Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Move to Jerusalem Fizzer

The mystery of the impact (or lack thereof) on Wentworth's Jewish voters of Morrison's proposal to move Australia's embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem, will, absent real on-the-ground investigative reporting, probably never be known.

However, for what it's worth, the Sydney Morning Herald of 20/10/18, in its Readers Panel section, pertinently asked: Should Australia move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? 

The results, in the form of a pie graph, read as follows:

NO 73%
YES 11%

If 73% (89% if you include the 'unsure' category) of the Australian community feel this way, it merely underscores the deep disconnect between the lunacy of our Liberal Party ultras and the basic common sense of the people they lord it over - for now. Future Labor government, take note!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tomorrow's By-Election

So it’s come to this. An Australian citizen whose stint in Israel as Australian ambassador has been largely spent doing PR work for Israel, and who now has a business interest in the place, has emerged as the Liberal candidate in Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth, home to a population of which 12.5% is Jewish. In desperation that he might not make it across the line in the election, he and his boss, PM Scott Morrison, an avowed evangelical Christian, and for all we know a Christian Zionist, seem to think that by promising to throw in their lot with Trump, and relocate our embassy to West Jerusalem, that will do the trick. This must surely be the most brazen example of whatever-it-takes politics in Australian political history.

The to-be-hoped for outcome in the by-election will be that it all explodes in the face of the federal Liberal Party and Sharma beats a retreat, licking his wounds, back to his lair on the North Shore.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Great Moments in 'Judeo-Christianity'

It was good to see favourable reviews of Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir's latest film, Wajib, in both the Fairfax and Murdoch press recently. Just one sentence in Sandra Hall's review in the Sydney Morning Herald of 11/10/18, however, cries out for clarification:

"Because of a large concentration of Arab Christians, [Nazareth's] Palestinians were allowed to stay on after the Israeli takeover in 1948."

To begin with why is the genocidal onslaught undertaken against the Palestinians by Israeli forces at this time invariably glossed over with words such as, in this instance, "takeover," or 'displacement', or some other such euphemism? It's as though, despite the now decades of scholarly research on the horrors of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's majority Arab (Christian & Muslim) population by Israeli fire and sword in 1948, the mainstream media still hasn't absorbed the fact, or are playing it safe by taking their cue from some Israeli style guide. Maddening!

The other thing about that sentence is that it gives the general reader the false impression that Israel's genocidaires bypassed Nazareth out of respect for the largely Christian population. The Zionist movement had (and has) no more respect for Palestinian Christians that it had (and has) for Palestinian Muslims. Both are Arabs, and their only role in the Zionist scheme of things is to make way for 'the Jewish people'.

Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, was only spared to avoid bad PR. As Israeli historian Ilan Pappe explains:

"Ben-Gurion did not wish the city of Nazareth to be depopulated for the simple reason that he knew the eyes of the Christian world were fixed on the city. But a senior general and the supreme commander of the operation [Operation Palm Tree], Moshe Karmil, ordered the total eviction of all the people who had stayed behind ('16,000', noted Ben-Gurion, '10,000 of whom were Christians'). Ben-Gurion now instructed Karmil to retract his oder and let the people stay. He agreed with Ben Donkelman, the military commander of the operations: 'Here the world is watching us,' which meant that Nazareth was luckier than any other city in Palestine. Today Nazareth is still the only Arab city in pre-1967 Israel." (The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 2006, pp 170-171)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Two Princes of Darkness

"Before becoming crown prince, Prince Mohammed visited the White House and forged a close relationship with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. The two are believed to be working on the administration's peace plans for Israel and the Palestinians." (Saudi crown prince's carefully managed rise hides dark side, Jon Gambrell, apnews.com, 12/10/18)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

School DaZe 2

In a 20/8/18 post, School DaZe, I drew your attention to a Sydney Morning Herald ad for a teaching position at Sydney's Moriah College. Among the criteria for the position was "an empathy with the Zionist ethos of our Modern Orthodox Jewish Day School is essential."

On 15 September, another such Moriah College ad appeared, but this time the word "Zionist" was conspicuous by its absence.

This could, of course, have been an oversight. Or could it perhaps be a sign of the times, namely that the term 'Zionist' has finally become something of a liability these days? First, there's the evidence of the eyes: the brutal treatment meted out on a daily basis to the Palestinians, with one Israeli outrage after another caught on camera.

