Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Craving the Krav (Maga}

Oh to be blissfully unaware, totally unconscious, dead-to-the-world, and all me, myself and I-ish just like the author of this promotional morsel in an airline magazine - which was passed it on to me by some wag - why me? - with that annoying, seemingly obligatory order when one is handed food these days: 'enjoy'. Here's my pared-down version. Enjoy:

"Seeking out the gym for my first krav maga class in Melbourne's Caulfield, I couldn't help but note the many local restaurant options. If nothing else, that was going to be my motivation for going all-in.

"In Hebrew, krav maga means 'contact combat' and is popularly known as the self-defence system used by the Israel Defense Forces... Class starts and our instructor casually mentions he used to be a sniper (gulp)... It's easy to imagine krav maga as brutal and masters of the sport being aggressive hotheads always looking for a fight... "

What?! The IDF? Aggressive hotheads always looking for a fight? Never!

"As I head home... I skip the many enticing dining options this time, but I'm certain I'll be back soon, and with more reason to show up than just excitement over the food."

However, that lovely Max Brenner place I saw on the way...

Monday, August 13, 2018

When Zionists Urge

The "independent, always" Sydney Morning Herald is now almost as much a conveyor belt for Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) propaganda as Murdoch's Australian.

In today's AIJAC emission, Colin Rubenstein, AIJAC's executive director, informs us, essentially, that Iran is a rogue state, run by extremists - a classic case, of course, of the pot calling the kettle black.

Particularly touching is his tender concern for the "long-suffering" people of Iran. What a mensch!

But it's this that really gets me heaving:

"Australia needs a clear and consistent position that should be based on Australia's national interest in robustly addressing the threat posed by a belligerent, expansionist and irresponsible (pot/kettle/black again!) Iran." (Australia must face the new Iran reality, 13/8/18)

A Zionist operative pontificating on the subject of Australia's "national interest"?

Think about that!

Was it not Zionist operatives, otherwise known as neocons, who were instrumental in persuading the Americans that it was in their national interest to invade Iraq in 2003? And, hey, didn't that end well?

And was it not Zionist operatives, in the form of Chaim Weizmann's Zionist Organisation, who persuaded Lord Balfour and his colleagues in 1917 that it was in Britain's national interest to lay the foundations of a Jewish State in Palestine? And, hey, how has that turned out?

And don't forget: when a Zionist operative urges us to "robustly address" a "threat," think what he means by that word 'robust'.

Think Deir Yassin, or Sabra & Shatila. Think operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. Think death, hell and the grave.

Have a nice day!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

'We Wait in Fear'

"I spent time with BBC journalists and a senior producer said to me 'We wait in fear for the phone call from the Israelis. I have had journalists on the phone to me minutes before a broadcast checking what they can say, which words they can use'." - Professor Greg Philo, Glasgow Media Group, SOAS, 19/5/11

Shit, here's one now:

"@BBCWorld this is a formal complaint by @IsraelMFA. This title [Israeli air strikes 'kill pregnant woman and baby'] This title is a deliberate misrepresentation of reality (that's the polite equivalent of 'this is a LIE', if you don't get it). Israelis were targeted by Hamas and IDF acts to protect them. Change it IMMEDIATELY!!! @IsraelMFA" - Emmanuel Nahshon tweet, 9/8/18

So they did, and in double time too: "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child' after rockets hit Israel" - 9/8/18

***

Don't tell me this isn't happening with our ABC.

Friday, August 10, 2018

How a Hot War With Iran Might Look

Former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, anticipates how Iran might respond to ongoing USraeli* aggression:

"Iran learned the lessons of Hezbollah's ongoing conflict with Israel, and in particular that of the 2006 war, all too well. To win the war, Hezbollah did not need to defeat Israel, it had only to make sure Israel did not defeat it. This is an ambition Iran readily aspires to - it can shut down the Strait of Hormuz, cripple the global economy and ride out any American military response. In the end, the United States will succumb to international pressure and search for a negotiated settlement, and Iran will emerge victorious simply because it survived. Iran would accept this outcome rather than surrender its hard-won diplomatic achievement regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)." From Three reasons why 'fire & fury won't work with Iran, truthdig.com, 3/8/18)

[*USraeli? Of course! Here's Ritter again, laying it on the line in his 2006 book Target Iran: "The conflict currently underway between the US and Iran is, first and foremost, a conflict born in Israel. It is based upon an Israeli contention that Iran poses a threat to Israel, and defined by Israeli assertions that Iran possesses a nuclear weapons program. None of this has been shown to be true, and indeed much of the allegations made by Israel against Iran have been clearly demonstrated as being false. And yet the US continues to trumpet the Israeli claims, and no individual more loudly than the US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton." (p 208)]

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Trump Fires the First Shot...

... in USrael's regime change war on Iran:

"You cannot stand with Iranian people and at the same time destroy all of their life savings and any chance they have to put food on the table. By imposing sanctions aimed at destroying the Iranian economy, Trump is declaring economic war on the people of Iran." Trita Parsi tweet, Aug 6

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Banality & Ubiquity of Evil

Former British diplomat Craig Murray reflects on those who smear anti-racists as anti-Semites:

"My world view changed forever, when, after 20 years in the Foreign Office, I saw colleagues I knew and liked go along with Britain's complicity in the most terrible tortures, as detailed stunningly in the recent Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee Report. They also went along with keeping the policy secret, deliberately disregarding all normal record taking procedures, to the extent that the Committee noted: 131. We note that we have not seen the minutes of these meetings either: this causes us great concern. Policy discussions on such an important issue should have been minuted. We support Mr Murray's own conclusion that were it not for his actions these matters may never have come to light.

"The people doing these things were not ordinarily bad people; they were just trying to keep their jobs, comforting themselves with the thought that they were only civil servants obeying orders. Many were also actuated by the nasty 'patriotism' that grips in time of war, as we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Almost nobody in the FCO stood up against the torture or against the illegal war - Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Carne Ross and I were the only ones to leave over it..

"I then had the still more mortifying experience of the Foreign Office seeking to punish my dissent by bringing a series of accusations of gross misconduct - some of them criminal - against me. The people bringing the accusations knew full well they were false. The people investigating them knew they were false from about day 2. But I was put through a hellish six months of trial by media before being acquitted on all the original counts (found guilty of revealing the charges, whose existence was an official secret!). The people who did this to me were people I knew.

"I had served as First Secretary in the British Embassy in Poland, and bumped up startlingly against the history of the Holocaust in that time, including through involvement with organising the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. What had struck me most forcibly was the sheer scale of the Holocaust operation, the tens of thousands of people who had been complicit in administering it. I could never understand how that could happen - until I saw ordinary, decent people in the FCO facilitate extraordinary rendition and torture. Then I understood, for the first time, the banality of evil or, perhaps more precisely, the ubiquity of evil. Of course, I am not comparing the scale of what happened to the Holocaust - but evil can operate on different scales.

"I believe I see it again today. I do not believe that the majority of journalists in the BBC, who pump out a continual stream of 'Corbyn is an anti-semite' propaganda, believe in their hearts that Corbyn is a racist at all. They are just doing their job, which is to help the BBC avert the prospect of a radical government in the UK threatening the massive wealth share of the global elite. They would argue that they are just reporting what others say; but it is of course the selection of what they report and how they report it which reflects their agenda.

"The truth, of which I am certain, is this. If there genuinely was the claimed existential threat to Jews in Britain, of the type which engulfed Europe's Jews in the 1930s, Jeremy Corbyn, Billy Bragg, Roger Waters, and I may humbly add myself, would be among the few who would die alongside them on the barricades, resisting. Yet these are today loudly called 'anti-semites' for supporting the right to oppose the oppression of the Palestinians. The journalists currently promoting those accusations, if it came to the crunch, would be polishing state propaganda, and the civil servants writing railway dockets. That is how it works. I have seen it. Close up." (craigmurray.org.uk, 30/7/18)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Razer-Sharp?

An example of how the bullying power of Australia's Israel lobby still fails to register with our media pundits - in this case Crikey.com's Helen Razer:

"First, The Australian joyously reported the decision of the Brisbane Writers' Festival to 'disinvite' participants Bob Carr and Germaine Greer. This must have been as cultural Cialis to our friends who love little more than to decry the intellectual stasis and censorship of the 'Left'. It was only irritating to me because the report contained no reason for the expulsion of Bob Carr. Greer, we know, is regularly 'no platformed' and perhaps this Milo-style anti-marketing works quite well for her. But Carr? I've flicked through his new book and found no offence equal to eviction - if you've heard he's got all Malthusian on the matter of population control, he hasn't. We can only suppose it's his tolerance of China or intolerance of Israel that has ticked off some sponsor. Goodness, I'd love to know." (Razer: Richard Flanagan longs for an intellectual past that is purely fictional, 31/7/18)

Perhaps if, instead of merely "flicking through" Carr's memoir, Run for Your Life, Razer had actually read the chapter 'Me & 'the Lobby', the penny might have dropped.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Is the US Certifiably Mad?

Have Americans been watching too many Hollywood movies? Forget angels, alien abductions, and Armageddon, and cop a load of this:

"On Tuesday evening, the dark recesses of the internet lit up with talk of politics. 'Tampa rally, live coverage,' wrote 'Dan', posting a link to US President Donald Trump's Tampa speech in a thread on Schan, an anonymous image board also known as Infinitechan... which might best be described as the unglued twin of better-known 4chan, a message board already untethered from reality.

