Friday, November 28, 2008

Janet's Dream

Janet, this is the Spirit of Investigative Journalism, come to you in a dream. Truly, this latest column of yours (Hostages to fear & systematic loathing in Israel, The Australian, 26/11/08) is a truly woeful effort, a mere conduit for propaganda fed to you during the course of your recent Jewish Board of Deputies/Israeli Foreign Ministry rambamming (the definition of this term may be found in this site's 17/11/08 post Rambam Alert!) in Israel. How many times have I reminded you of the importance of doing your homework, reading widely, and thinking critically before putting pen to paper? Perhaps I'm being naive here. After all, the whole point of the rambamming process is to recruit journalists such as yourself, and others, to act as uncritical diseminators of Israeli propaganda. Then, of course, there's your job. We all know that Rupert wouldn't have it any other way. Still, I'm disturbed at the tendency of so many of you in the media these days to succumb so easily to the blandishments of Israel lobbyists whenever a rambamming junket is dangled before you. Sadly, it seems that journalistic ethics are now a thing of the past. And please don't think it's enough to append a disclaimer as you've done (although it's certainly more than that dreadful Paul Sheehan did in his paean to Israeli "warrior-scholars" - see the previous post, His Master's Voice) or to gesture half-heartedly to "the Israeli settlements that poison relations and stymie solutions, the Israeli blockade of Gaza" and so on to provide a veneer of objectivity. The reader is not fooled, Janet. He knows where you're coming from. Your column fairly oozes Israel advocacy.

You refer in your introduction to the Clayton's ceasefire entered into by Israel and Hamas in June, and hint darkly about "yet another culprit killing the prospect of peace." I'm sure you didn't have the Israeli military in mind when you wrote this. But were you not aware that UN records show that of the 8 violations in its first week alone, 7 were by the IDF? (UN: Israel violated truce 7 times in one week,, 27/6/08).

Predictably, you were taken to the Israeli pilgrimage site of Sderot. But did it ever enter your mind to ask why you (and your fellower Australian rambammers), and David Miliband before you, and every other man and his dog undergoing a rambamming, have for years now been whisked off to rocket-ravaged Sderot? Did it ever occur to you that Sderot and its rockets are simply too precious a propaganda tool for the Israeli government to warrant the hammering out of a genuine ceasefire and a real peace with the Gazans, that the inhabitants of Sderot might be simply hostage to the requirements of Israeli power politics? While you were told that Sderot had "endured thousands of rocket attacks in recent years," you were, of course, kept completely in the dark as to the number of rockets, missiles, shells, and bullets rained down on the length and breadth of Gaza for as long as I can remember. Did you ask about that? Did you ask to visit Gaza?

As for that unfortunate "young Ethiopian woman, who has lost relatives to the rocket attacks from Gaza?" Did it not seem odd to you that she hadn't been relocated out of harm's way? Further, did you wonder what an Ethiopian was doing there, in Israel, in the first place, considering how successive Israeli governments have kept millions of Palestinian refugees in political limbo now for over 60 years, denying their right to return to their homes and lands in what, until 1948, had been Palestine? A stark illustration of this bizarre species of discrimination practised routinely by the Jewish State came with the news in August that a group of 1948 Palestinian refugees, "stranded for the last 2 years in a makeshift camp in the desert on the Iraq-Syria border," part of the refugee exodus of your vaunted Operation Iraqi Freedom, had been taken in by - wait for it - Iceland! (Resettlement to Iceland rescues Palestinians from border camp limbo,, 4/8/08)

You mention that "40% of all Palestinians" live in the Gaza Strip. Given this territory's rather arid nature, did you not ask yourself why almost half of all Palestinians not exiled in surrounding Arab countries are cooped up in the Strip in squalid and sprawling refugee camps? The answer's simple, Janet. They're the descendents of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from southern Palestine by Israeli forces under cover of war in 1948 and denied the right of return to their homes and lands in what is today Israel.

On a more prosaic level, who told you that "if elections were held in the West Bank today, predictions are that Hamas would win there, putting an end to the cooperation that has stopped the terrorism emanating from that enclave." In fact, according to the latest poll on Palestinians' voting intentions by An-Najah University, Fatah would take 31.4% of the vote in parliamentary elections against 14.4% for Hamas (Fatah would win Palestinian elections: opinion poll,, 26/11/08).

Now we come to your argument: that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is generations away because "an entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism." Your one and only source is "Palestinian Media Watch... where analysts have long tracked what the Palestinian leadership under Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is doing." What do you really know about this organization? Just how objective do you think it is? I assume you met its director, Itamar Marcus? What do you know about him? Would the fact that he was a Netanyahu appointee in the 90s give you pause for thought? The fact that he is "an Israeli political activist of the West Bank settlement of Efrat who previously lobbied to keep West Bank aquifers under Israeli control?" (Palestinian Politics After the Oslo Accords: Resuming Arab Palestine, Nathan J Brown, 2003, p 296). For Marcus' earlier 'work', motivated by allegations of 'incitement' in Palestinian textbooks, I refer you to Professor Brown's critique, The Incitement Charge (pp 235-243), in the above book. It does not leave Mr Marcus looking terribly good. Consider it homework, Janet. Ditto for studies by Dr Ruth Firer, Matti Steinberg, the European Union, and Jennifer Miller. A useful point of departure for you might be the 2005 Council for the National Interest study by Reema Hijazi: Unwarranted Controversy: American Politicians, Israeli Critics, & Palestinian Textbooks,

You write of Palestinian geography books "that encourage children to see no Israel, books that feature maps of Israel in the colours of the Palestinian flag, and described as Palestine." Have you ever asked yourself where exactly are Israel's borders? After all, as Israeli scholar Idith Zertal has pointed out: "At no stage has the State of Israel defined its own borders - optimal, official, secured - nor acted to constitute these borders and win international recognition for them." (Israel's Holocaust & the Politics of Nationhood, 2005, p 184) Should they be the borders of 1947? That is, 54% of historical Palestine? 1949? 78% of historical Palestine? The West Bank minus land alienated from Palestinian ownership by Israel's West Bank Wall? The West Bank minus Israel's settlement blocs? An assortment of non-contiguous bits and pieces which Israeli settlers and/or the Israeli army haven't yet got around to snapping up?

Did you ask to be taken to the occupied West Bank? If you had spent any time there, you would surely have seen evidence of the relentless expansion of Israeli settlements, roads, security zones etc. You would have seen the little that is left of Arab Palestine being wiped off the map with no regard whatever for the 1949-67 Green Line, now a quaint relic of history, which used to demarcate the Israeli border. Even if, as you claim, Palestinian textbooks contain maps of Israel in the colours of the Palestinian flag, it is Israelis, backed by a succession of complicit governments and protected by the IDF, who are busily engaged in painting the actual land, if you like (& I've little doubt you do), in the colors of the Israeli flag. Oh, and did you check out any Israeli textbooks when you were there? Or some of the critical studies on them by the likes of Professor Eli Podeh, or Professor Daniel Bar-Tal? More homework, Janet.

