Saturday, March 31, 2018

Corbyn Squibs It

Since becoming Labour party leader in 2015, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies in the party have been subjected to a concerted campaign by UK Zionists of false allegations of anti-Semitism. These agents of Israel will stop at nothing to prevent the emergence of a Palestinian sympathiser as prime minister of the land that issued the Balfour Declaration just over 100 years ago. (Remember expelled Israeli embassy intelligence agent Shai Masot, caught on camera talking about 'taking-down' a Tory minister in 2016? How much more of a target do you think today's Jeremy Corbyn is then?)

Having agreed to an interview* Britain's Jewish News on March 28, Corbyn was prevented with an ideal platform to challenge the views of those behind the campaign. Unfortunately, he squibbed it, leaving us to wonder whether he was simply not across the subject, deliberately pursuing a low-profile strategy, or, heaven forbid, lacking in moral courage.

Crucially, at no point in the interview did he attempt to draw the fundamental and necessary distinction between Zionism, the (racist, supremacist) political ideology which underpins Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid, and Judaism, the faith. And even when the interviewer finally broached the subject - "JN: Your shadow foreign secretary was happy to describe you as a Zionist - is that a term you would accept for yourself? - the best Corbyn could come up with was this: "I wasn't quite sure in what context she... said that."

Corbyn's attitude towards Hamas & Hezbollah was the subject of this hysterical question:

"Another expression of regret that you've made in relation to your description of Hamas and Hezbollah as 'friends'. Can you see that to call a group that wants me dead, wants our readers dead, that want all their relatives in Israel and around the world dead, means that British Jews are bound to be profoundly concerned?"

Yet, instead of pointing out the bleeding obvious - that both are primarily national resistance movements which arose in response to Zionist aggression and occupation - he simply asserted, when pressed, that he "fundamentally disagrees" with them.

As for appearing at pro-Palestinian rallies where some have flown Hezbollah flags - which carry a logo incorporating a gun, as did the flag of Menachem Begin's Irgun, the ideological forerunner of Netanyahu's Likud - he might have asked his interlocutor what exactly he thought it was that enabled the Zionist takeover of Palestine in 1948, or continues to enable the illegal Zionist occupation of Palestine to this day.

And then there was this on the matter of false allegations of anti-Semitism:

"JN: Some of your key supporters are still calling allegations of anti-Semitism smears... are they smears?"

Instead of pointing out that yes, some at least have been smears, designed solely to stifle criticism of Israel, and contesting the absurd idea that, merely because such allegations are made by Zionist advocates in the Jewish community, they must automatically be taken seriously, Corbyn replied lamely, "I am not an anti-Semite in any form, therefore it's unfair to say that and I hope people would understand that. I've recognised there is an existence of it [anti-Semitism in the party], I've recognised the... importance... of getting rid of it."

Seriously, if Corbyn thinks that not dealing forthrightly with these issues, let alone raising the issue of  the Zionist subversion of British politics, is going to keep the Zionist monkey off his back, he is sadly mistaken.

[*Exclusive Jewish News interview with Jeremy Corbyn: 'I'm not an anti-Semite in any form']

Friday, March 30, 2018

Fixated Persons

"A Fixated Persons Unit set up in the wake of Sydney's deadly Lindt Cafe siege has lead [sic] to charges against 17 people, some of whom 'were on the cusp of some pretty terrible things', NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said yesterday." ('We won't wait', Fuller vows on terror tactics, Deborah Snow, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/3/18)

I think Police Commissioner Fuller is onto something here. After all, just look at what happened in the absence of such a unit in 19th century Palestine:

"My dictionary defines a 'fixed idea' as follows:  'A Fixed Idea is a preconceived belief or idea, a prepossession, hence psychologically, an idea, usually delusive, which dominates the whole mental life during a prolonged period, as in certain forms of insanity.' This definition has fitted political Zionism or 'Jewish' nationalism to perfection. Ever since that Sunday, August 29, 1897, when Dr. Theodor Herzl, at the First Zionist World Conference in Basel, Switzerland, sold his bill of fare, his Judenstaat [Jewish State], to the leaders of East European persecuted ghetto Jewry, right up to the post-June 1967, 'Jewish' military victory over their 'enemies,' the Arabs.

"I know whereof I am speaking. I was a first graduate (Class 1913) of the Gymnasia Herzlia of Jaffa-Tel Aviv - the Nursery where 'Jewish' political nationalism had its rebirth after the demise of its Founding Father, Dr. Herzl. I attended the Gymnasia Herzlia from 1909 through 1913. Day and night, inside the classes and outside, I was inoculated with the 'fixed idea' of 'Jewish' nationalism. In all of Arab Palestine, in those days, there were only about 50 000 Jews, practically all living on alms - charity collections made in the Diaspora. Very few Jews, in those days, were farmers of artisans. Very few looked healthy and strong. The manly men I knew during the five years I attended the Gymnasia Herzlia were the Arab seamen who unloaded and reloaded the many steamers that had to stop miles beyond the high cliffs. Every Jew who lived in Palestine was first brought to land when he arrived from Russia, Poland or Hungary by those brave oarsmen, who got them through the narrow passage through the cliffs. Every worker on my uncle's large vineyard in Rehovot, was an Arab. Work was done by Arabs only, with few exceptions.

"Yet, the spiritual education we constantly received consisted of amanooh, artzanooh, moladtanooh - our nation, our country, our fatherland. My benchmate during my five years at the Gymnasia was Moshe Shertok, who was later to become, what it was hoped that both of us would become, a leader in the coming Jewish State. Moshe Shertok was Foreign Minister, and, for a short while, Prime Minister, of the young State of Israel. Religion was nonexistent. 'Jewish' nationalism was our new religion. We were made to understand, and feel, that the Jews of the world are sui generis, a 'Chosen People,' who must eventually all emigrate to their 'Jewish Fatherland.' There were hardly any synagogues in Jaffa-Tel Aviv. I never heard of any of my Hebrew teachers going to pray in a synagogue.

"We lived in an enchanted world of myths, dreams, and aspirations. It was a hotbed of pumped and inflated excitement and synthetic idealism. To me, who was brought up in Jerusalem, before I came to the Gymnasia, in the home of my saintly and revered grandfather who believed in, and practiced, ethical and universal Judaism (Orthodox but sincere), believed and practiced social justice in all his contacts with Jews and gentiles (he was a rich retired merchant who came 'to die in the Holy Land,'). this preaching of hatred towards the Arabs conflicted with the Prophetic Judaism of my grandfather. On his death, I left Jerusalem to prepare myself to study at the Gymnasia, at the age of 15-16. But at the age of 20, unlike my fellow-graduates, I refused to accept the scholarships offered me by the Gymnasia to study in Europe under their supervision, and decided to go America and support myself and be independent." (The Culmination & Full Manifestation of the Chronic, Pathological, Seventy-Year-Old 'Fixed Idea' of Fanatical 'Jewish' Nationalism, Moshe Menuhin*, The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time**, 1969, pp 502-03)

[*Father of the famous violinist, Yehudi Menuhin; **An absolute classic, recently republished by Forbidden Bookshelf in the US as 'Not By Might, Nor By Power': The Zionist Betrayal of Judaism.]

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ghouta: From MSM/Takfiri Hype to Reality

19 March:

"With the capture of Kfar Batna and parts of Saqba, rebels still control the towns of Arbeen, Zamalka, Ein Tarma and Jobar on the southern edge of eastern Ghouta. 'The world has betrayed us,' said Ahmad Khanshour, a resident of eastern Ghouta, referring to the international community that could not do much to stop the offensive. 'The world betrayed itself and the human values we all once shared.' He said about 300,000 people are still besieged in eastern Ghouta, left to choose between 'dying under fire or surrendering and go to Assad's jails and slaughterhouses'." (Thousands flee as troops take rebel srongholds." AP/Sydney Morning Herald, 19/3/18)

27 March:

"'To be honest, people welcomed the regime forces,' said Mohammed Rabea, a media activist from Harasta who was on the convoy of buses to Idlib last week. He said there had been no confirmed reports of those who chose to remain being arrested. 'We heard from the regime soldiers that they will detain the young men to be conscripted to the military service,' he said." (Men from Ghouta facing the frontline, The Times/The Australian, 27/3/18)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bolton Out of the Blue

Bush-era Ziocon and former UN ambassador, John Bolton, is now Trump's National Security Adviser.