"The thread invited 'requests to Q', an anonymous leader claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance, waging war against the so-called 'deep state' in service to the 45th President. Q feeds disciples, known as bakers, clues so that they can 'bake' their understanding of the 'storm', a term drawn from Trump's cryptic reference to 'the calm before the storm' last year. The storm being the President's final conquest over elites, globalists and deep-state saboteurs. [...]

"Press reports are dismissed as 'Operation Mockingbird', the name given to the alleged mid-century infiltration of the American media by the CIA. The Illuminati loom large in QAnon. As do the Rothschilds, a wealthy Jewish family vilified by the conspiracy theorists as the leaders of a satanic cult. Among the world leaders wise to satanic influences, the theory holds, is Russian President Vladimir Putin. QAnon flirts with eschatology, fascist philosophy and the filmmaking of Francis Ford Coppola. Adherents believe a 'Great Awakening' will precede the final storm foretold by Trump. Once they make sense of the information dripped by Q, they will usher in a Christian revival presaging total victory." (President's alternative reality show, Isaac Stanley-Becker, The Washington Post/ Sydney Morning Herald, 3/8/18)

The Mystery of the Other Five

"Liberal Senator for Queensland Amanda Stoker* is a recent graduate of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) Rambam study program to Israel, and addressed an AIJAC function in Melbourne to discuss impressions of her visit to Israel in June. " (Senator & union leaders on their visit to Israel, jwire.com.au, 1/8/18)

Unsurprisingly, Stoker's now stoked on Israel: she now has "a greater understanding of Middle East realities through meetings with quality speakers," was "particularly impressed by the Israeli culture of entrepreneurialism," and was "shocked by the antisemitism and incitement she witnessed in the Palestinian media, which was exposed to her in a meeting with the director of Palestinian Media Watch Itamar Marcus."

But it's not her gullibility and abysmal ignorance of the Palestine problem that interests me here. I've documented such cliches as hers a thousand times over on this blog. It's the presence by their absence at AIJAC's function of the other 5 junketeers, namely Senators Kristina Keneally (ALP, NSW), Anthony Chisholm (ALP, QLD), Jonathan Duniam (Lib, TAS), Sterling Griff (Centre Alliance, SA), and Alfred Ngaro, New Zealand MP.

What gives? Did they simply eat and drink their way through this AIJAC-sponsored junket? Roll their eyes while visiting Ziv Hospital, Israel's R&R facility for Syrian jihadis? Nod off on poor old Itamar Marcus as he rattled off his tall tales of Palestinian wickedness? Trot out a lame excuse when AIJAC asked them to report back at its Melbourne function?

Fie on them! Sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful rambamee!

And for those concerned with the sad decline of Australia's union movement, here's another nail in the coffin:

"Another group of Rambam graduates consisting of trade union leaders also discussed the impact of their study visit to Israel in December at an AIJAC luncheon on July 20. The group consisted of seven trade union leaders and was organized by AIJAC's Rambam Israel Fellowship Program together with the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue [AILD], headed by ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick, who accompanied the delegation. Reporting back on their experiences... were Nina Taylor, Organiser with the Community and Public Sector Union who is also a councillor at the City of Glen Eira**; Justin Power, Assistant Secretary of the Queensland branch of the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA); and Robert Tonkli, the assistant Secretary of the NSW Branch of the SDA. The group mentioned that highlights included speaking with Upstart Start-Up Nation author Saul Singer and meetings with the Histadrut - Israel's national trade union centre. Both Taylor and Powers noted that they were impressed with the Histadrut's efforts to ensure equal workplace rights for Palestinian workers, which they felt few people in Australia were aware of." (ibid)

Ninny Nina: Israel? Absolutely fabulous, comrade! And, and... wait till you hear this! Israel's Histadrut is making efforts to ensure that Palestinian workers have equal rights!!! Yay! Betcha didn't know that before, eh?
Interlocutor (underwhelmed & sotto voce): Fabulous...

[*Brandis' pro-life, anti-euthenasia, Anglican replacement in the Senate; **Hilarious Nina Taylor tweet, July 20: "Israel/Palestine union delegation Dec 17 reunion #aijac#aild#peace#tolerance"]

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Meet the NSW Liberals' Israeli Youth Wing

"NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley is refusing to release any details of a letter he has received from ASIO boss Duncan Lewis concerning the Labor upper house Chinese-born MP Ernest Wong and whether there are concerns about China attempting to infiltrate the Labor Party [...] It comes as Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Liberal Party step up efforts to woo the Chinese community, including a fundraiser for about 500 Chinese... in Sydney early last week, to launch a Chinese Youth Council arm of the Liberal Party... The party had arms similar to the Chinese council that involved Indians, Nepalese and Israelis, and was starting an Armenian arm, the source said." (Foley won't release ASIO letter on MP, Andrew Clennell, The Australian, 1/8/18)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Guardian Sabotages Britain's Labour Party

You've heard of the PEP (Progressive Except Palestine). Now meet the subspecies SEP (Socialist Except Palestine). Self-proclaimed "natural Labour voter," and Guardian columnist,Gaby Hinsliff, mutters darkly in her drive-by smear of UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

"Dare to criticise Jeremy Corbyn as a natural Labor voter, and sooner or later you'll be accused not only of 'smearing' the leader, but of being morally liable for every bad thing that ever has happened or will happen under a Tory government... God forbid he should take responsibility for creating a party that doesn't make some of its longest-standing supporters feel morally tainted by association. Even Momentum - which dared to publicly abandon its support for Peter Willsman as an NEC candidate after a tape emerged of him apparently challenging the very existence of antisemitism in Labour - faced a vicious backlash from its own members. It was a stark illustration of the difficulty facing a younger generation of Corbynites, who are no keener than your average millennial to upset minorities and are genuinely seeking a way out of this mess, but who belong to a movement encouraged to view any criticism of Corbyn or his friends and allies as a full-frontal assault on socialism itself. Well, they should stick to their guns. It's perfectly possible to offer progressive taxation, more social housing, renationalised railways and and a welfare system in which people don't visibly starve without an unwanted side order of Mossad conspiracy theories. The idea that you can't have one without another [sic] - that unless we all agree that there's nothing wrong with calling Jews Nazis, then leftwing economic beliefs will somehow die - is grotesque. And if Corbyn, laden as he is with the personal baggage and friendships of the past 40 years, struggles to separate the two in the public mind, then sooner or later the Labour Party must find someone who can." (Dark forces gather as UK politics heads for rock bottom, 3/8/18)

Note the irony in the title of Hinsliff's witless piece: the Guardian, not Corbyn's Labour, is in fact one of the "dark forces" working to send UK politics to "rock bottom."

Friday, August 3, 2018

Lord Balfour Sabotages Britain's Labour Party

UK Labour cruising towards split over Israel-Palestine, George Galloway, rt.com, 1/8/18:

"Britain's Labour Party prepares to split; the Israel-Palestine issue breaks up the party after 100 years to the relief of Prime Minister Theresa May. At least that's the proximate cause of the rapidly approaching schism in the opposition Labour Party. Attempts to effectively outlaw existential criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel have foundered on the rocks of obduracy of the veteran Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn whose commitment to the Palestinian cause has been a leitmotif of his 40 years in left-wing politics.

"Support for the Palestinians and opposition to Israel has grown massively in recent decades in Britain and throughout the Western world. The recent decision after a passionate debate in the Irish Senate to ban the products of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories was a high point for the BDS movement. And this decision preceded the new controversial National Law passed in the Israeli Knesset, which UN bodies and others have said makes Israel officially an apartheid state, giving a spur to the BDS cause. Widespread ostracism of apartheid South Africa was an important factor in the downfall of the system in South Africa.

"But Israel is far from taking these defeats lying down. The Israeli embassy in London is a vital center for counter-offensives, [with] ambassador Mark Regev a key operative in Netanyahu's machine. That Israel chose to send Regev to London was an early sign of the importance of the UK battleground.

"When I joined the Palestinian struggle in 1975, you could've fitted all British supporters of the PLO into a small hall, with room for elephants at the back. Now you couldn't fit us into Hyde Park. We are millions, literally. I know when the tide turned because I was there, literally. I left West Beirut in 1982, just ahead of the advancing Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Within hours they were at the gates. Their capture of President Arafat's fiefdom in the West of the city led to the departure of Arafat and his forces under an agreement brokered by the US plenipotentiary Philip Habib. Its terms included the protection of the families the fighters were leaving behind. They were promptly fallen upon by the Israeli-backed Lebanese Phalange militia and massacred.

"The UN and the Israeli Kahan Commission later held that former Israeli defence minister Ariel Sharon - present at the scene of the massacre in the Sabra-Shatila refugee camp - shared responsibility for the murder of thousands of unarmed civilians. Sharon was required to resign from the government of Menachem Begin but would later return as prime minister himself. The massacre marked the beginning of a long, slow but inexorable turn away from Israel by the British labour and trade union movement. I wrote the resolutions that passed that year in both the Labour Party Conference and the Trade Union Congress against fierce Israeli lobbying (I could show you my scars). The resolutions established policy for the first time in favour of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and for the recognition of the PLO as the 'sole legitimate representative' of the Palestinian people. In 1982, this was a heady brew, I assure you.

"Year by year, as Israeli governments became ever more right wing and as the plight of the Palestinians grew ever more grim, the giant tanker turned a little more. Although his lifelong fidelity to this cause was not the reason for Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader - the Iraq War and austerity were much more so - it certainly marked a high water mark in the growing movement against Netanyahu's Israel. And Mr Regev and the embassy were not slow to recognise the danger to their position in a Britain whose perfidy played such a key role for over a century in the Israel-Palestine question.

