Day...

Today is the 50th anniversary of the last day of the June/ Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel seized control of Syria's Golan Heights, since ANNEXED. This would be Israel's last great LAND GRAB until its OCCUPATION of southern Lebanon in the early 80s.

While its propaganda apparatus hyped a non-existent 'existential threat', the reality was more mundane. Israel's aging brass still fondly remembered its glory days in 1948 when, by fire and sword, they'd GRABBED 78% of Palestine from its native people, whom they'd sent packing. Not to mention the great Sinai LAND GRAB of 1956. They were bored and itching for a bit more biff, snatch and grab.

As Israeli historian Tom Segev put it: "The generals were in their forties, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys or bulls in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed that war was what Israel needed at that moment, not because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 296)

But too much war is never enough for military brass and their political dupes. Why not go for broke on the northern front as well?

"The main pressure to seize [Syria's] Golan [Heights] came from General David Elazar of the Northern Command... In the two years preceding the war he had broached the matter not only with his superiors in the military, but also with {PM] Eshkol and a few ministers, including Allon, with whom he even discussed the possibility of occupying Damascus." (ibid, p 388)

"According to [Defence Minister] Dayan, he had found out early on Friday morning that the Syrian forces were crumbling and would be easy to defeat, although Syria was about to stop fighting, as Egypt had already done... 'Last night I did not think Egypt and Syria... would collapse like this and abandon the rest of the battle,' wrote Dayan to Elazar, 'but if this is the situation, it should be fully exploited'." (ibid, pp 390-91)

"Eshkol went on a tour of the north and met with Dayan. His impression was that the IDF was having great difficulty gaining control of the key town of Kuneitra. At this point, the Golan was a race against time. [Foreign Minister] Eban telephoned Eshkol's house to inform him that the UN Security Council had issued a cease-fire resolution, and so the fighting had to stop immediately. Since Eshkol was in the north, his wife took the call. Later Eshkol phoned her, full of enthusiasm about the view from the Golan, the water, the greenery. She gave him Eban's message and Eshkol shouted, 'Hello? Hello? I can't hear you. There's something wrong with the line, I can't hear you...' He repeated this over and over, until she understood that he did not want to 'hear'. A few hours later Kuneitra fell." (Ibid, p 397)

"Ben-Gurion, who had opposed the incursion into the Golan, now had a change of heart. Following a visit with General Elazar, he described the Golan Heights as critical to [Israel's] security." (Ibid, p 428)

As they say, 'Boys will be boys... and so will a lot of middle-aged men.'