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.'

Friday, June 9, 2017

Breaking News: Greg Sheridan Found in Foetal Position

Yesterday, Australia's greatest intellectual and foremost foreign affairs analyst was at the height of his powers:

"Corbyn is several hundred standard deviations worse a candidate for national leadership than ever Donald Trump was... He is surrounded by self-declared Marxists, long-time supporters of terrorist groups, and recently recruited former communists. His rise is the most startling indictment of mainstream political culture anywhere... Britain's destiny, and a huge part of the world's fortune, rests on tonight's outcome." (World needs Britons to vote Conservative, The Australian, 8/6/17)

Tonight, alas, he was found, curled up in a foetal position, a copy of yesterday's Australian over his head, clutching his treasured 2007 Jerusalem Prize as though it were a teddy bear, and whimpering pathetically for his long-deceased Auntie Poppy. The best efforts of Australian medical personnel to bring him around have so far failed. His dear, distraught friend, Benjamin Netanyahu, is reported to have sent a crack Israeli medical team to Sydney to administer shots of Israeli pheromones, known in the past to have had the great man up and dancing to Hava Nagila.  His boss, Rupert Murdoch, has even despatched Jerry Hall to give him the kiss of life, swearing that if Jerry's smacker is what keeps him going, it can do the same for Greg.

Refugees? What Refugees?

Today is the 50th anniversary of the fifth day of the June/Six-Day War of 1967.

So Israel's grabbed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but what to do with all those Palestinian refugees the apartheid state invariably generates whenever it goes to war?

Simple: Deny they're refugees. Say they just decided to go walkabout. Admittedly in large numbers, and all at the same time, but hey, Bedouin genes, what can I say? Oh, and play the Holocaust card. Always works a treat:

"The plight of the refugees was a photogenic subject. Israeli ambassadors overseas wrote to Jerusalem that television broadcasts from the bridges [over the Jordan] and the tent camps set up by the UN on the eastern side of the river were damning. They reported on pictures of Israeli soldiers firing shots in the air to hurry the refugees over the bridges. Correspondents estimated that the new tent camps housed some 80,000 refugees from Gaza and the West Bank. Winter was coming, threatening to make their conditions intolerable 'The most terrible impression is made by scenes of fathers with children in their arms, begging our guards to let them go back to their wives and children still on our side,' wrote Israel's ambassador to Germany. He added, 'We cannot stand up, here or in other countries, to the wave of protest, which we believe will also have political implications.' He asked that Israel at least permit family reunifications. The ambassadors were right: the ugly images in the media led too many governments, including the United States, to demand that Israel allow the refugees to return...  [PM] Eshkol gave orders to explain to British prime minister Harold Wilson that the reporters were misconstruing the scenes: the people they were photographing had left their homes willingly. As was the usual custom, he also cited the Holocaust. 'No people,' he told the vice president of the International Red Cross, 'that, like ours, six million of its old and young butchered and burnt by the Nazis less than a generation ago, could be unresponsive to any humanitarian interest'." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, pp 540-41)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The 50-Year Rape

Today is the 50th anniversary of the fourth day of the June/Six-Day war of 1967, which of course led directly to the now 50-year old OCCUPATION of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Syria's Golan Heights.

Today, 50 years ago, Israel completed what it had failed to do in 1948 - seize control of, and OCCUPY, the remaining 22% of historic Palestine, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Today, 50 years ago, Israel RAPED the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Is 'raped' too harsh a word for you? Don't blame me, I'm just echoing the words of then Israeli 'defence' minister, Moshe Dayan:

"The situation between us is like the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and the young girl he has taken against her wishes,' Dayan told the Palestinian poet Fadwa Tukan. 'But when their children are born, they will see the man as their father and the woman as their mother. The initial act will mean nothing to them. You, the Palestinians, as a nation, do not want us today, but we will change your attitude by imposing our presence upon you'." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, The War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 478)

Typically, this Israeli rapist cannot be honest about his crime. See how he projects it onto his victim?

If truth be told, the rape of the West Bank has been going on for the past 50 years.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Israeli Euphemism is Born

Today is the 50th anniversary of the third day of the June/Six Day War of 1967, the day Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem was OCCUPIED by the Israelis.

