Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Secrets of Successful Hasbara

"The term hasbara represents the old, archaic perception of transmitting information to the public. The very nature of the word implies the need to explain - lehasbir - to justify, perhaps even apologize. Sorry, but I'm tired of apologizing. We do not owe explanations to anyone. We waited patiently before deciding to act, maybe even too long, and perhaps when we did act, we did not go far enough. It is unacceptable that 250,000 people should live under the constant threat of rocket fire. No country in the world would tolerate that, and neither will Israel... For some reason Israel, which was established with the support of a guilt-ridden world, feels obliged to apologise to that world for its actions and, sometimes, even for its existence. We are the ones feeling guilty - and for absolutely no reason." (Bye-bye, 'hasbara'. Say hello to 'public diplomacy', Nachman Shai, The Jerusalem Post, 5/3/08)

"What is Israel advocacy and, more specifically, what is hasbara? Hasbara comes from the Hebrew verb l'hasbir, which means to explain. Remember the last time you tried to explain to a bank official why you needed a loan? That should give you some insight into what is systematically wrong with hasbara. It is defensive, reactive, and worst of all, it is about 'me'. Advocacy, on the other hand, is based on persuasion. It is based on understanding your audience and finding messages that resonate with them." (David Olesker, Director, Jerusalem Centre for Communication & Advocacy, The Australian Jewish News, 29/8/08)

So, hasbara merchants - sorry, Israel advocates - whether you're selling Israel's 'vulnerability' to yokels in Australia, New Zealand, America, or wherever, always localise it:

"For an Australian it is almost impossible to imagine the smallness of the distances involved. Gilot [sic] was routinely fired on by snipers in Bethlehem several years ago... [which] is like Sydney's Surry Hills being fired on by Redfern... "

(Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan 'advocating' in The Australian- See my 20/1/08 post, Gullible's Travels)

"Would New Zealanders ask their Government to sit idly by while a terrorist organization fires missiles on the towns of Tauranga or Hamilton?"

(Yuval Rotem 'advocating' in The New Zealand Herald - See my 14/2/08 post, Rotem's Revenge 2)

"The Israel Project is launching a major television advertising campaign to coincide with the Republican and Democratic conventions. Two ads - one focusing on Israel's role in creating energy independence from Middle East oil and the other on Iran's backing for terrorists and its suspected nuclear weapons program - will air 1300 times on cable-news networks over the next 2 weeks... The Iran ad underscores the threat of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terrorist group, and begins: 'Imagine Denver under missile attack from nearby Boulder...' "

(Israel Project launches tv ads, AJN, 29/8/08)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Try Busting the Zionist Blockade of the Australian Press

Me-tooism in Australian politics has its counterpart in the mainstream media. On the Palestine-Israel conflict, both Fairfax and Murdoch are overwhelmingly pro-Israel in orientation: the former, largely out of cowardice and often (but not always) out of sheer ignorance and/or incompetence*, the second out of pure Zionist zeal.

[* What is one to make, for example, of the Sydney Morning Herald's Jason Koutsoukis, in one and the same report (Crunch time as family fights to keep home from Jewish settlers, 18/8/08), referring to occupied East Jerusalem as "disputed East Jerusalem" while referring to the pre-1967 West Bank as "Jordanian-occupied"?]

One difference between them came with the reporting of the busting of the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza by two vessels manned by 44 activists of the Free Gaza Movement. This brave and inspirational act was completely ignored by Murdoch's The Australian. The SMH, however, covered the action in two reports, Flotilla lands & Gaza blockade fails (25/8/08), lifted from the The LA Times, and Hopes for Gaza protest ships to anchor freedom (26/8/08) by Jason Koutsoukis. Which is not to say that the Herald did justice to the significance of the event. To do that it would have to have published, for example, eye-witness Huwaida Arraf's excellent account, Sailing into Gaza* (, 26/8/08). But, for a Palestinian voice (or even that of an Israeli dissenter) to break into the opinion pages of the Herald would, it seems, be no less a feat than successfully running the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

[*"When a massive earthquake rocked China and cyclones ravaged Myanmar, the world responded. Governments and civilians alike rallied to help. Yet world governments have witnessed a manmade humanitarian catastrophe unfold before our eyes in Gaza. Karen Koning Abu Zayd, head of the United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA), has asserted that 'Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and - some would say - encouragement of the international community'."]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love it or Leave It

John Carroll is billed as "a professor of sociology at La Trobe University." For some reason, he felt moved to pen a feature article in The Australian called Taming hatred in our midst (23/8/08). It was subtitled, "Our democracy can help dissolve Islamic radicalism if we are permitted to do so."

I was struck by the following:

Carroll told of how, at last year's Brisbane Writers Festival, he found himself on a panel with Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, "which had published Osama bin Laden speeches." "Mr Atwan," Carroll noted, "was keen to portray himself as a moderate Muslim, Palestinian-born, who had lived in the West for 3 decades... His speech became heated as he progressed. Then, in the question time that followed the other 2 speakers, he launched into a tirade against the West and its centuries of imperialism, blaming it for all the ills that beset the Muslim world. Most people in the packed audience... became uneasy. In part, I suspect, it was simply that Australians mistrust fanatics of any persuasion. I am fed up with 'blame the West' dogma and responded accordingly. I pointed out that during 3-quarters of the 500-year rise of the modern West, it was the Islamic Ottoman Empire that had controlled most of the Middle East... if colonialism was to blame for the geopolitical failure of Islam, then the main culprits were the Turks... In Brisbane, the deep ambivalence that a Muslim such as Bari Atwan bears towards the West was striking. On the one hand, he chooses to live in London and enjoy the freedom to publish his newspaper. Presumably, he likes the comforts of a modern Western metropolis: its prosperity, its efficiency, the fact things work and the peaceful civilty of everyday life... Ambivalence is normal in immigrants... it is inevitable that many newcomers... will have mixed feelings about having uprooted themselves and cast themselves into an alien place... [but] what was different in Brisbane was the intensity of hostility - in fact, hatred - towards whatever it was in the West that galled. Flowing under a veneer of moderation was a tide of resentment."

The subject may be Atwan, but we learn far more about John Carroll:

In essence, Carroll is writing about a Palestinian without knowing the first thing about Palestine or Palestinians: Atwan is not an "immigrant," he's a refugee, born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He didn't "uproot" himself and "cast" himself into an alien place. His family and his people were uprooted by Zionist forces in 1948 in a crime against humanity called by the Palestinians the Nakba (Catastrophe). Atwan's "tirade against the West and its centuries of imperialism," is fully understandable, seeing that it was Imperial Britain that nurtured the infant Israel, and Imperial America which went on to spoil it rotten. And the Turks? Whatever their crimes against their Arab subjects - and Islam had sfa to do with that - they did not impose an ethnocentric, ethnic- cleansing settler state on them.

Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows what's eating Atwan, but Carroll clearly has no idea! Perhaps he should read Atwan's biography, A Country of Words: The Life of Abdel Bari Atwan: A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page, due out next month.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Faustian Bargain

A Moral Principle met a Material Interest on a bridge wide enough for but one.
"Down, you base thing!" thundered the Moral Principle, "and let me pass over you!"
The Material Interest merely looked in the other's eyes without saying anything.
"Ah," said the Moral Principle, hestitatingly, "let us draw lots to see which shall retire till the other has crossed."
The Material Interest maintained an unbroken silence and an unwavering stare.
"In order to avoid a conflict," the Moral Principle resumed, somewhat uneasily, "I shall myself lie down and let you walk over me."
Then the Material Interest found a tongue, and by a strange coincidence it was its own tongue. "I don't think you are very good walking," it said. "I am a little particular about what I have underfoot. Suppose you get off into the water."
It occurred that way.