As for soccer matches and summer camps for Palestinian youth "in honour of terrorists," did it ever occur to you to ask about, say, the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre, or the Memorial to David Ben Gurion, or the Ariel Sharon Memorial Park, or the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial, all of whom have presided either directly or indirectly over the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians, not to mention guided the ongoing Zionist project of wiping Palestine off the map. And those quizzes "identifying Israeli landmarks, towns and ports such as Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat as Palestinian." Are you aware that these were once Palestinian "landmarks, towns and ports," stolen from the refugees of 1948? Allow me to draw your attention to some Israeli straight talk, for a change - Moshe Dayan's famous speech before students at the Israel Institute of Technology (Techniyon) in 1969: "We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, Jewish state. In a considerable portion of localities we purchased the land from the Arabs. Instead of the Arab villages Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of these villages and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only the books, but also the villages no longer exist. Nahalal was established in the place of Mahalul, Gevat in the place of Jibta, Sarid in the place of Hanifas and Kefar Yehoshu'a in the place of Tel Shamam. There is not a single settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab village." (Quoted in Haaretz, 4/4/69) If you care to read about Palestinian Haifa, Janet, see the 7/5/08 post on this site, Bend It like Benny. Many of the families of the children you describe as receiving "hate education" were actually driven out of such places in 1948. This is history, not "hate education."

You ask whether the Australian foreign minister knows how your 'aid' dollar and mine is being used by the Palestinian Authority, whether perhaps it's paying for books showing maps of Israel/Palestine in red, green, white and black. Rest assured, Janet, our hard-earned money is being put to a use I'm sure you'd approve of - "enabling a Vichy-style PA to police Israeli-occupied West Bank Palestinians on behalf of their occupier" - as has been described in this site's 4/11/08 post The Bigger Picture.

And speaking of the bigger picture, Janet, if you want to know what is really shaping the minds of Palestinian children, you need look no further than the Israeli occupation. Here's how the individual is taught to hate by the teachers of the IDF: "I was shocked at the destruction and devastation. I was hysterical and began to cry and scream. I ran all around, but nobody was in the area. I went to where my wife and children were to make sure they were all right, but nobody was in the house. I returned to the ruins of my house and sat on a pile of stones and dirt and started to cry again. People came to comfort me. My neighbors were also in shock. The women screamed and tried in vain to remove possessions from under the piles of stone. The sun was coming up. Thousands of residents, and also journalists, came to the site. My wife and children came home and saw that the house had turned into a pile of stones. My wife fainted, and the neighbours took her to the hospital. The children started to cry. I was still in shock and couldn't do anything, not even go to the hospital to be with my wife. My wife was treated and returned to the site about 3 hours later. My children, who had been wandering around among the thousands of people, came to sit with us on the pile of stones, and we all cried until one o'clock in the afternoon. Some neighbours felt bad about what had happened to us and brought us food. We ate while sitting on the pile of stones. We slept at a relative's house. We all stayed in one room and spent the whole night there. The next day, we returned to the ruins of our house and stayed there all day. For two days, the children did not go to school because all their books and notebooks were buried among the ruins. On Thursday afternoon [12 April], the Red Cross began to distribute tents and blankets to the residents. We received a tent and ten blankets. We put the tent on the stone pile. We sat in the tent throughout the day and at night went to sleep with my relative because we were afraid that the army would fire at the tent to prevent us from returning to live on the site. The next day, some good people came and gave every schoolchild a small bag with notebooks, coloured pens, and a game. On Sunday, the Palestinian Ministry of Education gave all the children whose houses were destroyed a bag and fifty dollars. My children went to school, but their behavior changed. They wet the beds at the relative's house, and screamed in their sleep because of their nightmares." (Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, Saree Makdisi, 2008, pp 108-109)

And if you really want to know about Palestinian education, check out this appalling set of numbers:

Number of Palestinian children killed by Israeli army, 2000-2007: 854

Percentage of Palestinian children living in fear, according to 2003 USAID study: 93

Percentage who have personally experienced violence: 48

Percentage displaced from home due to violence: 21

Percentage who feel their parents can't protect them: 52

Percentage who value their education as a means of improvement: 96

Number of Palestinian schools closed due to Israeli curfews and closures, 2002: 580

Number of Palestinian schoolchildren affected: 226, 000

Number of Israeli assaults on Palestinian schools, 2003-5: 180

Number of students and teachers killed as a result: 181

Schooldays lost due to Israeli closures in West Bank and Gaza, 2003-5: 1,525

Number of university-age people in Gaza: 400,000

Capacity of Gaza's university system: 70,000

Percentage of university-age Gazans denied the right to an education: 75

Number of Gazan students attending Birzeit University in West Bank, 2000: 350

Number in 2005: 35

Number in 2007: 15

Number of those who are there with permits from Israel: 0

Number who can visit their families and then return to university: 0

Number who can freely move around the West Bank: 0

Number of registered physically disabled people in Gaza: 24,000

Number of educational courses addressing physical rehabilitation in Gaza: 0

Percentage of disabled Gazans barred by Israel from studying in West Bank: 100

Length of closure imposed on Hebron universities by Israeli army, 2002-3: 8 months

(ibid, pp 196-197)

It's really quite simple, Janet: if hate there be, it's the occupation that incites it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

His Master's Voice

"Prepare for war. Last week I met the Boogie Man, the former head of the Israeli Defence [sic] Forces, General Moshe 'Boogie' Ya'alon, who is preparing the political groundwork for a military attack on Iran's key nuclear facilities," writes recently rambammed (see Rambam Alert!, 17/11/08) Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan (Israeli hawks ready to fly on Iran, 24/11/08).

Of course, you wouldn't know about Sheehan's rambamming because there's nothing anywhere in (or near) his propaganda - sorry - opinion piece to indicate that he's just been on a NSW Jewish Board of Deputies/Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs junket to Israel to meet the Boogie Man and other Israeli Strangeloves, or "warrior-scholars" as Sheehan prefers to call them.

Boogie's message is: "There is no way to stabilise the Middle East today without defeating the Iranian regime... We have to consider killing [Ahmadinejad]." So, this swaggering psychopath - sorry - warrior-scholar with the ridiculous moniker, who's aiming for a cabinet post should the right-wing Likud* come to power in next year's Israeli elections, asserts the untrammeled right of the Middle East's No. 1 Destabiliser to 'stabilise' the Middle East by rolling any other nation that dares lift its head and knocking off its leader. And Sheehan's role in all this Israeli sabre-rattling (accompanied by the absurd Mucci cartoon: a mushroom cloud cradling a missile), is to sell Israel's military madness to the Australian public. It is a mark of the Herald's precipitous decline into irrelevance as a source of informed and critical comment that, while the likes of Sheehan are kept on, real journalists such as Mike Carlton and (soon) Alan Ramsey are cut loose.

[*Sheehan has the nerve to refer to the Likud, ideological heir of revisionist Zionism and the pre-state terrorist Irgun, as "conservative."]

The Australian's opinion editor Rebecca Weisser (in need of no rambamming whatsoever when it comes to amplifying the party line), was also there in Jerusalem (Israeli general ups ante on Iran, 24/11/08) channeling the very same threats from Boogie.

I particularly enjoyed this little gem: "General Ya'alon said a two-pronged approach was necessary to defeat jihadism. 'From top down, using a big stick... From bottom up, using education'." You can add that to your file of pithy Zionist sound-bytes.

Even better, however, came in Weisser's potted bio of Boogie - a reference to the great man's "success in quelling the second Palestinian offensive launched in September 2000."  

Offensive? You do remember the Great Palestinian Offensive of 2000, don't you? How the terrifying might of the Palestinian armed forces, with firepower the likes of which the world had never seen before, was unleashed on the hapless, helpless Israelis who were all but driven into the sea?

Until Boogie Boy turned up to give the Palestinians a bit of stick, that is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sir Bob Wows JNFaithful at Galah Dinner

[If you haven't already done so, first read my 31/10/08 post The JNF Rocks. If you're new to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), read my other posts on the JNF, particularly A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group (14/6/08).]


