Monday, February 28, 2011

The Rudd Doctrine

As for the rest of Heavy Kevvie's speech, here are some of the bits that stuck... in my throat:

Hello world, here I come:

"First, Australia's national interests are no longer simply shaped by our regional strategic geography; second, while our region remains critical, we are now also profoundly shaped by political, economic and social developments around the globe; and third, our analysis and our diplomacy must, as a result, be directed both to our neighbourhood and to the world."

Keating was wrong! Far from being 'the arse end of the world', Australia is:

"... by definition a middle power with regional and global interests."

Ah, it seemed like only yesterday I was schmoozing with Pharaoh Mubarak*, but, hey, that was then, this is NOW!:

"We are now seeing protest movements and, in some cases, revolutionary movements in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. From the Straits of Gibralter to the Straits of Hormuz. A profound reminder of the universality of the cry for democratic freedoms. A profound reminder that it is impossible to permanently suppress the voice of the people."

[* Indeed! See my 1/2/11 post Gypos Ratfuck Rudd's Policy Settings]

Not that we weren't Friends of Autocratic Egypt, mind you, but:

"The question arises, therefore, as to what Australia in partnership with the international community can do to support a peaceful and stable democratic transformation in Egypt and beyond. Australia is currently in active negotiation with major economies around the world to form a flexible framework for responding positively to Egypt's transitional needs... It is time for major democracies around the world which have both the economic capacity and the necessary political will to become International Partners of Democratic Egypt, Friends of Democratic Egypt at this most crucial time in modern Egyptian history."

Oh yes, Libya:

"It is time for the UNSC to condemn the actions of the Libyan [but not the Israeli] government against its [in the case of Israel, non-] citizens. The UN's Human Rights Council should also condemn these [but not Israel's] gross human rights violations. The international community needs to take action where civilians [but not Palestinian civilians] need protection. It is also time for the international community to remind the Libyan [but not the Israeli] regime and its leaders that crimes against humanity are offences under the Rome Statute and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court."

OK, we may be totally USrael's bitch, but:

"Our interests also reflect the values of good international citizenship - that is, quite apart from the prosecution of our national interests, we also exert our efforts to build a peaceful, stable and just international order."

Welcome to my nonpolar world:

"Richard Haass argued recently in Foreign Affairs, we are entering an 'age of nonpolarity': a world dominated not by one or two or even several states, but rather by dozens of actors exercising various kinds of power."

"As Secretary Clinton herself has said the United States does not and should not 'go it alone'; rather, the US seeks itself to exercise leadership in new ways - to convene, to connect, to create partnerships aimed at solving shared global problems."

Yes, pack rape is much more fun, and that is why the CIA, Mossad & faithful little ASIS are meeting, even as I speak, to head the Arab Revolt (or revolting Arabs as we like to joke) off at the pass.

Despite the fact that we always vote in the UN with Usrael and those Pacific taddies whenever another of Israel's conniptions comes to its notice:

"Middle powers are nimble in working the 'in-between' of international diplomacy - most particularly if they have no vested interests that are not held in common with the international community."

OK, already, so I represent the Australian Labor Party, of which one of my ministerial colleagues was heard to make moan recently when he said, "There is no social democratic or labour party in the world that confers less influence on its members,"* but I can still bullshit with the best that:

"We are one of the world's oldest, continuous democracies."

[* See Give members more say or the ALP will wither, warns minister, Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/2/11)

Dr Rudd & Mr Sheridan

In response to the great Arab revolt of 2010-2011 (or "tectonic shift" as he calls it) Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd gave an important speech, Australia's Foreign Policy Interests in the Middle East, to the National Press Club in Canberra on 22 February.

My observations and thoughts on Rudd's perspective, rhetoric and general musings will come in a second post. For this, I'd like to focus on how The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, who appears to have been the only ms pundit to have tackled the subject, has reported or, more correctly, distorted a key aspect of Rudd's speech. If ever a reminder was needed to check out the primary sources* before swallowing what you read in the Murdoch press, this is it.

Rudd leads into the relevant section thus:

"It is important to be clear sighted about the implications for the wider region and the world, should political stability in Egypt, Libya and beyond continue to deteriorate." (foreign He then goes on to make 5 points:

"First, if as a result of the process of democratic transformation in Egypt, we see the rise of Islamist parties, which in turn dispense with hard-won democratic freedoms, the danger of a more benign operating environment being created for militant Islamist and terrorist organisations becomes greater. That is why it is particularly important that the international community monitors closely the political posture being adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood."

Now see how Sheridan ramps up Rudd's "more benign operating environment": "The first is that if an Islamist political environment is established in Egypt, or anywhere else in the Arab world, it will almost certainly encourage terrorism. That would threaten Australians directly, and our interests more broadly." (Rudd's activism on Mid-East mirrors national interest, 26/2/11)

"Secondly, and more broadly, the radicalisation of governments in key regional countries such as Egypt will have geostrategic impact. How Iran's influence would play if Islamist groups seized power in even a few Arab countries is a vexing question. So we have a significant stake in supporting outcomes which give a central place to moderate, mainstream, pluralist forces."

With Sheridan, Rudd's "vexing question" takes us directly to Israel's obsession with Iran: "Secondly, an Islamist political environment in Egypt or any Arab state, or even prolonged chaos or instability, would almost certainly strengthen Iran. That would damage Australia's interests in a multitude of ways - including reducing US influence and reinforcing Iranian nuclear ambitions."

"Third, it is important that Egypt's new government continues to support those measures which have underpinned regional peace. More than ever we need to strive for a successful outcome of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority - a prospect which offers peace and security to both."

Now compare Rudd's emphasis with Sheridan's: "Thirdly, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, which is the linchpin of regional stability, would come under threat."

"Fourth, if political instability across the Middle East collapses, it will create new push factors for unauthorised people movements from the Middle East to other destinations across the world."

Hey, shouts Sheridan, that means Australia and we don't want them!: "Fourthly, Islamist triumph or continued instability would almost certainly lead to an increase in illegal people movements which would wash up in Australia. That is a result nobody wants."

"Finally, political turmoil in Libya has already had a profound impact on international energy markets. The spot price of Brent crude has now risen to levels not seen since September 2008 and has increased 13% since the start of this year. This would immediately translate into the retail price of fuel in this country and elsewhere around the world."

Only now do we get Sheridan merely dotting the 'i's: "And fifthly, international energy markets would be disrupted leading to higher fuel prices, which would damage global and Australian economic growth."

I'd love to have heard Rudd's expletives on reading Sheridan's distortions. If Sheridan's account of his speech were all you had to go by, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Rudd's main concerns, like Sheridan's, are the prospect of an Australia under siege from Islamist terrorists and illegal immigrants, a militant and nuclear-armed Iran poised to take over the Middle East, and a seething cauldon of instability should the Egyptians junk their treaty with Israel. Now the really scary thing is that Rudd may actually think this way. On the face of it, however, whatever the other indicators may be, his NPC speech does not bear this out.

[* For an earlier example of Sheridan's way with primary sources, see my 15/4/10 post Be Afraid... Relax.]

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Zionist Talking Point of the Day

Fairfax journalist Paul McGeough is undoubtedly the best ms media journalist on Middle Eastern affairs in this country. The following commentary, on the blatant hypocrisy that pervades US policy on the Middle East, appeared last Monday in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"While upheaval continues in the Middle East, the idea that the Obama administration was more concerned about its strategic interests than the human rights of more than 300 million Arabs was confirmed when Washington torpedoed a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement-building in occupied Palestinian territory. Last week Barack Obama urged leaders facing unrest to reform, warning: 'you can't be behind the curve'. But as Britain, France and Germany backed condemnation of settlement building on annexed Palestinian land, the US alone refused. At a time when, to varying degrees, US-trained troops are being used against protesters challenging autocratic regimes that Washington has propped up for decades, the message telegraphed by Obama's first use of the US veto power at the UN was that his administration was still running to catch up with the new Middle East." (Lip service is all US pays in the drive for democracy, 21/2/11)

This, of course, was like a red rag to a bull for the The Australian, which, on the very next day in its Cut & Paste column, cited McGeough's opening sentence under this headline smear: United Nations Security Council fiddles while the Middle East keeps going up in flames: Somehow it always come [sic] down to the Jews.

