Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Calling Italy a Christian State

Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian, dispenser of Likudnik snake oil, and now Gillard soulmate, slipped this little gem into his propaganda piece for 27 June: "Netanyahu has lately insisted that the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab governments recognise Israel as a Jewish state. All of Israel's Arab interlocutors have refused point blank to do this. Israel's population is 75% Jewish, the only majority Jewish state in the world. Recognising Israel as a Jewish state would seem to be no more controversial than calling Italy a Christian state or any of the Arab nations Muslim states."

Don't you love the phrasing: "would seem to be"? Maybe, just maybe Netanyahu's demand is not as simple it seems? Of course, if "recognising Israel as a Jewish state" is "no more controversial than calling Italy a Christian state," then why the "insistence" and why the "refusal"?

The reference to Italy, of course, is completely disingenuous. The Italian government isn't insisting on its neighbours recognising it as a Christian state for the simple reason that Italy has not achieved nationhood in the way Israel has. Italian Christians did not a) enter Italy as colonists; b) ethnically cleanse a non-Christian majority population already in residence there; or (c) refuse to allow the return, as international law requires, of this ethnically cleansed non-Christian majority lest it outnumber Italian Christians such that they would no longer be able to retain their privileged status as Christians and Italy would become a secular state for all its citizens, Christian and otherwise.

As for Arab nations being Muslim (majority) states, this has nothing to do with ethnocratic, ethnic-cleansing colonial projects. Arab countries do not have Muslim majorities because indigenous non-Muslim majorities were expelled beyond their borders, just as European nations don't have Christian majorities because indigenous non-Christian majorities were expelled beyond their borders. There is no body of non-Muslim refugees clamouring for the right of return to Muslim-majority Arab nations, for the same reason that there is no body of non-Christian refugees clamouring for the right of return to Christian-majority European nations.

No, the only reason Netanyahu is insisting that the Palestinians and the Arab states grant Israel de jure recognition as a state which privileges Jews in law and is underpinned by a Jewish majority is so that Israel can claim that the legal right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands in Israel has been superseded and no longer applies, and so that Jews from any part of the world can relocate to Israel should they feel so inclined- with the Palestinian and Arab blessing that came from that de jure recognition.

I look forward to seeing Sheridan argue for a Christian state in Australia. After all, to rephrase him, "recognising Australia as a Christian state would seem to be no more controversial than calling Italy a Christian state."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gillard Gets a Gong

Surprise, surprise, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, one of Gillard's 40-strong entourage on her recent trip to Israel, has nothing but praise for her. As always, he's long on assertion, smear, and straw men, but short on evidence:-

"Gillard deserves particular praise for attending the [Australia Israel Leadership] forum, as she was subject to a nasty campaign from the Left to try to intimidate her out of going. The Left internationally is going through one of its periodic bouts of trying to isolate Israel. This is one of those demented moments where allegedly progressive opinion believe it's the height of creativity to engage the mullah dictatorship in Iran, as it steals elections and pursues nuclear weapons, but wrong to visit a democratic ally such as Israel. The Rudd government has stood four square against this nonsensical position, as demonstrated in Kevin Rudd's long telephone conversation with Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, earlier this week... Gillard also met Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres. Gillard's outlook on national security and international relations generally has matured and deepened enormously over the past few years. She certainly believes what she says. But there is also a good political dimension to what Gillard is doing. A Labour politician from the Left, she aspires one day to the prime ministership. The traditional doubt about the Left is that they tend to be anti-American or simply unreliable on national security. Gillard has given a series of speeches and performances that demonstrate she is 100% with Rudd in the mainstream Curtin-Hawke Labor tradition on the US alliance, the deployment of Australian forces overseas and indeed Israel and the Middle East." (Gillard prime ministerial in Israel, The Australian, 25/6/09)

The DPM, who didn't say boo about Israel's West Bank settlements in her "remarkably gracious address" (Sheridan's assessment) in Jerusalem, is now reportedly backing "the Obama administration's call for a freeze on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank." (Stop settlements, Gillard urges, John Lyons, The Australian, 27/6/09) However, when "[a]sked what action should be taken if Israel did not halt settlements, she said: 'I believe what President Obama is calling for and what the the world is looking towards is having a real dialogue that leads to progress." Howzat for a mature and deep outlook on international affairs? Sooo mature, sooo deep!

Just imagine if Gillard had replied thus: 'The debate over Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is often framed in terms of whether they should be 'frozen' or allowed to grow 'naturally'. But that is akin to asking whether a thief should be allowed to keep his ill-gotten gains or steal some more. It misses the most fundamental point. Under international law, all settlements on occupied territory are unlawful. And there is only one remedy: Israel should dismantle them, relocate the settlers within its recognized 1967 borders and compensate Palestinians for the losses the settlements have caused. Removing the settlements is mandated by the laws of the Geneva Convention, which state that military occupations are to be a temporary state of affairs and prohibit occupying powers from moving their populations into occupied territory. The intent is to foreclose an occupying power from later citing its population as 'facts on the ground' to claim the territory, something Israel has done in East Jerusalem and appears to want to do with much of the West Bank."*

Presumably, Sheridan would have denounced her as an immature and shallow product of the "demented Left." After all, Sheridan doesn't really have a problem with Israeli settlements: "Although I think Israel will be prepared to give up numerous settlements in the West Bank, I don't think [Gilot, Har Homa, Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Edumin, Ariel] will be given up under any circumstances. The stereotype of the Jewish settler... is of 'a beligerently bearded Jew with a knit skullcap on his head, a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other'. It's a stereotype I didn't meet at all in any of these settlements, and not for want of trying, although of course I met only a fraction of the nearly 400,000 Jews who live beyond the 1967 lines... [T]he settlers I met lived where they did for a variety of reasons, mainly the lower cost of housing..." (Deep inside the plucky country, The Australian, 19/1/08)

[*Israel's settlements are on shaky ground, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, latimes.com, 28/6/09)]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rambamming Declined

Paul Barratt is a former Defence Department official. The following quote is from his post Passionate Supporters of Israel at http://aussieobserver.blogspot.com/:

"The Israelis are very good at duchessing people. I had been Secretary to the Department of Defence for only a few weeks when I received a visit from the late Sir Peter Abeles*, with the Israeli Defence Attache in tow. They had come in ostensibly to talk about the merits of Israeli missiles - not a very profitable use of their time or mine because we buy military material through open competitive tender, so however impressed I might be with the capacities of Israeli missiles, it was not going to make any difference to anything. The real purpose of the visit was dropped in right at the end. The Government of Israel would like to invite me to visit Israel, all expenses paid, and of course you must bring your wife, you will have a wonderful time. I thanked them politely and made a mental note that that was never going to happen; how could I as a public official place myself in the position of being beholden to a foreign government? A pity not all of our parliamentarians feel that way."

[*TNT & Ansett boss, 1924-1999: "It was in 1949... that the 25-year-old Peter Abeles migrated to Australia from Hungary. The following half century saw him amass a powerful fortune and powerful allies on both sides of the political fence... BOB HAWKE: 'I knew when I saw Sir Peter last night that I would not be seeing him again. He was obviously in the very last stages of a great life. I was able to put a kiss on his forehead and say goodbye'." (7.30 Report, 25/6/99)]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now Honestly...

