Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jerusalem Prize Syndrome

"The Jerusalem (Prize) syndrome is the name given to a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either political themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences, that are triggered by an award of the Jerusalem Prize." Wickedpedia (See my first, December 2007 post)

We must learn more about our enemies (The Weekend Australian, 29/3/08) is the title of the latest propaganda piece from The Australian's Foreign Editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan.

Australia's enemies? What enemies? We have enemies? Not really. (It's OK, Greg's probably in the grip of Jerusalem (Prize) syndrome again and is actually banging on about Israel.)

"One of the dumbest things you can do in a war is not listen to your enemy...[I]f you get a chance to listen to the enemy talking to his friends, that is invaluable. The worldwide Islamist terror movements are nothing if not voluble and it is amazing how little we listen to them."

"Worldwide Islamist terror movements," eh? So Greg's managed to bug al-Qaida and he's listening in to their chatter? Wrong again! You see, a recently released US Institute for Defence Analyses review of 600,000 Iraqi documents of the Saddam Hussein era has found no evidence of any "direct operational link" between Saddam's regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, so Greg has had to console himself with the IDA's crumbs, that is that Saddam had ties (as the US already knew before it mugged Iraq in 2003) to a number of Palestinian groups, including Hamas:

"Last week The Australian gave extensive coverage to some of the thousands of newly translated documents from the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein, which indicated a promiscuous and intense relationship between Saddam's government and international terrorism [as opposed to Israel's strictly platonic and impeccably correct relationship with the US]. Saddam was a great backer of Palestinian terrorism, including Hamas. The documents show that after 9/11 a Palestinian leader, presumably a Hamas leader, told the Iraqis that Hamas had 35 armed terror cells around the world, mingled with refugee populations, including France, Sweden and Denmark."

"Presumably" !!! Greg didn't merely presume last week when writing about the IDA report. In Saddam, the terrorist's friend (22/3/08), he asserted categorically that "There is a close relationship with Hamas, which boasts of its armed cells in France, Sweden and Denmark."

"An internal Iraqi intelligence report of March 26, 2003, reads: 'We have lately been visited by the representatives of the Hamas movement in Baghdad who inform us of the following points: The leadership of the movement in Damascus called us a number of times to make sure we renew our commitment to you against the foolish American attack. A request to open our border checkpoints to let the volunteer fighters participate in the war. An offer from Hamas leader Dr al-Rantisi to carry out demonstrations and suicide attacks to support Iraq."

So Greg's bold leap from "worldwide Islamist terror" to Hamas is based on nothing more than his own presumption! As for his second IDA citation, this tells us no more than that its enemy's armourer, the US, has just invaded a fellow Arab nation, and that Hamas feels the need to demonstrate a little Arab solidarity.

Not only is Greg's construction of a global Hamas locked in a "promiscuous" embrace with Saddam dodgy, so too is his potted history of Hamas: "Hamas began life in 1988 as the Palestinian branch of Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood." [Hamas was actually born in December 1987.] It is extremist ["The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) is a Palestinian national liberation movement that struggles for the liberation of the Palestinian occupied territories and for the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians."* That's "extremist"?], committed to terrorism as a way of life [Well it is the Islamic Resistance Movement, Greg. Presumably, for Greg, the label 'resistance' only applies if the resistance movement is non-Arab.] and totalitarian in its Islamist ideology" ["Hamas...derives its guiding principles from the doctrines and values of Islam." ** But Christian ideology, hey, that's another matter: "The revelations (of imminent conversion to Catholicism) came as Mr Blair admitted for the first time that his faith was 'hugely important' in influencing his decisions during his decade in power, including going to war with Iraq in 2003." (People of faith seen as nutters, says convert Blair, SMH, 26/11/07); "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did." (Bush on the Couch, Justin Frank, 2004 p 72)] (* & ** from Hamas' self-definition quoted in Hamas: A Beginner's Guide, Khaled Hroub 2006 pp 17-18)

"Anyone who thinks it unfair to characterise Hamas as extremist, terrorist, Islamist and totalitarian should read the Hamas charter, which is easily found on the internet. It is a sickening document, full of violence, crude anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories. It says, for example, that Rotary and Lions clubs, as well as Freemasons, of course, are spy organizations in the pay of the Jews."

Really now? But isn't this, for Greg the Catholic, one of Santamaria's boys, a case of people who live in glass houses? He shouldn't really need to google to know that "The Catholic Church and Freemasonry have been at odds for centuries. Eight popes have condemned it, as well as have the majority of Christian denomnations. Christianity and Freemasonry hold contrary beliefs...The Church's position is expressed in its 'Declaration on Masonic Associations'. It states in part: 'Therefore the Church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged, since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church, and therefore membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enrol in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion." And wasn't Rotary, at least until recently, labelled a 'subversive' organization by the Catholic church?

"It relies on the notorious tsarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to establish Jewish behaviour. It accuses the Jews of being behind not only the French revolution and the communist revolution and WW 1, but even WW 2."

What, in a sudden, inexplicable rush of anti-Semitism to the head? As Hroub (see above) writes, "[The Protocols] found a ripe climate in Palestine because of the creation of Israel in the Palestinian homeland in 1948. This date ended the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Jews, and unfolded a new chapter of bloody relationships and hatred. Unless this background is taken into account, any understanding of the explicit or implicit attitudes in Hamas to Jews is unlikely. Intrinsically and religiously Hamas could not be anti-Jewish. By virtue of Islamic religious teachings, Hamas, or any other Islamic individual or group is prohibited from inflicting any harm on Jews simply because they are Jews (or Christians or any other group for that matter). So to be factually correct, Hamas is strongly anti-Zionist, not anti-Jew, with the term Zionist defined as 'a person or group whose focus is the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine'. Although in the early years of its inception Hamas made little effort to differentiate between Judaism as a religion and Zionism as a political movement, in later and recent years, Hamas has completely clarified its thinking on this issue. It is anti-Zionist, not anti-Jew." (pp 32-33) To which, it has to be said, Zionists go to extraordinary lengths to equate Zionism, the contemporary political program, with Judaism, the faith. Coming to Palestine as Jews, with the goal of setting up a Jewish state for a supranational entity they termed the 'Jewish people',the Zionists could hardly expect those at the pointy end of their project to waste too much time on semantics.

"The Hamas charter demands Islamist control of all the territory of Israel and Palestine and repeatedly denounces any peace process or compromise that allows Israel to continue to exist."

Of course, Greg shows no such interest in comparable Zionist documents such as the Likud Party platform (1996): "The Government of Israel will enable the Palestinians to manage their lives freely, within the framework of self-government...The government will oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state."

As Palestinian-American Professor Saree Makdisi has written in his instructive 2006 essay, The Tempest Over the Hamas Charter (, "Now there can be no doubt that the Hamas charter is not only xenophobic, sectarian, and racist, but also ill-conceived, inaccurate, retrograde, and intellectually vacuous. Nevertheless, the obsessive attention being paid to this document...forces one to ask not merely what purposes such an obsession serves, but also what equally (or even more) important issues it elides or covers up. First, one has to marvel at the interest being paid to the racism of the Hamas charter, given the extraordinary lack of interest in Israel's own racism, which is executed not merely on paper and in theory but actually, practically, materially. Israel's Basic Laws, for example, discriminate between Jews and non-Jews in ways that many...who object most loudly to the mixture of religion and politics strangely don't seem to find objectionable. And Israel's unique existence as a country that expressly claims to be not the state of its actual citizens, but rather of a globally dispersed people manifestly privileges the (non-Israeli) Jews of New York and Chicago over Israel's actually existing non-Jewish citizens. Although they amount to some 20% of the state's population, the latter are literally written into second class status by virtue of their non-Jewishness in what loudly proclaims itself to be the Jewish state."

As to the current status of the charter, Hroub notes, "It is true that many 'anti-Jewish' statements do exist in the Hamas Charter of 1988. Not only is it also true that years later these statements are irrelevant to the present Hamas party, the Charter itself has become largely obsolete. The Charter was written in early 1988 by one individual and was made public without appropriate general Hamas consultation, revision or consensus, to the regret of Hamas' leaders in later years...Hamas leaders...have rarely referred to the Charter or quoted from it, evidence that it has come to be seen as a burden rather than an intellectual platform that embraces the movement's principles. The sophisticated language of the Hamas discourse on the eve of its assuming power after the 2006 elections [quoted above], and the language and discourse of the Charter of 1988, almost appear to describe two completely different movements. Indeed, just two years after the publication of the 1988 Charter...Hamas published documents in 1990 distancing itself from what had been included in the Charter. Emphasizing that its struggle has been merely against Zionists and Zionism, not against the Jews and Judaism, it drew a clear distinction between the two: 'The non-Zionist Jew is one who belongs to the Jewish culture, whether as a believer in the Jewish faith or simply by accident of birth, but...[who] takes no part in aggressive actions against our land and our nation...Hamas will not adopt a hostile position in practice against anyone because of his ideas or his creed but will adopt such a position if those ideas and creed are translated into hostile or damaging actions against our people'." pp 33-34

If Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan were really serious about listening to what Hamas has to say, let him begin with either Hroub's book or Azzam Tamimi's excellent Hamas: Unwritten Chapters, 2007, which not only shows that Hamas has moved on from the language and ideology of the charter but appends the documentation which attests to that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Story Behind the Story Behind the Story

The real reason for the ABC's Middle East correspondent, David Hardaker leaving his post has now become apparent. (See my February post 'Confused & Confounded: David Hardaker Takes His Leave)

In ABC Walkley winner quits over driver, The Australian's Amanda Meade reported on 13/3/08 that "ABC managing director Mark Scott has ordered an investigation into the alleged dangerous and offensive conduct of the public broadcaster's driver in Jerusalem, following the sudden resignation of Walkley award-winning Middle East correspondent David Hardaker. Hardaker resigned after 15 years with the national broadcaster as he believed the ABC's head of international coverage, Tony Hill failed to act on a series of complaints Hardaker made about David Allul, the Israeli man employed by the ABC since 2000 to drive correspondents and their families around the region."