We already know what he wants to do:

"Just 8 months ago, at a Paris gathering, Bolton told members of the Iranian exile group, known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, MEK, or People's Mujahedeen, that the Trump administration should embrace their goal of immediate regime change in Iran and recognize their group as a 'viable' alternative. 'The outcome of the president's policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday,' Bolton said. (The 40th of the Iranian revolution will be on February 11, 2019.) 'The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs' regime in Tehran,' Bolton added. 'The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.' As the Iranian expatriate journalist Bahman Kalbasi noted, Bolton concluded his address to the exiles with a rousing promise: 'And that's why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran!'" (Here's John Bolton promising regime change in Iran by the end of 2018, Robert Mackey,, 24/3/18)

Now check out Bolton's cv to find out why he wants to do an Iraq on Iran:

"Before joining the Bush II administration, Bolton had been Senior Vice President for Public Policy Research at the American Enterprise Institute and a member of the Project for the New American Century and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). Bolton had been a regular contributor to William Kristol's Weekly Standard. In December 2005, after becoming US Ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton would be the keynote speaker at the right-wing Zionist Organization of America's Louis Brandeis Award Dinner, where he received the ZOA's Defender of Israel award." (The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel*, 2008, p 123)

[*Required reading; see also my 7/1/16 post Tom Switzer Channels Oded Yinon in the Herald.]

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sydney Morning Herald Fails Again & Again

Off topic, but not really given the Sydney Morning Herald's USrael-friendly treatment of the Middle East...

Well said, Julian Burnside QC:

"What does it say about the state of our democracy when it falls upon everyday people to stop a billionaire building the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere? And what does it say about our politicians that they will let Adani's mine proceed when the vast majority of Australians don't want it, and scientists are urging us to keep coal in the ground to avoid more dangerous climate change? This month, nine people... were collectively fined more than $70,000 for their efforts in January to keep Adani's coal in the ground." (Everyday heroes step up as leaders fail, Sydney Morning Herald, 26/3/18)

And what does it say about the state of Fairfax's SMH that the $70,000 fine imposed on those 9 anti-Adani protesters was, to my knowledge, nowhere reported in the SMH prior to Burnside's opinion piece?

And what does it say about the SMH that its Sunday equivalent of 25/3/18, the Sun-Herald, nowhere reported that just the day before thousands of people from every corner of NSW (the Nature Conservation Council has estimated 10,000) marched through the streets of Sydney in protest at the pillaging of the state by mining corporations?

Monday, March 26, 2018

Daniel Pipes: Jabotinsky Lite

Foaming Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, grand mufti of the US Zionist website, Middle East Forum, recently visited Australia as the guest of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

So what did he tell the AIJAC crowd?

Well, here's the gist, taken from his near full-page screed in Murdoch's Weekend Australian:

"The moment is right for fresh thinking to dispatch the old and stale Palestinian-Israeli conflict... I shall propose an entirely different approach to resolve the conflict, a reversion to the strategy of deterrence and victory associated with Zionism's great strategist, Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880 - 1940): Israel should aim not to please its enemies but to defeat them." (All-out Israeli victory vital for peace, 24/3/18)

The obvious point to make at the outset, of course, is to ask: since when has Israel's aim EVER been to please the Palestinians, their fellow Arabs or anyone else for that matter?

But it's Pipes' embrace of Jabotinsky, the father of Zionist Revisionism, that I wish to explore here. (Just to contextualise him, remember that Jabotinsky begat Menachem Begin's terrorist Irgun, which begat, post Nakba, Begin's Herut Party, which, with the election of Begin as Israel's 6th PM (1977-83), begat the Likud Party, led today by Benjamin Netanyahu, whose father was Jabotinsky's secretary.)

Pipes, of course, presents what he euphemistically terms Jabotinsky's "strategy of deterrence and victory" (which terminology I shall return to later) as though it were some great break in Zionist strategy, but as Jabotinsky himself wrote in 1923: "There are no meaningful differences between our 'militarists' and our 'vegetarians'. One [Jabotinsky] prefers an iron wall of Jewish bayonets, the other [Weizmann] proposes an iron wall of British bayonets... but we all applaud, day and night, the iron wall."*

Got it? Zionism is Zionism is Zionism, and we waste our time differentiating between its different strains as though one is somehow more palatable than the other, because, whatever the strain, it is simply incompatible with the idea of Israeli Jews living alongside Palestinian Arabs as full and equal citizens in the same land.

To move on. Here's how Pipes packages Jabotinsky for AIJAC and the readers of The Australian: "To gain Palestinian acceptance [of Israel], Israel must return to its old policy of deterrence, of punishing Palestinians severely when they aggress... That's deterrence. It's more than tough tactics, which Israeli governments already pursue: it means developing consistent policies to break rejectionism and encourage Palestinian acceptance of Israel. It implies a strategy to crush irredentist Palestinian ambitions, to finally end the demonising of Jews and Israel, recognise historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem, normalise relations with Israelis, close the suicide factories and shutter the entire machinery of warfare... it requires Palestinians to suffer the bitter crucible of defeat, with its attendant deprivation, destruction and despair."

Putting to one side Pipes' demonising constructions - Palestinian resistance to occupation, colonisation, and apartheid (aggression); Palestinian refusal to accept Israel's bulldozing of their homes and rights (rejectionism); Palestinian international law-backed critiques of Israel's illegal occupation and behaviour (demonisation) etc  - what Pipes is really saying here is that Palestinians must, in effect, become Zionists - but without, of course,the benefits!

And if his appalling genocidal reference to the Palestinians' need to suffer "deprivation, destruction and despair," as if this is something new for them, weren't bad enough, he actually has the gall to state that "If Palestinian defeat is good for Israel, it is ironically even better for Palestinians, who will finally be liberated from ugly irredentist ambitions, revolutionary rhetoric, and genocidal fantasies," and so free to build their "polity, economy, society and culture."

But it gets worse with this demonisation of the Palestinians as the heirs of the Nazis: "Think of a miniature version of post-1945 Germany." And don't you just love the implications of that word "miniature"!

Jabotinsky, of course, was far more honest than Pipes about Zionism's SETTLER-COLONIAL status than Pipes, and never tried to dress up the fate of the Palestinian Arabs at the hands of the Zionist project: "Zionist colonization... must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, continue... only under the protection of a force independent of the local population - an iron wall which the native population cannot break through."

You can see why Jabotinsky's actual words are nowhere to be found in Pipes' rendering of Jabotinsky: "Zionist colonization"; "iron wall"; "native population."

And again: "We can talk as much as we want  about our good intentions; but they understand as well as we what is not good for them. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie."

And again: "Every indigenous people will resist alien settlers..."

And again: "Colonization can have only one goal. For the Palestinian Arabs this goal is inadmissible. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible."

And Pipes, the son of Polish Jews, expects the Palestinians to "recognise historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem"!

But there's more. Integral to Jabotinsky's thinking is that Jordan is also Palestine/ Eretz Israel. Not, of course, that Pipes lets his readers in on that thorny aspect of the master's thought.

[*All Jabotinsky quotes from his essay The Iron Wall (We & the Arabs).]

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Israeli Apartheid Justice

Let's get this straight:

An Israeli OCCUPATION soldier caves in the head of a cousin of a 16-year-old Palestinian girl. Later, the girl bravely confronts Israeli OCCUPATION soldiers lurking in front of her home and, even more bravely, slaps one. The girl is then arrested, imprisoned for 8 months and heavily fined.

By contrast, another Israeli OCCUPATION soldier cold-bloodedly shoots a prone, wounded Palestinian in the head. That soldier, Elor Azaria, is sentenced to 9 months in prison.

This is an example of Israeli apartheid justice.

The Palestinian girl, of course, is Ahed Tamimi.