What follows is an update of my 29/5/09 post (Her Brilliant Career) on Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's proposed visit to Israel:-

After a detour to the United States, Gillard arrived in Israel to address the inaugural Australia Israel Leadership Forum on 24/6/09 and reaffirm her government's claimed genetic ties to Israel. "Erev Tov Haverim (Good evening friends), Shalom, Salaam, G'Day!," she greeted the assembled faithful (who must have winced at the token Salaam) in her familiar nasal twang. "Our Forum is part of a wider celebration of Israeli and Australian culture," she droned on, echoing Rudd's parliamentary motion of 14/3/08: "That the House: (1) celebrate and commend the achievements of the state of Israel in the 60 years since its inception..." Yep, for the Ruddies, it seems, if not for the rest of the world (or the Australian people for that matter), Israel's always a cause for celebration.

Meanwhile, as Gillard & Co were busy celebrating the sheer festive magic that is Israel, out in the real world of the Israeli-Occupied Territories (OPT) it was business as usual: In the period 18-24 June, 5 Palestinian civilians, including a journalist, and an international human rights defender were wounded; the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) conducted 19 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank; the IOF arrested 22 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children in the West Bank; the IOF continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and isolate the Gaza Strip from the outside world; IOF troops positioned at military checkpoints continued to harass Palestinian civilians; the IOF continued measures aimed at establishing a Jewish majority in occupied east Jerusalem; the IOF forced 2 Palestinian civilians to demolish their homes, and issued demolition orders against others; Israeli settlements continued to expand in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property; Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian farmers' tents, injuring 3; Israeli settlers uprooted at least 150 trees and razed dozens of dunums of agricultural land. (Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the OPTs, 18-24/6/09, reliefweb.int)

Central to Gillard's spiel was the invocation of the recently coined myth that Australia was somehow metaphysically present at key junctures in the history of the Zionist project, enabling, through its interventions, both the implementation of Britain's Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the UN partition resolution (181) of 29 November 1947. The myth's creators would have us believe that Australian troops, in action against the Turks at Beersheba in 1917, weren't so much doing their bit for King & Country as paving the way, via the Balfour Declaration, for the British Mandate over Palestine, from within whose womb the state of Israel emerged (See my 1/5/08 post Myth In-formation). As Gillard put it: "Yesterday the delegation visited the Park of the Australian Soldier at Beersheva. It is a wonderful reminder of our shared history and one more part of the legacy of the late Richard Pratt. It will serve as a place of pilgrimage for Australians and a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy today were hard-won."

The other aspect of our alleged "shared history" - former Labor Minister for External Affairs Dr HV Evatt's 1947 chairmanship of the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP), which proposed the partition of that country into a Jewish and an Arab state, was alluded to by Rudd in his abovementioned parliamentary motion "celebrating & commending" Israel's 60th anniversary: "Australia is proud to have played a significant part in the international process that led to the foundation of the state of Israel. Australia's then Minister for External Affairs, Dr Evatt... was chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee meeting on the Palestinian Question that proposed the partition of Palestine." (See my 14/3/08 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3) In Gillard's speech, we get this truncated version: "When a vote was called in 1947 on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, to establish separate Jewish and Arab States, the Australian delegate was the first to vote. The first vote in favour of Israel's right to full independent nationhood and its right to live securely within defined borders. Our support has continued strongly ever since..."

The very first vote, eh? Had Gillard visited one too many classrooms prior to her pilgrimage? Can't you just see the Australian delegate crying out 'Sir! Sir! Sir!' as he waves his hand furiously to catch the teacher's attention and beat all the other kids to the nod in response to the invitation: 'Right, now who wants to be first to vote for Israel?' That aside, Gillard's implication is that a vote in favour of UNGA Resolution 181 was something every little Goody Two-Shoes in the UNGA classroom back then automatically aspired to. In reality, of course, it was bully boy tactics in the schoolyard that secured the passage of the resolution.

Take, for example, the case of the head of the Philippino delegation: "Speaking to the General Assembly, Mr Romulo, on the morning of 26 November 1947, said: 'My delegation takes part in this final stage in the consideration of the Palestinian problem with profound misgivings. With interest, we have followed the course of the debate since the special session of the General Assembly last April. We have carefully studied the Report of the Special Committee on Palestine and pondered the various proposals that have been submitted. As a result of these studies, the Philippines Government has come to the conclusion that it cannot give its support to any proposal for the political disunion and the territorial dismemberment of Palestine... We hold that the issue is primarily moral. The issue is whether the United Nations should accept responsibility for the enforcement of a policy which, not being mandatory under any specific provision of the Charter nor in accordance with its fundamental principles, is clearly repugnant to the valid nationalist aspirations of the people of Palestine. The Philippines Government believes that the United Nations ought not to accept any such responsibility'. On the orders of his government, Romulo was on the Queen Elizabeth bound for Europe within hours of delivering his fiery speech against partition. [The Philippines] Ambassador [to the US] Elizalde had spoken by telephone to President Roxas and told him of the many pressures to which Romulo and the delegation had been subjected. While the ambassador believed that partition was not wise, he felt that it would be foolish to vote against a policy so ardently desired by the US Administration at a time when 7 bills important to the Islands were pending in the US Congress. The Ambassador and President Roxas agreed that support could be gained easily by voting properly on Palestine. In Manila, as political adviser to the President of the Philippines, was Julius CC Edelstein, a confidant of Zionist Herbert H Lehman." (The Palestine Diary, Vol 2, 1945-1948, Robert John & Sami Hadawi, 1970, p 250)

Do I need to add that on 29 November the Philippines' delegate voted for partition?

I've already posted on the Machiavellian politics of partitioning Palestine (The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3, 14/3/08; Talking Turkey on the Two-State Solution, 11/11/08), and suggested that Australia's role, such as it was, is hardly something to be proud of (Evatt's Legacy, 5/12/08). However, by invoking the myth of Australian troops as closet Zionists and Evatt as some latter-day Lord Balfour, Gillard was able to avoid reference to the only genuine historical link between Australia and Israel - our common origins as colonial-settler states created at the expense of pre-existing indigenous populations. The closest she got was this: "Both [nations] have been established and built in difficult, sometimes hostile, physical conditions."

Another near-brush with reality came with her talk of a "world where exclusion and humiliation breed despair and hatred" - surely a reference to Israel and its 61-year exclusion of Palestinian refugees and 42-year occupation of the Palestinian territories? Err, no. Iran was what she touched on next, though how such words apply there is beyond me. Yet, if she were really serious about the "despair and hatred" of the wretched of the earth - which she clearly isn't - she need look no further than Israel's cruel experiment in Gaza.