Driving under the influence was one of those complaints. Former ABC Middle East correspondent, Mark Willacy, has written about Allul in his 2007 memoir, The View from the Valley of Hell: Four Years in the Middle East: "Davo's love of a drink sometimes got in the way of his core function at the ABC - driving. He'd often take us somewhere after having downed a few beers and Scotches. Flying along the highway at 140 kms an hour, one finger guiding the wheel of his turbo Mercedes, Davo would twist his whole body around to face the back seat so he could include everyone in his mega-decibel conversation. From the back, I'd plead with him to turn around, slow down and shut up. Ironically, the only time his beloved Merc ever sustained any damage was when someone else was driving it. Too drunk to drive one winter's night, Davo handed the keys to a friend. Keen to kick on, they pulled up at another Jerusalem pub, Davo flinging open the passenger's door only to have it ripped off by a passing car."

There was, however, "a second explosive allegation made by Hardaker...that Alul, while intoxicated at the Jerusalem bureau's Christmas party, made an inappropriate sexual reference to a member of Hardaker's family....Hardaker reported the incident to Hill and agreed to remain in Jerusalem to see out his posting until the end of February...Hardaker claims Hill promised to speak to the driver after Hardaker had left...When Hill allegedly failed to act, Hardaker returned to Sydney and resigned in early February." ABC managing director, Mark Scott, has reportedly ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Hardaker's departure from the ABC.

That's the story behind Hardaker's resignation, but there's a far more fascinating story (of the kind never reported in The Australian) involving another of the ABC's fixers, the Palestinian, Richard Zananiri. You can find it in Willacy's book:-

"In early 2006 I was asked," writes Willacy, "by ABC Radio National's Correspondent's Report to file a behind-the-scenes story about how I covered the Palestinian parliamentary elections. The executive producer wanted me to explain how I negotiated the Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, how I got the interviews I did, and how I communicated with ordinary Palestinians lining up to vote. As Richard was my chief fixer in the Palestinian territories and East Jerusalem, I asked him if he wanted to be part of my report; after all, he was the one arranging the interviews and doing the translations for it, in Ramallah. He was keen....The story was a straightforward piece which plotted our course as we left Jerusalem, passed through an Israeli military checkpoint and drove into Ramallah. Once there we 'vox popped' some people casting their ballots. I wrapped up the report by pondering on the repercussions of the Hamas victory in the election.

"Once I'd filed the story I promptly forgot about it...But about a month later, The Review, a partisan magazine published by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), ran a short article about my story. On its website, AIJAC describes itself as 'the premier public affairs organisation for the Australian Jewish community'. It is certainly the country's most powerful Jewish lobby group. When AIJAC knocks, doors open. The group has extraordinary access to senior figures within the Labor Opposition and the Coalition Government, right up to PM John Howard himself. Writing in The Jerusalem Post after Mr Howard was re-elected in 2004, AIJAC's executive director Colin Rubenstein had positively gushed: 'The Australian people have spoken, and the verdict is in. And for Israel and her supporters in Australia...the news is good...The Howard win...ensures that Israel can continue to count on Australia's support at the UN and other international venues. We can also expect Australia to maintain its determined stance against terrorist groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, both banned in Australia in the last year...The reelection of John Howard ensures that one of Israel's best friends will remain a force on the international scene for another 3 years'.

"While John Howard was a friend of Israel, Richard Zananiri was deemed to be an enemy of the state. In the March 2006 edition of The Review, AIJAC turned its sights on Richard: 'ABC Middle East Correspondent Mark Willacy seemed to inadvertently hint at one reason why so much of the reporting from the West Bank and Gaza tends to favour the Palestinians. Like most international reporters, he uses a Palestinian fixer who apparently plays a major role in telling him what the news is and setting up the stories. He explained, 'On the way [to a job] I have to pick up my trusty fixer Richard Zananiri. He's my eyes and ears in the Palestinian territories - he lines up the interviews and he also does the translations, so without Richard, I'd be lost', ABC Radio 'Correspondent's Report' (Jan 29). According to our research, Richard an Orthodox Christian who the Anglican St Georges College in East Jerusalem, and was an unsuccessful independent candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council in January. Unfortunately the Anglican Church in Jerusalem is a hotbed of some of the most extreme anti-Israel sentiments...If it is the same Richard Zananiri and Willacy is using a fixer from this venue, that might explain a lot about some of his reporting'.

"Employing innuendo and smear, AIJAC was attempting to discredit Richard and my journalism...the article failed the most basic tests of reportage and displayed an appalling ignorance of the situation on the ground in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. In an extraordinary piece of reverse logic, the unnamed author attacked me for using Palestinian fixers in the Palestinian territories. Who should I use? A Hebrew-speaking Israeli? For a start, Israel bars its citizens from travelling to many of the main centres in the West Bank out of fear for their safety...I mulled over tapping out a response to this slander at the time, but decided that it wasn't worth the trouble.

"However, AIJAC hadn't finished with Richard Zananiri. Some months later, the ABC's managing director Mark Scott travelled to Parliament House in Canberra for a routine interrogation from the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. I had been criticised in this forum many times by Liberal Party senators, among them Santo Santoro, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and Michael Ronaldson. Neither Santoro nor Fierravanti-Wells had been elected to the Senate - both had replaced retiring senators; at least Ronaldson had faced the voters. A former member of the House of Representatives, Michael Ronaldson devoted part of his maiden speech in the Senate to chiding the ABC: [Willacy goes on to quote the senator's whinge about the ABC's style guide, in particular its caution that 'one person's 'terrorist' is usually someone else's 'freedom fighter'.] Helping Senator Ronaldson wage his war against the ABC's terminological terrorism was AIJAC. With the ABC's managing director appearing before the Senate committee, Michael Ronaldson parroted the slander and innuendo first raised and then passed on by AIJAC to smear Richard Zananiri...It was a perfect example of how AIJAC works, and how federal politicians feed from its trough." (pp 52-58)

You can read Willacy's forthright response to AIJAC's "slander and innuendo" in his book. I've already posted on AIJAC's attacks on Fairfax's Middle East correspondent, Ed O'Loughlin. (See my February post, Danby's Drubbing in the AJN) Sadly, such treatment seems to be par for the course for any Middle East correspondent who doesn't get with the AIJAC program.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


If you had been inclined to think The Australian's Easter editorial of 20/3/08, TIME OF CELEBRATION: Easter's mysteries offer insight and happiness, was going to be about, well, Easter and its significance, you'd have been greatly mistaken. Some excerpts:-

"As Cardinal George Pell reminds Australians today, Jesus Christ was a Jewish man...He lived amid political strife in the Middle East. Brutality was rife and forgiveness rare. Gathering with his disciples for the Jewish Passover the night before he died...that final Passover supper cemented a Judeo-Christian tradition that has shaped humanity, and more often than not been an influence for good."

"This week, 2 Palestinians stabbed an Israeli man through the head at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City. A few days before, Hamas, the Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip, danced in jubilation over the slaughter of 8 young Jewish students at a Jerusalem seminary. A few weeks earlier, Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire that killed more than 130 Palestinians, including several dozen children, and 4 Israelis. If the region where Christ walked is to achieve sustainable peace in coming decades, or even the next century, a strong spirit of forgiveness and magnanimity will be required by all involved, backed by generous support and encouragement from friends and allies. Often, all this seems as improbable as the resurrection is to a sceptic. Occasionally, however, the world enjoys a glimpse of the level of long-term goodwill that would be required. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 60th anniversary visit to Israel this week represented a triumph of goodness over evil. In a nation of 7 million, including 250,000 Holocaust survivors and millions of their children and grandchildren, it was a high point of history. In 1945, it would have been unimaginable. The now-solid friendship between the Jewish state and Germany could not have developed without generosity in the hearts of both peoples, and Germany facing up to its duty to make reparation and atonement for its murder of 6 million Jews. It did, it sought pardon, and it was forgiven. The distance travelled is an example of how the darkest and most bitter relationships can be transformed through the light of goodness. No less a commitment would be required to secure Middle East peace, based on a fair and sustainable two-state solution. But unless militant Islamic regimes come to terms with Israel's legitimate right to exist in its ancient homeland, the world will look back in another 60 years and grieve for thousands more lives lost and more opportunities for peace squandered."