"The full might of the Israel lobby has been mobilized to first stop Corbyn winning the leadership, to depose him once he had won it, and above all to stop him becoming prime minister. They have had some success, particularly within the ranks of Corbyn's MPs - most of them products of the long reign of Tony Blair. Revolt after revolt from within against Corbyn has been mounted on everything from Brexit to arms sales to Saudi Arabia. But the most potent is the now-rampant virulent campaign against 'anti-Semitism' in Corbyn's Labour. What this boils down to is, of course, not anti-Semitism at all but opposition to Israel. The idea that the vegetarian left-wing bicycling peacenik and anti-racism fanatic Jeremy Corbyn hates Jews is as absurd as it is offensive.

"Having failed to dislodge him and failed to make him kneel, his enemies are planning to break away and form a new centrist bloc against Brexit, in favour of NATO and Trident nuclear weapons, and of course in defense of Israel. The last time this happened nearly 40 years ago it failed to prosper. But by dividing the anti-Conservative vote, it kept Mrs Thatcher in power for a whole decade. And thus the only person laughing in British politics today is the beleaguered Mrs May."

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Pirates of the Mediterranean

"On Sunday, Israeli forces seized a boat carrying nearly two dozen activists and journalists aiming to break Israel's maritime blockade on Gaza. Flotilla organizers discounted Israel's claims that its forces had intercepted and 'redirected' their vessel to Israel 'without incident.' 'According to first-hand evidence that we have been given, the Israeli occupation forces violently attacked our Norwegian-flagged boat Al Auda (Return) as she was in international waters,' the Freedom Coalition said Tuesday. 'Prior to all of our electronic communications being cut to and from our boat, at least 4 warships had appeared,' the organizers added. 'Following some unlawful radio directives to our captain and our insistence that we had a right of innocent passage in international waters, armed, masked soldiers boarded Al Awda without permission.' Israeli soldiers beat passengers and used tasers against them, organisers said. One of the passengers assaulted was Dr Swee Chai Ang, a founder of the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. Dr Ang was a witness to the 1982 massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon.* According to the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, two Israeli passengers and two Al Jazeera journalists aboard the boat were released by Israeli authorities. But by Tuesday, 18 others had spent a second night 'unlawfully detained in Givon Prison'." (Israel abducts flotilla boat, Ali Abunimah, electronicintifada.net, 31/7/18)

[*Click on the label below to read about this amazing woman.]

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

One Movie Hollywood Will Never Make

Following on from my last post about a fictional US diplomat in Lebanon, and moving to the real thing - John Gunther Dean, US ambassador to Lebanon from 1978 to 1981...

Hollywood would NEVER in a million make a movie with Dean as its protagonist. Read this excerpt from a 2002 essay on Dean by Andrew I. Killgore, a retired foreign service officer and former US ambassador to Qatar, and you'll see why:

"Just before John Gunther Dean was to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing as American ambassador to Lebanon in 1978 he received an urgent telephone call from the office of the secretary of state. 'John,' the caller said, 'we have just noticed that your mother's [maiden] name is Ashkenacsi. Does this make a serious problem for you?' 'Absolutely not,' the near legendary Dean replied, 'my father was Jewish, too. I represent a secular America, so that's all there is to it.'

"In a Sept. 6 talk in Washington, DC before an audience made up of mainly retired American diplomats, Ambassador Dean, as related to the Washington Report by one of those in attendance, described his 3 turbulent years in Beirut. There he did his courageous best to implement stated American policy goals in Lebanon, maintaining its territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty. For his pains, Israel tried but failed to assassinate him and his family. In a period of brutal civil war amid more than a dozen political/religious factions Dean, who already had held ambassadorships in Cambodia and Denmark, traveled from one end of the country to the other, calling personally on the leaders of every group. Israel, meanwhile, maintained a rump state in southern Lebanon under Lebanese mercenary Maj. Saad Haddad while encouraging unrealistic dreams of a small Christian 'Maronistan' state. As US ambassador, John Gunther Dean, renowned for his physical and moral courage, opposed Israeli machinations, arguing that close ties with Israel would harm Christian interests in the long run.

"Ambassador Dean, who does not speak Arabic, conducted his relations with Lebanese officials in French, then the second language of educated Lebanese. He believed, moreover, that he could not properly operate in the country without maintaining close relations with France and the French Embassy. In a perhaps uniquely rare role for any US ambassador, while serving in Lebanon Dean had co-signing authority with President Elias Sarkis on Lebanon's hundreds of millions of dollars deposited in Swiss banks. John Gunther Dean sought and obtained authorization to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) if it was deemed to be in America's security interests. When an 'interlocutor' in Washington wondered if the Palestinians could help release American diplomatic hostages being held in Tehran, Dean sought - and received - Palestinian help. PLO leader Yasser Arafat and his aide Abu Jihad themselves went to Tehran in 1978 and secured the release of 13 Americans. Never, Dean noted, did the two receive any thanks from Washington for their efforts. Ambassador Dean's diligence in knowing everybody paid off in an astonishing incident when the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Lebanon was shot. As the intermediary in transferring the ambassador to the American University of Beirut (AUB) Hospital for treatment, John Dean reached the secretary to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, as well as Yasser Arafat, who was able to stop the firing on the hospital occasioned by the Saudi ambassador's presence there.

"In a prescient reference to his role in Lebanon, Dean reportedly remarked that anyone who gets between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel 'finds himself in trouble.' An amusing anecdote: Riding in his armored limousine in Beirut with ardently pro-Israel Congressman Steve Solarz, a bullet hit the car. 'What's that? Solarz asked. 'Just a bullet,' Dean replied, 'but don't worry. We are armored.' Solarz insisted on returning to the American Embassy, where he cabled home, 'Arafat shot at me!'

"To stress his support for the sovereignty of Lebanon Dean always cabled protests to Tel Aviv and the State Department in Washington whenever Israeli planes intruded - as they frequently did - into Lebanese airspace. These reminders irritated US Ambassador to Israel Sam Lewis, with whom Dean preserved cordial relations but who suffered to a notable degree from what the US Foreign Service calls 'localitis' (not Ambassador Dean's term). Other irritants flowed from Dean's urging Lebanese Christian leader Bashir Gemayel to stop seeing Israel Mossad officers.

"Dean's staunchly courageous defense of Lebanese (and American) interests came to a head in the early evening of Aug. 27, 1980, when, according to all the evidence, Mossad tried but failed to assassinate Dean, his wife (whose French family had old business connections in Lebanon) and their daughter. The long-rumored attempted murder of Dean by Mossad, infamously more noted for its prowess at assassinations than for its abilities as an intelligence agency, was publicly confirmed for the first time in Dean's Washington talk. En route from his residence in Lebanon's hills to the Beirut residence of the AUB president, Dean's limousine and convoy took 21 rifle bullets. The automobile bearing the ambassador and Mrs Dean was also struck by two light anti-tank weapons. The shot-out tires of the Deans' bulletproof car automatically reinflated. The second car, however, carrying their daughter and her fiance, did not have bulletproof tires and was momentarily stranded. The security guards in the convoy's third car pushed the daughter and her fiance into the Deans' vehicle, and they sped away. Incredibly, none of the ambassador's party or security guards were seriously wounded. Some shots struck where Dean was sitting, but bulletproof plastic windows saved his life.

"Picked up by Lebanese security, the anti-tank canisters had made-in-America markings. After unanswered telegrams to the State Department and all but silent responses to his telephone inquiries, Dean eventually learned that the anti-tank weapons were sold and shipped to Israel in 1974. Dean apparently mused to himself on the irony of an American ambassador being subjected to an Israeli assassination attempt with American weapons supplied to Israel for defense. The ambassador did not explicitly accuse Israel of trying to assassinate him, but let the facts as he related them speak for themselves. But Washington's acute unease in responding to his inquiries testifies to the deadening influence of the Israel lobby on American diplomacy... " (Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2002)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

More Reel Bad Arabs

When was the last wild Western you saw at the movies? That's right, I can't remember either. But hey, Hollywood's still churning out wild Easterns.

The latest is called Beirut (directed by Brad Anderson), and Fairfax reviewer, Jake Wilson, weary of "youth-oriented blockbusters and Oscar-mongering prestige," has given this "human-scaled entertainment for adults" three-and-a-half stars.

First, the where and the when:

"Beirut... a period espionage thriller set against the background of Lebanon just before its 1982 war with Israel... " (Finally, a thriller for adults, The Sun-Herald, 29/7/18)

Hello? Lebanon's 1982 war with Israel?

Y'all remember that one, don't you? You know, when the Lebanese Army blitzkriegged its way to Tel Aviv, laid siege to the city, bombed and shelled it from land, sea and air for 3 long months, and then pulled back to northern Israel which it occupied until forced out by the heroic Israeli resistance in 2000?

Good one, Jake.

But no, seriously, Jake may not have his history the right way around, but he's still cool, OK, because he's (albeit dimly) aware that SOMETHING IS AMISS WITH THIS FILM:

"More shrewdly realistic than the average Hollywood political thriller, Beirut remains open to accusations of self-involvement, if not outright racism, in its privileging of an American of an American point of view. [Former American diplomat] Mason commands our sympathy throughout, while the 'foreign' characters are menacing or inscrutable. Ultimately, you might wonder if this is really a film about Middle Eastern politics at all, or if this is merely a pretext for exploring how one middle-aged white guy negotiates his midlife crisis."