Take, for example, the case of 20-year old trainee teacher Yahya Abu Saif, a resident of the Gaza Strip. Back in January, when the Israelis were raining fire and brimstone on Gaza, Yahya was in a mosque targeted by an Israeli missile. His right leg was amputated and the shrapnel which pierced his skull, paralysing his left side. Weekdays he's in Gaza's only rehabilitation hospital, a shattered building with perforated walls and a disabled hydrotherapy pool. Neither the hospital nor its pool can be repaired because Israel won't allow any building materials into Gaza. Yahya needs a special right-hand controlled wheelchair, but the Israelis won't allow them in either. He comes home on weekends to a 5-room house with 13 occupants, only 2 of whom have work. The toilet, a hole in the floor, is at the bottom of 6 steep, concrete steps. A local organization wants to build him an accessible toilet, but you guessed it, the Israelis won't allow any building materials into Gaza. Yahya needs an artificial leg, but the Israelis will only allow a drip-feed of prosthetic equipment and medical supplies into Gaza. (See Recovery battle for Gaza war injured, Heather Sharp, BBC News, 24/6/09)

Gaza, of course, isn't on Gillard's itinerary. In fact, it's as remote from her mind as the moon. She hasn't a flicker of interest in how Israel (or any other terror state for that matter) sadistically keeps an entire subject people in various states of "despair and hatred." She's simply too busy being stroked by the Israelis: "In front of an elite audience of Israeli politicians, academics and cultural figures at a dinner at the landmark King David Hotel, senior Israeli minister Isaac Herzog paid a warm tribute to Ms Gillard for her support for Israel during the Gaza conflict in January. 'You stood almost alone on the world stage in support of Israel's right to defend itself', enthused Mr Herzog, an act of courage he said would never be forgotten by the people of Israel... Mr Herzog, a personal friend of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and chairman of the Israel-Australia parliamentary association, also thanked federal parliamentarians for passing a motion last year in support of Israel's 60th anniversary." (Israel to Gillard: thanks for standing by us, Jason Koutsoukis, The Age, 24/6/09)

"We should be honest about the difficulty of achieving a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," she droned on.

Now honestly...

Gillard's vapid and platitude-ridden speech fairly reeks of dishonesty and ignorance. She's definitely prime minister material. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Children of a Lesser God 2

Obama spoke up for Neda Agha-Soltan:-

"Obama paid tribute to the women of Iran, pointing to the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, a bystander who was apparently shot in the chest and died bleeding on the street in a grisly death flashed around the world on the Internet. 'We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets', Obama said. 'While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history', he said." (Obama 'strongly condemns' Iran, says not interfering, AFP, 24/6/09)

Obama remained silent for Basem Abu Rahme:-

"Friday, 17 April 2009, Bil'in Village: a resident has been killed by Israeli forces during a demonstration. Basem Abu Rahme, 29 years of age, was shot in the chest with a high-velocity tear gas projectile... According to eyewitnesses, Basem was on a hill with several journalists to the side of the other demonstrators. Soldiers opened fire from 40 metres, aiming directly with the tear-gas projectiles... According to Michael Sfard, the lawyer representing the village of Bil'in, 'The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled 3 times that the route of the Wall is illegal and needs to be removed. However, to date not a meter of the Wall has been rerouted'. Basem Abu Rahme is the 18th individual to be killed by Israeli forces during a demonstration against the Wall." (Demonstrator killed in Bil'in by Israeli forces, International Solidarity Movement Digest, 20/4/09)

Make that 19:-

"Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinian demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na'alin. Palestinian medical officials said 36-year old Yusuf Srour... was hit in the chest by a live bullet and another protestor was wounded when [Israeli] soldiers fired at protesters." (Palestinian protester killed during Na'alin rally, Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, 5/6/09)

Needless to say, Obama also remained silent for Yusuf Srour.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hezbikies Ho!

The following sentence concludes a letter (ostensibly on Iran) published in The Australian on June 20:

"In fact there seems to be little sympathy for the Palestinians on the streets of Tehran, and the reported attacks on protestors by imported Hamas and Hezbollah thugs have caused additional anger." (Mary Werther, Camberwell, Vic.)

Reported, eh? In part, Werther's letter recycles the following disinformation from Israel's right-wing rag The Jerusalem Post: "Palestinian Hamas members are helping the Iranian authorities crush street protests in support of presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, two protesters on the streets of the Iranian capital said on Tuesday... 'The most important thing that I believe people outside of Iran should be aware of', said a protester who did not wish to be identified, 'is the participation of Palestinian forces in these riots'. Another protestor... also cited the presence of Hamas in Teheran [sic]. On Monday, he said, 'my brother had his ribs beaten in by those Palestinian animals. Taking our people's money is not enough, they are thirsty for our blood too'. It was ironic, this man said, that the victorious Ahmadinejad 'tells us to pray for the young Palestinians, suffering at the hands of Israel'. His hope, he added, was that Israel would 'come to its senses' and ruthlessly deal with the Palestinians." (Report: Hamas helping Iran crush dissent, The Australian Jewish News, 19/6/09)

Apparently, we're expected to believe that, among the thousands of demonstrators flooding the streets of Tehran, the Jerusalem Post has managed to locate a pair (no names, no pack drill) who are more pissed off with Hamas and Israel's alleged mollycoddling of the Palestinians than they are with Ahmedinajad.

Werther also mentions "Hezbollah thugs." In which case she may have been perusing another choice site, worldtribune.com: "Iran opposition sources said Hamas and Hizbullah have come to the aide [sic] of government forces in wake of the presidential elections... They said Hamas and Hizbullah officers trained by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran employed brutal tactics against students and other supporters of Ahmadinejad's chief rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi [sic]. 'We have seen masked and unmasked security personnel who were speaking with a clear Arabic accent or simply did not look Iranian', an opposition source said... The sources said the use of motorcycles by Hizbullah, said to have been developed in 2006, was seen in IRGC and Basij operations against pro-Moussavi [sic] demonstrators in Teheran [sic]..." (Hamas, Hizbullah join Iran's paramilitary forces in post-vote crackdown, 19/6/09)

Why, you all remember those Hezbollah bikies who took on the most moral army in the universe back in '06, don't you? And how, until those same Hezbikies thundered into Tehran, motorcycles were completely unknown in Iran?

For a more detailed discussion of this nonsense see Right-wing Media & Twitter Echo-Chamber Continues to Spread Unsubstantiated Rumors (19/6/09) at Views from the Occident blog.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Children of a Lesser God

"President Obama reacted to the unfolding events in Iran by issuing a statement calling on the government of Iran to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people"... "The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching"..."The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights"... "Martin Luther King once said -- 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice'. I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples' belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness"... "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion." (Obama to Iran: 'Stop all violent & unjust actions', Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post, 20/6/09)

"Despite growing pressure on Barack Obama to speak out on the crisis in Gaza, the US president-elect has remained silent on the issue." (Obama's Gaza silence condemned, aljazeera.net, 31/12/08)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Intelligence You Can Trust

"US legislators are seeking a review of the US listing of a Uighur Muslim group in northwestern China as 'terrorist', accusing US authorities of relying on intelligence from Beijing." (Uighurs defended, Sydney Morning Herald, 18/6/09)

Of course, US legislators will continue to rely on intelligence from Tel Aviv.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Massacres? What Massacres?