The Moral Principle & the Material Interest - Ambrose Bierce

The Australian's Zionist enforcers cannot rest until those who've strayed from the party line have been rounded up and returned to the ideological fold. Former National Union of Students (NUS) prez Rose (daughter of Liz) Jackson was one such. Their vindictiveness towards her has been documented in my 30/7/08 post The Bile Duct of the Nation. But, now that she's finally been corralled, will all be forgiven? Read all about it:

ALP candidate rues anti-Zionist stance read the headline in The Australian of 23/8/08. "Rose Jackson, the former campaign manager for failed Labor candidate George Newhouse, has retracted anti-Zionist statements she made in 2006 as she attempts to clinch a seat on a Sydney local council with a large proportion of Jewish voters."

Jackson's crime? As NUS president, she had sent an email to a chat room 2 years ago, saying that "she opposed 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. By speaking out on behalf of the Palestinians and Lebanese people, we can give voice to those that some governments would wish to silence'."

Oh, dear! Jackson's now backpeddling furiously. Her comments back then, she says, were "naive. Looking back, I think I just bought the prevailing polemic on campus at the time that Israel was some sort of quasi-theocracy. Having explored the subject more deeply since then, I understand this is nonsense. I realise I just misunderstood. Obviously, the state of Israel is not a state for the Jewish religion, but a homeland for the Jewish people. It's a really robust democracy; there are plenty of non-Jewish people in Israel who have full citizenship rights. If there's discrimination, it's no worse than what would happen in Australia or America or anywhere else. I completely support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."

Jackson was rewarded by a pat on the head from Vic Alhadeff, CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies: "It would have been very easy for Ms Jackson to go along with the anti-Semitism of the far Left when she was president of the NUS. Instead she chose the politically unpopular and risky path of speaking out against the anti-Semitism of the far Left, and she deserves credit for that." Should she not be consigned to the political dustbin at the upcoming council elections on September 13 Jackson can perhaps look forward to (a) a right rambamming* in Israel; (b) an open door into state/federal politics; (c) further rambamming in Israel; and (d) heaps of photo-ops with lobby movers & shakers.

[*Rambam (v) To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia on a grooming session by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.]

Jackson's climb-down and Alhadeff's spin warrant analysis. To begin with the latter. Alhadeff's words (and Jackson's) imply that, as NUS prez, she was easily manipulated. He says by an evil anti-Semitic entity known as the "far Left." She, by the influence of "the prevailing polemic on campus at the time." These two really need to sort this out. Either way, however, the implication is clear - the lady's mere putty in the hands of others. Perfect pollie material! Also, Alhadeff couldn't be clearer on the subject of anti-Semitism. His words falsely imply that to oppose the concept of a Jewish state in Palestine is to be an anti-Semite. Ipso facto, Jackson was once an anti-Semite. Having recanted, however, she can now presumably be described as a reformed anti-Semite. Howling nonsense, of course, but why expose yourself to such implied smears?

Let's now examine the 'intellectual' baggage Jackson's now taken on:

"The state of Israel is not a state for the Jewish religion, but a homeland for the Jewish people."

Yes, that's the Zionist line. And for those who toe it, Israel belongs not just to those who live there, a majority of whom are Jews, but to Jews wherever they are, whether practising or not, whether desirous of living there or not. The only requirement to take up Israeli citizenship is to have a Jewish mother/grandmother. However, if you were born there, or your parents or grandparents were born there (as is the case for the now millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinian refugees descended from the population expelled by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948), but your mother/grandmother isn't Jewish, stiff cheddar - stay away. So, in return for accepting the Zionist belief (which has no basis in international law) that there exists an entity called "the Jewish people", whose only real home is Israel, one must accept the continued exclusion of millions of non-Jews from that place, despite their real and proven connection to it, and despite their right to return to it being grounded in international law.

"[Israel's] a really robust democracy."

Only superficially. Jackson is ignorant of, or chooses to overlook, the fact that Israel is both democracy and Jewish (ie having a Jewish majority) simply because 750,000 indigenous non-Jews were expelled from its territory in 1948. For Israel to be a genuine democracy it would have to allow back in and give the vote to those millions of Palestinian refugees now disenfranchised and stateless beyond its borders. Israel's "really robust democracy" is based on one almighty Israeli-engineered gerrymander.

"There are plenty of non-Jewish people in Israel who have full citizenship rights."

Jackson again is either ignorant of, or chooses to ignore, the fact that those "non-Jewish people," the indigenous rump that somehow managed to avoid being expelled in 1948, do not have the same citizenship rights as Israeli Jews. Yes, they have have an equal vote. Yes, there are Palestinian Arabs in the Israeli parliament. And yes, (at least in principle) they have equal standing before the law. However, they do not have the same inheritance rights, the same access to the material resources of the state (notably, land - 93% of which is off limits to non-Jewish citizens - and water), or the same access to welfare resources (such as religious services and child benefits) as Israeli Jews. Chapter 3 of Uri Davis' invaluable Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003) documents this fundamental inequality in citizenship rights between Israel's Jewish and non-Jewish citizens.

"If there is discrimination, it's no worse than what would happen in Australia..."

If there is discrimination!? Jackson's assertion is total nonsense. As Davis reveals, Israel is actually an apartheid state in that it discriminates in law between its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. This is because it has incorporated the exclusivist constitutional stipulations (such as "land acquired as Jewish property"/"the inalienable property of the Jewish people"/"Jewish labour") of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund into Israeli law. Needless to say, there is no such distinction in Australian law between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. And not only are there no indigenous Australian refugees living in exile, but there are no indigenous Australians living under military occupation.

"I completely support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state."

Let's be clear about this: in supporting Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, Jackson supports its right to discriminate by law against its indigenous Palestinian Arab population, whether they be second class citizens inside pre-1967 Israel, under Israeli military occupation in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, or stateless exiles since 1948.

No political post is worth your soul, Rose.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Amos Oz, Oz, Oz, Oi! Oi! Oi!

Not content with his usual paeans about "plucky" little Israel on the opinion(ated) pages of The Australian (See my 20/1/08 post Gullible's Travels) , foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan has recently taken to peddling the dubious wares of Israel's most famous literary propagandist, novelist Amos Oz, in its literary supplement, Review.

In Memoirs are made of this (16/8/08), Sheridan spruiks Oz's childhood memoir of growing up in 30s/40s Jerusalem, A Tale of Love & Darkness (2003) as "an incomparably good book. Perhaps... the best I have read." Since Leon Uris' Exodus?

He's mesmerised by Oz's "contrast, indeed conflict, of East European Jews trying to recreate an idealised Europe, one free of anti-Semitism, in the hot, dusty climate of Israel, surrounded by hostile Arabs..."

I thought it was still called Palestine back then, but Palestine, with its "hostile Arabs," malign creatures of the heat and the dust, is just a backdrop for the colonial fantasies of Sheridan, Oz and ilk. According to Sheridan, Oz "mocks his own earnest idealisation of kibbutz pioneers, yet somehow affirms it as well: 'Tough, warm-hearted, though of course silent and thoughtful, young men and strapping, straightforward young women... I pictured these pioneers as strong, serious, self-contained people, capable of sitting around in a circle and singing songs of heart-rending longing, or songs of mockery, or songs of outrageous lust... (people) who could ride wild horses or wide-tracked tractors, who spoke Arabic, who knew every cave and wadi, who had a way with pistols and hand grenades, yet read poetry and philosophy'." Sheridan sees here "a generous human solidarity and understanding for everyone" - everyone, that is, but the 'Indians' wasted by those pistols and grenades. Others, such as Perry Anderson, see merely a "mixture of machismo and schmaltz."

"If I could recommend just one book to tell you something about the human condition, this would be it," Sheridan concludes. Talk about working for The Oz.