This header is of interest in two respects. Firstly, it introduces us to the latest Zionist talking point - Hasn't the UN got more important things to focus on than Israeli settlements? - specifically designed to distract readers from the United State's grovelling subservience to Israeli colonialism. Secondly, its second half invokes the standard Zionist dogma that Israel= all Jews, with the sneaky implication that anti-Israel=anti-Semitism. Ergo, McGeough is an anti-Semite.


Now would it surprise you greatly if The Australian's Mini-Me, The Australian Jewish News, was echoing the exact same point, even down to the same wording:

"All over the Middle East, reports of Arab governments responding to anti-government protests with live gunfire have been flowing in for days, and what did the United Nations Security Council tackle first on the agenda last Friday? Why, naturally: Jewish construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank... To witness the international body fiddling over the Palestinian agenda while the Arab street burns raises profound questions about the core values of the organisation" (UN-believable, 25/2/11)

PS: 'Libya burns while UN fiddles' - The title of The Australian's 28/2/11 editorial.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Dalek of Tripoli

Gaddafi, February 2011 - Exterminate! Exterminate!: "They don't want me, they don't want Libya. This is a criminal act. Anybody who lifts an arm, shall be punished by death. Those who spy for other countries will be executed. Anybody who undermines the state will be killed. Those who commit crimes against the army will be executed. Anybody who is with Bin Laden will be killed. [Incomprehensible babbling] We will not forgive. Anybody who undermines the constitution, by force or otherwise, will be killed. Anybody who uses bombs will be arrested and executed. Please, please remain quiet so you can hear. This is very dangerous. I haven't even started to give orders using bullets. Any use of force against the state will be punished by death. Anyone who murders will be executed..." (From Qaddafi's Norma Desmond moment, Justin Raimondo, 22/2/11,

Gaddafi, April 1973 - Incarcerate! Incarcerate!: "Soon Gadafi was ready to launch his Third Theory. It steered an alternate, middle course between capitalism and communism, but had essentially to be based upon religion. He propounded it not only for Libyans but for the Arab world and, indeed, the world as a whole... By the time that the Third Theory had become the official philosophy, the popular or cultural revolution had been launched. This came as unpredictably as most of the Revolutionary Command Council's major policy initiatives, at a public meeting in Zwara to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohamed [15/4/73]. The revolution was in peril, Gadafi said. Libyan commandos sent to take part in the struggle for Palestine had been held back not by Israeli but by Arab soldiers. The front-line states had given up the battle, but Libya would not. In spite of repeated appeals to Libyan youth, they had not enlisted in the army. Ideal agricultural and resettlement schemes had been set up, but Libyans were refusing to work in remote parts of the country. University 'perverts' were engaging in subversive activities. 'I personally cannot allow any more of this irresponsible behaviour'. He suggested a 5-point programme: 1) All existing laws must be repealed and replaced by revolutionary enactments designed to to produce the necessary revolutionary change. 2) The weeding out of all feeble minds from society by taking appropriate measures towards perverts and deviationists. 3) The staging of an administrative revolution so as to get rid of all forms of bourgeoisie and bureaucracy. 4) The setting up of popular committees whereby the people might proceed to seize power. This was meant to ensure freedom for the people as against bureaucrats and opportunists. 5) The staging of a cultural revolution so as to get rid of all imported poisonous ideas and fuse the people's genuine moral and material potentialities.

"Within days of the speech, two overlaying waves of arrests took place. In some instances individuals were denounced by Popular Committees, but the majority of the arrests were carried out by the secret police. University lecturers, lawyers and writers, employees of government ministries including the attorney-general's office and the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, younger members of prominent coastal families - most of them, seemingly, individuals identified in the past with Marxist, Baathist, Moslem Brotherhood or other such political circles - were seized. There had never been any suggestion that 'factional' organization existed; the persecution was aimed at those who had not succeeded in identifying with the regime's system of state-run politics. The cultural revolution was against people who 'propagate poisonous ideas' alien to the Islamic origins of the Libyan people. The political prisoners were held incommunicado. Unofficial circles calculated that there had been as many as a thousand persons arrested; this, at the rate of one in prison for every 20,000 Libyans, made the country the most politically confined in the world... No trials were held of detainees. Some though not all of the political prisoners were released towards the end of the year, some after televised 'confessions' - though all insisted, after explaining their political convictions, that they had been active only until September 1969 and the army revolution [ie Gadafi's coup] of that date. In August 1973 Gadafi had told Libyans they had 30 days in which 'anyone who still belongs to any organization can come forward and surrender himself, write to me by post. After the 30-day period I do not want anyone to come'. After that anyone who disrupted national unity, 'who seeks to dominate the people or society through a class or party will be considered a traitor subject to the death penalty'." (Libya: The Elusive Revolution, Ruth First, 1975, pp 136-144)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Battered Palestinian Syndrome?

I've just read a review, Moving plea for peace, by Stella Clarke, of Izzeldin Abuelaish's just released book, I Shall Not Hate.

Abuelaish, you may remember, was the Palestinian doctor whose grief-stricken cries over the deaths of his 3 daughters during the murderous Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 were heard by phone-link on Israeli television and broadcast around the world.

I haven't yet read his book, but, in light of Clarke's uncritical review - "a brave, moving and important book" - it'll be so low down on my reading list that I'll probably never get around to it. As you'll see, I have problems with both Abuelaish and his reviewer. However, if anyone out there does read it (and I'm sure, given such reviews as Clarke's, it will sell), please feel free to use your inside knowledge to correct (or confirm) what I'm about to say about it:

"'My God, my god - they shelled my house. They killed my daughters. What have we done?' These few distraught words explain why Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish, now associate professor of public health at the University of Toronto, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This is no scream of hate or blame. Even in extremis, Abuelaish affirms a collective responsibility for what The Guardian recently called 'the world's most intractable conflict'." (The Australian, 12/2/11)

So let me get this right: the Palestinian Arabs - who have been blown from pillar to post ever since the Zionist movement decided in earnest that their patch wasn't really their patch, and that, one way or another, they simply had to go - are equally (or even partly) responsible for the world's most intractable conflict? The ethnically cleansed and the occupied are just as responsible (or at least partly so) for the conflict as their ethnic cleansers and occupiers?

I don't think so.

Abuelaish's in extremis cry - What have we done? - really says it all.

All the Palestinians are guilty of is simply refusing to go quietly into the proverbial good night, as required by every Zionist mover and shaker from Herzl to Netanyahu. Nothing more, nothing less. If Clarke's reference to collective responsibility is in fact the core message of Abuelaish's book, it can hardly be taken seriously.

"An explosion sent him running to his daughter's bedroom, where he found their blasted body parts. Another was still walking, with one eye blown out of her head and her fingers severed."

Oh, I see, a causeless explosion, out of the blue, apropos nothing - certainly nothing whatever to do with the lovely folk who created the Gaza Ghetto and sealed it off from the world, and who, as the mood takes them, like to get back in, boots and all, and give it a real going over.

"Two years later, 'I Shall Not Hate' expresses Abuelaish's credo that it is only through an acknowledgement of shared humanity that the decades of antagonism between Jews and Palestinians can be halted."

So he who lobbed the shell, he who ordered the lobbing of the shell, he who decided that it was time to lob shells on Gaza yet again, and he who voted for him and cheered him on, are models of humanity?

I don't think so.

"This book traces Abuelaish's unrelenting efforts, from childhood, not only to survive but successfully to transcend oppression. His persistence is heroic. He tells of overcrowding, of grinding poverty and deprivation resulting from relentless blockades of essential resources, and diminishing space. He tells of homes bulldozed and lives repeatedly damaged. Yet it is a mistake to view his story as an indictment of Israel."

If, as the book's title suggests, Abuelaish's persistence lies in refusing to say a bad word about Israel and its enablers, and this is supposedly what makes him heroic, then surely his 'heroism' is more akin to that of a battered wife who, despite her regular beatings, is nevertheless determined to stand by her man?

And just why is it a mistake to view Abuelaish's story as an indictment of Israel? Poor Israel just can't help it? He goes a little crazy sometimes? Doesn't know his own strength? Really has a heart of gold? Puh-lease!

"Abuelaish was born in 1955 into a history of unstoppable violence and hatred, partly bought [sic] about by political mechanisms."

Political mechanisms, eh? Well, ain't that enlightening?

"However, he avoids the futility of dwelling on historical injustice."