"Each spring, sometimes as early as January, when almond trees blossom white and pink, the birthday of trees is celebrated throughout Israel. Thousands of boys and girls in white shirts, and foreign donors congregate at designated sites to plant new starts and expand the forest. One boy in our class, however, called the ceremonies fascist and murderous. He said that pines grow acrid needles and shed them, thereby annihilating all other growth, wild flowers, shrubs, and smaller indigenous trees. He said, obviously repeating words he heard at home, that forestation of land that was not formerly forested, but which seems every year to hold fewer marks of stone terraces, as rubble and orchards disappear among and under the pines, is a part of what he called 'the big lie of our existence'. We had been friends with that boy, but on that celebration of Tu B'Shvat did not share with him the customary foods of the holiday, dried figs, dates and nuts, neatly packed for us by our parents." (Picnic Grounds: A Novel in Fragments, Oz Shelach, 2003)

"Geldof brings star quality to JNF gala," sparkled the headline in The Australian Jewish News (21/11/08).

Now what exactly was it, I hear you ask, that "human rights icon" Sir Bob had to say to the assembled faithful who flocked to the Jewish National Fund gala dinner at the Australian Jockey Club at Sydney's Randwick Racecourse?

"'I have no shame in comparing [the 30 million deaths arising from the Ethiopian famine of 1984] to the Holocaust. ['To the Holocaust! Shame on you, you scruffy, closet anti-Semite!' smouldered the worshippers. But when Sir Bob switched from Africa to the Middle East, enthralling the true believers with the sweep & depth of his knowledge of the latter, his indiscretion was immediately forgotten.]... 'It's no wonder that the great religions came from the desert [Oops - there goes Buddhism]- all the noise and stink of the city is gone - and in that great emptiness, your mind has a psychedelic [ever the hippie, how cute!] understanding of God'. But the desert is not a good friend, he added, unless we have a way to live there. 'And that is what the JNF is doing [wait for it!]- making the desert bloom." (ibid)

Making the desert bloom. The devotees literally swooned at that. This mantra encapsulated what the Israel of their youth was really all about: the great Palestinian Sandy Desert, with the odd Bedouin just trotting by on his camel (or galloping past, if spurred on by a volley from the trusty Sten), reclaimed by heroic Zionist pioneers, dune by dune, nay, sand grain by sand grain. It was just as Israeli prez Shimon Peres, in one of his former incarnations as Minister of (Dis)Information, long ago had preached: "The country [Palestine] was mostly an empty desert, with only a few islands of Arab settlement; and Israel's cultivable land today was indeed redeemed from swamp and wilderness." (David's Sling: The Arming of Israel, Shimon Peres, 1970, p 249) Precisely as former Israeli PM Levi Eshkol had proclaimed: "It was only after the Zionists 'made the desert bloom' that 'they [the Palestinians] became interested in taking it from us'." (Levi Eshkol, Jerusalem Post, 17/2/69).

Sir Bob's rekindling of this first, fine flicker of their youths is sure to result in them going forth and demanding of the Arab-loving U-bloody-N that the JNF immediately receive an international mandate to make [insert desert of your choice:.........................] bloom? Watch this space.

Now if we can just wipe the tears, or the sand, or both from our eyes for a minute, and return to the real world. The hoary Zionist myth thay Israel made the desert bloom was the subject of rigorous examination by Middle East scholar Alan George** in the Winter 1979 issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies. His concluding words: "The major conclusions which thus emerge are: 1. That only about half of Palestine has a true desert climate*; 2. That expansion of the cultivated area was already under way before the occurrence of mass Zionist immigration; 3. That by about 1930 all those areas which could be cultivated by the indigenous Arab population were already being farmed by them; 4. That the area within what became Israel actually being farmed by Arabs in 1947 was greater than the physical area which was under cultivation in Israel almost 30 years later; 5. That the impressive expansion of Israel's cultivated area since 1948 has been more apparent than real since it involved mainly the 'reclamation' of farmland belonging to the [Palestinian] refugees [ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948]; this is probably as true for the Negev desert as for the rest of Israel." ('Making the Desert Bloom'- A Myth Examined, JPS, p 100)

[*The desert half, the Negev, is in the south. ** Alan George is the author of Syria: Neither Bread Nor Freedom, 2003.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unconditional Love

"Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni has told her visting British counterpart David Miliband she expects the international community to support the Jewish state's tough stand on Gaza... Mr Miliband, who will tour the rocket-battered Israeli town of Sderot with Defence Minister Ehud Barak later today, said he was 'looking forward to showing solidarity in my visit tomorrow'." (Support urged for Israeli stand on Gaza, Herald Sun, 17/11/08)

Israel, the feral child of imperial Britain, "expects the international community," no less, to applaud its ongoing mugging of those it has dispossessed, caged, starved and brutalised for decades. Britain rushes to its side, stooping to polish the young thug's bover boots, recently scuffed while grinding the faces of its Palestinian victims. How touching this display of unconditional parental love.

And on another matter: I'll be away from my computer for a week or so.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rambam Alert!

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 the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.

Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of Rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)

[See my earlier posts on rambamming: Ram Bam Thankyou Ma'am (19/2/08) & Rambammed (23/2/08)]

"At its luncheon club held on October 29, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies farewelled 4 journalists who will participate in an Israel mission designed specifically for Australian journalists. Paul Sheehan [Sydney Morning Herald columnist], Jacinta Tynan [Sky News Australia & Sunday Telegraph columnist], Janet Albrechtsen [The Australian columnist] and Peter Charley [SBS Dateline EP] will depart for Israel on November 13." (Journalists farewelled, The Australian Jewish News, 14/11/08)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unleashing the Zionist Settler Within

Some relatively sensible comment - for the mainstream media - from the diplomatic editor of The Age:-

"...the very notion of Australia hauling [Ahmadinejad] off to front a criminal tribunal was just a stunt. Labor hatched the scheme in opposition, got a few headlines for its trouble, then allowed a respectable time in office to pass before dumping the idea. The whole episode is illustrative [of the extent of influence, quite contrary to the national interest, of the pro-Israel lobby on LibLab] because it shows governments need not be hostage to bad policy. And to reinforce the lesson, another bad policy went by the wayside last weekend, but one more substantive and not of Labor's making. The issue is how Australia votes on key resolutions put before the United Nations relating to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory [sic]. It is a complex and delicate area - hardly a surprise when dealing with this conflict. Each year a series of resolutions are put to the General Assembly, broadly demanding Israel fairly treat the Palestinians. And for years, the vast majority of the world, including Australia, has mostly voted in favour. Only Israel voted against all of them, the US against most, as did a few of its client states including the US Marshall Islands, Palau and Micronesia. To put that in proper perspective, it usually added up to a majority of about 160 countries standing against 6 or 8. Australia's position changed in 2003 when the Howard government switched tack, flushed as it was with the neo-conservative zeal of the Iraq war and annoyed by a critical finding in the International Court of Justice against the wall Israel has built to fence off the West Bank. So for the past 5 years, Australia has been offside with the international community. Remarkably, this meant Australia abstained from a call for Israel, the occupying power, to abide by the Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians, leaving us in pretty miserable company. Australia has now gone back to the majority, and voted in favour of applying the Geneva Conventions. Australia also dropped its opposition to a call for Israel to cease building settlements in occupied territory. This is a risky move for the Government, but an important one. Upsetting Israel is the obvious danger, annoying some in Australia's Jewish community is another - not to mention being seen to abandon the US, Australia's principal ally... Israel was apparently well aware of Australia's intentions before the vote and has no great concerns over the shift. So, why make the change? For one thing, it is the right approach. Australia can be a friend to Israel and at the same time firmly impress upon Tel Aviv the need to abide by international standards. But there is also another interest at play - the Government's campaign for a UN Security Council seat in 2013-14. During the failed bid in 1996, Australia lost a crucial bloc of votes from Islamic states, and informed circles aware of the events at the time blame the then new Howard government for taking a hopelessly pro-Israel stance. Having kept up its opposition to the UN resolution on the Geneva Conventions, the Government would have no chance of winning a seat at the table. The switch should not be interpreted as a compromise. If anything, Australia's former position compromised our international standing." (How to reverse bad policy: The Government has successfully changed tack on Iran & Israel, Daniel Flitton, The Age, 14/11/08)

This was followed by the following hilarious whine on the letters page (15/11/08), from a Robert Friedman of Caulfield North, that inadvertently sends the message that, yes, up to this change of vote, Australia has in fact been Israel's lapdog: "It is important to note that of the '160-odd countries' that voted for the resolutions, about 60 are members of either the Organisation of Islamic States or the Arab League or both. [Well, that invalidates their vote, now doesn't it?] Where Australia used to act on its own conscience [Gimme a break!], we now appear to have fallen in line to enhance our chances of a temporary seat on the Security Council. Still lapdogs. Just a new master."