But before you rush off to your bookshop to buy, it's worth taking a closer look at Oz the propagandist. Take this passage, for example, from A Tale:

"All the Jewish settlements that were captured by the Arabs in the War of Independence, without exception, were razed to the ground, and their Jewish inhabitants were murdered or taken captive or escaped, but the Arab armies did not allow any of the survivors to return after the war. The Arabs implemented a more complete 'ethnic cleansing' in the territories they conquered than the Jews did: hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were driven out from the territory of the State of Israel in that war, but a hundred thousand remained, whereas there were no Jews at all in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip under Jordanian and Egyptian rule. Not one. The settlements were obliterated, and the synagogues and cemeteries were razed to the ground."

Wow, not every Palestinian was ethnically cleansed from "the territory of the State of Israel" (notice how Oz includes the 24% of Palestine occupied by Zionist forces, over and above the 54% allotted by the UN for a Jewish state in 1947) in 1948, but every Jew was ethnically cleansed from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip! What a revelation! And that, folks, is one of the two Zionist talking points (the other being that the Palestinian refugee exodus of 1948, the Nakba, was more than offset by an exodus of Arab Jews to Israel) invariably trotted out whenever the subject of Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine is raised.

Oz's sleight of hand has been beautifully exposed by Israeli poet, author and journalist Yitzhak Laor:

"As the expert propagandist that he is, Amos Oz is well aware of how much more powerful 'absolute ethnic cleansing' is than 'partial ethnic cleansing'. He therefore takes great pains to describe minutely the "extermination of the Jewish nation" in the territories behind the Green Line, without specifying numbers. It is an absolute we're talking about - a veritable genocide, one after which no traces remain of the exterminated nation'. The absence of numbers for Jews is of course paralleled by numbers given for the expelled Arabs, a hundred thousand of whom stayed within Israel. The inevitable inference must be that the Jews committed something far less genocidal than the Arabs, whose deeds, framing this passage, constitute an 'absolute' atrocity. 'This of course is an old trick of salesmanship', Laor remarks. On the one side there is the removal of Kfar Darom by the Egyptian army, and that of Gush Etzion and the Old City of Jerusalem by the Jordanian Arab Legion, on the other the Palestinians are not even specifically mentioned, simply lumped together with the Arabs. The obvious must be stated: 'The ruin of the Palestinian people, four hundred of whose villages were laid waste, who were reduced to numerically negligent, racially discriminated against and poverty-stricken minorities in their own cities, hundreds of thousands of whom lost all they possessed, including the chance of decent human existence, this ongoing destruction, which continued while Oz wrote his book, is turned in the citation above into a not so terrible event, with many far worse than itself, our own fate for instance. Let us be clear. Oz has never employed the term 'ethnic cleansing' in relation to the conduct of the IDF in 1948. Now he does so only in order to say: if it happened, another was perpetrated that was far worse, a real one'." (Quoted in Gabriel Piterberg's The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics & Scholarship in Israel, 2008, pp 231-232)

But Oz's career as an propagandist began much earlier - in 1967 - when he co-edited Siah lohamim (Soldiers Talk), described by Piterberg as "one of the most effective propaganda tools in Israeli history, creating the image of the handsome, dilemma-ridden and existentially soul-searching Israeli soldier, the horrific oxymoron of 'the purity of arms', and the unfounded notion of an exalted Jewish morality." (p 233) Soldiers Talk contained conversations with kibbutz soldiers about their experiences in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It was translated into 6 languages and received Sheridanesqe adulation from the likes of Golda Meir and Elie Wiesel.

Piterberg, however, cites an unpublished PhD thesis by Alon Gan of Tel Aviv University, which reveals just how this successor to Leon Uris' propaganda novel Exodus was constructed: conversations with kibbutzniks who evinced a passion for a Greater Israel or gave "voice to their messianic elation, unabashed hatred of the Arabs and trigger-happiness" (p 236) were omitted, and other conversations were manipulated "to intensify the image of the handsome, morally pure soldier, and to render the reasons for his dilemmas and bad conscience less specific..." (p 237) Direct description was replaced with insinuation, ellipses were widely employed and explicit accounts of the war sanitized.

You can see why Sheridan has the otz for Oz.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Checkpoint Zero's Heartless, Paranoid Thugs

Checkpoint Zero is a play by Don Mamouney and Assad Abdi currently (28/7-24/8) showing at Marrickville's Sidetrack Theatre. It's a boy-meets-girl story. Specifically, Palestinian student boy meets Israeli soldier girl while the latter's on checkpoint duty. Mamouney has described the play as "a plea for a new way of imagining the future of Palestine/Israel. Not two separate ethnic states but a modern, multi-ethnic, multi-religious country able to sustain both Palestinians and Jews."

Checkpoint Zero was reviewed in The Australian Jewish News of 15/8/08 by David Kary. The final paragraph of his review reads as follows: "Sadly, despite the strong staging and the intentions set out by the playwrights, the play was unbalanced and came across as deeply pro-Palestinian. For this kind of play to work it just has to come across as even handed. What sticks out above all is the insulting portrayal of the male Israeli security guards who come across as heartless, paranoid thugs."

Just imagine: 'Sadly, despite the strong staging and the intentions set out by the playwrights, the play was unbalanced and came across as deeply pro-Jewish. For this kind of play to work it just has to come across as even handed. What sticks out above all is the insulting portrayal of the male German security guards as heartless, paranoid thugs.'

Anyway, what the AJN's reviewer fails to understand is that Israel's hundreds of checkpoints (and its occupation generally) produce "heartless, paranoid thugs." Just listen to this Israeli soldier: "I don't believe in it: I think this is not the way to do anything to anyone, surely not to someone who has done nothing to you, but you can't help but enjoy it. People do what you tell them. You know it's because you carry a weapon. Knowing that if you didn't have it, and if your fellow soldiers weren't beside you, they would jump on you, beat the shit out of you, and stab you to death - you begin to enjoy it. Not merely enjoy it, you need it. And then, when someone suddenly says 'No' to you, what do you mean no? Where do you draw the chutzpah from, to say no to me? Forget for a moment that I actually think that all those Jews [i.e., the settlers] are mad, and I actually want peace and believe we should leave the territories, how dare you say no to me? I am the Law! I am the Law here! And then you begin to understand that it makes you feel good. I remember a very specific situation: I was at a checkpoint, a temporary one, a so-called strangulation checkpoint, it was a very small checkpoint, very intimate, four soldiers, no commanding officer, no protection worthy of the name, a true moonlighting job, blocking the entrance to a village. From one side a line of cars wanting to get out, and from the other side a line of cars wanting to pass, a huge line, and suddenly you have a mighty force at the tip of your fingers, as if playing a computer game. I stand there like this, pointing at someone, gesturing to you to do this or that, and you do this or that, the car starts, moves towards me, halts beside me. You come here, you go there, like this. You barely move, you make them obey the tip of your finger. It's a mighty feeling. It's something you don't experience elsewhere. You know it's because you have a weapon, you know it's because you're a soldier, you know all this, but it's addictive." (from Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, Saree Makdisi, 2008, pp 53-54)

It's the occupation, stupid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Martin Peretz Scoop!

On 16/8/08 The Australian published a wonderful opinionated piece by Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic. It was called Blood of their blood. I was so impressed I asked Marty to expand on the following extracts (italicised), and he kindly obliged:

"There are so many more important issues in the world today than Palestine that I wonder why I am so obsessed with it."

Yes, and I've listed some in my article: there's Darfur and Bosnia and Cambodia and Rwanda and the Central African Republic and Chad and "other venues." Go and google them! Forget Palestine! Look into my eyes, not around my eyes, but into my eyes. There is no such thing as the Palestinian issue! Noooo Palestine! Right. When I snap my fingers, you'll be successfully diverted.

