Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Real New Anti-Semitism

"What, then, is anti-Arab racism? I cannot answer this question; I can only explain what I mean when I use the term... I use it generally to mean acts of physical violence against Arabs based not on chance but largely (or exclusively) on the ethnicity of the victim; moments of ethnic discrimination in schools, civil institutions, and the workplace; the Othering of Arabs based on essentialized or biologically determined ideology; the totalization and dehumanization of Arabs by continually referring to them as terrorists; the marginalization of Arabs as it is informed by exclusionary conceptions of Americanness; the taunting of Arabs with epithets such as sand nigger, dune coon, camel jockey, and raghead; the profiling of Arabs based on name, religion, or country of origin; and the elimination of civil liberties based on distrust of the entire group rather than on the individuals within that group who may merit suspicion. In short, the redirection of classic American racism at a non-White ethnic group whose origins lie in an area of the world marked for colonization by the United States and whose residents are therefore dehumanized for the sake of political expediency." (Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From & What it Means Today, Steven Salaita, 2006 pp 12-13)

A tale of 3 men:-

An American citizen, Ben-Ami Kadish, 85, was convicted late last year of spying for Israel in the 80s. Although espionage carries the death penalty in the US, Kadish pled guilty and got off with a fine. It actually took the US Government 23 years to charge him. When asked by the judge why it took so long, the prosecutor merely said, "There is no mystery behind it, it's just what happened." Opined the judge: "Why it took the government 23 years to charge Mr Kadish is shrouded in mystery... It is clear the [US] government could have charged Mr Kadish with far more serious crimes." (US man gets no jail time in 'mysterious' case of spying for Israel,, 30/5/09)

Two American citizens, Shukri Abu Baker and Ghassan Elashi, directors of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF*), the largest Palestinian-American charity in the US, were each sentenced to 65 years in prison for funding schools and other programs allegedly controlled, according to Israeli evidence, by Hamas. The provision of twelve million dollars worth of humanitarian aid by the HLF allegedly allowed Hamas to devote more of its resources to 'destroying' Israel. Of course, billions of dollars worth of US military 'aid' to Israel in no way allows it to devote more of its resources to wiping Palestine off the map. (See US Muslim charity leaders get 65 years in prison for 'funding Hamas', Jason Ditz,, 27/5/09)

[*"HLF works in the fields of health, community development, emergency relief and social service projects. In education, its activities on behalf of Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan and in Gaza and the West Bank range from endowing school museums and specialized educational centers to providing durable individual school 'backpacks' at $50 per needy Palestinian student that contain pencils, erasers, tablets and even a school uniform. HLF 'back to school' and 'stay in school' scholarships also have enabled qualified Palestinian engineering, law and journalism students to study at the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Among more personalised programs in which HLF donors can participate are sponsorship of an orphan at $50 per month, adoption of a whole family at $100 a month, or the 'reach a child' project which provides $35 a month for children who are handicapped, crippled, or living with insolvent families. HLF medical projects include helping to build medical clinics and facilities, provide them with supplies, medicines and state-of-the-art-technology, and awarding various medical scholarships. More astonishing, in view of the virtually unlimited needs among Palestinian refugees wherever they have found shelter in the Middle East, is the ability of the HLF to move emergency volunteers, equipment and supplies wherever help is needed in the aftermath of disasters around the world. Among places where HLF volunteers have gone to work are Bosnia, Kosovo, and, even more recently, in Turkey in the wake of the massive 1999 earthquake there. Closer to home, HLF has sent emergency aid twice to Oklahoma... The first time was in the wake of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Aid was sent again in 1999 in the wake of tornadoes that struck near Tulsa." (Heavy-handed intimidation fails to deter Palestinian-American charity, Richard H Curtiss, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2000)]

In the US they first came for the Arabs...

Postscript (2/6/09): A man fom Gaza has just been sentenced to 45 months jail by an Israeli court for allegedly supplying "terror groups with 5 tons of steel and 5 tons of iron, knowing these would be utilized in producing arms and missiles to be used against Israel." (Palestinian sentenced to 45 months for giving Gaza terror groups steel, The Jerusalem Post, 1/6/09)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Her Brilliant Career

Take a young opportunist: "A fellow student activist says [Julia] Gillard has always been 'very much on the pragmatic side'. 'She was always that way in student politics. She was more inclined to deal with the Libs, the Zionists and various right-wing groups than she was with the Left'." (She's got it, Stevenson & Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/03)

Rambam her: "[Zionist Federation of Australia president] Philip Chester said the fact that he had 'never heard [Gillard] say a word about the Middle East' was no indication of any lack of support for Israel, but added that he was more comfortable with Gillard filling the deputy role having been to Israel, which she visited for the first time last year." (Rudd 'good for the Jews', but Gillard still untested, The Australian Jewish News, 7/12/06) [See my 12/6/08 post Pemulwuy in Palestine]

And she'll sing like a bird: "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." (Gillard quoted in A time for fighting, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH 29/12/08) [See my 30/12/08 post Gaza Slaughter: Australia's Response]

But now there's more, heaps more: "The Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will lead a high-level delegation to Israel next month as part of an effort to strengthen political, business and cultural ties between the two countries. The tour, organised by the lobby group the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE), will include in the 40-strong delegation Liberal MPs Peter Costello, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Guy Barnett, Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, QC, Jewish scientists, academics, businessmen and women, and journalists. An equal number of Israelis will attend the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum*, to be held at the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel's most prestigious hotel. Leading Israeli politicians from the governing Likud and Labour parties will attend, as well as the opposition party Kadima, led by the former foreign minister Tzipi Livni. It is hoped that the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will attend. As foreign minister in 2002, Mr Netanyahu helped to launch the AICE with the then foreign minister, Alexander Downer. The chairman of the exchange is Albert Dadon, who was an early supporter of the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, first bringing him on a trip to Israel in 2002. In 2005 Mr Dadon accompanied Mr Rudd and his now chief-of-staff, Alistair Jordan, on a trip to Israel... A spokesman for the organisers said the tour would include a visit to Ramallah in the West Bank to meet leaders of the Palestinian Authority. However, the purpose of the forum in Jerusalem on June 25-26 was not to engage with different points of view on the Israel-Palestine question but to promote an exchange of ideas and issues common to both countries, such as water, electoral reform and education." (Gillard to head mission to Israel, Jason Koutsoukis, SMH, 26/5/09) [*I'm sure you'll all be pleased to know that this forum, according to the AJN (29/5/09), is "part of the G'day Shalom Salaam Israel event."]

What a party it'll be! Check out the guests:

Besides Julia, there'll be Peter Costello, the prime minister who wasn't. Now he's been rambammed so many times his first experience of same is practically lost in the mists of time: "Costello first visited Israel... as a guest of the Australian Union of Jewish Students in 1979. He has since returned to the country a number of times, most recently in 2003." (Costello holds court, AJN, 17/9/07)

In 2003, eh? Back then he was sounding just like Gillard on Gaza: "[Costello's] utterances during his 3-day visit to the Holy Land this week were broadly in line with official Israeli thinking. In particular, he endorsed Israel's position that there can be no further progress on the road map for peace until the Palestinian Authority honours its primary obligation to crack down on militants and halt their terrorism. 'Terrorism breeds a response', Mr Costello told the Herald on the final day of his visit." (Costello toes Mid-East line, Ed O'Loughlin, SMH, 20/9/03) These two might sit on opposite sides of the parliamentary playpen, but when it comes to Israel, they're so close it's indecent.

