Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stop It or You'll Go Blind!

And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry speak of dreams & leaves,
And the great volcanoes of his native land?

Come & see the blood in the streets.
Come & see
The blood in the streets.
Come & see the blood
In the streets.

Pablo Neruda

The consummate cluelessness of yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald editorial, Israel, Gaza & Huntington, was truly beyond belief.

Over 300 Palestinian inmates of the Gaza Ghetto slaughtered, over 1,000 maimed, and the Herald editorialist can't resist an intellectual wank: "It is perhaps an appropriate epitaph for the American scholar Samuel Huntington that news of his death coincided with renewed hostilities along one of the fault lines he identified in the post-Cold war era. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict preceded Huntington's 'clash of civilizations' theory, and has outlived its author." What has Huntington, or his* 'clash of civilizations', to do with the Gaza massacres? In a word, nothing. [*The first use of this term rightly belongs to neocon 'scholar' Bernard Lewis.]

After relieving himself with this monumental irrelevance, the editorialist follows with this monumental nonsense: "Violence has scarred the region for more than six decades, long enough to make arguments about who started the troubles redundant." There you are. It's like the schoolmaster who comes across the schoolyard bully beating the shit, yet again, out of the scrawny little wog, but who can only respond with, 'I don't know which of you started this, and I don't care!' So Huntington's relevant, but history isn't?

But it gets worse: "In the current bloodletting Hamas fired first, wrecking a ceasefire whose restoration must be the first priority of international peacemaking efforts. " But of course, it's always the Palestinians that begin these dust-ups, isn't it? Remember the party line laid down in an earlier editorial? - "Of course the militant Islamist movement Hamas... provoked the Israeli strikes by firing its rockets into nearby Israeli settlements." (Time for bolder diplomacy in Gaza*, 5/3/08). So just ignore your own paper's report, Militants declare early end to truce agreement (19-20/12/08), which reported that "The truce has been unravelling since Israel crossed into Gaza, killed 6 Hamas fighters and destroyed a tunnel on November 4," and lapse into 'rocket/militant' mantra mode. Saves heaps on thought and research. [*See my 6/3/08 post Mainsewer Media Clueless in Gaza.]

And that business of "the first priority of international peacemaking efforts" being the "restoration" of the ceasefire - how does the Herald get around Tzipi Livni's flat rejection of all "initiatives calling on both sides to hold their fire," and her demand that the international community "support things that are not easy to support"? (See Livni to foreign envoys: pressure Hamas,, 28/12/08)

Then there's this outright rubber-stamping of a familiar Israeli talking point: "Israel's response - that civilians are being used as human shields for Hamas's terrorist infrastructure - has merit." Would the editorialist still see "merit" in Israel's talking point if he knew that Israel used Israeli Arabs as human shields during its 2006 rampage in Lebanon? According to a 2006 Arab Association for Human Rights report, "[d]uring the war on Lebanon, the Israeli army installed rocket launching bases near [Israeli] Arab towns and villages in the north [of Israel], in some cases only a few metres away," and "the IDF has also transformed areas of certain Arab towns and villages into training camps." (Israeli rocket launching bases and army training camps deliberately constructed near Arab towns and villages,, 17/8/06) Or if he'd bothered to acquaint himself with the documentation that shows that the IDF uses Palestinians as human shields in the West Bank? Probably.

Like The Australian editorial analysed in my last post, Israel's wanton spilling of Palestinian blood is really the last thing on the editorialist's mind, the only reference to it being that "[t]he deaths of almost 300 people and wounding of some 600 so far have drawn understandable criticism that the military response is disproportionate." All that matters is its "potential to further radicalise Palestinian youth," which could lead to "retaliation... including a possible new wave of suicide bombings in Israel's cities." So touching, this concern for the serial perpetrator of crimes against humanity.

The sheer inanity of the Herald's editorial wank on the Gaza massacres is capped by a further reference to Huntington in its concluding sentence: "The world is looking to the Obama administration for policies that will discourage all Middle East players from so regularly resorting to violence along one of the cultural and religious fault lines highlighted by Huntington."

Well, well, well. So the world is looking to an American president (-elect) to discourage Israel's resort to violence? Please, spare us the naivete! Is this the same America that's supplied Israel with the GBU-39 smart bombs they're now dropping all over Gaza? (See Israel using new US-supplied smart bombs in Gaza,, 28/12/08) Whoever the world is looking to in this matter, readers seeking an informed analysis of the issue will be well-advised to give Herald editorials a wide berth.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Slaughter: Australia's Response

She does us proud, doesn't she? She of the mind- numbing nasal monotone, which always has me lunging for the radio's off switch whenever she pops up on air. I speak, of course, of Julia Gillard (or DPM as she's known in the parliamentary corridors of power) who's currently filling in for our peripatetic Prime Minister.

Here are DPM's first words on the hell, fire & brimstone unleashed by her Israeli mates on the defenceless people of Gaza: "'Israel's air strikes were a response to an 'act of aggression' by Hamas which had broken the ceasefire.* 'We are saying to Hamas that they should cease any further action'." (A time for fighting, Jason Koutsoukis, Sydney Morning Herald, 29/12/08) Tzipi Livni couldn't have said it better herself. That rambamming she had back in 2005 (see my 12/6/08 post Pemulwuy in Palestine) sure has paid off. Oh, sorry, there's an afterthought. Blink, and you might have missed it: "We are saying to the Israelis that all care should be taken to avoid injuring civilians." (ibid) Now don't you worry about that, DPM, Israel has always singled Palestinian civilians out for special treatment.

[*On the ceasefire see my post before last (Rockets/Militants/Rockets/Militants). To which should now be added the following revelation: "Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over 6 months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas." (Disinformation, secrecy & lies: How the Gaza offensive came about, Barak Ravid, Haaretz, 28/12/08)]

DPM, who seems to get her cues from Murdoch these days (she thinks Rupert's right on the money in calling Australia's education system a "disgrace") probably had her beak buried in the editorial pages of Murdoch prawn wrapper yesterday. What, pray tell, did she see? "HAMAS BETRAYS THE PALESTINIANS: The deaths of hundreds in the Gaza airstrikes at the weekend are a further cost of implacable militancy."

Yep, The Australian (The Israelian?) just loves the 'B' word. In fact, its last editorial on the Middle East - "AN IDEAL BETRAYED: The UN has failed to protect human rights" (10/12/08), portrayed the United Nations as a trasher of human rights because its draft 'Durban II' declaration dared to condemn Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians (whose every human and political right has been trashed by Israel) as " 'a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security'."* Now we have The Israelian portraying the democratically elected Hamas government, a government which, whatever its faults, refuses to sell out Palestinian rights to the Americans and their Israeli overlords and upholds the Palestinians' right to resist a crippling Israeli siege of their land, as responsible for the carnage perpetrated by Israel. In a typical Zionist sleight of hand, Hamas becomes the perpetrator. Hamas, not Israel, is murdering its own people. But no, there's a further twist, the murdered really have no one but themselves to blame: "The Gazans have been on the path to worsening strife since many of them... elected Hamas to power... in early 2006." Hey, the murdered got the murderer they deserve!

[*See my 10/12/08 post Betraying the UDHR.]

Of course, crocodile tears aside ("piteous images of the dead and wounded"), "[t]he suffering of the Gazans... must end" because it will "inflame opponents of Israel and the West, especially in Muslim countries," whose real beef with Israel is not its off-&-on slaughter of Palestinians, but the fact that it is "a democracy espousing liberal values, including religious tolerance."

Enough already of these diversions and cliches, it's what Israel does that counts. Its current genocidal rampage in Gaza yet again marks it out as a terrorist state hell-bent on completing the ethnic cleansing of Palestine begun in 1948, just as its 2006 genocidal rampage in Lebanon yet again showed it up as a regional bully who does not hesitate to lash out anywhere in the Middle East.

Monday, December 29, 2008


So mesmerised are we by the 'rockets/militants' mantra in The Daily Blah that we don't always appreciate the hard work of the 'heroes' of the Israeli airforce. So let's hear it for these quiet achievers. Different time, different place, maybe, but same people, same shit:

"There was no question but that the Israelis could hit anything they wanted to when they were really trying. Five times they flattened buildings just after Arafat had been in or near them. He'd appear in one of his little convoys; 20 minutes later, a couple of F-16s would appear out of nowhere, plunge down like sharks, 'wallop', then away, leaving the great red cloud of dust rising like blood in still water and the building they had just whacked collapsing in a rain of broken glass and concrete. If they wanted an apartment block or a hotel or one of the Palestinians' tired old tanks, they just came and got it: flip by in air-conditioned comfort; no need to hurry, no need to worry about the silly little Sam-7 rounds falling 5,000 feet short; no need to do all that Second World War stuff like getting targets in cross-wires and braving the ack-ack to get on target. Let the computers do the thinking, head in the general direction of the target, press the button when told to, then get back to base in time to meet the press corps and announce another successful mission against the terrorists. Everything wire-guided, electronically steered, computer-controlled, laser-directed. Sit in your cockpit or your tank turret or your cabin, eat a knish with one hand and press the red button with the other."(God Cried, Tony Clifton, 1983, p 70)

Sunday, December 28, 2008


"The strong are never absolutely strong, nor are the weak absolutely weak. Those who have Might on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed. Might is as pitiless to the man who possesses it (or thinks he does) as it is to its victims. The second it crushes, the first it intoxicates." Simone Weil

The expected Gaza shoah* (aka Operation Cast Lead) aimed at "toppling the Hamas regime" in Gaza (Israel's leading parties vow to wipe out Hamas, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/12/08) has begun in earnest with over 200 Palestinians massacred and over 700 maimed and mangled in waves of Israeli air attacks beginning on Saturday 27 December.