But, hey, why let a little Arabophobia spoil your night out:

"Then again, is there any reason it can't be both?"

Monday, July 30, 2018

Meet the Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co.

So what are the implications for Palestine/Israel reportage of Channel 9's coming merger with Fairfax Media, given the latter's already grossly inadequate and problematic handling of the issue?

The architect of the 1980s cross-media ownership laws, former Labor PM Paul Keating, is of the view that Channel 9 "will run the editorial policy" of the Fairfax papers given that, "in terms of news management, Channel 9... has... the opportunism and ethics of an alley cat."

That could mean that the Fairfax papers will, if anything, become more ferociously pro-Israel in the manner of Murdoch's rags. Certainly, the fact that former Howard government treasurer Peter Costello is the chairman of Nine Entertainment Co. is cause for concern in this regard, as the following snippet from a 2001 biography of the man indicates:

"Support for the PLO was becoming an article of faith within the student left. Peter Costello, 17, never been kissed, a devout Baptist... was appalled... Costello recalled: 'Do I know better than all these people? Probably not. But what I do know is that my best friend is Jewish... and the student union is collecting money for the PLO'." (Peter Costello: The New Liberal, Shaun Carney, pp 45-6)

Of course the leaders of the Australian Union of Students leaders at the time (1975) knew infinitely more about the Palestine/Israel issue than this gormless innocent, having done their homework as he acknowledges, but, typical of the student conservatives of this time, the idea of actually learning from those who knew what they were talking about was anathema to him. Frankly, if your mind is closed at 17, what hope is there on this or any other matter?  Watch this space...

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Class of Their Own

"Israel is to build hundreds of new homes in a settlement in the occupied West Bank where a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis, one fatally, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday." (Israel to build 400 units to avenge knife attack, AFP/The Australian, 28/7/18)

So Israel wouldn't have expanded its settlement otherwise? Was there ever a more cruel and casuistical colonisation in the annals of settler-colonialism than the Israeli?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Taking Down of Jeremy Corbyn

"Jeremy Corbyn has this week been the victim of a crazed, unhinged assault by the agents of the powerful. A frenzied attack to destroy him for fear that he might win. The proximate method is the exploitation of deep-seated Jewish fear. Literally, summoning up the demons of Nazism against Britain's finest anti-fascist. It doesn't get much more serious than that for all concerned. And when I say the agents of the powerful I mean from left to right. From the liberal to the far-right. I mean from the Guardian and Channel 4 News right across the spectrum. All guns blazing, all trained on one man. A man without a scintilla of racist or anti-Semitic feeling in his body, in his psyche. A man whose parents stood at Cable St against fascism and anti-Semitism. He's been attacked by newspapers that were supporting the Nazis at the time. He's been attacked by newspapers that were funding the British Union of Fascists at the time." (George Galloway, The Mother of All Talkshows, 27/7/18)

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Far Too Charitable Assessment

"The Foreign Minister's July 2 decision on the [direct] aid sparked an angry response from Palestinian Authority senior adviser Nabil Shaath, who described Australia as 'worthy of being spat on' and 'servants of the US'." (Aid cut despite pledge on terror, Andrew Burrell, The Australian, 25/7/18)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

BWFheads

"My experience of extremists in Australia's Israel lobby summed up in two words: attempted bullying." - Bob Carr tweet, 21/7/18

"Former foreign minister turned political memoirist Gareth Evans has threatened to boycott the Brisbane Writers Festival after organisers decided to remove Bob Carr and Germaine Greer from the program. Mr Evans, who was due to speak about his new book, Incorrigible Optimist, at the festival... said he was 'gob-smacked' by the move. 'This a fundamental freedom-of-speech issue,' he told The Australian. 'I haven't decided yet whether to withdraw from the festival or to take part and tell them, on stage, in no uncertain terms, how stupid it is'." (Evans threatens writers festival boycott to back Carr, Greer, Stephen Romei, The Australian, 26/7/18)

Damn right!

"He said he would wait for a full response from BWF acting chief executive Ann McLean. In a detailed letter to her yesterday, he said the ban on Mr Carr and Dr Greer was 'utterly unworthy of any literary festival that wants to be taken seriously. What on earth can you guys be thinking? Have you even begun to think about the reputational damage this will do, here and internationally, to your festival and your capacity to attract participants in the future? Please think again'."

The answers to those questions is: OBVIOUSLY NOT.

"In response, Dr McLean said the festival decided in early June not to proceed with Mr Carr due to 'the need to provide engaging choices for our audience'."

What bullshit this is!

"Earlier, she told The Australian Mr Carr would 'just talk about his book' rather than the selected topic, 'What the World Needs Now'."

OFFS! You're kidding me!

"Dr McLean acknowledged there were concerns the media interest in Dr Greer and Mr Carr would 'overshadow' other writers at the festival."

By which she means, in fluent schmaltz: What the world needs now is love, sweet love... lalalalala...

"Their 'controversial' nature was also a concern."

At last we're getting to the NUB of the matter!

"Mr Carr's new book, the political memoir Run for Your Life, includes his thoughts on the US, China and the Israel lobby."

BINGO!

"In a letter to MUP (Melbourne University Publishing), Dr McLean noted BWF had to consider the 'brand alignment of several sponsors we are securing for the festival'. In response, Mr Evans outlined six questions he would like answered, including: 'Are you able to say which sponsors you had in mind, and precisely how you - or they - saw Carr as affecting their 'brand alignment'? Did it have anything to do with his well-known positions on Palestine-Israel and China?'"

You've nailed it, Gareth!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Fairfax's Puff Piece on Mark Regev

Fairfax hit a new low on the weekend with the publication of a full-page promo by Latika Bourke in The Sun-Herald (22/7/18) on Australia's second worst export after Rupert Murdoch, Mark Regev.

To say that not one hard question was asked and pursued is to misconstrue the nature of the piece.  The Aussie boy who's at home spruiking for Israel wanted only the words 'Advertisement Only'.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Spinning Israel's Jewish Nation-State Law

Editorial commentary in support of each and every Israeli turn of the screw is, to say the least, conspicuous by its presence in Murdoch's Australian, yet on the subject of the apartheid state's latest addition to its 50+ apartheid laws, the nation-state law, The Australian's editor has so far said zip.

Yesterday, however, The Australian published an opinion piece (Illiberalism lies with the critics of Jewish nation-state law, 23/7/18) in defence of the legislation by one, Eugene Kontorovich, described as "a scholar at the Jerusalem think tank Kohelet Policy Forum." (This outfit describes itself on its website as "striving to secure Israel's future as the nation-state of the Jewish people, strengthening representative democracy, and broadening individual liberty and free market principles in Israel.")

Kontorovich would have us believe that:

"... Israel's Basic Law would not be out of place among the liberal democratic constitutions of Europe - which include similar provisions that have not aroused controversy... Consider the Slovak constitution, which opens with the words, 'We the Slovak nation', and lays claim to 'the natural right of nations to self-determination'."

What he omits to mention, of course, is that, unlike Slovakia, there is nothing 'natural' about Israel or its political evolution. Slovakia's emergence as a nation was a natural progression following the breakup of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I and was based on the Wilsonian principle of national self-determination. The same natural process should have been applied to Palestine under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations: "Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice... by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory."

Instead, the Palestinians were deliberately denied their 'natural right to self-determination', first by the British on behalf of the Zionist settlers who were allowed to flood into Palestine from 1918 on, and then by the Zionist settler state of Israel following the military takeover and ethnic cleansing of most of Palestine by Zionist terror gangs in 1948. As Britain's foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour (of Balfour Declaration infamy) wrote in 1919: "The contradiction between the letters of the Covenant and the policies of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the 'independent nation' of Palestine... For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country..."

But there's more. Why are we all up-in-arms about Israeli settlements? After all, they had the blessing of the - wait for it! - League of Nations:

"Another controversial provision of the law declares 'the development of Jewish settlement' to be a national value that the government should promote. It is understood to refer to encouraging population dispersion into the periphery of the country. This essentially restates policy adopted by the international community in 1922 in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which sought to 'encourage... close settlement by Jews'."

More sins of omission:

1) The League of Nations, from its inception, was little more than a rubber stamp in the hands of the two post WWI imperial powers, Britain and France.

2) The Palestine Mandate was given to Britain... by Britain. As to its composition, the great J.M.N. Jeffries revealed: "The Mandate followed the precedent of the Balfour Declaration [which was incorporated into the text of the Mandate]. It was drafted in quiet between the [British] Government and the Zionists, mostly by the Zionists, and then it was issued under the cover of the League of Nations, as though it were the result of the collected debates of the world's lawgivers."  (Palestine: The Reality (1939), pp 522-23)

Note also the angry words of Britain's then foreign secretary Lord Curzon, who said of the draft Mandate: "Acting upon (? against) the noble principle of self-determination and ending with a splendid appeal to the League of Nations, we then proceed to draw up a document which reeks of Judaism in every paragraph and is an avowed constitution of a Jewish state - and the poor Arabs are only allowed to look through the keyhole as a non-Jewish community. It is quite clear that this mandate has been drawn up by someone reeling under the fumes of Zionism." (A.L.Tibawi, Anglo-Arab Relations & The Question of Palestine 1914-1921 (1977), pp 427-28)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Israel's Day of Reckoning

"The day will come when Israel's Holocaust credit line with the world will run out. The day will come when the leaders of Judeo-Israeli colonialism will be put on trial. The day will come when those who today show shrinking tolerance toward us because of Auschwitz on the one hand, our war and intelligence industry on the other, and because of our relative whiteness on another, will become fed up. [...] The format doesn't matter. In the Hague, in an international forum that will be set up just for us, or maybe even in our country. The day will come when not only Israeli officials and military officials will be put on trial, but also jurists, military and civilian judges, architects and planners, everyone who enabled and enables the fashioning of this land into a penthouse for Jews and a basement - divided into separate cells - for Palestinians. May these words advance that day, even if only by a minute." - Amira Hass, Israel's Holocaust credit line is running out, haaretz.com, 18/6/18)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Netanyahu Declaration

On the subject of Israel's latest APARTHEID legislation:

"'We have determined in law the founding principle of our existence,' [Netanyahu] said. 'Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and respects the rights of all of its citizens'." (More equal than others, David Halbfinger & Isabel Kershner, The New York Times/Sydney Morning Herald, 21/7/18)

Note the second half of Netanyahu's sentence: "and respects the rights of all of its citizens."