But there's another aspect too. If we cut through the spin of Israel's defenders, who assert that Zionism is all about 'national self-determination for the Jewish people', or 'a national liberation movement' like any other, to the historical roots of the Zionist movement, we can see clearly that this is really a case of mutton dressed as lamb.

The fatal flaw in Zionist ideology can be seen in Theodor Herzl's The Jewish State (1896): The notion that the Jews are a 'people' or 'nation', as opposed to a faith community.

European nationalism was on the march back in the 19th century and, in many ways, it is understandable that the national idea was taken up by a segment of secular Jewish intellectuals as Zionism at the time. At the same time, too, the vast non-European world was the subject of a wave of European expansion, colonialism and settlement, with no regard whatever for the natural rights of existing non-European populations. The words of the Basel program, issued at the first ever Zionist conference in 1897, for example, tell us that "Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Israel [The Land of Israel], and urges the "settlement" there of Jewish farmers, artisans, and manufacturers."

The simple truth of the matter is that Zionism is a form of European settler-colonialism and, like all forms of settler-colonialism, could only proceed by riding roughshod over the rights of the "existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine," as the Balfour Declaration of 1917 dismissively referred to the 90% Arab majority population there.

So, no matter how much today's Zionists try to distance themselves from that fact, and dress up the term Zionism (as in, for example, the following Wikipedia entry on the subject: "Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel...the Holy Land or the region of Palestine," or as a national movement simply exercising its right of national self-determination), Zionism is really nothing more than a European colonial implant and impost on the indigenous Arab population of Palestine. This colonial-settler dynamic, with its complete disregard for the natural rights of the indigenous inhabitants of the land, is what lies behind the wanton cruelty of Israeli apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing. Is it any wonder that, in a post-colonial world, the term Zionist has become a dirty word?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Nothing is Sacred

"Meanwhile they cut down, burned up, defaced and mutilated billboards." The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey, 1975


I can't resist this, even if it is off-topic:

"Speaking after visiting the Bathurst 1000 motor race, Mr Morrison said The Everest [horse race] was one of the biggest events of the year and generated 'massive opportunities' for the city and the state. 'Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?' he said. Mr Morrison... said he would 'put the Bathurst 1000 on the Harbour Bridge if I thought it was going to get more people there. It's just common sense and I don't know why people are getting precious about it'." (Racing boss puts blame on state, Garry Maddox, Sydney Morning Herald, 8/10/18)

So says our newly-minted neoliberal prime minister Scott Morrison, weighing in on the controversy over projecting advertising for this, that or the other time-wasting activity onto Sydney's landmark structures such as the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge.

Whether iconic or world heritage-listed, man-made or natural wonder, it matters not. To the neoliberal mindset everything is just a potential billboard.

As the High Priestess of the neoliberal cult, Ayn Rand, put it in her 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged:

"Uncoiling from among the curves of Wisconsin's hills, the highway was the only evidence of human labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets floating up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, under a pure blue sky... 'What I'd like to see,' said Rearden, 'is a billboard'." (from Here are 10 things I learned about the world from Ayn Rand's insane 'Atlas Shrugged', Adam Lee, alternet.org, 24/8/18)

The Australian poet Denis Kevans (1939-2005) once wrote a memorable poem from the perspective of an Indigenous Australian. It begins thus:

"Ah, white man, I am searching for the sites sacred to you, where you walk, in silent worship, and you whisper poems too, where you tread, like me, in wonder, and your eyes are filled with tears, and you see the tracks you've travelled down your fifty thousand years."

Kevans' poem was titled Ah, White Man, Have You Any Sacred Sites?

The answer to your question, Denis, is no, the neoliberal white man has no sacred sites.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The US Love Affair with Arabophobic Hate Speech

We hear a lot these days about 'hate speech', that is, to borrow from at least one definition, "speech capable of instilling or inciting hatred of, or prejudice towards, a person or group of people on a specified ground [such as] race, nationality, ethnicity, country of origin, ethno-religious identity, religion or sexuality."*

Correct me if I'm wrong but the term seems to have been largely monopolised by supporters of apartheid Israel to malign and marginalise anyone who questions not just the criminal behaviour of that entity, but the legitimacy of the Zionist project in Palestine and the ideology of political Zionism which underpins it.** The implication is that this latter group in particular - anti-Zionists - are borderline, if not actual, anti-Semites, and, ipso facto, engaged in hate speech.

