Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pure Genius

Insanity: doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results - Rita Mae Brown

"A Rudd government offer to send Australian counter-insurgency trainers to Pakistan to help rid the country of Taliban extremists had not been raised with the Government in Islamabad and faces a cool response." (This is our war: Pakistan unlikely to accept advisers, The Australian, 31/7/08)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Bile Duct of the Nation

Murdoch's The Australian bills itself as The Heart of the Nation. Bile Duct of the Nation would be more appropriate. The Australian oozes petty vindictiveness:-

In its Cut & Paste section on 21/7/08 it excreted the following:-

"Food for thought bites aspiring candidate on the derriere: Rose Jackson, an executive of Young Labor, is overwhelmed by a pavlova on ABC TV's Q&A program last Thursday" A member of the audience asked a question in which he used the term "Pavlovian responses." Compere Tony Jones directed it to panel member Jackson, as a young person "about to enter politics." In her answer Jackson confused Pavlovian with pavlova, explaining, when picked up on it by Jones, that "I just got overwhelmed by the pavlova metaphor."

The BDoN followed that with this:-

"The Australian on November 21, 2007, reports on an earlier Jackson moment: The revelation that (George) Newhouse's* campaign manager, Rose Jackson, has spoken out against the Jewish state has the potential to hurt his chances in the marginal eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth, which has the largest number of Jewish voters of any electorate in Australia. In an email addressed 'Dear activists', Ms Jackson wrote to an internet education discussion forum last year: 'I oppose Zionism because it calls for the creation of a Jewish state, and I think all governments should be secular. No Jewish, Islamic, Christian states anywhere in the world, just good, robust, secular democracies', she said. 'By speaking out on behalf of the Palestinians and Lebanese people, we can give voice to those that some governments and media would wish to silence'. Asked if her views sat uncomfortably next to those of Mr Newhouse, Ms Jackson said, 'I don't know George's position on Israel. I'm just opposed to theocracy. I certainly support the right of Israel to exist, but not as a Jewish state'."

The BDoN was right to raise the question of Jackson's position on Israel vis a vis Newhouse's Zionism, and that "I don't know George's position on Israel" is pretty lame. However, although she may not have known the difference between Pavlov and pavlova, she couldn't have been more on the mark in the above email. Unfortunately, the higher she advances in the Labor Party, the more the pressure will be on her to revise her views on Israel (if she hasn't already done so, that is). Both official Labor and the BDoN, you see, require the following Pavlovian response on that one: Israel is a Vibrant Democracy/ A Beacon of Light in a Sea of Middle Eastern Darkness/ The Ant's Pants/ Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice etc, etc. Still, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If opposition to the idea of a 'Jewish' state is as wrong as confusing Pavlov with pavlova, then the BDoN can hardly cavil at support for the idea of an Islamic state.

In his 28/7/08 column, Strewth, D D McNicoll excreted this:-

"Ramsey cut to size: Alan Ramsey, Fairfax Media's long-serving Canberra political pundit, took a dramatic downgrade in The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday with his usual two-thirds of a page cut to just two half-columns as Michael Duffy got the prime spot. Scuttlebut in Canberra suggests Ramsey is the latest staffer to run foul of editor Alan Oakley."

Could Ramsey's crime be that when it comes to Israel (see my series of posts on The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament), he doesn't wag his tail and salivate like the BDoN does?

[* See my posts Testing Time for Rudd (21/12/07) & Ahmadinejad: Our Part in His Downfall (29/2/08)]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Beat-Up Goes On

How to Do It by Michael Leunig

Take a woman. Take a child. Take a man.
Treat them with contempt. Drive them off their land...
Kill their loved ones & their respected elders.
Take away their rights & their defences.
Destroy their homes, their trees, their sacred places
And all that they hold dear. Call them mad.
Slander those who pity them.
Malign them. Degrade them.
Torment & exclude them.
Make them poor.
Make their lives impossible.
Persecute and oppress them.
That's how you do it.
That's how you do it!

"A children's television program regularly features disturbing topics such as death, destruction and martyrdom.* It's broadcast by the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip... " That was the 7.30 Report prattler Ali Moore introducing Kids TV causes a stir in Israel on 17/7/08. Apparently, it's OK for Israel to blockade, starve, shell, rocket and shoot up the people of the Gaza Strip on a daily basis, but not for their elected government to reflect any of this on kids' tv.

[*1,050 Palestinian children killed since September 2000; 72 in 2008]

Ali prattled on, "Israeli soldiers fire into the air whenever a Palestinian gets too close to the border fence." Now that will have been some consolation to the 3 Palestinian famers who got "too close" last month and were shot in the legs. And on, "Meanwhile, critics have accused Hamas of using its television arm to prepare children to be suicide bombers." Critics, eh? Now who could they be?

The prattler then introduced the ABC's Middle East correspondent Matt Brown, who led off with: "Sarah [sic] Barhoum is no ordinary 12-year old. This straight A student is already a television star, hosting her own program on a TV station run by the Islamist militant group Hamas. Every Friday after prayers Sarah [sic] Barhoum presents 'Pioneers of Tomorrow' on Hamas' Al-Azhar TV." Brownie's confused Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV with Egypt's Al-Azhar University, but that's a mere bagatelle.

'Sarah' was quoted saying, "I want to tell the whole world that Palestinian children live with the effects of a siege, killing and destruction." As you would if you lived in the world's largest concentration camp and were old enough to string 2 words together. But Brownie couldn't help himself, cutting in with "Al-Azhar TV's childrens' program comes with a hard propaganda edge." It was a real 'Bah, humbug!' moment. "In this skit," he continued, "Nahoul the Bee is desperately ill and pays the ultimate price for the Israeli blockade and Egypt's decision to cooperate with it. After his death, Nahoul was replaced on the show by his rabbit brother Assud, which means lion. Assud's fate, according to Hamas, will reflect the fate of the Palestinian people." When Assud was asked why he was called Assud, he explained that although a rabbit is a coward, "I, Assud, will get rid of the Jews, Allah willing, and I will eat them up, Allah willing, right?" Jeez, Louise, you're supposed to think. Brownie's right. This bunny's a bloomin' anti-Semitic, jihadist cannibal! No wonder those "critics" are a-tremble. So this is what Hamas are dishing out to the kiddies of Gaza! Or is it?

I hate to be picky, but 'bee' in Arabic is nahla, not nahoul, and 'lion' is asad, not assud. So where is Brownie getting 'nahoul' and 'assud' from? Then there's the bit about getting rid of the Jews. If Israel proclaims itself to be a 'Jewish' state, and its armed forces are raining death and destruction on your people, you're going to want to get rid of... the French? And as for eating them up, what else would you expect a lion to do? Finally, Allah willing (inshaa'allah) just happens to be what most Muslims tack onto the end of just about any sentence, as in, 'I'll see you tomorrow, Allah willing'. It's not peculiar to your spittle-flecked, sabre-wielding, infidel-hating jihadi in full flight. There, Assud doesn't look quite so scary now, does he?*

In terms of where this was all going, the penny finally dropped when an Israeli "critic" from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) was trotted out. The smell of Hamas bees and bunnies was immediately overwhelmed by that of Israeli rat.

Described coyly by Brownie as a "private think tank", MEMRI is a Zionist propaganda arm which parades (on its website) as an "independent, nonpartisan" organization that "explores the Middle East through the regions media." A reference to "the continuing relevance of Zionism to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel" was reportedly deleted some years ago. One critic has dubbed it selective MEMRI.

MEMRI was co-founded by Yigal Carmon, an Israeli intelligence agent and counter-terrorism advisor to former Israeli PMs Shamir and Rabin, and US neocon Meyrav Wurmser. Its modus operandi is to cherrypick the Arab/Iranian media for anything that can be used (or construed) to paint the Arabs (and Iranians of course) in the worst possible light, translate it, and disseminate the product to politicians, academics and journalists such as Matt Brown. You'll find an English translation of the above program, for example, on MEMRI's website, but interestingly, you won't find the original Arabic to enable a cross-check of its accuracy. Nor, tellingly, will you find any nasties from the Hebrew press. Any journalist worth his salt would take MEMRI with, well, a grain of salt. Brownie, however, seems to be on a salt-free diet.

What really caught my attention, though, was the MEMRI "critic" himself, one Menahem Milson, telling us that "[Hamas TV] idolises death and killing and what they call martyrdom." Talk about a blast from the past. This guy has the kind of form that makes all that blather on MEMRI's website about its independence and nonpartisanship positively risible. Back in 1981 Milson had been hand-picked by then defence minister Ariel Sharon to head up a new civilian administration in the occupied Palestinian territories, the centrepiece of which would be a confederation of villages, known as the Village Leagues, which Sharon hoped would dance to Israel's tune as collaborationist 'moderates' in opposition to the 'radicals' of the PLO. Sort of today's Fatah 'moderates' vs Hamas 'extremists'. Milson at the time was a professor of Arabic literature at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Like his master, he was of the view - still heard today on the Israeli right - that Jordan is really Palestine, while the West Bank, rebadged as Judea and Samaria, is an integral part of Eretz Yisrael. All talk of a Palestinian state in the territories was verboten. And while the settler movement took root in the occupied territories, Sharon and Milson diverted international public opinion with talk of autonomy for the Palestinians while suppressing those who advocated Palestinian statehood. As it happens, Milson's Quisling quest fizzled and he was succeeded as civilian administrator in 1982 by Colonel Yigal Carmon, who had no better luck. Yes, that Yigal Carmon - the co-founder of MEMRI. What a coincidence!

Second "critic" off the rack was a Palestinian, Hazem Abu Shanab, from Gaza's Al-Azhar University. Brownie introduced him thus: "Al-Azhar [sic] TV is not only raising the ire of Israelis, but of many Palestinians as well." Two questions here. Is there anything pertaining to Palestinians that doesn't raise the ire of Israelis? And just how many Palestinians is he referring to? Abu Shanab's soundbyte was singularly unenlightening: "He is not a child anymore, he's something different. He's a person with hatred, with different emotions, with a different way of thinking." For starters, who the hell is "he"? Assud, we assume. So is it too much to expect Brownie to have told us that Gaza's Al-Azhar is - ahem - Fateh-aligned?

