Thursday, August 17, 2017

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... strikes again, and again, and again, and again, and again [...]:

"Providing the most specific details yet on Israel's ongoing series of military strikes inside war-torn Syria, Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel revealed today that Israel has carried out nearly 100 distinct military actions over the last five years specifically related to what they believed were Hezbollah-bound arms convoys." (Air Force chief: Israel has attacked Syrian arms convoys nearly 100 times in 5 years, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 16/8/17)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four Corners' Hatchet Job on Lee Rhiannon

It is always worth keeping in mind that, despite the lurid fantasies of the right-wing nut jobs at News Corpse to the effect that the ABC is a bastion of leftist radicalism, the state broadcaster is in fact merely the propaganda arm of the Australian establishment.

Last night's Four Corners program, Inside the Greens: A Party in Turmoil, which featured former Greens leader Bob Brown and others attacking NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, was a case in point.

Cast your mind back to 2010-2011, when Sydney's Marrickville Council, dominated at the time by The Greens, bravely took a stand for Palestine by adopting a pro-BDS policy against the purchase of Israeli products, and when its Greens Mayor, Fiona Byrne only narrowly failed to snatch the NSW state seat of Marrickville from Labor for her party at the 2011 state election.

Many of Rhiannon's detractors on Four Corners have form going back to that time. Here's a reminder:

Sally Neighbour, the current executive producer of Four Corners, used to write for Murdoch's Australian, and earlier took The Greens to task (Divided we fall) in Morry Schwartz's The Monthly. (See my 3/2/12 post Get Rhiannon! 2)

Richard Di Natale, the current federal leader of the party, once cluelessly agreed to the proposition that the Palestinians should "recognise Israel's existence as a Jewish state," before later backtracking when apprised of the implications of what he'd said. (See my 23/5/15 post Richard Di Natale Reclassified.)

Bob Brown, the party's founder, has attacked the NSW Greens in the Murdoch press, claiming NSW Greens' support for BDS was "against his advice" and urging the branch to stick to "bread-and-butter issues." (See Bob Brown & A Failure of Courage, 1/4/11)

Ian Cohen, a former NSW Greens MLC, has condemned his party's support for BDS as "old style" and expressed concern about "Jewish community outrage." (See my 31/3/11 post Kahane Down Under?)

Christine Milne, Di Natale's predecessorhas spoken out against BDS, travelled to Israel (although whether or not at her own expense we do not know), and once spoke in favour of regime change in Libya. (See Some Questions for Christine Milne (21/4/12), Has Christine Milne Been Rambammed? (11/7/14), A Gripe About The Greens (24/3/11))

Jeremy Buckingham, a NSW Greens MLC, joined the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and signed the so-called London Declaration on Combatting Antisemitism. (See my 27/5/13 post Et tu, Jeremy?)

The issue of the NSW Greens' support for Palestine emerged only obliquely in the program. Presenter Louise Milligan's bias against that support, however, was clear at this point:

Milligan: While her leader is travelling the country, trying to hold his party together, Lee Rhiannon has flown to the Middle East and is crossing into Palestine.
Rhiannon: When you see it like that you can see why they call it an apartheid wall. What you see when you arrive in this country is apartheid. From the West Bank to Gaza, people are treated as second class citizens. Their human rights are ignored or abused.
Milligan: And she's still lobbing political grenades at her party: reviving a campaign to boycott Israeli businesses in Australia which has seen a backlash against the Greens in the past.
Rhiannon: There is a value in this campaign, and it's a reminder of why people like ourselves in Australia and around the world... it's time to reassess this form of struggle, because there are very clear examples of the value it brings to solidarity and the results it can achieve.
Milligan: Her leader disagrees.
Di Natale: It's not something that the Australian Greens have ever supported. It's not something that I support.
Milligan: It's these sorts of clashes with the federal party that have prompted the Greens elders to tell Four Corners it's time for Senator Lee Rhiannon to go.
Brown: Oh, well, you know, I've been living with Lee for 30 years, but it's the end of Lee's reign. The end is nigh, and I look toward the future.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Israel's 'Soul'

Israel's soul laid bare on a comedian's stage, says the headline of Agnes Nieuwenhuizen's review of Israeli writer David Grossman's A Horse Walks into a Bar in The Australian (12/8/17).