"Right now, today, Palestinians are demonstrating peacefully in the occupied territories, protesting the demolition of their homes by the Israeli authorities and government-backed 'settlers' decrying the shameful 'Wall of Separation', and demanding an end to the daily indignities visited on them by the occupiers of their land. Yet we don't see American web sites changing their colors in showy displays of narcissistic 'solidarity'. We don't see 24/7 breathless blogger coverage of events as they unfold - heck, we don't even hear about it at all. When the Israelis went in to Gaza and killed thousands, injuring thousands more, these people were nowhere to be found: or, at any rate, there was a notable lack of breathlessness in their coverage, such as it was." (Iran's Green Revolution, Justin Raimondo, antiwar.com, 19/6/09)

Headline for John Lyons' report from Tehran in yesterday's The Australian: Students massacred in attack on uni

In the opening paragraphs we read: "Details emerged last night of a massacre of students at Tehran University by suspected members of the Basij militia as opposition supporters planned a day of mourning for slain protesters. At least 3 men and 2 women were killed in the attack on their dormitory on Sunday night."

Hold that thought: 5 killed=massacre. Got it?

Now revisit The Australian's headlines for December 2008 and January 2009 when Israel's massacres in Gaza were in full swing:-

29/12: Israel may follow strikes with ground war And in the body of the report: 270 killed.
2/1: Hamas appeals for ceasefire in Gaza (400 killed)
3/1: Nuclear fear drives Israel's hard line (425 killed)
6/1: Israeli chemical cover for Gaza assault (500 killed)
8/1: UN rejects claim on school (660 killed)
9/1: Lebanese rockets fire on Israel (700 killed)
12/1: Israelis split on do-or-die decision (850 killed)
13/1: Troops mass as Gaza endgame looms (879 killed)
14/1: Israel divided over its next move (900 killed)
15/1: Olmert dodging ceasefie meetings (1000 killed)
19/1: Hamas rockets break truce (1200 killed)
20/1: Israel begins withdrawal after truce (1300 killed)

Moral of story: In Murdoch fish wrapper, if Iranian forces murder 5 or more Iranian protestors, it's a massacre. If Israeli forces murder 1300 or more Palestinians, it ain't.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Having Their Cake & Eating It Too

Thou shalt have no other historical narrative before Me...

In 2011, all Australian schools will be switching to a national curriculum. Zionist indoctrinators, however, are concerned:

"It is... particularly significant that the draft version of the year 10 history curriculum... contained the following: 'The Holocaust that Hitler and the Nazis inflicted on European Jewry will be studied in its own right. Its enduring consequences will also be considered, including... the establishment of Israel and its effects on Palestinians'. The leadership of the Jewish community had lobbied for the inclusion of the Holocaust in the curriculum. We can only speculate whether this explicit linkage between the destruction of European Jewry and the situation [!] of the Palestinians was included as a counterbalance and a concession to pressure from anti-Zionist groups. Whatever the origin, the draft version of the curriculum would oblige every year 10 student in Australia to learn that the plight of the Palestinians is a consequence of the Holocaust. This is precisely the position of Hamas and its ilk, who ask why Arabs should 'suffer' for the sins of Europeans. And it is but a short jump to compare Israelis to Nazis... A strongly argued response from the community, assisted by history teachers in Jewish schools, explained why the linkage was unacceptable on educational and historical grounds. Only when the final curriculum is published will we know if this was successful." (The dangers of a national curriculum, Rabbi James Kennard*, The Australian Jewish News, 12/6/09)

[*Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College]

So Rabbi Kennard believes that linking the Holocaust with the plight of the Palestinians is unacceptable on historical grounds.

In a sense, he's correct: Zionism was around long before the Holocaust and the creation of Israel was not a response to it.

Zionists, however, as Norman Finkelstein reminds us in his book The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, use the Holocaust to cast Israel as a 'victim' state, and shield it from justified criticism for its appalling treatment of the Palestinians. It has become in their hands, says Finkelstein, "an indispensible ideological weapon." (See my 14/12/08 post Quack Cure) Gush Shalom's Uri Avnery describes the utility of the Holocaust thus: "Once we could rely on the Holocaust. We said Holocaust, and the room fell silent. We could oppress the Palestinians, steal their lands, set up settlements, scatter checkpoints everywhere like the droppings of flies, blockade Gaza and so on. When the Goyim opened their mouths to protest, we cried 'Holocaust' - and the words froze on their lips." (Obama won't wink back, 13/6/09)

What's that about Pandora's box?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Groundbreaking Stuff (& Nonsense) at the SMH

Groundbreaking stuff! The Sydney Morning Herald's Middle East correspondent Jason Koutsoukis reveals a hitherto unknown era in Palestinian politics - the Palestinian occupation - yes, occupation - of the West Bank (1948-1967):-

"When Netanyahu's immediate predecessor, Ehud Olmert, went to Annapolis in 2007 and promised the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have included nearly 100% of the land occupied by Palestinians between 1948 and 1967, even more was on offer than at Camp David. And still Abbas was unable to accept such a deal." (Big step for PM means no turning back now, 16/6/09)

More groundbreaking stuff!! The SMH editorialist reveals for the very first time that Israelis in 1948 were, even then, not only making generous offers (a la Ehud Barak), but that hordes of Palestinians had actually accepted them! If only Arafat had known back at Camp David that his own people had set such a precedent in 1948, the entire course of the Middle East conflict would surely have been different:-

"Palestinians are asked to renounce the right of return to homes from which they were forced or induced to flee in 1948 and 1967..." (16/6/09)

Even more groundbreaking stuff!!! The SMH editorialist discovers that Israel isn't yet a Jewish state. Currently, it's apparently just a "homeland for Jews, mostly" meaning Balfour was right and Herzl was wrong:-

"As part of this [Netanyahu's generous offer], the Palestinians are asked to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, though what this means is unclear. Is Israeli [sic] going to be Jewish, in the sense that Iran is Islamic, or a homeland for Jews, mostly?" (16/6/09)

Yet more groundbreaking stuff!!!! The SMH editorialist has discovered that, contrary to long established historical and political fact, Israel has actually had a constitution now for around 6 decades (but hasn't yet got around to road-testing it):-

"For a country still working on its constitution, 60 [sic] years after its foundation..." (16/6/09)

It's cutting edge, investigative journalism and informed opinion such as this that make the SMH the quality broadsheet we all know and love.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Australia's Thomas Friedman?

"Is there anything more annoying than a Western correspondent parachuting into a foreign country and offering, only hours after his arrival, words of wisdom and analysis about that country? And who can compete with Thomas Friedman* in that regard? Really. He said: "First, a solid majority of Lebanese Christians voted against the list of Michel Aoun, who wanted to align their community with the Shiite Hezbollah party, and tacitly Iran, because he viewed them as best able to protect Christian interests - not the West." Of course, he was wrong... not only did Aoun remain the person with the largest Christian bloc in parliament (in fact, his bloc expanded from 2005) but he received 50% (versus 49%) of the Christian vote nationwide. And, in the key areas where Aoun lost, such as Zahle, it was due to Sunni votes... He then said: "Second, a solid majority of all Lebanese - Muslims, Christians and Druse - voted for the March 14 coalition led by Saad Hariri , the son of the slain Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri." Well, sorry to disappoint, but if you measure the popular vote, it was in favor of the opposition: "the 'losers' got 54.8% of the total vote (839,371) and the 'winners' 45.2% (692,285)."** He then adds: "Ballots were the only weapons the March 14 coalition had against an Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance..." Well, yes, ballots and: 1) Saudi & Western money; 2) acute sectarian mobilization and agitation that would have made Zarqawi proud; 3) Hariri money; 4) intervention by the Lebanese president against Aoun; 5) intervention by the Maronite church in favor of March 14... He then said: "I watched the voting at a school in Brummana. People came by car, by wheelchair, by foot - young, old and sick." Don't get me wrong: Thomas Friedman can only write recycled cliches, but could you find a more hackneyed cliche about an election than this one?" (Thomas Friedman in Beirut, The Angry Arab News Service, 10/6/09)

[*New York Times columnist. Friedman often crops up in The Sydney Morning Herald, most recently on 5/6/09;**Ah, that damned popular vote, friday-lunch-club.blogspot.com, 9/6/09]

But don't worry, we have our own Thomas Friedmans. Some gems from The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons, 'reporting' from Beirut (Vote for bombs or business, 13/6/09):-

"... the 40,000 missiles that Hezbollah claims to have along the border with Israel..." Hang on, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, your foreign editor, said on 11/6/o9 that it was 50,000 (A new cold war in the Mid-East). Do I hear 60,000?

