Friday, March 31, 2017

History Repeating Itself

In his account of the massacre of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of Surafend (Sarafand) by ANZACs in December 1918 (following the death of a New Zealand trooper at the hands of an Arab thief), the Australian war correspondent and historian, Henry Gullett wrote as follows:

"In fairness to the New Zealanders, who were the chief actors, and to the Australians who gave them hearty support, the spirit of the men at that time must be considered. They were the pioneers and the leaders of a long campaign. Theirs had been the heaviest sacrifice. The three brigades of Anzac Mounted Division had been for almost three years comrades in arms... The war task was now completed and they... were going home. To them the loss of a veteran comrade by foul murder, at the hands of a race they despised, was a crime that called for instant justice. They were in no mood for delay. In their movement against Surafend, therefore, they felt that, while wreaking vengeance on the Arabs, they would at the same time work off their old feeling against the bias of the disciplinary branch of General Headquarters, and its studied omission to punish Arabs for crime. They were angry and bitter beyond sound reasoning. All day the New Zealanders quietly organised for their work in Surafend, and early in the night marched out many hundreds strong and surrounded the village. In close support and full sympathy were large bodies of Australians. Good or bad, the cause of the New Zealanders was theirs. Entering the village, the New Zealanders grimly passed out all the women and children and then, armed chiefly with heavy sticks, fell upon the men and at the same time fired the houses. Many Arabs were killed, few escaped without injury; the village was demolished. The flames from the wretched houses lit up the countryside, and Allenby and his staff could not fail to see the conflagration and hear the shouts of the troops and the cries of their victims. The Anzacs, having finished with Surafend, raided and burned the neighbouring nomad camp, and then went quickly back to their lines." (Quoted in Paul Daley's Beersheba: A Journey Through Australia's Forgotten War, 2009, pp 343-44)

A comment on my 15/10/12 post Time to Revisit the ANZAC's Sarafand Massacre indicates that bayonets were also used:

"I first heard about this event from the son of a NZ soldier who was there (I think) name of Gainfort and he was in 2000 one of the last survivors of WW 1 being nearly 100 years old. I was told the story after I mentioned a sickly lamb I had, had died. I said it had not been worth treating... and was told 'not worth a bullet'. His father told him they bayonetted the Arabs as they were not worth a bullet. Tough men in those days."

My reason for returning again to this subject, is the appearance of a new book, Hit & Run, by New Zealanders Nicky Hager and John Stephenson. The book's blurb runs:

"In August 2010, a New Zealand soldier died in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan. In retaliation, the New Zealand SAS led a raid on two isolated villages in search of the fighters they suspected were responsible. They all knew the rules. Prior to firing weapons, their freshly issued orders said, 'the commander approving the strike must determine that no civilians are present.' If they could not assess whether civilians were present, firing was prohibited. But it all went horribly wrong. None of the fighters were found but, by the end of the raid, 21 civilians were dead or wounded. Most were children or women, including a three-year-old girl who was killed. A dozen houses had been burnt or blown up. The operation was personally approved by the prime minister via phone from New Zealand. More missions against the group of fighters and more potential crimes of war followed, including the beating and torture of a prisoner. Afterwards no one took responsibility. The New Zealand military denied the facts and went to great lengths to cover things up. This book is the story of those events. It is, at heart, about the meaning of honour; about who we want to be and what we believe in as New Zealanders."

What we have here is an uncanny similarity to the events of December 1918 in Palestine. It seems that the only appreciable differences between the two war crimes are that, in the case of Afghanistan, the go-ahead came directly from the prime minister of the day, John Key, and not even the women and children were spared. (That is, if, with respect to the latter, Gullett's account is correct.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Tale of Two Protests

In his latest commentary, A tale of two protests, antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo compares two tweeted photographs - one of Yemeni protesters, the other of Russian protesters - and draws a telling conclusion about the priorities and values of Western political and media elites:

"That day hundreds of thousands of Yemenis rallied against the vicious war being waged against them by Saudi Arabia and the United States - and look at the faces in that photo. These are children, their faces distorted by rage at what is happening to their country, and their lives. Their youth is no accident: most of the victims of this sickeningly immoral war are children, felled by US-supplied bombs dropped by US-manufactured warplanes, the rest killed by starvation. The Saudis are committing war crimes in Yemen - one of the poorest nations on earth - with the aid and active assistance of the Pentagon, which is now contemplating an even deeper involvement by the US.

"Yet this massive outpouring of protest received minimal coverage in the Western media compared to another protest that occurred on that same day in Russia, where the Russian bourgeoisie mobilized in the big cities, demonstrating against official corruption. This received front page attention in the Western media, while liberal commentators and their neoconservative allies demanded that President Trump make a statement of support (he did not). Naturally, the photographers from the Western media were swarming all over this manifestation of discontent with the hated Putin (hated, that is, by Western liberals), and, as per usual, they settled on one photo as the 'iconic' image meant to convey the plight of the Russian people...

"There she is, a well-dressed and apparently well-fed young woman being ever-so-gently lifted by the police. There is no expression on her face except for a vague emptiness, an absence of anger, passion, or any of the other emotions one associates with a righteous cause. Contrast this with the faces of the Yemeni children, their visages reflecting the utter desperation of their condition, their little fists raised in expressions of outraged militance - a militance that will, not so far in the future, be aimed at those who killed their brothers, their sisters, their parents, their nation. Aimed, in short, at us." (29/3/17)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just Another ALP Show Phony

Compare and contrast:

1)

Pinned Tweet:

Senator Penny Wong 17/9/16 Time for leaders to speak up#leadership

"Nobody needs to defend Pauline Hanson's right to speak. Leadership is about defending those without a voice. Those Pauline Hanson is attacking." Senator Penny Wong

2)

"Penny Wong, the new Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the ALP, has said nothing at all [about the US-backed, Saudi-led, genocidal war on Yemen]. In response to media queries sent to the offices of Plibersek and Wong, I received a response from Stephen Spencer, the media adviser to Wong. He sent me what he said was 'Labor's position on Yemen'. It read:

'Labor is deeply concerned by the conflict in Yemen and the attacks on civilians, schools and hospitals. Labor condemns all violence and urges restraint from all parties. Labor calls on both sides of the Saudi Arabian-Yemeni conflict, the Houthis and the pro-government forces, to de-escalate the conflict and resume negotiations, consistent with UN Security Council resolution 2216. Labor calls on both sides of the Saudi Arabian-Yemeni conflict to restore peace, security and stability to Yemen and the region.'

"This is the only thing they have said about the war on Yemen. They did not release it publicly. The only record of it, until this article, was in the email sent to me." (Penny for her thoughts: ALP changes stance on Yemen from silence to waffly garbage, Michael Brull, newmatilda.com, 29/3/17 )

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Fairfax Mystery: The PLO Uprising That Wasn't

WTF is going on at Fairfax?

Here's a two-sentence extract from a piece that appeared on the websites of both Fairfax papers (Age & SMH), Life in the shadows for Palestinians caught in Syria's conflict, by Marika Sosnowski:

"After accepting thousands of Palestinians who fled or were displaced by Israel in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967, in 1970 the PLO under Yasser Arafat clashed with Jordan's Hashemite monarchy. The conflict, which came to be known as Black September, ended with thousands of Palestinians killed and the PLO leadership and militants expelled to Lebanon." (26/3/17)

Now here's how it appeared, in a less coherent form, and containing a marked anti-Palestinian tweak, in the print edition of the SMH on March 27 - I've boldened the changes:

"After accepting thousands of Palestinians who fled or were displaced by its Western neighbour Israel in wars in 1948 and 1967, in 1970 the PLO under Yasser Arafat staged an uprising against their Jordanian hosts, the Hashemite monarchy. The conflict, which came to be known as Black September, was violently quashed by the Jordanian Armed Forces. Thousands of Palestinians were killed and the PLO leadership and fighters were expelled to Lebanon."

Needless to say, anyone with a comprehensive knowledge of modern Palestinian history would know that there was no Palestinian "uprising" in Jordan in 1970. What there was was a bloody crackdown by King Hussein on the armed Palestinian resistance movement based there, and a heroic, but ultimately doomed, defence by the latter against the Jordanian army's vastly superior numbers and firepower.