Remind you of anything?

That's right, the Balfour Declaration's utterly hollow, 'safeguard' clause:

"... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities... "

Moving along, here's a Palestinian Israeli perspective on the new bill, which fleshes out just what it means to live as a non-Jew in a Jewish state, from Yousef Jabareen, MK (Hadash), Israel just dropped the pretense of equality for Palestinian citizens (latimes.com, 20/7/18):

"The Israeli Knesset on Thursday passed into law a bill designed to make a permanent underclass of Palestinian citizens. It threatens to set the country on a course to a full-blown Jewish theocracy. The so-called 'Jewish nation-state' bill formalizes in Israeli law the superior rights and privileges that Jewish citizens of the state enjoy over its indigenous Palestinian minority, who comprise roughly 20% of the population. It demotes Arabic from one of two official languages to a mere 'special' status, deepens racial segregation by directing the government to 'encourage and promote' Jewish settlement, and declares that the right to self-determination in Israel is 'exclusive' to the Jewish people, denying the history and ancient Palestinian roots in this land. It also prioritizes the Jewishness of the state over its democratic character, omitting any reference to 'democracy' or 'equality'.

"The final reading of the nation-state bill took place just days after the Knesset rejected a bill that I, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and Knesset member, had introduced. My bill called for Israel to guarantee full equality for all of its citizens, regardless of religion or race. A similar bill introduced in June calling for Israel to be a country 'for all its citizens' was banned from even being discussed. The fate of these three bills confirms what Palestinians have always known: In Israel, only Jews enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizenship.

"The tension of being a Palestinian citizen of a country that defines itself as Jewish has shaped every aspect of my life, from early childhood to my career as a human rights activist and a member of Israel's parliament today.

"I was born in Umm al Fahem, which pre-dates the state of Israel and is one of the largest Palestinian towns in the country. Although it is bigger and older than the Jewish municipalities that surround it, the residents of Umm al Fahem are denied the same quality of public services that Jewish towns receive, including in healthcare and public transportation.

"I first began to understand the unequal nature of Israeli society when I was 12 years old and started going to school in nearby Nazareth. Because we didn't have a bus station, I had to hitch a ride to and from class every day and witness the stark contrast between the crumbling buildings, roads, and other underfunded public infrastructure in Umm al Fahem and those of the affluent Jewish towns I traveled through.

"Every day, I would also pass by the village where members of my mother's family lived before Israel's establishment, Al Lajjun. They were uprooted and told they could not return. Israel's destruction of Palestinian communities like my ancestral village continues today, in places like Umm al-Hiran, a town in southern Israel facing destruction so that it can be replaced with a city for Jews (to be called 'Hiran').

"The nation-state bill further marginalizes my community and entrenches Israel's regime of racial discrimination and deterioration into apartheid. It will lead to more racist, anti-democratic laws, adding to the more than 50 laws already on the books that disadvantage non-Jewish citizens.

"In contrast, the bill I introduced called for the country to become a democracy that guarantees complete civil and national equality to all who live within its borders. It would have ensured that Israeli law is based on universal values that recognize both Arab and Jewish ethnic groups. The state would have been required to invest the wealth of this land for the benefit of all its citizens, not just a privileged majority. There would be equal status for the Arabic language and culture, and inclusive national symbols, so Palestinian girls and boys would feel welcome in their own country, and no longer have to be represented by a country's flag containing religious symbols that are not their own.

"Like President Trump in the United States and right-wing demagogues elsewhere, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government wish to turn the clock back on humanity's march toward a freer, more just and egalitarian world. Imagine if Trump and the Republican Party passed a constitutional amendment declaring the U.S. to be officially a Christian state, formally subordinating the country's democracy to right-wing, fundamentalist Christian principles, and encouraging American cities and towns to exclude Jews, Muslims and indigenous Americans.

"That is the situation that Palestinians in Israel face today. As we continue our struggle for equal citizenship and the just rights of Palestinians everywhere, we call on our brothers and sisters of conscience in the U.S. and around the world to support our shared vision for enlightened democracy and the well-being of all people, regardless of race or religion."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Who is Mohammad?

Ever notice how corporate journalists sometimes feature in their reports the views of a member of the public who appears to be, at one and the same time, both a village idiot and an apologist for imperial military intervention?

Meet Guardian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan's 'Mohammed':

"A combination of factors ranging from economic grievances and a lack of social and political freedoms to international pressure and sanctions has put [Iran] under unprecedented pressure. Many Iranians would now agree with Mohammad [?] that the country faces a pivotal moment. 'People are desperate to find a way out,' he says. 'If it's war, so it be, but quick; if it's reaching an agreement, so it be, but quick; if it's regime change, so it be, but quick'." ('Desperate to find a way out': Iran edges towards precipice, Saeed Kamali Dehghan, theguardian.com, 20/7/18)

I mean, surely only a complete dill could possibly imagine war or regime change as "quick."

Then there's this bizarre assertion from 'Mohammad':

"All the 'down to America', 'down to Israel' chants put us in this agony."

I mean, hello? doesn't it occur to him that launching an economic war (aka sanctions) on Iran is just a tad over-the-top for protests against USraeli bullying in the region.

Who the fuck is 'Mohammad'? Sacha Baron Cohen?

Friday, July 20, 2018

Israel's Latest Apartheid Law

Still not convinced that Israel is an apartheid state?

No, I'm not talking about Israeli apartheid in the occupied West Bank, for details of which you can scan my 21/9/09 post Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In. I'm talking about Israeli apartheid west of the Green Line, in Israel itself.

As the Israeli scholar and activist Uri Davis points out in his seminal/must-read book Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003) (claims to being 'the only democracy in the Middle East' notwithstanding), Israel is "probably the last remaining apartheid state member of the UN." This, he asserts, arises from "the regulation of racism in law through Acts of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), resulting in 93% of all the territory of pre-1967 Israel being designated in law through Acts of the Knesset for cultivation, development and settlement by, of and for Jews only." Davis goes on to explain, in contrast to South African apartheid, that "the key legal distinction in Zionist apartheid legislation in Israel is between 'Jew' and 'non-Jew'." This distinction, "as institutionalized in the Constitutions and Articles of Association of all the bodies affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, is incorporated into the body of the laws of the State of Israel, notably the body of strategic legislation governing land tenure." (pp 39-42)

Davis lists this apartheid legislation as follows:

*1950: Absentees' Property Law; Law of Return; Development Authority Law;
*1952: World Zionist Organization - Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel (Status) Law;
*1953: Keren Kayemeth Leisrael (Jewish National Fund) Law; Land Acquisition (Validation of Acts and Compensation) Law;
*1954: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Zionist Executive, also known as the Executive of the Jewish Agency for the Land of Israel;
*1958: Prescription Law;
*1960: Basic Law: Israel Lands; Israel Lands Law; Israel Lands Administration Law;
*1961: Covenant between the Government of Israel and the Jewish National Fund.

To this "mainstay of Israeli apartheid," as Davis calls it, can now be added Israel's newest apartheid law, The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, which "describes Israel as 'the national home of the Jewish people' and says the right to exercise national self-determination there is 'unique to the Jewish people'." (Jewish nation state: Israel approves controversial bill, bbc.co.uk, 20/7/18)

But don't expect Australia's corporate media to call a spade a spade and invoke the A word. There was nothing whatever on the matter in today's Sydney Morning Herald, and the Associated Press report in The Australian could do no better than cite critics to the effect that the new law was "racist" and would "marginalise the country's Arab minority." (Knesset votes for Jewish nation state)

He Did It My Way

"I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction." - Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to his Israeli settler mates in Hebrew in 2001

***

Now here's another surprise. Not:

"In a video clip aired Tuesday by Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was responsible for US President Donald Trump's decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal. In the video, which the Kan public broadcaster said was filmed two weeks ago, Netanyahu can be seen speaking to activists and senior members from his Likud party. 'We convinced the US president [to exit the deal] and I had to stand up against the whole world and come out against this agreement,' Netanyahu says in the video. 'And we didn't give up'." (In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal, Alexander Fulbright, timesofisrael.com, 17/7/18)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Israel First in Helsinki

"I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction." - Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to Israeli settlers in Hebrew in 2001

***

What a surprise! Not:

"Donald Trump went into his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland deeply concerned about national security. It wasn't the security of American citizens, however, but rather those of Israel that the US President appeared to have on his mind. This wasn't a surprise as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been urging Trump to discuss Israel's number one strategic concern with the Russian President: Iran's involvement in Syria." (Why Netanyahu liked what he saw from Trump on Helsinki, Ian Lee, edition.cnn.com, 17/7/18)