And if you had been inclined to think that a letter in The Australian 0f 19/3/08 on the subject of Tibet was really going to be about, well, Tibet and its struggle for freedom, you'd also have been very much mistaken:-

"Tibetans have suffered the most brutal of occupations and oppression of their human rights. And yet they have never resorted to blowing themselves up or murdering Chinese schoolchildren. Why is it, then, Palestinians and Islamist groups - who have used suicide bombings - appear to attract so much more attention from so-called human rights activists who have barely a word to say about far worse examples of oppression in the Arab and communist world. The Chinese Government must be grateful they aren't Jewish." Gary Slezak, Chatswood, NSW


[At the risk of giving Gazza a bad case of cognitive dissonance, I wonder what he'd make of the Israeli Haredi fanatic who gave a messianic* Jewish boy from the West Bank settlement of Ariel a Purim gift - which exploded in his face. (* Messianic Jews believe that Jesus was the Messiah) See Haaretz, 25/3/08]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 6

The Istralian (formerly The Australian) was still partying hard on the weekend of March 15-16, 3 days after the Big Bash in Federal Parliament on March 12. The evidence was there in its editorial under the hyperbolic banner : AN ISLAND OF HOPE IN A SEA OF DARKNESS: Australia cannot be bullied out of backing Israel. Despite the extraordinary suggestion that a few signatories, exercising their democratic right to pay News Ltd big bucks to voice their deviation from the party line, are 'bullies', it was the 'island of hope' hoopla that really took me 1907 actually.

To explain: as a sucker for books, I had many years ago acquired an ancient tome, published in that very year. It just sat there for years on one of my sagging bookshelves, gathering dust, half forgotten. Until, that is, the morning of March 15, 2008, when I opened my copy of The Istralian and read the above headline. I had seen such steaming, streaming bat's piss somewhere before (See my 4th post in this series). Other than in The Istralian that is. But where? A dim memory stirred. I found the relevant shelf, pulled out the ancient tome, dusted it off and surveyed the cover. Dark brown it was, illuminated by a painting depicting a timeless Victorian/Biblical scene. In the gathering dusk, having just made her way through a grove of stately date palms in the company of a flock of sheep, stood a woman dressed in grey-blue robe and head covering, balancing a water pitcher on her head. Above this ethereal scene, I noted the book's title: Our Moslem Sisters. And below it, the sub-title: A CRY OF NEED FROM LANDS OF DARKNESS.

The dusty tome was an anthology of stories on the 'dreadful' plight of Muslim women (referred to as "Hagar and Her Sisters") from Morocco to Malaysia. It was edited by two Christian missionary ladies who urged "an army of those with love in their hearts to seek and save the lost," and to "take up this burden, so long neglected, for the salvation of Mohammedan women, even though it may prove a very cross of Calvary to some of us." Much like reading The Istralian is for me.

1907 or 2008? Time stands still in The Istralian. Forget the white picket fence, nothing has changed from the good old (colonial) days of 1907 to the good neo (colonial) times of today. Anyways, to return to my current cross of Calvary, the editorial...

Did you know, for example, that "The PM's statement...split many pro-Palestinians - forcing them to confront the legitimacy of Israel's existence and the need for a two-state solution as envisaged from Israel's inception"? Don't worry, I don't know what it means either.

Did you know that "[c]orrespondence to The Weekend Australian has been further proof that deep divisions continue," and that "[m]any of the letters have mirrored the hostility and press council complaints provoked by Greg Sheridan's Israeli travelogue, published on January 19..." Mm, not only taking out ads and writing letters, but taking Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan to the Australian Press Council! The gall of these bullies!

Did you know that "Israel's success also explains why many academics have chosen to blame Tel Aviv for the continuing conflict rather than the zealots on the other side who have no interest in any settlement that recognises Israel's right to exist [as an apartheid state and occupying power]."

Did you know that "Israel was once widely admired in Left circles for its...Kibbutz movement and its ability to establish vibrant [Ever noticed how Israel is always "vibrant" while the other side is "virulent"?] agriculture in what had formerly been barren, arid areas [The old 'blooming desert' propaganda line]. But many left-wing thinkers have since turned on Israel as a symbol of colonial power, [ignoring] the UN process that established the state of Israel, as outlined by Mr Rudd in his statement to parliament this week." [See my 3rd post in the series.]

And here's a hoot: "The resolution that the UN adopted in November 1947 reflected that Australia was the first to cast its vote in support of the state of Israel." Maybe they just vote alphabetically in the UN.

Bat's piss beginning, bat's piss ending: "As Brendon Nelson told parliament, in a region of the world that is characterised by theocracies and autocracies, the state of Israel is the custodian of the most fragile yet powerful of human emotions, and that is hopeful belief in the freedom of man, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly."

And then there were some revelling Zionist letter writers. Dr Bill Anderson, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, had first contributed a spray in The Istralian of 13/3/08 (See my 4th post in this series). That was bad enough, but his latest effort could only have emerged from a school of hysterical studies. In response to an earlier letter from one who had the audacity to ask why it was that the Palestinians should be paying the price for the Nazi Holocaust, Dr Bill thought he'd aquaint us with Adolf Hitler's Palestinian bro'. That's right folks, the exact same anti-Semitic DNA! My comments, as usual, in bold:-

"Muhammad Amin al-Husseini was a violent anti-Zionist [He obviously had a good understanding that Zionism was all about downsizing the neighbours] jailed [Wrong: the Brits sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment in absentia, since he had already fled to Transjordan] by the British in 1920 for an Arab attack against Jews praying in Jerusalem [Hm. Maybe if the British hadn't announced just before the attacks that they were going to carry out the provisions of the Balfour Declaration...]. Pardoned in...1922 he was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and president of a new Supreme Muslim Council. Al-Husseini was the religious and political leader of the Palestinian Arabs. Devoted to driving Jews out of Palestine, he instituted a campaign of terror and intimidation against anyone opposed to his rule and policies. He killed Jews at every opportunity and eliminated Arabs who did not support his campaign of violence. In 1937 he expressed his solidarity with Germany, asking the Nazis to oppose establishment of a Jewish state [Well, if the British were in the business of facilitating your steamrolling, who ya gonna call?]. Evidence at the Nuremberg trials showed that Nazi Germany helped finance al-Husseini's efforts in the 1936-39 revolt in Palestine. Adolf Eichmann visited Palestine and met al-Husseini at that time and thereafter maintained regular contact with him. In 1940 al-Husseini asked the Axis powers to acknowledge the Arab right 'to settle the question of Jewish elements in Palestine and other Arab countries in accordance with the national and racial interests of the Arabs and along the lines similar to those used to solve the Jewish question in Germany and Italy'. He spent the rest of the war as Hitler's guest in Berlin - advocating the extermination of Jews in radio broadcasts. At Nuremberg, Eichmann's deputy Dieter Wisliceny testified that the mufti 'was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of the plan...I heard him say, accompanied by Eichmann, he had visited incognito the gas chambers of Auschwitz' [Al-Husseini has denied knowledge of the Holocaust. Hanah Arendt, in her book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, wrote: 'The trial revealed only that all rumours about Eichmann's connection with al-Husseini...were unfounded.' Rafael Medoff concluded that, 'there is no evidence that the Mufti's presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final Solution'. And Bernard Lewis wrote that 'there is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny's statements, and it seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from the outside'. (See Wikipedia) With the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, he moved to Egypt where he was received as a national hero. He was among the sponsors of the 1948 war against Israel."

Despite Anderson's highly partisan account of al-Husseini's career, there can be no glossing over the man's collaboration with the Nazis. But it was not simply the product of some eternal, a-historical, motiveless, anti-semitic malignancy as Anderson would have us believe, and can easily be explained in terms of the old principle: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Historian Lenni Brenner put it well: "The Mufti was an incompetant reactionary who was driven into his anti-Semitism by the Zionists. It was Zionism itself, in its blatant attempt to turn Palestine from an Arab land into a Jewish state, and then use it for the yet further exploitation of the Arab nation, that generated Palestinian Jew-hatred. Rabbi Yitzhak Hutner of Aguda Yisrael gave a perceptive explanation for the Palestinian's career. 'It should be manifest, however, that until the great public pressures for a Jewish state, the Mufti had no interest in the Jews of Warsaw, Budapest or Vilna. Once the Jews of Europe became a threat to the Mufti because of their imminent influx into the Holy Land, the Mufti in turn became for them the...incarnation of the Angel of Death. Years ago, it was still easy to find old residents of Yerushalayim who remembered the cordial relations they had maintained with the Mufti in the years before the impending creation of a Jewish State. Once the looming reality of the State of Israel was before him, the Mufti spared no effort at influencing Hitler to murder as many Jews as possible in the shortest amount of time. This shameful episode, where the founders and early leaders of the State were clearly a factor in the destruction of many Jews, has been completely suppressed and expunged from the record'." (Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, 1983, p 102)

In addition to Anderson's factual errors and omissions, and his a-historical, agenda-driven account of the Mufti, he has hypocritically ignored the story of Zionism's own flirtation with the Nazis, amply chronicled in Brenner's book (See my 3rd post in this series). Here are the words of pro-Israel historian, Martin Gilbert: "Avraham Stern who had formed a breakaway 'Irgun in Israel' movement (also known as the Stern Gang), tried to make contact with Fascist Italy in the hope that, if Mussolini were to conquer the Middle East, he would allow a Jewish State to be set up in Palestine. When Mussolini's troops were defeated in North Africa, Stern tried to make contacts with Nazi Germany, hoping to sign a pact with Hitler which would lead to a Jewish State once Hitler had defeated Britain. " (Israel: A History pp 111-112)

Above and beyond Anderson's above-cited failings, there is a massive failure of logic: why should the mistakes/crimes of one Palestinian reflect on Palestinians as a whole? But the concern of all legitimate historians, what really happened back when, is entirely beside the point here. Anderson's object, like that of all pro-Israel propagandists, is merely to sling mud at the Palestinians and hope that nobody has sufficient command of the actual history to hose it down. In the hands of such demonologists, the Mufti is merely the first in a line of Middle Eastern Hitlers, which include Nasser, Arafat, Hussein and now Ahmadinejad. The absurdity of such anti-Palestinian demonisation is perhaps best seen in the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust where, according to historian Peter Novick "The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Goering, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann, of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler." (From The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy, ed by Qureshi & Sells, 2003, p 117)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 5

"The pro-Israel lobby in this country is a powerful, influential and intimidating group. Backbenchers such as Julia Irwin and Leo McLeay get left way behind, along with the interests of the Palestinians." Alan Ramsey, Lost, even with a map, 30/8/03

Meanwhile, over at Fairfax...