Sharon's former offsider then chimed in to tell us that Saraa's "program is aiming at very young children with messages that are filled with images and expressions of death, martyrdom, killing... It's the repetition of certain cliches: the filth of the Jews. The Jew is not to be trusted. He is murderous. He is deceptive." OMG! We Israelis fill their lives with death and destruction, and they have the gall to talk about it, and even call us murderers! Some people have no gratitude.

Prattler Moore signed off with the comment, "Extraordinary program." And she's right. Extraordinary for its failure to provide any kind of historical context (the majority of Gazans were ethnically cleansed from what is today called Israel by Zionist forces in 1948 and have been denied the elementary right of return, accorded all refugees by international law, for over 60 years), its sloppiness (Al-Azhar/Al-Aqsa, etc), and its provision of a platform for Israeli propagandists to malign and misrepresent their brutalised victims without let or hindrance. In sum, Kids TV causes a stir in Israel came with a hard propaganda edge.

[*To see just how far this kind of thing can be sexed-up, you might like to check out the UK's Daily Mail. Here's the DM header: Hamas launches TV Bugs Bunny-lookalike who declares 'I will eat the Jews' (12/2/08). Saraa Barhoum is described as a "sweet looking girl in a headscarf" and "winsome Saraa". She is said to have hailed Nahoul as a "martyr" - "in the style of Hamas suicide bombers who are promised they will marry 72 virgins in paradise". In the MEMRI transcript, Saraa agrees with Assud that "We are all ready to sacrifice souls and everything we own for our homeland," but there is no talk of suicide bombing or 72 virgins. Assud, dubbed "the Bomber Bunny," is described as "swearing to devour the Jews with his bare rabbit teeth," but the fact that he's playing the lion is omitted. The program is alleged to have "ended with the catchy song: 'We will never recognize Israel'", but there is no mention of this in MEMRI's transcript. Saraa and Assud are alleged to have "urged their young audience to liberate Tel Aviv," and to "liberate our homeland from the Zionist filth." The MEMRI transcript, however, mentions only liberating Al-Aqsa mosque "from the filth of those Zionists." Assud's return to Palestine with the "Key of Return" to "liberate our Al-Aqsa Mosque," present in MEMRI's translation, is absent from the DM story. Finally, there's a huge difference between the DM's "Zionist filth" and MEMRI's "the filth of those Zionists." Not to mention the difference between that and the probably more accurate translation, 'the defilement of those Zionists'. The DM, incidentally, supported both Mussolini and Hitler right until the outbreak of war in 1939.]

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bulls in Rut

"The generals were in their 40s, family men, but they clung to the Israeli culture of youth; they were like adolescent boys or bulls in rut. They believed in force and they wanted war. War was their destiny. Almost 20 years had passed since the army had won glory in the War of Independence, and 10 years since the victory in the Sinai. They had a limited range of vision and they believed war was what Israel needed at that moment, not necessarily because they felt the country's existence was in danger, as they wailed in an almost 'Diaspora' tone, but because they believed it was an opportunity to break the Egyptian army." (1967, Tom Segev, p 296)

"Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." (Moshe Dayan)

Israel never, repeat never, starts wars. It is the most peace-loving country on the planet. Its bulging arsenal is basically for show, wheeled out only when the Arabs force their hand. Which they're always doing, of course. It's always warmongering Arabs, never peaceloving Israelis, who start wars. Those who read Murdoch fishwrapper, such as The Australian, know this. This is because the hordes of Zionist propagandists that pullulate on its pages have said it, over and over again, of every Israeli blitzkreig from 1948 to 2006. And they're still at it. Here's their Middle East correspondent Martin Chulov (No price too high for Israel to bring home its soldiers, 19/7/08) laying it on with the proverbial trowel over who was responsible for the 33-Day War against Lebanon in 2006:-

"Kuntar... has been recast as a resistance hero; a man in whose name Hezbollah was prepared to go to war... "

"Those who embraced Kuntar... would find it difficult to criticise the decision to force war on Lebanon... "

"Even before the war he sparked with Israel in 2006, Nasrallah... "

Let's see if this particular talking point agrees with the latest (2008) account of the war by Israeli journalists (Haaretz) Amos Harel and Ami Issacharoff - 34 Days: Israel, Hezbollah & the War in Lebanon? The excerpts below come from Chapter 5 - Going to War.

"At 10:15 AM on Wednesday, July 12, 2006, Hezbollah television station Al-Manar reported a successful 'kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers... We've kept our promise to free our prisoners'. In interviews on Arab satellite TV stations, Hezbollah spokesmen stated that the organization did its natural duty to free Lebanese prisoners and was interested in completing a new comprehensive prisoner exchange... At 12:50 that afternoon [Israeli PM Ehud] Olmert held a joint press conference with his [visiting] Japanese guest [PM Koizumi]. Koizumi asked that Israel respond with restraint to Hezbollah's latest provocation and weigh the consequences. Olmert, however, took an entirely different approach: 'The events of this morning cannot be considered a terrorist strike; they are the acts of a sovereign state that has attacked Israel without cause. The Lebanese government, which Hezbollah is part of, is trying to upset regional stability... We will not give in to blackmail or negotiate with terrorists on any aspect of the lives of IDF soldiers'. Olmert also stated... the Israeli response would be 'thundering'.

"[He] wanted to move quickly, on the assumption that the Hezbollah attack offered him a 'window of opportunity' to receive international support for a tough Israeli response. When Sharon was prime minister, senior IDF officers on more than one occasion tried to curb his anger and postpone impulsive decisions. This time, however, the chief of staff was no less bullish than the prime minister. Olmert's advisors claim that no one broached the question of whether to respond. 'It was clear to all of us that we had to respond', they say. The nature of the response was rooted in the decisions that had been made in March 2006, when a basket of targets had been approved. In previous discussions, all the security agencies had recommended a major military operation in the event of another kidnapping attempt..'."

"As at the government meeting... several of the senior [security] officers [at a meeting with defence minister Amir Peretz] seemed to be competing to see who could come up with the most far-reaching proposals and gutsy declarations, while the chief of staff orchestrated the proceedings. Dan Halutz insisted that the incident had to be seen 'as a watershed in the Israeli-Lebanese dialogue' and that targets linked to the Lebanese government had to be hit hard... 'They are to blame', he asserted... At the end of the meeting... IDF spokeswoman Brigadier General Miri Regev briefed reporters that the chief of staff had stated that Israel 'had to put Lebanon back 20 years'... Halutz came up with the idea of attacking the civilian infrastructure in Lebanon as Israel's main response to the kidnapping... 'We have to put out all the lights in Lebanon. We can shut off their electricity for a year, damage at a cost of billions'...

"At 5:00 pm, [Hezbollah leader] Nasrallah held a press conference... 'The only way of returning [the 2 Israeli soldiers] is through indirect negotiations for a prisoner exchange', he said, adding that the operation had been 5 months in the planning. 'We surprised no one. We've been saying for a year that we'd kidnap Israeli soldiers... in order to bring about the release of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners... The prisoners will be returned and we are prepared for a period of quiet, but we are also ready for confrontation. If [you] want confrontation, get ready for some surprises', he threatened.

"In hindsight, Nasrallah's goading words sound like a warning that Israel's leaders should have paid closer attention to. But they also illustrate a missed opportunity on the part of Hezbollah's leadership. Ironically, the person who boasted that he knew how to read the Israelis like the palm of his hand did not dream that their response to the kidnapping would be so devastating. According to Professor Eyal Susser of Tel Aviv University, Nasrallah saw the abduction as a logical move. 'He gambled. Israel was the side that changed the game rules. Nasrallah would have been happy to relinquish the pleasure, but he went to war with his head held high'.

"A Western diplomat posted to Beirut in this period claims that Nasrallah did not forsee war. 'Not even in his worst nightmare. Hezbollah's leaders envisioned a medium-intensity confrontation: heavy shelling for a week immediately followed by negotiations. They believed that the abduction would strengthen their position in Lebanon's political arena... Another Western diplomat holds that Nasrallah's mistake was understandable: 'I know of no state other than Israel that would go to war because of 2 kidnapped soldiers'." (pp 75-84)

Clearly, starting wars is Israel's prerogative.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The 'Motiveless Malignancy' of Samir Quntar

The corporate media, especially the Murdoch branch, thrives on colonial delusions. Take the recent Israeli-Hezbollah prisoner swap. The overwhelmingly pro-Israel reportage and opinion focused almost exclusively on the figure of the demonic native Samir Quntar.

To adapt Frantz Fanon, Quntar is "insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality; he is the depository of malificent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces":

"Kuntar was a member of the Palestinian Liberation Front squad that infiltrated northern Israel by sea on April 22, 1979. In the middle of the night they broke into a residential building, taking Danny Haran and his 4-year old daughter Einat hostage as the rest of the family hid. When they arrived at the seashore, Kuntar made little Einat watch as he shot her father at close range, then murdered her by smashing her head against a rock with his rifle butt. Meanwhile, Haran's wife Smadar, who had hidden in a closet with their 2-year old toddler Yael, accidentally suffocated the child while trying to stifle her cries and preventing Kuntar from finding them. Kuntar bears responsibility for this death as well. This is the child-killer that Hezbollah is greeting with cheers and parades. This is the brutal murderer whose release will be called a victory by extremists throughout the region." (Prisoner deal that had to be made, Dor Shapira, The Australian, 17/7/08)

"Samir Kuntar was sentenced to 3 life terms for killing an Israeli man in front of his 4-year old daughter, then killing the little girl by smashing her skull with his rifle butt." (Editorial, The Australian, 18/7/08)

"Kuntar shot an Israeli man in front of his 4-year old daughter, then killed the little girl by smashing her head with his rifle butt. Kuntar is the kind of disturbed individual who gravitates to violent extremist groups." (Editorial, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/7/08)

"... Samir Kuntar the face of Israeli nightmares for almost 30 years. Kuntar was the type of figure mothers across the country - but especially in the north - had warned their children about. In 1979, he had set out in a boat from Lebanon and rowed ashore in Nahariya, 15 km south of the border, with a gang of Palestinians who had aimed to kidnap, or kill, the first Jews they found. Kuntar was convicted of killing first a policeman, then a father and his 4-year old daughter. The slain man's 2nd daughter, aged 2, was inadvertently smothered by her mother minutes later as the terrified pair hid in an attic... Kuntar, by any measure a child-killer..." (No price too high for Israel to bring home its soldiers, Martin Chulov, The Australian, 19/7/08)

What a beast! - if you automatically believe the Israelis, that is. And believing the Israelis is the way of the corporate media in this country. (The SMH may mock the "monochromatic opinion pages" [Editorial, 19/7/07] of The Australian, but when it comes to their own editorials on the Middle East conflict, they could just as easily have been written by The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan: "Israel's armed forces are its pride, the guarantor of the nation's existence and the symbol of a people's determination never again to be herded to their doom by oppressors." (Snipping at Samson, 18/7/08)

The only deviation from the official story I could find was this from the SMH, lifted from The New York Times: "At his 1980 trial Kuntar said Haran had been killed by Israeli soldiers' bullets, according to the court transcripts published this week by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. He testified he had been injured, had passed out and not seen what happened to the child. Witnesses contradict his story." (Many set to welcome 'reviled' prisoner, 17/7/08)

Yediot Aharonat's account (The Kuntar File, Exposed by Nir Gontarz, 14/7/08) seems to have the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs' seal of approval, appearing on its website ( Classified for almost 30 years, says Yediot Aharonat, it was authorized for publication on 13/7/08 at the newspaper's request.