The following perfunctory piece is the FIRST EVER to appear on her case in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"A teenage Palestinian girl who was filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank has accepted a plea deal under which she will be sentenced to 8 months in prison, her lawyer said. Ahed Tamimi, 17, pictured, became a hero to Palestinians after the December 15 incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral." (23/3/18)

Needless to say, there's been not a whisper about Ahed Tamimi in the Murdoch press.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Salivating Zionists

John Howard responds to Kevin Rudd (see my 21/3/18 post More Fool He) in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

"The statement of [Rudd's] about the existence of WMDs, to which I... have most frequently referred over the years was contained in a speech he delivered to the State Zionist Council of Victoria on October 15, 2002. In it he asserted that it was 'an empirical fact' that Iraq possessed WMDs. He based his assertion not on intelligence material, but on a bulletin from the Federation of American Scientists, which listed Iraq among a number of states in possession of chemical and biological weapons and with the capacity to develop a nuclear program."

Friday, March 23, 2018

The 'Human Rights' War on Syria

Herewith the introductory paragraphs to Australian historian -The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, 2008 -  Jeremy Salt's must-read:

"The perfidious role of 'human rights' organizations in the war on Syria has been exposed again with the Amnesty International report on Syria for 2017/18, followed by an equally tendentious article in the Melbourne Age newspaper by Claire Malinson, Amnesty's national director for Australia.

"In the name of human rights these organizations have actually worsened the crisis in Syria. They have never dealt honestly with its primary cause, the determination of the US and its allies seven years ago to destroy the government in Damascus as part of a bigger plan to destroy the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah strategic axis across the Middle East. Democracy, human rights and the best interests of the Syrian people were never on the agenda of these governments. They were cold-blooded and remorseless in what they wanted and the means by which they sought to get it.

"By calling violent armed groups 'rebels' and 'the opposition', these 'human rights' organizations conceal their true nature. By calling the Syrian government a 'regime', instead of the legitimate government of Syria, representing Syria at the UN and representing the interests of the Syrian people, they seek to demean it. By accusing it of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on its own civilian population, on the basis of what they are being told by their tainted sources, they seek to demonize it. By accusing it of carrying out chemical weapons attacks, without having any proof, they perpetuate the lies and fabrications of the armed groups and the governments that support them.

"Behind the mask of 'human rights' these organizations are promoting the war agenda of western and regional governments. Some are worse than others. Human Rights Watch might as well be a formal annex of the US State Department, but they all play the same duplicitous game.

"East Aleppo is the template for what we are seeing now in the outrage over East Ghouta, the district on the outskirts of Damascus in which hundreds of thousands of people are being held hostage by takfiri armed groups. Aleppo was infiltrated by these groups in 2012 and the eastern sector of the city gradually taken over, as the army was already too hard-pressed on other fronts to stop this happening. Until then Aleppo, a commercial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic city, had managed to stay out of the war but now it was sucked right in. There was nil support in Aleppo for the takfiris but they had the guns and they were ready to kill to get their way. Advancing on government held positions, they devastated the old centre of the city with their attacks. Digging tunnels, they blew up some of its most famous buildings. Art, architecture, history meant nothing to them. They destroyed the square minaret of the Umayyad mosque and their attacks led to the destruction of the Aleppos souk, one of the oldest and most colourful markets in the world.

"In the districts they controlled they ruled by terror, massacre and murder and the institution of the most repressive sharia laws. Under the secular Syrian government, women and men have the same rights before the law, under the takfiris women have no rights that are not granted to them by men. They sought the extirpation of all those they did not regard as true Muslims (Shia and Alawi amongst others): one of their earliest acts was the kidnapping of two orthodox Christian prelates, never seen alive again. It was these armed groups and the foreign governments behind them that were responsible for the dire situation in East Aleppo, yet it was the Syrian government, the 'regime' as they chose to call it, that was blamed by the media and 'human rights' organizations. The White Helmets, embedded with these groups, and funded by the same governments which had armed and financed them, were used as the main propaganda prop. Their staged rescues filled the pages of the corporate media. They were effectively canonised by George Clooney, the documentary on their bogus bravery and sham rescues winning an Oscar award, unfortunately not for bad acting, which should have been the prize." (, 4/3/18)

Thursday, March 22, 2018


"For a handful of settlers to take their laws, values, language, technology, medicine and civic institutions out of Europe and transplant them to largely underdeveloped lands across the other side of the planet in an age of no internet, no smartphones and no air travel is a miracle; a miracle that not only continues to benefit those whose ancestors set it in motion but those who joined the team later." (We should rescue these people from a failing system bent on revenge, Sherry Sufi*, The Australian, 20/3/18)

[*Chairman of the West Australian Liberal Party's policy committee.]

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

More Fool He

Kevin Rudd in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"In virtually every speech Howard has given on Iraq since 2003, he has also sought to justify his decision to go to war on the grounds that I, too, had said at the time that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. As in fact had most people. But there is a small problem with this argument. Like most Australians then, I had no access to intelligence material. I accepted the government's claims about the existence of Iraqi WMDs at face value - it didn't cross my mind that Howard would flagrantly misrepresent its content." (Monstrous strategic mistake that took us to war in Iraq)

It didn't cross his mind? Really? Well, I never...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Britain's 'Collective Amnesia'

Ever get the feeling that the Iraq war (2003-), the great war for regime change and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East (let's cut the crap about oil), has largely receded from living memory?

That the impact of digital amnesia and neoliberal policies on peoples' lives has been so great that the 21st century's equivalent of World War I now seems almost as remote as that war?

That one of the reasons people are so gulled by the official 'rebels vs the dictator' line on Syria is because they've forgotten what the Iraq war was really all about?

Now I haven't read British writer Will Self's latest novel but I cannot fault his response to the following interview question:

The Iraq war also features heavily in Phone. Why was it important to you to include?

"I cannot think of a serious literary novelist in this country who's tackled the Iraq war at all. And I think it is the biggest stain on our national character of the past 20 years. And I think that collective amnesia about it and refusal to engage with it is playing out in political decisions that are being made now." (Will Self: 'The novel is absolutely doomed', Alex Clark,, 18/3/18)

But it's worse than that: never forget that "the biggest stain on [Britain's] national character" of the past 100 years is the Palestine problem and that not one "serious [British] literary novelist," except the now forgotten Ethel Mannin (1900-1984)*, has tackled that particular stain.

[The Road to Beersheba (1963); The Night & its Homing (1966)]

Monday, March 19, 2018

'Journalism', SMH, 17/3/18

"At Aida Refugee Camp we meet another young man who walks us through the camp he calls home, which has existed for 70 years since the Europeans arrived in Palestine." (Where the West was lost: The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem is one of the world's truly great art hotels, Nina Karnikowski, Traveller, Sydney Morning Herald, 17/3/18)

So just 70 years ago a mob of generic 'Europeans' just turned up in Palestine and, lo, a Palestinian refugee camp came into being???

"Increasingly, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, savage 'wars among the people' are simply not viable." (Never-ending wars make for more My Lai massacres, C. August Elliott, Sydney Morning Herald, 17/3/18)

So one day the people of Iraq and Afghanistan just decided to turn on one another - and not an American, Brit or Australian soldier in sight???

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tel Aviv, Mon Amour


"Young filmmaker Naor and his mother are on a road trip through Israel, and Naor is telling his near-silent mother the story of recent events in his life. In this, he and his writer grandfather and his artist girlfriend, Yael, have defied the order to evacuate Tel Aviv and are living in the near-abandoned city under threat of being bombed. This is the contemporary world but there is no indication of a date, reinforcing the real-world fact that Tel Aviv is frequently under threat. Raphael Jerusalmy, a former member of the Israeli intelligence services turned humanitarian worker turned antiquarian book dealer and novelist, lives in Tel Aviv. Like the famous photograph of the string quartet in the ruins of Sarajevo, his book celebrates the persistence of art in times of chaos... it combines a jolting realism with the timeless quality of fables." (Review of Evacuation by Raphael JerusalmyIn short fiction, Spectrum, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald, 10/3/18)

What can I say?

First, I'm reminded of Rowan Atkinson's wonderful 'Devil Sketch', modified thus:

'Israeli poet-warriors, if you step forward - my God there are a lot of you... '

Second, "there is no indication of a date" because there is no "real-world fact that Tel Aviv is frequently under threat."