In my first post in the series, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament, I cited Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Ramsey's brave foray into the matter of The Motion, Don't mention the war as Israel lauded (8/3/08). His was a lone voice in the Fairfax press that week.

There were, of course, the inevitable outraged responses on the letters page (10/3/08): Ramsey's reference to "Jewish financial support of party coffers" drew satirical scorn ("Curse those Zionist paymasters!") and assertions that "[t]here is no evidence that Jewish organizations per se have ever donated to Australian political parties." One letter writer dismissed his opinion piece as a "finger-pointing rant."

And they, apparently, were just the tip of the iceberg: according to Letters co-editor, Mike Ticher, in his Postscript comment on 15/3/08, "That [letters on 'white flight'] was just a polite exchange compared with the vitriol inspired by Alan Ramsey's opinion piece on Israel last Saturday and the various responses to it."

Another letter attacking Ramsey, Friendships with Israel are more enduring than hate-filled rhetoric, by Robert Goot and David Knoll, presidents respectively of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, was published on the day of Rudd's motion (12/3/08). They charged him with a) "indulging one of his passions - hatred of Israel"; b) "crossing the line from robust debate to racial vilification"; c) " denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination"; d) "applying double standards by requiring Israel to adhere to standards not demanded of any other democratic nation"; e) "using images associated with classic anti-semitism"; and f) "reverting to classic anti-semitic canards about Jews and money."

To its credit the SMH printed 3 rebuttals of Goot and Knoll the following day (13/3/08). To touch briefly on each of these accusations:-

a) For Zionists, reasoned criticism of Israel is invariably misconstrued as "hatred for Israel."

b) This is a groundless assertion not in any way borne out by reference to what Ramsey actually says.

c) Notice that Goot and Knoll want self-determination, not for Israel's citizens as such, 20% of whom are non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs, but for "the Jewish people," including presumably Goot and Knoll.

d) This begs the questions: What kind of democracy discriminates in law against part of its citizenry, exiles and renders stateless millions more potential citizens, and occupies the land of another people? And since the passing of apartheid South Africa, are there any other such "democratic nations?"

e) Another groundless assertion not borne out by reference to what Ramsey actually says.

f) Perhaps Goot and Knoll should first take this matter up with the editor of The Australian Jewish News. In its issue of 9/2/07, the AJN journalist, Melissa Singer, writes, under the headline, Jewish political donations nudge $1m, that "Jewish-owned businesses and individuals continued their support for the 2 major political parties in 2005-06, according to an Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) report released last week. While the overall number of Jewish donors was down on 2004-05, it is anticipated that 2006-07 will be stronger, with an election less than 10 months away." Singer goes on to list Frank Lowy's Westfield Group, Harry Triguboff's Meriton Premier Apartments, Phil Green's investment firm Babcock & Brown, David Goldberger & David Wieland, Smorgan Steel, Richard Pratt and his Visy Group, Harry Segal, Gandel Group, Sherman Group, Ivany Investment group, law firm Arnold Bloch Liebler, and the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. [As Jack Lang told the young Paul Keating: "Always put your money on self-interest, son, it's the only horse that always tries."]

Thankfully, Ramsey was not bullied into silence. Quite the contrary, the whole of his regular Saturday column of 15/3/08, Blinkers off for the other side of the story, was devoted to the bizarre spectacle which had taken place just 3 days earlier in the House of Representatives.

While The Australian had given the false impression of near wall-to-wall support for the motion, Ramsey tells a different story: " half of the Australian Parliament 'celebrated' the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel. More than a third of that one-half was absent, whatever their reasons. A number of MPs deliberately excluded themselves." Apart from Rudd and Nelson, "[n]obody else spoke. The whole affair, carefully orchestrated, carefully bipartisan, lasted just 15 minutes. The press gallery was almost empty. So, too, were the 2 public galleries. About 100 invited guests...filled the first 3 rows of the Speaker's gallery...These were the people who, after Rudd's...motion had been 'put and passed' without a vote, applauded enthusiastically. The only other person who spoke - or attempted to - was a middle-aged woman [who] held up a T-shirt, exclaiming, 'What about UN resolution 242?' " She was evicted.

Ramsey goes on to tell the story of how, on the same night, a lone Liberal MP, Susan Ley, "did an extremely courageous thing...speak for the Palestinian people. She was the only MP [out of 150] who did...When Rudd and Nelson had spoken at midday I counted 53 Government MPs present, including 6 ministers, and 39 Coalition MPs. When Ley got the call 7 1/2 hours speak on the adjournment, there were 5 people in the public gallery, 4 Labor MPs and 2 Coalition MPs in the chamber, and one journalist in the press gallery." Ramsey gives an edited version of Sussan Ley's speech, from which I quote the following:-

"Israel has many friends in this country and in the Parliament. The Palestinians, by comparison, have few. Theirs is not a popular cause. But it is one I support, in part out of knowledge that the victors of WW II, including Australia, wrote a 'homeland' cheque to cover the sins of the holocaust and centuries of anti-semitism in Europe, but it was the Palestinians who had to cash it."

Ley referred to Israel's 'achievements' (though mistakenly describing the Jewish ethnocratic state as a "democracy"), its "40-year occupation of the Palestinain territories, its continued expansion of [illegal Israeli] settlements [on Palestinian land] and its refusal to allow the return of expelled refugees." She also asserted that "The current blockade of Gaza, confiscation of Palestinian land, and the expansion of settlements must be mentioned in the context of today's motion."

"We are the leaders of our generation. We are accountable for results. If the principal protagonists and the rest of the world community hand Palestine on to the next generation as a twisted mess of grievance, hatred and retribution, then we have failed. The last 2 generations of leaders have failed to produce peace. Let us renew our efforts."

Ramsey reflected: "Unlike earlier in the day, nobody applauded - though I wished I could have. Many Australians, too, had they been present, surely would have wanted to acknowledge such a speech of such honesty and sensibility...Ley put the grovelling Rudd and Nelson to shame. The truth is there is no real debate in this country about the travesty of what is happening in the Middle East, and there are those in the community who, with their money and influence, do all they can to ensure no such open debate occurs, either in the national Parliament, in the media or anywhere else. So why was the Rudd Government, in its first 4 months in office, doing what no Australian government or parliament had done, to acknowledge any of the decades of Israeli statehood since the Six-Day War in 1967 saw the Israeli military occupy the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza and ignore 40 years of mutual violence and barbarity as well as 40 years of UN resolutions to withdraw? The Howard government did not 'honour' Israel's 50th anniversary...nor the Hawke government the 40th...nor the Fraser government the 30th...Why the 60th in 2008 the instant a Labor Government comes to power?"

Ramsey's question demands an answer. At least one Labor MP was trying to prise one out of the PM: "When the Labor caucus met on Tuesday...Sydney's Julia Irwin asked Rudd this very question. Why? Irwin never takes a backward step in her defence of Palestinian rights, but all she got from Rudd this time was waffle. He did not explicitly respond as to why 60 might be different from earlier decades when the Parliament had done nothing and neither had earlier governments. And no Labor MP supported Irwin in pushing it. She was a lone voice in the Labor caucus as Susan Ley was in the Parliament. How's that for political ticker?"

Unfortunately, like Ley and Irwin in federal politics, Alan Ramsey is a lone voice in Australian journalism. What have we come to? Where are we going?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 4

The Istralian's 12 March exorcism of the Nakba ad (See TIOOFP 2) continued on 13 March. In what must have been a first, the entirety of its letters page (excepting the First Byte column) was given over to letters on and around the offending ad, 14 of them - 11 to 3 in Israel's favour, of course - under the banner headline: An island of civilization in a sea of barbarism. All the old, familiar Zionist talking points were there:-

Bill James of Bayswater, Vic, who contributed the above header (hereinafter known as the 'stream of bat's piss' argument, deriving from Monty Python: "Your Highness, when I say you are like a stream of bat's piss, I only mean that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around it is dark."), holds that Israel is a miraculous, liberal democratic survivor "surrounded by enemies dedicated to its destruction and the extermination of its inhabitants," hereinafter known as the Amalek-Dalek exterminator assertion. [Amalek: the archetypal Biblical enemy of the Jews, against whom King David waged a war of extermination. Some Israeli settler fanatics are wont to see the present indigenous Palestinan Arabs as Amalek.] "It would be interesting to know how many of the individuals and organisations in the anti-Israel advertisement...have ever protested against the dictatorship, torture, sexism, racism, censorship, military imprisonment and denial of human rights rife among Israel's opponents," he asked, combining the classic Zionist defensive technique of finger-pointing (hereinafter known as the 'Why are you pickin' on me, Miss? They're doin' it too' diversion) at other, presumably Arab countries (and Iran of course), with broad brush smear, obviating the need for specifics which might invite rebuttal. In this treatment Israel is as white as Arabs/Muslims are black.