The urge to ANNEX NOW, of course, was overwhelming, but, with the rest of the world looking on, Israel's slavering ANNEXATIONISTS felt the need to disguise their naked, criminal intent with yet another in a long line of Zionist euphemisms.

Here's how they went about it:

"Begin proposed camouflaging the annexation [of East Jerusalem] within a law that would apply to the entire West Bank. The ministers wondered whether it might be possible to proceed without legislation, but Minister of Justice Shapira insisted on Knesset approval. The least dramatic method they came up with was to hide the legislation in three amendments to existing laws. These would be phrased in legalese, implying that they merely addressed administrative issues that applied to the entire country. The word 'annexation' did not appear, nor was the legislation listed as a proposed bill on the Knesset agenda. Rather, it was introduced for a first reading immediately before deliberation on it began. [Prime Minister] Eshkol was intentionally absent. The legislation was passed on to the appropriate committees and sent back for second and third readings and then for a vote, all in the same evening. There was 'no commotion and no rejoicing,' as Minister Gvati wrote. Almost all the Knesset members voted in favor, including Uri Avneri; only the Communists objected.

"The Foreign Ministry instructed its representatives to 'minimize' the political and historical significance of East Jerusalem's annexation, depicting the legislation as an administrative step necessary to facilitate water and power supplies, public transportation, and health and education services. Inspired by Begin, the ministry told its staff to use the phrase 'municipal integration' and avoid the term 'annexation' wherever possible." (Tom Segev, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East, 2007, p 434)

Is anyone out there working on a dictionary of Israeli euphemisms? I wonder.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 1967: Zionists Lay Siege to President Johnson

Today is the 50th anniversary of the second day of the June/Six Day War of 1967, so here's another extract from Tom Segev's 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East (2007) on what the usual suspects were up to in the United States at the time:

"[President Lyndon] Johnson himself was troubled by an announcement issued by the State Department on the first day of the war, saying that the US was taking a neutral position 'in thought, word, and deed. ' The announcement provoked a storm of protest because it read as if the United States had abandoned Israel to its fate, and [Secretary of State Dean] Rusk was forced to clarify it... It marked the beginning of a wave of public pressure to stand by Israel. At no other time could Johnson have been more certain that when it came to Israel, there was no distinction between foreign and domestic policy. For no sooner had the State Department spokesman finished his neutrality announcement than Johnson received a piece of legal advice from a friend: David Ginsburg called to direct his attention to the fact that invocation of the Neutrality Act would bar Israel from raising money for its war effort in the United States. The president's advisers quickly contacted some of his Jewish supporters.

"John Roche, a Boston professor described as Johnson's intellectual in residence, sent him a firm letter that opened with a quote from the Book of Isaiah: 'If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely.' The neutrality declaration had proven to Roche that State Department officials wanted to 'kiss some Arab backsides.' He found this to be 'worse than unprincipled - it is stupid. The Arabs have to hate us - and the rougher the Israelis are on them, the more they will hate us NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. They must create the myth that the United States, not Israel single-handed, clobbered them.' The Americans' 'sweet-talking' of the Arabs would only make them view the United States with contempt and alienate American Jews.

"Johnson hated being pressured in this way, according to Roche. The White House log documents the president's response to a commentary he overheard on a special CBS broadcast, in which the analyst took a pro-Israel position. 'It's easy to tell that he has some sort of Jewish background,' Johnson observed. Levinson and Wattenberg, two Jewish assistants who advised the press to issue an announcement of support for Israel, got an earful from him in the hallway. 'You Zionist dupes!' he yelled at them and raised his fist. 'You're Zionist dupes in the White House.' By the evening of that day, he had received 17,445 letters and telegrams from citizens responding to the war. Ninety-eight percent of them supported Israel, approximately two percent warned him against intervening in the war, and only a handful expressed support for the Arabs." (pp 364-65)

Monday, June 5, 2017

By Way of Deception: 5 June 1967

Today is the 50th anniversary of the start of the June/Six-Day War of 1967, which began with Israel attacking and destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. Of course, in the eyes of world public opinion, Israel could not afford to be seen as the instigator of such a blatant act of aggression against Egypt, and so its propaganda apparatus pulled all stops out to portray it as a war of self-defence.