And speaking of the Ruddies' decision "annoying some in Australia's Jewish community," it looks as though, at least for the moment, their self-styled leaders are gritting their teeth and holding their fire":

Labor's Member for Israel, Michael Danby, has reportedly called the decision a "mistake," while the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) are "disappointed and concerned." (UN vote switch sparks debate, The Australian Jewish News, 14/11/08). The AJN's editorial construed it as "a bit of tough love that never hurt anyone," but warned that "should Australia change its voting position once again, 'the gloves will be off', according to one Australian Jewish leader." Watch your back, Kevvie, there's a Rhambo out there!

The bleeding obvious in all of this is that none of the above have the courage of their Zionist convictions. None of them, to my knowledge, have come out and said clearly what they really think - in the manner, for example, of Nadia Matar, "the combative leader of the radical Jewish settler movement Women in Green, [who] has a message for Kevin Rudd. 'The incredible audacity of you', she shouts from her home in Efrat, a Jewish settlement... in the West Bank... 'Who are you to tell me I am not allowed to build here, in my homeland?... Jews are allowed to build in France, in New York, in Australia, but I am not allowed to build here? This is my land... Be very careful', Mrs Matar warned of any further attempts by Australia to put pressure on the Israeli settler movement. 'Don't force us to do something. Not because I need your help - I have God on my side. Just for your own sake, because you might be next'." (Israeli anger that burns brightly, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/11/08)

Mrs Matar, who hails originally from Belgium, is surely the authentic voice of Zionism here. No mere grumbling that Kevvie's change of tack is mistaken/disappointing/concerning for her. Why then aren't our local Zionist 'leaders' shouting from the rooftops their support for a Greater Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan - if not the Euphrates (Zionism ain't what it used to be)? Why aren't they proudly and publicly defending their courageous settler brethren in the West Bank? Why aren't they coming right out and saying, Geneva Conventions be damned, latter-day Amalekites have no rights in our land? Why aren't they lashing Rudd as the latest reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain? Why, oh why, are they so coy about unleashing their inner Zionist settlers?

Keep Digging!

"I write in praise of George W Bush. I recognise this may be an eccentric position to hold and an eccentric moment to express it... Much of history's judgment of Bush will turn on Iraq and Afghanistan. This column, in what is certainly a minority position, believes the Iraq operation was the right thing to do on the basis of the information available and Bush was courageous to do it... This President, infinitely more complex than his reviews would suggest, will have a better place in history than most of his critics." (I come to hail the chief, not to bury him: The whole world is absurdly against GW Bush, but history's views will be more balanced, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian, 13/11/08)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lest We Forget...Iraq

"Did you know that...? Of course not. You don't want to know. So let's take some baby steps through your Occupation, shall we? OK, this is how it started... Iraq pre-2003: Mixed neighborhoods. Intermarriages. No sectarian strife. Iraq post-2003: Segregated neighborhoods. Divorce. Sectarian strife. Walled ghettos... And lost homes.

"OK, since you seem to be a bunch of infantile retards with zero capacity for comprehension, let me take you again through the baby steps: you have a home, a house, an apartment, a studio, a plot of land, a hut, a tent - call it what you like. You may leave it for X reason, but we were forced to.

"Whilst away, you run out of the means to survive. You want to return. You return. You take out your key. You put it in the door. You can't unlock it! You think you must be dreaming. You check the number, the street. Yes, this is it. You knock on the door. A strange face opens it. You say, Is this my home? But this is my home! And the strange face tells you, Go to hell, you have no home here.

"So being a citizen who believes in the rule of law, you go to the 'Authorities'. They mock you or else offer you $300 as compensation. You shake your head in disbelief and say, This cannot be. So you decide to seek out a lawyer.

"You're told, Be careful whom you choose as a lawyer, because most of the honest ones have left the country, and you may end up with some charlatan, sectarian son-of-a-bitch who'll take all your money and deliver f***k-all. But you try anyway, knowing by now that your chances are nil - because there's no rule of law in a lawless, occupied country.

"Do you get it now or should I draw a picture for you? What's up? You still don't get it, even though I took you through it with baby steps? OK, since you're so damn thick, I'll put it another way, through questions: What do you think those 5 million Iraqi refugees have been doing in neighboring countries since 2003? Do you think they're on a holiday, sightseeing?

"Oh! I see you're still shaking that stupid bloody head of yours... You still don't get it, do you? It's all too much for you, isn't it?

"Maybe you're new Messiah, the 'chosen one', Obama, can explain it to you, or maybe Gordon Brown, the greasy, once-a-week-bath Brit. Or maybe your Zionist lobby. I'm sure they know all about it, but will, of course, pretend to know nothing. See, this is how dumb you are!

"God, I sound like a teacher of juvenile delinquents - must have missed my vocation. To be honest, I've never really been into juveniles. The teenage mentality bores the shit out of me. And I seem to be surrounded by them at the age of 40++. These teenage sociopaths are, for the most part, Americans and English. They exhibit what is called arrested development. And since their countries suffer from arrested development, they're into inflicting it on the rest of us. In fact, not only do they arrest our development, they destroy whatever natural development we had.

"Let's go through those baby steps again, my little 'darlings'.

"In Baghdad, the city I know best, there was no predominantly Sunni, Shiite or Christian neighborhood. This is a myth propagated by your disgusting media. There is one exception, though - Ath-Thawra, rebaptized Sadr City. This dump of convicts, thieves and outlaws was 'predominantly' Shiite. One day I will teach you the history of Sadr City, but not today. Today I want to walk baby steps with you. Yalla, clever ones. There you go, have a lollipop while I walk you through post-2003 Baghdad:-

"Let's forget about the Green Zone for a while... I know, I know, you love your little amusements there. Uncle Sam, Auntie, Mom and Pop, have some lovely American goodies stored there just for you, but I want to walk you through the Red Zone for a change. Don't be afraid. Come on now, I thought you were brave and loved Rambo films. Auntie Layla will hold your 'dear' little hands, fear not.

"Look at this neighborhood, for instance. It's called Arassat Al-Hindiya. See the beautiful houses on the river bank? Let me tell you who inhabits them today. Since your Mom and Pop 'liberated' us, these houses were taken over by the Supreme Council of Shits from Iran, the Hakim/Badr group, the Da'wa of Maliki and the rural/tribal shepherds from the Barzani/Talabani group. Here's how they did it: they occupy it in your absence. Then, when you return to claim it, depending on who you are, they might say, It is ours, or they might offer you some money for it. If you are short of money, having been in exile for so long, you might be inclined to accept. But if you don't, and insist that it's your house, they will give you one of their yellowish, sectarian Shiite/chauvanistic Kurdish smiles, and say, You have no choice.

