Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rambamming Makes the Front Page

Rambam (v): To be sponsored by smooth-talking Israel lobbyists in Australia on a grooming session conducted by tough-talking PR people in Israel with a view to the sponsored adopting the missionary position for Israel when required in Australia. Usually said of Australian politicians, media hacks and other serviceable community misleaders.*
Rambam Fellowship, Journalists Mission etc: Formal designations given to the process of rambamming. (From MERC's Dictionary of Zionist Discourse)

"Almost 1 in 4 federal MPs have accepted free overseas travel worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign governments, private companies and lobby groups... since the last election [11/07]... China is the main destination with 19 visits, followed closely by Israel (15) and Taiwan and the US (both 14). The confession of the Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, that he had failed to declare 2 trips to China in 2002 and 2005 has thrown the spotlight on this unregulated scheme, described yesterday by one long-time political insider as 'pretend transparency'... 'No independent person oversees these trips and there are no rules. Most of the politicians declare as little information as possible', one insider said. Norm Kelly, of the Australian National University's Centre for Democratic Institutions, called for greater scrutiny. 'If an organization or company or government is spending money on Australian MPs there's a reason for it. They're not doing it to develop democracy in Australia. They see a positive outcome for their organisation and the question is whether that's a positive for Australia as well'. Dr Kelly said it was also at odds with the Government's proposal to ban foreign donations to political parties... 'The argument for banning donations is that [it] can buy influence and access', Dr Kelly said. 'A... trip is doing the same thing and it's probably a more effective way of doing it too because you've got the person captured for that trip'... The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has paid for 13 MPs to visit Israel since November 2007. The executive director, Colin Rubenstein, said the program had been running for several years and offered trips to Australians to help them understand the complexity of the Middle East. Journalists, including some from the Herald, have accepted this trip." (MPs hooked on Chinese junkets, Phillip Hudson, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/3/09)

While I'm happy that this practice has finally made it to the front page (of the SMH at least), there are still many questions which require answers:-

Why didn't the Herald print a list of these politicians and their destinations? When who says what about China or Israel, shouldn't we know if they've first been rambammed? And why didn't the Herald print a list of journalists (or at least its own) who have "accepted" such junkets? It's one thing to refer to a lack of "rules" for politicians, but what about Fairfax's own Code of Conduct which explicitly states, "We will not accept gifts or inducements which could impair our judgment or be perceived to be a conflict of interest, bribe or inappropriate gift"? Why isn't there at least a disclosure at the conclusion of each and every article on Palestine/Israel by a rambammed Herald journalist? Were the Herald's afterthought about junketing Herald journalists and the comment from AIJAC's Colin Rubenstein only included because the paper knew that it might otherwise be accused of hypocrisy on the matter? And finally, given that junkets to 'that shitty little country, Israel' are almost as numerous as those to the mighty Celestial Empire, and that Rubes has been wheeled in to justify them, when is the Herald going to do an 'exclusive' on that?

Another thing: the graphic headed Free For All, which accompanies the above article, is interesting in its own right. Under the sub-heading Trips Paid For we find the following list:-

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council 13
Chinese Govt 11
Taiwanese Govt 11
Australia America Leadership Dialogue 9
Australia-China Development Association 6

Why, when the Chinese and Taiwanese governments are named, are we being led to believe that all 13 trips to Israel were funded exclusively by AIJAC with no Israeli government input? Second, although it is plain from the graphic that more trips were paid for by AIJAC and/or the Israeli government, why is this not mentioned in the body of the article?

In addition to AIPAC's journalists' junkets, it should be remembered, we also have the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (BOD) sponsoring same, including the Herald's Paul Sheehan. Now if we were to add journalists' junkets to politicians' junkets...

[* For my other posts on rambamming just click on the tag following the post.]


Anonymous said...

Merc please be accurate ,Unlike the Chinese and Taiwanese lobbyists AIJAC is not sponsored by the Israel Government it is 100% sponsored by Local Jewish community{ Israel has no money for advocacy that's for sure , Israel would like the tens of millions of dollars at their disposal that the Saudi's ,Kuwaitis, Omanis ,UAE and other oil rich Arabs that fund our Universities [ ANU/ Maquarie for example] to support Arab/Muslim propaganda and back up the Left wing academics spread the Anti Zionist Gospel .