Speaking of which, there'll be good old George Brandis, one of the Israel lobby's attack dogs in the House of Unrepresentative Swill. He's currently engaged in some vital post-Durban II mopping up operation: "It's been a while since former Federal Court judge Catherine Branson has found herself under cross-examination. Branson, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, found herself hauled before Senate estimates this week, having to explain the attendance of social justice commissioner Tom Calma and other senior commission officers at the Durban Review Conference on Racism. The conference had been boycotted by the Australian Government on the grounds that in the past it had served as a forum for racist attacks on Israel. Liberal senator George Brandis, formerly a barrister, appeared to take great delight in nailing the former judge, who he accused of evading his questions." (Caught in crosshairs, The Australian, 28/5/09)

Brandis will be flanked by senate colleague, Guy Barnett, who also wanted a piece of Mr Calma. As he said on his website: "The Government's refusal to recall Mr Calma or lack of influence over Mr Calma is inexcusable. It is a pathetic effort. Mr Calma's presence at the conference signals that Australia condones anti-Jewish rhetoric... I will be pursuing Mr Calma, the AHRC and the Government in Senate Estimates." (, 23/4/09)

And last but not least, there'll be Christopher Pyne, fresh from his labours in the House of Reps ensuring that the "sensibilities of Jewish Australians" are fully protected from any loose talk by Labour riff raff in the chamber. [See my 25/5/09 post The Analogies that Got Away]

Seems Israel just can't get enough of our love, baby.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's the State Terrorism, Stupid

The following statement by veteran anti-Zionist Palestinian Jew Uri Davis enshrines a fundamental truth:

"A fundamental asymmetery obtains between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots', between the colonizer and the colonized. No armed action targeting civilians can be condoned. All 'acts of terrorism' ought to be condemned. But 'suicide bombing' by Palestinians is not 'just like' the strafing of Palestinian civilian residential quarters by Israeli Apache and Cobra helicopters with missiles, just as stealing food to feed the hungry is not 'just like' stealing money to feed a drug habit. Many of those at the forefront of the 'war against terror', notably the Government of the State of Israel, seem to be unwilling to embrace an inclusive view of the phenomenon of 'terrorism' they so forcefully condemn. The first party victimized by 'acts of terrorism' is the Palestinian party - not the Israeli party. The majority of the victims of 'acts of terrorism' are Palestinian civilians - not Israeli citizens. The primary perpetrators of 'acts of terrorism' are the governments of the State of Israel sending death squads on assassination missions in the post-1967 occupied territories; strafing civilian residential areas with helicopter gun-ships; destroying clinics and medical infrastructure; devastating centuries of learning, education and cultural heritage; subjecting the civilian population to protracted curfews; and denying the civilian population access to medical care. The primary 'terrorist' in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Government of the State of Israel - not the Palestinian suicide bomber." (Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within, 2003, p 74)

Of course, we expect Zionist dead-enders and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media to be blind to such a fundamental truth. But it never ceases to amaze when it eludes even spokespeople for human rights organisations. Take Human Rights Watch for example:-

First this, courtesy of The Angry Arab News Service: "'Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets. Pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations have strongly resisted the report and tried to discredit it', said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW's Middle East & North Africa Division'. But Sarah, you forgot to mention that HRW also equates the suffering of the colonized with that of the colonizers. But Sarah, you forgot to mention that HRW is obsessed with its 'pro-Israel donors' - as your director calls them - and that this obsession affects its coverage. But Sarah, you refused to mention that Israeli lives are always treated as more precious than Arab lives. But Sarah, you forgot to say that Hamas' homemade fireworks (aka rockets) are treated as more lethal than bombs from Israeli fighter jets. But Sarah, you forgot to mention that you never produce a report critical of Israel without matching it with a report critical of its victims." (26/5/09)

Then this, from Radio National's Breakfast program: "The conversation has to start with the Tamil Tigers because they were a totalitarian organisation that ran part of the country for many years where there were no basic freedoms, where people who criticised them were sometimes killed, sometimes tortured, sometimes imprisoned, where any moderate Tamil voices in Sri Lanka that spoke up were silenced by them. There have been hundreds of unexplained killings over the years that appear to have been the work of the Tamil Tigers, but the government has basically said they're so bad they engaged in terror tactics, therefore we can do whatever we need to do to end this conflict and that's where the problem started because they used indiscriminate force." (Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, 27/5/09)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan on what happens to people when you cage them:

"The Sri Lankan Government should surely see the precedents from all over the world, that distressed populations held for long periods in camps are breeding grounds for discontent and, ultimately, potentially violent reaction." (Sri Lanka's best hope a pact with India, The Australian, 23/5/09)

What is it about the Gaza Ghetto he still doesn't understand?

Greg (JP) Sheridan on race:

"When I say I'm an old-fashioned liberal on race, what I mean is that I want race not to count very much, if at all. If you tell me someone's race you've told me the least important thing about them. In Australia I want everyone to share an equal citizenship... I don't want race to be an important part of anyone's civic identity... The whole stress in our official culture these days is to concentrate on ethnic and cultural distinctiveness. That's OK if that's your thing, but it's such a paltry, pitifully small part of the human potential to get so fussed about... [F]rom the admittedly limited experience of my own life, I don't believe any race exhibits any particular characteristic." (We'll all win when race comes last, The Australian, 23/5/09)

What is it about Zionism he still doesn't understand?

Oh, and Greg (JP) Sheridan on those lying Palestinians:

"I do not believe a single story of Israel's war crimes or atrocities in Gaza. There is no evidence of any such story beyond Palestinian eye-witness accounts and on countless previous occasions these accounts have been fabricated..." (There may be the will but not necessarily the way, The Australian, 5/2/09)

Now what was that he was saying about racism?

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Analogies that Got Away

In my 17 May post Sheridan in Love 4, I had occasion to quote from (& critically discuss) the European Union Monitoring Committee on Racism & Xenophobia's 'working definition of anti-Semitism'. One element of that definition is 'drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis'. Of course, as pointed out in my post, for Zionist propagandists, the drawing of comparisons of contemporary Arab/Iranian policies to that of the Nazis has become a staple of their craft, with Nasser, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, and Ahmadinejad all being condemned, at one stage or the other, as risen Hitlers.

The hypocrisy and ideological bias of automatically ruling out such comparisons (indeed, condemning them as anti-Semitic) when it comes to Israeli leaders, policies and practices, while routinely employing them to demonise Arab and other leaders and ignoring their use in other contexts, was highlighted recently in two media reports.

In the first, Parliamentary scuffle over Third Reich comparison (The Australian Jewish News, 22/5/09), we learn that Labor MP Steve Gibbons had delivered a speech in federal parliament in which he commented that shadow minister Tony Abbott showed "all the compassion of the Third Reich" when it came to aged pensioners. This comparison was roundly condemned by Liberal MP (& Chairman, Australia/Israel Parliamentary Group 1996-2004) Christopher Pyne as displaying a "total lack of regard for the sensibilities of Jewish Australians... who were persecuted in both Germany and other conquered territories."* And was Pyne's motion to condemn Gibbon's heinous crime backed by Labor MP (& federal parliament's most strident defender of Israel) Michael Danby? In a word - no.

[*Imagine if he'd used the term 'occupied territories'?]

In the second, Holocaust of torture exposed in a litany of unredeemed sin (The Australian, 22/5/09), Times journalist Ruth Gledhill wrote of the findings of Ireland's Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, namely that Irish Catholic-run institutions had engaged in the torture, rape and beating of thousands of orphans going back to 1914, that "It would be no exaggeration to call this a holocaust of abuse." Expecting to find today's letters page of The Australian overrun with complaints at such an 'inappropriate' comparison, I in fact found - nothing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Repeat After Me

Now class, listen up, and repeat after me...

"Nearly half of the Palestinian population is controlled by the ultra-rejectionist, terrorist death cult of Hamas." (Obama gets serious on Middle East, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian, 1/8/09)

"Hamas, a virtual terrorist death cult..." (Middle East requires pragmatic realism: a two-state solution would need better Palestinian leadership, editorial, The Australian, 18/5/09)

"... Gaza is ruled by the terrorist death cult Hamas..." (Israeli leaders mislabelled by foes, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian, 9/3/09)

"... the terrorist death-cult that rules Gaza." (There may be the will but not necessarily the way: Peace in the Middle East is not possible whatever Obama does so long as Palestinians oppose it, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian, 5/2/09)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Only One

A snapshot of Australian parliamentary politics under Chairman Rudd:

"If they haven't caught up with her already, it's a fair bet that Labor's re-educators will be out in force this weekend trying to track down their Federal Member for Fowler, Julia Irwin. Irwin has a reputation as a forthright backbencher who is unafraid of rattling the Labor cage when she feels the need. Last year she attracted widespread attention when she boycotted a parliamentary motion moved by Kevin Rudd to commemorate the state of Israel's 60th birthday. She was far from the only member of caucus who felt strongly about Israel's conduct of its dispute [!!!] with Palestine. But after the party whips made it perfectly clear to all that the boss wanted everyone there for the vote, she was the only Labor MP to give voice to her notoriously strong views about Israel and to boycott the parliamentary motion. Raised in a working-class family in Western Sydney, Irwin has been an ALP member since she was 15 and - despite many veiled threats to her pre-selection - the member for Fowler since 1998. Some in her party consider Irwin to be 'old Labor' - sadly a perjorative, really, which means she holds fast to the ideals of equality and, above all, a fair go for the working man and woman... sometimes at the expense of the party line. And there she was, at it again, last week, banging on about unemployment and sticking up for the workers in her electorate." (It'll be hard labor for the jobless, Paul Daley, The Sun-Herald, 17/5/09)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sheridan in Love 4