"Or take another 'cool' neighborhood, for example: Yarmouk, or Jadriya. Same story. Or Mansour, or Karrada - the same.

"Now if you live in a slightly more modest area like Dora, Haifa, Falastin or Sleikh, then there you have no choice at all. If those who took over your house are armed, you can kiss it goodbye. They won't move - unless they're willing to settle for big money. And if you don't have big money, you're screwed.

"But there are more variations:

"You leave your home, and you ask someone to look after it. That someone loses his home during your never-ending 'liberation', so he moves into yours. Then he's short of money or his relatives lose their homes. So he rents out some rooms or brings in more people to live with him. You return and want your house back. What do you do with the 3 or 4 families living there? Where will they go? Again, you're screwed.

"Or take another example. Your have a house, land or property of some sort, and your father, mother, brother, sister, daughter, cousin, uncle, aunt, whatever, is kidnapped and tortured by the death squads you put in place, and they ask for a ransom. So you sell your house, land, property, hut, tent, whatever, to pay the kidnappers for their release. If you don't have the money, you borrow. Then you have to pay it back. And if you wan't to go back to it? You can't. You're up to your neck in debt and you've got nothing to go back to. Again, you're screwed.

"Another example: You live in a small house on a plot of land on the outskirts of Baghdad. You leave because they threatened to kill, rape or torture you. The minute you're gone, they come and live on your land. The area becomes all Shiite. You know you'll never be able to go back to that land. So what do you do? You suggest that those who took it buy it from you - but since they took it by force, why should they buy it? So you let it go, pack your bags and apply to emigrate to some God-forsaken brothel country in the West.

"This is what has happened, and what is happening to our homes since you decided to 'liberate' us. Do you understand now? Fat chance. You'll never understand.

"But, hey, you understand when an earthquake or hurricane destroys a house, don't you? You blame that on a natural disaster. But guess what, arseholes? You're a disaster, albeit man-made, for us - a disaster of a people and a disaster of a nation. (You too, filthy Brits.)

"I pray to God that every time you put your key in your door and turn it, the door will remain forever shut in your faces. Only then will you remember us and think of 'home sweet home'." (Home, Sweet Home*, Layla Anwar, 10/11/08,

[*I've taken the liberty of editing Layla's original post a little.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mr Rudd & Mr Krudd

Mr Turnbull - My question is addressed to the Prime Minister... I ask the PM: why has the Australian government switched its vote in the United Nations to support these two resolutions of which the foreign minister spoke, which are not simply highly critical of our friends in Israel but which accuse the state of Israel of acting in breach of international humanitarian law?* Does the PM consider this change of policy, with Australia making that grave allegation of misconduct against Israel, conducive to achieving peace in the Middle East? (Hansard, 10/11/08)

[See my post 10/11/08 Two Out of Three Ain't Bad]

Mr Rudd - Forgive me, but unlike the leader of the opposition, I was unaware that Australia's voting behaviour in the UN had been set in stone by his party's former leader. I do believe, Mr Speaker, that there's been a slight change of government in this country, and that my party is actually now in government, while his occupies the opposition benches. Given that not unimportant fact, it's hardly surprising that on some things our approach may differ from his. Mr Speaker, the leader of the opposition seems to entertain the decidedly peculiar view that Israel, a nation which has been acting in breach of international law since its inception, over 60 years ago, should not only not be accused of having done so, but should instead be given a pat on the back, on the grounds that that will more likely encourage it on the path to peace. Finally, Mr Speaker - and I thank the honourable leader of the opposition for raising the issue of Australia's relationship with Israel in this House - allow me to take this opportunity to inform the people of Australia that our ambassador to the UN will soon be initiating a motion in the General Assembly to have the state of Israel officially classified as an apartheid state, and calling for the imposition of international sanctions against its rogue government. Mr Speaker, the honourable gentleman seems on the verge of collapse. Please have the Usher of the Rod do something useful for a change and bring him the smelling salts - quickly!

Mr Krudd - As the honourable gentleman would know, this is a very complex matter. The whole Middle East peace process is littered with failed negotiations up until now. But if there is a preospect of delivering peace in the Middle East, part of that hinges on the question of how we deal with settlements in future. A huge part of it hinges on how we provide Israel with an appropriate state of security, given the threat of continued terrorism which Israel has suffered under for many decades. There is a lot of sensitivity attached to these matters. We on this side of the House are as acutely conscious of this as those on the other side... rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. (ibid)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Talking Turkey on the Two-State Solution

In its 7/11/08 edition, The Australian Financial Review ran an Economist review (Statehood: Wrong to challenge Israel's, wrong to withhold from Palestinians) of a new book, Israel & the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State & Human Rights, by Alexander Yakobson & Amnon Rubenstein. Essentially a defence of Zionism, the book is reviewed (anonymously) by a sympathiser, clearly irked by the fact that, 60 years after Israel's birth, anyone should feel it necessary "to argue the Zionist case all over again."

Yakobson and Rubenstein are concerned that "a new line of attack has returned to the fore... the notion that Zionism is colonial, that Jews are adherents of a religion and not a people, and a country that defines itself explicitly as a Jewish state cannot be properly democratic or protect the rights of its Arab minority," and claim that "The question of whether the Jews are a people, with as much of a claim as any other to national self-determination, was examined intensively by the United Nations in 1947 in the debates that preceded Israel's creation, and answered in the affirmative."

The General Assembly's 1947 partition resolution (181) is the key to their defence of the Zionist state, and they seem to be claiming here, if the reviewer has it right, that the UN at the time affirmed the concept of a Jewish state for the Jewish people, both those residing in Palestine at the time, and those without, that is, all Jews, everywhere. No evidence is adduced for this, of course (because there is none), it is simply asserted. The UN Partition Plan (Resolution 181) "did not promote the establishment of an exclusive Jewish state as defined by Israel. The Jewish state in the Partition Plan had an almost equal number of Jews and Arabs. It was supposed to adopt a constitution that affirmed the right of all to citizenship, including Palestinian Arabs, and to their property, non-discrimination, and human rights protections regardless of race, ethnicity, language or religion. Thus, the Jewish state under the Partition Plan was, like the Arab state, to be a state of all its citizens, on the grounds that it was a bi-national entity... " (BADIL, Bulletin 23)

The authors go on to say that the UN's decision to partition Palestine in 1947 into a Jewish and an Arab state "was based [squarely] on the political realities of the time: the actual presence in mandatory Palestine in the 1940s of two peoples whose equally authentic national aspirations seemed impossible to fulfil except by partition. The UN also noted that hundreds of thousands of displaced Holocaust survivors were desperate to leave Europe and they were welcome almost nowhere else."*

This is Zionist spin of course. To borrow their phrase "the political realities of the time" (minus the rest of their sentence) might be useful at this point: the overarching geo-political reality of the 40s was that, when push came to shove, the colonial demands of Europeans invariably trumped the rights of indigenous non-Europeans. As non-Europeans, the colonized Palestinians simply didn't stand a chance, as any objective account of their predicament at this time (or any other) shows:-