So how do we account for the two versions? And which is Sosnowski's, who, according to her twitter account, is a Melbourne University-trained lawyer and "regular Middle East commentator"?

Monday, March 27, 2017

What Would Bin Laden Say?

One of the Guardian's stable of Israel apologists, Nick Cohen, returns to one of his favorite themes, the left's (Cohen is nothing if not broad brush) alleged embrace of 'Islamism' (he's equally broad brush when it comes to political Islam):

"The worst elements on the left once exploited Islamism in an identical manner. When jihadis attacked New York, London or Paris they, too, joined what I called the 'kill us, we deserve it' school of foreign policy analysis. In their case, it was not our tolerance of immigration that brought punishment. Rather, they explained away the crimes of an irrational religious totalitarianism as logical responses to western foreign policy, poverty or discrimination, which... they already opposed." (The lies of the right that debase civilised society, theguardian.com, 26/3/17)

Ah yes, 9/11. Cohen's telling us here that the terror attack on New York, presumably planned by Osama bin Laden, had everything to do with "irrational religious totalitarianism," and nothing whatever to do with "Western foreign policy."

Not according to bin Laden, however:

"People of America,

"I speak to you today about the best way to avoid another Manhattan, about the war, its causes, and its consequences. First of all, I tell you that security is one of the pillars of human life. Free men do not underestimate the value of their security, despite Bush's claim that we hate freedom. Perhaps he can tell us why we did not attack Sweden, for example?

"It is well known that those who despise freedom do not possess proud souls, unlike the nineteen [the 9/11 hijackers], may God bless them. We have been fighting you because we are free men who cannot acquiesce in injustice. We want to restore security to our umma. Just as you violate our security, so we violate yours. Whoever encroaches upon the security of others and imagines that he will himself remain safe is but a foolish criminal. When disasters happen, intelligent people look for the reasons behind them, so that they can avoid them in the future.

"But I am amazed at you. Although we are now into the fourth year since the events of September 11, Bush is still practicing his deception, misleading you about the real reason behind it. As a result, there are still motives for a repeat [attack]. I will explain to you the real reasons behind these events, and I will tell you the truth about the moments when this decision was taken, so that you can reflect on it. God knows that the plan of striking the towers had not occurred to us, but the idea came to me when things went just too far with the American-Israeli alliance's oppression and atrocities against our people in Palestine and Lebanon.

"The events that made a direct impression on me were during and after 1982, when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon with the help of its third fleet. They started bombing, killing, and wounding many, while others fled in terror. I still remember those distressing scenes: blood, torn limbs, women and children massacred. All over the place, houses were being destroyed and tower blocks were collapsing, crushing their residents, while bombs rained down mercilessly on our homes. It was like a crocodile devouring a child, who could do nothing but scream. Does a crocodile understand anything other than weapons? The whole world heard and saw what happened, but did nothing. In those critical moments, many ideas raged inside me, ideas difficult to describe, but they unleashed a powerful urge to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the oppressors.

"As I looked at those destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the oppressor in kind by destroying towers in America, so that it would have a taste of its own medicine and would be prevented from killing our women and children. On that day I became sure that the oppression and intentional murder of innocent women and children is a deliberate American policy. It seemed then that 'freedom' and 'democracy' are actually just terror, just as resistance is labelled 'terrorism' and 'reaction.' Imposing lethal sanctions on millions of people, as Bush Sr did, and carrying out the mass butchering of children, is the worst thing that humanity has ever known. So is dropping millions of pounds of bombs and explosives on millions of children in Iraq, as Bush Jr did, to remove a former collaborator, and install a new one who will help steal Iraq's oil, as well as commit other atrocities." (The Towers of Lebanon (29/10/04), from Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, Edited by Bruce Lawrence, 2004, pp 239-40)

Hey, but what would bin Laden know?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Australia Sells Arms to Saudi Arabia

The Turnbull Government is now directly stoking the US-backed Saudi/UAE war on the Yemeni people:

"Australian firms have secured contracts to supply military equipment to Saudi Arabia, an autocracy accused of ongoing war crimes in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 civilians. Defence has approved four military exports to the kingdom in the past year and the Australian government has led the push for more. But the government has refused to release details of the approved military sales, citing commercial-in-confidence rules... Mr Pyne [Minister for Defence Industry]... would not comment on the value of materiel exports to Saudi Arabia... He declined to name which businesses accompanied him to Riyadh." (Defence approves military deals with Saudi Arabia, Patrick Begley, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/3/17)

See also my 2/2/16 post Australia's Dogs of War in Yemen.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The ALP: Neither Principles Nor Brains

God I'm tired of the Australian Labor Party. We all know it's as devoid of principles as a fish is of feathers. But principles aside, what about brains?

OK, wrack yours and come up with just one ALP politician since Whitlam who could be said to have even the proverbial half-a-brain.

Struggling?

Maybe Barry Jones, former Science Minister (1983-90) of 'Knowledge Nation' fame, two-time National President of the ALP (1992-2000; 2005-2006, and now Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne comes to mind. Certainly, he's probably the nearest thing to Einstein to emerge from the ranks of the ALP, which, BTW, he joined in 1950.

I note that he recently (2015) appeared on The Conversation arguing that our political system was in crisis in part because of our politicians' refusal to analyse and explain complex problems. So what happens when Labor's supposed Einstein analyses the modern Middle East, which is one of the things he sets out to do in his 2016 book Knowledge, Courage, Leadership, under the heading Middle Eastern horrors?

Short answer: he screws up.

Some examples:

"After Islam swept through the Middle East, then North Africa and Spain... Christian Europe had limited understanding of the Muslim world, and failed to comprehend deep divisions between Sunnis (and the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect) and Sh'ites [sic], sectarian feuds about organisation and authority in Islam and interpretation of the Qu'ran [sic], which began in the generation after Muhammad's death (632)." (p 154)

Hello? The Wahhabis originated in 18th century Arabia.

"Britain resisted attempts to settle in Palestine large numbers of Jews displaced... from Europe in the 1930s, anxious to avoid offering [sic] Arabs and jeopardising access to oil." (p 155)

This statement is wholly incorrect. Following the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Britain oversaw the flooding of Palestine with Zionist settlers from Europe. She only sought to restrict the flow in 1939, after 3 years of Arab rebellion. In the words of the MacDonald White Paper of that year: "[T]he fear of the Arabs that this influx will continue indefinitely until the Jewish population is in a position to dominate them [has] made possible disturbances which have given a serious setback to economic progress, depleted the Palestine exchequer, rendered life and property insecure, and produced a bitterness between the Arab and Jewish populations which is deplorable..." The White Paper announced, therefore, that Jewish immigration into Palestine would henceforth be restricted to 75,000 over the next 5 years, and that after that, Jewish immigrants would only be allowed in with the acquiescence of the Palestinian Arabs.

"The creation of Israel (1948)... was a reaction to the horror and moral abyss of the Holocaust... Israel has been subject to constant threat ever since 1948, but it survives." (p 155)

This is patent nonsense. The Zionist movement had been scheming for the creation of 'Israel' from its inception in the 1890s, long before the Holocaust. The leadership of Palestine's armed Zionist gangs in late 40s Palestine were only interested in Holocaust survivors in so far as they could be used as cannon fodder to help wrest control of Palestine from its majority Arab population. 

And as for "constant threat" and "survival", one merely has to ask:

a) if you muscle in on someone else's patch, what the hell do you expect you're going to get in return, hugs and kisses?

b) if integrity of life and limb are really what matters to you (and who would deny it?) would you rather be an Israeli Jew or a Palestinian Arab?

"The Suez conflict (1916) in which Britain and France invaded Egypt to reclaim the Suez Canal, which had been nationalised by President Nasser." (p 156)

This is like a summary of World War II which mentions only Italy and Japan on the Axis side. The 1956 aggression against Egypt was the result of an Israeli-French-British conspiracy. On October 29, 1956, Israeli forces crossed into Sinai and raced towards the Suez Canal. A combined Anglo-French paratroop unit was dropped onto Port Said a week later, on November 4, prior to a planned advance on Ismailia and Suez.