"Second only to the US, Israel is the most acute object of the hostility to the West that flourishes in Western intellectual life... [because] it is capitalist, Western, an ally of the US and uses military force when necessary to maintain its security. It rules, if temporarily*, over an occupied Arab population and despite its own racial diversity is a mostly non-Arab population in a predominantly Arab region... But there is another factor... and this is Israel's role as the homeland of the Jewish people... but which also gave full political, civic and human rights to all its citizens regardless of their religion or racial background... Israel's role as the Jewish homeland, when Jewish civilization was nearly wiped out by the Holocaust, gives it a special place in the estimation of those who love and admire Jewish culture... But it is the central reality for those motivated by anti-Semitism... Israel is called an apartheid state... Increasingly, anti-Israel demonstrations in the West include direct references to Jews as well as to the state of Israel... Every American Jew who supported the US intervention in Iraq was suspected without evidence, of doing so because of considerations for Israel, thus reviving the old canard that Jews cannot be loyal citizens of the state they live in because of their over-arching loyalty to Israel. Even when hostility is directed specifically at Israel rather than at Jews, when this hostility is extreme and beyond reason, it affects the social atmosphere for Jews." (Israel still looks good, warts & all, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian Literary Review, 6/5/09) [*42 years of occupation notwithstanding]

Sheridan here airbrushes Israel, the Jewish state which discriminates in law against its non-Jewish citizens, misrepresenting it as a warm and fuzzy "Jewish homeland," a mere repository of Jewish "civilization" and refuge in troubled times. Notably absent is any reference to what Israel actually is or does. He then goes on (after a long discussion of classical anti-Semitism, which I've omitted) to claim in effect that virtually ALL criticism of this "Jewish homeland" is either anti-Semitic in motivation or encourages and promotes anti-Semitism.

Mike Marqusee's recent (2008) memoir If I Am Not for Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew is only one of many critiques of the Zionist project which refute this canard. Given the comprehensive nature of his refutation, however, he's worth quoting at some length: "The European Union Monitoring Committee on Racism and Xenophobia has published a 'working definition' of anti-semitism which declares that 'anti-semitism manifests itself' in 'drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis' as well as 'denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour'. Former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky defined 'the new anti-semitism' by applying what he calls the '3D test': 'demonization' (comparing Israelis to Nazis), 'double standards' (measuring Israel by different yardsticks than are applied to other countries), and 'delegitimization' (denying the Jewish right to a state)... Irwin Cotler, the Canadian Justice Minister, claimed that acceptable criticism of Israel ends and anti-semitism begins when critics deny the Jewish people's right to self-determination, when they 'Nazify' Israel, or when they 'single out Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena'." (pp 24-25)

Regarding the issue of double standards and singling out, Marqusee points out that in determining a "single standard of human justice, it is necessary to engage in the process of analogy. And on this the Zionists place a priori restrictions. Israel demands exemptions: on refugees' right to return or compensation, on seizure and settlement of land acquired by military conquest, on torture and assassinations, on the indiscriminate use of violence in densely populated areas, on nuclear proliferation. These exemptions are embodied in hundreds of US vetoes on Israel's behalf at the Security Council. So who is really doing the 'singling out'?" (p 25)

"Of course," he continues, "Israel is not the only offender in today's world... But if no protest against a particular crime is to be admitted unless all crimes are equally and presumably simultaneously protested against, then there will be no protest at all, against any crimes. This is an acute form of moral relativism masquerading as its opposite. The upshot is to minimize or relativize Israel's crimes and to attempt to delegitimize those who would judge Israel by universal standards of human decency." ( pp 25-26)

On the issue of Jewish self-determination, Marqusee points out that "anti-Zionists, of course, do reject the idea that there should be a Jewish state in Palestine. In so doing it's said we are 'singling out' Jews by denying their rights to the statehood that others enjoy. Here the Zionists move from objecting to inappropriate analogies to insisting on analogous status with other national groups. A rejection of that particular analogy, and the preference for other analogies - other readings of history - is ruled anti-semitic, either in motive or effect." He asks, "Were those who opposed national self-determination for Afrikaaners... in post-apartheid South Africa 'singling out' [this] ethnic group by denying [it] this universal right?... Their claims were universally rejected by liberal and left opinion. [It was] recognized as [an] undemocratic, exclusivist nationalism... seeking to establish ethnic privileges. In the end, the bulk of the South African population decided that only majority rule across the country, not separatism, could guarantee minority rights. World public opinion was in complete accord, yet to advocate that self-same solution for Palestine is deemed - officially - anti-semitic." ( p 26)

He deftly underlines the uniqueness of Israel's position as a self-styled Jewish state, a real self-singling out if ever there was one: "There are currently no Protestant or Catholic or Hindu or even Muslim states that legally privilege members of those religions in the way that the state of Israel privileges Jews. There are Muslim states that give privileges to Islam and to Muslim citizens, but there is no Muslim state that offers all Muslims worldwide a homeland, or that endows foreigners with full (indeed privileged) citizenship, simply because they are Muslims. While religion may affect citizenship rights, it is not the determinant - which is birth or long residence within the borders of the state. Paradoxically, although the Jewish state is said to belong to Jews everywhere, it does not define Jewishness by religious observance. It claims to be a secular state, unlike those Muslim states that require public observance of specific forms of Islam." (p 28)

When it comes to adjudicating the world's many nationalisms, Marqusee insists on the application of the principle of "the democratic content of the national demand... In many situations it is unclear where the balance lies. But in the case of Zionism the verdict is dramatically stark: Zionism involves, unavoidably, a denial to others of democratic and equal rights. It is an obscurantist claim dressed in the garb of secular modernity, underpinned from the beginning by naked power... Critically, even in the most clear-cut claims for national self-determination, there is no right to build a state on land already inhabited by others, or to sustain an ethnic majority in a state through the dispossession of others. It is here the Zionists make for Israel an exceptional claim among the nations. Their case cannot be sustained by analogy, so they deligitimize the process of analogy. However, there is, even here, one analogy they do claim: that between Americanism and Zionism. Like Palestine, North America was a land without people for a people without land. Both Americanism and Zionism are settler-colonial ideologies infused with utopianism - and racism. Both the Israeli and the US state are presented as embodying extra-territorial ideas. The 'city on the hill' is an outpost, and in latter days an embodiment, of white European civilization. American exceptionalism and Israeli exceptionalism are mirrors and partners. Like the Zionists who founded Israel, the Protestant settlers who founded the USA were fleeing from and supported by an empire. They dispossessed the indigenous people while declaring them the beneficiaries of their good intentions. Among the charges the declaration of Independence makes against King George III is that he has blocked 'new appropriation of lands', failed to encourage migration from Europe, and sided with the 'merciless Indian savages' against the 'inhabitants of our frontiers', namely, the white settlers seeking to expand the colonial domain. The American Revolution, like the Zionist struggle against the British mandate in 1945-47, was partly a response by settler-colonialists to imperial restrictions on their right to dispossess natives. I've heard this analogy used to justify the Nakba, the Palestinian 'catastrophe' of 1948: terrible things happened to the Native Americans but these are the casualties of progress, and cannot be undone. Every people acquires its land, at one point or another, by conquest, so why should the Jews be any different? But that raises the less comfortable case of another settler-colonialism, white South Africa. When it comes to the apartheid analogy, what's decisive is not Carter's legitimizing of it but the fact that it arises, spontaneously and irresistably, to the lips of black South Africans visiting the Occupied Territories. What they see there - the Jews-only roads, the confinement of Palestinians in camps and villages, the checkpoints, the harassment, the second-class citizenship based on ethnicity - reminds them graphically of the system they suffered under and struggled against. The Afrikaaners were immigrants from Europe with a religious-nationalist consciousness whose racist assumptions about their right to the land were underpinned by superior European technology and weaponry. White settlers acquired control of the state thanks ultimately to British imperial power, with which, like the Zionists, they were often nonetheless in conflict. There is at least one major difference between Israel and South Africa, though it's not one that favors the former. Under apartheid, the dominant whites used the black population as a source of cheap labor. In contrast, Zionism has aimed to remove the Palestinian population, to replace Palestinians with Jews. And this has been evident from what Zionists called 'the conquest of labor' in the 1920s (when Jewish settlers campaigned for the non-employment of Palestinians), to the Nakba of 1948 and its aftermath, to the current calls within Israel for 'transfer', the final expulsion of the bulk of the Palestinian population." (pp 29-31)