Yediot Aharonot reports that Quntar initially "confessed that he had bludgeoned Einat to death with the butt of his rifle. Later, however, when testifying in court, Kuntar denied the charges... 'I was hit by 5 bullets. Then Haran got to his feet and signaled to the army forces with his hand to stop them from firing. He was hit by the bullets being shot at him by the soldiers... I lost a lot of blood and passed out. I didn't know what else was happening with me until I woke up in the morning and found myself in the military's hands. I didn't hurt the girl at all and I didn't see how she met her death'. However, in court, prosecution witness no. 4 testified that he saw Danny Haran stand up and shout, 'Cease your fire, don't shoot. My little girl is here'. Immediately thereafter he saw Danny shot by Kuntar. Testimony was also given in court by a doctor who ruled that Einat's death had been caused by a direct blow with a blunt instrument, something like a stick or a rifle butt... 'Kuntar went over to Einat Haran and hit her head twice with the butt of his rifle, with the intent of killing her', wrote the judges in their verdict... As a result of the blows, Einat suffered skull fractures and fatal brain damage causing her death. They murdered the hostages - a helpless father and daughter, in cold blood'. They wrote in the sentence, 'By these acts the defendants reached an all-time moral low... an unparalleled satanic act... the punishments we are about to impose on the defendants cannot begin to match the brutality of their actions... "

End of story? Not quite. Before you abandon your critical faculties entirely, consider the following data about what happens to Palestinians when they enter the Kafkaesque world of Israeli 'justice':-

"His name is Muhammad Ali Khalil Hasan... There are 2 charge-sheets against him, one at Nablus and the other at Lydda. But the prosecutor comforted me: 'If he gets a life term in Lydda, that'll be enough for us and we won't put him on trial at Nablus...'

"He is an educated man. The first time he had been arrested was 2 years before. At that time he was badly beaten, so much so that he could hardly move, but he was later released for lack of proof. The second time he was arrested was on 22 July 1971, charged with being the leader of a large Fatah group... His mother was arrested with him. He told me later that his interrogators started beating him in her presence, and told her that if she didn't say everything she knew about her son, they would go on beating him. His poor mother, who really did not know anything, denied any knowledge about her son. She was arrested, held at the Nablus prison, and received a very light sentence at the trial because of her age. She asked me to help her son. I explained to her that it was an almost hopeless case. She understood.

"Muhammad talked about his family and about himself: he was a teacher and the director of an UNRWA school in Nablus. He had brothers in various Arab countries, who in spite of being refugees like him, had acquired academic education. One of his brothers had come to Nablus after the [1967] war and had been killed in the street by Israeli soldiers; this had left a deep impression in Muhammad: 'He was a civilian. He had come to his home and family. Why did they kill him?'

"To his judges in Lydda he said: 'It was not I who came to you in Tel-Aviv, but you who came to me in Nablus. So who should be trying whom?' He was transferred to the Ramleh prison. All those who act proudly during their trial pay the price for it. Whoever dares to express his credo during trial, talking of his homeland, of the Palestinians, of the revolution, gets his due in prison when the sentence is pronounced.

"When I visited him at the Ramleh prison, he told me that he had been put in solitary confinement for 31 days, and for many months his mother had not been allowed to visit him. It is hard for the patriot to learn 'good manners'." (With My Own Eyes: Israel & the Occupied Territories 1967-1973, Felicia Langer, 1975, p 93)

"The Landau Commission [1987] report [into the General Security Services] confirmed what had long been alleged by Palestinian detainees, their Palestinian and Israeli lawyers, and local human rights organizations: that GSS agents had used violent interrogation methods routinely on Palestinian detainees since at least 1971 and that they had routinely lied about such practices when confessions were challenged in court on the grounds that they had been coerced." (Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank & Gaza, Lisa Hajjar, 2005, p 70)

"It is clear that this is not a natural and ordinary court system, but some solution that the military administration found for the purpose of enforcing the occupation regime. The job that is done there is not purely jurisdictional. In fact, the situation in the military court in Gaza does not look like something of this world. Hundreds of families are outside, dozens of prisoners are inside, most very young. The impression is that they have lost faith in the system and do not even try to defend themselves. They confess to everything. The defense counsels, who are in many cases pathetic characters, also accept the situation and act, in fact, as mediators for the purpose of punishment. I found there a total symbiosis between the prosecution, the judges and the lawyers, while the accused are at the side. And everything is taking place in stoic agreement." (Israeli Judge Aryeh Cox, quoted in Courting Conflict, p 102)

"Another advantage prosecutors enjoy is the tendency of judges to favour the testimony of their witnesses over those of the defense... [A] Gazan lawyer told of a soldier who testified in a case against one of his clients, saying he had witnessed the man throwing stones at 9:15 am in Jabalya refugee camp. The client was found guilty. Several days later, the same soldier testified against another client, reporting that he had seen the man throwing stones at 9.30 am (on the same day as the earlier case) in Rafah refugee camp. The lawyer questioned the soldier about how long it would take to get from Jabalya to Rafah, to which the soldier responded that the trip would take about 45'... The lawyer then asked the judge to dismiss this case because the soldier could not possibly have been in both places as he had testified. Rather than acknowledging that the soldier was perjuring himself in at least one of the cases, the judge ordered that the lawyer be thrown out of court because his line of questioning had insulted the soldier." (ibid pp 112-113)

"Israel's military court system for Palestinian suspects in the West Bank produces almost automatic convictions, an Israeli human rights group charged Sunday. The group, Yesh Din, said in a new report that in 2006 more than 99.7% of those accused were convicted, 95% in plea bargains." (Report: Israeli military courts automatically convict Palestinians, Haaretz, 6/1/08)

Whatever the truth in this matter, there was no avoiding the media's exclusive focus on Israeli suffering. The only deaths that matter are Israeli deaths. Quntar, it seems, was just one more monster from the Dark Side, aka Lebanon, where death is a way of life. His sole purpose was to afflict Jews (or, in the words of the Herald editorialist, an "oppressor" bent on herding Jews to their "doom"). The one reference in all the coverage I could find which might suggest that another side to the story were these 2 sentences in the Herald: "In 1978 Kuntar went to the Israel-Lebanon border after Israel invaded southern Lebanon. His stepmother and brother said he returned deeply affected by the deaths he witnessed." (Many set to welcome 'reviled' prisoner, 17/7/08) What was it that so affected Quntar? Consider the following testimonies:-

"It may be pertinent... to mention that provocative as the Palestinians had often been on the Lebanese border, it was Israel that had, as it were, called the shots there since the border became a 'hot' one in 1968. According to the tally of the Lebanese army (before its disintegration in 1976), Israeli violations of Lebanese territory in the period 1968-1974 occurred at the rate of 1.4 violations per day. This increased to 7 violations per day during 1974-75. In the 8 months' period between 1 January 1975 and 21 August 1975 (when the Lebanese army's tally ended), the following Israeli violations were recorded: air space 1,101; territorial waters 215; artillery shellings 2,180; machine-gun firing 303; air and naval raids 40; temporary installation inside Lebanese territory 193; road building 3; land incursions 151. This averages out to 17 violations per day." (Conflict & Violence in Lebanon: Confrontation in the Middle East, Walid Khalidi, 1979, p 124)

"London Guardian correspondent Irene Beeson reports that '150 or more towns and villages in South Lebanon... have been repeatedly savaged by the Israeli armed forces since 1968'. She describes the history of the village of Khiyam, bombed from 1968. By the time Israel invaded 10 years later, only 32 of its 30,000 inhabitants remained. 'They were massacred in cold blood' by the Haddad forces that Israel had established in the south... By October 1977 it was estimated that the total number of refugees from the south (mostly impoverished Shiite Lebanese Muslims) had reached 300,000." (The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians, Noam Chomsky, 1983, p 191)

"Thousands of people are now on the move northwards to Beirut... displaced by what is simply a campaign of military terror conducted against them by the Israeli army, navy and airforce and its Lebanese Christian allies. People are being bombed, rocketed, shelled and shot all over South Lebanon but their sufferings have been almost entirely ignored... The Israelis in fact seem to have the same attitude towards the Arabs of South Lebanon as Hopalong Cassidy did towards Indians - namely that the only good ones are dead ones. Over the years I have seen dozens of dead women and children killed by Israeli attacks in the south - and very few corpses of young men, let alone young men in the green fatigues that Palestinian militia groups now almost always wear." (Where bombs still fall, Christopher Bourne, New Statesman, 3/8/79)

As Ben Hecht once said, "Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock." But just when you think it couldn't get worse, you get the letter writers from Planet Zion:-

Notwithstanding 197 nameless (as far as the corporate press is concerned) Arab bodies, Howard Hilton of Alexandria, NSW had this to say: "Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah was the condition of the prisoners. The Palestinian prisoners were all alive and healthy, the 2 Israelis were dead. No matter one's view of this conflict, the choice of one's captors would be a no-brainer." (The Australian, 19/7/08)

Under the Orwellian heading "The truth about Kuntar", Dov Midalia of Bondi Junction, NSW thought he'd outdo The Australian in grand guignol: "After finding his way into a sleepy Israeli town, Kuntar killed the policeman, broke into an apartment and took the man and his daughter at gunpoint to a beach. Here, in full view of eyewitnesses, he shot and then drowned the man in front of his little girl, and then picked her up, swung her head against the rocks and smashed her skull in with his rifle-butt." (The Australian, 21/7/08) Apparently the witnesses were so transfixed by Quntar's murderous acrobatics they forgot to shoot.