[*A reference to a statement by loose-lipped Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai - see my 4/3/08 post Selling Operation Warm Winter.]

And we all know why, don't we? And not because the Ziocon propaganda sheet The Australian has told us - we've been using that to wrap the prawns in over the festive season. No, we've been reading only the more 'objective' Sydney Morning Herald (what Zionist cyber-warriors laughingly call the Syrian Morning Herald) for coverage of the latest in the Middle East conflict. And the SMH has been telling us that, after unilaterally scrapping their 6-month truce with Israel, Hamas militants have been driving poor, battered Israel beyond bananas with swarms of deadly rocket attacks, forcing its perfumed, lily-white hand:

"The Israelis who live in the towns and farmlands that surround Gaza have been terrorised by the launch of about 3000 homemade Qassam rockets fired at them by Palestinian militants over the past 12 months." (Gaza: abandoned, embattled & divided, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH, 19/12/08)

"The 6-month truce between Hamas and Israel has ended with militant Islamists who rule Gaza declaring the agreement dead - 24 hours before it was due to officially expire." (Militants declare early end to truce agreement, SMH, 19/12/08)

"An Israeli defence official said a military clash in the Gaza Strip was unavoidable as militants again targeted southern Israel with rockets. The Israeli Government... was expected to consider its response to the violence that has spiralled rapidly since Hamas... decided not to renew a 6-month truce that ended on Friday... Palestinian militants fired 8 rockets and mortar rounds at southern Israel yesterday, including one that landed on a house in the town of Sderot... One person was injured. Shortly after, Israeli planes launched an air strike against rockets ready to be fired, an army spokesman said... What we want is to end the Hamas regime in Gaza. The ceasefire has strengthened Hamas'. On Saturday militants fired more than 35 projectiles into southern Israel. The Israeli military killed one person preparing to fire a rocket (Israel ready for fight against militants as rockets resume, SMH, 22/12/08 - accompanied by large colour photo of "masked Palestinian militants" carrying - what else? - rockets).

"Israeli political and military leaders issued dire warnings yesterday to Hamas that it would move against the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip unless renewed rocket and mortar fire against southern Israeli towns stopped... Hamas leaders declared an end to the truce last week, after 6 months of relative calm on Israel's southern flank. In a clear show of firepower, militants launched at least 60 makeshift rockets and mortar shells towards Israel on Wednesday..." (Israel warns of retaliation over attacks from Gaza Strip, Ashraf Khalil, SMH, 27/12/08)

Got that mantra down pat? Rockets. Militants. Rockets. Militants. Rockets. Militants. Right? Wrong:

First, the 6-month truce (what truce?). The SMH didn't tell us that, during the Egyptian-brokered truce, which began in June, "49 Palestinians, including 7 children and 8 resistance fighters were killed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip... In the Gaza Strip, the month of November witnessed the highest number of casualties as 17 Palestinians were killed in Israeli occupation shelling and during incursions." (Report: 49 Palestinians, including 7 children killed during truce, To which should be added, "[T]oday's [27/12] horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the 2-year old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians*, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip..." (Gaza massacres must spur us to action, Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 27/12/08)

[*See my 17/12/08 post No Laughing Matter.]

Second, as the US-based Angry Arab reminds us: "You have to [condemn the rockets]... in order to get access to the editorial page of any US newspaper. [The rockets] set the terms of reference and you have to accept them if you wish to [even] get a foot in the dog's door of the kitchen door. Rockets are morally wrong when Israel is killing Palestinian civilians on a daily basis? When the strangulation of the entire civilian population of Gaza intensifies? This becomes the issue? A few silly rockets? As if Israel's brutal [41 year] occupation would not have existed without the rockets. The rockets become the issue, and not Zionist terrorism. By mentioning the rockets, you accept, wittingly or unwittingly, the false chronology that Israel imposes on the Palestinians." (Eyad Sarraj's morality,, 14/12/08)

Of course, the rockets/militants/rockets/militants mantra, composed back in March for Operation Warm Winter (see my 4/3/08 post Selling Operation Warm Winter), has already been re-sent to all Israeli spokesmen overseas. How do I know, you ask? "The White House said only Hamas could end the cycle of violence by stopping the rocket fire on Israel. 'These people are nothing but thugs, and so Israel is going to defend its people againsts terrorists like Hamas', spokesman Gordon Johndroe said at George W Bush's Texas ranch, where the president is preparing to spend the new year. 'If Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel, then Israel would not have a need for strikes in Gaza', Johndroe said. 'What we've got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel'." (At least 225 dead as Israel hammers Gaza, SMH, 28/12/08)

Rockets. Militants. Rockets. Militants. Get used to it. You'll be hearing nothing but in the mainstream media over the days ahead.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Advance Australia Where?

Ban the Bomb: "Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has committed Australia to leading a new international fight against the spread of nuclear weapons, saying it is now the most important issue facing the world." (Rudd's new plan to ban the bomb, Tim Colebatch, The Age, 10/6/08)

Build the Bomb (& flog it to the 'right' people): "Israel reportedly wants to buy a revolutionary Australian flying bomb that would give its aircraft the range to hit Damascus without flying out of Israeli airspace and risk being shot down... The so-called 'Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range' (JDAM-ER) bomb is being developed in Melbourne by Australia's Defence Science Technology Organisation, the Defence Materiel Organisation and Hawker de Havilland, the Australian-based subsidiary of the US manufacturer Boeing." (Israel shows interest in Australian flying bomb, Brendan Nicholson, The Age, 18/12/08)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Have you heard the one about...?

Have you heard the one about the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Sheikh Tantawi?

"At an end-of-year address, the Pope said saving humanity from homosexual behaviour is just as important as saving a rainforest from destruction." (Anti-gay message, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/12/08)

"The Dalai Lama said in Prague on Monday he loved Mr Bush. 'Some of his policies have been a disaster, but as a person, I love him, he is open, very truthful'." (Bush's biggest regret was thinking Saddam had weapons, SMH, 3/12/08)

" A photo showing Egyptian al-Azhar University Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi shaking hands with Israeli president Shimon Peres at last month's interfaith Dialogue Conference in New York caused a storm throughout the Arab world. In response... the top Sunni sheikh initially claimed he did not know who Peres was and that the hand shake was simply an instinctual act... Contrary to Tantawi's claims, Ynet has learned that during the New York conference it was actually the sheikh who approached Peres, and knowing who he was, shook his hand and talked with him for several minutes. Tantawi reportedly told Peres, 'Preachers play a very important role in calming the situation and creating an atmosphere of peace'. A few days after the incident, in an interview to Qatari newspaper al-Arab, Tantawi changed his story and said he had met with Peres." (Sheikh's handshake with Peres sparks row,, 7/12/08)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Absurd & Ridiculous

"There is nothing so absurd or ridiculous that has not at some time been said by some philospher," opined 18th century British poet and plawright Oliver Goldsmith. The truth of the poet's observation struck home with a vengeance as I listened in horror to ABC Radio National's Encounter program broadcast on 21/12/08. The philosopher in question was one, Jonathan Glover of King's College London. According to the introduction by the program's producer, Margaret Coffey, Glover (whose specialty is medical law and ethics) was going to "apply Simone Weil's understanding of 'uprootedness' to the circumstances of Palestinians and Israelis" in order to "discern a way forward in this most intractable of conflicts." What followed was, well, both absurd and ridiculous. Some lowlights:-

1) "I want to suggest that the intensity of the conflict is partly linked to the fact that both peoples have the experience of diaspora, and as a result have bitter knowledge of what it is to be uprooted..." We know that the bulk of Palestinians, whether outside the borders of Palestine or internally displaced, were uprooted by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948 and have been living as refugees in exile now for over 60 years. But can the same, or similar, be said of Israelis? Only if you swallow, unexamined, as Glover does, the central foundational myth of political Zionism, which is that an imagined entity known as the Jewish 'people' had, in the mists of time, acquired a degree of sovereignty over ancient Palestine, but then, having lost it, sat around twiddling their thumbs for the next 2,000 years in inglorious and inauthentic 'exile', crooning songs of longing for 'Zion', until, at last, at the tail end of the 19th centery, along came a Messiah, Theodor Herzl, to kick-start a colonial-settler movement known as Zionism aimed at re-establishing that fabled Jewish sovereignty over Palestine, a process which finally bore fruit in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This nonsense, of course, should not be confused with the fact of the Nazi genocide, which resulted in the dispersal of surviving European Jews to many parts of the world, only one of which was Palestine.