Finally, Marqusee tackles the Nazi/fascist analogy, and makes the telling point that "the prime culprit here... is not the left. In my lifetime, every US military action, from Vietnam to Iraq (and now the threat against Iran), has been justified with analogies drawn from World War II. Every enemy is a new Hitler (Qadaffi, Noriega, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Mugabe, Ahmadinejad), every call for peace is Munich-style appeasement, and every challenge to Israel is an existential threat akin to that posed by the Nazis - from the days of Nasser down to Hamas and Hezbollah. Of course, the Nazis and the holocaust represent an acme of inhumanity, an evil so enormous that any comparison seems dubious. Yet if we remove them from history and treat them as sui generis, we debar ourselves from learning and applying the broader lessons. When the world discovered the extent of Nazi barbarism in the wake of World War II, the cry was 'Never again!' We cannot turn that cry into a reality, we cannot ensure that nothing even remotely like this happens again, unless we are permitted to draw appropriate analogies from the experience. Where there is Nazi-like behavior, a Nazi-like idea or a Nazi-like threat, then it is right that the comparison is noted. Is it permitted, however, to compare anything to the holocaust? Its industrial and ideological nature and scale seem to make it unlike anything in the annals of genocide. But even these salient features occur only within the broader phenomenon of imperialism, racism and colonialism. That's where the story of the extermination of European Jewry belongs and it does not in the least belittle or relativize the magnitude of its horror to say so. (pp 31-32)

And Sheridan's poor, misunderstood American Jews, who supposedly supported the invasion of Iraq because they thought it was the right thing for America to do at the time without being in any way influenced by the sabre-rattling of Israeli politicians, Israel-friendly American neocons in and out of the Bush administration, and the Israel lobby, and who therefore came under suspicion of dual loyalty? Even assuming the reality of such straw men, the very fact that Israel presents as a Jewish state, and that Zionists routinely conflate Judaism and Zionism, is bound to lead to such suspicions. As Norman Finkelstein has pointed out: "In some quarters anger at Israel's brutal occupation has undoubtedly spilled over to an animus toward Jews generally. But however lamentable, it's hardly cause for wonder. The brutal US aggression against Vietnam and the Bush administration's aggression against Iraq engendered a generalized anti-Americanism, just as the genocidal Nazi aggression during World War II engendered a generalized anti-Teutonism. Should it really surprise us if the cruel occupation by a self-declared Jewish state engenders a generalized antipathy to Jews?... [I]f many Jews themselves repudiate any distinction between Israel and world Jewry, indeed, if they denounce such a distinction as itself anti-Semitic; if mainstream Jewish organizations lend uncritical support to every Israeli policy, however criminal, indeed, abetting the most virulent tendencies inside Israel and muzzling principled dissent outside Israel; if Israel defines itself juridically as the sovereign state of the Jewish people, and Jews abroad label any criticism of Israel anti-Jewish - the real wonder is that the spillover from antipathy toward Israel to Jews generally hasn't been greater" (Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism & the Abuse of History, 2005, pp 81-82)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Give No Ground

"John Seed, the Australian founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, tells of a meeting he had with a group of Australian Aborigines in Sydney. After the meeting, they stepped outside into the night air. The great city spread out before them. One of the Aborigines asked, 'What do you see? What do you see out there?' John looked at the pulsing freeways, towers of anodized glass and steel, ships in the harbor, and replied, 'I see a city. Lights, pavement, skyscrapers...' The Aborigine said quietly, 'We still see the land. Beneath the concrete we know where the forest grows, where the kangaroos graze. We see where the Platypus digs her den, where the streams flow. That city there... it's just a scab. The land remains alive beneath it'." (Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Dave Foreman, 1991, p 7)

"When a Palestinian Arab speaks of independence 'on equal footing with the Arabs of the neighbouring countries'*, he can but think of a country consisting of three-quarters of a million peasants cultivating their rich orange-groves, their bananas, their cereals, their maize, their sesame, their water-melons, their tobacco, their olives, and their apricots. He pictures to himself the busy sea-ports Jaffa and Haifa, and thinks of the latter's connexions with Iraq and the East. He thinks of the capital and its Holy Places, Muslim and Christian, to which Palestinian sentiment is so deeply attached. If he is a Muslim he thinks also of Ramleh and Acre and of the heroic achievements of Saladin. If he is a Christian he thinks of Bethlehem and Nazareth and of the Lake of Galilee. Above all he thinks of the Palestinian soil of which his civilization is an essential and a congruous part. Palestinian independence with any of these things removed could only be a maimed and halting thing. With almost all of them removed it would be no independence at all." (Nisi Dominus: A Survey of the Palestine Controversy, Nevill Barbour, 1946, pp 179-180)

[*From Britain's 1937 proposal to partition Palestine.]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sheridan in Love 3

"Israel is also the only Western nation in the Middle East (with the exception of substantial but minority parts of Lebanon). Israel is the only national expression of Western values, and indeed Western power, in today's Middle East. These terms can be confusing. The West aspires to universal values of democracy and human rights..." (Israel still looks good, warts & all, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, The Australian Literary Review, 6/5/09)

Yes, as a colonial-settler offshoot of Europe, Israel may be the only "Western nation in the Middle East," but how the hell "substantial parts of Lebanon" make it into the same category is beyond me. That aside, as soon as Sheridan trots out ideological constructs such as 'the West', and so-called "Western values," you know you're in clash-of-civilizations territory, where, in the words of Edward Said, "the personification of enormous entities called 'the West' and 'Islam' is recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary." (The Clash of Ignorance, The Nation, 22/10/01) In the reductive, us-and-them world of The Australian's foreign editor and neocon magician, over two centuries of bloody European/US meddling, invasion, domination, and control in the Middle East are spirited away as he conjures up a seductive vision of democracy and human rights, to which an entity dubbed 'the West' is supposed to eternally aspire.

Integral to this fantastic vision is the absurd suggestion that Israel, a settler-colonial ethnocracy, which has been dispossessing and oppressing the indigenous Palestinian Arab people for over 60 years, is acting as some sort of vector for democracy and human rights in the Middle East. It is perhaps useful, at this point, to recall Israel's job description, courtesy of Sir Ronald Storrs, the first British Governor of Jerusalem : "It will form for England a little Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism."

As US academic Con Hallinan explains: "Storrs' analogy was no accident. Ireland was where the English invented the tactic of divide and rule, and where the devastating effectiveness of using foreign settlers to drive a wedge between the colonial rulers and the colonized made it a template for worldwide imperial rule. Ariel Sharon and former Prime Minister Menachem Begin normally take credit for creating the 'facts on the ground' policies that have poured more than 420,000 settlers into the Occupied Territories. But they were simply copying Charles I, the English king, who in 1609 forcibly removed the O'Neill and O'Donnell clans from the north of Ireland, moved in 20,000 English and Scottish protestants, and founded the Plantation of Ulster. Protestants were awarded the 'Ulster privilege' which gave them special access to land and lower rents, and also served to divide them from the native Catholics. The 'Ulster privilege' is not dissimilar to the kind of 'privileges' Israeli settlers enjoy in the Territories today, where their mortgages are cheap, their taxes lower and their education subsidized. Prior to the Ulster experiment, the English had tried any number of schemes to tame the restive Irish and build a wall between conqueror and conquered. All of them failed. Then the English hit on the idea of using ethnicity, religion and privilege to construct a society with built-in divisions. It worked like a charm. Once the English hit on the tactic of using ethnic and religious differences to divide a population, the conquest of Ireland became a reality. Within 250 years, that formula would be transported to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It was 'divide and conquer' that made it possible for an insignificant island in the north of Europe to rule the world. Division and chaos, tribal, religious and ethnic hatred, were the secret to empire. It would appear the Israelis have paid close attention to English colonial policy because their policies in the Occupied Territories bear a distressing resemblance to British policies in Ireland." (Divide & conquer: common imperial rules for the 21st century,, 29/7/04)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Exporting Zionism