Going for the Soft Underbelly

Cor blimey, if this Mordechai Kedar chap isn't the love-child of Oded Yinon, then my name isn't Sir Mark Sykes:

"We may see reports of the frictions only occasionally, but Iran is always a nation on the verge of fragmenting - and right now things are particularly fragile. The social makeup of Iran's population is complex because there is no such thing as an Iranian people or Iranian nation. There are, instead, Iranian citizens divided into many ethnic groups [...] There is a deep hatred of the ayatollahs simmering inside large sectors of Iranian society, a hatred that burst into the streets in a series of large demonstrations last November... The cry 'death to the dictator' was shouted by many, including many women who stood on podiums in front of the public, removed their head coverings and hung them on sticks to show their mockery for the Islamic law they are forced to observe... This is the soft underbelly to which anyone concerned about Iran must pay heed. It is the target at which arrows must be aimed, straight at those ethnic groups fighting for independence and the restless youngsters fighting for liberty. The civilised world can and should find those anti-ayatollah forces, support them and empower them to bring Iran to the same end that met the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia by creating homogenous ethnic states on the ruins of the artificial state of Iran." (Iran is hardly a nation and will likely fall apart, Mordechai Kedar, The Australian, 17/7/18)

And note how Trump, in his own deranged way, seems to be reading from the same script:

"Later, Mr Trump said Russia's position on Iran was because of trading benefits between Moscow and Tehran. 'It is not good for us or for the world, but they have riots in all their cities,' Mr Trump told Fox News of Iran's situation. 'The inflation is rampant, going through the roof. And not that you want to hurt anybody, but that regime wouldn't let the people know that we are behind them 100 per cent'." (Backing for Bibi unlikely unifier, Jacquelin Magnay, The Australian, 18/7/18)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Perils & Pitfalls of Not Doing Your Homework

Following Israel's May 14, 60+ slaughter on the Gaza border, young US Democratic Party contender, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reacted as any decent human being would, tweeting: "This is a massacre. I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such. No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can't be silent about this."

Following her upset win in the primaries, however, Ocasio-Cortez unfortunately lost the plot in an interview with conservative Firing Line host Margaret Hoover:

MH: You, in the campaign, made one tweet... that referred to a killing by Israeli soldiers of civilians in Gaza and called it a 'massacre', which became a little bit controversial. But I haven't seen anywhere - what is your position on Israel?

AOC: Well, I believe absolutely in Israel's right to exist. I am a proponent of a two-state solution. And for me, it's not - this is not a referendum, I think on the state of Israel. For me, the lens through which I saw this incident, as an activist... if 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, if 60 people were killed in the South Bronx - unarmed - if 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico - I just looked at that incident more through... through just, as an incident, and to me, it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores. But I am -

MH: Of course, the dynamic there in terms of geopolitics -

AOC: Of course.

MH: And the war in the Middle East is very different than people expressing their First Amendment right to protest.

AOC: Well, yes. But I also think that what people are starting to see at least [that] the occupation of Palestine is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian condition[s], and that to me is just where I tend to come from on this issue.

MH: You use the term 'the occupation of Palestine'? What did you mean by that?

AOC: Oh, um [pause] I think it, what I meant is the settlements that are increasing in some of these areas and places where Palestinians are experiencing difficulty in access to their housing and homes.

MH: Do you think you can expand on that?

AOC: Yeah, I mean, I think I'd also just [waves hands and laughs] I am not the expert on geopolitics on this issue. You know, for me, I'm a firm believer in finding a two-state solution on this issue, and I'm happy to sit down with leaders on both of these. For me, I just look at things through a human rights lens, and I may not use the right words [laughs] I know this is a very intense issue.

MH: That's very honest, that's very honest. It's very honest, and when you, you know, get to Washington and you're an elected member of Congress you'll have the opportunity to talk to people on all sides and visit Israel and visit the West Bank and -

AOC: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that that's one of those things that's important too is that, you know, especially with the district that I represent - I come from the South Bronx, I come from a Puerto Rican background, and Middle Eastern politics was not exactly at my kitchen table every night. But, I also recognize that this is an intensely important issue for people in my district, for Americans across the country, and I think what's at least important to communicate is that I'm willing to listen and that I'm willing to learn and evolve on this issue like I think many Americans are.

It's clear from Ocasio-Cortez's knee-jerk invocation of Israel's so-called "right to exist" that she hasn't a clue when it comes to this Zionist mantra. For someone aiming to win a place in the Zionist-controlled US Knesset Congress that's pretty damning. She should have made it her business to learn that Israel is an apartheid state built on the dispossession (1948 & 1967) and enforced exile of Palestine's indigenous Arab population, and spoken to this instead of parroting this Zionist talking point. The information is out there, she needed only to do her homework. A perusal of Sharmine Narwani's eviscerating essay, Three Magic Words, would have done the trick nicely. (See my 25/5/12 post of the same name.)

As for the "two-state solution" mantra, the absorption of a few basic facts - the inherent injustice of a Palestinian state on a mere 22% of historic Palestine; Israel's entrenched position in over 60% of the West Bank; the Likud Charter's flat rejection of a Palestinian state "west of the Jordan River" - should long ago have alerted her to the irrelevance of this tired and tatty formula.

And Ocasio-Cortez's backing away from her use of the word 'occupation' was a particularly bad move. All she had to do was remind Hoover of UNSC resolution 242 (1967), which calls on Israel to withdraw from "territories occupied in the recent conflict," and remind her that that occupation has gone on now for over 50 years.

I'VE SAID IT BEFORE AND I'LL SAY IT AGAIN: THERE IS REALLY NO EXCUSE FOR IGNORANCE ON THE PALESTINE/ISRAEL ISSUE ANY MORE, LEAST OF ALL FOR ASPIRING PROGRESSIVE POLITICIANS. THE INFORMATION IS THERE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, OR STAY OUT OF POLITICS.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Meet Danby's Preferred Candidate

You're the federal Opposition's unofficial shadow minister for Israel and you've ruled the seat of Melbourne Ports with a rod of Zion for what seems like... maybe 2,000 years, right? But lately you've gone a bit feral, what with your taxpayer-funded ads for Israel in the Australian Jewish News and that last pilgrimage to Israel when you really should have been warming your place on the parliamentary benches in Canberra. And so, to cut a long story short, Shorten's given you your marching orders. Tough titties, I know.

But you're not going gently into that good night, are you? No way! After all, as Bob Carr has opined, you're more Ben Gurion than Ben Gurion himself. So it's time for you to anoint a successor, right? He'll be no Michael Danby, of course, but a true blue son of Zion nonetheless. Step forward, Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre. (See Labor MP Michael Danby's preselection meeting undemocratic, candidate says, Paul Karp, theguardian.com, 16/7/18)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Iran: The Reality

Iran has long been the subject of a demonisation campaign by USrael and its camp followers*, and as my previous post indicates, western public opinion is being softened up for a forced regime change in Tehran. In these uncertain times, therefore, it is important to understand just what is at stake here. The following, heartbreaking, story, from The Irish Times, shows, like no other, just how undeserved is the prevailing, assiduously cultivated and promoted, negative image of Iran in the West:

"Irish paediatric oncologist Dr Trish Scanlan was in unfamiliar surroundings when she broke down and cried some weeks ago. Sitting with the chief of paediatric oncology in the Mahak hospital in Tehran... she became overwhelmed when she found what she had spent more than a decade travelling the world in search of.

"Scanlan works with children suffering from cancer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In her 11 years there, she has failed to save a single child suffering from a particularly aggressive form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which affects the blood and bone marrow. Dozens of children are diagnosed with the condition each year, and the treatment is both toxic and expensive. The hospitals in Tanzania are simply not equipped for the job. 'We don't have enough blood products, platelets and other support care to get the children through the treatment because it's basically like hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer, and doing that at least four times,' Scanlan says. 'We get through one, two or even sometimes three of these courses, and they usually die of fever, sepsis or want of blood. We've never managed to cure a child. They all died, which is really sad because Crumlin [Ireland's largest paediatric hospital] for example would probably save about 60%. I've tried to get help. I've had help from all over the world for all the things I do, but to treat a child with AML costs $50,000. Loads of countries and hospitals help us but it was beyond their ability tp provide support for 30-40 children. It's a lot of cash. I had tried and tried and tried. I had been all over Europe, America, South Africa and India, but I had never been able to access a hospital that was willing and able to support these kids.'

"A few weeks ago, Scanlan flew to Tehran. As she landed, she was on edge. 'When you arrive in somewhere like Iran - the axis of evil - you wonder what people are going to be like,' she says. 'I thought I was going to a closed, suspicious sort of place.' But, as she made her way through the airport, queuing for visas and collecting baggage, she found 'entirely the opposite' was the case. 'People were offering me cakes and tea,' she says. 'I've never been to a place where the people were doing everything in their power to make each situation as pleasurable and friendly as possible.'