Merv Morris of East St Kilda, Vic, in a staple of Zionist propaganda, trades on the legacy of the Nazi Holocaust (hereinafter known as the 'My Holocaust is bigger than your holocaust' boast) to justify Israel's existence at the expense of Palestinian national rights, suggesting that if Israel had been around then it would've provided "sanctuary" for its victims. [See my previous post] Merv, like Bill, uses a variant of the 'stream of bat's piss' argument, describing Israel as "a beacon of enlightenment, egalitarianism and democracy in an area of repression, fundamentalism and black hatred," and concludes with a grizzle about how Israel is "misrepresented internationally," hereinafter known as the 'Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I think I'll go eat worms' whine.

George Adamowicz, of Brighton, Vic, having dusted off his battered copy of Leon Uris' propaganda novel, Exodus, trots out the old Amalek-Dalek exterminator assertion in his reference to "the invasion of the fledgling state by Arab armies intent on wiping it out." He then hilariously castigates the defenders of Amalek-Dalek as "lacking compassion for the other side."

Mark Reid, Doncaster, Vic, invokes the 'My Holocaust is bigger than your holocaust' boast to falsely claim, in response to a correspondent from the day before, that, no, Israel was not "founded on the blood of hundreds and thousands of Palestinians" but rather "on the ashes of millions who were executed in the Nazi Holocaust." In reminding us "how much better off the Palestinians would be if, over the last 60 years, they had shed their victimhood to develop a democratic government," he uses a variant of the 'If only they'd pull their finger out' lament.

Paul Howes, National Secretary, AWU (Australian Workers Union), Sydney, NSW, in lamenting "those union leaders...and Labor MPs who line up in support of Hamas," asserts that Hamas has "a history of hostility to labour unions," a wonderful example of the 'Please Miss, the dog ate my homework' excuse: one assumes that Mr Howes' complaint about Hamas and labour unions relates to the Hamas takeover of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) Gaza offices in the context of Hamas' preemptive coup against Fatah in June 2007. [See my post Mainsewer Media Clueless in Gaza]. But really now, is it too much to expect a former "Research Officer with the Labor Council of NSW (, Personality Profiles: Paul Howes) to do a little homework before opening up on an issue like this? With a little googling, for example, he might have come across the report of 14/7/07 by Omar Khalifa, Palestinian union hit on all sides. Khalifa writes that "The PGFTU, in the West Bank and Gaza, has been attacked from all sides - by Hamas, a Fatah militia and Israel..." Yes, Fatah and Israel. It is even more of a worry that Paul cannot distinguish between a matter of internal Palestinian wrangling and the overarching contextual issue of Palestine's comprehensive mugging by the Zionist colonial-settler project aka Israel. But perhaps there's another explanation: Howes, high school dropout, ex-Trot, member of the NSW Right and advocate for debate over whether Australia should go nuclear , is a protege of ex-AWU head, (& now federal Labor MP) Bill Shorten, who, in turn, is a mate of Visy chief Dick Pratt (fined $36 million recently for price-fixing), whose Pratt Foundation "donates more than $14 million a year to philanthropy in such [needy] countries as Australia, Israel and the US." (Rhapsody: Linking Culture between Israel & Australia, Jan-Mar 2008 p 13). Bill Shorten has, of course, like so many of our mainstream political and civic leaders, been Rambammed. (See my earlier post Rambammed)

Dr Philip Mendes & Professor Douglas Kirsner of Monash University, Vic, are of the opinion that those "who felt the need to advertise their continuing prejudice towards Israel...need to come to terms with reality," given that Israel was born of a 1947 UN resolution which the Amalek-Daleks just couldn't hack [See my previous post], causing them to attempt "to drown Israel at birth," yet another example of the Amalek-Dalek exterminator assertion. They further claim that "the Palestinian refugee tragedy" was "a direct by-product of that decision to go to war, " (another example of the use of the 'Why are you picking on me, Miss? They're doin' it too' diversion). Think about that. These two are are falsely claiming that there were no Palestinian refugees prior to the Amalek-Daleks hitting the warpath, another example of the 'Please, Miss, the dog ate my homework' excuse. So much for the credibility of Dr's & Prof's. In their letter we see our first example of the diversionary flying pig invocation, with Dr & Prof asserting that Palestinians and Israelis should be in the business of achieving "a compromise two-state solution." Now listen up, Pallies, despite Palestine being compromised down from 100% (pre-48) to 43% (UN Resolution 181) to 22% (48-67) to around 10% today, there's always more room for compromise! Typically, Dr & Prof are mum on the main impediment to a two-state solution (to Israel's problem), the always expanding, still illegal, Israeli settlements.

James Johnson of Bentleigh East, Vic, is "amazed to see an advertisement attacking Israel," with no mention of that UN vote in 1947 or the Palestinian rejection of it or the Amalek-Daleks who invaded "Israel...with the stated intention of 'pushing its population into the sea'." (Amalek-Dalek exterminator assertion alert!) And didn't we need reminding, yet agaiiin, that "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East." ('Stream of bat's piss' argument alert!)

Peter Wertheim of Darling Point, NSW, alleges that "the parliamentary motion of support for Israel was passed unanimously," [A striking example of the 'Please Miss, the dog ate my homework' excuse, given that The Canberra Times (but not The Istralian*) had reported that "more than a dozen ministers and Labor backbenchers (& "some Liberal MPs") were absent." PM snubbed from all sides over Israeli motion, Ross Peake, 13/3/08] Peter plugs 47 agaiiin, and introduces the Amalek-Dalek assertion: "the invasion of the country by 5 Arab states in May 1948 or the gobbling up of the West Bank and Gaza Strip [before they were gobbled up by Zionist forces] by Jordan and Egypt..." Peter is also the first of our propagandists to invoke the talking point always kept in reserve for anyone who raises the issue of Palestinian refugees: "the dispossession of an equal number of Jews in Arab countries from their homes and livelihoods after 1948," hereinafter known as the 'I beat the crap out of you, but he allegedly beat the crap out of me, so we're equal, right? argument. Hm, "after 1948"? So the Palestinians were dispossessed first? Maybe, just maybe, the two issues are unrelated! And of course, whenever the issue of Palestinian refugees comes up, it's customary to assert that they have been "deliberately kept in refugee camps for decades to be used as pawns to serve the political agendas of their leaders and the educated fools in the West who support them [Hello, signatories!]." Well, that's easily dealt with: Israel implements UNGA Resolution 194, allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands in Israel, and, hey presto, no more pawns! We might call this one the 'OK, so we gave 'em a stick to beat us with, but we sure as hell don't want it back' retort.

Dr Philip Cole of Townsville, Qld, wields the whinge of last resort - 'Miss, they're pickin' on me for no reason at all' plaint, aka the spurious accusation of anti-Semitism: "It seems that anti-semitism is the only form of racism that is not only acceptable, but positively fashionable..."

Ivan Kassel of St Ives, NSW, is disgusted and offended by "the advertiser's wrongful accusation of racism and ethnic cleansing occurring in Israel," despite the fact that these occurred in Palestine. He deploys the 'Israelis-target-only-terrorists, while-terrorists- always-hide-behind-human-shields' rationale: Israel "does all it can to limit civilian casualties." The Nakba ad calls Israel's establishment a "catastrophe," but Israel, Ivan tells us, was "formed by UN charter" [UN what?!] and in fact "is the land Jews were expelled from at least 2000 years before Palestinians arrived," the first use here of the trusty (but hypocritical) 'Thousands of years, and we still haven't gotten over it, but the Palestinians should - now!' line. If only Hamas would "lay down its arms and sit at a table," shrug's world-weary Ivan, yet another variant of the 'If only they'd pull their finger out' lament.
R W Corfield of Subiaco, WA, a staunch defender of dissent from the official line, would refer the signatories, described as a "bunch of troublemakers," to ASIO for investigation: "If that rather rabid advertisement on the alleged genocide in Palestine did nothing else, it would certainly have provided some more grist to ASIO's mill. Most of the usual suspects are there, of course, and a sprinkling of clergy with not enough to do." RW is convinced that, apart from death and taxes, "of two things I am certain...First, that the Jews are entitled to their state...Second, there was no genocide." He thinks it, therefore it is.

That's it, and here for the record is the tally:-

Amalek-Dalek exterminators assertion: 5

Stream of bat's piss argument: 3

'Please, Miss, the dog ate my homework' excuse: 3

'Why are you pickin' on me, Miss? They're doin it too' diversion: 2

'My Holocaust is bigger than your holocaust' boast: 2

'If only they'd pull their fingers out' lament: 2

'Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me. I think I'll go eat worms' whine: 1

Diversionary flying pig invocation: 1

'I beat the crap out of you, but he allegedly beat the crap out of me. So we're equal, right?' argument: 1

'OK, so we gave 'em a stick to beat us with, but we sure as hell don't want it back' retort: 1

'Miss, they're pickin' on me for no reason at all' plaint: 1

Israelis-target-only-terrorists, while-terrorists-always-hide-behind-human-shields rationale: 1

'Thousands of years, and we still haven't gotten over it, but the Palestinians should - now! line: 1

* The Istralian's 'reporting' for the day gives the impression that the only dissent came from Labor MP Julia Irwin: "The House of Representatives passed with bipartisan support a government motion marking the anniversary in May, with only Labor backbencher Julia Irwin abstaining from the vote in a protest at human rights abuses by Israel." The following information was left to the final paragraph: "Ms Irwin said at least 10 of her ALP colleagues and 4 Coalition parliamentarians had congratulated her on her stand."" (PM lauds Israel, but urges peace, Patrick Walters, Brad Norrington, 13/3/08)

Update: The torrent of letters on the Nakba ad continued with 6 in The Istralian of 14/3/08 under the grandiloquent heading, An epic and inspirational story in world history. Three of them provided further examples of the talking points already cited. Dr Bill Anderson, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne, Vic, in another blow to the credibility of our academic friends, begins with the 'Thousands of years, and we still haven't gotten over it, but the Palestinians should - now!' line: "After thousands of years in the land which is now Israel they were defeated, displaced and disperced by the Romans...They returned as sons and daughters returning home, not as colonial aggressors." That such mythological nonsense can gush from the pen of an academic from a School of Historical Studies is a terrible indictment of our universities. Nor does it get any better, ending with this variant of the stream of bat's piss argument: "Israel continues to survive as a bastion of democracy in a troubled region..."