Yes, in the context of the first Gulf War, the Iraqis fired Scuds at Tel Aviv in January 1991, but let's stick with the "real-world facts," shall we? Here's the BBC: "... eight missiles streaked in and exploded in balls of flame... Casualties are believed to have been light - nobody was killed, and only a few people injured. It is the first time Tel Aviv has been hit in the history of the Israel-Arab conflict." (BBC ON THIS DAY/18/1991: Iraqi Scud missiles hit Israel, 18/1/91)

And as for projectiles fired more recently from the bombed out Gaza Strip, here's The Jerusalem Post of 16/11/12: "Hours earlier, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in the direction of the greater Tel Aviv area and prompted a red alert air raid siren to be sounded in the city for the second straight day. The IDF stated that the rocket had not landed in Tel Aviv, but local residents reported hearing an explosion following the siren. No injuries or damage were reported." (Two rockets land outside Jerusalem; two fired at TA, Yaakov Lappin, 16/11/12)

Obviously, more racket than rocket...

Third, and related to the above, whence the "chaos" in Tel Aviv?

Fourth, since Kerryn has risibly dragged the 1992-96 Siege of Sarajevo into this, it should be remembered that almost 14,000 Sarajevans were killed in the siege, 10,000 apartments were destroyed and 100, 000 damaged.

And finally, the million dollar question: has Kerryn never heard of that bloody great pile of rubble somewhere to the south of Tel Aviv called the Gaza Strip?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Labor Voters & a Palestinian State

In the lead-up to the next Australian Labor Party national conference in July, the usual suspects, in this instance the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) are getting nervous. Solution: wheel out Murdoch hack Simon Benson to unveil ECAJ's YouGovGalaxy poll which, according to Benson, reveals that:

"Federal Labor is at risk of alienating its support base over the party's pursuit of Palestinian statehood ahead of its national conference, with a majority of its own voters rejecting the move without the Palestinian Authority striking a peace deal with Israel." (ALP voters reject Palestine push, The Australian, 13/3/18)

Sample question:

In your opinion, when should Australia recognise a Palestinian state?

Now check out the framing, particularly of the third:

Immediately, with or without a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel (ALP voters: 14)

[How about:... with or without an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories illegally occupied for the past 60 years?]

After a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (ALP voters 27)

[... premised on Israel's wanting one of course]

When all Palestinian groups renounce violence (ALP voters 12)

[But not Israel of course]

Never (ALP voters 12)

Don't know (ALP voters 36)

[Actually, it's the enormous number of 'dunnos' that make this last category the most interesting. Does it mean that 36% of ALP voters are deaf, dumb and blind? Or live in sheltered workshops? Or under rocks? I mean, this is 2018.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When Doc Evatt Did a Job on Palestine 4

This is the final aspect of the 1947 session which I would like to address. I find it the most significant in terms of what I believe it reveals of Evatt's bias and of the deliberate subversion of proper procedure in this case as a result of his bias.

We have already seen that the case of Palestine was a challenge and a proving ground for the new UNO. However, the partition resolution of 1947 was only a recommendation, although it carried "tremendous moral force" in Evatt's words (Freilich, p 161) and was exploited by the Zionists to lend an air of legitimacy to their future actions in Palestine. The UN of course had no means at its disposal to implement such recommendations, and all participants were well of this fact. The Arabs, for instance, said that they would continue to resist the Zionist settlers regardless of what the UN decided.

In the interests of sustaining this "moral force" it could well be argued that Evatt should not have steam-rolled the partition decision through a weary and often resentful Special Committee in order to finish the deliberations in November. The Jews and Palestinian Arabs had been fighting for two decades anyway, and some tired delegates argued to Evatt that a few more months would make little difference. But Evatt was adamant. (Evatt, p 148)

His opposition to a proposal to put some of the legal problems before the ICJ for a ruling was perhaps part of the unseemly haste which he imposed on proceedings, and worse, perhaps it also reveals his real opinion as to the legality of the proceedings. I can think of no other reasons for this opposition, because Evatt had emerged as one of the leading supporters for a major role for the ICJ in all UN problems.

At the San Francisco conference he had championed the concept that the ICJ must become a key UN institution. In an address given shortly after the conference to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, he said: "The future working of the world organisation would be greatly helped if access to the ICJ is made possible wherever international disputes of a legal or justiciable character are not disposed of by conciliation or direct negotiation... By such means the Court would be given an opportunity of developing a code of sound international law and practice which could help greatly in balancing the Security Council." (Australia in World Affairs, 1946, p 20)

As Sir Frederic Eggleston commented in 1946: "Dr Evatt advocates not only an expansion of the ambit of international law but also an extension of the power of the ICJ." (26. ibid, Preface)

I have already noted that during October 1947 while Evatt was rushing the Special Committee through its agenda, he found time to deliver lectures at Harvard Law School on Frankfurter's invitation. In these lectures, published soon after, Evatt described his own role in pushing for a more democratic UN structure. One of his nine main objectives had been "to declare that justice and the rule of law shall be principles guiding the actions of the Security Council, and for this purpose to require the maximum employment of the Permanent Court (ICJ) in determining the legal aspects of international disputes." He continued: "Faults have become apparent in the working of the UN. The International Court has so far been denied almost totally the opportunity of working..."

In his third lecture, he repeated this theme: "Article 96 (of the UN Charter) provides that the General Assembly or the Security Council may seek advisory opinions from the Court on any legal question... Yet to date not a single advisory opinion has been sought from the Court... It is clearly necessary to make every effort to ensure the fullest possible use of the functions assigned to the Court. To this end Australia has introduced an important resolution into the present Assembly, seeking a recommendation that each organ of the UN and each specialized agency should regularly review the difficult and important questions of law which have arisen in the course of their activities and which involve questions of principle which it is desirable to have settled." (27. The Task of Nations, p 42)

This resolution, inspired by Evatt, was actually adopted on November 14 by UNGA in plenary session while its sponsor was apparently doing his best to see that the Palestine 'hot potato' did not in fact come before that. august body.

For at one of the late night sittings of the Special Committee in the last week of November, the proposals to refer several matters concerning Palestine to the ICJ came to the vote. Evatt wrote in his memoirs of that occasion: "The only matter on which there was any substantial disagreement was whether the UN itself had jurisdiction to reach a decision as to the future government of Palestine. The voting on this point was very close but the proposal for its reference to the Court was defeated. As to the validity of the action proposed to be taken by the UNGA, I never had any doubt... " (28. pp 155-6)

He himself had decided that some of the points which the Arab delegates wanted to refer to the ICJ were "patently absurd, for instance whether or not the Balfour Declaration was a legally binding declaration. Obviously it was political in essence and in character... " (29. p 157)

Precisely - yet the Balfour Declaration, promising a homeland for the Jews in Palestine, had been explicitly written into the text of of the British Mandate as if it were a legally binding declaration (with the aid of Frankfurter, as we have seen). The policies of British rule in Palestine had been based on the "authority" of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in this way. Evatt himself wrote that one of the main arguments against the Arab proposal for a unitary state was that "the promises of the Balfour Declaration would have been dishonoured."

The ICJ would very likely have handed down a ruling that the Balfour Declaration was legally invalid, and perhaps that the Mandate which imposed Jewish migration on the unwilling indigenous inhabitants was also invalid.. Any such ruling would have been disastrous for the Zionist cause at that time, and would have made the partition vote even harder to swing.

Furthermore, regarding Evatt's pronouncement on the validity of the partition resolution, obviously it was not Evatt's opinion that was being sought by a number of members of the Special Committee, but that of the body designed and set up to give the legal judgements which they felt were needed in order to help them in their deliberations.