Of course, while we're in the late 70s, I guess no one out there in mass media land would be interested in the 'motiveless malignancy' of Israeli Lieutenant P, would they? Lt P? Well, he and his mates in the Israeli army invaded south Lebanon in 1978, with the results you see above. He and two corporals, feeling a tad bored, "decided to go on a man-hunting (accepted Israeli army jargon) expedition and brought back 4 villagers including a youth of 16. The 4 were put in separate rooms and their hands and feet were bound with nylon cords. Lieutenant P then tortured them before strangling them with the cord, and the bodies were disposed of in a nearby well." (Furore in Israel over army murders, The Middle East, September 1979)

Initially sentenced to 8 years in the clink, Lt P had his sentence reduced by Israeli Chief of Staff General Raphael Eitan to 2 years.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Conscripting Gandhi

In his propaganda piece, Not the Gandhi of South Africa (The Australian - where else? - 11/7/08), Israel apologist Alan Gold (described as an "author" and "delegate to the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa") takes the sjambok to Nelson Mandela.

"I received an email from a SA friend," he tells us, "who has long been mystified by the international reverence of Mandela." Gold is equally mystified, considering that Mandela "was one of the leaders of the African National Congress, who created an armed wing called the Umkhonto we Sizwe or Spear of the Nation, which was dedicated to bombing civilian, industrial, military and government targets. South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has accused it of torture and executions without due process. And far from being a prisoner of conscience... Mandela was jailed for advocating the violent overthrow of the government." He also, according to Gold, "refused to publicly denounce terrorism as a weapon." In brief, concludes Gold, Mandela is not the Gandhi of South Africa - who "showed the world that non-violent non-co-operation is a far deadlier weapon than bombs and bullets."

Put to one side Gold's failure to place Mandela's 'terrorism' in the context of the greater terrorism of the white supremacist regime. Put to one side the spectacle of an advocate for the state of Israel, a state which has been raining "bombs and bullets" on the indigenous people of Palestine since its inception, which was apartheid South Africa's staunchest friend and ally, and which is, in fact, today's sole remaining apartheid state (See my 14/6/08 post, A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group), condemning the champion of a people who suffered and died under another rain of "bombs and bullets," many of them from Israeli arsenals. The double standard is standard for Zionist propagandists. It's the chutzpah of conscripting Gandhi, of all people, in the service of his 'cause' that interests me.

What did the Mahatma think of the project to turn Arab Palestine into a Jewish state? The following is taken from G H Jansen's Zionism, Israel & Asian Nationalism, pp 169- 173:-
"... the Zionists tried and failed to gain the friendship of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India... The Zionists did not pursue Gandhi merely because he was an influence in Asia, rather because he had a large following in the West... He was, after all considered a saint by many, and his endorsement of Zionism would have given the movement a certain moral and ethical weight. But no such endorsement, or even an expression of sympathy with Zionist aims, was forthcoming from him. Gandhi totally rejected the idea of Zionism which produced the state of Israel. His opposition remained consistent over a period of nearly 20 years and remained firm despite the skilful and varied application to him of that combination of pressure and persuasion known as lobbying.

"The Mahatma's wholly negative reaction to Zionism may surprise some people who would assume that the man who strove to win equality for India's outcasts would, out of compassion, be moved into a position of sympathy for the Jews, the outcasts of European Gentile society, and consequently of support for the Jewish State. This did not happen for 2 reasons.

"First, Gandhi believed in seeing all sides of a question; it followed that the Mahatma would reject the idea of establishing the Jewish State in Arab Palestine without consideration for the native inhabitants, even though the Jews in Europe were being persecuted.

"Secondly, the Zionists who approached Gandhi did not succeed in linking in the mind of the Mahatma the fate of European Jewry with the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. His assessment of the problem of anti-Semitism and Jewish survival in Europe was based on his own experience with non-violence, first in South Africa, then in India, and on his belief in a multi-religious society...

"In [an] article [in his magazine Harijan on November 26, 1938], Gandhi wrote that his sympathies were all with the Jews, whom he had known intimately in South Africa and some of whom had become life-long companions... But this sympathy should not obscure the requirements of justice. Gandhi thought that the Jews, like other peoples of the earth, should insist upon making their home in their country of birth, instead of demanding a country belonging to other people. 'Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French...'

"Gandhi admitted that the German persecution of the Jews had no parallel in history... But [he] prescribed an alternative to violence against the Nazis: defiant, non-violent resistance on the part of the German Jews. 'If I were a Jew and were born in Germany, and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest Gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon. I would refuse to be expelled or submit to discriminating treatment'...

"The Mahatma's post-war attitude was summed up in a conversation he had with Louis Fischer, in which the Mahatma stated that the Jews of Germany had made the mistake of submitting passively to Hitler... the Jews should not have offered themselves to the butcher's knife; 'they should have thrown themselves into the sea' and committed harikiri rather than submit. When Fischer asked if Gandhi meant that the Jews should have committed collective suicide, Gandhi replied: 'That would've been heroism. It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to the evils of Hitler's violence, especially in 1938, before the war. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions'.

"Lest it be thought too harsh a judgement it should be noted that when, concurrently with the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Israeli Government arranged educational displays on 'the holocaust' in Israeli schools, the younger generation of Israelis was neither moved nor impressed but merely enquired, with shame and indignation, why the German Jews had not fought back."

Enlist Now!

"I found Private First Class Hayes with a woman under an empty carport. He pointed his M-16 at her head, but she would not stop screaming.

'What are you doing this for?' she said.

Hayes told her to shut up.

'We've done nothing to you,' she went on.

Hayes was starting to lose it, and we weren't even supposed to be talking to this woman. I told her that we were there on orders and that we couldn't speak to her, but on and on and on she bawled at Hayes and me.

'You Americans are disgusting! Who do you think you are, to do this to us?'

Hayes slammed her in the face with the stock of his M-16. She fell face down into the dirt, bleeding and silent. The woman lay still on the ground.

I pushed Hayes away. 'What are you doing, man?' I said to him. 'You've a wife and 2 kids! Don't be hitting her like that.'

He looked at me with eyes full of hatred, as if he was ready to kill me for saying what I did, but he didn't touch her again.

Then something happened that haunts my dreams to this day.

All the women were led back inside the house, and our entire platoon was ordered to stand guard outside. Four US military men who outranked us went inside with the women. They closed the doors. We couldn't see anything through the windows.

I don't know who the military men were, or what unit they were from, but I can only conclude that they outranked us and were at least at the level of a first lieutenant or above. That's because our own Second Lieutenant Joyce was there, and his presence did not deter them...

Normally when we conducted a raid we were in and out in 30' minutes or less. You never wanted to stay in one place for too long, for fear of exposing yourself to mortar attacks. But our platoon was made to stand guard outside that house for about an hour. The women started shouting and screaming. The men stayed in there with them, behind closed doors. It went on and on and on.

Finally, the men came out and told us to get the hell out of there.

It struck me then that we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists.

We were terrorising Iraqis. Intimidating them. Beating them. Destroying their homes. Probably raping them. The ones we didn't kill had all the reasons in the world to become terrorists. Given what we were doing to them, who could blame them for wanting to kill us, and all Americans? This sick realisation lodged like cancer in my gut. It grew, and festered, and troubled me more with every passing day. We, the Americans, had become the terrorists in Iraq." (Joshua Key, The Deserter's Tale: Why I Walked Away from the War in Iraq, pp 133-134)

Read this: "Australians have a 'quite robust' tolerance for battlefield casualties in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said yesterday as the body of our latest casualty was flown out of the war zone for home." (Aussies 'accept' Afghan casualties, The Australian, 14/7/08)

And this: "Mr Fitzgibbon said he was trying to persuade his own daughter, in her first year of nursing at the University of Newcastle, to join up. 'If she joined the ADF she'd be remunerated and she'd have her HECS fees paid for her', he said. 'She would have a return of service obligation for 4 years after she completed her studies, and I'd be more than delighted for her to do so'." (Students to get taste of life in the military, The Australian, 14/7/08)

What a leader! What a dad! I'm lost for words.

If Ms Fitzgibbon does join up, this will surely inspire a stampede of politicians' offspring to step up to the plate, if I can use an Americanism Fitz must be hearing a lot while "in the US for meetings with defence suppliers, senior officials of the Bush administration and members of Congress..." (Aussies 'accept'... 14/7/08)

Oh, and Fitz's parliamentary secretary for defence, Mike Kelly, Member for Eden-Monaro, has been over in Israel paying his respects to his cousin-in-law, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert: "'We've talked about the future of settlements as security mechanisms and things like that', Mr Kelly said." (Friendly family feud with cousin Ehud, The Australian, 24/6/08) Settlements as "security mechanisms"? If anyone can enlighten me as to the meaning of this, I'd be most grateful. "... and things like that"? Tell me more.

You've got to feel sorry for Kelly Jr, though. Is it the A'D'F or the I'D'F? Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'On whose back are we fighting terror?'