"Well, of course, what I am obsessed with is Israel, and it's a personal obsession relating to the catastrophe that befell my people in a way that no catastrophe had previously befallen any other people."

My people's past suffering is greater than any people's past, present or future suffering - and will remain so for as long as "my people" and I find it expedient to say so.

"So let me say outright that what wrongs the Israelis may have done to the Palestinians are, in the contexts of history and of our time, actually... let me not say trivial. How about banal?"

If "my people" were the victims of genocide, it is, of course, a catastrophe like no other. If the Palestinians, however, were and continue to be (as they allege) the victims of 60 years of ethnic cleansing, occupation and land theft, hey, it's a mere scratch on the knee.

"For them every loss (an olive tree, an orchard, an uninhabited hill) is a challenge to the divine order of things. In that sense, the world of Muslim Arabs is unchangeable and untouchable, including Palestine."

Frankly, I can't understand why anyone (except of course "my people" and I) would object to having their homes and livelihoods bulldozed, or their sons and daughters murdered, maimed, abused, jailed and tortured, especially by such a swell and deserving bunch as "my people" and I. I can't for the life of me understand why the Palestinians (or "Muslim Arabs," as I prefer to call them) are so damn touchy. Can't they see how perfectly peachy progress is?

"How do I say this? The Palestinian national movement is a fraud... You can judge the reality of Palestine by the travels of its leaders. Yasser Arafat went everywhere."

Just compare. The Zionist movement is the real thing. And you can judge the reality of Israel by the smoting of its leaders. Begin and Shamir smote Deir Yassin. Begin smote Lebanon. Sharon smote Qibya, Kafr Qassem, Sabra & Shatila, and Jenin. And we'll go anywhere for a good old-fashioned smoting - even Iran!

"How could Yemen be so important? Divided by tribes upon tribes, nearly half of its population is under 15 and one of its primary products is qat, chewed into oblivion. It is nearly equally split between Shia and Sunni. One of its last legislative reforms was to eliminate the age qualification of 15 for girls to marry."

"Last week, Palestinian functionaries were in Yemen," so, forgive me, I know sfa about Yemen, but just couldn't resist slagging off at it. Oh, and BTW, Israel is uniquely free of tribes, children under 15, drugs, and splits of any kind. And our girls (all over 15 of course) are simply too busy writing 'To Lebanon with love' on our shells and rockets to get married.

"After all, there must be many men, women and children, too, who want an ordinary life. It is not just Israel that denies it to them by checkpoints and other humiliating routines. It is the very perfervid character of Palestinian society that substitutes fantasy for the commonplace."

You'd think so, wouldn't you? But let me illustrate with an example of just how out of touch these sooks are. Only the other day I was reading this whinge in the Syrian Morning Herald by its Middle East correspondent Jason al-Koutsoukis: "Khalil Hanun's 35-year legal fight to prevent a Jewish settler group from taking possession of his home in disputed East Jerusalem will enter a critical phase this week when an Israeli court decides whether to keep him in jail for disobeying orders to vacate his property." (Crunch time as family fights to keep home from Jewish settlers, 18/9/08) What a sob story! According to al-Koutsoukis, Khalil Hanun and his family "were made refugees by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War" and "were granted possession of the home in 1956 by the United Nations Relief & Works Agency," but hey, they're Palestinian, aren't they? And "My people" and I have decreed that it's time for them to move on. No, Hanun's problem is not Israel, it's his "perfervid Palestinian character" and reliance on the "fantasy" that he has a place to call home within cooee of Israel. If only he could accept that the Israeli takeover of Palestinian homes and lands is "commonplace" around here and just get over it.

"[Muslims] are engaged in the hyper-drama of Palestine."

Listen, my friend, those Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, call 'em what you will, are such drama queens! "My people" and I, on the other hand, are so damn cool (and hot!) you wouldn't believe.

Thanks, Marty. I'm writing to The Australian for more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Zionist La Passionara

In Activist has a gender for peace, and it's all in the talk (9/8/08), the Sydney Morning Herald's Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis introduces us to "Israeli-American author, playwright and women's rights activist Naomi Ragen*," who is about to darken our doorstep for the 3rd time - for which you can thank the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA).

[*He forgot to throw in card-carrying Likudnik.]

Koutsoukis tells us that Naomi "has many passions, some contradictory." So sit back, relax, and enjoy some Zionist plain-speaking from Ragin' Ragen:

After "lamenting the end of women's dialogue that for one brief moment Oslo allowed," Naomi opines, "'If we women [Israeli and Palestinian] could just keep sitting together and talking, we'd get a lot done'." Exactly what 'they' got done during that "one brief moment" she doesn't say, but you'll be pleased to know that Naomi, "an Orthodox Jew... receives Christmas cards from a member of the Jordanian royal family, a Muslim"! Now if only the anonymous Jordanian blueblood, prime ministerial wannabe Tzipi Livni, and Naomi, of course, could sit down over a cuppa, a new era of peace and harmony would dawn in the Holy Land. Yeah, right!

"[Naomi] is convinced the controversial wall separating Israel and the West Bank is essential for security." [Not illegal, you'll note, merely "controversial." Note also Katsoukis' description (clueless/deliberate?) of the wall "separating Israel from the West Bank," when much of it is built inside the West Bank.] Yet this "passion" for the wall is contradicted, according to Koutsoukis, by Naomi's refusal, against the wishes of her fellow Jews in the Ramot neighbourhood of Jerusalem, to countenance the building of "a fence that would have prevented her neighbours from the Arab village Beit Iksa coming to their construction jobs. 'These were honourable men coming in to do their jobs and we never, ever had any trouble with any of them. Why would I cut them off from their livelihoods? If anything had ever happened, of course, I'd have been the first to have insisted on the fence'." Hm, what a friend to the good folk of Beit Iksa! Only trouble is, as the headline has it, it really is "all in the talk."

To begin with, Naomi's home of Ramot [Allon] is an illegal Israeli settlement built on occupied land (1347 dunums) stolen from Beit Iksa in 1973. What's more, Ramot snaffled a further 112 dunums of Beit Iksa's land between 2002 and 2004. With the completion of Israel's Apartheid Wall, Beit Iksa will lose 60% of its land to the Israeli side (See Beit Iksa loses its lands to the Israeli Segregation Wall,

Then there's the slight matter of Naomi's revisionism. As a novelist (she's also here for the Melbourne Writers' Festival), you may be sure she knows that a first draft can always benefit from a good re-write. And so the second draft (above) of Naomi Stands Alone Against the Wall, in which she portrays herself as a lone defender of the "honourable men" of Beit Iksa, is way better than the first, which appeared in the March 2006 edition of Mideast Outpost ( under the heading Handing Jerusalem to Hamas. Back then Naomi wrote as follows: "During the intifada, [Beit Iksa] villagers regularly walked across the wadi and up the steps past my home to work in construction jobs in Ramot and elsewhere. This, even after terrorists were found with suicide belts in Ramot... The police never checked these workers, despite repeated phone calls and warnings." And remember how, in her second draft, she said she opposed the building of the wall because it would have prevented the villagers of Beit Iksa from "coming to their construction jobs?" That was mucho better than the first draft, which had her opposing the wall because it'd leave Beit Iksa on the Palestinian side of the wall where it would become a hotbed of Hamasian terror on Ramot's very "doorstep." And how does she know this? Because those bloody villagers "voted 100% for Hamas" in the election!

Although Naomi knows how to spin a tale or two, she's apparently somewhat reluctant to turn her hand to politics. But if she did, "the number one item on her agenda would be 'to introduce the death penalty for terrorists. We need to kill these people, not let them sit in our jails and then trade them to freedom in return for the bodies of Israeli soldiers who lost their lives protecting their country'." Jeez, Louise, this lady's got balls! Maybe Her Highness could double as Lord High Executioner. Or is hangin' too good for 'em?