A spokesperson for this group was the Pakistani representative, Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, a distinguished lawyer who himself later became a judge on the ICJ. He wrote that by the end of the sittings of Evatt's Special Committee he no longer believed in the good faith of the delegates. He analysed the voting pattern concerning referral to the ICJ: "As to our legal questions, the Committee rejected the resolutions on all the first 7 questions, but on the eighth question, i.e. whether the UN had any legal authority to do what they were proposing to do, the resolution to the effect that it had the authority was passed by 21 votes to 20. It is interesting to analyse those figures. In all, the Committee were 57. Only 21 who gave a positive vote were satisfied that the UN had authority to do what they were proposing to do and 36 were not satisfied." (30. Khalidi, p 716)

Evatt was highly satisfied that the ICJ, the instrument of international law whose 'maximum employment' he so ardently sought in theory, and whose prestige was a matter of such concern to him, was once again bypassed on this occasion. Yet idf ever a learned opinion and a considered judgement by the top legal authorities of the UNO was appropriate, it was in the case of Palestine in 1947.

This brings this paper to its conclusion, though there are other important aspects to consider such as the actual outcome of the decision. Evatt's attitude to the Arabs and the Palestinians, and his double standards on the issue of migration (in the case of Australia, he was a firm supporter of the White Australia policy and the right of Australians to have complete control over immigration policy, a right he wanted to deny to those inhabitants of Palestine who were opposed to Jewish immigration.

I conclude with a brief postscript.

Evatt was elected to the Presidency of the UNGA for the 1948 session, which was held in Paris.

In Palestine itself, violence had erupted almost immediately after the UNGA vote was announced.

In India, where partition was actually being enacted as the Special Committee was sitting, 225,000 people had been killed by inter-communal violence by October, 1947. Mahatma Gandhi believed that generations to come would continue to pay the price for the mistake of partition.. By the same token he came out strongly against the partition of Palestine: "... Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct... The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them." (31. Khalidi, p 367)

By the middle of 1948 there were already over 800,000 homeless Palestinian refugees and the state of Israel had been proclaimed. The UN-appointed Count Bernadotte, a patrician Swedish idealist, as its mediator in Palestine. His brief was to recommend final border plans for Israel, which had already occupied more land than had been allotted to it in the partition plan. He reported to the UN that "it would be an offence against the principles of elemental justice if these victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes while Jewish emigrants flow into Palestine." (32. David Gilmour, The Dispossessed, p 74)

On September 17, Count Bernadotte and his aide, Colonel Serot, were assassinated by members of the Stern Gang in Palestine. This occurred on the very day on which Evatt commenced his reign at the UN. At this fateful moment, "the flag-draped coffins of Count Bernadotte and Colonel Serot, gunned down in Jerusalem, arrived at the airport on the day that the President of France handed over the golden key of the Palais de Chaillot and declared it United Nations territory for the time of the Assembly. The two coffins lay at the airport, a reminder of what came of the United Nations intervention." (33. Tennant, p 232)

Monday, March 12, 2018

When Doc Evatt Did a Job on Palestine 3

The Question of UN Competence

This question did not interest me quite so much as the more personal one of Evatt's bias and the influences on Evatt - also I am no expert on international law. However this is, of course, the more important question in terms of legal principles. I will merely attempt to raise some of the issues and quote from some contemporary critics.

Certainly the Arabs have never accepted UN competence any more than they accepted the legality of the Balfour Declaration and the British mandate over Palestine. As the Arab states saw it, legality was subverted at each step along the road to the partition resolution. Nor were the Arabs alone. Many legal experts and diplomats agreed. Ambassador Loy Henderson, Director of the US Office of Near Eastern & African Affairs, wrote a confidential memorandum to the State Department in November 1947: "What is important is that the Arabs are losing confidence in the integrity of the United States and the sincerity of our many pronouncements that our foreign policies are based on the principles of the Charter of the United Nations." (22. Henry Cattan, Palestine & International Law, 1973, p vii)

Or international legal expert Pitman Porter, writing for the American Journal of International Law in 1948: "The United Nations has no right to dictate a solution in Palestine unless a basis for such authority is worked out, such as has not been done thus far... it might be held that the Mandate is still in force and that supervision thereof has passed to the United Nations, which is somewhat hazardous juridically. The Arabs deny the binding force of the Mandate, now or ever, as they deny the validity of the Balfour Declaration on which it was based, and again they are quite correct juridically." (23. Cattan, p 77)

Palestine was referred to the UNGA under Article 10 of the UN Charter, which empowers the UNGA to discuss questions and to make recommendatins, but does not empower the UNGA to create new states or to recommend the partitioning of a country. Decisions as to the future form of government clearly lay with the people of Palestine, if we are to take seriously Article 1 (2) of the UN Charter.

After the League of Nations was dissolved, the UN Charter became the paramount instrument of international law. At the San Francisco Conference which framed the Charter, Evatt had been happy to support the inclusion of the phrase "based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples" as a basis for Article 1(2) of the Charter. (24. Hassan bin Tallal, Palestinian Self-Determination, 1981, p 81) In spite of some argument over obscurities in the formula, subsequent practice has treated self-determination as a right, and of course it was later enshrined in the two Covenants of 1966.

Cattan has written: "In accordance with the principle of self-determination of peoples recognised by the Charter, the people of Palestine were entitled to affirm their national identity and to preserve the integrity of their territory. The carving out of a substantial area of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish state and the subjection of part of the original inhabitants to its dominion was a patent violation of this principle." (24. p 79)

Evatt himself had previously spoken out in support of the principle of self-determination in 1945, in support of the case for Indonesian independence from Dutch rule. He then stated: "Political aspirations of peoples who are fit for self-government... Not only have the sympathy of the vast majority of the peoples of the democracies but the Charter of the United Nations recognises the legitimacy of the claim for Self-Government... and imposes on the present Nations a sacred trust to assist them." (25. Renouf, p 167)

There was never an attempt to argue that the Palestinian population of 1947 was unfit for self-government and in fact the old Class A Mandate which the British operated gave Palestine "provisional recognition" as an "independent nation."

Obviously the inhabitants of Palestine in 1947 should have decided by referendum which for of government they would choose to live under- there is no other way to implement the principle of self-determination. It is inconceivable that Evatt could have been unaware of the ways in which the partition resolution circumvented the very principles espoused by international law and by himself personally. The case of Palestine was a complex one, admittedly- for all manner of reasons. Therefore - by way of introduction to the final section - it seems all the more strange that the matter never went before the highest level of authority of the UNO- the body set up to deliberate on precisely such important problems of international law- the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Next installment: Failure of the Special Committee to Refer to the ICJ

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When Doc Evatt Did a Job on Palestine 2

Evatt's Bias

One key legal principal is that a person or body required to make decisions in accordance with the rules of natural justice must not have an interest in the causes which might prevent impartial decisions. It is common and accepted practice for persons with interests, including acquaintance and/or friendship with one party in a dispute, or a known bias, to disqualify themselves from a tribunal. This kind of interest is less clearcut than the grosser forms of interest, e.g. pecuniary; however the failure of a biased tribunal  member to disqualify him/herself can leave it open to the complaint to show that the decision of the tribunal or administrative body against her/him was vitiated by bias. This may not necessarily render the decision void, but at the very least it casts a dubious light on the proceedings. (6. D Benjafield & H Whitmore, Principles of Australian Administrative Law, 1971, Ch. VII)

Was Evatt "interested" in promoting the partition of Palestine, in the legal and technical sense of interest? And, if so, should he have disqualified himself from chairing the Special Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine?

Oddly enough, critics of the UN partition decision, like the Palestinian lawyer Sami Hadawi, for example, suggests that Evatt was doing the bidding of the British and Americans, in a general sense, in his role as chairman; but no-one to the best of my knowledge has ever raised the problem of Evatt's strong relationship with prominent Zionists and his prior support for their tactical goal of partition. Evatt was known as a supporter of partition both by the leaders of the international Zionist movement and by at least some of his associates.