"So we can understand what Israel is doing in various remote corners of the world when we contemplate the Middle East itself and consider what Israel is doing there. Given the past and the present of Zionism in the Middle East, what else could one expect? What Israel is doing in the Third World is simply to export the Middle East experience of Zionism. This product doesn't need much adaptation to suit the export market, because the Middle East is part of the Third World, and what Israel does in such remote corners of the world as Chile and the Philippines is a direct outgrowth of what it has done at home. What Israel has been exporting to the Third World is not just a technology of domination, but a worldview that undergirds that technology. In every situation of oppression and domination, the logic of the oppressed is pitted against the logic of the oppressor. What Israel has been exporting is the logic of the oppressor, the way of seeing the world that is tied to successful domination. What is exported is not just technology, armaments, and experience, not just expertise, but a certain frame of mind, a feeling that the Third World can be controlled and dominated, that radical movements in the Third World can be stopped, that modern Crusaders still have a future." (The Israeli Connection: Whom Israel Arms & Why, Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, 1987, p 248)

"It is only a matter of time before the last redoubt of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will fall. Armed resistance in the conventional sense of positional warfare will soon come to an end. But for all the triumphalism of the Sri Lankan army, it would be instructive to remember that since the fall of Killinochchi in October 2008, a small band of 2000+ LTTE cadres held out against 3 divisions of the Sri Lankan army for over 8 months. An army armed by China, Pakistan, helped by radars from India, manned by Indian personnel... Trained by the Indians, Pakistanis, Israelis and the Chinese... In the post-conflict situation, the Sri Lankans will keep conditions in the [Internally Displaced Persons] camps barely livable... They will... actively encourage the displaced to leave Sri Lanka for India or join the Tamil diaspora elsewhere and in a sense depopulate part of the north of that island. They will then... seek to implant Sinhalese settlers in that area... as they did successfully in the east where there is now a sizeable Sinhalese population in what was once a predominantly Tamil area... Any exodus of the Tamils from the north of Sri Lanka to India... would be inimical to the long-term interests of both the Sri Lankan Tamils as a historical community, as deeply rooted in the island nation as the Sinhalese. The Rajapakse brothers are devious but also farsighted... [They] are not merely looking at the military defeat of the Tigers; they want to write a new and final chapter of the Mahavamsa, which will conclude that the Sinhalese finally settled the 2000-year struggle with the Tamils under the Rajapakse brothers by sending the Tamils back in boats to where they originally came from." (Summer winds auger ill for the Sri Lankan Tamil, Ravi Nair,, 11/5/09)

"The Sri Lankan government has learned an old lesson from, I suspect, a modern master: Israel. In order to conduct a slaughter, you ensure the pornography is unseen, illicit at best. You ban foreigners and their cameras from Tamil towns like Mulliavaikal, which was bombarded recently by the Sri Lankan army, and you lie that the 75 people killed in the hospital were blown up quite wilfully by a Tamil suicide bomber. You then give reporters a ride into the jungle, providing what in the news business is called a dateline, which suggests an eyewitness account, and you encourage the gullible to disseminate only your version and its lies. Gaza is the model. From the same masterclass you learn to manipulate the definition of terrorism as a universal menace, thus ingratiating yourself with the 'international community' (Washington) as a noble sovereign state blighted by an 'insurgency' of mindless fanaticism. The truth and lessons of the past are irrelevant. And having succeeded in persuading the United States and Britain to proscribe your insurgents as terrorists, you affirm you are on the right side of history, regardless of the fact that your government has one of the world's worst human rights records and practises terrorism by another name. Such is Sri Lanka." (Distant voices, desperate lives, John Pilger,, 14/5/09)

Monday, May 11, 2009


Flicking through Falun Gong (?) fishwrapper The Epoch Times (8-21/5/09) recently, I came upon a curious article titled Foreigners in a foreign land - refugees in Israel by one, Ben Kaminsky.

It was about African refugees (Sudanese, Eritrean, Congolese etc) supposedly trying to enter Israel via Egypt because, according to the author, "Israel for them is a promised land, the only land in the area in which they feel they can be saved." Blimey! To reach said "promised land," these refugees are described as having run a gauntlet of bullets, beatings and arrests (followed by repatriation to their countries of origin) courtesy of the Egyptian police. And those that actually made it to the "promised land"? Well, Kaminsky's a little more cryptic here: "The Israeli authorities seemingly fear a rising tide of asylum seekers getting into Israel and therefore are making things hard on the refugees." Seemingly fear? At which point, nagging questions start to intrude: Assuming the allegations made about the Egyptian police are true, has Israel worked out some sort of hard cop/soft cop routine with the Egyptians? And what, exactly, is meant by the statement that Israeli authorities are "making things hard on" the refugees?

Kaminsky goes on to describe "a special event that took place in a Tel Aviv Park," where "human rights activists held a holiday feast for the African refugees and used this opportunity to show their support and to raise awareness of the refugees' situation." Hm, this is getting decidedly surreal. The human and political rights of Palestinians are being trampled on a daily basis, but Israeli "human rights activists" are flocking to a park to "support" and "raise awareness" of the situation of African refugees in Israel.

And who are these "human rights activists"? Well, there's Yael Dayan, the "head of the Tel Aviv City Council... in charge of the refugees issue in the municipality." Correct - daughter of Moshe (Mad Dog*) Dayan. She's quoted as saying that the goal of the event is to "show the love we have also to people who are not Jewish and not Israeli, and it is kind of embracing the thoughts of freedom and liberty which this holiday [Passover] represents." There are "volunteers" from something described as "the Israel Activists movement," comprised of young Jews from abroad come "to learn about Israel and to volunteer." One such is even reported to have made a movie about the refugees. He says, "Without the respect for human rights, Zionism has the potential of being an evil ideology." Hello? Human rights? Zionism has always been about asserting alleged Jewish tribal rights at the expense of Palestinian human and political rights. Given that, its full potential for evil was realised back in 1948 and has been in our faces ever since. Another "activist," David Davies of London, waxes lyrical: "Human rights are the most imortant. I think this is the obligation of Israel as a country, which is virtually composed of refugees, to stand for the rights of refugees and support them in the international community - both for these refugees and for the refugees in the entire world." This is gob-smacking stuff. Israel, creator of a nation of refugees scattered throughout the Middle East and around the world, is now to be the champion of all refugees?

["Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother." - Moshe Dayan]

Who are these guys? What is this "Israel Activists movement"? Have sufficient numbers of young Jews, both Israeli and non-Israeli, removed their Zionist blinkers and begun gravitating towards the genuine activism of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to warrant a Zionist response dubbed the 'Israel Activism movement'? Or is Mr Kaminsky just being creative? Google 'Israel Activists movement' and you draw a blank - except in relation to two sites:, where the Kaminsky piece surfaces with the date April 16 and Kaminsky is described as "Epoch Times Staff;" and (described as the weblog of the Zionism-Israel Center), which has posted the Kaminsky article. At you can view some shots of the Tel Aviv "holiday feast," including one of Yael Dayan and a blue banner with the words Out of Egypt, A Seder for Refugee Rights, Happy Pesach, Holiday of Freedom.

Is the Israel Activists movement merely Zionist astroturf? Are the Africans in the photos merely extras in an Israeli PR stunt? What's really going on with African refugees in Israel? A little googling reveals a starkly different picture to Kaminsky's rosy sketch:

Here's part of a Haaretz report from October 2007: "Concern is growing about the well-being of the 48 African refugees, most of them Sudanese, who have been unaccounted for since they were detained by Egyptian security forces more than 2 months ago after being deported by the IDF to Sinai." (UN official: 48 African refugees missing since deported by IDF, Ben Lynfield, 28/10/07) Deported by Israel, the Promised Land? Blimey! And we'd been led to believe that only the Egyptians did that? "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said repeatedly that he has assurances from Mubarak that deportees would not be mistreated or sent back to Sudan... Olmert has not provided proof of this and Egypt has not confirmed the existance of such an agreement." (ibid) What, the Promised Land of the refugees conniving with the Egyptian devil to get rid of them? Who'd have thought? But it gets worse.