"Another Zakat [alms to the poor] official in Bethlehem, who wouldn't give his name for security reasons, urged Muslims to bypass government control mechanisms and help the Palestinians face 'this criminal and cruel seige by the enemies of Islam. Please, send your charity money and donations to your brothers and sisters in Palestine. Don't wait for your governments' approval because your governments are likely to be mere puppets of the United States and Israel. We must never reach a situation where we need permission from the Americans to practice our religion. If helping a starving child in Rafah or Nablus is terror, then let all of us be terrorists." (Bleak Ramadan in Palestine, Khalid Amayreh, Live from Palestine, 7/10/06)

"Maria Aman, a 6 year-old Palestinian child, paralyzed from the neck down during an Israeli strike in Gaza in 2006, is now in a battle with the Israeli authorities who are trying to avoid providing her with rehabilitation and treatment in Israel by moving her to Abu Raya Rehabilitation Center in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The... child does not know her condition is permanent. Her father cannot find the words to tell her that this is her condition from now until the end of her life. Maria can only move around with a wheelchair which she controls by a joystick guided by her chin. Her doctors in Israel said that she will face life-threatening conditions if she is moved to the Rehabilitation Center in Ramallah. Yet, the so-called Israeli Defence Ministry is working hard to... transfer her to Ramallah." (Israel attempting to nix its responsibility for treating a child its army paralyzed in 2006, International Middle East Media Center, 8/7/08)

"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." (Mark Leibler)

"For Israel, the costs of endless war are high." (From a typically clueless SMH editorial, 23/6/08)

While 80% of Israeli-blockaded Gazan and 49% of Israeli-occupied West Bank families now live below the poverty line, according to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, a Sydney charity, Muslim Aid Australia (MAA), which distributes aid to such families, is now under investigation by charity sector regulator The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and the NSW Government's Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing. Yes, and the Department of Foreign Affairs is reportedly* considering whether to refer MAA to the Australian Federal Police, the folks who gave us L'Affaire Haneef.

[*In his third and latest report on the MAA (AFP probes Sydney charity's 'terror' link, 8/7/08), The Australian's dog whistling Richard Kerbaj, who broke the story on 2/7/08, doesn't seem too sure, beginning with the full throttle "The Australian Federal Police is investigating a Sydney charity..," then dropping back to "The AFP is understood to have stepped in..," before coming to a grinding halt with "The AFP yesterday refused to confirm or deny that it was investigating MAA."]

Heaven forbid that in order to get food and medicines to the malnourished & maimed of Gaza through an Israeli blockade one might have to cooperate with UN agencies and other NGOs, or even with the democratically elected Hamas government of occupied Palestine!

MAA's alleged crime is to have distributed aid to Gaza through UK charity Interpal (Palestinian Relief & Development Fund), an alleged Hamas front. According to Kerbaj, Interpal was "proscribed by former foreign minister Alexander Downer [See my last post on this Nasty], some 3 months after it was "declared a 'specially designated global terrorist' by US President George W Bush in 2003." (Charity used 'terror' group to distribute aid in Gaza, 2/7/08) Being proscribed by Bummer of Baghdad (who could not be swayed by the fact that Interpal had twice been investigated and cleared of "terror links" by the British Charity Commission) means that "it is a criminal offence* under the Charter of the United Nations Act for Australian individuals or organisations to deal with groups identified by DFAT's Consolidated List, which names banned groups and people."

[*10 years in prison & fines of $275,000 for individuals/$11 million for organizations]

Another wonderful legacy of Bummer and the Howard years. Thank God Dicky Kerbaj and The Australian are there to uphold it in the Krudd interregnum.

Would it come as any surprise to know that Interpal is just one of 36 NGOs outlawed by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, allegedly for raising money for Hamas? To know that West Bank shopping malls, schools, medical centres, charities, orphanages and soup kitchens are being raided and closed by the Israeli military as 'Hamas infrastructure'? As Haaretz's Gideon Levy writes: "Residents of the West Bank cannot be simultaneously imprisoned, prohibited from earning a living and offered no social welfare assistance while we strike at those who are trying to do so, whatever their motives. If Israel wants to fight the charitable associations, it must at least offer alternative services. On whose back are we fighting terror? Widows? Orphans? It's shameful." (Israel targets Hamas orphanages, Peter Hirschberg, IPS, 15/7/08)

Is Dicky flying a kite here? Have the Israelis and their conduits down under been putting the hard word on the Australian government to fall in line with this latest Israeli turn of the screw on Palestine's Wretched of the Earth? And if MAA is banned, who's next?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bummer of Baghdad

The Awfulisers

Every night and every day
The awfulisers work away
Awfulising public places,
Favorite things & little graces
Awfulising lovely treasures
Common joys & simple pleasures.
Awfulising far & near
The parts of life we held so dear.
Democratic, clean & lawful
Awful, awful, awful, awful.

Michael Leunig

The unmitigated awfulness of the Howard years (1996-2007) should never be forgotten:-

"Then there is Iraq. Australia's involvement may have divided the nation, but [former foreign minister Alexander] Downer is unrepentant that it was and remains the right move. Downer's passion for foreign affairs is far from over. He is about to become the fix-it man in the Mediterranean. The official title is the Secretary-General of the UN Special Envoy for Cyprus. Not a bad gig for a man who had his fair share of disagreements with the UN." Janet Albrechtsen*, Warrior Statesman, The Australian, 1/7/08

"Several years ago, with controversy over the invasion of Iraq swirling, Alexander Downer saw a chance to score a point against one of the most credible critics of the government's policy. The then foreign minister was at Melbourne Airport walking towards the gate to catch his flight when he saw walking adead of him, Dick Woolcott. Woolcott was a career diplomat, former secretary of the department of foreign affairs and trade. Although he had retired by the time the Howard government took power, the new government had asked him to perform some delicate diplomatic missions... But the invasion of Iraq changed all that. Woolcott emerged as a critic. Now seizing the moment in Melbourne Airport, did the foreign minister confront Woolcott? Did he argue the merits of the policy? Did he try to change his mind? Or did he tell him what he thought of him? None of these. Yelling above the heads of the other travellers, Downer called out to the back of Woolcott's head, 'Loser!' he told me later. 'Then I ducked down quickly in case he turned around and saw me'. In recounting the story, Downer seemed to think it a very funny thing to do. This was the man who, for nearly a dozen years, represented Australia in the high councils of the world. As this anecdote reveals, Downer can be petty and puerile. He plays a mean-spirited, personal, scratchy game of partisan politics. He can be breathtakingly immature." Peter Hartcher, Vale, Alexander the not-so-great, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/7/08

"Australia must set an example in the West by its continued refusal to appease Israel's enemies, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told a Jewish audience in Melbourne last week... 'We are always being told the best thing for diplomacy is to... abstain... And I say, 'Let's vote against it because it is wrong. The more we and other countries stand up to this sort of behaviour, the more we stand a chance of success; the more we try to appease, the more [anti-Israel resolutions] we will encourage'." (Downer: appeasement fuels anti-Israel fire, The Australian Jewish News, 17/11/06)


PS: I'm always fascinated to know what our movers & shakers in politics & the media know, I mean really know, about their subject. In Downer's case, of course, that's international affairs. Listen, for example, to The Australian's Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan* on Downer's reading matter: "Downer is a pretty avid reader of classic literature, history and biography. The book he has most recently read is 'The Return of History & the End of Dreams' by American foreign policy neo-conservative Robert Kagan. He has just started a book on the Sandakan death march... He is a good friend of British historian Andrew Roberts." (Regrets at giant's passing, 5/7/08) Says it all.

And from where does this "giant" derive his views on the rightness of Israel and all her works? Wide reading? Thorough research? No, Judy's cousin, of course. Y'all know Judy, donya? No? Allow the AJN to explain: "Foreign Minister Alexander Downer waxed personal and nostalgic in his admirably pro-Jewish speech at the dedication of the Ohel Devorah synagogue in Melbourne this week. 'I'm not Jewish, as you probably know; I'm a Christian', he started out, recounting the many Jewish friends he had met while at university in England, especially his roomie, Judy, with whom - he made clear - he had a 'platonic relationship'. Downer recounted a visit from Judy's Israeli cousin who stayed with them during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, whose 'agony', he said, 'had an enormous impact on me'." (Downer's Judy, 17/11/06)

* Warrior Statesman, Giant: By their journalists ye shall know them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Theodor Herzl, the First Photoshopper

It seems that the Iranians, in addition to test-firing missiles, have been doctoring photographs of them, such that 3 in-flight missiles have become 4. Hm, an existential threat to Israel that requires photoshopping? Scary! The establishment media didn't twig to the digital mischief and splashed the altered image (direct from Sepah News, the media arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard) on a range of front pages and websites.

Predictably, the unmasking has unleashed howls of righteousness and rage from the denizens of that world apart, the right-wing blogosphere. Among the 600+ posts that have gone up at were gems such as these:-

"This isn't the first time that Iranian news agencies have faked and photoshopped images as part of their propaganda campaign. This is, of course, what non-democratic states do to puff themselves up, so we shouldn't be surprised," said one. "Many Arab and Islamist [sic] countries or entities, notably Iran and the Palestinians CONSTANTLY spew propaganda at us that is regurgitated entire by our own media," said another. "This gives Israel more justification for a strategic airstrike on Iranian targets. Believe me, they will clean up this mess for the US. When you are surrounded on all sides by people wishing for your extermination, you don't worry about red tape and world opinion," spewed a third, under the nom de plume Achilles. Is that you, Joshua?

What, I wonder, would this lot have said if they'd known that the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, was also the father of photoshopping in the Middle East conflict?

In 1898, Herzl was seeking the patronage of the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, for his project of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Promised that he would be received by the Kaiser during the latter's visit to Turkey and Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire, Herzl and a few companions set sail, first for Turkey, then Palestine. Herzl's first and only visit to Palestine was brief, mere days, his 2 meetings there with the Kaiser fruitless, the heat was unbearable, and he couldn't wait to get back to Europe. The following data comes from Desmond Stewart's 1974 biography of Herzl and is based on Herzl's Complete Diaries:-

"Herzl... was attracted by neither the Arabs, the Zionist settlers nor the Jews in Jerusalem. He was to leave with only one attractive memory - a group of Jewish lads on horseback... and one trophy. This was a photograph of some use in Zionist propaganda. Even this had to be faked.