"The decision of the majority [of the UN Special Committee on Palestine] to propose partition reflected a linkage of the [Jewish] refugee and Palestine questions. Weizmann correctly stated that the United Nations 'was motivated pre-eminently by the purpose of solving once and for all the Jewish question in Europe, to get rid of the concentration camps and of the aftermath of Hitler's holocaust'. But others viewed this as a convenient solution for a problem that should have been handled otherwise. Morris Ernst, Roosevelt's advisor, decried 'the hypocrisy of closing our own doors while making sanctimonious demands on the Arabs'. Pakistan's UN delegate commented, sarcastically: 'Australia, an overpopulated small country with congested areas, says no, no, no; Canada, equally congested and overpopulated, says no; the United States, a great humanitarian country, a small area, with small resources, says no... they state: let them go to Palestine, where there are vast areas, a large economy and no trouble; they can easily be taken in there.' There was neither 'merit nor justice', said [British historian Arnold] Toynbee, in 'compensating victims at the expense of innocent third parties'. The Palestine Arabs were 'innocent of the crimes committed against the Jews by the Germans under the Nazi regime'. Toynbee thought that if a state were to be created as compensation, it 'should have been carved out of Central Europe'. A 'guilty Western people's territory was held to be sacrosanct, because, though guilty, they were Westerners... An innocent non-Western people's territory could, it was held, legitimately be given away to the Jews by the victorious Western powers. This amounts to a declaration of inequality of the Western and the non-Western sections of the human race. It is a claim that Westerners are privileged, however guilty they may be'. A US diplomat found 'no necessary connection between the humanitarian problem of succoring the displaced persons of Europe and the political problem of creating a new nationalist state in Palestine'...

"After receiving the Special Committee's report, the General Assembly constituted an Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestine Question to frame the Palestine issue for plenary debate... The ad hoc committee set up a subcommittee 1 to draw up a detailed plan for partition and a subcommittee 2 to draw up a plan for a single Palestine state. Subcommittee 2 asked the ad hoc committee to urge the General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice before adopting any resolution on Palestine. It wanted the Court to determine whether the Balfour Declaration violated self-determination of the Palestine population, whether the indigenous population of Palestine had a right to determine the status of Palestine, and whether the General Assembly had the power to suggest or to enforce a territorial settlement for Palestine... The ad hoc committee narrowly defeated the request of the subcommittee for an advisory opinion... Subcommittee 1 approved the Special Committee's partition plan... and the ad hoc committee voted to recommend partition to the General Assembly...

"Robert McClintock, a US State Department official... likened the partition map to 'a portrait by Picasso'. The proposed Jewish state would have had 56 percent of Palestine. Jews owned 6 percent of the land and made up 30% of the Palestinian population, most of them mandate-period immigrants. Ernest Bevin, Britain's foreign secretary, noted the difficulty of drawing boundaries because of the sparseness of Jewish population. 'It is impossible to find in all Palestine, apart from Tel Aviv and its environs . . . any sizeable area with a Jewish majority'. In the envisaged Jewish state Jews would have been in a minority - 499, 020 Jews to 509, 780 Arabs. In the proposed Arab state there would have been only 9, 520 Jews to 749, 101 Arabs. The plan thus gave much Arab-populated territory to the Jewish state, but little Jewish-populated territory to the Arab state. On November 25, 1947, the ad hoc committee approved the partition recommendation of subcommittee I, by a vote of 25 to 13, with 17 absententions. While sufficient to carry the plan in the subcommittee, this margin was short of the two-thirds majority that would be required for passage in the General Assembly. By this time the United States had emerged as the most aggressive proponent of partition. Most European countries, including the Soviet Union, supported it, but most Third World countries viewed it as an infringement of Arab rights. The United States got the General Assembly to delay a vote 'to gain time to bring certain Latin American republics into line with its own view'. U.S. officials, 'by direct order of the White House', used 'every form of pressure, direct and indirect', to 'make sure that the necessary majority' would be gained, according to former Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. Members of the U.S. Congress threatened curtailment of economic aid to several Third World countries...

"On November 29 [the General Assembly] adopted a draft legislation embodying the partition plan as Resolution 181. The resolution narrowly gained the required majority of two-thirds - 33 in favor, 13 opposed, and 10 abstaining. Included in the countries that switched their votes from November 25 to November 29 to provide the two-thirds majority were Liberia, the Philippines, and Haiti. All heavily dependent on the US financially, they had been lobbied to change their votes. Liberia's ambassador to the UN complained that the US delegation threatened aid cuts to several countries. Some delegates charged US officials with 'diplomatic intimidation'. Without 'terrific pressure' from the US on 'governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals', said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution 'would never have passed'. The fact such pressure had been exerted became public knowledge, to the extent a State Department policy group was concerned that 'the prestige of the UN' would suffer because of 'the notoriety and resentment attendant upon the activities of US pressure groups, including members of Congress, who sought to impose US views as to partition on foreign delegations'. Zionists packed the public gallery during the November 29 meeting to urge adoption of the partition plan. Several delegates said the resolution 'would have been carried in no other city than New York'." (The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective, John Quigley, 1990, pp 33-37)

Still, all is not lost. Yakobson and Rubenstein, as activists in Israel's peace camp, "happen to support a two-state solution, and note that most Israelis support it too." Their book, moreover, according to the reviewer, is not only "a methodical defence... of the Zionist idea but also of the two-state solution in Palestine..."

OK. Given their immense regard for the rectitude of the UNGA's partition resolution of November 1947, and their faith in its magical healing properties for homeless and stateless Jews, logic and morality surely demand the authors' support for its implementation in full on behalf of homeless and stateless Palestinians, that is, an Israeli return to the 1947 borders, the internationalization of Jerusalem, and the return of all Palestinian refugees to their homes in the UN-proposed Jewish state. To support anything less would leave them open to accusations of hypocrisy, no?

[*See my 14/3/08 post, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3, on this particular claim.]

Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

"A Rudd Government policy switch risks shaking Australia's relationship with Israel and angering some members of the Jewish community." (Rudd at risk on Israel proposal, Brendan Nicholson, The Age, 10/11/08)

OMG!!! A slight deviation from the former Howard government's policy of automatic diplomatic support for just about anything and everything Israeli governments ever said or did, and all hell is about to break loose! Crikey, what have the Ruddies bitten off here? "The Government has supported United Nations resolutions calling for an end to further Israeli settlement in Palestinian areas and for acceptance by Israel that the Geneva Convention should apply in those areas. Acceptance of the convention would oblige Israel to commit to the convention's standards for the treatment of Palestinian civilians. Australia last year opposed the vote on settlements and abstained from the vote on the Geneva Convention. Both motions were opposed by the United States..."

Wowee! Australia has at last voted for the application of international law rather than its trashing. In doing so, we finally joined the rest of the planet, leaving the usual suspects - Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and the US - out on their diplomatic limb.

But then we got the wobbles (maybe some Rahmbo in the US delegation was glaring at our UN ambassador while drawing his index finger menacingly across his throat): "The Australian delegation opposed a futher motion calling for an investigation of Israel's civil rights record." We were, mind you, "concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, but..." You guessed it: "but that motion was considered unbalanced because it did not take sufficient account of Israel's legitimate concerns about Palestinian attacks on its people." (IOW, if I can venture into the minds of our delegates, good sports one and all, and representing the world's most sport-obsessed nation, the so-called Occupied Palestinian Territories are not so much occupied as, well, sort of a level playing field, where two evenly-matched teams, both of whom can play dirty when it suits them, slug it out for the possession of the coveted Holy Land Cup.) Anyways, when it came to this one at least, we were (along with the Canadians) back on the old, familiar diplomatic limb with the United States of Israel and its Pacific pals.