"In June 1967 ('The Six Day War') Israel defeated invading forces from Egypt, Syria and Jordan." (p 156)

No, this is Israeli folklore. Israel struck the first blow when it attacked the Egyptian air force on the ground in a surprise pre-emptive attack on the morning of 5 June, 1967. This was followed by similar attacks on the Jordanian, Iraqi and Syrian air forces. As Israeli General Peled, Chief of Logistical Command during the war, wrote on 3 June, 1972 in Le Monde: "All those stories about the huge danger we were facing because of our small territorial size, an argument expounded once the war was over, have never been considered in our calculations. While we proceeded towards the full mobilisation of our forces, no person in his right mind could believe that all this force was necessary to our 'defence' against the Egyptian threat. This force was to crush once and for all the Egyptians at the military level and their Soviet masters at the political level. To pretend that the Egyptian forces concentrated on our borders were capable of threatening Israel's existence does not only insult the intelligence of any person capable of analysing this kind of situation, but is primarily an insult to the Israeli army."

Finally, there's this complete gibberish:

"In Jordan, the West funded and encouraged Hezbollah (jihadist + clean) to weaken Hamas (pragmatic + corrupt), presumably hoping that a fractured leadership would be helpful for Israel. Jordan had been essentially secularist but jihadism has become a significant force." (p 156)

To which one can only respond by asking, WTF was going on in his head when he wrote that?

Jones has been in retirement on a fat parliamentary pension for decades now. He has had all the time in the world (and supposedly the brains) to get the basics of modern Middle Eastern history right. If this, then, is the best our Einstein manque can do on the subject, what hope can we possibly expect from such intellectual pygmies as Shorten and crew?

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Australian: All Shock, No Yawn

Only in Murdoch's  Australian:

SHOCK!

"New ACTU secretary Sally McManus told the Greens mayor of a Sydney inner-west council that she vigorously supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel, a stand directly at odds with Labor policy and local federal MP Anthony Albanese." (ACTU chief backed anti-Israel campaign, Brad Norington, The Australian, 21/3/17)

HORROR!

"Some observers believe Ms McManus could be amenable to using the Greens and their political influence to push Labor further to the left in backing pro-union workplace laws. The ACTU's policy on Israel is to support 'comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine' based on co-existence. While supporting past UN resolutions critical of Israel and its continued occupation of the West Bank, ACTU policy does not extend to wholehearted support for the BDS campaign. Many right-wing unions oppose it." (ibid)

Never in The Australian:

*YAWN*

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick (who leads an outfit called the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue (AILD) and seems to spend an awful lot of time in Israel) tweeted on March 3: "Great pleasure to have met today in Tel Aviv with Eran Hermoni, the newly elected Secretary-General of the Israeli Labor Party."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Halabi Affair

Nothing about the following on DFAT's website, FB or twitter. Ditto for Bishop. Nothing in Fairfax. Nothing in Murdoch's Australian, which has been banging this drum for months:

"The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) says an internal review into World Vision funding in Gaza has uncovered nothing to suggest any diversion of government aid funding to Hamas. The review was announced last August after World Vision Gaza employee Mohammed El Halabi was arrested and put on trial accused of channelling millions to the militant group. Israeli officials claimed the humanitarian worker siphoned off government funds and charity donations to build tunnels, buy weapons and pay for the salaries of Hamas militants. The Australian Government has given more than $3 million to World Vision projects in Gaza in the past three years.

"The news DFAT found no evidence of the misuse of World Vision funds comes as Mr Halabi's trial continues in Israel. He has rejected a plea deal offered by Israeli authorities and has pleaded not guilty, claiming he is innocent of all charges. Mr Halabi has accused Israeli authorities of torturing him while in custody. Several witnesses the prosecution has presented to court have also accused Israeli intelligence officers of torturing them during interrogation.

"The NGO has stood beside Mr Halabi, saying he is a trusted employee and that they have also found no evidence yet of the diversion of World Vision funds. World Vision chief advocate Tim Costello said he was very pleased to hear the results of the review. So far, our own ongoing forensic audit has not uncovered any money subverted and to hear DFAT say their investigation hasn't either is consistent and very good news,' Mr Costello told ABC news.

"Despite numerous court hearings in Mr Halabi's trial, Israeli authorities have not yet produced any evidence to back up the explosive claims made against Halabi by Israeli officials... DFAT said Australia's funding to World Vision in the Palestinian territories remained suspended until they considered the outcomes of the court case against Mr Halabi and reviews being undertaken by World Vision." (No evidence of diversion of World Vision funds to Hamas DFAT says, Sophie McNeill, abc.net.au, 21/3/17)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Harari & Friends

Yuval Noah Harari gets a dinner invitation from Haaretz columnist Benny Ziffer, and look who's coming to dinner:

"After the election [in March], Sara Netanyahu thanked me profusely for defending her and invited me over for dinner. I thought that it would be better if they came to our house. The truth is that my culinary experience at the Prime Minister's residence was not very exciting... We set up a little buffet in the corner of the living room, and opened the windows and balcony doors wide. The security guards remained outside and even the street wasn't closed off. I also invited [writers] Eyal Megged and Zeruya Shalev who are mutual friends and to embellish the dinner party I invited Nehemia Shtrasler, Prof. Yigal Schwartz and his wife and Yuval Noah Harari and his partner. We had a lovely evening. It was enjoyable and interesting." ('I hate the Left!', Naami Lanski, israelhayom.com, 22/4/16)

It was. Benny's a great raconteur. Sample:

"I feel that the Left is disingenuous with the slogans it disseminates. 'Stop the occupation,' for example. That's not realistic. It's a bunch of bull. This week I went to [the Palestinian village of] Bil'in with my wife after we hadn't been there for a long time. You go past the checkpoint and you see Modin Ilit and Kiryat Sefer, which have expanded to the point of touching the neighboring Palestinian villages, and you see some of the villages, which used to be dirty, God-forsaken hell holes, thriving and flourishing... People go there to have their cars fixed at garages, to get dental work done at dental clinics. They opened a commercial center there. There are Jewish clients. Peaceful coexistence is an inevitable byproduct of all this occupation-shmoccupation stuff. Life is stronger than any occupation. The existing model actually works." (ibid)

As Benny said, "We had a lovely evening. It was enjoyable and interesting." Harari fitted in perfectly. The perfect embellishment.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

He Who Hypes Harari

I see that that Yuval Noah Harari's over-the-top promo/Q&A by the Guardian's Andrew Anthony garnered over 600 comments. Most thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. A few evinced scepticism. Amazingly, none touched on his provenance as an Israeli living in an apartheid state built on the genocide and mass expulsion of Palestine's indigenous Arab population, or were interested in what, if anything, he had to say about this overriding matter. Ignorance is bliss?

Anyway, I thought I'd investigate Anthony. He's written a book called The Fallout: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence (2008).  In it, he writes:

"I remember how disgusted I was by [the 1982 Sabra & Shatila massacre], all the more so because only months before I had travelled through Israel and the West Bank. At the time my friends had said that visiting Israel was just as bad as visiting South Africa, for it was just another vicious apartheid regime (whereas travelling to countries in the Middle East from which Jews were forcibly ejected, or countries where a sexual apartheid operated or torture a standard project, was a recommended means of broadening the mind)."

So Anthony's "friends" were talking about Israeli apartheid at the beginning of the 80s? Really?

And then he goes to the West Bank and sees nothing worthy of comment in that regard?

And also to Arab countries where he sees/hears nothing of Palestinian refugee camps full of people actually ejected from Palestine in 1948, yet can parrot Zionist propaganda about Middle Eastern Jews "ejected"* from Arab countries?

What to make of a guy who can see no evidence of Israeli apartheid while in occupied Palestine, but mutters of  "sexual apartheid" long before hijabs and niqabs became all the rage after 9/11?

What to make of a guy who sees "torture" everywhere in the Middle East but in Israel?

I'm beginning to understand why he's working for the Guardian and spruiking YNH.

Now here's another telling extract from Fallout:

"The Iraq War and the events of 11 September 2001 do not enjoy a conventional causal relationship. No evidence exists... that links Saddam Hussein to the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. And yet without 9/11 it seems certain that Iraq would not have been invaded... The destruction of the Twin Towers transformed... global politics. It created a new paradigm - the rogue state as a facilitator of a previously unimagined scale of terrorism... "

No evidence exists... and yet Anthony seems to have no trouble in linking, however tenuously, Saddam Hussein with 9/11. It - the 9/11 acts of terrorism - created a new paradigm?