In reference to her coming ZFA appearance(s), Koutsoukis asks Naomi why she'll be addressing "only a Jewish audience." She responds, "Because we are living through the most ignorant time in Jewish history. They don't realise that there was never a Palestinian state here - never a real state between the Babylonian destruction and the reborn state of Israel." Told you she's got balls! She's singing from the same hymn book as that other Zionist iron maiden, the late PM Golda Meir. As Golda once laid it on the line: "There was no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." Seems Naomi's a throwback to the Good Old Days of Golda, and it's been all down hill ever since.

Now Koutsoukis describes Naomi as "warming to her theme over gnocci and a peppery Judean Hills* cabernet in Jerusalem's German Colony neighbourhood." How very civilized. But no sooner has he asked if she'll be debating Antony Loewenstein in Australia, than she's come unstuck, choking on the gnocci and spraying cabernet all over him: "'Bring it on'," she splutters. "'Those kind of people are easy. They say one lie after another. He's a typical self-hating, ignorant Jew'."

[*A "Judean Hills cabernet"? Is that the brand, I wonder, or can we expect Jason to begin referring to the Israeli-occupied West Bank in his reports as Judea and Samaria?]

Finally, after wiping Jason down, Naomi's onto another of her "many passions," this time fulminating against the two-state solution: "'A complete disaster... Look what happened in Gaza. A total betrayal. As soon as we withdrew from Gaza, they started attacking us... I liked Sharon up until the Gaza withdrawal, but then he sold out his country', she says. Which is perhaps why the notion held by some right-wing religious Jews - that Sharon, still in a coma after a stroke in January 2006, is being punished by God for the Gaza withdrawal - does not strike Ragen as offensive. 'I think there might be something to it'."

Spruiking the wall, spruiking the death penalty, unable to see the Palestinians for the suicide bombers, unable to see the Palestinians before there were any suicide bombers, unable to see the Palestinians full stop, more right-wing than Sharon himself, indulged over gnocci and peppery Judean Hills cabernet by a handsome young Greek-Australian reporter, poised to fly off to the Antipodes to stiffen the spine of Australian Zionists - what a woman!

But there's more. What about the bit about Naomi being a "women's rights activist"? Koutsoukis didn't go there, but The Australian Jewish News did: "It is not just external threats that Ragen sees as a challenge. She has recently spoken out against the introduction of segregated buses in Jerusalem, in which women are forced to sit at the back, so they don't offend ultra-Orthodox sensibilities. 'If you have a situation where all of a sudden the private realm of religion starts dictating where you can sit on a bus, that's a challenge for the whole country, and that is something that needs to be dealt with no less than the military problems and the secular problems that we have', said Ragen, who labels herself modern-Orthodox." (Ragen: We're between hope and a hard place, 1/8/08)

Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel! What about where "the private realm of religion starts dictating" whether Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and lands? But that's Zionism for you: still crazy after all these years.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Georgian Conflict: Made in Israel?

"Mention any trouble spot in the Third World over the past 10 years, and, inevitably, you will find smiling Israeli officers and shiny Israeli weapons on the news pages. The images have become familiar: the Uzi submachine gun or the Galil assault rifle, with Israeli officers named Uzi and Galil, or Golan, for good measure. We have seen them in South Africa, Iran, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Namibia, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Chile, Bolivia, and many other places from Seoul to Tegucigalpa, from Walvis Bay to Guatemala City, from Taipei to Port-au-Prince, Israeli civilians and military men have been helping, in their words, in 'the defence of the West'." That's a quote from Israeli scholar Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's 1988 book, The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why. Twenty years later, Uzi, Galil, Golan & Co are still at it - in Georgia:

"Georgian tanks and infantry, aided by Israeli military advisers, captured the capital of breakaway South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, early Friday, August 8, bringing the Georgian-Russian conflict over the province to a military climax... The Russians may just bear with the pro-US Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili's ambition to bring his country into NATO. But they draw a heavy line against his plans and those of Western oil companies, including Israeli firms, to route the oil routes from Azerbaijan and the gas lines from Turkmenistan, which transit Georgia, through Turkey instead of hooking them up to Russian pipelines carrying oil and gas out of the Caspian region... DEBKAfile discloses Israel's interest in the conflict from its exclusive military sources: Jerusalem owns a strong interest in Caspian oil and gas reaching the Turkish terminal port of Ceyhan, rather than the Russian network. Intense negotiations are afoot between Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan for pipelines to reach Turkey and thence to Israel's oil terminal at Ashkelon and on to its Red Sea port of Eilat. From there, supertankers can carry the gas and oil to the far east through the Indian Ocean... Last year, the Georgian president commissioned from private Israeli security firms several hundred military advisers, estimated at up to 1,000, to train the Georgian armed forces in commando, air, sea, armored and artillery combat tactics. They also offer instruction on military intelligence and security for the central regime. Tbilisi also purchased weapons, intelligence and electronic warfare systems from Israel. These advisers were undoubtedly deeply involved in the Georgian army's preparations to conquer the South Ossetian capital Friday. In recent weeks, Moscow has repeatedly demanded that Jerusalem halt its military assistance to Georgia... Israel responded by saying that the only assistance rendered Tbilsi was 'defensive'." (Israel backs Georgia in Caspian oil pipeline battle with Russia,, 8/8/08)

"The military cooperation between the countries developed swiftly. The fact that Georgia's defense minister, Davit Kezerashvili, is a former Israeli... contributed to this cooperation. His door was always open to the Israelis who came and offered his country arms systems made in Israel... Among the Israelis who took advantage of the opportunity... were former Minister Roni Milo and his brother Shlomo, former director-general of the Military Industries, Brigadier-General (Res) Gal Hirsch and Major-General (Res) Yisrael Ziv... Dov Pikulin, one of the owners of the Authentico company specializing in trips and journeys to the area, says... that 'the Israeli is the main investor in the Georgian economy. Everyone is there, directly or indirectly'. 'The Israelis should be proud of themselves for the Israeli training and education received by the Georgian soldiers', Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili said Saturday. Yakobashvili is a Jew and is fluent in Hebrew. 'We are now in a fight against the great Russia', he said, 'and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House, because Georgia cannot survive on its own... One of the Georgian parliament members did not settle Saturday for the call for American aid, urging Israel to help stop the Russian offensive as well..." (War in Georgia: the Israeli connection,, 10/8/08)

"To a reporter's question about Jews who have fled the fighting and come to Israel, [President Saakashvili] said: 'We have 2 Israeli cabinet ministers, one deals with war... and the other with negotiations.., and that is the Israeli involvement here: Both war and peace are in the hands of Israeli Jews'." (Georgia president denies Israel halted military aid due to war,, 14/8/08)

And not a word anywhere in the Australian mainstream media about Uzi, Galil, Golan & Co.

Postscript, 16/8/08: Let me qualify that last sentence. The Australian's Cut & Paste (14/8/08) published an extract from The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah on the "Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis" under the heading: "Don't blame Russia, blame the Jews, says Ali Abunimah of The Electronic Intifada." I have a number of observations to make about this disgusting little diversion. For starters, Abunimah is not blaming "the Jews." The Australian here promotes the erroneous Zionist party line that Israel is the state of all Jews, everywhere, and that therefore any criticism of Israel, its policies and behaviour can be construed as anti-Semitism. (Imagine The Australian, for example, publishing the above extract from Israel's ynetnews on the "Israeli connection" under the heading "Don't blame Russia, blame the Jews, says Arie Egozi of") Secondly, isn't it fascinating that, while open discussion of the Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis can be found in the Israeli media, as per the above examples, it appears out of bounds in the Australian media.