Yeah, who cares who did what to who? History's irrelevant, injustice is history, and here & now is all that matters. Except that I have the feeling that Clarke wouldn't dare say this to the Zionists.

"Thousands of people have been maimed and killed on both sides."

But don't go into the numbers!

"As a doctor, his business is to heal."

Yes, we wouldn't want him going the way of Dr Habash now, would we?

"Abuelaish has treated people in the Gaza Strip and Israeli hospitals for infertility. He says there is no difference between newborns, before they are taught to hate."

But who better to teach the Palestinians to hate than those who savagely beat the shit out of them on a daily basis, and who have been doing so since 1948?

"He pleads for mutual human respect. How is this to be achieved? Beyond creating opportunities for dialogue and cooperation between inhabitants of Israel and Palestine, he has another idea, which must be understood in the context of the region's patriarchal traditions."

Look, if it's not abundantly clear to everyone by now that Israel doesn't do dialogue (except maybe to stuff around etc) or cooperation, even Abuelaish is now finding it hard to avoid seeing the Israeli finger when it's in his face:

"Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost 3 daughters when the IDF fired shells at his home during Operation Cast Lead, will file on Sunday a massive damages claim against the State of Israel. I didn't want to file the lawsuit, and until now I didn't want to discuss it, he told Yedioth Ahronot in a phone interview from Toronto, Canada, where he immigrated following the tragedy. I tried to take every step that would allow me to close this with love and goodwill, but they didn't leave me a choice. According to the law, the statute of limitations will apply to this case within a few weeks - but there is no statue of limitations on the blood of my daughters. It will stay with me forever. It's a catastrophe that's impossible to forget... Abuelaish instructed his lawyer to avoid a law suit and reach a settlement with the security forces which would include recognition and compensation. But no such settlement was reached: the Defence Ministry's legal advisor, Ahaz Ben-Ari announced this week that Abuelaish does not deserve compensation." (Bereaved Gaza doctor to sue Israel, Uri Misgav, 23/12/10)

"He believes that giving women a voice is the best basis for optimism... Where you find a hundred angry men in favour of war, he is convinced you would find only a handful of women."

Ah yes, peacemakers all: Tzipi, Golda, Condie, Hillary etc.

A final word about reviewer Stella Clarke, footnoted as "a lecturer on cultural and literary studies in Britain and Australia" with a "PhD in English literature from the University of Warwick." In a review of Searching for the Secret River by Australian writer Kate Grenville, Clarke has shown she can write candidly about the dispossession of Australia's own indigenous population:

"For non-indigenous Australians, it is probably best to leave the family tree alone unless, like Grenville, you are prepared to face up to your ancestors' bad behaviour. Solomon Wiseman grabbed a slab of the Hawkesbury. Records might say he 'took it up', which is as cunningly neutral as the term terra nullius, but the reality is, Grenville sadly conceded, he 'took it from', which is quite another matter. Wiseman took it from under the noses of the local Aboriginal population, depriving them of land and larder." (Searching for the Secret River, The Australian, 7/10/06)

So why does her candour fail completely when writing about the dispossession of Palestine's indigenous population?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Zionism as Protracted Madness

"I am not a psychologist, but I think that everyone who lives with the contradictions of Zionism condemns himself to protracted madness. It's impossible to live like this. It's impossible to live with such a tremendous wrong. It's impossible to live with such conflicting moral criteria. When I see not only the settlements and the occupation and the suppression, but now also the insane wall that the Israelis are trying to hide behind, I have to conclude that there is something very deep here in our attitude to the indigenous people of this land that drives us out of our minds." (Haim Hanegbi)

The following extraordinary story captures as well as any I've ever read the madness and cruelty of sacrificing real people on the altar of an inhuman ideological fantasy, in this case the Zionist project of forging and maintaining an exclusive ethno-religious state in Palestine at the expense of its indigenous population.

Those who call themselves Zionists should read it and weep:

"A group of Israeli Arab women flown to Paris in 1964 were met by a Mossad officer who told them that their husbands were not who they thought they were. He is not an Arab, the officer told each of them. He is a Jew.

"As related yesterday in the Tel Aviv Daily Yediot Ahronot, the story had begun a decade earlier when security officials decided to plant agents in Israeli Arab villages and towns. Israel's War of Independence, in which the new-born state battled for a year against Palestinian Arabs and the invading armies of surrounding Arab states, had ended just a few years before, in 1949. The purpose of the sleeper agents was to warn if Israeli Arabs would revolt in the event of another war.

"Ten young Jewish immigrants from Iraq were trained for a year before being sent into Israeli Arab communities, posing as refugees from the war who had escaped to a neighbouring Arab country and had now infiltrated back.

"It quickly became apparent that in order to maintain credibility the men would have to marry. It would have been suspicious for young, vigorous men to remain alone, without a spouse, said Shmuel Moriah, the security officer who headed the operation. We didn't order them to marry, but there was such an expectation.

"By the early 1960s, it was clear that the intelligence benefits from the operation were marginal and it was decided to dismantle the unit. The dilemma confronting M was whether to simply pull out the agents, leaving the women and children behind, presumably with compensation, or to transfer the families to Jewish communities where the children would be raised as Jews. The agents themselves insisted on the families remaining together.

"It was thus that the wives were invited to France, where they were met by the Mossad station chief. He told them they could either join their husbands in a Jewish community, where the children would be raised as Jews, or arrangments could be made for them to be resettled in an Arab country of their choice. The newspaper article did not explain why they were not given the choice of remaining with their children in their home village.

"The women chose to remain with their husbands. Israeli army chaplains brought to Paris converted them to Judaism and by special dispensation their young children were also recognised as Jews without undergoing separate conversion.

"The ensuing identity crisis required psychological intervention. We tried to rehabilitate the people involved but weren't really successful, said Moriah. The kids experienced serious trauma. They tried to forget their past, where they came from, but they couldn't. A few succeded in life, but most still suffer from problems." ('Your Muslim husband is a Jew', Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian, 22/2/11)

A Day In the Life of The Herald

February 22, 2011

In one and the same editorial, Democracy genie out of the bottle (22/2/11), the Sydney Morning Herald refers to "Gulf fiefdoms," some of which, like Bahrain, are "home to large numbers of Shiites under Iran's influence," while agreeing with foreign minister Rudd that "blaming protest on external interference is a 'tried but predictable script' in the Middle East."

In fact, as the Herald itself had reported only days earlier: "The US has repeatedly dismissed claims by the Bahraini government that Shiite unrest in the Persian Gulf island state is backed by Iran. Us diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks show the accusation made by the government - which is facing street protests demanding political reforms from an opposition inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings - is not backed by hard evidence." (Cables show no sign of Iranian meddling, 17/2/11)

And how's this for an anodyne description of the entirely dependent (for arms, money and diplomatic backing) relationship between the dominant imperial power and its client collaborator regimes, as James petras calls them: "America has relied on regimes now facing popular uprisings." (Democracy genie)

Was 'propped up' deemed too harsh or is the author just plain clueless?

Then there's stuff and nonsense from Herald pundit Gerard Henderson who complains that "[t]he [global BDS] campaign does not distinguish between Israel's pre- and post-1967 borders..." (Don won't, but Libs can stop left)

For Christ's sake, does Israel? Give us a break!

Still, the cake must surely go to yesterday's Herald for an op-ed by Mirko Bagaric, Not having a whale of a time behind farm fence. Introduced in a footnote as "the author of a coming book Humanising Animals - Civilising People, funded by a grant from Voiceless, the animal protection institute," Bagaric wrote:

"Suffering is suffering. It is always ugly. It is always unwelcome. It always needs to be stopped. There are no exceptions. A person with the capacity but not the inclination to cease suffering is morally incomplete... Mahatma Gandi noted: 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'. What he did not observe was that there is normally a direct correlation between human prosperity and animal welfare."

Fine words! And who could possibly disagree?

Except that the same Mirko Bagaric, footnoted as "professor of law and head of the Deakin Law School," wrote a piece for The Age back in 2005 called A case for torture. In it he wrote:

"The belief that torture is always wrong is... misguided and symptomatic of the alarmist and reflexive responses typically emanating from social commentators... Torture is permissable where the evidence suggests that this is the only means, due to the immediacy of the situation, to save the life of an innocent person." (17/5/05)

That kind of doo-doo, of course, was what was circulating in the heyday of Dubya's so-called War on Terror, and provided the rationale for what was going on in Mubarak's prisons, to cite but one example. It might've helped if Bagaric had sorted this contradiction out in the first few paragraphs of his piece, but maybe he just assumed readers had forgotten. Not only, therefore, is his credibility in question, but so too is that of the opinion editor for failing to host a more deserving voice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From what deep cesspool of hatred...?