But will this be enough to save the Ruddies from the wrath of "some members in the Jewish community"?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A New Dawn of American Leadership

The rhetoric: "And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand." (from President-elect Barack Obama's victory speech at Chicago's Grant Park)

The reality: "Why is he asking Rahm Emanuel - 'Rahmbo', one of [Washington's] most in-your-face partisan actors - to be his chief of staff?... [I]n the modern White House, the chief of staff is one of the most powerful posts, the gatekeeper to the president on every issue, the person with the last word... Mr Emanuel... knows the White House, having been a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. In a brief career as an investment banker after that, he made millions and became familiar with Wall Street; in the House, he helped negotiate the government bailout of the financial system... But there's the matter of his temperament - or, as Mr Emanuel says, 'I swear a lot'. He also yells a lot, and in his sentences his favourite expletive can serve as subject, verb or adjective when he is facing down recalcitrant Democrats or Republican opponents... In the Clinton administration, Mr Emanuel raised eyebrows when, as chairman of the 1993 inaugural committee, he rode in the parade in a car emblazoned with his name... Mr Emanuel has worked at good relations with Republicans... Late last week, Mr Emanuel called Ray LaHood, a Republican from downstate Illinois, for advice about his career. 'A chief of staff is sort of the alter ego of the president', Mr LaHood said. 'Philosophically, on principles and values, they just have to be totally in sync'. He thinks Mr Emanuel would be 'a perfect fit'."* (Rahmbo the gatekeeper: he swears by his boss, Jackie Calmes, The New York Times, repub SMH, 7/11/08)

So chief of staff Emanuel is a foul-mouthed, narcissistic, investment banker turned Democrat politician, who pals around with Republicans and whose principles and values Obama shares. How reassuring. But it gets worse: "Emanuel is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948." (Sources: Rahm Emanuel accepts Obama offer to be chief of staff, Haaretz, 6/11/08) Irgun terrorists achieved notoriety with the blowing up of Jerusalem's King David Hotel in 1946 (88 dead) and the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948 (100+ dead), to cite but two of their 'achievements'. The Irgun's leader, Menachem Begin, described by the architect of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and Israel's first prime minister (1948-1963), David Ben-Gurion, as "clearly a Hitler type," went on to lead the Irgun's ideological successor, the Likud, to victory in the Israeli elections of 1977.

But maybe Rahmbo's put this legacy behind him? No such luck. Apparently, he's a real chip off the old block** - after all, Daddy didn't name him Rahm Israel Emanuel for nothing: "Emanuel continued his father's tradition of active support for Israel; during the 1991 Gulf War he volunteered to help maintain Israeli army vehicles near the Lebanon border when southern Lebanon was still occupied by Israeli forces. As White House political director in the first Clinton administration, Emanuel orchestrated the famous 1993 signing ceremony of the 'Declaration of Principles' between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin." (Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post, Ali Abunimeh, The Electronic Intifada, 5/11/08) Of this sealing of the Oslo 'peace process', with its famous Rabin-Arafat handshake on the White House lawn, Edward Said lamented at the time: "The vulgarities of the White House ceremony, the degrading spectacle of Yasir Arafat thanking everyone for what, in fact, was the suspension of most of his people's rights, and the fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton's performance - like a 20th century Roman emperor shepherding two vassal kings through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance - all these only temporarily obscure the truly astonishing proportions of the Palestinian capitulation... [L]et us call the agreement by its real name: an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles." (Peace & its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process, 1996, p 7)

Not surprisingly, Emanuel has real form as an unabashed apologist in Congress for Israeli brutality: "In June 2003... he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. 'We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror', Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders 'was clearly justified as an application of Israel's right to self-defense' (Pelosi supports Israel's attacks on Hamas group, San Francisco Chronicle, 14/6/03). In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki had criticized Israel's bombing of Lebanon. Emanuel called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments 'totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies' in a 19 July speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel's bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims."* (Abunimeh)

Finally, "... Emanuel accompanied Obama to a meeting of AIPAC's executive board just after the Illinois senator had addressed the pro-Israel lobby's conference last June. " (Abunimeh) At that conference, Obama swore ritual fealty to Israel: "Our alliance is based on shared interests and shared values. Those who threaten Israel, threaten us. Israel has always faced these threats on the front lines. And I will bring to the White House an unshakeable commitment to Israel's security."

But God help Obama if ever his "unshakeable commitment" to Israel gets the wobbles: "There's the story of how, the night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president's enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting 'Dead!... Dead!... Dead! and plunging the knife into the table after every name. 'When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape', one campaign veteran recalls. 'It was like something out of The Godfather'."*** (Forget the Honeymoon: Getting Down to Bizness with Obama, Justin Raimondo,, 7/11/08)

[*Try working these clowns out: LaHood is an Illinois Republican of Lebanese origin. While Rahmbo is using his congressional seat to urge US backing for Israel's 2006 bomb-Lebanon-back-to-the-stone-age rampage (19/7/06), LaHood is "join[ing] with a small group of members of Congress in pressing the State Department to urge Israel to exercise more restraint in its bombing of Lebanon... 'I don't think it's right for [the Israelis] to close the airport, just bomb every runway, I think that's wrong. And I think it's wrong to bomb every major artery out of... Beirut and out of Lebanon. And then to go in and some of these oil refineries they've destroyed and some of the areas of Beirut that were just re-built over the last 10 years were bombed. I just think this is wrong." (LaHood on Lebanon, Mike Dorning,, 18/7/08)]
[** And here's a slice of Daddy: "Dr Benjamin Emanuel said he was convinced that his son's appointment would be good for Israel. 'Obviously, he will influence the president to be pro-Israel', he was quoted as saying. 'Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House'." (Emanuel to be Obama's chief of staff, The Jerusalem Post, 6/11/08)]
[*** This quote comes originally from a Rolling Stone article on Rahmbo by Joshua Green, The Enforcer (20/10/05). In it, Green cites Rahmbo as the guy responsible for "beating back the Republican-led impeachment" of Clinton. And who presided over the impeachment vote? Ray LaHood (wikipedia). Curiously, in Green's article, you will find absolutely no mention of Rahmbo's Zionist upbringing, merely: "The second of 3 sons born to a pediatrician father and a civil-rights-activist mother..." Nonetheless, it is well worth reading. Clinton veterans, for example, knew Rahmbo was on the prowl because "... 'he's got this big old pair of brass balls, and you can just hear 'em clanking when he walks down the halls of Congress', says Paul Begala, who served with Emanuel on Clinton's staff."]

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Bigger Picture

"Foreign Minister Stephen Smith committed $10 million to the Palestinian people [!] during a visit to Ramallah on Tuesday. Smith... advised that the $10 million donation was the final instalment in the Australian Government's $45 million contribution to the Palestinians, pledged at last year's Paris donors' conference. 'Of the 10 million, $7.5 million will be budget support for the Palestinian Authority delivered via the World Bank's Palestinian Reform & Development Plan trust fund', Smith said. 'The remaining $2.5 million will be provided for emergency food assistance in Gaza, to be delivered through the United Nations Relief & Works Agency, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies'." ($10 million committed to Palestinian people, Naomi Levin, The Australian Jewish News, 31/10/08)

The duplicitous buggers! While the Ruddies have been running around popping champagne corks in honour of Israel's 60th (see my March 08 posts, The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament), and their chief swearing blind that his love for Israel is down to his very DNA, they've actually been funding Palestinian terror! But all is not as it seems. Here's the dice:-