2) "I think that there's a recognisable [joint Israeli/Palestinian] narrative which roughly goes like this: We were the rightful owners of the land and we were usurped. They started the conflict. And at every point in the history we have reacted only defensively to their aggression. Time and again, they have insincerely pretended to want peace, while their real aim is to drive us out altogether. Their record shows we can't trust them, and the only language they understand is force." More nonsense. Here Glover confuses the mythical Zionist narrative with the historical Palestinian one, mythical usurpation with actual usurpation. He then glosses over the historical fact that, in the context of a European colonial movement (Zionism), dedicated to the creation of an ethnically exclusive state, entering a non-European land (Palestine) under the protection of European (British) bayonets, the resistance of the locals can hardly be construed as 'starting' a 'conflict'.

3) "[H] aving roots is linked to feeling secure where you are. It's hard to put down roots if you're insecure, and in the case of the Israel-Palestine thing [thing!!!], it's hard to feel properly secure if you feel that at any day your children may be killed by a suicide bomb or at any day some soldiers may turn up and bulldoze your house." How profound! Except, who, do you imagine, feels more insecure, the mob driving the dozers or their victims? And notice how Glover places one Palestinian tactical response to Zionist colonization and usurpation, suicide bombing, on the same level as the relentless process of dispossession that gave rise to that response. Yep, it must be hard to put down roots when the mob you've just uprooted won't lie down and take it.

4) "I want to suggest that the effects of uprootedness can be seen, not just in the people who are exiled, but in the children of Jews who are [were?] exiled, who have grown up in Israel... And then in the case of the Palestinians, I want to extend the idea of uprootedness to the partial uprootedness that comes from living in a country that's geographically yours but is under occupation." So the inherited uprootedness of the occupiers is on a par with the "partial uprootedness" of the occupied? And we won't even mention the complete uprootedness of those millions of Palestinians living outside Palestine.

5) "Now turning to security... again I'm struck by the sense of insecurity on both sides of that conflict. In Jerusalem in 1948, both Arabs and Jews knew insecurity and fear. Amos Oz in his powerful autobiography remembers rumours of rich Jews being advised to go away or to send their families to safety. And he says, 'Others told of groups of young Arabs who combed our streets at night, armed with pots of paint and brushes, marking Jewish houses'... and there were fears of the Arab Legion and the Muslim Brotherhood attacking from fortified positions in the hills round Jerusalem, and in the war many [How many?] Jewish settlements were captured and razed to the ground by Arab armies, with their inhabitants either captured or killed. But similarly, many [How many?] Arabs were uprooted in 1948. Ghada Karmi, who wrote a book about her life, had childhood memories of [fleeing Jerusalem] with her family in fear of being massacred 'as people were at Deir Yassin'. She wrote of 'The survivors who came with stories of mutilation, the rape of young girls and the murder of pregnant women and their babies. Twenty of the men were paraded in triumph round the streets of the Jewish area of Jerusalem. They were then brought back and shot directly over the quarries into which their bodies were thrown. The surviving villages fled in terror, and the empty village was then occupied by Jewish forces. The worst of it was that the gangs who had carried out the killings boasted about what they'd done and threatened publicly to do so again. They said it had been a major success in clearing the Arabs out of their towns and villages'." So the fears of the colonizers, whose armed gangs - Haganah, Irgun and Stern - were on the offensive, ethnically cleansing Palestine months before the Arab states were prompted to take action to save Palestine from being made completely Arabrein, were on a par with those of the 85% of Palestinians driven from hundreds of Palestinian cities, towns and villages overrun by Zionist forces in 1948?

6) "But there are humiliations of insecurity. Amos Oz quotes his aunt's description of the insecurity that was felt by Jews who lived in Poland." And the relevance of this for occupied, uprooted, exiled, permanently insecure Palestinians? Oh, I see, Israelis have inherited their relatives' European insecurity, so they're just as insecure as the Palestinians.

Glover plumbs new depths of absurdity and ridiculousness when he claims that the Middle East conflict is all down to "interpretation" or "stereotypes." You see, it could be a "duck" or it could be a "rabbit" - it all "depends on your angle of perception." Both Israeli and Palestinian stereotypes contain truths, "but not the whole truth." So, since "we're never going to get agreement on exactly what the truth is about what happened in 1948, or 1967... wouldn't it be better if we simply pushed the past aside? If we simply went for the best deal for both sides that we can get now, without actually settling the issues about the past... " Of course, when it comes to 1948, despite the mountains of evidence adduced by historians and researchers such as Pappe, Morris, Palumbo, Flapan, Sternhell, Shlaim, Childers, Khalidi and Masalha, no political Zionist worth his salt will concede an inch. But wouldn't you think someone who calls himself a philosopher, someone with no ideological axe to grind, someone regarded as a serious scholar, with access to those mountains of evidence, could see the Nakba for what it is, a monstrous act of ethnic cleansing, and the 'War of Independence' (from what?) for what it is, a triumph of Zionist propaganda? And what, pray tell, is "the best deal for both sides now"? Considering that we've "pushed the past aside," is it then a Swiss cheese 'state' for the West Bankers, and permanent exile for the Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan etc?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze

Chaos, panic & disorder - our work is done.

"With George W Bush's presidency about to end, what will happen to the neoconservatives? Rarely in the history of US politics has a small number of bookish intellectuals had so much influence on foreign policy as the neo-cons had under Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, neither of whom is noted for his deep intellectual interests... Writing for journals such as The Weekly Standard and using the pulpits of think tanks... neocons offered an intellectual boost to the invasion of Iraq. The logic of the US mission to spread freedom across the globe - grounded, it was argued, in American history since the founding fathers - demanded nothing less." (As wrong as neo-cons were, Obama may have to preserve their ideals, Ian Buruma*, The Australian, 13/12/08)

[* "[P]rofessor of human rights at Bard College, New York state."]

Yadda, yadda, yadda. Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton, Libby & Co, all American boys, albeit bookish to a fault, committed to the (exclusively) American ideals of promoting freedom here, there, & everywhere, beginning with Iraq's transformation into a Jeffersonian democracy, just happened to be sauntering by, heads in the clouds as usual, minding their own business, when they were accosted by two "powerful leaders with an authoritarian bent" - the suave and charismatic Dubya and his Svengali Dick Cheney - whose pheromones fairly turned the neocon's cloud-wreathed heads and sucked them into slavish, but "misguided", service of these two ambitious autocrats.

Yeah, right. This is what passes for 'quality journalism' in Murdoch fishwrapper.

Enough already! We are lucky indeed to have an antidote to such rubbish - Stephen J Sniegoski's The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel (2008).

As its title suggests, Sniegoski's book "examines a controversial and in some respects taboo subject: the close relationship of the American neoconservatives with the Israeli Likudnik right, and their role as the fundamental drivers of the Bush administration's militant American policy in the Middle East - a policy which inspired both the 2003 war in Iraq and the equally militant solutions contemplated since for other Middle East policy problems. It marshals evidence to illustrate that the war in Iraq... and the policy that inspired it and continues to inspire our approach to other actors and issues in the Middle East, have their common origin in the orientation of the neoconservative policy towards the service of the interests of Israel... The overarching goal of both the neocons and the Likudniks was to create an improved strategic environment for Israel... [T]his does not necessarily mean that the neocons were deliberately promoting the interest of Israel at the expense of the United States. Instead, they maintained that an identity of interests existed between the two countries - Israel's enemies being ipso facto America's enemies. However, it is apparent that the neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest, as Israeli interest was perceived by the Likudniks." (p 4-5)

Some extracts:-

"With the Likud's assumption of power, the most far-reaching militant proposals entered mainstream Zionist thinking, involving militant destabilization of Israel's neighbors and Palestinian expulsion. An important article in this genre was by Oded Yinon, entitled 'A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s'... Yinon called for Israel to bring about the dissolution of many of the Arab states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-states that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon's model for the entire Middle East... Yinon looked upon Iraq as a major target for dissolution, and he believed that the then on-going Iran-Iraq war would promote its break-up... 'In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, 3 (or more) states will exist around the 3 major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shiite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north'." (p 50-51)

"[T]he vision of 'regime change' in the Middle East through external, militant action originated in Israel, and its sole purpose was to advance the security interests of Israel. It had nothing to do with bringing 'democracy' to Muslims. It had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to the United States. These latter arguments accreted to the idea of regime change as the primary military actor changed from Israel to the United States. But the Israeli government would continue to be a fundamental supporter of the regional military action, even as the ostensible justifications for the action changed. Israel advocated the American attack on Iraq and preached the necessity of strong action against Iran. It would appear that for Ariel Sharon during the Bush II administration, the strategic benefits that would accrue to Israel from such a militant restructuring of the Middle East were the same as those that Likudniks sought in the 1980s. But unlike Begin's failed incursion into Lebanon in 1982, the Bush II effort not only relied upon the much greater power of the United States but was also wrapped in a cover of 'democracy' and American national interest, effectively masking the objective of Israeli hegemony. This helps to explain the much greater success of this intervention, which has come at no cost to Israel - but at a heavy cost to the United States." (pp 56-57)