Postscript 2, 16/8/08: Qualification 2. The Sydney Morning Herald's chief correspondent Paul McGeough, in a feature article, Trigger happy and oil mad (16/8/08), has touched on the Israeli connection ever so gingerly: "Armed and trained militarily by the US and, intriguingly, by Israel, Georgia sent thousands of troops to help out in Iraq. So when he lit the fire at home, Saakashvili believed Washington and NATO would send firefighters as a favour returned." Intriguing, yes, but not, it seems, intriguing enough for McGeough to pursue the matter further. Later in his article, he referred to the Georgian president's "hairy-chested behaviour," despite Condi's insistence that he "not provoke Moscow with military action." We need to know just who cultivated the hair on Saakashvili's chest and taught him to play with matches, and how the Yanks really feel about their role in the conflagration.

Postscript 3, 18/8/08: Qualification 3. The Australian's Peter Wilson, in a feature article, Beginning of a Soviet reunion (16/8/08), made this fleeting reference: "Firefights and occasional attacks across the border had been building in recent weeks but Saakashvili was not merely responding to provocation from South Ossetia. Before his re-election in January he vowed to break the impasse and reclaim the disputed territory, and his confidence was lifted by the retraining and rearming of his military in recent years by the US and Israel."

For the paper's foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan that's a bridge too far. The closest he gets is this: "Finally, when Washington gets as close to a government as it did to Saakashvili's in Georgia, and embraces it as a de facto ally, it assumes some responsibility for its military behaviour. At the very least Saakashvili exhibited very poor judgment in providing Putin with a pretext for invasion." (Strongman Putin on the blitz, 16/8/08)

Still looking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish: 1941-2008

This is the wedding without an end,
In a boundless courtyard,
On an endless night.
This is the Palestinian wedding:
Never will lover reach lover
Except as martyr or fugitive.

From Blessed be that which has not come!
Translated by A M Elmessiri

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Israeli Gratitude

In my last post, I noted with disgust this particular boil belonging to The Daily Telegraph's rotund pundit Piers Akerman: "Ever since the Arab nations surrounding Israel encouraged Palestinians to flee the nascent state of Israel 60 years ago, they have refused to permit them to settle and integrate into their populations, preferring to see a United Nations-supported permanent 'refugee' state of Palestine fester on the Israeli border and remain a canker in international relations."

I lanced it thus: "And that, folks, is all anyone expelled from his homeland would want, right? Just to forget and move on - as far away from his alleged homeland as possible, right? Content that it's gone to more deserving folk, right?"

Since reading the following two news reports, my sarcasm has turned out to be far closer to reality than I imagined:-

The first concerns Palestinian refugees whose grandparents were ethnically cleansed by Israeli forces in 1948 and took refuge in Iraq. Following the US invasion and occupation of that country in 2003, they now find themselves refugees twice over: "More than 2 dozen vulnerable Palestinian refugees stranded for the last 2 years in a makeshift camp in the desert on the Iraq-Syria border are set to leave the camp in the coming weeks for Iceland." (Resettlement to Iceland rescues Palestinians from border camp limbo, 4/8/08, That's right, not Palestine - Iceland!

The second concerns the findings of an Israeli study of what Israelis (whose kibbutzes and moshavs were built on the ruins of pre-1948 Palestinian villages) think about living in the homes of Palestinian refugees such as those featured in the previous item: " 'There was nothing there', members of Kibbutz Barkai write in one pamphlet that is quoted in the book. There was some mention here and there of the Arabs 'bequeathing' their lands, their homes and even their furniture and household goods to the new settlers." (The makings of history/Secrets of the olive trees, Tom Segev, Haaretz, 25/7/08) That's right, the Palestinians bequeathed all they owned to the more deserving Israelis! Talk about Arab hospitality.

We know how well Israel has repaid such extraordinary Palestinian generosity over the past 60 years, but what about those generous, self-sacrificing Palestinians who had gone, for example, to Gaza in 1948, and found they'd left themselves a little short? You know - before they began bludging on the UN, as Piers has reminded us. When they slipped back into their former homeland for a bit of fruit or the odd bit of furniture, the Israelis, to whom the Palestinians had bequeathed the very shirts off their backs, showed their gratitude by "hunting them down" and handing them over to the army for a bounty!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cut & Paste Pasted

The Zionist propagandists who preside over the 'opinion' pages of The Australian just love to indulge in schadenfreude. The buggers were cock-a-hoop over two recent cases of Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip and made the most of the opportunity they presented to divert attention away from Israel's routine acts of bastardry, such as shooting up funerals of Palestinians shot at funerals of Palestinians shot defending their land*, or giving Palestinians in urgent need of medical attention the choice of death or turning informer*.

[*Rubber bullets fired at Naalin funeral-goers,, 5/8/08]
[* 'Tell us who the terrorists are if you want the doctor',, 4/8/08]

The Australian's Cut & Paste (6/8/08) section led off with the murder in Gaza of deported asylum-seeker Akram al-Masri under the facetious headline The refugee with a well-founded fear of a mango feud. The claim of an Australian refugee advocate that al-Masri had had "problems with Israel and the Palestinian Authority," and that the Howard government had therefore knowingly sent him to his death was juxtaposed with an extract from a Sydney Morning Herald report by Paul McGeough to the effect that al-Masri was really the hapless victim of a feud between two Gazan clans which had its origin in a dispute over the sale of a mango (Refugee was abandoned to Gaza clan warfare, 5/8/08). The implication, of course, was that the Howard government had clean hands. Maybe, but who really knows? But what about Israel? Should it too escape blame? Before deciding, think about this very Zionist experiment:

Flood the Gaza Strip with thousands of refugees expelled from other parts of Palestine (1948), turning it into one of the most overcrowded places on earth; occupy it, not once (1956-7), but twice (1967); steal a third of its land to build fortified playpens for bored American Jews; ruthlessly crush all dissent; sow death and destruction at every turn, decade after decade; strangle its economy; throw into the mix a period of Palestinian Authority misrule (1994-2006); cultivate the PA's collaborationist security services*; level the inmates' homes, schools, factories, workshops, hospitals and greenhouses; tear up their roads; raze their fields and uproot their fruit trees; get out when it becomes too hot to handle (2005); shriek in horror as the inmates dare to elect their own non-collaborationist government (2006); seal the Strip off from the rest of the world with a ring of steel; shoot, shell and strafe its inmates for voting as they saw fit; smirk and feel superior as they seek solace in religion or protection/advantage in the clan. Above all, perform high fives whenever they turn on each other and pat yourself on the head for imagining you're so much more civilized than they.

[*"While the political branches of the Fateh-led PA may have been just passive in the Palestinian struggle for freedom, some of the security forces have been active collaborators with the Israeli occupation, most notably the Preventive Security apparatus, headed by Mohammed Dahlan in the Gaza Strip and Jibril Rajoub in the West Bank. These forces, trained by the CIA, have worked during all years of the Oslo Agreements in tight collaboration with the Israeli security forces, including collaborations in assassinations of Hamas militants." (The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003, Tanya Reinhart pp 148-149)]

The McGeough extract was followed by one from a rant by the Basil Fawlty of Australian journalism, The Daily Telegraph's Piers Akerman. Piers variously describes the Palestinian refugees, Israel's victims, as a "cancer", a "festering [sore]" and a "canker," Israel, however, the creator and sustainer of the Palestinian refugee wound, is described as a state that has "maintained a non-discrimination policy toward Arabs and people of all faiths within its borders." Piers is as mad as hell (on Israel's behalf) and he's not gonna take it anymore! You see, Israel had gone to considerable time and trouble to expel Palestine's untermenschen back in 1948, but - you wouldn't read about it (except maybe in The Daily Telegraph) - those bloody Arab states "have refused to permit them to settle and integrate into their populations, preferring to see a United Nations-supported permanent 'refugee' state of Palestine festering on the Israeli border and and remaining a canker in international relations." And that, folks, is all anyone expelled from his homeland would want, right? Just to forget and move on - as far away from his alleged homeland as possible, right? Content that it's gone to more deserving folk, right?