No, a cabal of Ziocons, both within and without the Bush administration, created that paradigm long before 2003, and Bush, Blair, Howard and the rest ran with it, invading and occupying Iraq, destroying the Iraqi state, sowing death, destruction, division and sectarianism wherever they went, and paving the way for AQI and its even more murderous offspring, ISIS. But, in Anthony's ambiguous characterisation, there's not a hint of this.

And isn't this bit of whataboutery so like that of every other Israel apologist you've ever read?:

"By convention, when it comes to Middle East affairs, only a terrible abuse performed by the Israeli army tends to provoke Western liberals into organized condemnation."

Any wonder he's promoting YNH in the Guardian.

[*Just click on the 'Arab Jews' label below for the facts.]

Monday, March 20, 2017

Israel's 'All-Purpose Sage'

I'm almost at the point where I wish Jonathan Freedland's Guardian website would disappear behind a paywall, like Murdoch's Australian and Fairfax's Sydney Morning Herald. Why? Because I suspect that any cash-strapped young people out there, sufficiently motivated to  read the news online, are probably heading to Guardian Australia and copping an overdose of soft pro-Israel propaganda there.

My gripe arises out of the latest Guardian promo for Yuval Noah Harari, Yuval Noah Harari: 'Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so by Andrew Anthony (19/3/17). Here, for example, is some of Anthony's PR paean to Harari (rudely interrupted by my interpolated comments):

"Now 41, Harari grew up in a secular Jewish family in Haifa. He studied history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and completed his doctorate at Oxford. He is a vegan and he meditates for two hours a day, often going to extended retreats. He says it helps him focus on the issues that really matter."

If I may interrupt here, can we all agree, perhaps, that if you are a sentient being, residing somewhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Israeli or Palestinian, then the issue that really matters for you is the Palestine/Israel problem? Yes? Hold that thought...

"He lives with his husband on a moshav, an agricultural co-operative, outside Jerusalem. Being gay, he says, helped him to question received opinions."

Really? Received opinions about what, exactly?

"One of the pleasures of reading his books is that is that he continually calls on readers... to think about what we know... And he has little time for fashionable stances."

Such as...? This is all so infuriatingly vague.

"He writes and speaks like a man who is not excessively troubled by doubt. If that makes him sound arrogant..."

Well, doesn't that describes Netanyahu and his political mates, not to mention those who voted for him? In fact, doesn't it describe just about every Israeli bar the small handful, generally derided as leftists and Arab-lovers, working against Israeli occupation and apartheid? Rhetorical question: Has this staggering genius, Yuval Noah Harari, ever left his meditations long enough to join them?

"[I]t's tempting to see him less as a historian than as some kind of all-purpose sage."

OFFS!

"We asked public figures and readers to pose questions for Harari, and many of these were of a moral or ethical nature seeking answers about what should be done, rather than about what has happened."

OK, so did any of Anthony's "public figures and readers" ask the obvious question: What is your/the solution to the Palestine/Israel problem? Short answer: no. The closest a "reader", known only as AA (Andrew Anthony?), got to that question was this:

"You live in a part of the world that has been shaped by religious fictions. Which do you think will happen first - that Homo sapiens leave behind religious fiction or the Israel-Palestine conflict will be resolved?"

Now brace yourselves for the Sage's answer:

"As things look at present, it seems that Homo sapiens will disappear before the Israeli political conflict will be resolved."

But, O Sage, what should be done about the... er... "Israeli political conflict"?

"I think that Homo sapiens as we know them will probably disappear within a century or so, not destroyed by killer robots... but changed and upgraded with biotechnology and artificial intelligence into something different."

But, O Sage, if I may bring you back to earth, what should be done now about the "Israeli political conflict," as you call it?

"The timescale for that kind of change is maybe a century."

Listen, O Wise One, fuck this "century" business, what should be done NOW?!

"And it's quite likely that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will not be resolved by that time. But it will definitely be influenced by it."

Oh well, at least the Palestinian side of the equation has made a reappearance!

So much for the sage who focuses on the issues that really matter, not to mention what should be done about them.

Next post: His Guardian spruiker, Andrew Anthony

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Another USraeli Nail in the UN Coffin

The following piece, Text of resignation letter by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf (taken from jadaliyya.com, 18/3/17) bears eloquent testimony to the ongoing emasculation and marginalisation of the UN (and so of international law) by USraeli bullying and intimidation, a process which began with the underhanded tactics used by USrael to secure the passing of the Palestine partition resolution (181) of November 29, 1947 and has gone on ever since. Read, weep, and bear in mind that nothing whatever of this sorry tale has found its way into the Australian press:

"[The following text is the resignation letter submitted by Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf in response to the formal request by UN Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] that ESCWA withdraw the publication of a report that asserts Israel is committing Apartheid. Click here to access the full ESCWA report, which has since been removed from the UN website.]

"Dear Mr Secretary-General,

"I have carefully considered your message... and assure you that at no point have I questioned your right to order the withdrawal of the report from our website or the fact that all of us working in the Secretariat are subject to the authority of its Secretary-General. Nor do I have any doubts regarding your commitment to human rights in general, or your firm position regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. I also understand the concerns that you have, particularly in these difficult times, that leave you little choice.

"I am not oblivious to the vicious attacks and threats the UN and you personally were subjected to from powerful Member States as a result of the publication of the ESCWA report 'Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People & the Question of Apartheid'. I do not find it surprising that such Member States, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices. It is only normal for criminals to pressure and attack those who advocate the cause of their victims. I cannot submit to such pressure.

"Not by virtue of my being an international official, but simply by virtue of being a decent human being, I believe, like you, in the universal values and principles that have always been the driving force for good in human history, and on which this organization of ours, the United Nations, is founded. Like you, I believe that discrimination against anyone due to their religion, skin color, sex, or ethnic origin is unacceptable, and that such discrimination cannot be rendered acceptable by the calculations of political expediency or power politics. I also believe people should not only have the freedom to speak truth to power, but they have the duty to do so.

"In the space of two months you have instructed me to withdraw two reports produced by ESCWA, not due to any fault found in the reports and probably not because you disagreed with their content, but due to the political pressure by member states who gravely violate the rights of the people of the region.

"You have seen first hand that the people of this region are going through a period of suffering unparalleled in their modern history; and that the overwhelming flood of catastrophes today is the result of a stream of injustices that were either ignored, plastered over, or openly endorsed by powerful governments inside and outside the region. Those same governments are the ones pressuring you to silence the voice of truth and the call for justice represented in these reports.

"Given the above, I cannot but stand by the findings of ESCWA's report that Israel has established an apartheid regime that seeks the domination of one racial group over another. The evidence provided by this report drafted by renowned experts is overwhelming. Suffice it to say that none of those who attacked the report had a word to say about its content. I feel it my duty to shed light on the legally inadmissible and morally indefensible fact that an apartheid regime still exists in the 21st century rather than suppressing the evidence. In saying this I claim no moral superiority nor ownership of a more prescient vision. My position might be informed by a lifetime of experiencing the dire consequences of blocking peaceful channels to addressing people's grievances in our region.

"After giving the matter due consideration, I realized that I too have little choice. I cannot withdraw another well-researched, well-documented UN work on grave violations of human rights, yet I know that clear instructions by the Secretary-General will have to be implemented promptly. A dilemma that can only be resolved by my stepping down to allow someone else to deliver what I am unable to deliver in good conscience. I know that I have only two more weeks to serve; my resignation is therefore not intended for political pressure. It is simply because I feel it my duty towards the people we serve, towards the UN and towards myself, not to withdraw an honest testimony about an ongoing crime that is at the root of so much human suffering. Therefore, I hereby submit to you my resignation from the United Nations."

A salute to Rima Khalaf, one who would not sell her soul.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Israel First

It doesn't matter whether you're President Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, or Mickey Mouse.

You can slash spending on the EPA, USAID, agriculture, labor, health and education, and increase it on 'defence', security and vets, as Trump has just done, or you can do the reverse.

You can call your budget 'America First', as Trump has done, or some other equally meaningless combination of words.