Sexual assault in Egypt/the Middle East/the Muslim world is no aberration, it's just sooo Islamic, writes recently Rambammed Murdoch columnist Miranda Devine:

"It's shocking, but should we be surprised that a blonde, unveiled Western female reporter covering the protests in Egypt was subject to a 'brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating' by a group of frenzied men? The 20-30 minute attack on US 60 Minutes reporter Lara Logan in Cairo's crowded Tahrir Square last week was a slap in the face for idealists talking up the anti-government protests across the Middle East as the flowering of democracy. At a time when fundamentalist Islam is on the march, why would Western liberal values such as female equality suddenly fill a vacuum left by departing autocrats? The increasing misogyny and subjugation of women in the Muslim world is the single insurmountable obstacle to democratisation... [T]he 39-year-old foreign correspondent represented the decadence of the West to a certain brand of Islamist. She was nothing better than a whore, to be brought down flagrantly in public and given what she deserved... [H]er treatment was no aberration in the Middle East. Rampant sexual harassment, public fondling and groping of women is a fact of life..." (Frenzied assault on West's values, Sunday Telegraph, 20/2/11)

Sexual assault in the Catholic Church, on the other hand, is most definitely an aberration and has nothing whatever to do with the Church or, God forbid, Christianity:

"The pursuit of the Pope reached absurd heights this week with news that atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have asked the Australian barrister Geoffrey Robertson to draw up a case to arrest Benedict XVI for alleged cover-up of paedophilia in the Catholic Church. That these exhibitionist atheists should seize on the tragedy of child sexual abuse by a small minority of Catholic priests to pursue their vendetta against religion is stomach-turning. Dawkins has become shrill with excitement, describing the Pope as 'a leering old villain in a frock'. He said the Pope 'should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice - the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gouging, truth-hating, child-raping institution - while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, around his ears'. From what deep cesspool of hatred do those words spring?" (Evildoers, not Pope, to blame, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/4/10)

And here are a few more aberrations Miranda might like to consider for future columns in the unlikely event she's more interested in the plight of women than in demonising Muslims:

"Reports of sexual assault by US military personnel against both fellow troops and civilians rose by 8% last year to 2,923, the Pentagon says." (US military sex attack reports up,, 18/3/09)

"Systematic sexual violence continues to be carried out against Congolese women and girls caught up in mass expulsions from Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a UN survey said on Friday. Community leaders recorded 182 reported rapes in 72 villages along the border in January alone, while a UN assessment mission confirmed 1,357 reported rape cases in one village in a 6-t0-8 month period last year, said the official, Margot Wallstrom." (Systematic rape continues on Congo-Angola border: UN,, 11/2/11)

"The damning report on sexual misbehaviour aboard the Royal Australian Navy supply ship HMAS Success has blamed a small group of sailors in the engineering departnent who were protected by some of the ship's officers... Senior defence force officers were dismayed by the strength of the allegations of sexual misconduct, intimidation and miscarriages of justice contained in the report... Three senior sailors were removed from the ship in Singapore in May 2009 after allegations they were involved in a competition to see how many female sailors they could get into bed with." (Warship's 'bullet-proof' engineers blamed for sexual misconduct, Brendan Nicholson, The Australian, 22/2/11)

For those interested, the definitive riposte to Devine's smears must surely be Noha Radwan's How Egyptian women took back the street between two 'Black Wednesdays': A first person account. Here's the opening paragraph: "On February 16, Roger Ebert, an American film critic and commentator, tweeted: 'The attack on Lara Logan brings Middle Eastern attitudes toward women into sad focus'. While the attack... was a tragic and upsetting event, it needs to be understood in its political context. Any attempt to propound this in such familiar orientalist terms would be offensive and unfair, not only to Egyptians protesting for democracy, but to Logan herself. She was not attacked as a woman - although the gendered nature of the assault is indisputable; she was attacked as a professional journalist and a supporter of the Egyptian protest. I, too, was attacked, probably by the same type of thugs who attacked Logan. I understand both attacks in light of Egypt's political conditions and the role of the Egyptian women in an ongoing struggle against oppressive and undemocratic government. The heinous attacks mark much more than 'attitudes towards women'. Perhaps they mark the desperation of a dying regime." (, 20/2/11)

Zionist Chutzpah Hits the Hustings

The deservedly doomed and deservedly damned NSW Labor misgovernment of Kristina (Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth) Keneally, in a desperate clutch at any straw within reach prior to its coming electoral wipeout in March, has finally discovered graffiti vandalism. No, not the visual plague which degrades every conceivable urban space across the state, and renders blindness a positively desirable disability, but 15-20 specimens of alleged anti-Semitic graffiti:

"Premier Kristina Keneally announced on Saturday that she will give judges more power against offenders and new measures will make racist, offensive or pornographic graffiti an aggravated offence, carrying tougher penalties, if Labor is re-elected. She said a database maintained by the Australian Jewish community reported there are between 15 to 20 serious anti-Semitic graffiti incidents in NSW each year." (NSW Libs want harsher graffiti punishment,, 19/2/11)

Now it goes without saying that, as much as I abhor and detest anti-Semitism and all other manifestation of racist filth, given the chronic refusal of Zionist lobbyists to differentiate between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, I'm afraid I can't get too excited.*

In general, however, and on this matter alone, I'm more inclined to agree with the NSW Liberal opposition: "The opposition argues however that all graffiti is offensive and all of it should be eligible for tougher penalties." (ibid)

One thing's for sure though - you can bet your bottom dollar that, whatever anti-racist/anti-graffiti legislation may arise from whichever mob takes control of the government following the coming NSW election, Newtown's anti-burka 'mural' and its perpetrator will have little to worry about. (See my 21/1/11 post Just Asking)

PS (23/2/11): Speaking of Newtown's anti-Burka graffiti, its perpetrator, Sergio Redegalli, has just outed himself as a Zionist, altering his eyesore to include an attack on Fiona Byrne, the mayor of Marrickville and Greens candidate in the state election, for her pro-BDS stance. (See Mural targets mayor over decision to boycott Israel, Josephine Tovey, Sydney Morning Herald, 23/2/11)

PS 2: To more adequately report the above developments, I've decided to alter the title of this post to Zionist Chutzpah Hits the Hustings.

[* For a discussion of anti-Semitism and the so-called new anti-Semitism, see the analysis of Norman Finkelstein in my 30/1/09 post Backman & the New Anti-Semitism.]

We Are All Tunisians

"New TV's reporter, Ibrahim Dsouki, wrote this on Facebook: 'Ali Abdullah Salih says: Yemen is not Egypt or Tunisia. Qadhafi says: Libya is not Egypt or Tunisia. Mubarak said: Egypt is not Tunisia. You fools: the entire Arab world is Tunisia!'" (, 21/2/11)

Even China is Tunisia: "Several top Chinese rights activists have disappeared into police custody as a web campaign urged angry citizens to mark the Middle East's 'Jasmine Revolution' with protests, campaigners say... Authorities have sought to restrict media reports on the recent political turmoil that began in Tunisia as the 'Jasmine Revolution' and spread to Egypt and across the Middle East." (Activists disappear as Beijing cracks down on copycat protests, AFP/AP, Sydney Morning Herald, 21/2/11)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Something Missing

The following New York Times profile by David D Kirkpatrick, which I've extracted from a longer report, references an important speech given by the famous Egyptian Muslim preacher, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in Cairo's Tahrir Square last Friday. In it, Qaradawi gave passionate voice to the demands of the Egyptian people for a free and open society, but, it seems, had zip to say about a certain foreign policy matter that has preoccupied his country for the past 63 years:

"Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Sunni cleric who is banned from the United States and Britain for supporting violence against Israel and American forces in Iraq, delivered his first public sermon here in 50 years on Friday, emerging as a powerful voice in the struggle to shape what kind of Egyptian state emerges from the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak... Sheik Qaradawi, a popular television cleric whose program reaches an audience of tens of millions worldwide, addressed a rapt audience of more than a million Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the uprising and honor those who died. 'Don't fight history', he urged his listeners in Egypt and across the Arab world, where his remarks were televised. 'You can't delay the day when it starts. The Arab world has changed'. He spoke as the authorities in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen were waging violent crackdowns on uprisings inspired in part by the Egyptian revolution. The sermon was the first public address here by Sheik Qaradawi, 84, since he fled Egypt for Qatar in 1961. An intellectual inspiration to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Sheik Qaradawi was jailed in Egypt 3 times for his ties to the group and spent most of his life abroad. His prominence exemplifies the peril and potential for the West as Egypt opens up. While he condemned the 9/11 attacks, he has supported suicide bombers against Israel and attacks on American forces in Iraq. On Friday, he struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching. He began his sermon by saying that he was discarding the customary opening 'Oh Muslims', in favor of 'Oh Muslims and Copts', referring to Egypt's Coptic Christian minority. He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt's revolution and even lauded the Coptic Christian 'martyrs' who once fought the Romans and Byzantines. 'I invite you to bow down in prayer together', he said. He urged the military officers governing Egypt to deliver on their promises of turning over power to 'a civil government' founded on principles of pluralism, democracy and freedom. And he called on the army to immediately release all political prisoners and rid the cabinet of its dominance by officials of the old Mubarak government... Scholars who have studied his work say Sheik Qaradawi has long argued that Islamic law supports the idea of a pluralistic, multiparty, civil democracy. But he has made exceptions for violence against Israel or the American forces in Iraq. 'You call it violence; I call it resistance', said Prof. Emad Shahin of the University of Notre Dame, an Egyptian scholar who has studied Sheik Qaradawi's work and was in Tahrir Square for his speech Friday. 'He is enormously influential', Mr Shahin added. 'His presence in the square today cemented the resolve of the demonstrators to insist on their demands from the government'." (After long exile, Sunni cleric takes role in Egypt, 18/2/11)

See what I mean? Nothing on Palestine/Israel at all. Not, mind you, that Qaradawi didn't have anything to say about that hot little chestnut. It's just that, for reasons best known to the NYT, it neglected to report it - a most extraordinary sin of omission.

Well, what was it that the readers of the NYT had to be shielded from?

Here is my translation of the relevant references from the precis, Qaradawi to Egypt's army: release the detainees and change the government, at 1) "Sheikh Qaradawi demanded that the army open the Rafah crossing to the besieged Palestinian people, who 'expect justice from the heroic army of Egypt'"; 2) "Sheikh Qaradawi expressed the hope that he would be able to pray and sermonise in the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, following its liberation, and asked God to effect this clear victory for Muslims."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Foreign Correspondent Discovers Martyrdom Gene

You get your laughs where you can in this game.

Under the heading Bahrain protests continue, tonight's SBS' 6.30 pm World News Australia screened a BBC clip on the reoccupation of Manama's Pearl Square by protesters, following the withdrawal of the police:

As a crowd of protesters streamed back towards the square they'd earlier been violently evicted from, chanting the now almost universal Ash-sha'b yureed isqaat an-nizaam (The people want the regime overthrown), reporter Ian Pannel was solemnly telling viewers: "What they're calling for is a free and fair government."

But that stab in the dark was quickly topped by this absolute gem, in which he managed to combine classic Western orientalism with blatant genetic determinism: "The protest movement is rooted in the Shia community. Sacrifice and martyrdom courses through their veins."


No, We Can't

As if further proof were needed that Israel and its US fifth column call the shots when it comes to US policy in the Middle East, here's the latest:

The Palestinians had a draft resolution, sponsored by 122 nations, ready to go before the United Nations Security Council. It consciously embodied long-standing US policy condemning Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The US had a choice when it came to the vote: vote for a resolution which did no more than reiterate its own policy on the issue, or veto it regardless.

Obama, mindful that a US veto would further undermine the US's increasingly shaky hold on the Arab world and make him a universal laughing stock, had to act.

So he got on the blower and persuaded/browbeat/begged (who knows?) his client, Palestinian 'president' Abbas, into blocking his own resolution.

Why? Because Obama knew that the Israel lobby would not for a moment hesitate to deploy its power and resources in order to consign him to history's dustbin. (See Bullying the Palestinians, MJ Rosenberg,, 18/2/11)

The Israel lobby is no ordinary organization. To truly understand what it is Obama is up against, consider the following from James Petras' Rulers & Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists, Militants (2007):

"For the first time in the history of world empires, a tiny ethnic-religious minority representing less than 2% of the population is able to shape US policy in the Middle East to serve the colonial interests of a foreign country (Israel), which represents less than 1% of the population of the Middle East. And indeed, within Israel itself, given the occasional polls indicating Jewish Israeli preference for peace over maintenance of settler colonies, that number shrinks even further. The Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the US, with several hundred thousand fanatical activists throughout the country, can mobilize close to 98% of the US Congress on any legislation favoring Israel, even when their approval prejudices the interests of major US oil multinationals. AIPAC (the America-Israel Political Affairs Committee), with 100,000 members and 100 full time agents writes over 100 pieces of congressional legislation affecting US trade, military aid, and sanctions policies favoring Israel every year. In March 2007, the leaders of both political parties, Congess and the Senate, and over 50% of all members of the Congress attended and pledged allegiance to the state of Israel at the most recent AIPAC convention in Washington. This was despite the fact that two leaders of AIPAC are currently on trial for spying for Israel and face 20 years in prison!

"The ZPC includes far more than the AIPAC 'lobby'. In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Zionists controlled the Vice President's office, including convicted felon Irving 'Scooter' Libby, the Pentagon and its 'intelligence' operations (Wolfowitz, Zakheim, Feith and Shulsky), and held strategic positions in the White House and National Security Council (NSC) (Frum - author of Bush's Axis of Evil speech, Abrams - pardoned felon from the Iran-Contra scandal, now in charge of Middle East policy, and Ari Fleischer - President Bush's spokesman). Zionists dominate the editorial and opinion pages of the major newspapers (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post & New York Times), major television networks and Hollywood. Hundreds of regional, state and local Jewish federations intervene to prevent any criticism of Israel, attacking any critics, meetings, theatrical or cinema productions and successfully forcing cancellations.

"The Zionist power structure has been the leading force pushing US war plans and sanctions against Iran. They backed Bush's invasion of Iraq. The ZPC secured US backing for Israel's bloody attack on Lebanon, no matter that it weakened the successfully installed US puppet ruler, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The ZPC authored and secured congressional legislation blocking any contact with the Palestinian unity government. They successfully lined up US congressional support for Israel's starvation blockade of Palestine, put in place to try to roll back the democratic election of Hamas, and to punish the Palestinians for it. The scope and depth of Zionist power over US Middle East policy goes far beyond influencing 'public opinion' (the major media expression of which it has largely locked up) - it penetrates key institutions, designs and enforces policy implementation, and promotes wars which benefit Israel.

"In a word, the ZPC's primary loyalty is to the state of Israel and its policy is designed to colonize the US Congress on behalf and to the benefit of the 'mother country', Israel." (pp 131-132)

Update: The Palestinians ended up insisting that the draft resolution go to a vote on 18 February. Unsurprisingly, despite the backing of the other 14 SC members, the resolution was vetoed by the US. Of 14 SC votes vetoed by one of the 5 permanent members of the council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US) since 2000, 10 have been US vetoes, 9 in defence of Israel. (See US vetoes UN draft condemning Israeli settlements,, 18/2/11)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taken for a Ride on the Peace (Process) Train

"Official sources in Palestine have reported that the Chief Negotiator for the Palestinian Authority [Dr Saeb Erekat] has resigned from his post... The reason for the resignation, claims the Maan News Agency, are the leaks of what are now called 'The Palestine Papers' published by Al-Jazeera satellite television and Britain's Guardian newspaper. Although an internal PA investigation cleared Dr Erekat of any involvement in the leaks, he believes that the documents were leaked from his office and so he must take ultimate responsibility. In Gaza, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, said that Erekat's resignation proves his involvement in 'giving up the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people'." (Chief Palestinian negotiator resigns, George Rishmawi,, 14/2/11)

What a shame! To give you just a snapshot or three of the PA's Clown Prince in action, here are some extracts from one of the Palestine Papers, Minutes from Expert Committee on State-to-State (11/5/08, Inbal Hotel, West Jerusalem). They reveal the process as akin to the kind of negotiations you might expect a chicken to undertake with a fox while it's being eaten. Sad, so utterly sad:

Saeb Erekat: How have you been?
Yossi Gal: Not too bad, can't complain, how about you?
SE: I'm lying. I've been lying for the last weeks.
YG: Between jogging?
SE: No, no, lying, lying. I was in Cairo, I was in Jordan, I was in America. Everybody is asking me, what is going on in Israel, what is Olmert going to do?
YG: And you are telling everyone we are the verge of success.
SE: And I always tell them this is an internal Israeli matter, a domestic Israeli matter, and I keep lying. If somebody sneezes in Tel Aviv, I get the flu in Jericho, and I have to lie. So that's my last week - all lies.
YG: As a professor of negotiations, you know that white lies are allowed now and then.
SE: I'm not complaing, I'm admitting - and sometimes I don't feel like lying.
YG: Well, around the table we won't be lying.
SE: Give it to us, Yossi. We are trying to be over-protectionist at this stage, because when we speak about a country with limited arms, we cannot speak about a country with limited dignity. And this is why we have to cover ourselves with everything you do with our nations. Because at this stage we haven't sensed your concept of what you see to be a Palestinian state. All that we have seen reflected in all of the committees are fears, suspicions, doubting me, doubting my ability, and ever since I have never heard an Israeli official telling me he has trust in me. And they keep telling me 'Gaza'. Okay, I was a criminal in Gaza. I made a mistake. I destroyed myself, but even if someone shoots someone, they execute him once. I am being executed by Israeli officials and Israeli negotiators on the hour, every hour, in each session. So, this is why please understand where we are coming - I just want to cut the long story short here: We haven't seen any attempt by any of you, Olmert down - and the last time we sit with you and play 'neon stupid' on our foreheads - because we don't see exactly where you are coming from and where you are going, and so on. So, as a state, we feel the need to protect ourselves with international law, treaties, conventions... maybe in the future when we see that you are changing your attitudes... like for instance on security. You know when you say there are threats coming from the East in Israeli minds, that is when Palestinians take over Jordan. And because of that 28% of the Jordan Valley must have emergency locations, I don't know, soldiers... I am being so honest now - I am not lying - because I lied too much last week for Israelis, and I am telling you where we are coming from.
SE: Once we feel we are being taken for a ride, we get protective - that is the only defence. Because ever since Eve negotiated [with] Adam, I am the most disadvantaged negotiator in history. No country, no army, no navy, no economy, people are fragmented, defeated in Gaza, so that is - I am trying to explain to you why we [have] these 8 with all of these caveats. Protection.

A Day in the Life of The Australian

February 18, 2011

Australia, do we have a problem for you, or Daddy, I want to be a drug baron or a night club owner when I grow up:

"Only 1.71% of Australians identify as Muslims, but we cannot simply ignore reports of behavioural problems among young, unemployed and disaffected Muslim men in the outer suburbs of Sydney, for example - problems that are increasingly acknowledged by community leaders... These are not racial problems but problems born of cultural difference. There is a troubling alienation from mainstream Australian values... Something has to give, and it is up to the communities... to try to change the expectations that are holding back so many young Australians. How wonderful it would be if the next generation of Lebanese-Australian kids held as their models the successful chief executives and footballers from their communities, rather than drug barons and night club owners." (We must acknowledge it's about culture, not race: Our Muslim community leaders face a deep challenge, editorial)

Ah, yes, mainstream Australian values - such as those displayed by Shadow Immigration Minister and MP for (Captain) Cook, Scott (Bad Timing) Morrison, and colorful (if monochromatically tattooed) constituent, "professional tree-lopper and Cronulla local Andrew Wilson":

"I'd rather see a nice girl in a swimsuit down on the beach than some sheila in a full burka... these people - they can't drink, they have to pray 5 times a day... You'd be better off having the Irish and the English who speak our language." (Multiculturalism has a long way to go, Higgins & Cleary)

No, sir, no sheilas in full metal burkas for Andrew, no way! But your Irish or your pommie sheila's OK. Lo, and it came to pass:

"A British tourist at Cronulla, former army officer Marguerite Wilson, said... 'Once you allow them to congregate in pockets, you have huge tensions between the indigenous whites and the people who have come to regard that as their own territory'..." (ibid)

Andrew Wilson, meet Marguerite Wilson. (Blimey, what is it about Wilsons and Cronulla?) Howz about you introduce her to some mainstream Australian values, know what I mean?

OK, OK, a little context:

"The Muslim community has plenty on its plate already: intergenerational poverty, under-education and unemployment, a pressing need for more social, welfare and aged-care services, a siege mentality fostered by a suspicious public and often hostile news media..." (Our high-profile Musim minority, Sally Neighbour)

She said... whaaat? An often hostile news media. Who'd have thought...

Now here's someone who should know about our little PROBLEM - Colin Rubenstein of the Australia-Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC): "The key concept for Australian multiculturalism has always been integration into the core values and institutions of Australian life, avoiding the pitfalls of the other two discredited models of separatism and assimilationism." (Integration the key to multicultural success)

I know what your thinking! I'm ahead of you. What about Israeli separatism, your Jewish state etc. Listen up, anti-Semitic swine, Israel's different, right? Now STFU...

... and have a nice Islamophobic day!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Flim Flam Man

"Two students... were killed by gunshots in this week's protests [in Iran], said the government and opposition... US President Barack Obama backed the protesters in Iran and condemned the violence. 'I find it ironic that you've got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt, when in fact they have acted in complete contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully'. he said at the White House." (Iranian pair fights calls for execution, AFP/Wall Street Journal/Australian, 17/2/11)

So according to the Prez, no protesters were gunned down or beaten in Egypt. I wonder how these 365 Egyptian protesters died then:

"The [Egyptian] caretaker government also gave its first estimate of the death toll in the 18-day democracy uprising. Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said at least 365 civilians died, according to a preliminary count that does not include police or prisoners." (Two die as police fire on Yemen protests, AP/Australian, 18/2/11)

Hearts of Gold

"Between them, two large Jewish donors gave close to half-a-million dollars to the major political parties during 2010. Party donations from last year were released earlier this month by the Australian Electoral Commission. Among the most generous contributors were Westfield - established and still headed by Jewish businessman Frank Lowy. The shopping centre conglomerate donated more than $350,000, which was evenly split between the two parties. Westfield gave $182,670 to the Australian Labor Party, which went on to win Government, and $173,180 to the Liberal Party. Pratt Holdings, established by the late Richard Pratt and now run by his son Anthony, donated $125,000. The company showed its true colours, gifting $75,000 to the Liberal Party, but only $50,000 to the ALP." (Generous donors, The Australian Jewish News, 18/2/11)

Of course, such largesse stems solely from hearts of gold. Any suggestion that it translates into bipartisan support for Israel is strenuously rejected.

FYI, according to, the ALP received $7.8 million in political donations for 09/10, while the Liberal Party received $6.3 million (Political donations give & take, Bernard Keane, 1/2/11).

What's With SBS? 2

More blatant pro-Israel bias on yesterday's SBS' 6.30 pm World News Australia:

The segment Iran tensions flare is introduced thus by the newsreader:

"And in Iran tensions sparked by renewed opposition protests have flared again with clashes reported of supporters and opponents of the country's Islamic regime. Tensions are also brewing between Iran and its arch-enemy Israel, which has warned both Iran and its ally, Lebanon's Hezbollah against any provocation."

The take home message? While Iran (even with its current internal troubles!) and Hezbollah are constitutionally provocative, Israel, as usual, just stands around, minding its own business.

Having first covered the demonstrations in Iran, SBS reporter Vesna Nazor goes on:

"Israel's also reacted to the latest threat from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah after its leader told supporters to be ready to invade northern Israel in the event of any new conflict."

Just the latest in a long line...

The report then cuts to Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah: "I tell the warriors of the holy Islamic resistance... to be ready in case war is forced on Lebanon. The resistance command may ask you to take over Galilee."

Followed by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu: "Hezbollah's leader announced that he intends to conquer the Galilee. Well, I have news for you - he won't."

Nazor concludes with a comment stressing Israel's always peaceful intentions: "Reacting to Egypt's uprising... Israel's leader said his country should hope for the best but prepare for the worst."