"Herzl had spent his first day and second morning visiting several of the Jewish settlements that already existed and which had been founded by Lovers of Zion or philanthropists... Herzl had returned to his Jaffa hotel on the evening of October 27, exhausted by the heat. Hechler [a Christian Zionist clergyman with contacts in the German Court] turned up and through him Herzl sent a message to August zu Eulenberg... the Kaiser's Court Marshal, to say that he would station himself on the highway outside Mikveh Israel school the following morning, on the Kaiser's itinerary. Already feeling ill, Herzl managed to get out to the school (a few miles outside Jaffa) the following morning and took up his position in a dark suit and cork hat beside agricultural machinery. A mixed multitude... of Arab beggars, women, children and horsemen lined the dusty road. At 9 o'clock a rising commotion announced the imminent approach of the royal party. Grim-looking Turkish cavalry came first... Herzl had trained the children's choir, he tells us, to sing the Imperial Anthem, 'Hail to Thee in Victor's Crown!' Reining up, the Kaiser leaned from his horse to exchange a few gentlemenly banalities about the heat, the country's prospects and the need for irrigation. On the sideline stood Wolffsohn [Herzl's counsellor on financial matters] with his Kodak, eager to preserve for eternity a scene that could be made to say more than the Kaiser said: not least to the Jews whose non-Zionist representatives, the Rothschild administrators [The Rothschilds were unfavourable to Herzl's Zionism], were looking, according to Herzl, timid and out of sorts. But when the Jaffa photographer developed the negatives... one, Herzl wrote, 'showed only a shadow of the Kaiser and my left foot', while the other was completely spoiled.

"A photographic transplant was later performed. The result: a much reproduced photograph showing the Kaiser bending from his horse to greet Dr Herzl, erect in light tweeds, his Assyrian beard in profile, his cork helmet in his left hand. Immediately behind the Kaiser (his spiked helmet trailing a veil) is a tricorn bunch of pennants, with a star visible. The symbolism is clear: backed by flags that evoke Sultan, Kaiser and Zionism, the German Emporer greets his local protector, or gestor, Theodore Herzl.

"How was the picture contived?

"The reader must keep in mind 4 photographs, which may be termed A,B, C, and D. A is the picture that showed only a shadow of the Kaiser and Herzl's left foot. B is the picture that was totally spoiled. C is a picure showing the stooped Kaiser on a white horse stationed just in front of another veiled, helmeted figure (probably August zu Eulenberg) on a dark horse with a white blaze, behind them the tricorn pennants; the white horse's head is cut off and a smallish cork helmet obtrudes from the right. D is what Dr Bein [Herzl's biographer.] publishes as the 'rectified' photograph. This... shows the Kaiser, on the dark horse with blaze, bending to Herzl in a lightly coloured tweed suit and holding a different white helmet (it has a dark band) from that photographed in picture C. Those who achieved the photographic transplant must have performed the following operations:

"1. They removed zu Eulenberg (or whoever the second figure was) from his black horse with white blaze.

2. They transferred the stooped Kaiser from his white horse on to the now vacant black horse.

3. They inserted a snapshot of Herzl in light clothing in front of the black horse and to the rear of the Kaiser's horse.

4. They imposed a larger, different cork helmet."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

"Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." Moshe Dayan
"Israel is preparing for a war, nuclear if need be, for the sake of averting domestic change not to its liking, if it occurs in some or any Middle Eastern states." Israel Shahak, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear & Foreign Policies, pp 43-44

Here's a conversation between two people. Mark knows there's an elephant in the room. Patti's* in denial:-

[*"... all of her colleagues call her Patti..."]

Mark: The other really big non-proliferation hotspot, of course, is the Middle East. Seymour Hersh, the investigative journalist has a piece in the latest New Yorker, which suggests that the Bush administration has just diverted quite a large sum of money to intelligence on Iran's nuclear program and to operations inside Iran. Do you have any comment on that?
Patti: Yeah, you know, I've never seen a writer get it wrong so many times and still get credence every time he writes something. Our ambassador in Iraq was very clear in his statements and he called them completely incorrect and not accurate. So let our ambassador speak for the United States on that.
Mark: So what is the US position at the moment on Iran's nuclear program?
Patti: The US is working through the so-called P5+1 process, working together to push the Iranians to reassess their decision to pursue a nuclear program through the UN Security Council. We have outlined a number of sanctions, measures, that are binding in all states. And we've also said that we're going to stop those sanctions if Iran ceases its enrichment reprocessing activities. And additionally we've created a package of incentives that, were Iran to cease its enrichment and reprocessing activities, we are prepared to negotiate a number of benefits that flow from that package, including even development of civil and nuclear energy cooperation in a way that is obviously not proliferation sensitive.
Mark: Meantime, though, there's a constant drumbeat, particularly from Israel, saying you've got very little time to do anything about this and that Iran may be a year, 2 years, 3 years away from a nuclear weapon, and the suggestion is that the Israelis may do something about it.
Patti: Obviously, Israel sees Iran as the existential threat, [and] will obviously look at its own strategic interest. Our national intelligence estimate says the worst case scenario is 2009, but more likely the development of the fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon would occur into the next decade. So there is some time to make diplomacy work, not a lot of time, and we are committed to work through the diplomatic path. A mix of sanctions, of pressure, a collaboration with our partners. Not only in the P5+1, but also in the Gulf region, as well as working closely here in Asia. Many of the supplies and the (inaudible) items that are getting to Iran for these programs have a source here.
Mark: Whenever we look at this subject on this program, I get emails and letters from people saying, 'Well, Israel's got the nuclear bomb. Why is there not similar outrage about that? Because they're outside the non-proliferation treaty too'.
Patti: Well, Iran is a member of the non-proliferation treaty. They ratified it, they committed to implement it, and we believe they are acting in contravention to that binding legal committment that they took. And so, this process...
Mark: That really doesn't answer the question about Israel though, does it?
Patti: You know, I think in terms of the Israel question we certainly have not seen any indication that Israel is ready to introduce nuclear weapons as a weapon into the region.
Mark: What do you mean?
Patti: And they have always indicated as a better policy that is not... that they will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.
Mark: You mean no first strike? I mean that doesn't say they haven't got them.
Patti: You know, I sort of don't want to articulate their policy, that's something that they've done.
Mark: So the US doesn't believe Israel has a nuclear weapon?
Patti: I really wouldn't want to characterise what the US calculations, our assessments are on that point. My major point would be that Iran is pursuing its nuclear weapons in contravention to its legal commitments. Iran is also a deep, destabiliseding force in the region.
Mark: What I'm asking you [is] that people write in and they say, 'Why get so worried about Iran's nuclear weapons, when everybody knows that Israel has nuclear weapons?'
Patti: I think we all need to be worried about Iran. It's a destabilising influence in the region. It's supplying arms, not only to Iraqi insurgents, but even to its sworn enemy, the Taliban. It's supplying support to Hezbollah, it's supporting actions on the part of Syria. So it is having a large destabilising influence in the region. It also has the potential for the nuclear cascade. If you look at countries in the Gulf states, they look to Iran, and were Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability, the potential for further acquisition of nuclear weapons capabilities in that region would certainly augment in the view of many who have assessed that region.
Mark: Patricia McNerney, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation with the US State Department.

That was part of an interview (US State Department representative speaks on nuclear weapons, 1/7/08) with Patricia McNerney, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation with the US State Department by Mark Colvin on ABC Radio National's PM program. The interview began with a discussion of North Korea's recent demolition of the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear power plant. To his credit (and this is unusual for the mainstream media) Mark had his eyes open.

Here's a paragraph from an article by a man who literally worships the ground the elephant in the room walks on (formerly known as Palestine in case you're interested). He knows that most of us are not as enamoured of the beast as he, and so would rather not draw too much attention to the object of his love. However, given the monstrous proportions of the creature, its swaggering, aggressive movements and loud trumpetings, he finds he has little choice but to acknowledge its presence in some way. And so, blinded by love, he tries his best to convince his readers that the elephant is really a gazelle:-

"Iran possessing nuclear weapons would be the final crack in the global non-proliferation regime. Despite parallels drawn to Israel's alleged nuclear capability, Israel is not violating international commitments (it didn't sign the NPT); it hasn't threatened to use nuclear weapons against its neighbours (it doesn't even confirm it has them); and its neighbours haven't sought a similar hedge against it."

That paragraph was part of an opinion piece (Diplomacy with Iran must be backed by a threat of force, 7/7/08) published in The Age. It was written by Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

Here's a letter from a man who loves the beast as ardently as the former, but can see no reason not to shout it from the rooftops. In fact, he believes that the entire Middle East should be rezoned as an off-leash area for the impetuous pachyderm, and being a lawyer, he has the legal gobbledegook at hand to justify any murderous rampage it may choose to undertake:-

"As a matter of policy, any first use of nuclear weapons is an extremely momentous decision and can be justified only in the most dire of circumstances. Any first use of nuclear weapons by Israel would be an even more momentous decision, given the unfortunate 'double standard' which the international community applies to judging all of Israel's military actions. However, given Ahmadinejad's declaratory policy of seeking to obliterate Israel, an Israeli decision to launch a preemptive strike against an entire array of Iran's nuclear targets would be justifiable in certain circumstances. (I assume that given the number of Iranian nuclear targets, their dispersal and 'hardness', Israel would not have high confidence in conventional strike options.) These circumstances would basically have to entail an imminent deployment of nuclear weapons by Iran, coupled with the realisation that there are no other viable options left for blocking Iran from such a deployment. While an Israeli first nuclear use against Iran would be certainly justifiable in such circumstances, you should be under no illusion as to what kind of reaction it would elicit; Israel would encounter a howl of international condemnations, boycotts, and diplomatic isolation the likes of which it has never seen. Its nuclear strike against Iran is also likely to trigger a regional arms race and precipitate many other dangerous and unpredictable consequences.

"As far as the law is concerned, despite the existing ICJ advisory opinion concerning nuclear weapons, I don't believe that there is any binding norm of international law that governs their utilization or prohibits nuclear use. Thus, the normal principles of jus ad bellum - governing the circumstances where the resort to force is legitimate - and jus in bello - governing the ways in which force can be used - would apply to any nuclear use by Israel. It would have to take exceptional care to ensure that it attacks only military targets and keeps collateral damage to the minimum levels possible. I have no doubt that IDF planners will endeavor to comply fully with all of the relevant jus in bello norms."

That was David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler LLP, a Visiting Fellow at the Nixon Center etc, etc. His letter appeared in the Israeli English language daily Haaretz on 23/6/08.