"Lebanon... voted to keep Hezbollah from formally taking control in a country awash with weapons. The result highlights two Lebanons: the victorious March 14 Alliance, led by Saad Hariri, which is popular among young Lebanese who want to engage with the world, and the defeated March 8 Alliance whose support base, Hezbollah, is made up of fundamentalist Shi'ite Muslims who look to Iran for religious and financial support." How to explain then that 50.3% of Christians, 25% of Sunnis, and 30% of Druse voted for March 8? (Brilliant insights on Lebanon from Elliot Abrams, The Angry Arab News Service, 13/6/09)

"The two Lebanons are obvious to see when The Inquirer takes a tour of one of Hezbollah's strongholds, the southern suburbs of Beirut. Leaving the city we drive past the Sabra & Shatila camps for Palestinian refugees, made famous in 1982 after 800 Palestinians were massacred there by militia allied to Israel." Alas, the most definitive study of the massacre to date - Sabra & Shatila: September 1982 (2004) by Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout -estimates 3,500 victims. So here's the trick: If it's Hamas/Hezbollah rockets, the sky's the limit. If it's Palestinian/Lebanese victims of Israeli aggression, no number is too low.

"Pacifist Hezbollah is not." Pacifist Israel is...???

"While Nasrallah, with his firebrand speeches vowing wrath on Israel...." How impressive! Lyons of Lebanon has not only mastered Arabic, but he's actually heard/read all of Hassan Nasrallah's speeches!

"Although the location of Nasrallah's home is secret because of fears that the Israelis want to kill him, one local tells me he knows where it is, then takes me down a side street. Uniformed Hezbollah soldiers sitting on the corners of an otherwise abandoned block suggest someone of importance is being guarded."Lyons puts Mossad to shame. His talents are obviously wasted at The Australian. He should be put on the trail of Osama bin Laden immediately.

"The enthusiastic local takes me past Hezbollah's military headquarters... Around here are dozens of new buildings that have replaced those bombed by Israel in 2006. Iranian funding is obvious from the many buildings displaying Iranian names." Amaazing! Lyons is also fluent in Farsi!

Friday, June 12, 2009

When Greg Met David

When Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, self-styled "most influential foreign affairs commentator in Australia" (Australian website) and foreign editor of The Australian, writes (apropos the Lebanese elections) that "The best piece of writing on Lebanon in recent months was a brilliant cover story in the May 20 issue of The New Republic*. In it, journalist David Samuels recounts an interview with former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel, in which he outlines Hezbollah's strategic value to Iran*" you just know that you've got to sit up and take notice, right?

[*The Year of the Elephant; **A new cold war in the Mid-East, 11/6/09]

After all, Sheridan is a highly respected Lebanon expert with impeccable sources: "Lebanon, its sons and daughters will tell you, used to be the best country in the world. Beirut was the Paris of the east." And TNR is the very model of a modern neoconservative, pro-Israel magazine. And David Samuels* is a Zionisto from Brooklyn, who, as he says in the essay that so inspired our Greg, was brought to Lebanon by "The New Opinion Group, an NGO aligned with March 14**," along with such fearless journalistic investigators as Judith Miller, who penned all those juicy fairytales about Saddam's WMDs for The New York Times before she was dropped for creative writing.

[* I'm sure you'll be just as interested in Samuels' article for The Atlantic Monthly about the paparazzi who trail Britney Spears (Shooting Britney, April, 2008); **Hm, an "NGO aligned with" a governing coalition? How very interesting!]

Anyway, to cut to the chase, after reading Sheridan's column on Lebanon, I was so intrigued by what Samuels had to say that I thought I'd look his essay up and see a) Exactly what he had to say; b) What insights into Lebanon "the best piece of writing on Lebanon in recent months" had to offer; and c) How Australia's Lebanon expert, Sheridan, could top these. IOW, I was curious to know what happens when "the most influential foreign affairs commentator in Australia" meets the best writer on Lebanon in recent months.

Talk of the town, of course, is Hezbollah, described by Sheridan as a "devoutly Shi'ite terrorist group controlled by Iran." "Hezbollah won all the sears it contested," he laments, and "will continue to wield by far the most powerful army in Lebanon," possessing "50,000 rockets deployed on Israel's border." Of course, Sheridan has a way with numbers*, at variance with both Hassan Nasrallah (33,000 rockets) and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who will only say that the organization has "more rockets than before the Second Lebanon War." ('Hezbollah has more rockets than before Lebanon War', Haaretz, 27/5/09)

[* See my 4/2/08 & 10/2/08 posts When Even the Retraction is Dodgy 1 & 2]

Sheridan quotes Samuels, who quotes Gemayel: "In the form of Hezbollah, they [Iran] get a brigade on the Mediterranean and on the border with Israel. So $100 million a year they spend here is nothing." In typical partisan fashion, though, he omits the bit in Samuels about the "hundreds of millions of Saudi dollars that are flowing into Hariri's coalition."

And speaking of Sa'ad Hariri, Sheridan is at pains, drawing on Samuels' interview with him, to point out that Hariri is so in danger from Hezbollah/Iran/Syria that he "lives behind [sic] a fortress." "If he wants to go out for an evening meal at a restaurant, he goes overseas." What about getting safely to Beirut Airport? I hear you ask. Presumably, by contrast, Hariri's nemesis, Hassan Nasrallah, has the streets (and restaurants) of Beirut all to himself. Not so, according to Samuels. The Hezbollah leader, in fact, has to deliver his speech in honor of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed from a "bunker." But then, for Sheridan to admit as much would entail an admission that Israel is doing more than just twiddling its thumbs south of the border. You see, when Sheridan mutters darkly about "giant, convulsive and violent forces... at work within [Lebanese] society...," you're only supposed to be thinking Iran, Syria, Iran, Syria... never Israel, America, Saudi Arabia.