By the way if you do your research properly you will find out these MPs and others that go to Israel are taken to the West Bank, introduced to Arab/Israeli Mps and Palestinians including Palestinian journalists as well as left wing Israelies ,that's the whole point other wise why would any intelligent MP on both sides of Politics or anyone else invited be persuaded to go and visit and hear only one side of the warring parties.

Anonymous said...

MERC said...

Anon 5:10, I'm always happy to correct a mistake if I've made one. So just to be clear on this, are you saying that AIJAC's sponsorship of Australian politicians/journalists etc has no input of any kind by the Israeli government? If so, can you document this? Likewise, can you refer me to an actual itinerary and name the Palestinian journalists and left-wing Israelis you claim they are introduced to?

Anonymous said...

I strongly suggest you contact any one of the MP's or Journalists that you believe have gone to Israel and you ask them if what I have stated is true i.m sure they would be happy to give you the names of the Palestinians , Arab /Israelis ,left wing Israelis and groups and which Arab cities or towns they visited, I'll leave it to you to ask them obviously anything I say you will dispute.

You can be rest assured the Israeli government does not have the funds to support local advocacy groups around the globe and even if they did the last place on their list or priority would be Australia that's for sure.

By the way I have been told Australians for Palestine is being funded by UAE and it is on record that Saudi, Kuwait and UAE funnel tens of millions of dollars into Australians Universities such as ANU, Macqaurie and others, do you have a problem with that?

Michael said...

He's got you there MERC.

Just look at Greg 'Jersusalem Prize' Sheridan. He did a tour of Israel and was "taken to the West Bank", yet emerged with his integrity intact.

Here's Greg not "hear[ing] only one side",

"But I also sought out the controversial images of Israel, in particular those of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank."

Greg left no stone unturned in doing so,
"I spent days driving up and down the West Bank and visited as many Jewish settlements as I could. These included suburbs of Jerusalem such as Gilot and Har Homa, big settlements just outside Jerusalem such as Gush Etzion and Ma'ale Adumin, and the biggest, distant settlement, the town of Ariel.
Although I think Israel will be prepared to give up numerous settlements in the West Bank, I don't think any of those named above will be given up under any circumstances.

Further demonstrating his fine grasp of both sides,
"The need to prevent terrorism has compromised everyone's quality of life. Now, to get to Gush Etzion from Jerusalem, you drive through a tunnel road. When you emerge from the tunnel, a good deal of the subsequent road is behind walls. The road is Israeli, the land on either side is Palestinian territory"

"Everyone" - He's actually referring to the Israelis!

And Greg, that "Israeli" road, well it's sitting on Palestinian soil.

Thank god for independent investigative journalism.

Anonymous said...

Great article MERC.

Very interested to know who went, for how long, what was paid for etc. Getting the names would be a great start.

MERC said...

Anon 12:49, you're sounding a tad less sure of yourself this time around. If Israel has the funds to bomb, shell, strafe, rocket and otherwise destroy its neighbours (I wonder how much January's little op in Sudan cost), why would it not have funds for o'seas pro-Israel PR?

Given the fact that AIJAC is a key component of the Israel-right-or-wrong lobby, and that there is no indication on its website as to where its funds come from, there is surely room for speculation on the funding of its junkets.

At the foot of Janet Albrechtsen's 26/11/08 Australian column (Hostages to fear & systematic loathing in Israel)is the following disclosure: "JA travelled to Israel as the guest of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Yet, in the JBOD's Jan 09 newsletter it says (of the Sheehan/Albrechtsen junket) that "The mission is made possible by the JCA Haberman & Kulawicz Fund. The JBOD mission was accompanied by 4 journalists who were guests of AIJAC."

So if you'd care to untangle who paid for what in all of this, I'd be most grateful. And while you're at it, considering that (according to the JCA's website) the Haberman & Kulawicz Fund is for the support of "under-privileged Jewish tertiary students" and "welfare programs for aged care and women," please explain its role in these junkets.

Michael said...

It's not clear who is providing the funding for the airfares and accom, but what is crystal clear is that the MOFA co-ordinates the activities of the rambammed while the are in Israel. It's an 'in-kind' contribution, but anyone who says that this has nothing to do with the Israeli Govt is credulous in the extreme.

Anonymous said...

Merc You have al age, Syrian Morning Herald{SMH],Australian FIn Review and Canberra Times almost more anti Israel and rooting for the Pali's, publishing more letters form Mc Phee, Karkar and CO than Al Jazeera , you have Leunig attending Palestinian Propaganda art gallery openings, you have Oloughlin pass the Palestinian batten to Jason, what more do you want.