Finally, here's guy who not only knows there's an elephant in the room but loudly warns that it's a rogue:-

"The conflict currently underway between the US and Iran is, first and foremost, a conflict born in Israel. It is based upon an Israeli contention that Iran poses a threat to Israel, and defined by Israeli assertions that Iran possesses a nuclear weapons program. None of this has been shown to be true, and indeed much of the allegations made by Israel against Iran have been clearly demonstrated as being false. And yet the US continues to trumpet the Israeli claims, and no individual more loudly so than the US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton*."

[*Surprise, surprise, Patti's former boss.]

That's Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, from his 2006 book Target Iran (p 208)

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Peter Cundall's Palestine

"For it is not just a case of intellectualizing but the choice of an entire way of life. This man, perhaps a warm friend and affectionate father, who in his native country (by his social condition, his family environment, his natural friendships) could have been a democrat, will surely be transformed into a conservative, reactionary, or even a colonial fascist. He cannot help but approve discrimination and the codification of injustice, he will be delighted at police tortures and, if the necessity arises, will become convinced of the necessity of massacres. Everything will lead him to these beliefs: his new interests, his professional relations, his family ties and bonds of friendship formed in the colony. The colonial situation manufactures colonialists, just as it manufactures the colonized." (The Colonizer & The Colonized, Albert Memmi, pp 55-56)

Peter Cundall, the popular 81-year old host of the ABC's Gardening Australia program, is finally retiring from television. An iconic figure, he'll be sorely missed by many. The Sun-Herald's feature on the gardening guru (That's his bloomin' lot, 6/7/08) describes how Cundall, a soldier in the British Army during WW2, was afterwards sent to British Mandate Palestine "where the British Army was given the job of aiding Jewish settlers." Cundall's account of his experience there is revealing:-

"It was a real nightmare. Most of the soldiers who had been in Europe were quite sympathetic to the Jews who were coming from Europe to settle in Palestine because we had been there and seen how they had suffered. Then I came across some of the Jewish settlers who were so racist towards the Palestinians. I thought, 'what's going on? Here are the Jewish people who have suffered terrible discrimination for hundreds of years and they are turning around and discriminating against these people'. They just hated them. Then I suddenly realised that we're all at fault in many ways, we all have weaknesses and even people who have suffered terribly can cause others to suffer terribly."

As Memmi points out, and Cundall confirms, such is the logic of colonialism.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Schmoozing with Aaron Klein! 2

Continued from my last post...

I'm puzzled as to why the Talking with Terrorists's blurb reckons that Aaron's terrorists have targeted Hollywood "for elimination" when his ground-breaking research actually reveals that they're fans! It would appear that they've been following every twist and turn in the careers of such celebrities as Jane Fonda ("who we all know was involved in Vietnam activism," Aaron! helpfully reminds us), Rosie O'Donnell (Rosie who?), and Sean Penn since the 60s. Jane Fonda, for G-d's sake!: "I asked some of the terrorists... what they thought of the activism by Hollywood, and they loved it, they're emboldened, every time they hear a Hollywood celebrity talk out against the war in Iraq or Afghanistan or go on a solidarity mission [Senator McCarthy must be turning in his grave!] to a terror-sponsoring entity like Iran, like Syria, they're emboldened to believe, because they think that all Americans hate Islam, hate the Middle East, that whenever they get their picture that there are some out there who side with their goals, or at least for the terrorists they believe side with their goals, because to them they're not just looking to get America out of Iraq and Afghanistan or destroy Israel, boost up Iran, these are just their short-term goals and they'll take all the help they can get."

This was a revelation for me, as I'm sure it was for you, dear reader. I had no idea Their Satanic Majesties spent so much time at the movies (the real ones, that is, not that crap from Egypt!). And not only the movies, apparently. Ditto for radio. According to Aaron! they love Madonna and Britney Spears to death! Crikey! What with indoctrination 101 at the madrasa, schmoozing with Aaron!, dodging IDF death squads, reading up on Rosie who?, stalking Britney Spears, going to the movies, shopping around for cut-price bomb belts, wiping Israel off the door mat, and working hard at the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization as we know it, these guys really have their work cut out. They're almost beyond belief.

Also according to the blurb, they've got homosexuality targeted "for elimination." Everything, it seems, except the Israeli occupation. Is there no end to their labors? And how would we ever have known this without the intrepid and courageous Aaron!? You see Aaron!'s been schmoozing with Abu Abdullah, "a senior commander of Hamas' military wing." (And if I may digress here, just thought I'd check out this character among the other A-boos listed in the index of Azzam Tamimi's Hamas: Unwritten Chapters. Nothing! Ditto for Zaki Chehab's Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs & Spies. Thank G-d he's at least made it into Aaron!'s book.) Aaron! quotes AA as saying that unless homosexuals mend their disgusting ways, "they may be sentenced to death." (And if I may digress yet again, Rachael quips, "Well, that would thin the ranks of society, wouldn't it?" Now just how gay does she think we are? Who, dear? Gay, dear? Us, dear? No, dear! How very dare you, Rachael!)

But hang on. I've got this terrible bout of cognitive dissonance, because I remember Rachael describing Aaron in her blurb as an Orthodox Jew, and an adjacent critic's just slipped me this quotation from Israel Shahak's Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel: "Many Israeli rabbis and the Israeli religious political parties in the 1990s reacted sharply against the increased visibility and power of the homosexual and lesbian communities in Israel. According to the Halacha, homosexuality is punishable by stoning... Many rabbis, when interviewed, indicated that they favoured imposition of the death penalty for Jewish homosexual men." (p xviii-xix)

No way could I believe this rubbish. Consult Wikipedia. Aaargh! It seems that "the Biblical book of Leviticus calls the big H an 'abomination' that may be subject to capital punishment, although Halakhic courts are not authorized to administer capital punishment for sexual immorality in the absence of a Temple in Jerusalem." Could it be that Aaron's alleged schmoozing with the Israeli right is designed solely to expose them and thus save Israel's gay community from a right stoning? But what's this? The same adjacent critic's just slipped me an editorial by Joseph Farah, WorldNetDaily's CEO, on 'The dirty little secret of America's newsrooms' (25/6/08). Which is? That US "newspapers and broadcast outlets... The Hearst Corp, McClatchy Company, Gannett, National Public Radio, Bloomberg, Washington Post, NBC News, ABC, CBS News, CNN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and... News Corp," are all dancing to the tune of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, an "arrogant bunch of fascist mind-control freaks." But not, it seems, WND.

And Orthodox Aaron!? In 'Religious leaders: No 'gay pride' in holy city: Rare gathering of Christian, Jewish, Muslim figures blasts homosexual event' (31/3/05), he informs us that "The Rabbinical Alliance [of America]... sponsored a poll," which showed "[n]early 100% of the Orthodox Jewish segments surveyed said they were opposed to [WorldPride 2005]" being held in Jerusalem. Does this mean then that...? But no, Aaron! must surely have been among the 1% Orthodox who defended this celebration of gay pride. Else why would he be exposing the dreadful Abu Abdullah? But then, in another of his reports just slipped to me, 'Israel recognizes homosexual couples: 'Jewish state risks becoming next Sodom and Gomorrah'' (3/7/08), he's schmoozing with an Orthodox rabbi who's predicting that the Israeli Attorney General's decision will excite G-d's wrath, with dire consequences for Israel! Now Aaron's indicated in his interview with Rachael that he's writing a second book about a much greater conflict than that being fought between the Horned and Fanged Terrorist Aliens of Planet Palestine and the gentle, unassuming volk of the Lamb of Israel: that between "the secular and the religious" in Israel. Guess we'll just have to wait and find out whose side he's on - Sodom and Gomorrah's or the Good Good Good Guys of Gush Emunim.

Apparently, it's not just Hollywood wot's giving comfort to these Terrorist Reptiles. The mainstream media's in on the act too! Says Aaron!, "I think a lot of reporters, they don't have a moral compass... I can't say enough that [the terrorists] are looking to spread their belief system around the world, and that Israel is just a stepping-stone... towards the ultimate destruction of the West, then our media... really needs to... change some of their attitudes... if you look at a lot of the editorial blurbs of the major American media outlets, it's no surprise that a lot of them are controlled by liberal editors, the editorial board of the New York Times, the Washington Post, liberal, liberal, and one of the major tenets of liberalism... is that you can sit down and negotiate with your enemy, as an absolute last resort you should use military means... But I think that if most Americans really understood who their enemy is in these terror organisations, really understood that with this enemy there is no dialogue, that with this enemy there is no cease-fire, a cease-fire is a chance to re-load and re-group. That you can't sit down to this enemy, you either win or they're going to try to win."

Now I seem to remember reading such BK! studies as Israel-Palestine On Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East (Howard Friel & Richard Falk), which argues that the "NYT's unwillingness to view the conflict through the lens of international law has contributed significantly to both an anti-Palestine bias and an inflated sense of Israeli entitlements," and Muting the Alarm over the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The New York Times vs Haaretz, 2000-2006 (Jerome Slater), which argues that Israel's Haaretz is actually far more critical of Israeli policies than the NYT. Now, however, thanks to Aaron!'s revelations, I can see that these were just part of a fiendish and sophisticated plot by "liberals, liberals" at the helm of the NYT to cover their slimy, terrorist-appeasing tracks. Is there no end to the deceptions and fraud perpetrated by the liberal media? Thank G-d we've got WND to fall back on!

In fact, so powerful is this liberal media conspiracy to aid and abet the Legions of Terror that even Rachael, despite her being in the Top 50 and all, is sucked in! No sooner has Aaron! declared he's for eternal war on the terrorists, than she's babbling, Chamberlain-like, about "the war in Iraq... dissuad[ing] anyone from say approaching this issue in a military fashion." But our Aaron!'s not sucked in by the snakes of the liberal media, no siree, Bob! The courageous, intrepid, unbelievably honest one is prepared to fight the Towelheaded Vermin to the last American soldier: "Yes, there's absolutely no question that America could have won this war a long time ago and why they haven't been using their full military might, rather than restraining the military, I don't know..." Shock & Awe, 655,000 Iraqi deaths and climbing, millions of refugees, and trillions of $$$ - simply not good enough! With the application of "full military might," Yankee Doodle Dandy could've blown Iraq back to the Stone Age where it belongs! And all this while the namby-pamby IDF merely "go from home to home instead of carpet bombing in Gaza, in the West Bank." That, of course, is the appeaser Olmert's doing, and Aaron!, as we know, has fingered his government as one of the conspirators engaged in the awful business of simply handing over the Middle East to the Terrorist Hordes. Hence the importance of his research and his number one finding: You've gotta talk to the terrorists to know that you can't talk to the terrorists.