"During the 1990s, the neoconservatives were quite open about their goal of War in the Middle East to destabilize Iraq and other enemies of Israel. A clear indication of the neoconservative thinking on this subject - and the intimate connection with Israeli security - was a 1996 paper entitled 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for the Realm', published by an Israeli think tank... Included in the study group that produced the report were figures who would loom large in the Bush II administration's war policy in the Middle East - Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser... The 'realm'... was that of Israel. The purpose of the policy paper was to provide a political blueprint for the incoming Israeli Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper stated that Netanyahu should 'make a clean break' with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel's claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan by which Israel would 'shape its strategic environment', beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad. Significantly, the report did not present Saddam's Iraq as the major threat to Israel. Rather, Iraq was more like the weak link among Israel's enemies. By removing Saddam, the study held that Israel would be in a strategic position to get at its more dangerous foes. In short, elimination of Saddam was a first step toward reconfiguring the entire Middle East for the benefit of Israel." (pp 89-90)

"It was apparent that during the Clinton years the neocons had formulated the entire plan for a Middle East war and had established the mechanisms, with their think tanks and media outlets, to disseminate this view to politicians and the public at large. They had become wedded to the idea, developed earlier by Likudnik thinkers, that it was necessary to bring about a reconfiguration of the Middle East, not only by removing those regimes that opposed Israel but also by fragmenting some of those countries. And they perceived Iraq as the initial target for the overall Middle East effort. Significantly, they saw the need for American involvement - quickly moving from the idea that the United States would be supportive of Israeli military action to the point where the United States would initiate military action itself. To achieve such American involvement it would be necessary to show how the United States itself was directly threatened; thus, by the end of the 1990s the neocons were portraying Saddam as an especially lethal threat to the American homeland. In actuality, however, the removal of Saddam was simply intended to be the beginning phase in the overall restructuring of the Middle East. The neocons were quite unified in presenting the danger Saddam allegedly posed to the United States, and their think tanks and media outlets could effectively disseminate this view. However, they could not achieve their goal by simply being a 'shadow defense department'; what was needed was to gain a prominent role in the foreign-policy and national-security apparatus of the next administration, and then perhaps await a 'catastrophic and catalyzing event' (as the PNAC report deemed necessary) to fully implement their program. All of this would soon come to pass." (pp 102-103)

"Whereas George W Bush had not expressed any interest in eliminating Saddam, Cheney, at a celebration dinner after the 2000 presidential campaign, reportedly told a group of friends that the new administration might have an opportunity to correct the mistake of the previous Bush administration of having left Saddam Hussein in control of Iraq. Cheney would be in a position to facilitate this development. Cheney was in charge of the new administration's transition team between the election in November 2000 and Bush's inauguration in January 2001, and used that position to staff national security positions with his neoconservative associates, who would promote the Middle East war agenda." (p 114)

"The neoconservatives made Iraq a key issue in the bush administration from the very beginning. According to Richard Clarke, who was a counter-terrorism advisor early in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives in the administration were fixated on Iraq as the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. When, in April 2001, the White House convened a top-level meeting to discuss terrorism, Wolfowitz expressed the view that Saddam Hussein was a far more important subject than Al Qaeda, which had been Clarke's focus. According to Clarke, Wolfowitz said he could not 'understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man bin Laden'. The real threat, Wolfowitz insisted, was state-sponsored terrorism orchestrated by Saddam. To bolster his contention, Wolfowitz cited the eccentric views of neocon favorite Laurie Mylroie, who saw the hand of Saddam behind much of the terrorism of the 1990s, including the World Trade Towers attack of 1993. For Wolfowitz to express Mylroie's unproven Saddam Hussein conspiracy theory was incomprehensible to Clarke, who opined: 'Here was the number 2 person in the Pentagon saying that he agreed with her and disagreed with CIA, with FBI, disagreed with all the massive evidence that Al Qaeda had attacked the World Trade Center in '93, not Iraq. Why anybody as sophisticated as a Wolfowitz or the others would attach themselves to that sort of stuff, I didn't know'. Of course, if Wolfowitz and other neocons wanted propaganda for a war on Iraq, they would promote such unlikely stories, just as they would later focus on the WMD falsehoods." (p 124)

"In the eyes of Israel's leaders, the September 11 attack had joined the United States and Israel together against a common enemy. And that enemy was not in far off Afghanistan, but was geographically close to Israel. Israel's traditional enemies would now become America's as well. Israel now would have a free hand to deal harshly with the Palestinians under the cover of a 'war on terrorism'. Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation would simply be portrayed as 'terrorism'. Conversely, America would make itself the enemy of those who previously had focused on Israel." (p 139)

"For the neocons, the terrible tragedy of 9/11 offered the extremely convenient pretext to implement their war agenda for the United States. 'Before 9/11', war critic Joseph Wilson writes, 'regime change by invasion was still just a fringe part of the debate about how to handle Saddam Hussein'. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the neoconservatives found the perfect climate to publicly push for a wider war on terrorism that would immediately deal with Israel's enemies, starting with Iraq. 'At the beginning of the administration people were talking about Iraq but it wasn't doable. There was no heft', observed neocon Kenneth Adelman. 'That changed with September 11 because then people were willing to confront the reality of an international terrorist network, and terrorist states such as Iraq'. Perle concurred that 'Nine-eleven was the turning point with respect to leaving Saddam unmolested'... According to Bob Woodward in Bush at War, as early as the day after the terrorist attacks, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 'raised the question of attacking Iraq Why shouldn't we go against Iraq, not just al Qaeda? he asked." (pp 140-141)

"As a result of 9/11, the neocons became the guiding force in American foreign policy. Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger in 2004 explained the neocon's success: 'The neocons were organized. They had intellectual content. Bush was not totally captured by it but tends in that direction'. As time progressed, Bush would follow more and more of their agenda... [T]he events of 9/11... had a profound impact on Bush's psyche, causing him to embrace the neocon's pre-packaged simple solution of a war of good vs evil [which] was undoubtedly in line with Bush's purported Christian evangelical beliefs. Furthermore, Bush's adoption of the neocon war agenda provided him with his purpose in life, which he identified as the will of God." (p 147)

"The adoption of the neocon agenda with its focus on Iraq and the Middle East would distract the United States from consolidating its control of Afghanistan, which could have been used for the American domination of the Eurasian landmass along the lines of the thinking of Zbigniew Brzezinski. Control of Central Asia had been abandoned, or, at least, put on the back burner, in the move to invade Iraq and thence achieve regime change elsewhere in the Middle East. None of these goals had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. The morass that the United States would find in Iraq, a quagmire that was easy to predict, would not enhance American global domination. It would, however, bring about the destabilization of the Middle East sought by the neocons and the Israeli Likudniks. In a fundamental sense, American hegemonic interests had been trumped by Zionist ones." (p 150)

The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel - the perfect companion treatise to Mearsheimer & Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Colonel Krudd Carries On Up the Khyber

"Kevin Rudd has made a heartfelt tribute to the special forces men serving in Afghanistan during a lightning pre-Christmas trip to Tarin Kowt... 'When you are out there in this godforsaken part of the world, doing your stuff, you need to know back home the nation is behind you', Mr Rudd told the assembled troops... He said the Australians were making progress. 'The fact that you are out there, pushing the enemy back, step by step, mountain ridge by mountain ridge, that's progress', he said." ('The nation's behind you', Patrick Walters, The Australian, 19/12/08)

What a twerp the man is. In referring to Afghanistan as "godforsaken," this "prissy, precious," as Alan Ramsey has called him*, is voicing a typical colonial conceit: that Afghanistan's condition is a given, and that, along with our imperial master (and fellow mercenaries), we not only bear no responsibility whatever for its godforsaken state, but are really there on some kind of divine civilizing mission, or as retired major general and "counter-insurgency expert" Jim Molan characterises it: a "humanitarian" mission, one of our "responsibilities as a rich citizen." (Turn the tables on the Taliban, SMH, 19/12/08)

Historically, Afghanistan has been cursed by foreign military intervention and meddling. The current US involvement there began with the American jihad* of the 80s, and escalated in the wake of 9/11, when the Bush/Cheney regime chose to misrepresent an act of terrorism as an act of war,** trash international law, and launch an illegal armed aggression against Afghanistan, precipitating its current humanitarian catastrophe. And we, that is to say the former Howard government, ("As miserable a bunch of thumb-sucking sooks, layabouts, boneheads and delusional revisionists as ever you could find. Hopeless. Nobody more pathetic than the Toad," to quote Ramsey again), just couldn't resist joining the conga-line of suckholes which formed to aid and abet this US aggression. Rudd, of course, inherited our place in the Afghan conga-line, but, typically, just can't bring himself to relinquish it - which is why our troops are still doing their bit (or as Rudd calls it, "stuff") to ensure Afghanistan's godforsakenness.