For the back-story of Israel's dilemma, here are some extracts from Israeli historian Tom Segev's must-read, 1967: Israel, the War & the Year that Transformed the Middle East (2007):

1) "[Religious affairs minister] Warhaftig asked [defence minister] Dayan how they could present an Israeli first strike as a response, and wondered whether they could stage something. We need an alibi', said [Housing] Minister Bentov. 'I haven't got any tricks other than taking action. If someone has some other trick, I'll buy it,' replied Dayan... [Labour minister] Allon thought that the prime minister could announce to the world's heads of state that the Egyptians had attacked, and minutes later Israel would respond. The prime minister would risk a lie, but only historians would know the truth. 'I don't think the Americans will dig around to check up on what exactly happened,' Allon said. Eshkol pointed out that their action would be judged by history. The resolution that evolved asserted that Israel was acting against 'the ring of aggression tightening around it'." (p 336)

2) "The night before the attack on Egypt, Dayan had ordered the censor to maintain 'a fog of war' until the evening. 'For the first 24 hours we have to be the victims,' he said. As long as the world thought Israel was defending itself and fighting for its life, there would be no pressure from the outside to stop the attack." (p 342)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Palestinians are Suffering, But...

I've seen examples of clueless mainstream journalists taking evasive action when writing about the BRUTAL, OCCUPYING (50 years), APARTHEID (50 years) state of Israel, but what follows is not so much evasive action as BENDING OVER BACKWARDS AND THEN SOME:

"Israel has faced rockets and three wars with the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza, whose members deny Israel's right to exist. Israelis endured two Palestinian uprisings, the second marked by suicide-bomb attacks against civilians. More recently there was a wave of knife and vehicular assaults. Thousands of Israelis have died in Palestinian attacks. That is why Israelis say they need walls and permits." (Mid East ironies, William Booth/ Sufian Taha, Washington Post/ Australian Financial Review, 2/6/17)

Mr Booth, if some THUG with a GOD COMPLEX had been standing on YOUR NECK, and worse, for the past 50 years, how would YOU have reacted?

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 5 Months to Go

Here is the 3rd in my series of posts, appearing on the 2nd of each month, in the lead-up to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2. What follows is an extract from The Holy Land: The Moslem-Christian Case against Zionist Aggression, the official statement of the first Palestinian Arab delegation to visit Britain in 1921:

"This Declaration, when news of it first came during the war through the Turks, was utterly disbelieved; later, when it was found to be true, it fell like a thunderbolt from the blue on the Arab population of Palestine, who saw in it death to their political and economic existence. Besides, it was in direct contradiction to previous British declarations and to what they were led to believe was the object of the Allies in the war, namely, the assistance of weaker nations to freedom and self-determination.

"With these solemn pledges of Great Britain in their mind the Arabs of Palestine were stunned and horrified on reading two years later that another promise had been made by the British Government to the Zionists in the form of the Balfour Declaration. They felt they had been betrayed by the power which they had hitherto believed in and trusted.

"From every part of the country protests against this declaration were made: not only to the British Administrators in Palestine but also to the British and Allied Governments, to the Pope and the United States, and latterly to the League of Nations, and from that day to this Arabs have not ceased to protest on every occasion."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Emails are IN! 4

Further to my posts on Fairfax journalist Tony Walker's excellent opinion piece on the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and the coming 50th anniversary of same...

You'll recall his anticipation of criticism on the letters page from the usual suspects, and the clueless/gutless SMH letters editor publishing two of these (Danny Samuels and Michael Jacku).

Both gentlemen, of course, despite their spin, obfuscation and denialism on the subject of Israel's 1967 military aggression, were models of decorum, as one would expect on the letters page of a newspaper.

Go to the online comments which followed Walker's piece, however, and you'll see the usual suspects in a more direct, less disciplined mode. One of these - Joel (Canberra, May 30) - went even further, however, tossing his mask aside, and exposing Zionism's true face:

"Ross - you misunderstand. It would not only have been normal, but expected, to wipe the Palestinians out not all that long ago. The fact Israel hasn't annihilated them shows how restrained they are. If the loser uses violence, the victor can use their overwhelming force to crush them until they accept defeat - up to and including complete displacement and relocation."

No carefully crafted spin, obfuscation or denialism here, just the ravening, genocidal, Zionist beast.

Now you know what the Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have had to endure for the past 50 bloody years.