Opening sentence:

"Don't miss David Grossman's A Horse Walks into a Bar, a novel that offers profound insights into the soul of a nation and of one of its hapless citizens... "

So ethnocratic, apartheid states have souls? Interesting...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tim Fischer on John Lyons

Here's an excellent letter from today's Australian by former deputy prime minister (1996-1999) under John Howard, Tim Fischer:

"There is the good, the bad and the ugly in the Middle East. The Six-Day War reportage on its 50th anniversary year 2017 has been skewed, or was until the publication of the penetrating book Balcony Over Jerusalem by John Lyons. This book is the first in years to give a mention of substance to what happened on the fourth day when Israeli forces killed 34 US sailors on the USS Liberty, quickly apologised and paid reparations. Israel downplayed the saga while the US mounted a huge cover up, all exposed by the quotes Lyons has dug out, especially from Adlai Stevenson.

"Aligned spokesmen for Middle East countries will always skip over the ugly as they promote their country's perceived interests. Lyons details how parts of the honest debate on such issues as West Bank occupation in Israel are shut out of debate here in the Australian media and public domain. It is a subject that needs to be tackled for the truth to come out on the many complexities of the Middle East. It must be told without filters, shutters and threats." Mudgegonga, Vic

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 3 Months to Go

Damn! I forgot to post on the Balfour Declaration on August 2 - still, better late than never.

It's important to understand that the decision to issue the Declaration was confined to the British war cabinet, and that it was not debated in the House of Commons at the time. Only one MP, Joseph King (Liberal), raised the matter in the Commons, on November 19, 1917, 17 days after it was issued.

King asked foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour merely "whether the desire of the Government to see established a Jewish Zionist nationality in Palestine has been communicated to the Allied Powers, especially to France, Russia, Italy, and the Allied States; and whether it is one of the Allied war aims, or only a British war aim, to set up a Zionist community in the Holy Land."

And Balfour replied merely that "no official communication has been made to the Allies on the subject," and that "His Majesty's Government hope that the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people will result from the present war."

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Syria Must Burn

Here's Zionist chutzpah for you: Syria must go on burning so a nuclear Israel can feel safe from... Iran.

"Israeli officials and other diplomats familiar with the situation are finally detailing the circumstances regarding the lead-up to the southern Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the US and Russia, revealing secret talks were held in Amman and in an unnamed European capital city about the plan beforehand. Israeli officials were involved in the talks, and unsurprising given their public position since the ceasefire was announced, made clear they were unconditionally opposed to the ceasefire agreement, and objected to the creation of safe zones to limit combat in the areas. The reason for Israel's opposition to the ceasefire similarly appears to have been exactly what they've complained about since, that they believe any calm in Syria necessarily benefits Iran, and that anything that might conceivably move toward ending the Syria War must hand Iran some sort of specific defeat. It is this Iran-centric view of the Syrian conflict, despite Iran having a fairly limited involvement in it, which has led Israeli military officials to say they don't want ISIS to lose in Syria, and since the ceasefire's announcement that they are prepared to join the conflict simply to ensure that Iran, by which they mean the Shi'ite government, doesn't win." (Israel held secret talks with US, Russia to object to Syria ceasefire, Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, 9/8/17)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

'Everybody Down There Loves Israel'

"The high level of support for Israel in Australia's Jewish community is often reflected by Australia's politicians. I was invited to a lunch for Israeli journalists in Jerusalem. One had just been to Australia on an organised trip, and when we were introduced she said to me: 'I love Australia! You guys talk Zionism better than we do!' I asked her what she meant. 'Everybody down there loves Israel. We met your Opposition Leader [Tony Abbott], who told us how much he loved Israel. We thought he was fantastic, but then we met Prime Minister [Julia] Gillard. She was even better. They were saying things you would not normally hear an Israeli say!'" (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, pp 262-63)

OK, did you cringe? Vomit? Curse? Go foetal?