"Yes, it is easy to read that Australia has donated $10 million in foreign aid to the Palestinians and say: 'See, I told you the Labor Government is not fond of Israel'. But hold your vitriol. Many commentators and, in fact, many Israelis believe that the best thing the world [!] can do for peace is to financially support the Palestinians, particularly those on the West Bank [!]. With jobs or schools to attend, a fair and competent police force roaming the street and a belly full of food, individuals are far less likely to become disaffected, and therefore, less likely to take their anger out on Israel. At the Paris Donors' Conference in December last year, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the 87 countries represented that in working towards peace, other criteria should be fulfilled. 'I hope and believe that, with your assistance, these efforts can help produce effective, transparent and accountable Palestinian governance; security forces that fight terrorism comprehensively; bring law and order and ensure the principle of 'one authority, one gun'; and educational institutions that end incitement and prepare the next generation for coexistence and economic progress', Livni told the conference. Her thoughts were echoed last week, during Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev's trip to Australia. Regev happily recounted tales he had heard of markets full of produce in Palestinian towns and of increased law and order on the West Bank. He added that agents of the Annapolis peace process were trying desperately to build a more functional internal Palestinian security service. Of the $10 million pledged by... Smith, $7.5 million will be used for exactly the purposes Regev spoke about." (Palestinian aid welcomed: Analysis, Naomi Levin, AJN, 31/10/08)

There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. Australian money is enabling a Vichy-style Palestinian Authority to police Israeli-occupied West Bank Palestinians on behalf of their occupiers. The following report gives some idea of what this means on the ground in Israeli-occupied Palestine:-

"Today, the Palestinian Authority (PA) police and paramilitary forces, recently returned from US-sponsored training in Jordan, have fanned out around Jenin as part of a new security campaign to regain control of West Bank cities such as this one, which have been in disarray since the start of the Al Aqsa intifada nearly 8 years ago. But getting in their way, Palestinian officials charge, is an ongoing series of Israeli army raids here, in nearby Nablus, and elsewhere in the West Bank. While uniformed Palestinian police may look as if they're in control by day, when the clock strikes midnight, the Israeli army comes out to arrest and sometimes assassinate militants on its wanted list... Over the past 3 days, Israeli troops have made several raids on Hamas-affiliated institutions in nearby Nablus. A spokesman for the City of Nablus said Israeli forces broke into the municipality building and confiscated computers from city hall, raided 6 mosques, and seized 5 buses belonging to schools close to Hamas." (Palestinians: Let us tame wild Jenin, Ilene R Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, 11/7/08)

You can now see what the ubiquitous Mr Regev means by "increased law and order on the West Bank": Israel's Palestinian proxies rule by day while their masters rule by night. Round-the-clock protection for the Occupying Power while it goes about its business wiping Palestine of the map, dunum by dunum, Palestinian by Palestinian. And all paid for with Australian and other monies.

But what's really going on here? What's with the abovementioned Palestinian Reform & Development Plan (PRDP)? Read on:-

"Developed in close collaboration with institutions such as the World Bank... the PRDP is currently being implemented in the West Bank where the Abu Mazen-led PA has effective control. It embraces the fundamental precepts of neoliberalism: a private-sector driven economic strategy in which the aim is to attract foreign investment and reduce public spending to a minimum... The neoliberal vision underpinning these policies is a central corollary to the political direction promoted by the Israeli government, the PA, and their EU supporters. The aim... is to formalize a truncated network of Palestinian-controlled cantons and associated industrial zones, dependent upon the Israeli occupation, and through which a pool of cheap Palestinian labor is exploited by Israeli, Palestinian, and other regional capitalist groups. The evolving institutional framework for the Palestinian economy not only incorporates the Israeli occupation into the way 'development' is conceived, but also acts to foster the culpability of Palestinian political and economic elites for how these structures operate... [T]hese changes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of the regional framework of the Middle East. Over the last 2 decades, and particularly accelerating under the Bush administration, the US has pursued a policy of integrating its bases of support in the region within a single, neoliberal economic zone tied to the US through a series of bilateral trade agreements. This vision is aimed at promoting the free flow of capital and goods... throughout the Middle East region. The region's markets will be dominated by US imports, while cheap labor, concentrated in economic 'free' zones owned by regional and international capital, will manufacture low-cost imports destined for markets in the US, the EU, Israel, and the Gulf. A central component of this vision is the normalization and integration of Israel into the Middle East, underpinning a low-wage, neoliberal zone that spans the region. What this means is that Israel's historic destruction of Palestinian national rights must be accepted and blessed by all states in the region. In the place of real Palestinian self-determination (first and foremost the right of return of refugees), a nominal artificial state will be established in the dependent islands of territory across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This goal is an essential pre-requisite of US strategy in the region." (Palestine in the Middle East: Opposing Neoliberalism & US Power, Adam Hanieh, MRZine, 19/7/08,

Hanieh's analysis, parts 1 & 2, is a must-read. To focus on just one aspect of the "reform" part of the PRDP: in a program of draconian fiscal tightening required by the World Bank, West Bank Palestinians, over half of whom are already living in poverty, will be expected to cop a 21% cut in public sector employment by 2010. That'll be nearly 40,000 jobs down the gurgler.

And we're complicit in this.

Monday, November 3, 2008


The Australian's foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, according to the paper's website, is "the most influential foreign affairs analyst in Australian journalism."

This journalistic colossus, who once boldly asserted that George W Bush "may well be judged, ultimately, a great president, especially in the war on terror" (14/9/06), has now, on the eve of the "great" one's consignment to history's dustbin, dismissed him as "a very flawed politician" (Politics of celebrity takes over, 1/11/08).

Now if Sheridan were a doctor...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yes, Virginia, Israel is an Apartheid State

"When at the beginning of the [20th] century Zionist immigrants began to pour into Palestine, the fact that the country was already populated could no longer be ignored. Like every colonizing society, the Zionist settlers had to shape a definite policy toward the indigenous population. Here we come to the specific feature of Zionism which distinguishes it from all other modern colonization movements. The European settlers in other colonies sought to exploit the riches of the country (including the labor potential of the 'natives') and invariably turned the former population into an exploited class in the new colonial society. But Zionism wanted not simply the resources of Palestine (which were not very great in any case) but the country itself for the creation of a new national state which, through immigration, would provide its own classes - including a working class. The Arabs were, therefore, not to be exploited, but totally replaced." (The Other Israel: The Radical Case Against Zionism, Edited by Arie Bober, 1972, p 38)

"The Nobel peace laureate [Archbishop Desmond Tutu] said he was 'very deeply distressed' by a visit to the Holy Land, adding that 'it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa'." (Tutu condemns Israeli apartheid, BBC News, 29/4/02)

"Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what's right in front of our eyes. It's simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of apartheid with the native Palestinian population." (Yes, there is apartheid in Israel, Shulamit Aloni,, 8/1/07)

"South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils Thursday accused Israel of conducting a policy against the Palestinians that was worse than Apartheid." (, 10/5/07)

In a UN-commissioned report, South African professor of international law John Dugard, in his capacity as "independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the UN Human Rights Council, ... says 'common sense... dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al-Qaida, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation. While Palestinian terrorist acts are to be deplored, they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation'... [Dugard's] report accuses Israel of acts and policies consistent with all three." (UN expert: Palestinian terror 'inevitable' result of occupation, Haaretz, 26/2/08)

"Haaretz editor and board member Danny Rubinstein does not retract his categorization of Israel as an 'apartheid state' before the UN. He claims many at Haaretz agree." (Haaretz editor refuses to retract Israel apartheid statements, Ezra HaLevi,, 5/8/08)

"Palestinian human rights have been abused throughout 40 years of Israeli occupation, according to the UN General Assembly's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. In a report to the UN General Assembly in New York, Richard Falk [professor of international law at Princeton University] said Israel's occupation - of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip - posessed characteristics of colonialism and apartheid." (New report fuels UN-Israel debate, Jeremy Bowen, BBC News, 26/10/08)

[If you'd like to know more, Virginia, check out my posts Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship (18/1/08) & A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group (14/6/08)]