Mervyn F Bendle, School of Arts & Social Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld, dealing a third blow to academic credibility, launches his irritation at "the propaganda war against Israel," with the 'My Holocaust is bigger than your holocaust' boast: the ad's attempt to "promote the concept of al-Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948 as a counterweight to the Holocaust (Shoah) that involved the extermination of 6 million Jews by the Nazis...[is designed] to relativise the horrendous tragedy suffered by the Jews and make it seem no greater than that allegedly suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of Israel...[and] to displace the Holocaust and make it appear that the Palestinians have suffered a greater tragedy. The goal, pursued by many Muslim leaders, is to deny that the Holocaust happened."

Dr George Foster, Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendents, Miranda, NSW, continues in the same vein with "Survivors of the Holocaust know the real meaning of ethnic cleansing and genocide," and concludes with his own variant on the 'Miss, they're pickin' on me for no reason' plaint: "To compare Israel's actions in defence of its citizens...with Nazi Germany policies of extermination - as that advertisement does - is frankly anti-semitic..." That the Nakba ad makes no mention whatever of Nazis, but simply and objectively points out that Israel is because Palestine isn't, escapes him.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3

"The state was born, but the ideals of renaissance, virtue, and peace have not been realized with it. The society it spawned is as parochial, impulsive, and prideful as its architects. It has lived for over rwo decades in enmity with its neighbours, carried away by concerns with its own needs, and out of touch with the broader perspectives of the Jewish world outside. Most basic to its shortsightedness is its inability to engage in the give-and-take of humane dialogue with the two enities which it must ultimately reach: the modern world and the Middle East." Alan R Taylor, Prelude to Israel: An Analysis of Zionist Diplomacy 1897-1947 (1959)

"The problem with not...that it is a European 'enclave' in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a 'Jewish state' - a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded - is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism." Tony Judt, Israel: The Alternative, New York Review of Books, 23/10/03

What follows is my critique of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's shameful 12 March parliamentary motion on the 60th Anniversary of the State of Israel, the text and discussion of which eluded both The Sydney Morning Herald (with the honorable exception of its Saturday columnist Alan Ramsey) and Melbourne's The Age:-

Rudd moved "That the House: (1) celebrate and commend the achievements of the State of Israel in the 60 years since its inception; (2) remember with pride and honour the important role which Australia played in the establishment of the State of Israel as both a member state of the UN and as an influential voice in the introduction of Resolution 181 which facilitated Israel's statehood, and as the country which proudly became the first to cast a vote in support of Israel's creation; (3) acknowledge the unique relationship which exists between Australia and Israel; a bond highlighted by our commitment to the rights and liberty of our citizens and encouragement of cultural diversity; (4) commend the State of Israel's commitment to democracy, the Rule of Law and pluralism; (5) reiterate Australia's commitment to Israel's right to exist and our ongoing support to the peaceful establishment of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue; (6) reiterate Australia's commitment to the pursuit of peace and stability throughout the Middle East; (7) on this, the 60th Anniversary of Independence of the State of Israel, pledge our friendship, commitment and enduring support to the people of Israel as we celebrate this important occasion together."

In speaking to his motion, Rudd began by falsely claiming that "the story of the establishment of the state of Israel begins with the unimaginable tragedy of the Holocaust." In so doing, he conveniently ignored the fact that the Zionist movement, which created the state of Israel in Palestine in 1948, predated the Holocaust by almost 50 years, as well as the fact that the Zionist movement's single-minded obsession with setting up a Jewish state in Palestine was at odds with the interests of European Jews both before and after the Holocaust.

Before the Holocaust, the Zionists, instead of resisting the rise of fascism and Nazism, sought an accomodation with them, and elements of the Zionist revisionist movement even tried to forge an alliance with the Nazis against the British. [See Lenni Brenner's Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983)]

After the liberation of Jews from Nazi concentration camps, most Jewish displaced persons (DPs) chose not to go to Palestine, contrary to the expectations and propaganda of the Zionists. And this in spite of the fact that the Zionist movement, totally insensitive to the real needs or wishes of Holocaust survivors, pulled out all stops, including blocking plans to evacuate them to countries other than Palestine, and forcibly, even violently, drafting them in Europe for service in the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. [See Yosef Grodzinsky's In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Story of Jews in Displaced Persons Camps and their Forced Role in the Founding of Israel (2004)]

The plight and fate of pre-war European Jewry, and the welfare of Holocaust survivors, always came second to the Zionist movement's goal of bringing as many European Jews as possible to Palestine in order to realise its goal of a Jewish state there. To quote just two examples of this attitude:-

"And this time in Eretz Yisrael, there are comments: 'Don't put Eretz Yisrael in priority in this difficult time, in the time of destruction of European Jewry'. I do not accept such a saying. And when some asked me: 'Can't you give money from the Keren Hayesod [Jewish National Fund] to save Jews in the Diaspora?', I said: no! And again I say no!...I think we have to stand before this wave that is putting Zionist activity into the second row." Yitzhak Gruenbaum, head of the Jewish Agency's rescue Committee (Brenner, p 234) And this, from David Ben-Gurion, leader of Palestine's Jewish community and first PM of Israel: "If Jews will have to choose between the refugees, saving Jews from concentration camps, and assisting a national museum in Palestine, mercy will have the upper hand and the whole energy of the people will be channelled into saving Jews from various countries. Zionism will be struck off the agenda not only in world public opinion, in Britain and the US, but elsewhere in Jewish public opinion. If we allow a separation between the refugee problem and the Palestinian problem, we are risking the existence of Zionism." (Brenner p 149)

Rudd went on to say, "By war's end, 6 million Jews had been murdered. By war's end the international community finally began to look again in earnest at the question of a homeland for the Jewish people."

This again is a distortion of fact. The international community had 2 unrelated problems on its hands:-

1) What to do about Britain's failed Palestine mandate, which had come under armed assault by Zionist forces (referred to by the pro-Zionist Churchill in 1944 as "a new set of gangsters worthy of Nazi Germany").

2) What to do about Jewish DPs.

With regard to the second, it is quite clear that the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP), set up to examine the Palestine problem in June 1947 (and which included Dr Evatt, Australia's Minister for External Affairs) did not regard Palestine as the solution for displaced Jews: Recommendation 12 of UNSCOP's findings said, "In the appraisal of the Palestine question it should be accepted as incontrovertible that any solution for Palestine cannot be considered as a solution for the Jewish problem in general." Despite this, all attempts by the international community to find an international solution for Jewish DPs were anathema to the Zionist movement and were vigorously resisted by it.

Rudd (and his Zionist boosters and sources) loves to trot out the 'glorious' tale of Evatt's role in Israel's creation: "Australia is proud to have played a significant part in the international process that led to the foundation of the state of Israel. Australia's then Minister for External Affairs, Dr Evatt, was part of the UN Special Committee [sic: Commission]on Palestine which recommended in August 1947 the termination of the Mandate for Palestine. And he was chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on the Palestinian Question that proposed the partition of Palestine [Again Rudd's got his facts wrong. It was UNSCOP which "proposed the partition of Palestine"]. He strongly believed that the fundamental right of self-determination for the Jewish people and for Palestinians could only be achieved by each having their own state."

Let us take a detailed look at this "process" of which "Australia is proud."* UNSCOP was an 11 member body on which only 2 Asian countries (India and Iran) represented the continent directly involved in its deliberations. Inevitably, when submitting its findings in August 1947, it split along continental lines: a majority of 7, all from Europe and North and South America, favoured the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state, while a minority of 3 (India, Iran and Yugoslavia - Australia abstained) proposed an independent federal state. In other words, European and American states (Africa did not get a look in) got to dictate the partition of an Asian country. As David Horowitz, the Jewish Agency liaison officer with UNSCOP commented: "The Asiatic bloc was solid and unitedly negative. The fact of our complete isolation on this continent, into whose life we aspired to become integrated, pained me..."

When the matter came before the UN General Assembly, meeting as an Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine, a resolution to refer to the International Court of Justice the question of whether the UN had any competence to enforce partition without consulting, or against the wishes of, the inhabitants of Palestine was lost by only one vote. And when the Committee voted on the partition plan, it mustered only a simple majority when a 2/3rd's majority was required. With the exception of Cuba, all the negative votes were Afro-Asian.

At this point, before partition was voted on in the General Assembly, 6 countries became the target for Zionist and US arm-twisting: Haiti, Liberia, the Philippines, China and Ethiopia were pressured into either abstaining or affirming partition. Wrote Horowitz: "America's line of action had swung in a new direction. As a result of instructions from the President (Truman**) the State Department now embarked on a helpful course of great importance to our interest. The improved atmosphere swayed a number of wavering countries. The US exerted the weight of its influence almost at the last hour, and the way the final vote turned out must be ascribed to this fact." In the case of the Philippines, for example, its delegate had made a strong speech in the GA against partition, describing it correctly as a move towards "political disunion and territorial dismemberment," which would "turn us back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic doctrines of theocratic governments," and away from "the modern trend towards inter-racial co-operation and secular democracy." Three days later the Philippine delegation voted for partition. This is the process of which Rudd (aka "Australia") is "proud."