Really now, do you need to know anything else about the simple-minded pricks who 'run' this bloody country?

For God's sake, BUY LYONS' BOOK NOW and educate yourselves!

As for Abbott and Gillard, far from being poles apart politically, they were united in their opposition to any light being shed on the Palestinian cause. When the Australian Union of Students (AUS) bravely took up the Palestinian issue and sought to educate Australian students on the matter, the thuggish Abbott, along with his nerdy sidekick, Greg Sheridan, attended an AUS conference at Monash University in 1977, the highlight of which, for them, was their disruption of a film night on Palestine sponsored by the AUS. As for Gillard, when she became president of AUS in 1984, she made it her mission to, in the words of David Marr, "take Palestine out of student politics." Gillard, in fact, even threatened to take pro-Palestine student politicians to court for calling her a Zionist!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

AIJAC Strikes Back

"The longer I was in Israel, the more I realised that key figures in the Australian Jewish community sat on the far right of the Israeli political spectrum. In Israel I was able to have meaningful discussions with key army or intelligence figures about the Palestinian issue. But with many of Australia's Jewish leaders this was just not possible. It was almost as if they felt that, given they were not living in Israel, they needed to take a harder line than many people who were living there." (Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, John Lyons, 2017, pp 260-61)

"In response to our legitimate articulation of an alternative viewpoint on the Middle East, Lyons has devoted a chapter of his memoir to falsely portraying AIJAC as an extreme, hardline mouthpiece for the Israeli Right. Is this the same AIJAC that sponsors programs for prominent Israeli Labor leaders to visit Australia, as part of our efforts to expose people from both countries to counterparts from across the political and social spectrum? Is this the same AIJAC that issued a media release in February this year openly criticising Israeli legislation that would retrospectively legalise settlement outposts on land owned by Palestinians? In a healthy democracy, holding the media to account is arguably as important as holding politicians to account. Lyons ended his comment piece by quoting hard-left Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar's demonising of AIJAC and saying the Australian government did 'not (give) a shit' about his children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Lyons also describes as a hero another Israeli journalist even more extreme, Haaretz's Gideon Levy, an advocate of economic, artistic and academic boycotts against Israel. That's like forming your view of Australia from Green Left Weekly. It's sad that Lyon's response to the normal functioning of interest groups in a pluralist democracy is so vitriolic but it does demonstrate the value of AIJAC and others in advancing additional evidence and alternative views to his." (In Israel, as anywhere, objectivity, balance, multiple voices are critical to credible journalism, Mark Leibler, The Australian, 7/8/17)

Monday, August 7, 2017

What's Asad Got to Do With It?

This is how the Australian's national security editor, Paul Maley, chooses to introduce his story on the alleged Islamic State plot to blow up a Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight last month:

"As Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad rained down chemical gas on the village of Khan Shaykhun... a senior Islamic State fighter in Syria sent a text message to his brother in Australia." (From Syria to Sydney: how plot unfolded, 5/8/17)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

That Shitty Little Country 3

A chip off the old block:

"The fur began to fly when the Netanyahu family's 10-year mixed-breed bitch Kaiya allegedly defecated in a Jerusalem park while being walked by eldest son Yair. A neighbour who said she witnessed the act wrote on Facebook that when she challenged Yair to clean up after the animal, he made an obscene gesture with his middle finger." (Cops list Bibi as bribery suspect, AP, AFP, The Australian, 5/8/17)

See That Shitty Little Country 1 (6/2/09) & 2 (24/3/09)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Australian Reviews John Lyons

John Lyon's invaluable book, Balcony Over Jerusalem, was reviewed in today's Australian by one of its journalists, David Leser.

Unfortunately, Leser's seemingly irresistible urge to defend the indefensible - apartheid Israel - and indulge in special pleading for Palestine's colonisers and occupiers tells us far more about Leser than it does about Lyons' book.