By contrast, the blatant Arabophobia, which set in in the US following the creation of Israel in 1948, is generally overlooked, and rarely recognised for what it is: hate speech

By way of illustration, read this passage from Leon Uris' best-selling Zionist propaganda novel, Exodus (1958):

"[The final disaster in Arab history] was brought about by fellow Moslems as the mighty Ottomans gobbled up their lands. Five centuries of corruption and feudalism followed. A drop of water became more precious than gold or spices in the unfertile land. The merest, most meager existence was a series of tortured, heartbreaking struggles from birth to death. Without water the Arab world disintegrated into filth; unspeakable disease, illiteracy, and poverty were universal. There was little song or laughter or joy in Arab life. It was a constant struggle to survive. In this atmosphere cunning, treachery, murder, feuds, and jealousies became away of life. The cruel realities that had gone into forming the Arab character puzzled outsiders. Cruelty from brother to brother was common. In parts of the Arab world thousands of slaves were kept, and punishment for a thief was amputation of a hand, for a prostitute, amputation of ears and nose. There was little compassion from Arab to Arab. The fellaheen who lived in abysmal filth and the Bedouin whose survival was a day-to-day miracle turned to the one means of alleviating misery. They became Muslim fanatics..." (p 228)

Now read these words from the trailer of thriller/horror story director Brad Anderson's latest film, Beirut***:

"Two thousands years of revenge, vendetta, murder. Welcome to Beirut."

Nothing has changed in 60 years! Strange place, the US where trenchant criticism of Israel is deemed hate speech, but few, it seems, bat an eyelid at rampant Arabophobic hate speech.

*This definition comes from the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) website. It differs, however, in one respect from other definitions of hate speech on the web (legaldictionary.net, merriam-webster.com, and dictionary.cambridge.org) in its inclusion of the term 'ethno-religious identity'. Try as I might I can only think of one group that conflates religion and ethnicity. Guess who;

**It is worth keeping in mind here Israeli anti-Zionist activist Uri Davis' distinction between Judaism as a confessional preference and Zionism as a political programme: "Judaism is not Zionism. Judaism, as a confessional preference, should be strictly an individual matter, and, generally speaking... should not be the concern of the law. Zionism, as a political programme, is a matter of public debate. As noted already... the political Zionist school of thought and practice is committed to the normative statement that it is a good idea to establish and consolidate in the country of Palestine a sovereign state, a Jewish state, that attempts to guarantee in law and in practice a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control. Such individuals and bodies as are, for instance, committed to the values of open society, democracy and the separation of religion from the state; who, therefore, disagree with the political aims of this particular political programme, and who regard this programme to be a negative political programme, are anti-Zionist in the same sense that those who for many decades opposed the political programme of apartheid South Africa (which ended in 1994) were, and it is to be hoped remain, anti-apartheid." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003), pp 11-12)

***Also on this film, see my 1/8/18 post One Movie Hollywood Will Never Make.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Trump Whisperers

Just to revisit the issue of rising petrol prices:

"The risk of a global energy shock is rising rapidly as the looming US sanctions on Iran and a rising US dollar combine to export layers of stress to the rest of the world. While the renewed US sanctions don't officially kick in until early next month they are already having a significant effect as Iran's customers scramble to find different sources of supply. Iranian oil production is falling quite rapidly... Trump, who sometimes appears to have trouble seeing the relationship between cause (his sanctions) and effect (the soaring oil prices) has accused OPEC of 'ripping off' the the rest of the world." (Rising oil prices, $US put pressure on energy costs, Stephen Bartholomeusz, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/10/18)

There is, of course, more to this msm story than meets the eye. But don't expect it to be spelt out in the corporate media. Sure, you'll hear some gibberish on the matter from Trump from time to time, but don't be deceived. It's those who are whispering in his ear that matter here, in particular US national security adviser John Bolton and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bolton is a neocon - more accurately Ziocon - from the Bush era, and a long-time advocate for regime change in the Middle East, including, of course, Iraq. He has a record, like his fellow Ziocons, who became an integral part of the Bush administration, of wanting to topple Middle East governments opposed to Israel, and reconfigure the Middle East in its interests, stretching back to his association with neocon think tank the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in the 90s. Revealingly, in 2005, Bolton was awarded the Zionist Organisation of America's Defender of Israel award.