Poor, put-upon little Israel, just trying to live a normal life in the toughest of neighborhoods with psychos around every corner!

Except that Nasrallah's "latest threat" didn't just come out of the blue. Completely missing from SBS' shifty and deceitful little propaganda package was the following context: "Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Israel Defense Forces may be called into Lebanon in the future, during his first military tour with new IDF chief Benny Gantz along the northern border. 'Hezbollah remembers the heavy beating they suffered from us in 2006, but it is not forever, and you may be called to enter again', Barak told the IDF soldiers, adding that 'we must be prepared for every test'." (Barak: IDF soldiers may be called into Lebanon in the future, Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, 15/2/11)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Words Fail Me

"The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons program has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify a war. Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and US intelligence officials who dealt with him... said he was comfortable with what he did, despite the chaos of the past 8 years and the civilian death toll in Iraq, which stands at more than 100,000." (Iraqi defector admits lying about weapons, Chulov & Pidd, Guardian/SMH, 17/2/11)

More Importantly...

"The military officers governing Egypt have convened a panel of jurists, including an outspoken Muslim Brotherhood politician, to revise the constitution in the first tangible evidence of a commitment to move the country towards democracy after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak... Sobhi Saleh [is] an Alexandria lawyer and former MP who is a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood. The Mubarak government repeatedly portrayed Mr Saleh as an extremist. He has espoused views such as advocating a ban on public kissing... " (Military sets up panel of experts to begin revising constitution, Kirkpatrick & Fahim, New York Times/ Washington Post/ SMH, 17/2/11)

But what are his views on kissing Israel's arse?

Sheridan Biffs Bishop, MERC Cries Foul

Would it greatly surprise you if I told you that I simply don't do agreement with the scribblings of The Australian's Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan?

You might, for argument's sake, ask: but what if he were to put the boot into a leading Liberal politician - say, for example, the shadow minister for foreign affairs, Julie Bishop?

Well, he has, big time, but no, I still can't bring myself to agree with him. Here he is biffing the Bishop:

"Julie Bishop... has produced not a single sentence of substance or originality while in the portfolio." (Bishop's errors of judgment compound the Coalition's woes, 14/2/11)

Why can't I agree with that? Because his assertion is demonstrably false.

In sheer defiance of the odds, Bishop has actually uttered a sentence of considerable substance and originality while in the portfolio.

Last year, in the context of the usual unseemly Labor/Liberal outbidding to see which was the more worthy of Israel's attentions, Bishop was asked whether a Coalition government would ever abstain in a UN vote on Israel. She replied, "I don't know, Israel could do anything."*

OK, so her freudian slip was showing, but I challenge you to name one other Western politician who has dared refer to the Middle East's only mad dog.

[* See my 14/8/10 Bishop: 'Israel Could Do Anything']

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ins & Outs of Democracy Promotion

The following (abridged) exchange took place on the ABC's Q & A last night between Lydia Khalil (described simply as a Middle East politics and security analyst) and John Pilger, prominent Australian journalist, filmmaker and author:

Lydia Khalil: You know, I think people in the Middle East have been completely frustrated with these 30- year dictatorships and the repression and stagnation that they've faced. They're not thinking about the United States. They're thinking about their own conditions. When you watched the coverage of those protesters, they didn't mention the United States once. They talked about themselves and their own conditions. Now, to say that the Unites States didn't support democracy promotion in Egypt is false. There was actually a number of...

John Pilger: What? Oh, come on... They held up tear gas canisters... saying made in the USA. I mean the... regime in Egypt. It's very important [to recognise] this was kept in place by over almost $2 billion, most of it military aid from the United States... year after year.

LK: No, but there's another... side to the story. There were hundreds of millions of dollars that were put forward by the United States that helped these nascent movements go forward. Now the US has two different needs, so to speak, in the region. They need stability and yet at the same time they're trying to promote democracies that can be long-lasting allies for them and sometimes those two conflicting needs can be confused. But to say that wholesale the US did not support democracy in the region, I think is false...

JP: Where in the Arab world has the US ever supported democracy? Where in the Arab world?... Saudi Arabia, it's a major client state, right through to Jordan, Egypt - all of these are dictatorships, most of them created by the British and shored up by the Americans.

Pilger, of course, as a principled and independent observer of US intervention in the Arab world, an intervention that has only escalated since the CIA coup against the democratically-elected Mossadegh government in Tehran in 1953, is talking about the big picture, the fundamentally anti-democratic, anti-people nature of US empire-building in the area. Khalil, however, is speaking as a faithful servant of the US empire, and her reference to something called democracy promotion reflects that - a subject I'll return to later in this post. For Khalil to truly understand what Pilger is talking about would require nothing less than a complete mental and moral makeover. A quick scan of her CV shows why:

"LK has worked at home and abroad for the US government, international organizations, private companies and think tanks on a variety of international political and security issues. She specializes in Middle East politics and international terrorism. Lydia was recently appointed as an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also a lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, for the Centre on Policing, Intelligence & Counterterrorism. She is also a non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute as part of the West Asia Program focusing on the Middle East. Prior to her appointments in Sydney, Lydia was a counterterrorism analyst for the NYPD focusing on international terrorism trends and terrorism cases in the Middle East, Africa and europe. Previously, Lydia worked in Iraq as a policy advisor for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad where she worked closely with Iraqi politicians on political negotiations and constitutional drafting. Prior to her assignment in Iraq, she was appointed to the White House Office of Homeland Security as a graduate fellow. She is also a senior policy associate to the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) which examines and advocates the development of genuine democracies in the Middle East. Ms Khalil holds a BA in International Relations from Boston College and a Masters in International Security from Georgetown University. She has published extensively on issues relating to Middle East politics, terrorism and insurgency. Her current research involves extracting lessons learned for fighting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. And she is also working on a book examining the challenges facing this current generation of Middle East youth and how the solutions they come up with transform the region. She was born in Cairo and is a native Arabic speaker." (

Now, to see what US-style democracy promotion is really all about, check out this hugely entertaining extract from the US State Department's Daily Press Briefing of 14/2/11. My comments, joining the dots, etc are in square brackets:

Question: The State Department started sending direct messages to Iranians in Farsi yesterday. Can you talk about that, and is this a new social media initiative from the State Department?

[Assistant Secretary] PJ Crowley:... It's a key element of our plan to - and our strategy to engage people-to-people around the world. As the Secretary has made clear, we do engage governments, but we also want to engage people directly. And as we use social media, we're also employing - using languages in key parts of the world. So last week we began Tweeting in Arabic, and this week we began Tweeting in Farsi.

Q: Are these the only two foreign languages?

PJC: Well, not necessarily. I think also embassies around the world have their own Twitter accounts. So I won't - we do employ a number of languages. But obviously, this is a little more targeted. [Hm... from around the world to a little more targeted.]

Q: So you're trying to create...

Q: There's your own language.

PJC: My own language [?]

Q: Are you trying to create a revolution then in Iran?

PJC: Well, that [is your inference] - what has guided us throughout the last 3 months and guides us in terms of how we focus on Iran is the core principles - the Secretary mentioned them again today - of restraint from violence, respect for universal rights and political and social reform.* There is a - it is hypocrisy [the pot totally calls the kettle black here] that Iran says one thing in the context of Egypt but refuses to put its own words into action in its own country.

Q: How about other [pro-American] countries - Bahrain, Yemen, or Algeria or Jordan? Why are you not talking about those countries but condemning what is happening in Iran?

PJC: Well, actually, in the other countries there is a greater respect for the rights of the citizens [Yeah, just like there was in Egypt, right?]. I mean, we are watching developments in other countries, including Yemen, including Algeria, including Bahrain. And our advice is the same. As the Secretary made clear in her Doha speech, there's a significant need for political, social and economic reform across the region, and we encourage governments to respect their citizen's right to protest peacefully, respect their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and hope that their will be an ongoing engagement, a dialogue between people in governments and they can work together on the necessary [re]forms. Now those reforms will not be identical. They'll be different country to country. But clearly, the people in the region, emboldened by what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt and well connected through social media, are gathering together, standing up, and demanding more of their governments. [Hm... so it's active intervention in Iran, but only watching, advice, encouragement, yadda yadda yadda elsewhere.]

Q: Can I have just two follow-ups on that? One, are you, in sending these Twitter messages to Iranians, are you also sending a message to the Government of Iran?