For example, Alan Renouf, one of Evatt's first diplomatic cadets, wrote: "The issue was close to Evatt's heart. Near associates recall him as saying, as early as September 1945, that the Jewish people had to have a permanent home, where they could live with dignity and self-respect, and that they had full historical rights to Palestine. If the Arabs refused this, the United Nations had to decree and guarantee it." (7. Let Justice Be Done: The Foreign Policy of H.V. Evatt, 1983, p 247)

From the late 1930s Evatt had become friendly with one of the most influential and effective American Zionist leaders, Professor Felix Frankfurter. Frankfurter had worked on behalf of the Zionist project in Palestine since the turn of the century, in tandem with his uncle, the famous and greatly respected liberal judge Louis Brandeis, a personal hero of Evatt's. Brandeis had been a close counsellor and friend of President Wilson and had also had a hand in drafting the 1917 Balfour Declaration, through which the British government supported a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. (8. J.M.N Jeffries, Palestine: The Reality, 1939, p 244)

Frankfurter had been a consultant to President Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference and helped to draft the wording for the British Mandate over Palestine, which incorporated the promise of the Balfour Declaration. (9. Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest, 1971, p 195) Though Brandeis died in WW2, Evatt was befriended by Frankfurter and they were very close, at least until the 50s. (10. Kylie Tennant, Evatt: Politics & Justice, 1970, p 146)

In 1938, Evatt visited Harvard, where Frankfurter was Professor of Law, while on leave from the Bench. Frankfurter invited Evatt, as an eminent and progressive Australian lawyer, to give the Oliver Wendell Holmes series of lectures, and Evatt's biographer Kylie Tennant gives us some idea of the impact that the Harvard/Frankfurter interlude had upon the gauche but ambitious Australian: "He felt, in the freedom of that university, as if all his life he had been exiled in a foreign country. Felix Frankfurter insisted that he meet Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and each man recognised a nature cordial to his own... After such encounters Evatt found the tedium and the small hostilities of the High Court almost intolerable..." (11. Tennant, p 102)

Back in Australia, Evatt wrote to Roosevelt analysing the composition of the US Supreme Court and recommending that Frankfurter should be appointed to make it "more progressive." (He was in fact appointed on Bradeis' retirement, though Evatt's letter probably did not help him in any way). (12. A. Renouf, p 16)

Evatt left the High Court for Parliament in 1938, and as Minister for External Affairs he sent an urgent telegram to Felix Frankfurter after the fall of Singapore in 1942, asking that its contents be passed on to Roosevelt. Frankfurter obliged. (13. Renouf pp 65-66)

Then, in 1947, in the period when he was actually chairing the Special Committee on Palestine at the UN at Lake Success, Frankfurter once again invited Evatt to give the prestigious Oliver Wendell Holmes series of 3 lectures at Harvard, which he did on October 17, 20 and 24.

Though this friendship was based on shared legal and social views, and though Evatt did not at first share the Frankfurter-Brandeis passion for the Zionist project, since he knew little if anything about the Middle East and its history, it would be surprising if Frankfurter failed to influence Evatt towards the Zionist goal of partition.

In 1943, an Australian Zionist deputation was given an audience by Evatt and received the promise of his "utmost support... When the time comes"- somewhat to their surprise as they had imagined that he would have been influenced against Zionism by his old acquaintance Sir Isaac Isaacs: the judge and later Governor-General, and a lifelong Jewish opponent of Zionism. (14. Freilich, p 114)

By 1944, Max Freilich, a leading Australian Zionist, could claim that he had developed a "warm personal friendship" with Evatt "during the critical and historic days for Zionism... when the partition of Palestine was dealt with by the United Nations at Lake Success..." (15. Freilich, pp 114)

Freilich and the Zionist Federation organised a reception for Evatt before he left Australia to attend the 1946 Peace Conference, and a welcome home reception on his return. In 1947 Freilich was able to tell Zionist leaders in London, members of the World Zionist Executive, that Dr Evatts "was in sympathy with Zionist aspirations." (16. Freilich, p 114-5)

After another meeting with Evatt just before he left for the 1947 UNGA session, Freilich recalled: "We left Dr Evatt with the confident feeling that the Australian Government would support the recommendation to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states." (17. Freilich, p 155)

These are just a few examples of Evatt's open support for partition. There were other indications of bias, such as his private meetings with leaders of world Zionism who had arrived in the US to witness the progress of the Palestine question in the UN and to speak in the Special Committee hearings chaired by Evatt. (18. Freilich, p 197)

The Zionist movement hoped that the partition resolution would be put before the UN before the end of the 1947 session, thus allowing an immediate expansion of immigration into Palestine. Therefore they did not want the matter referred to the International Court of Justice, which would have caused a perhaps lengthy delay and an uncertain outcome. Also, they were entirely opposed to the unanimous UNSCOP recommendation which proposed an international solution to the problem of the Jewish refugees (i.e. a plan for all UN member states to take a quota, thus relieving the pressure on Palestine). They did not want the question of Palestine to be considered as part of a more general solution, as this obviously would draw attention to the fact that a Jewish state in Palestine was not the only panacea for European Jewry. (19. Khalidi, pp 491-4)

President Roosevelt favoured a plan for a world budget for resettling all displaced persons, including all Jews, with each nation taking a share of immigrants. (20. Khalidi, pp 529-30; Dr Alfred Lilienthal writes that in 1946 secret instructions were given to Jewish advisers in the occupied German zone to prevent Jews going anywhere except Palestine. The Zionist Connection, 1978, p 124) Although no surveys were taken about the wishes and hopes of Jewish DPs, it was estimated by officials on the spot that a majority did not want to go to Palestine. The Chief of UNRRA operations in Europe, 1945-6, wrote that "in reality, there were few among the travellers who, of their own free will, would have gone elsewhere than to the USA".

But of course neither the Indigenous Palestinian Arabs not the "displaced" victims of European anti-semitism were systematically canvassed as to their choices about their own fates. Meanwhile, Evatt fulfilled Zionist hopes for the outcome of the Special Committee on Palestine to the letter.

I have not the space to detail Evatt's total opposition to European fascism or his sympathy with its victims (with a liberal this can be taken for granted). On the other hand nor have I been able to detail his opposition, along with the rest of the ALP Cabinet, to a non-Zionist Jewish proposition to settle some 50,000 of the Jewish refugees in the Kimberleys in 1944, pleasing the Zionists but not, I imagine, the 50,000 hopeful immigrants. (21. See M. Blakeney, Australia & the Jewish Refugees, 1985)

To conclude this section: Evatt's bias towards partition was quite widely known an appreciated from at least 1945, both in Australia and overseas. It was therefore most improper, and contrary to the principles of natural justice, for Evatt to have accepted the chair of the body which had the duty of deliberating and deciding upon the UNSCOP partition recommendation in 1947.

Next installment: The Question of UN Competence

Saturday, March 10, 2018

When Doc Evatt Did a Job on Palestine 1

Over the next few days I intend posting - in 4 parts -  an important critique  - Justice Evatt & Palestine: The Limits of Justice - of Australian Labor Party icon, Herbert Vere Evatt's role in the United Nations' partition, and therefore criminal destruction, of Arab Palestine, in 1947. It was written in the 80s by Caroline Graham, Lecturer in Politics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Technology in Sydney. I am not aware, apart from my own posts on the subject of Evatt, of any other attempt to take Evatt to task on this subject. Given that pro-Zionist Labor politicians invariably cite Evatt's deplorable role in the partition of Palestine, and hence the creation of the state of Israel, with pride, Graham's critical analysis should be read by everyone. Here is Part 1:

"To his old man Foreign Affairs was big time. Heroic figures. A conversation on that subject nearly always led to talk of Herb Evatt, his father's only Australian hero, to talk of his work for the UN, and how Robert Menzies had finally destroyed him."

That quotation from a short story by Greek Australian Angelo Loukakis encapsulates the strong feelings of reverence, combined with sympathy, aroused by Evatt in most progressive Australians. He was our hero, destroyed by the forces of darkness and reaction.

On the question of Palestine, added to Evatt's status and martyrdom has been the fact of bipartisan and broad support for the state of Israel, and so it is easy to understand why no serious critique of Evatt's leading role in the UN's 1947 decision to partition Palestine has been attempted.

It is an unpleasant task to highlight the mistakes of a national hero, but perhaps it is time to take a closer look at what was in my view the greatest blunder of his career, in both a moral and a legal sense. His active promotion of the partition of Palestine was the action in which he swung furthest away from his own ideal of a reign of international law and justice, implemented through the UNO.

The decision itself and the process at the UN by which it was reached actually subverted international law and basic legal principles. This did not go unremarked - a number of eminent international lawyers and diplomats, amongst others, expressed serious reservations and criticisms at the time.