For me, the high point of Rachael's interview came when she asked Aaron! about his "encounters with Christians in the Middle East." This triggered a veritable flood of revelations, hitherto unrevealed. The persecution of Christians was "a huge story," said Aaron! "Take for example Bethlehem, which is one of the holiest cities for Christianity. It's the site of the Church of the Nativity, which is where Christians believe Jesus was born, and up to about... 18 years ago the Christian population of Bethlehem was about 85%, and then, starting in the early 1990s, suddenly Christians started fleeing Bethlehem, and now actually the Christian population of Bethlehem is about 23%, and actually that counts satellite towns, the actual Christian population in Bethlehem proper right now is 12%, it's dwindling. Why?... what happened was Israel evacuated Bethlehem and gave Bethlehem to Yasser Arafat, gave Bethlehem to the Palestinians as part of the Oslo Accord in the 1990s and as soon as the Palestinians took over, as soon as Yasser Arafat got his hands on Bethlehem, right away you had all of these instances of Christians being persecuted, of Christian women being forcibly converted to Islam, Christian stores being firebombed, of Christians actually coming home at the end of the day, and I witnessed this twice, this happens, it's incredible, they come home and their property is confiscated by Muslim terrorist gangs related to Fatah, to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah group. They tell the Christians they have 24 hours to evacuate your home and then get out. That's it. Happens all the time, and the Christians can't go to the police, they can't go to the court system because the courts and the police are controlled by the Palestinian Authority and so you have the situation now where Christians are fleeing left and right." Rachael was so shocked at this tale of rapine and plunder that all she could manage was a strangled, "Why haven't we heard much about this from Hanan Ashrawi?" I too was reeling. I'd been misled.

BK!, I'd read this from the book by the Boston Globe's Middle East bureau chief from 1997 to 2001, Charles M Sennott: "Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala formed a 'Christian triangle' in the West Bank, containing the highest concentration of the Palestinian Christian population. Roughly 30% of Bethlehem's 30,000 inhabitants were Christian; and Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, each with approximately 12,000 residents, were about 75% Christian. About two-thirds of all Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem lived in one of these 3 towns." (The Body and the Blood: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians & the Possibility for Peace, p 117) Obviously dodgy figures. Almost certainly a liberal. The very fact that he qualifies the word 'Christian' with the adjective 'Palestinian' is a dead give away.

And this on Arafat and the Christians: "Arafat has always been attentive to the Christian minority within the Palestinian community, and some officials of the Palestinian Authority have criticized him for coddling the Christian minority in a way that causes their ostracization from the larger group. Arafat seems to have a genuine concern for the diminishing local Christian presence as well as a shrewd understanding of Christians' importance to his own political, diplomatic, and fund-raising missions throughout the Western world. Arafat has been attuned to the resonance of Bethlehem and Jerusalem during his frequent trips to France, Italy, and America. On these trips, whenever he spoke of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, he evoked images of Jerusalem's church spires along with the Dome of the Rock. When he spoke in Arab countries, the church spires were more often left out and the Islamic requirement to protect Al-Quds was stressed." (p 69) Mere hearsay, of course. If only Sennott had had the gumption to schmooze with Arafat instead.

And then there's that 2006 poll of Bethlehem Christians, carried out by the Palestinian Centre for Research and Dialogue, which showed that 78% blamed the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem on Israel's blockade, and 73% believe that the Palestinian Authority treats Christian heritage with respect. ( Obviously, these figures need to be taken with more than a few grains of Dead Sea salt. After all, the mob that did the polling was "Palestinian." And anyway, talking to Bethlehem Christians while they're busy with Muslim home renovators and learning how to don hijabs couldn't possibly lead to reliable results.

Not to mention the following 2006 letter by Open Bethlehem's chief executive Leila Sansour, a Bethlehem Christian, to Texas congressman Michael McCaul on his resolution on the plight of Palestinian Christians: "The resolution seriously misrepresents the situation facing Christians in the Holy Land. [It] ignores the numerous calls from churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem - and the overwhelming body of reports from international human rights organizations - that warn of the devastating effect of the Israeli system of closure, collective punishment and the construction of the wall. In the Holy City of Bethlehem, the wall forcefully expropriates most of Bethlehem's valuable land and historic landmarks, depriving many Christian families of their homes, barring access to family and jobs in Jerusalem and all the lands that are on the other side of the wall. By perpetuating the misconception that it is their Muslim neighbors and the Palestinian Authority who are creating this crisis, rather than policies imposed by the Israeli government, congressman McCaul is entrenching the problems faced by the Christian community rather than helping address them. The Open Bethlehem campaign was created to address the state of emergency in Bethlehem with full support from the Patriarchs of the churches in Jerusalem and all Bethlehem civil institutions." (Congress misled about real threat to Palestinian Christians, Well, I never. Talk about propaganda! Aaron!'s got this one pegged: "Actually, every year about Christmastime, right before, every year the mainstream media in America does these stories where, get this, they actually blame Israel. I kid you not, every year, blame Israel for the plight of the Christians in Bethlehem because they say that Israel built a fence that encircles Bethlehem. Actually there's no wall that encircles Bethlehem, there is a fence and part of it's a wall and it's just in one part of Bethlehem that interfaces with Jerusalem..." And Top 50 Rachael didn't pull him up on this, so that's good enough for me.

How to explain the discrepancies between the findings of the above BK! scribblers and those of our Aaron!? There's the inevitable question of liberal bias, of course, with Aaron! correctly pointing out that these hacks have a tendency to leave their moral compasses on the shelf at home. However, I believe that they can largely be explained by a difference in methodology. The above babblings are generally based on such traditional investigative techniques as interviews, polls, and accessing relevant data in libraries and databases, and are generally carried out by experienced and qualified personnel who wouldn't know an axe-grinder if they stubbed their toe on one. Needless to say, this makes their product extremely bora, bora, bora. The result is that the punters have lost all interest - they're switching in droves to WND or FrontPage Magazine or Little Green Footballs. Thanks to Aaron! the old approach to these matters has been superseded by his exciting new strategy of knowledge acquisition, schmoozing, which could perhaps be defined as getting so close to the bastards that you can smell the sulphur. You see, schmoozing cuts right through all that boring and time-wasting academic folderol (after all we are dealing with ticking bombs here), and goes straight to the heart of darkness!

The efficacy of schmoozing is perhaps best illustrated, apart from the revelations already alluded to, towards the end of the interview. Rachael, breathless at Aaron!'s tales of derring-do, asks him if he was ever scared for his life. The self-effacing lad is, of course, as honest as the day is long. "Absolutely," he replies. "There were several interviews in particular in the last two years while writing this book where I really didn't think I would get out alive." Here is his hair-raising account of just one. Aaron!'s moral compass, which he carries with him at all times, had led him to the lair of "the senior leadership of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade terror group, the most active Palestinian terror group in the West Bank, with literally the chief of the Brigades No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, it was all the senior leadership, they were all with their weapons, had machine guns..." Presumably the chiefs of Brigades No. 1, No. 5, No. 6 etc, etc were busy with their Bethlehem furniture removal business (Gone Before You Know It! Pty Ltd). He was, of course, accompanied by his long time colleague and research assistant, the equally intrepid and courageous "American radio host" and Professor of Islamic Studies at George Dubya Bush University, Redneck, Kansarse, Rusty Humphries. Predictably, Rusty proved more than a match for the Terrorist Spawn of Satan but, hey, I'll let Aaron! tell the story in his own inimitable (72 virgins x 10) style: "We went in together and during the interview Rusty... kept asking the terrorists to show us where in the Qur'an it says anything about 72 virgins, about suicide bombers who go up to Allah's paradise and get an eternity with 72 dark-eyed virgins, because actually I don't know if you know this, but it's not in the Qur'an, the Qur'an doesn't say anything about 72 virgins and yet the terrorists constantly tell the Palestinian teenagers who blow themselves up that they're going to get the 72 virgins, and so Rusty knew it wasn't in the Qur'an and he kept asking the terrorists who said earlier that martyrs get 72 virgins, he kept asking where in the Qur'an it was located. And I was sitting across the room from Rusty and so I couldn't really nudge him, but the terrorists were getting really agitated and he didn't realise that, they actually kept shooting these angry glances at me, like shut this guy up, tell him to stop asking. And he kept petitioning, 'So did you find the 72 virgins yet, did anybody find the 72 virgins?' He actually had them take out a Qur'an and flip through the Qur'an and look for the 72 virgins, and they kept pointing to different verses that may indicate a virgin or two, but they couldn't find the 72 virgins, and I didn't think we'd get out alive from that interview." What a close shave that must have been!

The point is, but for the intrepidity and courage of these two, we would've just gone on swallowing any old codswallop from these Terrorist Swine. Now, AK!, we know that, as Aaron! says, "at the very foundation of the arguments of the terrorist, there is no argument, there is no foundation, it's not there." I know just what he means.

"Are you going to be more careful in the future?" asks a maternal Rachael in one last, probing question. "Oh yes, absolutely, very careful," responds Aaron!

I somehow think he'll survive, don't you?

Oh, I almost forgot! Rusty's also a renowned singer and songwriter. You can order his CD, Thank Allah I'm a Jihad Boy, from The lyrics of the title song are informed by the very fruitloops of his joint research with wunderkind Klein!: Life as a terrorist is really laid back/ You find an infidel and give his head a big whack/ See a soldier just shoot him in the back/ Thank Allah I'm a Jihad Boy - Well I got me 5 wives and got me a hooka/When the sun comes up I strap on me Bazooka/ One wife so ugly I'm glad she wears a burka/ Thank Allah I'm a Jihad Boy (Radio host's CD pokes fun at terrorists, 27/10/06,