[*Forget policy, the aim is to channel imagery, SMH, 28/4/07; **See my 27/2/08 post Bush's Taxi to the Dark Side]

And forget the bullshit about "pushing the enemy back... mountain ridge by mountain ridge." What kind of "stuff" are we really up to in Afghanistan? A recent Australian Defence Department (ADD) report featured on the ABC's Lateline program (26/11/08) suggests that Australian SAS are operating in Afghanistan essentially as storm-the-house-and-blow-away-anyone-inside death squads, or, as the report puts it euphemistically, "disrupting Taliban leadership or improvised explosive device facilitators." (See Australian SAS Units Function as Death Squads in Afghanistan, James Cogan, 11/12/08,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life Under Saddam...

"The thousands of people who have marched in Iraq in support of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W Bush are proof of Iraq's advance along the road to democracy. Imagine what would have happened to a reporter who tossed his shoes at Saddam Hussein? It's even more difficult to imagine people being allowed to march peacefully but militantly in the streets under the old fascist regime. Counter-intuitive though it may be, the war really was about overthrowing tyranny and establishing the foundations of democracy." Barry York, Lyneham, ACT (The Australian, 18/12/08)

Yes, Barry, we can imagine what would have happened to Muntazer az-Zaidi if he'd thrown his shoes at Saddam. However, the bleeding obvious seems to have escaped you: az-Zaidi's protest represents the awful fact that, however bad life was under Saddam, for Iraqis in general life under US occupation is actually worse. And here's why: "According to John Pace, former director of the human rights office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, 'Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK. But now, no. Here you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone'. Under Saddam the scale of abuse was 'daunting', but now, 'It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam'." (An inventory: Better off under Saddam, Garry Leupp,, 31/3/06)

Consider also:-

"Life for ordinary Iraqis is now worse than under Saddam Hussein as the country descends into violence 'much worse' than civil war, Kofi Annan has said. The Secretary General of the United Nations gave his hardest-hitting assessment yet of the present situation as he prepared to leave office. 'If I was an average Iraqi, I would make the same comparison', he told the BBC. 'They had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets: they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back without a mother or father worrying 'Am I going to see my child again?'. 'A society needs minimum security and a secure environment for it to get on. Without security, not much can be done'." (Annan says Iraq life 'worse than under Saddam', Joe Churcher,, 4/12/06)

"Life was 'better' for Christians in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein than it is today, according to the only Anglican vicar working in Baghdad." (Life 'better' under Saddam says vicar of Baghdad, Joanna Sugden,, 21/12/07)

"Iraq is now in a 'worse shape' than it was under Saddam Hussein, with millions living without even the most basic medical care or access to clean water... The grim picture emerged as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a report warning that Iraqi hospitals were still lacking beds, drugs and medical staff, while the poor public water supply has forced some families to use at least one-third of their average monthly income buying clean drinking water." (Red Cross: life in Iraq is worse than ever, Ian Bruce,, 17/3/08)

"Iraqi women say they they are now worse off than they were during the rule of dictator Saddam Hussein and that their plight has deteriorated year by year since the US-led invasion in March 2003. Now they are demanding not just equal rights but the very 'right to live', says Shameran Marugi, head of the non-governmental organisation Iraqi Women's Committee. 'The 'right to live' is a slogan that we have begun using because a women's life in Iraq is being threatened on all sides. Laws are not being implemented equally and society is ignoring women', Marugi told reporters. Before the 2003 invasion it was possible for a woman to lead a normal life as long as she followed state policy', she said, adding, 'It was even possible for a woman to engage in political and economic activities through the official Union of Iraqi Women'. She said, 'When the regime change occurred in 2003, women, men, and children went out on the streets to celebrate. We were very happy. Unfortunately there was no qualified leadership to handle the situation and society was not equipped to deal with the changes'. The Union of Iraqi Women was dismantled after the invasion as it was affiliated to the former Baath Party of Saddam. Marugi said in the past few years, violence against women has significantly increased. 'At home, a woman faces violence from her father, husband, brother and even from her son. It has become a kind of a new culture in the society', said the women's rights campaigner. She said out in the society, women were subjected to verbal abuse on the streets if they did not wear a veil, and in extreme cases face being abducted by unnknown gunmen, who sexually abuse and then kill them. It has also become normal for women to recieve death threats for working for example as a hairdresser or tailor, for not wear a veil or not dressing 'decently' ', said Marugi, adding, 'In addition to equal rights, we are now demanding the 'the right to live'." (Many Iraqi women say life was better under Saddam, Agence France-Presse, 26/3/08)

And there's more: See my earlier posts, Main Street, Dujail (17/10/08) & What Iraqis Really Think 5 Years On (4/4/08).

And no, the war was never about "overthrowing tyranny and establishing the foundations for democracy," but I'll keep that one for an upcoming (soon) post.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Laughing Matter

The Nazis were humourless bastards:

"For, as [Reich commissioner for the Ukraine Erich] Koch knew, the food situation inside Germany was much on [Reichsmarschall] Goring's mind. In early 1941, planners were predicting problems as a result of the poor harvest and threatening cuts in rations. The German population was complaining about shortages and high prices, and this increased the determination of the Reich authorities to make the invasion of the USSR pay off fast. Herbert Backe, the state secretary in the Ministry for Food & Agriculture, actually told Hitler that 'the occupation of the Ukraine would liberate us from every economic worry'. He did also remind him that, apart from the Ukraine, the rest of European Russia was not a food surplus area. But the regime was perfectly ready to see famine spread among the civilian population in the occupied territories so long as Germans were nourished. On 2 May, it was agreed that the successful continuation of the war would require the Wehrmacht to 'be fed at the expense of Russia', even if the consequence was that 'thereby tens of millions of men will undoubtedly starve to death'. 'Support of the war economy' was 'the highest law', while the newly occupied territories were to be regarded 'from a colonial viewpoint and exploited economically with colonial methods'. Goring predicted 'the biggest mass death in Europe since the Thirty Years' War'. Backe even drafted a set of 'Twelve Commandments' for future administrators in the East. 'We wish not to convert the Russians to National Socialism but to make them our tools', he wrote. 'The Russian has stood poverty, hunger and austerity for centuries. His stomach is flexible; hence no false pity!' " (Hitler's Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe, Mark Mazower, 2008, p 147)

Not so, the Zionists:

"The Hamas team had not laughed so much in a long time. The team, headed by the prime minister [Ariel Sharon]'s advisor Dov Weisglass and including the Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff, the director of the Shin Bet and senior generals and officials, convened for a discussion with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on ways to respond to the [1/06 Hamas] election victory. Everyone agreed on the need to impose an economic siege on the Palestinian Authority, and Weisglass, as usual, provided the punch line: 'It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die', the advocate joked, and the participants reportedly rolled with laughter." (As the Hamas Team laughs, Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 22/2/06)

Meanwhile, three years later, for dieting Palestinians in the Gaza Ghetto, it's a laugh a minute...

"Donkeys loaded with dry branches are becoming a common sight as bakeries in Gaza City... turn to firewood, having run out of bottled propane gas... But millers say they have run out of regular grain, and some bakeries have started using cereals usually fed to livestock. 'What is left for us is to grow our nails and eat rats', said one man bitterly, as he queued for bread... Fuel shortages have almost paralysed the work of 3,000 Gaza fishermen, whose boats now mostly lie idle. 'Even when we catch some fish, people do not buy because they do not have gas to cook it with', said Zuhair Abu Reyala, a fisherman who supports a family of 17." (Life runs backwards in Gaza as blockade bites, Nidal al-Mughrabi,, 25/11/08)

"As a convoy of blue-&-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on. 'We had one meal today - khobbeizah', said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. 'Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass'. Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have 7 daughters and a son. Their tiny breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for heat. 'I can't remember seeing a fruit', said Rabab, 12, who goes with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top and holed jeans, and her feet are bare." (Gaza families eat grass as Israel locks border, Marie Colvin, The Sunday Times, 14/12/08)

"Growing numbers of Gazans have begun using the drug [tramadol, a painkiller] over the past year and a half to take the edge off life in the impoverished seaside strip, pharmacists and residents say." (Gazans increasingly rely on painkiller,, 14/12/08)

"A Palestinian poll released on Thursday showed that 40% of the residents of the Hamas-ruled gaza Strip wish to emigrate..." (Palestinian poll: 40% 0f Gaza residents wish to emigrate, Haaretz, 14/12/08)

"Gaza is people's constant attempt to cling to a normal life, although Israel foists on them abnormal terms of imprisonment, isolation from the rest of the world and deterioration to a state of humiliating dependence on international charity programs." (This is Gaza, Amira Hass, Haaretz, 27/11/08)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Iraqi Shoe vs the US Jackboot

The image of the anonymous man heroically facing-off the tanks during the brutally crushed Chinese democracy protests of 1989 has become an icon of popular resistance to state tyranny. In the same way, footage - footage! - of Iraqi journalist Muntazer az-Zaidi's shoe-throwing protest at Baby Bush in Baghdad will surely become an icon of popular resistance to the US jackboot. Shouting, as his first shoe flew through the air, "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, O dog!", and, as his second followed, "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq," az-Zaidi's action and words registered the anger and disgust of millions of Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians, Lebanese and others throughout the world who struggle to survive under the crushing weight of the imperial jackboot. Az-Zaidi was then set on by security rottweilers and dragged off to an unknown fate in one of their lairs.