With the benefit of hindsight we also have to add that partition has never been implemented. It is and always was unworkable without the support, however lukewarm, of the parties to the conflict. Then as now, neither Jewish nor Palestinian leaders have supported partition except for temporary tactical reasons and Evatt's "fair and just solution" still lies on the drawing board of history.

Before embarking on a detailed critique, I will summarize Evatt's role in what he once called "the Palestine job." It is well known that Evatt, as Minister for External Affairs in the Curtin-Chifley Labor government from 1941-9, had thrown himself wholeheartedly into the postwar formation of the UNO. By the late 40s his reputation there was such that he knew he could achieve the honour of becoming President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Indeed, he won the presidential election of 1948. That he regarded this as the crowning point of his career is emphasised by the epitaph on his gravestone in Canberra Cemetery, which reads simply : "President of the United Nations General Assembly." None of his other distinctions rates a mention.

He had been a candidate for the 1947 presidential term but had narrowly lost out to Dr Aranha of Brazil. Evatt made it known that he would stand for 1948, and Dr Aranha wanted to assist him. Naturally it would be in Evatt's interest to take some prominent and helpful role in the UN arena in the lead up to the next presidential election. He was already chairing the UN Atomic Energy Commission in 1947, but the urgent problem of Palestine emerged early in that year as the most dramatic and high profile issue facing the UN in the next UNGA session.

In April 1947 the British Labour Government, unable to stem the violence in Palestine dumped the problem in the lap of the UN. The UNGA immediately convened a Special Session to confront this development. After a fortnight of hearing from Palestinian, Arab and Jewish leaders a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was appointed to investigate further and to recommend a solution to the next regular UNGA session in September. (It's important in this narrative to know that the UNGA's regular annual session are from September to the end of November, and that it is obviously extremely difficult to convene at any other times.)

UNSCOP consisted of representatives from 11 middle ranking or third world nations, including Australia. After conducting hearings in Palestine, boycotted by Palestinians and other Arabs in accordance with their rejection of the UN's competence to decide on the future of Palestine, it completed its report on 31st August.

"It recommended unanimously that the mandate should be terminated and independence granted at the earliest possible date; that the economic unity of Palestine should be preserved; that the sacred character of the Holy Places should be safeguarded and access to them assured; and that the General Assembly should immediately make an international arrangement for solving the urgent problem of the 250,000 displaced European Jews in Europe... A majority of 8 members proposed the partition of Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish  States and an International City of Jerusalem, to be administered under permanent United Nations trusteeship... A minority of 3 members [India, Iran Yugoslavia], all with substantial Moslem populations, called for an independent federal government with Jerusalem as [its] capital and for Arab and Jewish states having jurisdiction over such matters as education, social services, public health and agriculture... The Arab Higher Committee rejected both partition and a federal state. The Jewish Agency accepted UNSCOP's majority proposal as an 'indispensable minimum'." (1. Margaret Arakie, The Broken Sword of Justice, 1973, pp 55-58)

The significance of the partition proposal for both Arabs and Jews is clearly spelt out by British historian David Hirst:

"For the Zionists, the Partition Plan ranked, as a charter of legitimacy, with the Balfour Declaration which., in their view, it superseded and fulfilled. Certainly, it was a no less partisan document. Palestine comprises some 10,000 square miles. Of this. the Arabs were to retain 4,300 square miles while the Jews, who represented one-third of the population and owned some 6% of the land, were allotted 5,700 square miles. The Jews also got the better land; they were to have the fertile coastal belt while the Arabs were to make do, for the most part, with the hills. Yet it was not the size of the area allotted to the Jews which pleased them - indeed, they regarded it as the 'irreducible minimum' which they could accept - it was rather the fact of statehood itself. Conversely, it was not merely the size of the area they were to lose, it was the loss pf land, sovereignty and an antique heritage that angered the Arabs. The Partition Plan legitimized what had been, on any but the most partisan interpretation of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, illegitimately acquired. The past was, as it were, wiped out. Overnight, the comity of nations solemnly laid the foundations of a new moral order by which the Jews, the great majority of whom had been in Palestine less than 30 years, were deemed to ave claims equal, indeed superior, to those of the Arabs who had lived there from time immemorial." (2. The Gun & the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the middle East, 1977, p 132)

Equally important, as Hirst points out, "the proposed Jewish State was... to contain more Arabs - 509,780 - than Jews - 499,020." (ibid, p 133)

On receiving the UNSCOP's recommendation the General Assembly formed a special Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question (on which all member states were represented) to reach a conclusion on the recommendation as soon as possible. Divided into 3 sub-committees, the first (consisting of 9 member states, including the US and the Soviet Union) supported partition. The second (composed of the 6 Arab states, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Colombia) drew up plans for a unitary state. The third focused on the forlorn hope of reconciliation.

Evatt was elected chairman of the committee. In his own words: "This committee was to be a committee not of any limited character but comprising everyone of the 57 nations. Accordingly its decisions would probably determine the final UN Assembly vote on the Palestine question and indeed this proved to be the case... (Dr Aranha) assured me that they were all anxious that I should accept the responsibility: " I tell you most sincerely that the future of the Assembly depends on the success of the Palestine Committee and in the interests of the United Nations I ask you to do the job." ... I was also alive to the fact, and Dr Aranha did not attempt to conceal it, that the Palestine job was the "hot potato" in the Assembly and that quite a few of the delegates were expressing the opinion, perhaps the hope, that the proceedings of the committee would end in deadlock... I was greatly impressed by Aranha's point of view. He was tremendously keen on success of the 1947 Assembly. It seemed to me that if the United Nations could reach a fair and just solution of the Palestine question, it would greatly increase its own power and prestige; it would make history well worth making." (3. H.V. Evatt, Task of Nations, 1949, pp 129-131)

As history shows, the Special Committee was expertly and energetically chaired by Evatt, often holding as many as 3 meetings a day in order to rush proceedings through by the end of November. This time the Palestinians and other Arabs decided not to boycott the process, and the committee heard from a lengthy line-up of speakers from both sides.

Towards the end of November the committee began to vote on a number of divisive issues. First came the question of whether the UN had jurisdiction to reach a decision on the future government of Palestine - this was only narrowly won. A proposal that the whole question of jurisdiction should be put before the International Court of Justice was narrowly lost.

Then came the vital vote on the UNSCOP partition plan. Of the 57 votes, 25 were in favour and 13 against, with 19 abstentions. Thus the partition proposal went forward to the UNGA and it was a foregone conclusion that this voting pattern would be closely repeated in that forum, with exactly the same membership. However, in accordance with UN by-laws, this was a vote on a substantive issue and so would require a majority of two-thirds of the votes of the plenary Assembly.

It is not within the scope of this paper to describe the pressures which were now exerted on a small and dependent member states like Haiti, the Philippines and Liberia to change their votes. This scandal has been documented by a number of writers and participants. The taking of the vote was postponed by the UN Secretary General Trygve Lie apparently for no other reason than to allow the arm-twisting to continue behind the scenes. At the last possible moment before the 1947 UNGA session was adjourned, partition won by 33 votes to 13, with 10 abstentions.

In Australia, Evatt has received voluminous praise for his role in all this. For example, Alan Renouf has written: "no better testimony exists to Evatt's pursuit of justice than the part he played in the establishment of the state of Israel." (4. Let Justice Be Done: The Foreign Policy of H.V. Evatt, 1983) The Zionist lobby were especially fulsome: for example, Rieke Cohen, then president of the Women's International Zionist Organisation branch in Australia, called Evatt "an instrument of God for the rebirth of the Jewish state." (5. Quoted in Max Freilich, Zion in Our Time: Memoirs of an Australian Zionist, 1967) Evatt's biographers - Kylie Tennant, Alan Renouf, and Allan Dalziel - do not suggest that there could be another side to the story, let alone that Evatt may have erred.

However I will take up three issues surrounding the case, and Evatt's role, which I think call for critical analysis. These are the problem of Evatt's bias or interest in the outcome; the question of UN competence to recommend partition of a country; and the question of the failure of the Special Committee to refer the case to the International Court of Justice. (Evatt was in a position to exert a major influence in deliberations on the latter two issues).