The only thing that matters is that you don't-ever-cut-funding-to-Israel:

"The budget proposal 'provides $3.1 billion to meet the security assistance commitment to Israel, currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats and maintain its Qualitative Military Edge'." (Outlining budget, Trump puts aid to Israel first while slashing elsewhere, Eric Cortellessa, The Times of Israel, 16/3/17)

By contrast: "Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and the United States must be paid more for the powerful and very expensive defense it provides to Germany." (Trump tweet)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Give Me the Sand Any Day

I notice that Bush of Baghdad's Australian poodle, John Howard, is trumpeting the creation of a Centre for Western Civilisation, "[t]he key goal of [which] will be to facilitate the teaching of Western civilisation as a coherent field of study" (Gift from a true champion of Western civilisation, John Howard, The Australian, 14/3/17), and is, moreover, to be the chairman of its board.

'Civilisation' (along with its mate, 'progress') seems to be experiencing something of a revival these days.

It was, of course, under such diverting rubrics as these that the Zionist colonisers of Palestine in the 1920s and 30s, protected by British bayonets, quietly went about preparing for the day when they could snatch Palestine from the hands of its Arab inhabitants.

Many Britons at that time were entranced by such words, and cheered on the Zionist colonial-settler project in their name. But not all.

As one British observer of the Palestinian scene, the Anglican preacher, suffragist and antiwar campaigner Maude Royden (1876-1956), noted in her 1939 book, The Problem of Palestine:

"Before attempting a solution of the Palestinian problem, it is necessary to consider a question which has up to now hardly been raised: it is the question of the meaning of the word 'civilization'.

"Putting aside the promises made by the British to the Arab and to the Jew, putting aside also our right to make some of these promises at all, let us consider the present situation as realists who wish to make the best of a bad business. Englishmen are apt at this point to reflect that, in any case, the Arabs have a great deal to gain by co-operation with the Jews. The Arabs of Palestine are terribly poor. The Jews have brought with them capital, intelligence and a knowledge of Western science which will make much of the fertile places and at least all that can be made of the barren. Moreover they are deeply concerned with all that improves hygiene and are a modern, progressive and enlightened people. If we admit that the Arabs should have been consulted before the promise of a National Home for Jews was made, did we not after all do them a great service when we made it?

"This was, I admit, my own view when I first looked at the problem. I had realized that the old association of ideas by which Palestine and the Jews were one thing in the minds of people brought up on the Bible as I had been was a misleading one. I had grasped the fact that Arabs and Turks were not the same people in spite of their being both Moslems! I had got hold of the fact that the Arabs had been settled in Palestine for thirteen hundred years and were still there, to the extent of over 90% of the population, at the outbreak of war. I was reasonable enough to perceive that, these things being so, it was monstrous of us to have given away their land to the Jews (who had left it 2,000 years ago) without even going through the form of consulting them first.

"I still believed that we had done them a service, even if unintentionally, and that they were, if within their rights resenting it, foolish and shortsighted to do so.

"My position I believe to be that of a large number of my fellow-countrymen and women. It is based on the assumption that the Jews are offering to the Arabs in Palestine 'a higher civilization'.

"What is meant by this phrase? I find that, unconsciously, one is apt to mean by it 'a higher material standard of life'. This phrase (omitting the word 'material') is quoted in the Woodhead Commission Report from a memorandum 'received from a Jewish source'. The memorandum speaks of 'the two different standards of life' in Palestine; 'that of the bulk of the Arab population and the higher one introduced by Jewish... settlers'. The reference is to 'education and standards of life'.

"Before assuming that the Arabs owe gratitude to the Jews for their efforts to raise the Arab standard of life, it necessary to ask whether the civilization which is based on a simple way of living, on a rural foundation, sustained by agriculture and other farming, is necessarily a lower one than that which is urban, commercial and industrial. This question does not seem to have been put; yet it is worth putting. The advantages of Jewish immigration to Palestinian Arabs may then be seen in a different night."

Royden instances the case of the Zionist-conceived and -built city of Tel-Aviv, just to the north of the ancient Arab port city of Jaffa:

"In Palestine [the Jews] have... created Tel-Aviv on a piece of sand. Both the Royal and the Woodhead Commissioners describe this last feat as 'startling', and certainly it is so. Here is a considerable town, full of life and activity and as purely Jewish as a town can be. It is building schools, houses and places of business, and it is already a port of importance."

Be that as it may, she asks rhetorically, "Is a piece of sand such a frightful spectacle?"

And adds:

"There are some who prefer it to Brighton, just as there are many to whom Brighton is a delight and the seashore a horror unless it be lined with piers and esplanades.

"We may enjoy our own preference without condemning the other. When, however, the urbanized and industrialized civilization is described as the 'higher' one, and the farmer and peasant expected to be grateful to those who thrust it upon him, we are entitled to claim that, on the contrary, he has a right to prefer his own." (pp 108-16)

Such critical thinking, however, would be lost on Howard, with his mindless prattle about "the Judeo-Christian ethic" and Australia's "deep-seated tolerance towards people of different backgrounds."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

One Dark Night, While Out Campaigning for Michael Danby...

Your Honour, it really wasn't our fault. There we were, just a hapless, ragged quartet of Labor powerbrokers going about our business in the wee small hours, when, all of a sudden, the hideous, contorted features of our enemies, albeit in poster form, began leering and mocking us as we hastened by, or so it seemed, there in the gloom. So provoking were their fiendish faces, that we were quite overcome. David, George and Dean, as is their wont, looked to me for courage and leadership, and without a second thought, I found myself crying out: 'Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more... The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, Cry 'God for Michael, Israel & St Bill!' Know what I mean, your Honour? (With apologies to the Bard)

"Four Labor figures with links to Opposition leader Bill Shorten are set to be spared criminal records over allegations they vandalised polling places on the morning of the last federal election. The quartet of middle-aged party powerbrokers are accused of damaging Liberal and Greens promotional material at polling booths from Ellwood to Port Melbourne early on July 2 last year.

"One of the accused, Andrew Landeryou*, is the husband of Victorian senator Kimberly Kitching. David Boutros-Asmar, George Droutsas and Dean Sherriff are also accused of taking part in damaging the material of rival parties. The four men were campaigning for Michael Danby, who retained the seat of Melbourne Ports for the ALP. The Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Wednesday that it was likely the men would be penalised under the court's diversion program. The program allows people charged with minor criminal charges to avoid having criminal records provided they accept responsibility for their offending." (Labor four avoid conviction over vandalism, Adam Cooper/ Nino Bucci, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/3/17)

[*Of the binned vexnews blog. Sample tweet: "In Israel, violent nutters are put in prison. In Gaza, violent nutters are put in power." (9/8/15)]

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bill Leak's Middle East

Are you ready for more "wicked fun"? Can you take any more "brilliant insights"? Here's Bill Leak's Middle East.

November 19, 2012:

An Israeli soldier and a Hamas 'militant' are facing off. The former is pointing his rifle at the 'militant'. The latter is aiming his RPG at the Israeli. Their concentration is disrupted by a journalist (?) running towards them, holding a copy of The Australian aloft. "Hold your fire!" he shouts, "Bob Carr's called for restraint on BOTH sides!!" The caption: "The Lion lies down with the Lamb."

Sooo wickedly funny, eh?

And what brilliant insight! I mean, where do I begin?

First, whatever is going on over there, it takes two to tango. And the two are as evenly matched as duelists.

Second, the sheer absurdity of Bob Carr even daring to pronounce on the matter. As if these two are going to listen to him! (If Tony or Jules had commented, however, that'd be a different matter.)

Third, this scrap's been going on, like, since the Book of Revelation at least. Nothing whatever to do with settler-colonialism and apartheid, and all that guff. This goes way back.

So there you go, Palestine/Israel in a nutshell! What more do you need to know?

February 24, 2017:

Netanyahu's visit. To the left, Bob Hawke, wearing a FREE PALESTINE t-shirt, and Kevin Rudd are holding up a Palestinian flag. On the right, Trumble and Bibi stride past, Trumble looking straight ahead and without comment, Bibi turning his head and remarking, "Silly old buggers."

Funny! I nearly pissed myself! And as for insight, how cool is Bibi?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Leak's Last Cartoon

In case you didn't already know, The Australian's cartoonist, Bill Leak, died last week. The newspaper was/is inconsolable and carried/carries glowing tribute after glowing tribute... along these lines:

"Awesomely talented, wickedly funny, brilliantly insightful, relentlessly engaging, and defiantly courageous, Bill Leak came to be the beating heart of this newspaper." (Bill Leak was brilliant, fearless & widely loved, Editorial, The Australian, 11/3/17)

Oh, really?