Writes Sheridan: "Samuels argues that Lebanon offers a taste of the future in the Middle East, once Iran has a nuclear weapon and can operate anywhere without fear of military retaliation. For Iran and Syria today operate with a virtually free hand in Lebanon." You bet -poor old Samuels had the heebie jeebies like you wouldn't believe while in Lebanon. Check this out: "[Y]ou can get a pretty accurate sense of how Lebanon works by sitting in a restaurant in the Albergo Hotel, a decidedly luxurious place where I had lunch with a former intelligence professional and watched a dozen Lebanese cabinet ministers savor excellent Italian dishes. The tailored suits, the loosened ties, the broad hands, the arrangement of tall flowers in the center of the room - the scene had the sunlit inner presence, the radiant sensual completeness, of the world of physical objects as painted by Bonnard or Vuillard. Watching the ministers as they conducted their business, it was easy to see how the philosophical embrace of the physical world makes good sense here. Nasrallah and his patrons in Iran guarantee the stability of the country while, day to day, mouthing all kinds of insane stuff designed to paralyze the faculty of reason. Someday soon, the key will turn in the lock, the door will open and they will blow Lebanon to smithereens. Meanwhile, there are precious moments of physical existence to be savored, such as a diamond necklace for one's wife, a pair of earrings for one's mistress, a sizable deposit in a numbered bank account, and shrimp fettucini at the Albergo." Tres fin de siecle, non? Curiously, however, Samuels' purple prose prediction doesn't prevent him from noting elsewhere in his essay that "if the purpose of the Lebanese elections were to select the most capable man in the country, regardless of party or foreign affiliations, Nasrallah would win in a landslide."

Of course, when it comes to Hezbollah, there's no such ambiguity for Sheridan: "The Hezbollah group [sic] is called the March 8 coalition and involves Hezbollah, another Shia group called Amal and the Christian forces of former general Michel Aoun. Aoun's forces were the big losers in the election. The inherent madness of Lebanese politics and the sheer desperate scramble to survive is evident in Aoun's electoral alliance with Hezbollah. This is an alliance against nature and against conviction. Aoun was once the hero of Lebanese resistence to to Syrian hegemony. One of Aoun's election posters features a dazzlingly beautiful, bare-armed young woman wearing saucy orange lipstick* and with plucked eyebrows. The caption urged women to 'be beautiful and vote'. Yet Aoun's allies, Hezbollah, are Islamic fundamentalists who want an Islamic state. Go figure." Blimey, where do I start? Aoun was the big loser? Not so, according to the Angry Arab: "[N]ot only did Aoun remain the person with the largest Christian bloc in parliament (his bloc expanded since 2005) but overall he received some 50% of the Christian vote versus 49% if measured nationwide. And, in the key areas where Aoun lost, such as Zahle, it was due to Sunni votes." (Thomas Friedman in Beirut, The Angry Arab News Service, 10/6/09) And that alluring young Lebanese female with the saucy orange lipstick? Orange just happens to be the colour of Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement. As for Hezbollah wanting an Islamic state, if Sheridan had bothered to consult the book by Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's deputy Secretary-General, Hizbullah: The Story from Within (2005), he would have read the following: "The creation of an Islamic state is thus not a function of adoption by one group or branch and a subsequent imposition on other groups... [W]e call for the implementation of the Islamic system based on a direct and free choice of the people, and not through forceful imposition as may be assumed by some. The message is clear, and beckons the creation of an Islamic state based on free public choice. We are hence in perfect harmony with our convictions and with the practical, objective circumstances surrounding us. As long as such circumstances are not in support of the project, either due to peoples' diverging opinions or for any other reasons, we would consider ourselves forgivable in the sense that we have conveyed the message and declared our stance, thereby leaving it up to the people to choose their governing system and bear the responsibility for such choice: And if thy Lord willed, all who are on the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou [Muhammad] compel men until they are believers?" (p 31)

Greg and David - made for each other.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Suckholes for Zion

"The best-laid plans of mice and men/ often go awry":-

"Foreign editor of The Australian Greg [Jerusalem Prize] Sheridan was supposed to be keynote speaker at the [Jewish National Fund's] AGM, but pulled out at the last minute because of illness. He was replaced by Paul Sheehan from The Sydney Morning Herald. Sheehan, who has visited Israel a number of times, told the AGM that we are currently living through 'possibly the greatest era' in Jewish history. He praised Israel and its people for their 'strategic and intellectual depth'. As a gesture of gratitude, 50 trees were planted in Israel in Sheehan's name." (JNF turns over a new leaf, The Australian Jewish News, 5/6/09)

Hm, maybe we now have enough data to posit the existence of a sliding scale of Zionist awards:-

Occasional Scribblers for Zion (eg Paul Sheehan): 50 trees planted over razed Palestinian village from 1948*

Constant Scribblers for Zion (eg Greg Sheridan): The Jerusalem Prize

Lackeys of Zion- Prime Minister/Opposition Leader level: Forest planted over razed Palestinian village (eg RG Menzies - Menzies Forest, Galilee; AA Calwell Forest of Life, Jerusalem; Bob Hawke - Australia-Israel Friendship Forest [dedicated to all the prime ministers of Australia & Israel as a tribute to the Australian Bicentenary & the 40th Anniversary of the State of Israel], Galilee; John Howard - John Howard Negev Forest)

[*See my 14/6/08 post A Certain Jewish Tree Planting Group]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

'Only One Lonely Little Guy'

"The Lobbyist came down like the wolf on the fold
And his briefcases were gleaming in black and gold..."
(Apologies to Byron)

What might happen if Obama ever gets around to wagging his finger at Israel? Here's the experience of Bush senior:

"[In 1990 President George HW Bush] got involved in what one author calls 'the most noteworthy showdown with Israel and the American-Israeli lobby of any American president'. It began... when Israel submitted a request to the US for more than $1 billion in loans, gifts, and donations. The money was going to pay to resettle Soviet Jews in the occupied territories - in clear violation of international law. Bush's response was simple and straightforward: 'There should be no new settlements in the West Bank or East Jerusalem'."

The response? "[A] tidal wave of criticism" and a new request for a "$10 billion loan guarantee... to build and expand settlements in the occupied territories" came in 1991.

"Bush asked Congress to delay the loan guarantees for 4 months. Immediately, almost 1,000 pro-Israel lobbyists swamped Capitol Hill, insisting that the US dispense the guarantees at once. Congress, not surprisingly, was inclined to listen. Sensing that both his authority and plans for peace were at risk, President Bush made the following complaint: 'I heard today there were something like a thousand lobbyists on the Hill working the other side of the question. We've got only one lonely little guy doing it'. When Congress realized that the 'lonely little guy' was their president, and that he was serious about delaying the loan guarantees, they quickly approved his request. American Jews were indignant, labelling Bush an anti-Semite for his criticisms of lobby pressure and accusing him of denying them the right to practice citizen advocacy. Bush quickly apologized, but to many it was a case of too little, too late."

Bush senior eventually "caved into pressure and approved the loan guarantees. Bush also exhibited strong - and strongly biased - support for Israel in October of 1991 when, after US intelligence determined that Israel had exported missile components to South Africa, the president waived US-mandated sanctions against Israel. Nevertheless, this support was not enough to erase the memory of the Bush-Israel showdown from the minds of Israel's American supporters... It was a lesson well learned by American politicians, as no US president since has openly threatened to withhold funds to ensure Israeli compliance with international law. Indeed, according to USA Today, current President George W Bush "says he believes his father... made a political mistake that helped cost him re-election when he threatened to withhold some US aid' from Israel." (They Dare to Speak Out: People & Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby, Paul Findley, ed 3, 2003, pp 144-146)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Obama of Cairo

Obama's references to Palestine/Israel in his 4 June speech in Cairo and my comments thereon:

Obama the Zionist

"Now the second major source of tension... is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world. America's strong bonds with Israel are well-known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries. And anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust."