In March 2008, Lynfield reported that Olmert "suggested... that the army open fire on African refugees crossing into Israel to stem what he depicted as a 'tsunami' of asylum seekers threatening the Jewish state's future." (Refugees & the Jewish question,, 25/3/08) Oh dear! How could Kaminsky have missed that?

And here's Lynfield in September 2008 quoting a Reuters report: "Israel has forcibly returned to Egypt dozens of African migrants who had slipped into the Jewish state, and rights activists say they fear some are refugees who risk torture if Egypt sends them home as expected... The Israeli returns come as Egypt is under scrutiny by rights groups over its deportations of up to 1,200 Eritrean asylum seekers in June. 'It's clearly a flagrant violation of international law', Hossam Bahgat, head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said of the Israeli move... Egypt for years tolerated tens of thousands of Africans migrants on its territory, but its attitude soured in recent months after it came under pressure to halt a rising flow of Africans across the sensitive Sinai border with Israel." (Throwing refugees to the sharks,, 14/9/08) Under pressure? From whom? Ay, that's the question.

And what's Falun Gong's motto? Ah, yes, Truthfulness, Benevolence & Forbearance.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sheridan in Love 2

"This question of language is of the first order of importance. The ancient Chinese sage Confucius, when asked what would be the main political reform he would carry out if he achieved state power, replied: 'It would certainly be to rectify the names'." (Israeli leaders mislabelled by foes, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 9/4/09)

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian and Israel's number one spruiker in the Australian mainstream media, is long on quoting Confucius, but short on following his advice. Sheridan is adamant that his beloved Israel, warts & all, is a 'democracy' as we know it: "The Israel I know is a Western democracy... Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East... the only society in the Middle East with all the institutions of democracy: a media that reveals all its secrets, a free parliament, independent courts, independent universities and the rest." (Israel still looks good, warts & all, The Australian Literary Review, 6/5/09)

Contemporary Israeli sage, Jeff Halper, begs to differ. Here's his rectification: "Israel presents itself as a Western democracy (the 'only democracy in the Middle East') and, on the surface, it resembles one. In fact, it is something quite different, an ethnocracy based on an Eastern European tribal nationalism. An ethnocracy is the opposite of a democracy, although it might incorporate some elements of democracy such as universal citizenship and elections. It arises when one particular group... seizes control of the government and armed forces in order to enforce a regime of exclusive privilege over other groups in what is in fact a multi-ethnic or multi-religious society. Ethnocracy, or ethno-nationalism, privileges ethnos over demos, whereby one's ethnic affiliation, be it defined by race, descent, religion, language or national origin, takes precedence over citizenship in determining to whom a country actually 'belongs'. Israel is referred to explicitly by its political leaders as a 'Jewish democracy'... If the dominant group constitutes as large a majority* as do the Jews of Israel (between 70% and 75%), there is little need for repressive measures to enforce ethnic domination, so a democratic facade can be maintained. Hence the formal rights of citizenship bestowed upon the 'Israeli Arabs'... But in every aspect of Israeli life, the ethnos takes precedence over the state or civil society. Most obvious are the symbols that represent the state. The very name of the country denotes its belonging to the Jews, as do the exclusively Jewish motifs on our flag and the exclusively Jewish content of our national anthem... The 'story' of Israel is that of the official Zionist narrative, with no other viewpoints permitted or legitimized... More serious, however, are the structural inequalities inherent in any ethnocracy. Arabs may sit in the parliament but no government decision is considered legitimate unless it enjoys a 'Jewish majority' - that is, the support of the majority of Jews in the Parliament rather than a parliamentary majority that requires Arab votes... The Law of Return that determines who can immigrate to Israel applies only to Jews. I immigrated from Minnesota and received citizenship automatically; a Palestinian who was born here but lived for an extensive time outside is denied citizenship and the right to return. And then there is the land issue**, discrimination in housing and education which are strictly segregated... There is not even a civil mechanism by which Jewish, Christian and Muslim citizens of Israel can marry each other, since personal staus - citizenship, marriage, death, inheritance - is regulated by religious and not civil law." (An Israeli in Palestine, 2008, pp 75-76)

[*As I've pointed out before, the only reason why Israel enjoys this large Jewish majority is because the then non-Jewish majority was driven out in 1948. Their return, resisted tooth and nail by all Israeli governments since, would create a whole new ball-game. **Israel's so-called Israeli Arabs, the remnant who managed to avoid being driven out in 1948, are denied access to the 93% of the land area of pre-67 Israel which is reserved exclusively for Israeli Jews.]

Stay tuned for Sheridan in Love 3.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sheridan: Nakba Denier

Part of the transcript of ABC TV's Q&A program, 7/5/09:

TONY JONES: Let's just hear from Guy Rundle [journalist,].
GUY RUNDLE (to Mark Arbib [Parliamentary Secretary for Government Service Delivery]) : What do you think of Randa's [Randa Abdel-Fattah, author & lawyer] argument that Israel was founded on ethnic cleansing and the dispossession of a people?
MARK ARBIB: Well, sorry, I understand the argument, and I certainly understand the argument in terms of dispossession, but in terms of ethnic cleansing, I don't accept that. [So you accept that the Palestinians were dispossessed, but not ethnically cleansed?!]
GUY RUNDLE: But where - but hang on, Mark, when Israeli historians like Benny Morris use the Israel Defense Forces archives to document dozens of massacres of Palestinian people in 1948; men, women and children lined up against a wall and machined gunned by, among other people, Menachem Begin, who became a prime minister of Israel...
GREG SHERIDAN: No. No. No. I don't think we can accept anything that Guy Rundle is saying as true here.
GUY RUNDLE: That is absolutely true. Hang on. Absolutely true.
GREG SHERIDAN: It's all rubbish. That is just rubbish.
GUY RUNDLE: Yes, he has said that.

And what has Benny Morris said? "In certain conditions expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands... There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing... What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape." (Interviewed by Ari Shavit in Haaretz, 9/1/04 - See my 11/5/08 post Benny Unhinged) Morris went on to quantify these massacres (24) and rapes (about a dozen).

And here's his account of the best known massacre, that of the Palestinian villagers of Deir Yassin: "The attacking units [Jewish terrorists of the Irgun, Stern Gang and Haganah: MERC] had advanced from house to house, lobbing grenades and spraying the interiors with fire... They blew up several houses with explosives. The attackers shot down individuals and families as they left their homes and fled down alleyways. They apparently also rounded up villagers, who included militiamen and unarmed civilians of both sexes, and murdered them, and executed prisoners in a nearby quarry. On 12 April, Haganah Intelligence Service (HIS) officer in command (OC) in Jerusalem, Yitzhak Levy, reported: 'The conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families - women, old people, children, were murdered viciously by their captors'. The following day he added: 'LHI [Stern Gang] members tell of the barbaric behaviour of the IZL [Irgun] toward the prisoners and the dead. They also relate that the IZL men raped a number of Arab girls and murdered them afterward [we don't know if this is true]'. The HIS operative on the spot, Mordechai Gichon, reported on 1o April: 'Their [ie, the IZL?] commander says that the [initial] order was: To take prisoner the adult males and to send the women and children to Motza. In the afternoon [of April 9], the order was changed and became to kill all the prisoners... The adult males were taken to town in trucks and paraded in the city streets, then taken back to the site and killed with rifle and machine-gun fire. Before they [ie, other inhabitants] were put on the trucks, the IZL and LHI men... took from them all the jewlry and stole their money. The behaviour toward them was especially barbaric [and included] kicks, shoves with rifle butts, spitting and cursing [people from Givat Shaul took part in the torture]'. Gichon reported that the HIS's 'regular informer', 'the mukhtar's son', was 'executed [in front of his mother and sisters] after being taken prisoner'. Meir Pa'il, a Palmah intelligence officer who claimed to have spent part of the afternoon of April 9 in Deir Yassin as a 'guest' of the LHI, reported on 10 April: 'In the quarry near Givat Shaul I saw the 5 Arabs they had paraded in the streets of the city. They had been murdered and were lying one on top of the other... I saw with my own eyes several families [that had been] murdered with their women, children and old people, their corpses were lying on top of each other... The dissidents were going about the village robbing and stealing everything: Chickens, radio sets, sugar, money, gold and more... Each dissident walked about the village dirty with blood and proud of the number of persons he had killed...' Altogether about 100-120 villagers died that day." (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004, pp 237-238)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Whopper Alert!