Here we go then:

"... the Middle East is a hellishly complex place. Every aspect of history is contested. Every word is loaded."

Quite why Leser feels he has to reference the entire Middle East when dealing specifically with Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is anyone's guess. But I simply don't understand how he can seriously talk about contested history and loaded words without reference to the following passage which he earlier quotes from Lyons' book: "If the whole world could see the occupation up close, it would demand that it end tomorrow. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians would not pass muster in the West if the full details were known. The only reason Israel is getting away with this is because it has one of the most formidable public-relations machines ever seen..."

Without Israel's vast propaganda apparatus there'd be neither contestation nor loading.

"I've argued with family members over this issue, and lost Jewish friends in the process - all because I believe, like Lyons, that the occupation is a moral stain on both the Jewish State and the Jewish soul."

I don't get it. Why the arguments? Occupied river-to-sea Palestine belongs to neither Leser nor his family. Neither he nor his family nor his Jewish friends have a right to one centimetre of Palestinian soil. And not only is the occupation he refers to "a moral stain," the very existence of a "Jewish Stateon Palestinian Arab land is a moral stain on all who conceived it, created it, and, today, continue to support it.

"My concern is that for all the rush of understandable anger [Lyons] directs at Israel, his book is mostly devoid of sympathy for the multiple internal problems and frailties that Israelis face, not to mention the wild diversity of the country's immigrant survivor population."

Does Leser seriously expect Lyons (or anyone else), who has, in Lyons' words, seen the occupation "up close," to sympathise with its perpetrators? Has Leser, in his 40-year-old career as a journalist, ever once felt sympathy for the people of any other occupying power? And, seriously, where is the "wild diversity" in a Jewish state?

"Throughout history Jews have been despised, displaced, vilified, persecuted and, ultimately exterminated for the fact of their Jewishness, and they have carried their collective trauma - this epigenetic inheritance - into a murderous neighbourhood where they are both a minority and majority at the same time. A tiny minority among hundreds of millions of (mostly) Arabs and a majority when it comes to the Palestinians."

And the Palestinian Arabs are responsible for that? Historical anti-Semitism in Europe trumps the right of Palestinians to their Palestinian homeland? What kind of sick morality is that? And who funneled European Jews into said "murderous neighbourhood"? I'll tell you who - the murderous Zionist movement, motivated by one hell of a murderous idea: Jews in, Palestinians out.

"That, along with countless wars and acts of terrorism over the past 70 years, is what has driven the psychopathology of victimhood and its inevitable - and terrible - consequence: oppression."

Yes, countless wars... initiated by the Israeli army. And countless acts of terrorism... initiated by the Israeli army and its pre-state predecessors, the Haganah, the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

But the biggest deception here is Leser's omission of any reference to the Zionist movement. The dark truth is that Israel is the product of a settler-colonial movement, riding roughshod, as these movements do, over the rights of the natives, not some pitiable creature whose past was so traumatic that it just can't help using the Palestinians as a collective punching bag.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Israeli Brutality from the River to the Sea

As I said in a previous post, all of Palestine, from the River to the Sea, is Israeli-occupied land. If you think that the crimes of the occupation are confined to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that the law of the jungle only applies east of the fabled Green Line, think again:

"According to Adalah, Israel's Police Investigation Unit (Mahash), which operates under the Ministry of Justice, disregards the majority of complaints filed against Israeli police. In a 2014 report, Adalah found that between 2011 and 2013, the Mahash closed 93% of complaints without laying charges... At least 50 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been killed by police since 2000." ('They killed him because he was an Arab', Zena Tahhan, aljazeera.com, 31/7/17)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

More Fake Noos

Hmm...

"Those who remain [in Raqqa] include Chechen veterans, former al-Qaida militants and Iraqi Ba'athists who fought for Saddam Hussein. They are ready to die for the 'caliphate' but have amassed hundreds of thousands of civilians around them as human shields." (Teen army tightening net on ISIS in Raqqa, Louise Callaghan, The Sunday Times/The Australian, 2/8/17)

Iraqi Ba'athists who fought for Saddam Hussein???