Here's some of the best commentary on az-Zaidi's bravery so far:-

From The Angry Arab News Service:

"When the shoe hits your eye/like a big-a pizza pie/That's amore."

Caption for the photo of Bush wincing as Iraqi puppet PM al-Maliki tries to shield him from az-Zaidi's second shoe: 'Please, please, one shoe at a time!'

"Is it just me or is the scene of the shoe-throwing hypnotic? It must be my Arab culture."

"And now the serious business. Comrade Sinan sent me this: 'Did you see the fuckers pull the man by his hair? And the Iraqi security telling everyone to turn off cameras? God knows they will torture him. We should start an appeal for his safety'. Will those fancy journalist's associations now demand that he be released? Will they speak out on his behalf? Or will they now say that shoe-throwing is a brand of terrorism and that he should be shipped off to Guantanamo Bay?"


On Bush's ability to dodge flying shoes (but not neocon artists): "All reflexes, no brain."

"Finally, some journalistic integrity."

"If I lived nearby, I'd throw a shoe over the White House fence."

"Although he insulted dogs, this Iraqi is a hero."

"That journalist is a hero. The only thing better than a direct hit would have been the other Iraqi journalists joining in."

"Finally, Bush found his WMDs."

And just to save my old friend anonymous out there in the wilds of cyberspace the trouble of posting his own lame comment, here's one from one of his fav websites,

"Rant on: I for one would like to know just what the *sshole is so pissed off about. Is he mad that oil revenue is now going to the people to pay for schools and hospitals instead of to a dictator for palaces and armies of suicide bombers? Is he mad because his wife and daughter won't be raped in retaliation for some perceived offense he may have committed (like throwing shoes at a press conference)? Maybe he's an out-of-work industrial shredder repair man who wants to go back to work cleaning human gristle out of a plastic shredder? Or a grave digger who liked the convenience of digging mass graves? Or maybe, just maybe, he's some arrogant, impotent, needle-d*cked little schmuck who hasn't got the b*lls to do himself what the United States military did for him and now he's too embarrassed to admit it, and too unable just to be a man, say 'thank you' and take responsibility for maintaining the freedom that American blood and treasure bought for him."

In expressing his ignorance of az-Zaidi's motives, the author of the above (aptly named 'CIA Reject') is at one with Bubba Bush. That drooling infant had earlier been telling Iraqis that the shedding of their blood and the plunder of their treasure had been "necessary for American security, Iraqi hope and world peace [in that order]," and was quoted as saying, following his narrow escape from the shoe-throwing assassin, that he had no idea what "the guy's cause" was.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quack Cure

The anti-Semitic prejudices of a group of halfwits from two Sydney private schools were recently exposed when their Facebook doodlings came under media scrutiny (Facebook scandal shames students, Sydney Morning Herald, 9/12/08). Predictably, the jerks responsible invoked the 'We were only joking/Some of my best friends are Jews' excuse: "'There was no intention of causing conflict or racial hatred', the student, who did not want his name published, said. 'It is a big in-joke among the private schools and young people in the eastern suburbs. 'We have Jewish friends and girlfriends'." Predictably too, they revealed themselves as equal opportunity racists: "The site contains what appears to be Arabic writing, giving it the appearance of a mock Islamic site." The Herald published a photo from the site showing a student (?) wearing a Sikh - Sikh! - turban with flanking Kalashnikovs - offensive anti-Muslim stereotyping that, again predictably, has gone unremarked by corporate media outlets.

The Zionist response, of course, was to invoke the Holocaust. "The Holocaust did not begin with the bricks and mortar of Auschwitz, but with words that dehumanised the Jews and other minorities and enabled their annihilation," commented Dvir Abramovich (described in a footnote as "director of Jewish Studies at the University of Melbourne and an anti-racism educator") in an opinion piece in The Age (The Holocaust began because words of hate went unchallanged, 11/12/08). And Abramovich's prescription, at least in part? National Holocaust education.

I say 'Zionist response' because nowhere in Abramovich's piece is there any mention of the author's allegiance to the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. Why so shy? As a columnist in The Australian Jewish News (something else omitted from his Age job description), Abramovich regularly comes out swinging in defence of Zionism. To cite but one example, he has attacked anti-Zionism as "clear-cut antisemitism" (Anti-Zionism is clear-cut antisemitism, 30/3/07). Leaving to one side the issue of his wholly illegitimate conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism (see my 9/3/08 post Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship 2), the core of Abramovich's argument is that "Anti-Zionism is underlined by a denial of Jewish national self-determination* and of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East."

[*Lengthy digression notwithstanding, it is essential to deal with this nonsense before proceding further with any discussion of Dr Abramovich's remedy for eruptions of anti-Semitism in Australian schools. Prominent anti-Zionist Israeli Uri Davis has observed that "Decent people would want to have nothing to do with a 'national liberation movement' that attempts to justify war crimes and crimes against humanity such as ethnic cleansing." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, p 8) The "crime against humanity" referred to by Davis is, of course, the Palestinian Nakba - the mass expulsion of the indigenous Arab population of Palestine by Zionist forces under cover of war in 1948. The Nakba gives the lie to all Zionist propaganda of the 'Israel is simply Jewish national self-determination in operation' variety. To quote Davis at length: "The second truth relevant to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue is that an Israeli-Hebrew people has been created in the process of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. This people, like all other peoples, must be guaranteed their full rights under international law and in conformity with all UN resolutions relevant to the question of Palestine. It is in order to point out again in this connection that it is not the case that the United Nations Organization legitimized through the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of November 1947 the establishment of a 'Jewish State' in the political Zionist sense of the term. Legally speaking, the UN did not intend the adoption of the said Resolution 181(II) as a licence for the armed forces of the Zionist organisations and subsequently the armed forces of the new State of Israel to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity including the mass expulsion of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people from their homeland. In other words, it was and remains impossible for the General Assembly, conducting its business under the stipulation of the UN Charter, to have legally endorsed the political Zionist idea of the 'Jewish State', namely, a state that attempts to guarantee in law and practice a demographic majority of the Jewish tribes in the territories under its control. The constitutional notion underpinning the idea of the 'Jewish State' in the said UN Resolution 181(II), as well as its sister 'Arab State', envisioned the partion of British Mandate Palestine into two essentially democratic states, one with 'Jewish' trappings and one with 'Arab' trappings, joined together in the framework of an economic union, with Jersusalem as corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the United Nations, neither the capital of the 'Arab State' nor the capital of the 'Jewish State'. One can only speculate as to what representations of 'Jewish', 'Arab' or 'international' trappings would be consistant with essentially democratic constitutions. One could imagine, for instance, that in the 'Jewish State' the first line on official road signs would be Hebrew, the second Arabic and the third English; in the 'Arab State' the first line Arabic, the second, Hebrew and the third English; and in the international city of Jerusalem road signs would be only in English to skirt the stupid thorny issue of whether the second line on official road signs should be Hebrew or Arabic. In terms of the said UN General Assembly Resolution 181(II) all Arab inhabitants who were ordinarily resident in the territories designated by the UN for the 'Jewish State' were and remain entitled to 'Jewish State' citizenship; all Jews ordinarily in the territories by the said Resolution for the 'Arab State' were and remain entitled to 'Arab State' citizenship; and all Arabs and Jews resident in Jerusalem were and remain entitled to an international Jerusalem citizenship. It thus follows that for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue to succeed it must take as a point of departure a critical examination of the right of self-determination for the Hebrew people constructed in the process of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Such critical examination would aim to dismantle illegal institutional representations of this right as were put in place by the Parliament of the State of Israel in violation of the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the standards of international law (for example, the Absentees' Property Law of 1950), and replace them with alternative legal and other institutional representations such as are consistent with the same, notably with UN General Assembly Resolution 194(III) of December 1948 stipulating the right of return of all Palestinian Arab refugees." (ibid, pp 75-76)]

I return now to the matter of Dr Abramovich's proposed cure for outbreaks of anti-Semitism in the Australian student body - "national Holocaust education." It is necessary here to remind oneself that some cures are worse than their disease. As American academic Norman Finkelstein reminds us, Zionist alchemists such as Abramovich are adept at transmuting the historical Holocaust into ideological gold: "... 'The Holocaust' is an ideological representation of the Nazi holocaust. Like most ideologies, it bears a connection, if tenuous, with reality. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensible ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world's most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a 'victim' state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired victim status. Considerable dividends accrue from this specious victimhood - in particular immunity to criticism, however justified." (The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, 2000, p 3)

A more recent, Israeli perspective on 'The Holocaust' as ideological weapon comes in a new book, The Holocaust is Over, by former pillar of the Israeli political establishment and now ex/post-Zionist Avraham Burg. "Jews and Israelis," laments Burg, "have become thugs... All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah, and therefore all is allowed - be it fences, sieges, closures, curfews, food and water deprivation, or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave." (Quoted in John Mearsheimer's review, Invoking the Holocaust to defend the occupation)

While a shot of Dr Abramovitch's Zionist snake-oil may go some way towards curing our screenagers of anti-Semitic rashes, its main side effect, total blindness to Palestinian suffering, is a real concern.