When you read the news reports of The Australian's Jerusalem correspondent Abraham Rabinovich, watch out for whoppers. Today's report begins thus:

"A call by a US official for Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has raised fears in Jerusalem that the Obama administration may be seeking to block the Iranian nuclear threat by sacrificing Israel's reported nuclear arsenal. US Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller said this week: 'Universal adherence to the NPT, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, remains a fundamental objective of the United States'." (Israeli nuclear ambiguity under threat, Abraham Rabinovich, 8/5/09)

He goes on to tell 2 whoppers:

Whopper 1: "The only non-signatories in the world are the 4 countries cited by Ms Gottemoeller. India, Pakistan and North Korea have tested nuclear devices. Israel has not but is reported to have up to 200 nuclear warheads." (ibid)

Israel has tested nuclear devices: "Just before dawn on the stormy morning of September 22, 1979, the clouds over the Southern Indian Ocean suddenly broke and an American satellite was able to record two distinctive bright flashes of light within a fraction of a second - probable evidence of a nuclear explosion. The nuclear detection satellite, known as VELA, had seen similar flashes of light on forty-one previous occasions, and in each case it was subsequently determined that a nuclear explosion had taken place. Most of the sightings were over Lop Nor, where the Chinese atmospheric nuclear tests took place, or in the South Pacific, site of the French tests. There were a few intelligence officials and non-proliferation experts in the Carter administration who immediately concluded that Israel had conducted a nuclear test, a test that they had tried, and failed, to accomplish two years earlier. They were right." (The Samson Option: Israel, America & the Bomb, Seymour M Hersh, p 271)

Whopper 2: "This formula ['Israel will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons in the Middle East' - Shimon Peres] was put to the test in the 1973 Yom Kippur War when the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a successful surprise attack and for a few days Israel's survival appeared at stake. Whatever thoughts may have gone through the minds of the leadership, Israel did not threaten to use nuclear weapons. Eventually, its ground forces succeeded in turning the tide." (ibid)

Israel has threatened to use nuclear weapons: "Over the next hours, the Israeli leadership - faced with its greatest crisis - resolved to implement 3 critical decisions: it would rally its collapsing forces for a major counterattack; it would arm and target its nuclear arsenal in the event of total collapse and subsequent need for the Samson Option; and, finally, it would inform Washington of its unprecedented nuclear action - and unprecedented peril - and demand that the United States begin an emergency airlift of replacement arms and ammunition needed to sustain an extended all-out war effort." (Hersh, p 225)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sheridan in Love 1

"What becomes clear, when one looks closely at [Sheridan's] ouvre is that [he] is an ideologue, a crusader and an apologist for one of the most barbaric regimes on the planet and for the acolytes who, without question, back the war crimes and despotic violence that this regime visits on those who disagree with its religious fundamentalism and lust for world domination. In Sheridan's worldview it is also legitimate to vilify, denigrate and misrepresent your intellectual and political opponents, while maintaining your position in the face of competing facts and analysis." (Getting the story straight: Greg Sheridan in the shifting moral sands of Iraq, Martin Hirst & Robert Schutze,, 1/1/04)

The Australian's foreign editor and self-styled "most influential foreign affairs analyst in Australian journalism"* Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan has just published the ultimate paean to Israel, for which his earlier effort, Deep inside the plucky country (19/1/08), was just a warm-up. It seems that the more Israel's stock plunges, the more obvious that something is indeed rotten in the State of Israel, like some demented diehard Stalinist, the more ardent he becomes. Being feted and stroked by the right people, or being on Murdoch's payroll, has nothing to do with it. It's quite simple: Sheridan's in love.

[*From Sheridan's bio on The Australian's website.]

Israel still looks good, warts & all (The Australian Literary Review, 6/5/09) is a ringing defence of the beloved against all who would look sideways at her (most of the planet by now). But I'm reluctant to touch it. After 36 posts hosing down Sheridan's ardours, I'd love nothing better than to let another such steamy display go by. However, considering his alleged influence (do Kevin and Stephen and Joel and crew really hang on his every word?), not to mention the sweep and breadth of this one (do I see a book coming on?), I feel have little choice but to unwind the hose once again. Still (I hate homework like the best of them), it'll be bit by bit, in a series of not necessarily consecutive posts:-

"I have my very own Israel problem and it is this: the Israel I know... bears no relation to the Israel I see in most of the Western media." IOW, the Israel Sheridan "knows" is the real Israel, the rest a mere figment of the Western/Arab imagination. But what kind of Israel can a cosseted, ideologically-blinkered News Ltd 'journalist' get to know?

"That Israel of the Western mind (and indeed of the Arab mind) is a hateful place: right-wing, militaristic, authoritarian, racist, ultra-religious, neo-colonial, narrow-minded, undemocratic, indifferent to world opinion, indifferent especially to Palestinian suffering. Yet the Israel I know is mostly secular, raucously, almost wildly democratic, has a vibrant left-wing, having founded in the kibbutz movement one of the only successful experiments in socialism in human history. It is intellectually disputatious... it is multi-ethnic, there is a great stress on human solidarity, there is due process. And I've never heard an Israeli speak casually about the value of Palestinian life."

Platitudes, form a queue! One at a time, please:

Mostly secular? How can a 'Jewish' state, a state where religion and nationality are one, be mostly secular?

Wildly democratic? Yes, democratic in a fashion. There are parties and elections, but how can a state which uses religious criteria to decide citizenship be wildly democratic? And how can a state that has ethnically cleansed most of its non-Jewish indigenous inhabitants (1948) and subjected the rest (since 1967) to decades of brutal occupation be wildly democratic? Wildly ethnocratic, perhaps, but certainly not wildly democratic. Nor did 66% of Israelis think Israel was wildly democratic when they registered their disatisfaction with Israeli democracy in an Israel Democracy Institute poll in 2007 (66% of public dissatisfied with Israeli democracy,, 6/10/07) And nor is Israel wildly democratic enough for Israel's minority non-Jewish population: "Amidst the increasingly precarious situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel, prominent and broadly representative members of that community published in 2007 a series of documents setting out visions for Israel as a state of all its citizens with equality for all. The response of the Israeli body politic was overwhelmingly to view these initiatives as an unwelcome threat to the 'Jewish character' of the state. Israel's Shin-Bet secret police, responsible among other things for many 'targeted killings' in the Occupied territories, went so far as to warn that it would 'disrupt the activities of any groups that seek to change the Jewish or democratic character of Israel, even if they use democratic means'." (Anti-Arab racism & incitement in Israel, Ali Abunimeh,, 25/3/08)

The kibbutz movement - vibrant and socialist? Sorry, Greg, this is 2009 and the kibbutz movement is neither vibrant nor socialist. And anyway, weren't these pre-67 settlements Jews- only?

Intellectually disputatious? Really? Here's Israeli historian Ilan Pappe: "I was boycotted in my university and there had been attempts to expel me from my job. I am getting threatening phone calls from people every day." (Ilan Pappe leaves Israel for England, cites harrassment,, 6/4/07) Ditto for the late Tanya Reinhart who had to leave for the US. (Not, of course, that Sheridan would even bother to read either scholar.) One thing's for sure though: Israel won't tolerate intellectual disputation among its neighbours. This year it bombed the Islamic University of Gaza, and in 2006 it bombed over 20 publishing houses and research centres in the southern suburbs of Beirut (Israel's war on intellectual life among untold stories of summer conflict,, 20/7/07)

Multi-ethnic? Maybe. But harmoniously so? How about the Border Guards of Ethiopian descent who cop such racist abuse from Israeli settlers as "Niggers don't expel Jews! This isn't what we brought you here for!" (Settlers to Ethiopian troops: Niggers don't expel Jews,, 4/12/08) Which I suppose is preferable to the ubiquitous cry of 'Death to the Arabs'.

A great stress on human solidarity? Er, shouldn't that be 'tribal solidarity'?

Due process? *Sigh* I'm getting lazy. See my 21/7/08 post The 'Motiveless Malignancy' of Samir Quntar.