Let's see how such plaudits stack up against Leak's last cartoon of March 10.

Predictably, it was one of the many editorial weapons deployed by The Australian on the latest front in its relentless, decade-long (at least!) crusade against all things Islam.

Having moved on - for the time being at least - from mauling Q&A panelist Yassmin Abdel- Magied, the paper was now on the warpath over the struggle to uphold our virginal Aussie Values in those hotbeds of Islamist radicalisation, the public high schools of Western Sydney. Ground zero for the struggle was/is Punchbowl Boys High School, whose principal and deputy had recently been stood down for some reason that still remains swathed in mystery.

Leak's last leak, if I may so indelicately, but accurately, describe his last spray, featured a reporter with a mike interviewing NSW education minister Rob Stokes outside the gates of Punchbowl Boys: "So, Mr Stokes - about this latest kerfuffle...," he asks. Stokes is depicted, smiling, severed head in hand, saying "Oh, y'know - boys will be boys."

Wickedly funny and brilliantly insightful?

Not if the expose Inside Punchbowl High: a battle for hearts & minds (John Lyons/ Paul Maley/Jennine Khalik), which appeared in the paper the day after, can be believed*.

Here, essentially, is what that 'Inside Story' revealed: that Punchbowl Boys' principal Chris Griffiths was not Jihad Dib, the school's former principal, show pony, and now Labor MP for Lakemba; that Griffiths had a different management style to Dib (who was characterised as 'diplomatic'); that Griffiths declined to involve the school in a deradicalisation program; that Griffiths was "hardworking" and "guided by the best interests of his students"; that, while Griffiths was a Muslim convert, "parents were dumbfounded at the suggestion [he] was zealous"; that "there is no evidence [the school] was, or is, a hotbed of radicalisation"; that his religion "was [Griffiths'] strong point at the school, but his weakness at the department level when people made complaints"; that "Griffiths... might have an unfair dismissal case against the government"; and that, according to a parent, "If there are families who... wanted to be very Islamic, they would've gone to an Islamic school".**

In short, Leak's last spray could not have been wider of the mark, so to speak. So much for funny and insightful.

As one reader commented pertinently over at the Independent Australia website, in response to their piece, Bill Leak: speaking freely of the dead:

"Bill Leak had a glass jaw and not much by way of artistic talent. Half of his cartoons needed a Bill Leak cipher expert to translate the cartoon for ordinary readers. All his cartoons seemed to come from a fantasy world in which straight, white, right-wing men are treated like a needy, endangered species, while everyone else, GLBTs, women, non-Caucasians, all pose a terrible threat to traditional white power. It's going to be impossible to miss the little, right-wing drummer boy. That's about the nicest thing I can say about Bill Leak by way of a eulogy."

Amen...

Tomorrow: Bill Leak's wickedly funny and brilliantly insightful cartoons on de Middle East.

[*To be fair, some journalism in The Australian is actually quite good; **By way of insightful contrast: "'But every time I've been treated like absolute garbage it's exclusively been by young, well-dressed, former private school boys. How do I know they went to a private school? Because they all have the same routine of commenting on my appearance, then asking me what school I went to.'" (Brisbane Uber driver airs gripe over sexist questions from male passengers, au.news.yahoo.com, 14/3/17)]

Monday, March 13, 2017

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Why is it that, with regard to the Chinese-occupied Uighur homeland of East Turkestan/ Xinjiang, Western reporters have no trouble in recognising the roots of violence there and sheeting home the blame to those responsible, in this case successive Chinese governments?

For example:

"Xinjiang has for decades been blighted by outbreaks of vicious ethnic violence, a process experts believe has been exacerbated by the government's poor treatment of Uighurs, which includes draconian religious restrictions and social and economic discrimination." (China: Xi Jinping wants 'Great Wall of Steel' in violence-hit Xinjiang, Tom Phillips, the guardian.com, 11/3/17)

And yet, when it comes to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Arab homeland of Palestine/ Israel, and the periodic outbursts of violence there, most Western reporters invariably reference the Israeli claim that it is Palestinian Authority/Hamas incitement against Jews, not Israel's repressive and never-ending occupation, that is at the root of the violence.

Funny that...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mystery Solved

Politicians are nothing if not consummate actors. Almost invariably, whether they're embroidering a talking point or delivering a speech, what they say has invariably been scripted by someone else.

This is especially true on the subject of Palestine/Israel. It hardly matters whether the speaker is, say, a Trumble or a Short-on, pretty much the same, tired, pro-Israel talking points are trotted out, again and again and again.

Far more interesting than what these actors say is the question of who actually writes their pro-Israel script.

Whether it's today in Australia:

"Ted [Lapkin] then spent three years as Director of Policy Analysis for the Australia-Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) before working as a speechwriter/political advisor for the Howard Government during its final year [2007] in power. Over the following decade Ted bounced in and out of Coalition politics, serving both in opposition and government as a media and policy advisor for various Liberal frontbenchers." (Former Abbott Government advisor, abc.net.au, 27/2/17)

Or decades ago in the UK:

"Two days later, Ben-Gurion, writing to his wife from London, was exultant: 'The speeches by Lloyd George, Leopold Amery, Tom Williams, Creech Jones, Herbert Morrison, James de Rothschild and Victor cazalet were wholly or partly prepared by us... But the best speech was by Herbert Morrison'." (The British left & Zionism: History of a Divorce, Paul Kelemen, 2012. p 31)

There's your answer.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wikipedia Warning

"Yesterday, I was checking. I can report that there has been a clear, organised effort to insert Zionist lies and fabrications into entries about the Arab-Israeli conflict on Wikipedia. Even historical matters are altered and edited, and then they cite the work of polemicists like Alan Dershowitz. It must be coming from the Israeli foreign ministry or the propaganda arm of the occupation regime in Tel Aviv." (Wikipedia entries on Arab-Israeli conflict, The Angry Arab News Service, 9/2/17)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mundine of Zion

As we know, the Israel lobby in Australia spares no effort to win friends and influence people it regards as useful. Hence the interminable planeloads of Australian politicians (federal, state, and even student) and journalists, travelling to the Upstart Nation and returning, like so many Marco Polos from the court of Kublai Khan, with tales of the marvels witnessed thereat, and the bringing together of assorted Jewish millionaires and billionaires at election fundraisers for Lib and Lab.

One of their neatest tricks is to cultivate links with certain high-flyers in Australia's Indigenous community. Two names, in particular, spring to mind in this regard - Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine. I assume that, by rubbing shoulders with them, the lobby hopes to succeed in fooling some of the people, some of the time, into thinking that Zionism is not only a progressive force, but also that a construct known to Zionists as 'the Jewish people' is as indigenous to Palestine/Israel as Aboriginal Australians are indigenous to Australia. And if this 'Jewish people' thingy is perceived as somehow indigenous to Palestine/Israel, then some people, some of the time, may just be fooled into thinking that Israel is something other than just another - God forbid! - colonial-settler state.

I am led to reflect on these matters because of an opinion piece, Jews are the first peoples of Israel - with a right to exist, under the byline Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO (Chairman & Managing Director of Nyunggai Black Group'), which recently (6/3/17) appeared in Fairfax's Australian Financial Review.

Perhaps the most curious thing about it was its title. Was Mundine about to discourse on who was what in prehistoric Palestine? And what does he mean by "first peoples"? And why would anyone bother writing an opinion piece on the subject of Jews having "a right to exist"? I mean, come on, is that really in dispute?

On examination, the piece really had nothing to say on such matters. Mundine's rant turned out to be essentially a call for the Palestinians to pull their fingers out, now, and recognise Israel as a Jewish state. That, and the usual Zionist agitprop.

Of course, I won't waste your time or mine with the Zioprop, but OMFG, the irony of an Indigenous Australian telling Indigenous Palestinians to drop their claim to their ancestral homeland, and declare, hand on heart, that they acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land of Palestine, the people of the Jewish nation, and pay their respects to its Elders past and present, namely, Herzl, Weizmann, Ben-Gurion, Begin, Sharon and Netanyahu.