Friday, December 12, 2008

USrael's Palestinian Recruits

"O leaders, O Jews! You whom I have risked my life to defend, you who do not acknowledge favors and who do not display gratitude. You make friends with people when you need them, and if evil befalls them because of you, you shake off their hands as you did with me. And what would you do to the Arabs if you reached an agreement with them? I think that you would plague their sleep and push them to their deaths. Is that not so?" (Palestinian collaborator Muhammad Tawil to his Zionist handler Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, 1931, quoted in Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948, Hillel Cohen, 2008, p 87)

"The Israeli army has permitted a battalion of the Palestinian security forces, trained in a special camp in Jordan under the supervision of US Army Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton, to deploy in the Jenin area, where it continues to harass Hamas and Jihad militants by acting against their civilian infrastructure: mosques, charities, businesses and educational and health institutions. The level of co-ordination between the Palestinian commanders and their Israeli counterparts is surprisingly high, and the co-operation is producing results daily. A second Palestinian battalion has completed the training in Jordan and now operates in Hebron, where it has racked up considerable success against Hamas terror cells and stymied the Islamist movement's other functions." (Israel's strategy pays off: terror has been defeated in the West Bank, Ehud Yaari, The Australian, 10/12/08)

"Keith Dayton... has praised the new recruits as 'the most capable Palestinian security forces that have ever been fielded here', and firmly played down the notion that they might one day come to turn their weapons on Israel... Dayton told The Jerusalem Post that the trainees are taught over and over again that 'you are not here to learn how to fight against the Israeli occupation'... Dayton repeatedly stressed in the interview that none of his work here... would harm Israel's security. Indeed, the reverse was true, he said... 'Nothing I or my team do here will jeopardize the security interests the security interests of the State of Israel. Period. Full stop. We won't do it. It's not what we do as Americans." (Dayton: New PA forces are most capable ever, David Horovitz, 11/12/08)

[Palestinian collaboration & its context is discussed in my 4/11/08 post The Bigger Picture.]

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Meanwhile, back at The Australian, foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, slumbers on: "Iran sponsored Hezbollah as its representative force in Lebanon. Increasingly, Tehran has taken direct control of Hezbollah. Hezbollah undoubtedly commands some genuine popular support in Lebanon, but increasingly it is run as a unit of the Iranian state. That is one of the reasons it has been relatively quiet in the past 12 months. Iran plays these games with a lot of precision." (The dangerous illusion of independent terrorists, 6/12/08)

And during that period of "relative quiet" (in May actually), spurred by Lebanese government plans to dismantle its military communications network, Hezbollah took up arms to thrash Saad Hariri's US-trained gunmen in West Beirut, and went on to take part in a Qatari-mediated agreement which resulted in it obtaining veto power over government decision-making.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Betraying the UDHR

"For 60 years, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] has been treated with contempt by tyrants from Pyongyang to Darfur... [T]he anniversary of its adoption by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, is an occasion to mourn the organization's many failures as much as a licence to celebrate... Sadly... the UN has been an irresponsible and careless steward of those fine ideals." (An ideal betrayed: The UN has failed to protect universal human rights, Editorial, The Australian, 10/12/08)

So, according to The Australian, the UN has betrayed the fine ideals of the UDHR. How? Read on: "In April, the UN Human Rights Council [which "has been hijacked by some of the world's most notorious human rights abusers"] will hold Durban II, its second World Conference against Racism in Geneva. Durban I, held in South Africa 7 years ago, was a festival of anti-Semitism... Durban II* promises more of the same with a draft declaration condemning Israel's Palestinian policy as 'a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security'." (ibid)

[*See my 18/1/08 post Working Out the Mechanics of Our Relationship.]

References to the UDHR and all points east and west notwithstanding, for The Australian it's always about Israel. Were it not for the UN Human Rights Council's true and accurate characterisation of the Jewish state, quoted above (and misconstrued as anti-Semitism), the 60th anniversary of the UDHR would most likely have gone unremarked in the paper's editorial column. In fact, the UDHR anniversary constitutes just another opportunity for the editorialist to smear the UN as it goes about its perfectly legitimate and necessary business of calling a spade a spade in preparation for Durban II. Zionist chutzpah at The Australian being what it is, the editorialist would have the reader believe, absent the knowledge that Zionist Israel "is an abomination in terms of the UDHR and a crime under the standards of international law" (Apartheid Israel, Uri Davis, 2003, p5), that the UDHR and Israel, like love and marriage, go together like the proverbial horse and carriage. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth, as any objective analysis of the role of the UDHR in informing Palestinian rights will tell us:-

"The displaced [Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948] and their descendants claim a right to return to their home areas [in Israel]... Israel denies that a state in its situation is obliged to repatriate. In its view the displaced left voluntarily and thereby forfeited their rights. Moreover, Israel disputes that any right of repatriation for wartime displaced persons can be found in customary international law, in particular when a new state comes into being in the territory. Palestine argues for a right of repatriation for the wartime displaced, a right it finds in customary international law, applicable to the displaced Palestinians regardless of their reason for departing, although the voluntariness of their departure is denied. Israel's appearance as a new state does not in the Palestinian view negate a right of repatriation...

"The Palestinian view starts from the generally accepted proposition that a state may not exclude nationals who are, for whatever reason, resident abroad but who seek to return. Other states are under no obligation to accept a non-national permanently... Additionally, the displaced person has a claim for repatriation, as a matter of personal rights. 'Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own', proclaims the UDHR, 'and to return to his country'. When a treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was drafted to implement the UDHR, comparable language was used: 'no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country'.

"Israel defined Israeli nationality in a way that excluded the Palestinians displaced in 1948. An Israeli lawyer has argued that since Israel doesn't recognize the nationality of these persons, they have no right to return; 'the right [of repatriation] probably belongs only to nationals of the State, and at most to permanent residents. The Palestinian Arab refugees have never been nationals or permanent residents of Israel'. The UDHR and International Covenant, however, both use the term 'country' rather than 'state of nationality' to make clear that the right of entry does not depend on whether the state holding the territory recognises the person as a national. Anyone who was a national or habitually resident before a change in sovereignty is entitled to the nationality of the successor state. A country's 'population follows the change of sovereignty in matters of nationality'." (The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective, John Quigley, 1990, pp 230-231)

The editorialist's gripe is really that Palestinian rights have not yet completely dropped off the UN's agenda.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Blight Unto the Nations

Everyone (who reads The Australian that is) knows that wild-eyed Palestinian kids are indoctrinated by the Palestinian Authority to hate their doe-eyed Israeli occupiers. And everyone knows that without such incitement to hate the cuddly Israeli troops who kick in their doors, and beat, arrest, imprison and torture their nearest and dearest (aka 'terrorists') Palestinian kids would be raining flowers on these beautiful souls in uniform (see my 28/11/08 post Janet's Dream).

However, once these warm & fuzzy Israelis are out of uniform, and out of the country, strange things happen*:-

"Sa Pa is a beautiful place in northern Vietnam. A peaceful market town nestled between green mountains, streams and rice terraces. Colorful birds fly around in the misty air, and several pigs and a stubborn water buffalo can be spotted in the distance. For the Israeli tourist, the place hosts a different animal - the local women of the Hmong tribe, dressed in black, who have learned to recite a children's song in Hebrew, and sing it repeatedly in the hope that the visiting overlord might agree to buy a handicraft from them for several pennies. If you continue the trek a little further, you can encounter the women of the Dao tribe, who have learned to say 'Come and fuck me' in Hebrew. Yes, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was right - these women's teachers were asses. No, actually why insult the asses? Their teachers were plain Israelis like me and you. The global traveling season is now at its peak. Hordes of tourists are storming Thailand and Laos, South America and Kenya. And the battle has already been decided. The Israeli, any Israeli, has become an icon of evilness, ugliness, corruption and exploitation. There is no use searching for ways to change the behavior of Israelis abroad. This is a lost cause.

"Travel Independent is the online Mecca for tourists worldwide. The website offers accurate, concise and helpful reviews on any destination in the world. And this is what the site has to say about us in its summary on India: 'Aside from Indians you will find travelers from all over Europe, USA and Australia/NZ, including as in Nepal/Thailand and South America a large number of Israelis many of whom are fresh out of the army and seem to do everything they can to further worsen their reputation with locals and foreigners alike'. Travel Independent isn't anti-Semitic. As a travel destination it gives Israel very warm recommendations. The Hmong women aren't anti-Semitic either, and neither are the people of Japan, Peru or Tanzania, or most of the western travelers who witness this humiliation. A new form of hatred towards Israelis is developing among people who don't even have a clue where the country is. An 'anti-Semitism' that has nothing to do with God or Judaism.