Nary a bad word about the Palestinians? In its 2007 Israeli Democracy Index, the Israel Democracy Institute found that 87% of all Israeli citizens rated Jewish-Arab relations in the country as being 'poor' and 'very poor'; 78% of Israeli Jews opposed having Arab parties or ministers join Israel's government; Just 56% of Israeli Jews supported full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; 75% of Israeli Jews agreed with the statement that 'Arabs are inclined to violent behaviour'; 43% of Israeli Jews agreed that 'Arabs are not intelligent'; 55% agreed that 'the government should encourage Arab emigration from the country'. And Greg must've somehow have missed those wonderful t-shirts worn by Israeli soldiers with slogans such as Better use Durex (next to a dead Palestinian baby and his weeping mother) or 1 shot, 2 kills (next to a bull's eye superimposed on a pregnant Palestinian woman), or the comment by the Israeli soldier returned from the Gaza massacre: 'The lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers'. (See my 22/3/09 post Ubermenschen)

Hey, but what's a love letter without platitudes? Stay tuned for Sheridan in Love 2.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Iran Dons the 'Mantelpiece'

Heard on Phillip Adams' Late Night Live program (4/5/09) on the ABC's Radio National: "Antisemitism* which has been formented [sic] now for 3 generations in the Sunni Arab world in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt has been left unchecked, and now that Egypt does have a peace treaty... but there's been 3 generations of hatred formenting [sic] under the ground, and now the populations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are quite confused because, on the one hand, the Egyptian government has been saying for 3 generations to annihilate Israel, and suddenly they have a peace treaty with Israel, and now, as Iran rises and is now taking the mantlepiece [sic!!!] of the saviour of all Arabs and the Palestinian people, and I say that in quotes, they're now filling the vacuum of 3 generations of education of hatred, and they're rising and going unchecked, and the Obama administration ought to pay very close attention to the fact that the Shiite regime in Iran, with the help of Hezbollah and now Hamas and now even the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is poised to destabilise if not topple the Egyptian government and state." (Anti-Semitism & talking to Iran, Dr Charles Small, Director and Founder of the Yale Initiative for Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism; Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy.)

Typically, Norman Finkelstein had this "Initiative" all figured out when he predicted in his introduction to the AP article, Yale creates first university-based center to study anti-Semitism (19/9/06): "Yale Offers First Ever Interdisciplinary Program in Jewish Navel-Contemplation: a triple major in Judaic Studies, The Holocaust, and Anti-Semitism. Course offerings include: Why are the Ivy Leagues only 95% Jewish? Why didn't Hollywood produce a film on the Holocaust last week? Why are the major media ignoring anti-Semitic graffiti in a Burundi parking lot?"

[*For a sensible perspective on anti-Semitism in the Middle East see my 19/10/08 post The Party Line.]

Monday, May 4, 2009

The New Kid on the Block

One of Israel's Barking Mad lectures MERC on the dynamics of the Middle East conflict:

"Let me help you understand this, MERC.

"Imagine that you're a big bully who believes that the swings in the playground are yours. You're sure that since you got to the playground early, it all belongs to you. Then, along comes some little kid who is new to the playground, but seems to believe he used to live here once and wants to play on a swing.

"You, the bully, keep pushing him away when he tries. He fights back a little, learns some tricks to get around you, and sometimes pays you to go on a swing. Finally, watching this, a parent comes over and tells you, the bully, and the little kid to share the swings. You mouth some unmentionable words to the parent, and when he walks away, you walk over menacingly to the little kid.

"He, already practised in your violence, prepares himself by picking up some sand and stones. Threatening to kick him out of the playground, you attack with your lumbering, out-of-shape bulk only to learn, once you get too close, that the kid knows karate. The runt is suddenly beating the crap out of you and you run away as he chases you out of the playground.

"Afterwards, you, the bully, keep trying to come back, but he blocks you every time, knowing the consequences to himself of losing the swing. After all, on those days when you do get into the playground, you have a tendency to go after his private parts instead of fighting fair.

"And so it goes, except that you, the bully, keep complaining for years and years about what a dickhead that little kid is (he's grown up now and is handsome, but still has acne) for keeping you out of the playground. 'It's a crime!' you, the bully, say. 'I'm a victim of an unfair crime; of theft! I want my swings! They're mine! He came along and stole them from me! I own this place and he's an intruder!'

"And while you do this, the boy grows up, becomes a man, adds protection to his environment and sometimes, when he has to fight you, makes you pay a heavy price for just not being willing to accept that he's here to stay. He'll share a swing with you, but you won't agree unless you can have all 4 so you can invite your friends, and you absolutely refuse to share that really nice one called 'Jerusalem'.

"Did that help, MERC? Bet you didn't read that on Electronic Intifada."

No, that's for sure.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

An Armchair Joshua

"And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, even in the wilderness wherein they pursued them, and when they were all fallen by the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all Israel returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. And all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand... For Joshua drew not back his hand, wherewith he stretched out the javelin, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which He commanded Joshua... So Joshua burnt Ai, and made it a heap for ever, even a desolation..."

One of our armchair Joshuas, no doubt vexed at his tribe's less-than-successful smoting of the accursed Gazans in January, and indignant that other tribes, further afield, had misguidedly decided to send them succour (albeit to their collaborationist 'brothers' in Judea and Samaria), could do little more than rail against such foolishness: "The Gaza Hamastan now apparently has thousands of men under arms and they are in possession of weapons so sophisticated that they can reach cities as far away as Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod. These weapons don't come cheap. So if they can afford them, why can't they afford to feed and clothe their own people? By perpetuating the handout culure, the West - including Australia - is unwittingly prolonging the conflict. Giving the Palestinians money for nothing means that they can divert their own resources into building up their armaments factories and terrorist capabilities. It means that their young people have no need or motivation to work, leaving them free to direct their energies to violent endeavours against our brothers in Israel. As an Australian taxpayer, I am outraged that my tax dollars are indirectly going to fund the Palestinian war machine." (Letter of Arthur Hurwitz, Randwick, NSW, The Australian Jewish News, 20/2/09)

Poor Arthur. But lo, what's this? The steely glint that had disappeared from his eye following the less-than-successful smoting of the accursed Gazans in January has finally reappeared! There's a whole lot of what looks like very successful smoting going on across the waters somewhere and the Lord has commanded him to draw it to our attention:

"Sri Lanka has taught the world a lesson. With perseverance and determination and a resolve to ignore the bleeding hearts of world public opinion, Sri Lanka has shown that it is possible to defeat a terrorist army. The crushing of the Tamil Tigers, a group whose contribution to the world includes pioneering the use of the suicide bomber and the child soldier and whose cadres have killed and injured thousands of civilians over the past 25 years, is to be welcomed. It is a victory for peace and reconciliation, because a resolution of the conflict was never possible while the Tigers took it upon themselves to represent Sri Lanka's Tamils." (Letter of Arthur Hurwitz, Randwick, NSW, The Australian, 1/5/09)


"Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." Article 13(2) "No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." Article 17(2) Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Good news on the refugee front: "The European Court of Justice has awarded a Greek Cypriot refugee the right to win back land he was forced to flee when war partitioned the island in 1974... About 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forcibly displaced when the Turkish army invaded the island and seized its northern third after an Athens-based coup aimed at uniting it with Greece. Historically inhabited by Greeks, northern Cyprus was home to very few Turkish Cypriots. Before the invasion prompted a population exchange on either side of the island's UN-patrolled ceasefire line, land registries show that about 82% of properties in the area belonged to Greeks." (Cyprus unity is all about real estate, Helena Smith, Guardian/Sydney Morning Herald, 30/4/09)

Meanwhile, in occupied Palestine aka Israel: "As Israel celebrated its 61st anniversary, some 2,000 people demonstrated on Wednesday for Arab-Israelis' right of return to the lands from which they were chased in 1948. The protest took place on the site of Al-Kafrayn, an Arab village among the more than 500 that were razed by Israeli forces at the time of the creation of the Jewish state in 1948... 'We have come to tell Israelis we will never forget', Fatima Chalabi, one of the protesters, told AFP. Israel has 1.2 million Arab citizens, the descendants of the 160,000 who remained after the creation of the Jewish state. On May 15, Palestinians and Arab-Israelis mark the anniversary of the Nakba - Catastrophe - the term they use to describe the creation of the state of Israel on three-quarters of the territory of historic Palestine. Some 760,000 Arabs were expelled or fled from their homes during the 1948 war, giving rise to a UN-registered refugee population scattered across the Middle East that today numbers more than 4.6 million." (Arab-Israelis march for right of return, AFP, 30/4/09)

And in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, according to a poll of 500 Palestinian refugees conducted last month by Beirut's Center for Research & Information, 89% of respondents supported the right of return to their homes and lands in occupied Palestine aka Israel.