But what really gets Piers going is the obverse of this Arab knavery - Israel's merciful provision of "sanctuary for Palestinians fleeing home-grown terror directed against each other." You see, "the bloody infighting between rival terrorist gangs" is just typical and proves, if proof were needed, that Israel is "the only island of security in the middle of the carnage..." Do I really need to elaborate on the irony of Israel letting 181 Palestinian collaborators and/or criminals in, while keeping 4-5 million Palestinian refugees out?

Then came this extract from UK Israel apologist Melanie Phillips of the The Spectator on "the crowning absurdity of the situation... So let's get our head around this: Palestinians committed to the destruction of Israel fled from other Palestinians committed to the destruction of Israel into Israel, which is providing them with sanctuary and medical treatment, while the President of their putative state, who bases his claim against Israel on its alleged [!!!] refusal to admit Palestinian refugees, refused to allow actual Palestinian refugees fleeing Palestinian violence access to that same putative state, while Israel agonises over whether to grant them permanent asylum. Surreal, or what?" Yes, Mel, I reckon you're off with the Salvador Dali-s there.

Time for some old-fashioned realism from Israeli observer Meron Benvenisti: "Members of the [openly collaborationist] Dahlan* clans, who fled under similar circumstances a year ago [in the wake of the Hamas preemptive strike of 2007*] did not want members of the Hilles clan, and they convinced Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that the whole business would prove too costly. After all, according to the precedent that they themselves set, every person who escaped from Gaza would receive a grant of $350 a month, in addition to a salary and a rent allowance. PA officials tried to paper over this stinginess on the part of people who are unabashedly embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian aid by bandying such false slogans as 'should we leave Gaza to Hamas?' " (They were not wanted in Ramallah, Haaretz 7/8/08)

[*On Muhammad Dahlan (Abbas' national-security adviser and the CIA's ex-man in Gaza) and Hamas' preemptive strike see my 6/3/08 post Mainsewer Media Clueless in Gaza]

And here's more realism from Paul McGeough: "First under Arafat and then in a power vacuum created by Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the 20-odd leading clans reached the peak of their power - economic and military, social and political... But when the clans came up against an elected Hamas government, something had to give. Last weekend it did. In the first year or so of Islamist control of the occupied territories, the clans bided their time, playing Hamas against Fatah. But when Hamas defeated the Fatah-controlled forces of the President, Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza last year, the clans began to buckle... In the absence of organised Fatah forces in Gaza, some of the bigger clans have become militia proxies for Abbas' unelected and US-sponsored regime, which operates from the West Bank city of Ramallah... In the absence of the greater Israeli force and left to their own devices by the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority, blood feuds and other clan clashes exploded, from 'a handful' in the 1980s to hundreds in 2006 - when at least 90 deaths and hundreds of injuries were recorded... Despite resorting to strong-arm tactics that have provoked negative criticism from human rights watch groups, Hamas is celebrated locally for restoring law and order." (Clans fight to keep it all in the family, Sydney Morning Herald 8/8/08)

Phillips' outrageous propaganda about Israel "agonising over whether to grant them permanent asylum" should be contrasted with this report: "Since human rights groups have recently reported on torture in Gaza, alarms were raised [over Israel's decision to send about 3 dozen Hilles clan members back to Gaza]. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court demanding that Israel stop returning the men to Gaza. On Monday morning, the Israeli military announced that it would not send them all to Gaza and that it had persuaded Mr Abbas to allow many of them into the West Bank. So [ACRI] backed off, replaced by two right-wing activists who petitioned the court to stop the transfer of dangerous men across Israel. By day's end, the army had moved 88 of the men on military buses to Jericho. Several dozen others were sent to Gaza, while 16 were still in the hospital. And the rest? Israeli security forces were interrogating them..." (In Gaza, a blurry line between enemies & friends, The New York Times, 5/8/08)

Finally, Cut & Paste readers were offered this little pearl from visiting neocon recruit Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the SMH of 4/8/08: "In a tribal society, life is cruel and terrible." Well, you can be pretty sure that the ex-Somali, ex-Muslim Ali didn't have the land of the 12 tribes in mind when she dropped her pearl of wisdom, but some Israeli scholars sure have. Consider the following: "[Israeli historian Zeev] Sternhell argues that Zionism as a whole was a tribal form of nationalism of 'blood and soil' emphasising religion and ethnicity..." (The Bible & Zionism: Invented Traditions, Archaeology & Post-Colonialism in Israel-Palestine, Nur Masalha, 2007 p 23)

And has the Zionist tribe ever indulged in any Zionist-on-Zionist violence? Read on: "Barnea and Rubenstein state that 'the Hagana archives contain the names of 40 Jews who were killed by Irgun and LEHI (Stern Group) men in the course of their underground work or in the context of settling internal accounts', reviewing the record. This does not include Jews killed by terrorist attacks aimed at others, as in the King David Hotel bombing. The official history of Begin's Irgun described how they drowned a member who they thought might give information to the police, if captured; see Shahak, Begin And Co. The Haganah Special Actions Squad undertook 'punitive actions against informers within the Jewish community' as one of its tasks (Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion, p 99). A Haganah prison in Haifa contained a torture chamber for interrogation of Jews suspected of collaboration with the British, the Haifa weekly Hashavua Bair revealed in its 35th anniversary issue (April 1983), in an interview with a high military officer of the Haganah." (The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & the Palestinians, Noam Chomsky, 1983 pp 164-165)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The 'R' Word

My flabber is well and truly gastered. I am reeling. First, the Sydney Morning Herald (2/8/08), and now The Australian (6/8/08), have used the 'r' word in their respective reviews of the French film Female Agents.

I can hardly believe my eyes. I truly thought I'd never see this louche archaism again. Militancy, oui. Terrorism, oui, oui. But there it was, in the corporate press! The SMH titled its review of the film - about female French terrorists knocking off innocent German Defence Force personnel in the disputed French territories during WW2 - a "ripping yarn of resistance," while The Australian - quelle horreur! - talked about "the women of the French Resistance."

What's next? Freedom fighters?

When the Tough Gets Going

The Israeli politicians and propagandists who dominate mainstream media coverage of the Middle East conflict are fond of rationalising Israel's barbarous behaviour* by claiming that the Middle East is a tough neighbourhood. Their supposed streetwise rationale is often taken at face value by gullible Western politicians and media practitioners. That Israel is far and away the biggest tough in the Middle East neighbourhood never seems to occur to them.