The Zionist lobby has the US by the nuts. Cultural and historical ties between the US and Israel? Absolutely! Both are colonial-settler states built on the ethnic cleansing and dispossession of native peoples. And that reference to a Jewish homeland? Where have we heard that before? Of course, the Balfour Declaration of 1917: "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..." You can see that it's back to the future for Obama. Implied is the Zionist dogma that there is an internationally dispersed entity known as 'the Jewish people' for whom the Jewish homeland in Palestine is their only authentic home. Obama thus espouses all the core beliefs of political Zionism. Likewise, in true Zionist fashion, he shamelessly argues that European anti-Semitism somehow justifies the creation in Palestine of a Jewish state. That reference to around the world is merely a diversion.

Obama's international law free zone

"[I]t is also undeniable that the Palestinian people... have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt, the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own."

The pain of dislocation? Sheeesh, what's a dislocated shoulder to a Holocaust around every historical corner? Surely just an accident of history, a result of Palestinian clumsiness and ineptitude. Shhh... don't mention the war! Don't mention the series of massacres and expulsions known as the Nakba, the destruction of hundreds of towns and villages, the theft of the collective wealth of 85% of the Palestinian people in four fifths of their Palestinian homeland, 6 decades of statelessness, exile, bombing and butchery in scattered refugee camps. And the occupation? A mere matter of daily humiliations. Shhh... don't mention the occupiers or their made-in-America arms or the land-grabbing wall or the choking checkpoints or the army with the trigger finger or the suffocating closures or the arbitrary arrests or the imprisonment or the torture or the death-squads or the settler pogroms or the deliberate impoverishment of the occupied. The situation of the Palestinians is intolerable? Hardly an advance on Bush's use of "untenable": "It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation." (Rose Garden Speech on Israel-Palestine Two-State Solution 24/6/02) And there's no reference to international law or the Palestinian rights of self-determination or return. It's now merely the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own. An insistence on implementing hard-won UN resolutions is, like, sooo yesterday.

And the colonizer shall lie down with the colonized

"For decades... there has been a stalemate. Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers. For Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history... But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth. The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

An inexorable US-backed process of wiping Palestine off the map (and gunning down any native who dares lift a finger to prevent it) is a stalemate? Israel has legitimate aspirations? Creating and maintaining a Jewish supremacist state is a legitimate aspiration? Colonizing, expelling, and occupying others are legitimate aspiration? Displacement, dislocation - keep those euphemisms for Zionist ethnic cleansing and slo-mo genocide coming. Constant hostility? Should the natives have responded with hugs and kisses instead? Celebrated their dispossession perhaps? Either Obama is blind to the truth or he's engaged in a deception.

Obama's way with history

"Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa... It's a story with a simple truth: violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children or to blow up old women on a bus."

Violence? When Palestinians resist with kalashnikovs and Qassams it's violence. When Israel uses every weapon in the book and some that haven't even made it there yet, it's... not a whisper from Obama. And Uncle Tom's retrospectively telling black slaves in America: Just learn to put up with master's whip until history decides it's time you were emancipated. Hear that? Black resistance fighter Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803) is turning in his grave. And South Africa? Wave a magic wand, and hey presto, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC's military wing, has magically disappeared from the historical record.

Now listen up, Hamas

"Hamas does have support from some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities, to play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people. Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."

So the elected Palestinian Hamas government has support from some Palestinians? Israel's right to exist as a what? As an apartheid state? As a state that refuses the right of return to millions of Palestinians simply because they're not Jews? As a state of all Jews wherever they currently reside, but not a state of its citizens, whether Jew or non-Jew? Yeah, sure!

Israel, stop it or you'll go blind

"At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop. And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security, neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace. And Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress."

Oh, so apart from a spot of settlement expansion - we'll overlook the existence of the settlements themselves - we've got no bones to pick with Israel? And what's this Israeli obligation? Is it obliged to get out of the occupied Palestinian territories? No. To implement UN resolutions? No. Obey the ICJ? No. Its only obligation is (we presume) to ease up on the checkpoints. Ah, Gaza, remember Gaza, the crime against humanity? For Obama, it's just another humanitarian crisis brought on by some natural disaster or other. As for Israel taking concrete steps, does Obama really think Israeli settlements are made out of mud brick?


"Mr Obama, asked by reporters after the speech what the US would do if Israel refused to stop building settlements, said: 'It's only been 5 months for me. Netanyahu has only been in office for 2 months, we've been waiting for 60 years. So maybe we should try out a few more months before everybody starts looking at doomsday scenarios." (US push to shore up ties with Israel, John Lyons, The Australian, 6/6/09)

Thursday, June 4, 2009


"If we cannot muster the resolve to defeat this evil [terrorism] in Iraq, America will have lost its moral purpose in the world, and we will endanger our citizens, because if we leave Iraq before the job is done, the enemy will follow us here.../The missions I described are only the opening salvos in what is going to be a sustained effort. Yet, the Iraqi people are going to see positive changes. I want to share with you how two Iraqi bloggers - they have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here... (laughter)... 'Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer moving about in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve'." GW Bush, 28/3/07)

The two Iraqi bloggers quoted approvingly by Bush in his speech are Omar Fadhil Al-Nidawi and his brother Mohammed. Omar is a dentist and his brother a doctor. Their blog is called Iraq the Model. If you sample some of their neocononsensical tripe, you can see why they turn the Bushies on.

Here's Omar, for example, on the greatness of Bush-n-Blair and why they just had to have their way with Iraq. I'm quoting verbatim: "[S]pare me the nonsense of (occupation) and (resistance) and the (chaos) that the USA had thrown the world into, only for some individual economic and political gains. As for saying that bush and Blair went to the war to increase their popularity, I must say that it's the most absurd assumption. In fact these great and brave men actually risked not only their chance of being re-elected, but also their entire political career [especially in the case of Mr Blair (one of the most brilliant and brave politicians the UK have ever had)].../ [A]ny Muslim and some non-Muslim, know that these fundamentalists have declared war on the whole infidel world (people like me included). Bin-laden and his likes may make some kind of deals with (infidel) governments to help them in attacking their greatest enemies; Israel and USA.* But their convictions had, and will never change. Their ultimate dream is to conquer the whole world, and in case that proves to be impossible then at least destroy their enemies, meaning destroying the whole-civilized world. They believe; that their obligation to Allah/God is to fight and kill any non-Muslim who lays a foot in Muslim land (that extends in their beliefs from china to Spain). And the only way that could save those non Muslims, is to change their religion into Muslims or pay a certain tax (jizea) and if (theoretically) their dream comes true, then its not the end as their ultimate goal is to spread Islam through the whole world, even (or maybe favorably) if by force, or at least make the rest of the world pay the jizea... Now their domination of the world seems to be a very ridiculous idea and doesn't have the slightest chance, but destroying the world seems not as impossible as we all hope it is. After all it takes a few hundred (martyrs) and a mad dictator-armed with a few tiny nuclear bombs or a single virus to-unite. Such unity seems to be very possible if not now then in the future and that hard technology is getting cheaper and easier every day. Please just tell me what kind of a barrier those (peaceful) governments are working on, and then the whole strategy of the peaceful governments that I was hallucinating about would prove more solid than I think it is. I think this should be enough to state that war on terrorism, eliminating the danger of WMDs and establishing democracies in the M.E. were important reasons for the war." (Just a concerned man, 17/12/03)