And this matter of manufacturing UN consent is quite apart from the issue of the legality of partition, given that, in the words of Palestinian lawyer, Henry Cattan, "it constituted a trespass on the sovereignty of the original inhabitants, it gave away to alien immigrants a large part of the territory of the country and it denied to the Palestinians the exercise of their natural right of self-determination [The Palestine Problem in a Nutshell, 1971 p 16]." Or the injustice of assigning more than half of Palestine (57%) to less than 1/3rd of its population, mostly foreign immigrants, who had legal title to only about 6% of the land.

Rudd went on to say that "[o]n 29 January 1949 [Australian PM Ben Chifley] announced that Australia would become one of the first countries to recognise the new state of Israel, describing it as 'a force of special value in the world community' As President of the General Assembly, 'Doc' Evatt then presided over the historic May 1949 vote admitting Israel as the 59th member of the UN."

With regard to the latter, Israeli activist and academic, Uri Davis has pointed out: "As...the discussions at the UN Security Council suggest, the holocaust notwithstanding, the UN would have been reluctant to allow the admission of the Jewish state as a member state had the UN not received formal and solemn assurances from the Government of the State of Israel that Israel would abide by Resolution 181 (II) of November 1947 recommending the partition of Palestine with economic union, and Resolution 194 (III) of December 1948 resolving that the 1948 Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes...should be permitted to do so...It goes without saying that, under the circumstances, had the new state failed to project itself as anything other than an international-law-abiding state, it would have seriously jeopardized the prospects of its admission as a member state in the UN." [Apartheid Israel, 2003, p 38]

Needless to say, neither resolution has been implemented by Israel (181 was violated when Israel went on to illegally extend its borders by a further 20% in the 1948-1949 war, failed to adopt a democratic constitution, and ignored Jerusalem's intended status as a 'corpus separatum'). Israel, of course, has since gone on to break record after record in its defiance of both the UN Charter and UN resolutions.

The rest of Rudd's speech merely retails such Zionist cliches as the Begin/Sadat love-in of 1979 and the Rabin/Arafat love-in of 1993, as well as the usual platitudes about the "establishment of an independent and economically viable Palestinian state" (though, interestingly, there is no mention that it should be 'contiguous'), and Israel's "robust parliamentary democracy" and "vibrant society and economy."

* Based on the account in GH Jansen's Zionism, Israel & Asian Nationalism (1971) pp 197-199
** Truman had once famously declared: "I'm sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism: I don't have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my consituents."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 2

Whenever there's a party, there's always someone around to pooh pooh it. On 12 March in the nation's capital, party animals of all stripes flocked to Parliament House. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, and their party faithful, had gathered to pay homage to the 'plucky' little state of Israel on the occasion of her 60th birthday.

The Israel lobby's preferred press, The Australian, had no doubt been breathless with anticipation for the day when the Liberal lion (recently defanged) would lie down with the Labor lamb (recently fanged), and both would be as one in singing the praises of that Blight unto the Nations.

However, certain party-poopers (of a left-wing, anti-Israel persuasion, according to the self-proclaimed Heart of the Nation) just couldn't resist raining on the parade (not to mention sullying its pages) by placing a large, white-on-black, not-in-our-name advertisement protesting the PM's "bipartisan parliamentary motion...congratulating Israel on reaching the milestone of 60 years of statehood." Headed Improper Motion Needs Proper Action, 1948 Palestine Al Nakba, the ad was signed by a range of pro-Palestine organizations and individuals, including the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

The ad's message, never to my knowledge heard before in Murdoch's flagship, read as follows:- "We, as informed and concerned Australians, choose to disassociate ourselves from a celebration of the triumph of racism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the al-Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948. As we write, Israel continues to expand illegal Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem. Australia and Australians should not give the Israeli people and its leaders the impression that Australia supports them in their dispossession of the Palestinian people. Israel has poisoned our (the West's) relations with the whole of the Arab and Muslim world. Rather than celebrating the creation of the State of Israel we should be recognising the people of Palestine, those who were dispossessed, those who lived and died as refugees, those who continue to live and die and suffer at the hands of the State of Israel, and those who will continue to suffer and die in the future until justice is done."

Needless to say, it acted as the proverbial red rag to the Zionist bull[ies] who infest the pages of The Australian, and The Heart of the Nation wasn't going to take this outrageous provocation lying down:-

On page 2 we were alerted to Canberra's festivities by the header Online Today: Australia Salutes Israel, Multimedia: Greg Sheridan looks at 60 years of the Jewish state; Blog: Have your say, complete with photo of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert standing next to an Israeli flag.

On page 4 we ran bang into a news report, Labor split over motion on Israel: "Yesterday, the motion provoked a clash between Kevin Rudd and pro-Palestinian Labor MP Julia Irwin after Ms Irwin questioned why the Government was supporting the gesture given Israel's treatment of the Palestinians... Partyroom sources told The Australian Ms Irwin unsuccessfully attempted to table a number of Amnesty International reports during yesterday's caucus meeting, which she said detailed Israel's alleged [!!!] mistreatment of the Palestinians. Ms Irwin...had yet to decide if she would support the motion...In 2003 Ms Irwin called for UN intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and also read an email to the parliament that described the Jewish lobby in Australia as 'the most implacable, arrogant, cruel and powerful lobby in the country' [ie sterling advocates for their implacable, arrogant, cruel and powerful 'cause']"

Then, just when we thought we were safe, the opinion page disclosed Philip Chester's rhapsodical Israel's far-flung friend: The Jewish state cops a lot of criticism, but not from Australia. Phil, of course, is the prez of the Zionist Federation of Australia.

Some highlights:-

"Israel is quite simply a modern marvel. In the anti-colonialist era...European masters began the process of returning lands to their original inhabitants. What distinguished the Jews from other such people was that they had been expelled and forced to live in exile while the land they had lived in for 1500 years endured occupation for 2 milleniums."

Except that European masters weren't normally in the habit of returning stolen lands. These were generally taken back by the colonized, often after an armed struggle of the type waged by the indigenous Palestinians against the Zionist occupation and colonization of their Palestinian homeland. In the case of Palestine, post-WW1 British mandate rule constituted the imperial womb from which the Zionist brat emerged into the unsuspecting world of Arab Palestine. I say brat because the little blighter later turned to biting the imperial hand that had nurtured him, not to mention getting stuck into the natives big time. Phil's conceit, a Zionist staple, that today's Jews are somehow directly descended from those who lived in Palestine 1500 years ago is, of course, pure fantasy, but even if it were not, the notion that all who sailed in the good ship Palestine, before or after the 'Jewish phase', were occupiers is typical Zionist claptrap.

"While other post-war countries remained mired in corruption, authoritarianism, violent fundamentalism and poverty, Israel accumulated a range of achievements in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres that are truly mind-boggling. Israel is a true liberal democracy, with numerous political parties representing the wide range of Jewish and Arab interests...Israel is the only country in the world that entered this century with a net gain in its number of trees..."

Corruption: Israel is hardly anything to write home about in this respect: Transparency International, in its 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index rated it 5.9/10, making it no. 30 in a field of 180.

Authoritarianism: The Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) notes (2004) that "protection of human rights in Israel is poor; there is serious political and economic discrimination against the Arab minority; there is much less freedom of religion than in other democracies; and the socioeconomic inequality indicator is among the highest in the sample." Further, they state that in terms of stability and social cohesion, "Israel ranks at the bottom of the list...The turnover in governments is more frequent than in other democracies and only India ranks lower in social tensions and rifts between the various segments of society." And that's only if we take Israel's democratic credentials at face value. Drive out the native majority, as Israel did in 48, so that the Jewish minority becomes the new majority, and, hey presto, you've successfully gerrymandered a state that's both Jewish and democratic. And we won't whisper a word about authoritarianism in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Violent fundamentalism: Hello settlers!

Poverty: According to, 30% of Israeli children and 20% of its elderly live below the poverty line, while 22% of its population is food insecure. Now where does that $3 billion + US aid go to, I wonder?

Mind-boggling achievements: Phil has neglected to mention the most mind-boggling of all: Israel is, as Uri Avnery has pointed out, "Numero Uno" in liquidations.

Israel is a true liberal democracy, with numerous political parties representing the wide range of Jewish and Arab interests: Perhaps he hasn't gotten around yet to reading last year's report from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) which "paints a bleak picture: increasing racism, restriction of personal freedoms and discrimination even within the Knesset walls - and that's just scratching the surface." Read on at Israel's, Racism in Israel on the rise, Aviram Zino 12/8/07.

Trees: Often planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) over the ruins of the hundreds of Palestinian villages razed by Israeli forces in 1948.

"Australia and Israel share a great friendship. Political, economic and cultural interchange is common and Australia, since its significant role in supporting the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947, has proved itself a staunch ally in international forums. As the parliament's bipartisan resolution demonstrates, our main political parties are united in their support of Israel...Australia and Israel are both vibrant democracies that respect the rule of law and freedom of the press, despite being situated in regions where democracy is not necessarily the accepted order...Australia and Israel have been remarkably enriched by the arrival of people from diverse cultural origins. And, perhaps most tellingly, Israelis and Australians reject extremism and pretension and believe in the fundamental freedom of the individual."