It appears you not only want Fairfax, ABC and SBS grovelling to the Muslim/ and Arab world you want The OZ as well, be fair there is enough media to go around for all to share don't be greedy Now!

MERC said...

Michael, as always, you've hit the nail square on the head.

Anon, I just love it when you foam at the mouth. When you're done though, would you mind getting to work on those tasks I've set you?

Re the JBOD newsletter cited in my previous comment, it also says that the JBOD rambammers (Sheehan, Albrechtsen, Tynan & Charley) "spent an intensive week meeting political and military identities." Sounds like only just enough time to meet all the RIGHT people.

Anonymous said...

merc You seem to have all the answers why don't you attend to the tasks after all you know what its like when you ask others to do a job you may as well do it your self , after all you have good contacts why don't you use them?

anon2 said...

Frothing at the mouth, anon: A friend of mine said the Imams in Oman were not allowed to pray for the dead of Gaza, or mention them. While the slaughter was going on, Oman won a great soccer match, everyone went out and celebrated. Though Al Jazeera streamed the atrocity, and people were concerned, I don't think official support runs as deep as you imagine. Not to say that people were not distressed.

So, yes, our schools benefit from Gulf money, and we benefit from investing in the educational infrastructure in those countries, in the case of Oman and UAE, anyway. Whether the governments of those countries have a virulent anti-Zionist agenda (or whether this point of view is not without merit if it exists) is debatable. The people can see injustice is done. Anyone who reads a human rights report can see that injustice is continually done against the Palestinians, and glossed over, for all the information we get in our media.

I will, just for anyone who wanders into the comments section, post this link again: Rudd has support for Israel in his DNA, remember?
We are one of the few countries which seems to support the U.S. and Israel 100% with nary a murmur of dissent, and if you think our mainstream media does not support this point of view you obviously do not read it.

Anonymous said...

Annon 2 What about Palestinian injustices to Palestinians, what about Palestinian Muslim injustices to Palestinian Christians, are they a concern, figures recently published { and re Published in The Age so it must be Kosher] showed that more Palestinians were killed by their own people than by the Jews.

Or is it only an issue when Palestinians are killed by Jews if they kill each other that is expected because they are Arabs and Muslims and that is what they do , that is what the West is used to?

Tell me?

Anonymous said...

Whether the governments of those countries have a virulent anti-Zionist agenda (or whether this point of view is not without merit if it exists) is debatable.


MERC said...

Anon 4:40, you've run into the ground with this one before. It's got no legs. It's a dead parrot. A bit like Zionism. Anon 6:21, one can never have enough of a virulent anti-Zionist agenda.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone goes to the link provided by Anon 6:21pm, they should know that the Director of PMW (Itamar Marcus) immigrated to Israel and lives in a West Bank settlement.

That is not to say that all Marcus's claims are false. Rather, it is to point out that his goal is not to promote peace, but to delegitimise Palestinian demands for justice, and to provide a smoke-screen to hide the ills of Israeli society (e.g., the new Foreign Minister, the IDF t-shirts, ...., the stolen land on which Marcus himself lives).

Anonymous said...

I would have thought you meant to say its a a dead Parrot , a bit like a dead Palestinian?

Alex said...

Ive got this one merc...Anon 10:33 And your point is?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous MERC said...

It's a dead parrot. A bit like Zionism.

I would have thought you meant to say its a a dead Parrot , a bit like a dead Palestinian?

Anonymous Alex said.. get it?

anon2 said...

I'm sorry I did not respond to Anon
March 30, 2009 4:40 PM earlier. Anon, according to B'Tselem, from the 29.9.2000-26.12.2008 (this does not include the Gaza slaughter) 4792 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, and 45 were killed by Israeli citizens.

Within the same time period, 594 Palestinians were killed by Palestinians.
I have known and read of Palestinian Muslim and Christian friendships, so I'm not sure of your source, would you like to reference it? This 2006 article does talk about infighting, but it also says:
Gaza's estimated 3,000 Christians live peacefully among 1.4 million Muslims. But most Christmas festivities in Gaza have been scaled back to protest at the fighting between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and forces loyal to the ruling Hamas.
All deaths are tragic, including Israeli deaths, but the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis is 8 times higher than the number killed by Palestinians. That was before the Gaza slaughter, add another 1400 killed by Israelis to that number, and it is 10 times higher. Therefore, I think your figures are wrong. Could you give a reference to the article?