"During her stay, Scanlan visited Mahak hospital, an independent organisation supporting children with cancer, funded entirely through charitable donations. The idea was to go and see how they do things, and hopefully learn something to take back to Tanzania. 'Everywhere we went people knew about Mahak,' she says. 'It provides all the cancer services for Iran. They will pay for children's cancer care in any hospital in the country. You send them the bill and they pay it. If the children survive, they pay for all of their schooling up to and including university. I can't tell you how unbelievable they are.' Following her tour of the hospital and meetings with department heads, Scanlan asked whether she could give a presentation of her week in Tanzania. They agreed, and she told them all about the children suffering and dying from AML. 'When I'd finished, we all sat down and they asked what they could do to help,' she says. 'I asked was there any way they could take the AML kids, and they just said: 'Sure. No problem. No charge.' They asked could we afford to transport them and I said we'd find a way. If we could get the kids to the door of the hospital, they would take care of them after that. I started to cry. I've been looking for an answer to this for 10 years, so it was pretty insane.'

"The very next day though, everything changed. US president Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, reimposing sanctions on the Gulf state. 'The price of things  - simple commodities - went up overnight by as much as 50 per cent,' says Scanlan.'A run on the banks had closed foreign exchange. Naively I thought the sanctions wouldn't affect the hospital or the work of the charity where they don't apply, but they do apply to the money it uses to pay for everything. From one day to the next after that, people were glued to the television screen or radio. They were waiting for the next announcement. It wasn't a small deal what happened. They were holding their breath, waiting for how it was going to affect them.'

'The following night, Scanlan had dinner with the two women who set up Mahak. 'These were jolly, fun, really dynamic women,' she says. 'Both of them were like: 'We think war is coming.' These were not histrionic, dramatic women. Both of them had set this up 27 years ago in the middle of sanctions. These weren't women to flip. They said the offer was still there but that we needed to think very carefully about bringing children to a potential warzone."

'Despite the change in the landscape, Scanlan is determined to press on. 'We're going forward with the idea, but we're on tenterhooks because we certainly don't want a child to go and be at risk,' she says. 'It's mind-blowing what's happened. I don't know what the future holds. But I know that in recent weeks, a hospital in Tehran, funded by ordinary Iranians, offered to help children with cancer in Tanzania. In times full of threats, this was a promise of humanity'." (15/7/18)

Think about it: Iran is under attack, currently by sanctions, later by God-knows-what, from a country where paying for medical expenses can bankrupt you.

[*By way of a reminder, here's the latest dollop, in Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, from Piers Akerman: "Iran is offering hyper-malevolent support for terrorism in the Middle East and supporting all manner of criminal activity elsewhere." (15/7/18)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

What Modern War Propaganda Looks Like

War propaganda alert from Caitlin Johnstone: This is what modern war propaganda looks like (medium.com, 5/7/18)

"I've been noticing videos going viral the last few days, some with millions of views, about Muslim women bravely fighting to free themselves from oppression in the Middle East. The videos, curiously, are being shared enthusiastically by many Republicans and pro-Israel hawks, who aren't traditionally the sort of crowd you see rallying to support the civil rights of Muslims.

"Well, you may want to sit down for this shocker, but it turns out that they happen to be women from a nation that the US war machine is currently escalating operations against. They are Iranian.

"Whenever you see the sudden emergence of an attractive media campaign that is sympathetic to the plight of civilians in a resource-rich nation unaligned with the western empire, you are seeing propaganda. When that nation is surrounded by other nations with similar human rights transgressions and yet those transgressions are ignored by that same media campaign, you are most certainly seeing propaganda. When that nation just so happens to already be the target of starvation sanctions and escalated covert CIA ops, you can bet the farm that you are seeing propaganda.

"Back in December a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how then-Secretary of State, DC neophyte Rex Tillerson, was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports: The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. 'Allies should be treated differently - and better - than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,' argued the memo, written by Tillerson's influential policy aide, Brian Hook.

"The propaganda machine doesn't operate any differently from the State Department, since they serve the same establishment. US ally Saudi Arabia is celebrated by the mass media for 'liberal reform' in allowing women to drive despite hard evidence that those 'reforms' are barely surface-level cosmetics to present a pretty face to the western world, but Iranian women, who have been able to drive for years, are painted as uniquely oppressed. Iran is condemned by establishment war whores for the flaws in its democratic process, while Saudi Arabia, an actual monarchy, goes completely unscrutinized. This is because the US-centralized power establishment, which has never at any point in its history cared about human rights, plans on effecting regime change in Iran by any means necessary. Should those means necessitate a potentially controversial degree of direct military engagement, the empire needs to make sure it retains control of the narrative.

"This is what war propaganda looks like in the era of social media. It will never look ugly. It will never directly show you its real intentions. If it did, it wouldn't work. It can't just come right out and say 'Hey we need to do horrible, evil things to the people in this country on the other side of the world in your name using your resources, please play along without making a fuss.' It will necessarily look fresh and fun and rebellious. It will look appealing. It will look sexy.

"And it's working. I am currently getting tagged in these videos multiple times a day by Trump supporters who are eager to show me proof that I'm on the wrong side of the Iran issue; the psyop is so well-lubricated with a combination of sleek presentation and confirmation bias that it slides right past their skepticism and becomes accepted as fact, even the one with the Now This pussyhat propaganda logo in the corner.

"Be less trusting of these monsters, please. The people of Afghanistan haven't benefited from the interminable military quagmire that has cost tens of thousands of their lives. The invaders of Iraq were never 'greeted as liberators' by an oppressed population. The humanitarian intervention in Libya left a humanitarian catastrophe in its wake far more horrific than anything it claimed to be trying to prevent. Saving the children of Syria with western interventionism has left half a million Syrians dead.

"If the Iranians do in fact wish to change their government, it should happen without crippling sanctions, collaboration with extremist terror cults, or the rapey tentacles of the CIA manipulating the situation. There has never been a US-led regime change in the Middle East that wasn't disastrous. People should be screaming at the US and its allies to cease these interventions, not applauding propaganda that is clearly being manufactured by that same empire."

Friday, July 13, 2018

The (Kosher) Axis Rides Again

This time with Israel's approval, of course:

"Support for Europe's right-wing populist parties, and their response to the challenges caused by the refugee/migrant wave, is rising... Last week, the German, Austrian and Italian ministers of the interior initiated an 'axis' of states aiming at stopping immigration to Europe, confirming their commitments to an already thriving reactionary nationalistic trend in both eastern as well as western Europe. Israel is in effect a silent partner to this 'axis': it is doing its utmost not only to prevent what its government terms 'infiltrators' from entering Israel, but also to get rid of those who were able to cross the Egyptian/Israeli border in the past.

"It was the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, who after his short visit to Israel last week (re) coined the term 'Axis' for the Berlin-Vienna-Rome anti-immigrant alliance, a term which even people with relatively crude historical antennae will recognize for its historical resonances. That was straight after getting an enthusiastic 'kosher certification' from Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks to Kurz's speech in Jerusalem, in which he admitted that Austrians were not only victims but also perpetrators during WWII...

"It would be no surprise if he interpreted his warm welcome in Israel as a laissez passer for his far right populist coalition partner, euphemistically called the 'Freedom Party,' whom Israel, until now, still officially boycotts on account of its neo-Nazi roots...

"The Austrian Freedom Party is attempting - like other European populist parties - to use Israel as a springboard for international legitimization. The first tactical step of such parties is to demonstrate support for Israel's nationalist government policy, in order to get that coveted so-called kosher certificate. Then, they move on to the second step: They proclaim their aversion to anti-Semitism, past and present... " (Israel: the one place Europe's anti-Semitic far right wins the Jewish vote, Shimon Stein, Haaretz, 20/6/18)

One wonders why all of this should come as a bit of a surprise to Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany (2001-07). After all, didn't political Zionism's founding father, Theodor Herzl, predict that "The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies"? And isn't it typical of liberal Zionists like Stein to raise the issue of Israel's anti-African refugee policies, but remain silent when it comes to those other, Palestinian, refugees?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Letters? What Letters?

Netanyahu to a group of Israeli settlers in 2001: "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction."

***

Yet another Israeli-monkey-on-America's-back story:

How four US presidents, including Obama and Trump, helped protect Israel's nuclear arsenal, Adam Entous, The New Yorker, 18/6/18)

"When a delegation of senior Israeli officials visited the Trump White House on February 13, 2017, they wanted to discuss several issues with their new American counterparts. Topping the list was a secret letter concerning a subject the Israelis had promised the Americans never to discuss publicly - Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal. In a recent piece for The New Yorker, I described a tense scene in the West Wing as the Israeli delegation - which included Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer - tried to get the letter signed by President Donald Trump. By all accounts, the American Administration was eager to please the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Trump had promised to lavish with unprecedented support. But, at that chaotic moment, Trump's aides felt blindsided by the Israeli request. They knew nothing about the existence of any letters and were confused by the sense of urgency coming from the Israelis. The Americans had other pressing concerns - later that day, Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, would hand in his resignation letter - and they didn't appreciate feeling as though the Israelis were telling them what to do. 'This is our fuckin' house,' one of the Americans snapped.

"The White House's reaction was understandable. There had been a similar moment of surprise eight years earlier, when Barack Obama became President and received a similar request. The very existence of the letters had been a closely held secret. Only a select group of senior American officials, in three previous Administrations, knew of the letters and how Israeli leaders interpreted them as effectively an American pledge not to press the Jewish state to give up its nuclear weapons so long as it continued to face existential threats in the region. (American officials say the letters weren't that explicit and fell short of constituting a binding commitment.) When Trump's aides moved into the White House, they didn't find any copies of the previous letters left behind by their predecessors. The documents had been sent to the archives. The Israelis, however, had copies.