1947: OMG, the ZFA prez has forgotten that Israel was established in 1948!

Staunch ally in international forums: Yeah, like those other staunch allies in the Pacific, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshalls, Nauru etc. Now what could possibly be in it for them? Or us?

Australia/Israel vibrant democracies: Except, of course, that Australia's democracy is not based on the mass expulsion and ongoing exclusion of millions of its potential citizens.

The rule of law: On Kaufmann et al's Rule of Law Index (2002) Australia rates 1.85, while Israel rates 0.97, hardly light years away from Cuba (0.94), Bahrein (0.92) or Libya (0.91).

Freedom of the press: On Reporters Without Border's Press Freedom Index (2007) Australia is no. 28, while Israel is no. 44, dropping to 103 when it comes to the occupied Palestinian territories. Can't give the press too free a hand there now, can we?

Immigrants from diverse cultural origins: Except that Australia doesn't exclude people simply because they don't have a Jewish mother.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. Should you wish to hear Phil's rhapsody in its entirety, that always reliable Zionist cyber warrior, anonymous, has thoughtfully appended it to his comment on my last post.

Then, on the letters page, we were treated to one of those bizarre editorials (Isratorials?) all too often found in The Australian. BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR STATE OF ISRAEL: An enduring beacon of democracy in a troubled region began in comic vein by asserting that Rudd's motion and Michael Danby MP's recent "first Jewish wedding in Parliament House" demonstrated "the bipartisan support that exists for Israel."

The goofy grin on the editor's face soon disappeared, however, because, let me tell you, he was not, repeat NOT, very happy with the advertisement or those behind it: "Predictably, today's statement to parliament - the timing of which has been agreed between the Government and the Israeli embassy for the convenience of parliament [Lobby memo: Israeli embassy tells Australian Government to celebrate Israel's next birthday at a time convenient to our Enduring Beacon of Democracy] - has spawned a chorus of dissent from the left-wing, anti-Israel suspects...a group claiming to be informed and concerned Australians has distanced itself from what it says is 'a celebration of racism and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians since the al-Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948'...The sponsors of the advertisement, which include individuals and organisations such as the Australian Friends of Palestine, the militant [As in Hamas militants?] left-wing CFMEU and the Socialist Alliance, are entitled to their view. The group expresses what is now fashionable thought in academe, increasingly attracted to victimhood [Of which Israel holds the patent]...Unfortunately, it offers nothing to further the cause of peace or properly recognise the tragic circumstances that underpinned the creation of the state of Israel in the first place."

"Nowhere has the grotesque nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict been more evident than in the joyful celebrations among Gazan civilians following news that a deranged gunman had killed 8 Jewish students...What does it say about Hamas culture that it would promote public celebration at the slaughter of children?" Palestinians of course, as pure automatons, have to be organized by the evil CFMEU, sorry, Hamas militants, to indulge in a spot of schadenfreude. The fact that Israel had only just left off tearing over 120 of them limb from limb couldn't possibly have spurred them to such a display.

"One thing is certain: such barbaric displays by Israelis do not accompany news of the murder of Palestinians." How true! And how could it be otherwise? As Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) chairman, Mark Leibler, has so memorably put it: "For Hamas and Hezbollah, every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration. For Israel, every dead Palestinian child is a tragedy and a mistake."

"The Australian believes Israel has been a force for good in the Middle East while its Arab opponents have, unfortunately, slipped backwards." But of course - think how helpful Israel has been in relieving the Palestinians of the terrible burden of self-determination and national independence. Think how over the years Israel has selflessly implemented huge slum renovation and population reduction projects throughout Palestine (and even beyond). And just imagine how obese those Gazans would be if Israel hadn't in her wisdom decided to put them on a diet.

Quite frankly, those Palestinian ingrates have only themselves to blame. By embracing "Islamic fundamentalism," they "find themselves caught in escalating violence led by zealots who have no interest in any settlement that recognises Israel's right to exist [at their expense]. These leaders are prepared to use the suffering of their own people in a propaganda war against Israel in the Western media [Any suggestion, however, that Israel is milking the plight of its own citizens in Sderot to justify picking off Hamas will not be tolerated]. The success of this propaganda war can be seen in the advertisements, such as the one published today."

That's right, folks, all those signatories are merely the unwitting dupes of foaming Islamic fundamentalists. The fact that the only way they can get their twisted message out is by paying Murdoch for an ad in The Israeli, sorry, The Australian, in no way indicates that Israeli leaders/lobbyists have been so successful in their propaganda war that they've successfully kept that message out of the Murdoch, and other ms presses. Perish the thought!

"We reject the view that the Israeli conflict lies at the root of all the problems in the Middle East and is the trigger for the rise of al-Qa' truth al-Qa'ida had little to say about Israel or Palestine throughout the 1990s." Oh boy (wearily reaches for copy of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden (2005), edited by Bruce Lawrence, and scans heading for Bin Laden's first (1994) message - The Betrayal of Palestine).

"As Greg Sheridan wrote..." Nuff said... My good friend, anonymous, has kindly posted the whole kit and kaboodle as an appendix to his own "barbaric display" of gloating over the duped signatories' unwitting commissioning of Phil's Istralia Rhapsody and ed's Hasbara Chorus.

Finally, there were the letters: Jeremy Samuel of Double Bay ("Congratulations to Kevin Rudd and Brendan Nelson..."); Barry Brummer of Sydney ("[Israel[ has walked a tightrope between recognising the rights of its neighbours and securing its own safety."); Ron Parkinson of Avalon ("I think it's safe to say that - short of a nuclear strike from Iran - Israel will still be battling for survival by the time the 100th anniversary comes around."); and Robert Eichel of Bondi Junction, who quoted a 40's Arab Dalek ("This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.") And who, dare I ask, was on the receiving end of those little dustups?

You can see that the lobby doesn't take too kindly to those who trespass (even if after bribing the proprietor) on its personal press fiefdom, The Israeli, sorry - there I go again - The Istralian.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship 2

"Judaism is not Zionism. Judaism, as a confessional preference, should be strictly an individual matter, and, generally speaking, like other individual preferences (such as musical, culinary or sexual preferences), should not be the concern of the law. Zionism, as a political programme, is a matter of public debate...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 individual 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, are anti-Zionist in the same sense that those who for many decades opposed the political programme of apartheid in South Africa (which ended in 1994) were, and it is to be hoped remain, anti-apartheid." Uri Davis, Apartheid Israel, 2003, pp 11-12

I reported in a January 18 post, Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship, that the Rudd Government had voted in the UN against funding for the 2009 World Conference against Racism (or Durban II). The forthcoming WCAR has been a pet peeve of the Israel lobby ever since the 2001 WCAR correctly* equated Zionism with racism, and the associated WCAR NGO Forum even more correctly* declared Israel a "racist, apartheid state" which should be subject to the imposition of sanctions.

In January, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) reportedly met with "representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)" and was hoping to meet Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, to "ask about ways to prevent anti-Semitism [sic: anti-Zionism]" at the 2009 WCAR and "work out the mechanics of our relationship in the future."

Update: Under the header, Uniting to stop Durban repeat (15/2/08), The Australian Jewish News informs us that a joint ECAJ and Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) delegation have met Israeli Ambassador, Yuval Rotem, and Smith, "who flagged his intention to visit Israel later this year [But of course!]."

The report continues: "The community leaders presented Smith with a submission outlining their concerns about next year's conference [eg that the UN allegedly promotes anti-Semitism "by condoning the distinction between anti-Semitism and Israel-phobia."], including their ambivalence over recent reports indicating the Rudd government intended to work more closely with the UN...[God forbid that Australia should be "work[ing] more closely with the UN"!]...[Phillip] Chester (ZFA) said that while Smith was not ready to commit one way or another to Australia's participation at Durban II [OMG, he's got the wobbles!], he did ask that the community leaders keep in touch with him. 'The minister is maintaining a wait-and-see approach', Chester said, adding that he feels the Australian Government will eventually support the position of the Jewish community...[The Israeli] ambassador [said] that, while [he] has not made a formal submission to the Australian Government to ask it not to attend Durban II, he has encouraged community leaders to lobby hard."

There you have it: now that the lobby has succeeded in persuading the government to deny funding to the 2009 WCAR, the push is on to have it implement Israel's anti-UN agenda and (like Canada) boycott the conference entirely. Will Smith cave in? Watch this space...

But there's more: "[Robert] Goot (ECAJ) told the AJN they also discussed the pattern of voting in the UN...Labor's pre-election posturing to legally pursue Iranian President Ahmadinejad [See my post, Ahmadinejad: Our Part in His Downfall]; and the unsolved kidnapping of 3 Israeli soldiers over a year ago...We were entirely satisfied with the minister's response on all those topics." Indeed!

It is always interesting to learn just who gets access to the minister's ear (and comes away "entirely satisfied with the minister's responses") and who gets knocked back. In February, 60-year old Rebiya Kadeer, exiled spokeswoman for the brutally oppressed Uighur people of China's Xinjiang region arrived in Australia to communicate her people's plight. Ms Kadeer, however, couldn't get within cooee of the foreign minister's ear and had to be content with DFAT officials. (See Exiled voice wants Games to cast light on repression, Hamish McDonald, SMH 21/2/08) Australia's Israel lobbyists, on the other hand, advocates for another specialist in screwing the wretched of the earth, have no such trouble.

*See my earlier post, Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship for a discussion of these matters.