"For his part, the Israeli traveler goes out of his way not to be identified as an Israeli, not due to security concerns but simply for fear he will not be welcome. And he makes great efforts not to go where other Israelis go, not for the sake of exclusiveness, but simply because he knows that his countrymen will be the first ones to screw him over. The Israeli pig is the product of years-long and ongoing cultural corruption. He will force the locals to watch episodes from the reality show Big Brother and give them Israeli nick-names just for laughs. His language is poor, and he is utterly uninterested in broadening his horizons. He is hostile towards Arabs and hostile towards foreigners in general and feels obligated to cheat them whenever he can (empty the buffet; sneak 6 people into a double room at night so as not to come out 'a sucker'.) He takes over drug and women trafficking hubs just for the sense of power and bullying. And this image can no longer be altered. Look at them and see us: a violent horde that treats the world as yet another policing mission, a destination that needs to be conquered and subdued. No wonder that in Hebrew the verb 'to do' refers both to the act of sexual conquest and to the completion of the Israeli traveler's tough, military-style trip abroad: 'I did Bolivia'." (Our reputation-our fault, Yehuda Nuriel,

As the late Julius Sumner Miller would have said: Why is it so? Janet?

[*See also my 4/12/08 post Zionist S & M.]

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Only Reflect

John Howard renews his vows: "Renowned champion for Israel and former Australian prime minister John Howard was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Jerusalem last Sunday. Hebrew University president Professor Menachem Magidor flew from Israel to bestow the honour in person. 'The gesture of this degree is something I will value for the rest of my life', Howard told a 200-strong crowd gathered at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel gala dinner hosted by friends of the Hebrew University. 'I have an enormous respect and affection for the State of Israel... I'm proud of the voting record of my country, Australia, in the United Nations during the 11-&-a-half years of my prime ministership. It was deliberate because I believe, in so many ways, the State of Israel was being pushed around by the rest of the world, and on many occasions by countries that have no understanding of democracy'." (An honour for John Howard, The Australian Jewish News, 5/12/08)

As delusional as ever, of course. The late Australian journalist Matt Price had the bugger's number: "Asked... to reflect on the Vietnam War during his visit to the country, the Prime Minister displayed the sort of knee-jerk defensiveness not often seen since Geoffrey Boycott's retirement from international cricket. 'I supported our involvement at the time and I don't intend to recant', was how the PM opened. 'In public life you are accountable for the decisions that you take'. Had Howard stopped there he might have sounded half sensible - declaring his stance and resisting the temptation to rewrite history. But the PM rattled on: 'I mean, I didn't hold any position of authority then but I supported the reasons for Australia's involvement and nothing has altered my view that at the time on the assessments that were made then I took that view and I took that view properly and I don't intend to indulge this preoccupation that many have in recanting everything that they supported when they were in positions of authority'. Ignoring the tortuous prolixity of this sentence, it was also revealingly feverish. Surely leadership demands reflection as well as backbone, and, where necessary, concession, even reversal... And then this breathtaking admission about taking positions in public life: 'If I ever develop reservations, well I hope I would have the grace to keep them to myself because I think you take a position and you've got to live by that and be judged by it, and that's my position'. So when it comes to war, it seems, recantation is for whimps. What must Howard, the history buff's history buff, think of Robert McNamara, US defence secretary during much of Vietnam, whose stupendous recantation was delivered 30 years later? '(We) acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation', wrote McNamara. 'Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why. I truly believe that we made an error not of values and intentions*, but of judgment and capabilities'." (For PM, recanting is one for the wimps, The Australian, 23/11/08)

[*Pull the other!]

Howard's earlier justifications for his romance with Israel are as lame and cliched as his nonsense about Israel being "pushed around by the rest of the world." When asked by the AJN in 2006 to elaborate on his government's "extraordinary support for Israel," this is as good as it got: "Well, it's support based on merit. I've always admired Israel's extraordinary fortitude and resilience in being able to survive the constant attacks despite the determination still of many countries to destroy it. Like anybody of my generation, I was very conscious of the Holocaust and the appalling treatment of the Jewish people by the Nazis and anybody of my age certainly can't not be influenced by that. But the essential justice of the cause of Israel's survival has always been quite manifest as far as I'm concerned." (Howard's way, 22/9/08)

After first choking on Howard's references to "merit" and "essential justice," I am led to reflect that what is "quite manifest" here is that "the history buff's history buff" is totally ignorant of modern Middle East history.

Finally, in this age of spin and cant, it is worth recalling what genuine reflection, based on a solid ethical foundation and real knowledge of its subject, looks like. Here's the great British philosopher Bertrand Russell: "The tragedy of the people of Palestine is that their country was 'given' by a foreign power to another people for the creation of a new state. The result was that many hundreds of thousands of innocent people were made permanently homeless. With every new conflict their numbers increased. How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? It is abundantly clear that the refugees have every right to the homeland from which they were driven, and the denial of this right is at the heart of the continuing conflict. No people anywhere in the world would accept being expelled en masse from their country; how can anyone require the people of Palestine to accept a punishment which nobody else would tolerate? A permanent just settlement of the refugees in their homeland is an essential ingredient of any genuine settlement in the Middle East." (Statement to the International Conference of Parliamentarians, 3/2/70)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Elephant, the Mouse, and the Dead Horse

Back in April, I reported on the launching of a Young Liberals campaign aimed at getting university and high school students to dob in allegedly biased left-wing academics and teachers to a Senate inquiry set up by the Libs while they still controlled the Senate (see my 8/4/08 post From Howardistas to Horowistas, and related posts If you go out on the campus today 1, 18/4/08 & 2, 23/4/08).

The elephant labored, but only to bring forth the proverbial mouse:-

"Universities are not controlled by left-wing academics hell-bent on brainwashing students, a Senate inquiry has found. The Howard government established the inquiry into allegations of academic bias a week before it lost control of the upper house earlier this year. Labor senators dominated the committee, and its final report states there is no evidence of bias in the nation's universities. 'The committee's finding is that in view of the relatively tiny number of submissions recieved, from the hundreds of thousands of students who are said to be affected, there can be no basis for arguing that universities are under the control of the Left', committee chairman Gavin Marshall wrote in the report. 'If there is a Left conspiracy to influence the direction of the nation's affairs and its social and economic priorities through the process of subverting a generation of undergraduates, this is not yet evident'. When tabling the report, the Labor senator from Victoria said the inquiry was a waste of time. The Labor members of the committee said they were puzzled students didn't complain about perceived bias to their universities, 'rather than to a Senate committee'. In the majority report, they asked whether a left-wing bias among academics would even pose a problem if it existed. 'The issue is whether this has any bearing on teaching and learning, or any effect on the intellectual development of students', the report says." (No Left bias at unis, say senators, The Australian, 5/12/08)

Liberal senators, of course, insisted on flogging a dead horse:-

"Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said although specific examples of deliberate bias appeared to be 'uncommon', real bias could be seen in the curriculum taught in many faculties. 'It ensures a monoculture', he told the Senate. The Coalition senators' minority report recommends a charter of academic freedoms be developed to protect students' right to religious and political expression." (ibid)

As did Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4/12/08 (Monoculture is killing thought). "[T]he submissions - some anonymous," she wailed, "paint a chilling portrait of an often unconscious academic bias in schools and universities, and of students too intimidated to say or write what they think." One such "chilling" submission cited by Miranda came from Gideon Rozner, Melbourne University Liberal Club president. The Devine Miranda was predictably shtum on the campaign's Zionist provenance and agenda, but would it surprise you to to know that Rozner had written to The Australian Jewish News of 26/9/08 that his club "has a proud history of supporting Israel, often in opposition to hordes of anti-Zionist leftist activists"? Silly question.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Evatt's Legacy

"Sixty years ago next Wednesday, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was born. Australia voted for it and an Australian, H.V. Evatt, was president of the United Nations General Assembly." This is how the Sydney Morning Herald kicked off its editorial on PM Rudd's proposal to canvass an Australian bill of rights (The right bill of rights, 4/12/08).

Rudd loves to invoke the memory of Evatt whenever he's sucking up to the Israel lobby. The last time (that I'm aware of) was when he moved his infamous 12 March 2008 parliamentary motion "celebrating and commending the achievements of the State of Israel in the 60 years since its inception" (see my 14/3/08 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3). Rudd said at the time: "Australia is proud to have played a significant part in the international process that led to the foundation of the state of Israel. Australia's then Minister for External Affairs, Dr Evatt, was part of the UN Special Committee on Palestine which recommended in August 1947 the termination of the Mandate for Palestine. And he was chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on the Palestine Question that proposed the partition of Palestine." IOW, Evatt was instrumental in laying the legal groundwork for the later creation of the Jewish state. IOW, Australia owes the Palestinian people big time. How can it discharge this debt? Simple - by basing its foreign policy squarely on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Article 13 of the UDHR reads: "(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." That article applies to all refugees, including the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and their descendants.

Australia thus has a clear legal (through its vote for the UDHR) and moral ( through expiation for its historic role in the dismemberment of Palestine) duty to work in all international legal fora for the return of Palestinian refugees to the homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed by Zionist terrorists in 1948.