Netanyahu's obsession with Iran as a so-called existential threat to Israel also goes back decades. One only has to observe his theatrical sabre-rattling directed against Iran in the UNGA and other international fora, not to mention his unprecedented hold (through the Israel lobby) over both houses of the US Congress and his easy access to the president himself.

If you really want to understand why you're paying more for your petrol, mark these words of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter from his 2006 book, Target Iran. (p 208):

"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."

Friday, October 5, 2018

Max Brenner Goes Bust

Here's some heartening news:

"Upmarket chocolate and cafe chain Max Brenner's Australian business has gone into voluntary administration, citing rising costs and sluggish retail trade." (Chocolate chain Max Brenner collapses, Patrick Hatch, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/10/18)

What the Herald, of course, neglects to mention is that Max Brenner is a subsidiary of Israel's Strauss Group, a donor of "care packages" to Israel's Golani and Givati brigade commandos to "sweeten their special moments." (See my 25/5/13 post Why Boycott Max Brenner.)

The snipers currently deployed to gun down unarmed Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border come from these brigades. Don't even ask about those "special moments."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thoughts on UK Labour's 2018 Conference

I may be reading too much between the lines here but rather than tackle Zionist influence in the UK Labor Party directly, and making crystal clear the fundamental distinction between anti-Semitism on the one hand and anti-Zionism on the other, Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour's annual conference seems to be an attempt at wedging the hostile Zionist elements in the party.

He sought early in the speech to reassure British Jews that they had his full support as a veteran anti-racist campaigner. Dismissing the Labour component of the Zionist smear campaign against him and his party as merely a "row," he targeted instead "Tory hypocrites who accuse us of antisemitism one day, then endorse Viktor Orban's hard-right government the next." In addition, he studiously avoided all mention of Israel (despite, perhaps inadvertently, using the Zionist fiction that Jews constitute a "people"):

"The Jewish people have suffered a long and terrible history of persecution and genocide. I was humbled to see a memorial to that suffering two years ago, when I visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin. The row over antisemitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party. But I hope we can work together to draw a line under it. I say this to all in the Jewish community. This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms. We are your ally. And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks. We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate antisemitism, both from our party and wider society. And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess. Anti-racism is integral to our very being. It's part of who you all are, and it's part of who I am. So conference, we won't accept it when we're attacked by Tory hypocrites who accuse us of antisemitism one day, then endorse Viktor Orban's hard-right government the next. Or when they say we are racist, while they work to create a hostile environment for all migrant communities. We can never become complacent about the scourge of racism. Race hate is a growing threat that has to be confronted. Not just here in Britain, but across Europe and the United States. The far right is on the rise, blaming minorities, Jews, Muslims and migrants, for the failures of a broken economic system."

The Palestinians came later in the speech, when he addressed foreign policy matters:

"And let me next say a few words about the ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people. Our Party is united in condemning the shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli forces and the passing of Israel's discriminatory Nation-State Law. The continuing occupation, the expansion of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of Palestinian children are an outrage. We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state. But a quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords we are no closer to justice or peace and the Palestinian tragedy continues, while the outside world stands by. As my great Israeli friend Uri Avnery who died this year put it: 'What is the alternative to peace? A catastrophe for both peoples'. And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office."

Underwhelming, yes, with its tired repetition of the two-state mantra. One wonders whether Corbyn here has made a strategic decision to stick with the international consensus, at least for the time being. Some joy, I suppose, could be had from his proviso of "a viable and secure Palestinian state," a formula clearly incompatible with Israel's expansionism in the West Bank and the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Most encouragingly, the conference is reported to have passed a near unanimous motion calling for an immediate freeze on UK arms sales to Israel. (See Defying Israel lobby Labour votes for arms freeze, Asa Winstanley, electronicintifada, 26/9/18)

Monday, October 1, 2018

In Case You Were Wondering

"The CEO of peak industry body the Australian Institute of Petroleum, Paul Barrett, said: 'The basic reason why [petrol] prices have gone up over the last six months is a tightening crude oil market driven by Iranian sanctions, Saudi tightness because of a war in Yemen, Venezuelan production going through the floor and disruptions in Libya." (Gouging fuels $1.2bn petrol costs hike, Sam Buckingham-Jones, The Australian, 1/10/18)

Go figure...