"Israel crossed the nuclear threshold on the eve of the Six-Day War, in 1967. At that time, it had three nuclear devices, according to Avner Cohen, a nuclear historian... Israeli efforts to build a bomb at the nuclear complex in Dimona had been a source of tension with Washington for nearly a decade, But, by the fall of 1969, when Golda Meir, Israel's Prime Minister, met with Richard Nixon at the White House, Israel's possession of nuclear weapons was a fait accompli and the two sides reached an unwritten understanding: the Israelis would not declare, test, or threaten to use their nuclear weapons, and the Americans would not pressure the Israelis to sign a landmark international nuclear-nonproliferation treaty known as the NPT. (Israel never became a signatory, and US efforts to inspect Dimona stopped.)

"Successive Israeli governments abided by the arrangement... often referred to as Israel's 'policy of ambiguity.' A joint document describing the agreement was never prepared. Instead, each side relied on its own notes, a former official said. President Gerald Ford abided by Nixon's deal... The Israelis first started to feel as though the unwritten Meir-Nixon arrangement was no longer sufficient during the Presisidency of George H.W. Bush, when, after the first Gulf War, in 1991, world powers talked about the possibility of creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms.

"The first iteration of the secret letter was drafted during the Clinton Administration, as part of an agreement for Israel's participation in the 1998 Wye River negotiations with the Palestinians. In the letter, according to former officials, President Bill Clinton assured the Jewish state that no future American arms-control initiative would 'detract' from Israel's 'deterrent' capabilities, an oblique but clear reference to its nuclear arsenal. Later, Israeli officials inserted language to make clear to Washington that Israel would 'defend itself, by itself,' and that it would, therefore, not consider the American nuclear arsenal to be a substitute for Israeli nuclear arms. George W. Bush, when he became president, followed Clinton's lead, signing a similar letter, former officials told me.

"Then, in 2009, a new President, Barack Obama, took office. Almost from the start, Netanyahu was distrustful of Obama, and vice versa. 'With Obama, we were all crazy,' an Israeli official told me. That April, Obama delivered an aspirational speech in Prague, setting out 'America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.' Obama's advisers subsequently learned 'how paranoid Bibi was that Obama was going to try to take away Israel's nuclear weapons,' a former US official told me, adding, 'Of course, that was never our intent.' Obama signed an updated version of the letter in May, 2009.

"While Israeli officials interpreted the letters as an effective commitment by successive American Presidents not to pressure Israel regarding its nuclear arsenal, US officials told me that they viewed the letters as less categorical. 'It was not a blanket 'We'll never ask Israel to give up its nuclear weapons.' It was more 'We accepted the Israeli argument that they're not going to disarm under current conditions in the Middle East,' a former US official told me...

"Ahead of a nonproliferation conference in 2010, Netanyahu became concerned, once again, that Israel would come under international pressure to disarm. In response, Obama made a public statement that echoed the contents of the secret letters, without revealing their existence. 'We discussed issues that arose out of the nuclear nonproliferation conference,' Obama said, after meeting with Netanyahu on July 6, 2010. 'And I reiterated to the Prime Minister that there is no change in US policy when it comes to these issues. We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it's in, and the threats that are levelled against... it, that Israel has unique security requirements. It's got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region. And that's why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel's security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests'."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Ziofascist Legislation Creep in the US

On 23/7/17, in my post First They Came for the Palestinians, I drew attention to Glenn Greenwald's ominous essay, US lawmakers seek to criminally outlaw support for boycott campaign against Israel, in which he warned that "the criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West," and went on to analyse the circumstances around the introduction of a bipartisan, AIPAC-drafted, Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720) into the US Senate, noting in particular its foreshadowing of maximum criminal penalties of $1 million and 20 years in prison for Americans supporting the international boycott of Israel.

So where are we now with this piece of Ziofascist legislation creep, almost one year on? Here's an update from theintercept.com's Alex Emmons, New house bill would empower Donald Trump to punish US companies that boycott Israel (29/6/18):

"The House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passed a measure on Thursday that would give the Trump administration power to decide how to punish US companies that engage in or promote boycotts of Israel - including through criminal penalties. The committee passed an amendment... from Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif, that largely replaced the text of... the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. When the original legislation was first introduced last year, it drew outrage from activists, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that by threatening to impose steep criminal penalties on boycott activists engaged with international bodies' boycotts, the bill was unconstitutional.

"After the uproar, the initial bill... lost momentum. But Royce's effort to move his version out of the Foreign Affairs Committee is part of a push to reinvigorate Capitol Hill's efforts to use statutory means to clamp down on the growing movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state for human rights violations against the Palestinians. Pro-Palestinian activists said Royce's amendment, despite being an attempt to work around civil liberties concerns, could be the most dangerous version of the bill yet, because it delegates the lawmaking power to the Trump administration...

"Royce's amendment rewrites the bill to direct the administration to issue regulations that prohibit US companies from involvement with the BDS movement... The bill covers those companies that attempt to 'comply with, further, or support' UN or EU calls for a boycott of Israel... [It] requires them to be 'consistent with the enforcement practices' of the 1979 Export Administration Act - which allows for a range of civil and criminal penalties stopping out at a maximum of $1 million fine and 20 years in prison...

"According o the ACLU, 24 states have passed laws aimed at punishing the boycott movement, and more than 100 bills have been considered by state and local legislatures across the country."

Land of the free? You're kidding me!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Must Watch: The Occupation of the American Mind

Sut Jhally's film, The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel's Public Relations War in the United States, is an absolute must watch. Jhally is professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the director of other films on msm manipulation of the American mind. I received notice of his latest film with the following note attached. Having just viewed it, I fully concur - watch and share widely:

"Despite receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from those who have actually seen it, The Occupation of the American Mind has been repeatedly attacked and misrepresented by right-wing pressure groups and outright ignored by virtually all mainstream media outlets and North American film festivals. To bypass this campaign of misrepresentation and suppression, we've decided to make the film available for FREE online so that people can make up their own minds about its analysis of US media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please watch and share widely!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmoYoiMgpWU

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mugs

In my 15/4/18 post Sydney Morning Herald Readers & Syria, I recorded the Herald readership's reaction to the question: Do you think Australia should join a joint response to the [April 7] Syrian chemical attack [in Douma]? 39% of readers answered 'yes'.

The following data, from the OPCW interim report (which no Australian corporate media outlet, including the Herald, to my knowledge, has shown any interest in), is dedicated to that 39%, who, no doubt misled by years of anti-Syrian government propaganda in the paper, thought we should shoot first and ask questions later:

"No traces of any nerve agents have been found at the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, an interim report issued by the OPCW says, adding that several chlorine compounds were detected... The purported chemical incident in Douma allegedly took place on April 7. A week later, Washington and its allies launched a massive retaliatory missile strike against Syria, without waiting for the OPCW to start its investigation of the incident." (Nerve agents not found in samples from Syria's Douma - interim OPCW report, rt.com, 6/7/18)

PS 9/7: Sydney's Sun-Herald finally got around to mentioning the OPCW's report. It was buried inside another report - Rebels surrender south to Assad (Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters) - and mentioned only that "'various chlorinated chemical's" were found at the site... indicating chlorine may have been used as a weapon." IOW, there was no mention of nerve agents.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Shorten's Tribute to Michael Danby

"Shorten paid tribute to Danby, thanking him for his '20 years of service to the parliament' and 'lifetime of service to the labour movement'. Michael's colleagues and his constituents know him as a champion for the arts and a true friend of Israel,' the Labor leader said. 'Throughout his career Michael has always put fidelity to these principles ahead of any consideration of narrow political self-interest'." (Controversial Labor MP Michael Danby announces retirement, Paul Karp, theguardian.com, 5/7/18)

Let me unpack this:

"20 years of service to the parliament"?

Shorten means 20 years of "ensuring that the policies of the Labor party, in its internal considerations of the issues relating to the Middle East, are consistent with the aspirations of the local Jewish community," and "corralling his parliamentary colleagues and forcing them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions," these occasioned by natural revulsion at Israel's 2008-09 butchery in Gaza.* (See my 1/3/09 post Nipping at their Heels.)

"Michael's colleagues... know him as a true friend of Israel."

Too understated. As Bob Carr once put it: "Michael Danby is a passionate supporter of Israel - Israel right or wrong. I describe Michael, who is a great friend of mine, as being a stronger Labor Zionist than Ben Gurion, the founder of the state of Israel." (See my 18/10/13 post The MP Who Dares Not Speak His Name.)

"Michael has always put fidelity to these principles ahead of any consideration of narrow self-interest."

My oath he has! Like traveling to Israel on sick leave when he should have been sitting in parliament, or placing taxpayer-funded ads in the Australian Jewish News attacking hardworking ABC journalists for alleged bias against Israel.

Predictably, Shorten doesn't really do justice to Danby's devotion to Zionism. The adjective 'slavish' comes to mind. For example:

"MK Danny Danon (Likud) asked Australian MP Michael Danby... to propose, in parliament in Canberra, sending African migrants from Israel to Australia. Danon and Danby discussed the issue during the Australian politician's visit to Israel for the World Jewish Congress's International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians. 'The arrival of thousands of [African] Muslim infiltrators to Israeli territory is a clear threat to [Israel's] Jewish identity', Danon told The Jerusalem Post. 'The refugees' place is not among us, and the initiative to transfer them to Australia is the right and just solution. On the one hand, it treats the refugees and migrants in a humane way. On the other hand, it does not threaten Israel's future and our goal to maintain a clear and solid Jewish majority', he explained. Danon said Danby enthusiastically agreed to present the idea to the Australian Parliament." (Danny Danon: Send African migrants to Australia, Lahav Harkov, 30/6/11)