Next installment: Evatt's Bias

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Poor Old Malcom

Oh dear:

"Turnbull himself was of course the biggest donor to his own re-election in 2016, giving a declared $1.75 million... This year, party officials hope to trot the Prime Minister out as a regular attraction in the hope his presence will loosen wallets for party events." (War chest divides the Libs, Pamela Williams, The Australian, 5/3/18)

What ever happened to the Zionist donations of yore?

I mean, it's not as if Turnbull hasn't sung for his supper.

Let me remind you how he wined and dined Benjamin Netanyahu in Australia in February 2017, surrounded by what one journalist described at the time as "a sea of [Zionist] billionaires and millionaires" (see my 26/2/17 post 'A Sea of Billionaires & Millionaires' ), and was wined and dined in return in Israel in October (see my 3/11/17 post Same Sex Marriage in Beersheba), with Netanyahu declaring that the ANZACS "opened the gateway for the Jewish people to reenter history," and Turnbull declaring that they were "fulfilling history."

Same songbook. Same page. No daylight.

Surely, no Australian PM has done more to suck up to Israel while in office than Turnbull.

But for what?

I mean, what more does the poor man have to do to loosen those wallets? How much lower can he go?

Follow the American and Guatemalan example and officially recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital?

Jesus wept!

And you thought his biggest problem was Barnaby Joyce...

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Just Another Labor Zionist

"Michael Danby, the Labor member for Melbourne Ports, has described [Shorten-ally Kimberley Kitching MP] as 'the most intellectually impressive woman active on the moderate side of Labor politics'." (My Kitching rules, Matthew Knott, GoodWeekend, 3/3/18)

So what is it about Kitching that's got the shadow minister for Israel salivating so?

Oh, I see:

"One of the most high profile moments in her time on [Melbourne Council] came when she championed the removal of a publicly funded anti-Israel mural from the CBD. The work featured a large Star of David and described 200,000 Palestinians being killed and 385 towns destroyed since the creation of the State of Israel.'People when berserk when we took it down,' Kitching, a passionate supporter of Israel, recalls with delight. 'I must have done every talk back show in Australia that week'."

Others, of course, are not so easily impressed:

"'Kimberley is a very charming, warm, engaging, highly-intelligent moral vacuum,' a senior figure from the Labor Left says."

But there's hope yet:

 "Kitching's friend John Roskam, executive director of the free-market Institute of Public Affairs think tank, says she is part of a 'dying breed' in the Labor Party. 'She represents traditional Labor Right values in a party that is being dragged to the left. She doesn't hate capitalism, she doesn't hate employers, she would view the Greens as just as much and enemy of the Labor Party as the Liberals'."

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Greatest Story Never Told

The Australian's currently on a 'Bring back the Bible!' binge.

Or, as columnist Angela Shanahan in today's edition, puts it: "To understand fully the beauty of Western culture, children need to know the Bible." (Greatest stories ever told bring a spark to young minds)

Opines Angela:

"Knowledge of the principal foundation documents of our own culture, found in the biblical texts, especially the Gospels, is necessary for understanding the evolution of the Christian world. The emergence of Christianity from the classical world, into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, has shaped our culture. Within their education, children need to know just the stories, which are beautiful, dramatic and exciting, like the foundation myths from Genesis, but to have the great themes of the Old Testament explained to them."

Notice how seamlessly, in Angela's telling, Christianity emerged from the classical world? Except that this was anything but a smooth transition. What ever happened to the Dark Ages (476-800)? An inconvenient truth for today's propagandists of 'Judeo-Christianity' apparently.

Here's a reminder:

"The evidence from surviving manuscripts is clear: at some point, a hundred or so years after Christianity comes to power, the transcription of the classical texts collapses. From AD 550 to 750 the numbers copied plummeted. This is not, to be clear, an absolute collapse in copying: monasteries are still producing reams and reams of religious books. Bible after Bible; copy after copy of Augustine is made. And these works are vast. This was not about an absolute shortage of parchment; it was about a lack of interest verging on outright disgust for the ideas of a now despised canon. The texts that suffer in this period are the texts of the wicked and sinful pagans. From the entirety of the sixth century, only 'scraps' of two manuscripts by the satirical Roman poet Juvenal survive and mere 'remnants' of two others, one by the Elder and one by the Younger Pliny. From the next century, there survives nothing save a single fragment of the poet Lucan. From the start of the next century: nothing at all.

"Far from mourning the loss, Christians delighted in it. As John Chrysostom crowed, the writings 'of the Greeks have all perished and are obliterated'. He warmed to the theme in another sermon: 'Where is Plato? Nowhere! Where is Paul? In the mouths of all!' The fifth century writer, Theodoret of Cyrrhus observed the decline of Greek literature with similar enthusiasm. 'Those elaborately decorated fables have been utterly banned,' he gloated. 'Who is today's head of the Stoic heresy? Who is safeguarding the teachings of the Peripatetics?' No one, evidently, for Theodoret concludes this homily with the observation that 'the whole earth under the sun has been filled with sermons'. Augustine contentedly observed the rapid decline of the atomist philosophy in the first century of Christian rule. By his time, he recorded, Epicurean and Stoic Philosophy had been 'suppressed' - the word is his. The opinions of such philosophers 'have been so completely eradicated and suppressed... that if any school of error now emerged against the truth, that is, against the Church of Christ, it would not dare to step forth for battle if it were not covered under the Christian name'.

"A slow but devastating edit of classical literature was taking place. It is true that the appalling loses of knowledge that followed were not usually the result of dramatic, discreet actions - the burning of this library, the fury of that particular abbot - though these played their part. Instead, what ensured the near total destruction of all Latin and Greek literature was a combination of ignorance, fear and idiocy. These weapons have less narrative heft, perhaps, but when left unchecked they can achieve a great deal.

"Much was preserved. Much, much more was destroyed. It has been estimated that less than ten percent of all classical literature has survived into the modern era. For Latin, the figure is even worse: it is estimated that only one hundredth of all Latin literature remains. If this was 'preservation' - as it is often claimed to be - then it was astonishing incompetent. If it were censorship, it was brilliantly effective.

"The ebullient, argumentative classical world was, quite literally, being erased." (The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey, 2017, pp 165-66)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Middle East 'Experts' 2

'Expert' alert!

"Experts have long believed Syria held back tonnes of precursors used to manufacture sarin when it gave up its stockpile in 2013 under a Russian-brokered deal. Its production facilities, however, were destroyed, robbing it of the ability to mix fresh sarin from the precursors." (Kim's hands on Assad gas attack, The Times/AFP/The Australian, 1/3/18)

Are these the same 'experts', I wonder, who 'analyse' the Syrian president in light of The Godfather? (See my 23/2/18 post Middle East 'Experts')

No need to wonder further. On the very same page (10) of The Australian, we find one of them, Shalom Lipner! Under a column headed Political winds blow Netanyahu's sinking ship to a rocky shore, comes this potted bio:

"Shalom Lipner, a former foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, is a non-resident senior fellow at the Centre for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution."

But there's more! In today's Australian, two more of these 'experts' - Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer - appear on the opinion page as authors of Australia must not be duped into softening its stance on Iran. Their bios:

"Mark Dubowitz is chief executive of the the Washington-based think tank Foundation for Defence of Democracies where Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice-president."

Takes you back to the days of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, doesn't it?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pulling Wings off Butterflies

It is difficult to imagine an occupying power more given to gratuitous acts of sadism against its victims than that of Israel. Like pulling wings off butterflies:

"Israeli forces detained a teenage Palestinian boy who has been missing part of his skull since December, when he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier during a protest against the occupation of his West Bank village. The boy, Mohammed Tamimi, 15, was one of ten Palestinian residents of the village of Nabi Saleh arrested in a pre-dawn raid. Tamimi's 17-year-old cousin, Ahed, has been in an Israeli military prison since December, when she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier outside her family home about an hour after Mohammed was shot." (In pre-dawn raid, Israel arrests badly wounded cousin of Ahed Tamimi, jailed protest icon,,