And whenever the tough gets going, no people, apart from the Palestinians, suffer as much as the Lebanese. That they have the true measure of their neighbour from Hell, emerges from the results of an opinion poll of 800 Lebanese (Sunni, Shi'a, Druze & Christian) on the subject of last month's Israel-Hezbollah prisoner swap and the role of armed resistance in defending Lebanon from the bully boy south of the border. The poll, undertaken by the Beirut Centre for Research & Information from 20-24 July, was reported in Lebanon's Al-Akhbar (The News) of 29/7/08. The translation is mine:-

1) Would it have been possible to obtain the release of our prisoners without the capture of Israeli soldiers in July 2006? [75% answered No (62% Sunni, 97% Shi'a, 65% Druze, 75% Christian)]

2) If the Lebanese government had undertaken to negotiate the prisoner release, would it have yielded the same result? [62% answered No (40% Sunni, 93% Shi'a, 46% Druze, 58% Christian)]

3) Do you believe that because some of the prisoners, such as Quntar and most of the remains, were not Shi'a, indicates that Hezbollah is non-sectarian? [59% answered Yes (38% Sunni, 94% Shi'a, 39% Druze, 52% Christians)]

4) Do you believe that diplomacy alone, not backed by military force, will enable us to reclaim from Israel that which is our right? [66% answered No (59% Sunni, 93% Shi'a, 57% Druze, 54% Christians]

5) Disregarding what you think of Hezbollah's internal politics, do you consider the armed resistance to be Lebanon's protector until such time as the army is ready to take over? [69% answered Yes (51% Sunni, 96% Shi'a, 52% Druze, 65% Christian)]

6) Has Hezbollah regained its image as a resistance organization following the success of the prisoner exchange? [77% answered Yes (54% Sunni, 99% Shi'a, 61% Druze, 79% Christian)]

7) Do you believe that confronting the ongoing Zionist project requires an ongoing resistance project? [75% answered Yes (64% Sunni, 97% Shi'a, 66% Druze, 68% Christian]

8) Do you support what Hasan Nasrallah said regarding the duty of all Lebanese to participate in the resistance? [79% answered Yes ( 71% Sunni, 97% Shi'a, 73% Druze, 74% Christian)]

9) Do you believe that closing the prisoner and Shab'aa Farms file will eliminate the Israeli threat to Lebanon? [70% answered No (61% Sunni, 87% Shi'a, 61% Druze, 67% Christian)]

And, in a reference to Lebanon's other neighbour from Hell:

10) Have Hezbollah and the opposition done enough to investigate the fate of the missing in Syria? [67% answered No ( 81% Sunni, 43% Shi'a, 84% Druze, 72% Christian)]

[*To quote the late Israel Shahak: "I don't like to discuss Israeli policies in terms of 'settler states', or 'colonial rule', since I regard Israeli policies as being much worse than those applied by other colonial regimes." (Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear & Foreign Policies, 1997, p 7)]

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Charities of Middle Eastern Appearance Only

Murdoch super sleuth Richard Kerbaj continues his relentless pursuit of Australian charities of Middle Eastern appearance. He was last seen hot on the trail of Muslim Aid Australia (MAA) in The Australian of 8/7/08 (See my post 15/7/08, 'On whose back are we fighting terror?'), but has been sighted more recently in The Australian of 25/7/08.

Under the knee-knocking headline, Police raid on 'terror charity', Kerbaj informed us that MAA was "yesterday raided by the federal police... AFP and NSW Police counter-terrorism agents seized computer files and financial records from MAA's headquarters in Lakemba, Sydney's Muslim heartland, during a 7-hour raid." And he, Kerbaj, had unleashed them: "The police action was prompted by The Australian's revelations this month about the charity's connection to Interpal, a humanitarian network proscribed by Australia and the US."

A more highly organised, ruthless and fiendish outfit than MAA would be difficult to imagine. Did you know that MAA's "executive director Mohammed Taha Alsalami... said last night he was shocked that his organisation had failed to pull from its website a fundraising appeal that links its charity work to Interpal... 'It's a shock that it's still there... It shouldn't have been there in the first place. This whole matter is very sensitive now... We have to abide by the law, and there's no question about that... If there was any wrongdoing it should appear." This sinister terrorist mastermind can duck and weave all he likes, but thanks to Kerbaj his dissembling is there for all to see. Palestinians! Lakemba! Mohammad! Guilty!

But there's more! In Charity cancels Gaza appeal (The Australian, 26/7/08), Kerbaj gave us a revealing glimpse into just how efficient and attentive to detail this outfit really is: "MAA removed the 'Gaza Crisis' appeal from its website following a report in The Australian yesterday that it had continued promoting the fundraiser after its Sydney premises were this week raided by police." The smoking gun (Gaza appeal + Interpal logo) was pulled at a cracking pace of just under a month!

Eternally vigilant, Kerbaj is now hot on the trail of yet another 'terror charity'. In Aussie charity banned for 'aiding terror' (The Australian, 31/7/08), he told us that "An Australian charity that distributes humanitarian aid in the Middle East has been banned by the Israeli Government for allegedly bankrolling Palestinian terrorists. Human Appeal International has been accused by the Israeli Defence Forces of supporting the Palestinian organization Hamas." Banned by the Israelis? Guilty! And if any further evidence were necessary, Kerbaj has provided it: "Mr [Bashar] al-Jamal [HAI's director], whose organization has been previously linked to Hamas by the... CIA and the FBI in 2003..." Linked to Hamas by the CIA/FBI? Guilty! When are the AFP going to act on this?

Meanwhile, and entirely coincidentally, Israeli forces are fairly run off their jackbooted feet with raiding, ransacking, and confiscating the contents of nests of Hamasian terror such as shopping malls, charities, orphanages, clinics, media organizations, mosques etc in the West Bank city of Nablus (See The Israeli siege on Nablus, 17/7/08,

Kerbaj's beat, as it happens, is almost exclusively the streets of Lakembastan. Charities not of Middle Eastern appearance are not his shtick. Israeli 'charities' for instance. 'Don't you worry about that!' Rupert's minions in Australia, echoing the words of a long extinct Queensland premier, might have cautioned him.

However, while Kerbaj was diverting us with his tall tales and 'true', the subject of those out-of-bounds Israeli 'charities' managed to sneak, ever so discreetly and tantalisingly, into the pages of the mainstream press: billionaire Australian shopping mall magnate Frank Lowy* (& Sons: David, Peter & Stephen) "hid assets from the Australian Taxation Office, using the European tax haven of Liechtenstein to conceal tens of millions of dollars for more than a decade, a US congressional report has claimed... Lowy, Australia's second-richest man, yesterday 'totally rejected' the assertions. He insisted in a statement that neither he nor any member of his family had done anything wrong, and said that all of the funds had been distributed for charitable purposes in Israel some years ago." (Lowy family 'hid millions', The Australian, 18/7/08) Fascinating! Still, you can be sure that The Australian won't be touching that with or without the proverbial barge pole.

[*"Lowy... joined the Hagana and then the Golani Brigade, fighting during the War of Independence in the Galilee and Gaza. He was seriously wounded during the attack on the village of Sejera in the lower Galilee." (Frank Lowy: From Hagana to $3.8 billion magnate, Jerusalem Post, 29/5/06)]

Friday, August 1, 2008

Broken Promises

To collar the Olympics in 2001, China promised to allow complete media freedom. It has now reneged on that promise. These two editorialists are rightly indignant:-

"Was a nation that tortures Falun Gong proponents ever going to honour its promises and allow its people uncensored access to the BBC and CNN, even for a fortnight?" (Chinese checkmate: totalitarianism is challenging the Olympic spirit, The Australian, 1/8/08)

"Worse than its arrogance, however, is China's deceitfulness, after repeatedly promising complete media freedom during the Games." (Great firewall of China, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1/8/08)

To collar UN membership* in 1949, Israel promised to implement UNGA resolution 194 (III) of 11/12/48, which calls for the repatriation and compensation of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes and lands by Zionist forces in 1948. These refugees, now in their millions, have been waiting for over 6 decades for Israel to implement resolution 194.

[*UNGA resolution 273, para 5: "Recalling its resolutions of 29/11/47 and 11/12/48 and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel before the Ad Hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions."]

Can you imagine the same indignation from the same two editorialists on Israel's failure to keep its promises:-

Was a nation that ethnically cleansed the indigenous Palestinian population ever going to honour its promises to allow them to return?

Worse than its arrogance, however, is Israel's deceitfulness, after repeatedly promising to implement resolution 194.

Silly question.

Postscript: The Chinese government has reportedly (The Age, 2/8/08) "bowed to international condemnation of its media censorship and opened up numerous internet sites it had previously blocked." Israel continues to bow to nothing and no one.