It's a batshit crazy world out there, and getting crazier by the day. We've just had Trump's Housing Secretary, Ben Carson, for example, a black, defy reality by referring to slaves brought from Africa to the US "in the bottom of slave ships" as "immigrants" with a "dream." And over here, in Little America, we've got Mundine, not only inverting reality by calling Palestinians "Arab colonisers" and Israeli Jews "first peoples," but demanding that the former acknowledge the inversion.

And another thing. What the hell possessed the AFR to publish this blatantly false and deeply offensive nonsense? Mundine's drivel should be chalked up as a new low in the sad, precipitous decline of the Fairfax press.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

'Republic of Fear' Revisited

In his moving feature, The women of Mosul & liberation from IS, Fairfax journalist Michael Bachelard writes that:

"Repression of all kinds was routine. Conservative Islam might require modesty but IS demanded invisibility. Under strictly enforced clothing rules, it was virtually impossible to visit the public square - certainly not without a male relative. 'Everyone was looking at you, all the time. Everyone was watching your movements,' says mother-of-five Ayat, at the Jada'ah camp near Qayyarah. 'We were to afraid to do anything... so we stopped going out at all.' Failing to wear gloves, flat shoes, or the double veil; even allowing a glimpse of flesh by lifting the veil a crack to check money at the market or to sip a drink - any of these breaches could lead to punishment. Some women were fined 50,000 ($50) or 100,000 dinars, others were whipped or hit with a wooden baton." (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/3/17)

This is Iraq 2017, 14 years on from the US overthrow of the secular, Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003. While Saddam's Iraq may now be just a distant memory for women like Ayat, older Iraqi women would perhaps remember it with  more than just nostalgia, even, relative to the present, as a kind of paradise lost.

It is worth remembering just how that relative paradise was viewed in the West before it was swept away in 2003, and replaced with the current nightmare world of Shia sectarianism in Baghdad and Wahhabi sectarian madness in Mosul.

Perhaps the most influential book on the subject of pre-2003 Iraq was the best-selling Republic of Fear (1989), written by Iraqi expat, Samir al-Khalil, the nom de plume of Kanan Makiya,

Makiya's thesis is that "Fear is the cement that holds together this strange body politic in Iraq. All forms of organization not directly controlled by the party have been wiped out. The public is atomized and broken up, which is why it can be made to believe anything. A society that used to revel in politics is not only subdued and silent, but profoundly apolitical. Fear is the agency of that transformation; the kind of fear that comes not only from what the neighbours might say, but that makes people careful of what they say in front of their children." (p 275)

Makiya, it should be pointed out, along with the likes of Ahmad Chalabi and Fouad Ajami, went on to become the 'native informant' component of the US ziocons, whose strident advocacy of regime change in Iraq was critical to the Bush/Blair invasion and occupation of Iraq, and he is on record as having described the initial US 'shock and awe' bombing of Baghdad as "music to my ears."*

Needless to say, without that invasion and occupation, first Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), and then its even more extreme offspring, Islamic State (IS), would never have appeared on the Iraqi scene, let alone gone on to take key Iraqi cities such a Mosul and transform them into the kind of Wahhabi sectarian hellholes described by women such as Ayat.

Makiya, writing on the subject of Iraqi women under Baathist rule in Republic of Fear, depicts, relative to the lives of women in Mosul under Islamic State, what must seem to us now as a near golden age of feminism:

"The entry of women into the educational system as a whole is another noteworthy Ba'thist accomplishment. In 1970-71, there were 318,524 girls in primary school, 88,595 at the secondary level, and 9,212 at the university level. For the 1979-80 school year the absolute numbers were respectively as follows: 1,165,856, 278,485, and 28,647. By 1980 women accounted for 46% of all teachers, 29% of physicians, 46% of dentists, 70% of pharmacists, 15% of accountants, 14% of factory workers, and 16% of civil servants [...] The important thing about all the legislation on women was precisely where it chose to make the break with tradition. Islamic law has always been clear regarding its view of the subordinate status of women in relation to men as a direct consequence of their sex... Moreover, there is nothing in the very sincere and far-reaching efforts of the Bath to involve women in the labour force or to mobilize them that is un-Islamic, although it certainly represents a radical break with traditional society and deeply cherished values. One need only mention the masses of veiled women mobilized by the Islamic movement in Iran, not only against the Shah, but to break up some of the early feminist demonstrations against Khomeini's edict on the veil." (pp 89-91)

All of which only accentuates the culpability of Bush, the Ziocons, and their Arab fellow travellers, for the appalling plight of the women so vividly described by Bachelard.

[*See Advocating a war in Iraq & offering an apology for what came after, Tim Arango, nytimes.com, 13/5/16]

Monday, March 6, 2017

Political Sycophants vs Us

When it comes to Israel, the sycophantic, formulaic utterances of Western politicians ('historic ties/shared values') in defence of the indefensible (Israeli occupation, colonisation, apartheid, racism and genocide) are depressingly familiar to us all.

What the general public thinks of Israel, however, is quite another matter.

In Canada (one of Israel's reliable figleaves, along with Australia, in the UNGA), an EKOS poll reveals that Canadians are quite open to the idea of imposing economic sanctions on Israel. The poll found that:

1) 91% of all Canadians believe that sanctions are a reasonable way for Canada to censure countries violating international law and human rights.
2) 66% of all Canadians believe that sanctions on Israel are reasonable given its violations of international law.
3) 78% of all Canadians also believe that the Palestinians' call for a boycott of Israel is reasonable.

In Canada's case the leading political sycophants singing like canaries for Israel have been the former prime minister, Stephen Harper (coming to Australia this month to sing for Israel) and the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

Were a similar poll conducted in Australia, I imagine the results would be much the same as in Canada.

One recent, albeit small-scale, indication that this would be the case may be found in a most unlikely place, namely, the letters page of Murdoch's fanatically Zionist rag, The Australian.

Usually the preferred forum of right-wing nutjobs and Islamophobes, the Talking Point segment of the letters page of The Australian for February 23 this year - during Netanyahu's visit to Australia, on which the paper had lavished the kind of attention and praise one might have expected for the Messiah himself - was a notable exception. Only 3 of the 12 letters published were in praise of Israel and/or its leader.

I was particularly taken with this, from Peter Marshall, Captain's Flat NSW:

"It is intellectually lazy to describe Israel as a democracy. It is a gerrymander, with apparently unrestricted immigration by people of Jewish faith or ancestry, while Palestinian refugees are unable to return to their homeland."

And this, from John Dorman, Toowoomba, Qld:

"Mr Turnbull might deplore the UN's many 'one-sided' resolutions criticising Israel. If he cares to flip the coin he might also like to comment on how Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, saw the lie of the land: 'If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country'."

In The Australian, mind you!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Agony of Egypt

Here's yet another case of the Devil looking after his own:

"Egypt's top appeals court has found Hosni Mubarak innocent of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprisings that ended his 30-year rule..." (Appeals court clears Mubarak, Lin Noueihed, Sydney Morning Herald/ New York Times, 4/3/17).

Mubarak was succeeded as president, you'll remember, by Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. His short-lived, democratically-elected government was toppled in a 2013 coup by the current Egyptian president, General Sisi, who could well be considered the new Mubarak. (Morsi, needless to say, rots in prison.)

Since US President Trump is planning to meet with his client, General Sisi, some time this month, the indefatigable ladies of Codepink are petitioning Trump to cancel the meeting.

And here's why:

"According to Human Rights Watch, at least 34,000 people have been arrested and detained since General Sisi came to power in Egypt in 2013. The Egyptian Commission for Rights & Freedoms additionally reported that 912 people were victims of politically motivated forced disappearances from August 1915 - August 2016. And throughout 2016, 433 detainees - including 8 children - reported torture and mistreatment while in custody."

Codepink go on to point out that:

"Apparently, these human rights abuses do not dishearten the new US president, as Trump has previously complimented the Egyptian dictator by stating that he has 'done a very good job' and that 'he's a fantastic guy, he took control of Egypt'. Trump is either missing the irony that Sisi literally took control of Egypt via military coup - or simply finds this action praiseworthy."

And they also remind us that Obama gave $1.3 billion a year to Sisi. They could have added that this gift-that-keeps-on-giving is Egypt's annual reward for sticking with its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, something Mubarak regarded as "untouchable compensation."* (That sum, BTW, should always be added to the already $3 billion plus that the US gifts Israel annually so that the true cost of Israel to the US taxpayer, per year, is borne in mind, namely $4-5 billion.)