[*See Cheney admits no link between Saddam, 9/11, news.antiwar.com, 1/6/09]

Unsurprisingly, Omar and Iraq the Model get star billing over at neocon think tank The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) which counts R James Woolsey (Fmr CIA Director), Newt Gingrich, Bill Kristol (Ed Weekly Standard), and Senator Joseph Lieberman among its Leadership Council, and Charles Krauthammer and Richard Perle among its Board of Advisers: "Omar Fadhil Al-Nidawi, a summer associate at the FDD, is a Baghdad-trained dentist and a graduate student of international affairs at Columbia University in New York City. He is the co-author of the blog Iraq the Model, a two time winner of the Weblog Awards. Until late 2007 Omar was writing on the war in Iraq from Baghdad, Basrah, and other locations in Iraq. Now based in the US, he continues to write about Iraq, the war on terror, and issues in the Middle East. Omar's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, and he is a member of the Opinion Journal Federation. In March 2007, PC World magazine chose Omar and his brother and co-blogger Mohammed among 'the 50 most important people on the web'." Jeezus!

At long last Omar's found his way onto The Australian's opinion/propaganda page for June 2 under the heading Iraq was a just war. He tells us that the war in Iraq is coming to an end and asks, "Was it worth it?"* "If we examine the question from an American, British or Australian perspective, then it would be difficult to present an answer that could convince all critics. For the coalition members this was a war of opportunity, not a war of necessity. Going to war or not was never an issue that could affect the existence of a coalition member, nor was winning or losing." Now hang on: didn't this top-50 blogger say back in 2003 that Bin-Laden was maybe dealing with a certain "infidel government" and didn't he conclude that the Iraq war was fought to stop The West being overrun with suitcase-carrying dirty bombers armed by a certain "mad dictator"? If so, might that not have been a war of necessity?

[* See Gates: 'I don't know' if Iraq war worth it, Jonathan Karl, abcnews.go.com, 19/9/07]

Moving right along then: "For Iraq and its people however, this war was the beginning of a struggle for rebirth... Life is better today than it was before 2003.* That is even though we were on the receiving end of this war in all its phases, from initial invasion through the bloody sectarian violence and terror that paralysed the country for years. Despite the high price in blood, today is brighter than yesterday." "We" - you, Omar?! - "were on the receiving end of this war"? Really? Not quite as much as the estimated 1,320,110 Iraqi deaths so far (JustForeignPolicy.org) or the estimated 303, 454 Iraqi refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey (UNHCR, 9/08). Not to mention the thousands of American dead (4,309) and wounded (31,327). "In all its phases"? According to the FDD, you've been in the US since late 2007.

[See my 18/12/08 post Life Under Saddam...]

"We have hope," says Omar. There are signs of "progress toward liberty, prosperity and the rule of law." And here are his signs: 1) The trade minister was arrested for corruption*; 2) The prime minister sued an Iraqi online journal accusing him of nepotism and abuse of authority but dropped the case after "severe criticism from free press advocates;" 3) The Iraqi stockmarket is booming.

[*Iraqi blogger Layla Anwar has a different explanation. See Meanwhile in the 'new' Iraq, arabwomanblues.blogspot.com 4/6/09]

And Iraqi women? How are they faring in the reborn Iraq? "'Iraqi women have seen their rights eroded in all areas of life while the world observes from afar', warns the special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes & Consequences, Ms Yakin Ertuerk... 'The ongoing conflict, high levels of insecurity, widespread impunity, collapsing economic conditions and rising social conservatism are impacting directly on the daily lives of Iraqi women and placing them under increased vulnerability to all forms of violence within and outside their homes', says Ms Ertuerk." (Violence against Iraqi women continues unabated, IRIN, electroniciraq.net, 1/12/08)

But, hey, you've got to feel sorry for Omar, the "security policy specialist" - yes, that is how he's described in the bio at the foot of his article for The Australian. After all, in the Benighted States of America, he gets to mix with such swell guys as the American blogger who interviewed him on May 3, 2005 and asked him this - no joke! - question: "Is dentistry a lucrative profession in Iraq? When you're introduced as a dentist to friends and strangers, do women, particularly Moms with unmarried daughters, see dinar signs in their eyes when they learn of your profession and want you to meet their 35-year old unmarried daughter Fatima? Unfortunately, Fatima usually has a unibrow and a bushier mustache than you do." (Iraqi Bloggers Central: The In T View: Iraq the Model's Omar - Blogging's Modest Superstar )

He might even get to swap views on his reborn homeland with other Americans who share his interest in Iraq. Americans like Johnathan Regis, for example, who thought so highly of Layla Anwar and her blog that he emailed her directly to share his 'thoughts'.

Johnathan's quoted in Layla Anwar's post, A sample of the 'brave & free': "This is the West, this is America, this is Great Britain, this is Democracy... this is really what it's all about, in microcosm... A small sample of the kind of animals the Iraqis and Afghans are experiencing on a daily basis. To: Layla Anwar Fm: Johnathan Regis - upgitit@live.com Date: 3rd June 09/ 7.46 am. Subject: something to say to you Hello, I just wanted to let you know that I am an American soldier who has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want you to know that I have killed many muslims and even raped a few of the pathetic women I came across. It's ok, I shot them straight in the head when I was done with them. You know, we might not ultimately be successful in Afghanistan, but we sure will kill a lot of you bastards. Oh, by the way, if I ever see you I'll skull-fuck you until your eyes bleed then choke you out and go to town on your smelly pussy. You will not wake up. See you soon." (3/6/09)

Can't see Layla Anwar popping up in The Australian any time soon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Facts? What Facts?

In its Cut & Paste at the bottom of today's letters page, The Australian sarcastically advises the authors of an article in yesterday's Age not to "let facts get in the way of propaganda." Yet its editorial on the same page contains the following sentence:

"The Fateh regime of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired in January but who shows no sign of standing down) maintains an uneasy truce with Israel on the West Bank." (Obama's opportunity for Middle East peace: The threat of a nuclear armed Iran can kick start talks, 2/6/09)

What? Had I missed something? Had the Israelis and Abbas' 'freedom fighters' just downed smoking weapons and begun eyeballing each other across the barricades instead? Steady on... Here's that same "uneasy truce" in The New York Times:

"Palestinian Authority forces clashed with Hamas militants in the West Bank early on Sunday, leaving 6 dead in the bloodiest such encounter in 2 years... Hamas officials accused the West Bank authorities of collaborating with Israel and the West, and betraying the Palestinian national cause. Israeli officials pointedly declined to comment, not wanting to be seen by West Bank residents as being too closely tied to the Palestinian Authority. But Israeli soldiers control the West Bank, and Palestinian security forces coordinate their actions with them." (6 die as Palestinian Authority forces clash with Hamas, Ethan Bronner, 1/6/09)