You're kidding me, Louise. That was 2003. This is is 2017.

Are you seriously telling us that a bunch of Iraqi blokes, brought up on a diet of secular Ba'athist Arab nationalism, and now over 14 years older than they were in 2003, are prepared to die for a... 'caliphate'... in Syria?

Pull the other.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blown Away by Labor's Advance on Palestine/Israel?

Before anyone gets too carried away by the latest glacial advance in the ALP's Palestine policy, please remember that Israel's illegal post-67 West Bank settlement project, which Bob Carr in particular opposes as standing in the way of a two-state solution to the Palestine/Israel project, is, in all its essentials, no different to Israel's pre-67 settlement project.

Every square inch of historic Palestine from the river to the sea is occupied and colonised Arab land.

It matters not whether the occupation and colonisation took place before 1967, or after.

Whether it takes the form of a Balfour Declaration or a United Nations partition plan, no imperial power, or collection thereof, had, or has, the right to dispose of one square centimetre of Arab Palestinian land.

It's Hebron today - but before that it was Haifa. It's Jerusalem today - but before that it was Jaffa.

After 1967, the Zionist land thieves were called settlers - before that kibbutzniks. Same colonial smell, same...

The Zionist settler-colonial, apartheid project called Israel has no right, God-given or otherwise, to one square centimetre of Arab Palestine.

Please keep this in mind before you get too excited about NSW Labor's 'secure and recognised borders,' or anything else to do with Palestine.

And take this ice cold shower:

"Israel fears 'delegitimization' more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtain lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an entity that has come to be known as the 'least safe place for Jews in the world.'

"Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn't even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn't have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.

"Israel is a failed experiment. It is on life-support - pull those three plugs and it is a cadaver, living only in the minds of some seriously deluded foreigners who thought they could pull off the heist of the century.

"The most important thing we can do as we hover over the horizon of One State is to shed the old language rapidly. None of it was real anyway - it was just the parlance of that particular 'game'. Grow a new vocabulary of possibilities - the new state will be the dawn of humanity's great reconciliation. Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Palestine as they once did.

"Naysayers can take a hike. Our patience is wearing thinner than the walls of the hovels that Palestinian refugees have called 'home' for three generations in their purgatory camps.

"These universally exploited refugees are entitled to nice apartments - the ones that have pools and a grove of palm trees outside the lobby. Because the kind of compensation owed for this failed Western experiment will never be enough.

"And no, nobody hates Jews. That is the fallback argument screeched in our ears - the one 'firewall' remaining to protect this Israeli Frankenstein. I don't even care enough to insert the caveats that are supposed to prove I don't hate Jews. It is not a provable point, and frankly, it is a straw man of an argument. If Jews who didn't live through the Holocaust still feel the pain of it, then take that up with the Germans. Demand a sizeable plot of land in Germany - and good luck to you.

"For anti-Semites salivating over an article that slams Israel, ply your trade elsewhere - you are part of the reason this problem exists.

"Israelis who don't want to share Palestine as equal citizens with the indigenous Palestinian population - the ones who don't want to relinquish that which they demanded Palestinians relinquish 64 years ago - can take their second passports and go back home. Those remaining had better find a positive attitude - Palestinians have shown themselves to be a forgiving lot. The amount of carnage they have experienced at the hands of their oppressors - without proportional response - shows remarkable restraint and faith.

"This is less the death of a Jewish state than it is the demise of the last remnants of modern-day colonialism. It is a rite of passage - we will get through it just fine. At this particular precipice in the 21st century, we are all, universally Palestinian - undoing this wrong is a test of our collective humanity, and nobody has the right to sit this one out.

"Israel has no right to exist. Break that mental barrier and just say it: 'Israel has no right to exist.' Roll it around your tongue, tweet it, post it as your Facebook status update - do it before you think twice. Delegitimization is here - have no fear. Palestine will be less painful than Israel ever was." (Excuse me, but Israel has no right to exist, Sharmine Narwani, english.al-akhbar.com, 17/5/12)