[*See my 9/2/11 post That Peace Treaty...]

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Vibrant Apartheid Israel

From the horse's mouth, aka Assaf Harel of the truth-to-power Israeli TV program, Goodnight with Assaf Harel, Wake up & smell the apartheid (2/3/17):

"If you look at our life in Israel, it's pretty great. Yes, it's expensive, and we're far from earning what we'd like. Clearly, the healthcare system could be better, and yes, the politicians could be more impressive and less embarrassing. But if you look at our life from a bird's eye view, we're doing just great. Really. Great weather, great food, great people, great beaches, not bad at all,

"And that's exactly the point - that we're doing great but there are a couple of million people, that we're responsible for, who are in a horrible state - infrastructure, food, healthcare, education. Millions who are living in abject poverty. Gaza is on the verge of plague, and hours on end without electricity or water. Israel controls everything that goes in or out.

"'But they chose Hamas, let them pay for it.' 'Humaneness? What does that have to do with us? What are we, Arab lovers?' Ever since the right wing took power, more and more voices are warning of apartheid. Are you kidding? Apartheid has been here for ages. Ages. It's just that we're on its good side, so it doesn't really bother us. We've been abusing the Palestinians on a daily basis for years, denying them their basic rights. In Judea and Samaria [West Bank], we're taking their lands from them. Once, we used the Jewish National Fund to raise money to buy the lands. Today, we just pass a law saying we can just take their lands and that's it.

"Soldiers shoot stone-throwers because they're a real threat, but if, in Israel, someone throws stones they won't even be charged. Palestinian journalists are put on administrative detention without trial because they wrote something. Every time we have a holiday, they're under closure. God forbid they ruin it for us. For years we've been deepening the hatred, the same hatred that we later complain about in peace talks. 'Why do you incite your children against us? Why don't you teach your children to love us?

"Israel's most impressive innovation, more than any high-tech project or Rafael weapon, is an amazing ability to ignore what is happening mere kilometres away to our neighbours. A whole people, transparent, like it doesn't exist. Not in the news, not online, not on social media, and definitely not in the hearts of the people. Nothing.

"We've got a great country, and great restaurants, and it's fun to travel abroad, just don't tell us what's really happening. We're good, don't bum us out. But there are a few righteous in Sodom. People who see the Matrix and are trying to yell, to let us know what's happening. Maybe we'll wake up. Breaking the Silence, B'Tselem, Yesh Din... "

Friday, March 3, 2017

Phillip Adams: And the Answer Is?

ABC Radio National personality, Phillip Adams, never ceases to amaze. Here he is introducing a segment on his Late Night Live program called World's largest refugee camp (27/2/17):

"My excuse for retelling the story that I was radicalised at the age of 12 by reading The Grapes of Wrath is simply this - the book we're about to discuss [City of Thorns] begins with 3 sentences from that book. Let me read them. 'There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolise. There is a failure here that topples all our success.' John Steinbeck. And I hope the book we're about to discuss will radicalise another generation. If you look at the collection of Palestinian refugee camps in the world, in Jordan, Lebanon, in the West Bank, Gaza, and formerly in Syria, the numbers are shocking, they're beyond shocking, they're numbing, and the world's sensibility seems to be appropriately numbed. An estimated 5 million Palestinians are living throughout the region, but the world's largest refugee camp, called Dadaab is situated in the desert of Kenya, and has over half a million inhabitants, just like the camps housing generations of Palestinians... "

Let me sum that up for you. Adams is professedly NUMBED by the existence of permanent Palestinian refugee camps in the Middle East, that is, camps that date back to the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 when the ancestors of these refugees were driven out of their Palestinian homeland by Zionist terror gangs.

My reaction: WOW!

To my knowledge this is an Adams first. Here he is, 77 years old; a veteran commentator on, and explorer of, the issues of today, yesterday and tomorrow; a public intellectual; almost, if not already, an Australian icon; and, importantly, an avowed man of the Left; and he's only now discovered something of the significance of the daddy-of-all contemporary refugee problems, the Palestinian refugee problem.

The standout instance of his failure on this issue for me was a 2009 LNL interview with the American-Palestinian writer Saree Makdisi. When Makdisi called for an end to Israel as a Jewish state and the creation of one state for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, including, by implication, those in refugee exile, Adams worriedly asked how long it would take before Jewish Israelis were a minority in Israel. Makdisi, puzzled, replied, "I don't know. I don't even know that that question matters." At which Adams snapped: "It sure as hell matters to them." (For the all important context, see my 19/9/09 post He Just Doesn't Get It.)

If anyone out there is in a position to raise the issue with Adams, the obvious question to put to him now would be this: you recently indicated that you were numbed by the scale and time of Palestinian refugeedom. But are you sufficiently numbed to support the return of today's Palestinian refugees - from Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere in the Palestinian diaspora - to their former homes and lands in Israel, along with all that that entails by way of equal rights for all, regardless of sectarian affiliation, between the the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Our Other Recent Visitor

Flashback:

"If the Coalition wins on September 7, Abbott, with Julie Bishop as his foreign minister, will ensure Australia more deeply and effectively engages with our region. 'More Jakarta, less Geneva' is the catchcry." (Abbott has pedigree to restore Australia's reputation in region, The Australian, 30/8/13)

OK, so how's 'More Jakarta, less Geneva' going?

We've just had heaps and heaps of Tel Aviv in The Australian, contingent on PM Netanyahu's disgracing us with his presence: fulsome reportage, glowing opinion pieces, editorial encomiums, all of which managed to refer to him correctly as Benjamin Netanyahu or Mr Netanyahu. Stay with me here, the point is coming.

Coincidentally, the Israeli PM's visit overlapped with that of Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, the leader of the world's largest Muslim nation, and one of our closest neighbours. Despite this, Widodo's visit received only a fraction of the coverage accorded to that of Netanyahu by The Australian.

As I suggested in my 1/9/13 post Heaps More Tel Aviv... An Occasional Jakarta:

"Just between you, me and the wall, I know that 'More Jakarta, less Geneva' is a catchy little slogan but wouldn't 'Heaps more Tel Aviv, only marginally less Washington, an occasional Jakarta, and maybe the odd Geneva', though admittedly more cumbersome, better encapsulate our coming foreign policy?"

Not only has the Abbott/Trumble government's 'More Jakarta, less Geneva' (for what it's worth) not been reflected in The Australian, but the latter's only editorial on the visit was titled: Joko visit shows potential (28/2/17).

And throughout the text (x3) Widodo was referred to, not as President/Mr Widodo, but as Mr Joko.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sir Gerald Kaufman (1930-2017) RIP

"Tributes are pouring in for veteran [UK] Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, who died yesterday at the age of 86. Sir Gerald had been suffering from an undisclosed illness.

"As the longest-serving Member of Parliament, Kaufman had the title Father of the House of Commons. Although, as the BBC has pointed out, he was a 'practicing Jew', Sir Gerald was also one of the most vocal critics of Israel in Westminster. Over the decades that he was an MP, he called for sanctions against the Zionist state for its policies towards the Palestinians; described the country as being born out of Jewish terrorism; and compared the Israeli army to Nazis...

"Prior to his election as an MP in 1970, Kaufman worked as a journalist... He visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on numerous occasions and published a book - Inside the Promised Land - in which he expressed his personal view of Israel and his disillusionment with the country...

"In April 2002, at the start of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, Kaufman called Israel an 'international pariah', and accused its then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of ordering his troops 'to use methods of barbarism against the Palestinians.'

"The veteran politician served as shadow foreign secretary from 1987 to 1992 and said that it was 'time to remind Sharon that the Star of David belongs to all Jews and not to his repulsive government. His actions are staining the Star of David with blood.' He urged South Africa-style economic sanctions against Israel in a 2004 Guardian article.

"During the 2008/9 Israeli military offensive against Gaza - so-called Operation Cast Lead' - Kaufman accused Israel of exploiting Holocaust guilt to justify its actions in the Palestinian enclave. He also compared Hamas's fighters in Gaza to the Jewish resistance during the Second World War, making special reference to the construction of tunnels that ensured both groups' survival.

"Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, himself a strong critic of Israel, described Kaufman as an 'iconic' figure within the party." (UK veteran Labour MP who called for sanctions against Israel dies at 86, palestinechronicle.com)