PJC: Well, we always give Iran our best advice (Laughter) They seldom follow it.

Q: In Egypt -

Q: Are Egyptians also - have you Tweeted directly with the Egyptians as well?

PJC: Well, that's [another matter entirely] - last week we expanded our use of social media, including Twitter, to communicate in Arabic. And obviously - I don't have the numbers in front of me, but they're growing very significantly in both the Arabic Twitter and the Farsi Twitter.

On the likes of Lydia, yo might like to read the James Petras' quote in my 23/11/10 post Behind the ASIO Assessment]

[* "WikiLeaks cables... released today by the Daily Telegraph, detail the Bush and Obama Administrations were providing training to Egypt's secret police, the SSIS, which cables and human rights NGOs have repeatedly cited for routine torture of detainees." (Made in America: Mubarak's most brutal thugs trained with FBI, Jason Ditz,, 9/2/11)]

PS (17/2/11): The dirt on democracy promotion in Egypt: "The US has given Egypt a lot of money over the years. How much? More than you probably think. Since 1979, US assistance to Egypt has averaged about $2 billion a year, according to a new Congessional Research Service (CRS) report on US-Egyptian relations. That adds up to a whopping $64 billion. In that period, Egypt has been the second-largest foreign recipient of US cash. (Israel is No. 1, in case you're interested.) In part, that's a legacy of the Camp David Accords. The United States promised generous aid packages to both Egypt and Israel in return for their making concessions to each other in a peace pact... Here's another distinguishing thing about US aid to Egypt. The vast majority of it is earmarked for the military. In recent years Egypt has received about $1.3 billion in military aid annually. Of that, about one-third goes to weapons maintenance, one-third to weapons upgrades, and one-third to weapons purchases, according to CRS... What about aid to Egypt intended to promote democracy? Oh yeah, that. It's been cut in recent years, and since 2009 has sat at about $20 million annually. Most of that has gone to Egyptian-approved goverment-to-government projects. The bottom line here is that the impact of US democracy efforts in Egypt 'has been limited', in the words of a recent State Department Inspector General report." (US aid to Egypt: What does it buy? Peter Grier,, 15/2/11)

Remembering Kaiser Bruno

"I'm a substance, not a style, person." (Julia Gillard,, 6/2/11)

In fact, Australia's prime minister has neither substance nor style. But just to remind you that the word politician is not necessarily a synonym for opportunist scum, that a politician with substance and style is possible, here's Neil Clark's timely portrait of Bruno Kreisky, Austria's chancellor from 1970-1983:

"The 1970s marked the high point of postwar socialism in western Europe. Across the continent in those pre-Thatcherite days, genuinely progressive statesmen set the agenda. In West Germany, there was Willy Brandt. In Sweden, Olof Palme. In Britain, Harold Wilson. But for my money the greatest European socialist of them all was Austria's Bruno Kreisky, born 100 years ago.

"Kreisky led his country for 13 years, from 1970-83, winning a clear majority for the Socialist party of Austria a remarkable 3 times. During his time in office as the first popularly elected 'red' chancellor, he transformed Austria into one of the most egalitarian societies on earth. Kreisky promoted working-class education, extended public ownership and expanded the welfare state. A committed Keynesian, with a hatred of unemployment and poverty, in the 1979 election he declared that he'd rather the government run up a deficit than people lose their jobs: 'Hundreds of thousands unemployed matter more than a few billion schillings of debt'.

"Under Kreisky, Austria not only became a more equal society; it also became more prosperous. His leftwing economic policies showed that there was an alternative to the monetarist economics that were soon to be imposed - at huge social and economic cost - in Britain.

"Socially there were major advances too: the position of Austrian women was greatly improved, with maternity leave introduced, and homosexuality was decriminalised. Kreisky not only made Austria a better place; he tried his best to make the world a better place too.

"A true internationalist, he supported a policy of 'active neutrality' for his country in the cold war and worked for detente with the communist countries of eastern Europe. A Jewish anti-Zionist, Kreisky was a great champion of the rights of the Palestinian people and the strongest western European critic of Israel. He was the first European leader to meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat and in 1979 gave an official state dinner in Arafat's honour in Vienna. He was also one of the first European politicians to take an interest in developing countries, calling in the early 1960s for a new Marshall plan for the south.

"But it wasn't just Kreisky's policies that make him such a hero. It was his style of politics. Kreisky was a true man of the people - he kept his telephone number listed in the Vienna phone book after becoming chancellor, so that ordinary members of the public could call him to discuss their problems. Modest, humorous and immensely likeable, he debated on television without notes and said exactly what he thought. The contrast between Kreisky and the controlled, PR-obsessed politicians of today could not be greater.

"In the 1970s, Kreisky was involved in a furious public row with Nazi-hunter Austrian Simon Wiesenthal. This developed over the Nazi past of some of Kreisky's ministers and the Freedom party leader Freidrich Peter, Kreisky's would-be coalition partner. Kreisky defended Peter and refused to sack ministers, leading Wiesenthal to call him a 'renegade'. Kreisky, who himself had lost close relatives in the Holocaust, in turn accused Wiesenthal, a supporter of the conservative opposition People's party, of 'mafia' methods and of trying to bring him down.

"Then there was Kreisky's support for nuclear power, which put him on a collision course with environmental groups. Some also criticised Kreisky for the building of the huge UNO-City complex in Vienna.

"But these controversies should not cloud our judgment of the man Austrians affectionately nicknamed him 'Kaiser Bruno'. Kreisky's sincerity shone through in everything that he did.

"While a strong opponent of nazism, and indeed all forms of racism, he did not believe that people should be permanently barred from public life over bad decisions they had made in their youth. 'A member of the Nazi party or an SS-man should be able to hold any political office in Austria, unless it can be proven that he had committed a crime', he declared. His support for nuclear power was, as John Hodgshon has argued in the Vienna Review, 'wedded to a philosophy in which anything that translated into more jobs and industry must be good'. The UNO-City was a demonstration of Kreisky's belief in the UN and Austria's role as an actively neutral country, at the heart of solving international disputes.

"More than 20 years after his death, he is still a cult figure in his country: a poll showed that he is known to more Austrians than many members of the current governing coalition. And Austrians regard the Kreisky years as a true golden age - one where there was job security, prosperity and social harmony.

"When Kreisky died, his great friend Willy Brandt said that Kreisky 'performed a great service to the community and wealth of the peoples'. How Europe could do with one like him today.

"If Kreisky were active in politics now, he'd be making the bankers and financial speculators pay for the mess they have caused and rejecting the new age of austerity. He'd be nationalising, not privatising, and putting the interests of the majority first. He'd be leading the opposition to Nato's war in Afghanistan and opposing any military action against Iran.

"Kreisky's career shows us what can be achieved if the main party of the left elects a leader who is committed, sincere and who refuses to apologise for his or her socialist beliefs.

"Instead, for the past 20 years, the main parties of the European left have gone in another direction. They have elected leaders - like Tony Blair - who have moved their parties away not just from socialism, but from social democracy too, and who have tamely accepted the international rule of money power. Bruno Kreisky, if he could see the Europe of 2011, would be greatly saddened at how the forces of capital have managed to destroy so many of the economic and social advances made in the postwar era, and how those advances which still remain are threatened by the new round of cutbacks.

"The best way we can commemorate the centenary of this remarkable and inspirational politician is to do all we can to put Kreisky-style socialism back on Europe's political agenda." (Austria can teach left key lessons, The Guardian Weekly, 28/1/11)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Panel of Experts

The sharpest knives in the pack all agree that, when the party's over, it's all about...

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it is crucial that Egypt's new leadership is committed to the Mideast peace process and lives up to its obligations toward Israel. She welcomed Egyptian President Mubarak's departure in the face of pro-democracy protests as 'a historic change' and a 'day of joy'. But, Merkel said, 'We also expect future Egyptian governments will uphold peace in the Middle East and respect the treaties concluded with Israel, and that Israel's safety will be guaranteed'." (Merkel: Egypt must keep peace with Israel,, 11/2/11)

"After a long week of lawmaker perspectives, let's go to Lindsay Lohan in Los Angeles for her take on Egypt. 'Congratulations to the people of Egypt. Your voices were heard and you proved that peaceful demonstrations are possible and effective... x'... 'I pray Egypt maintains it's [sic] treaty with Israel and sets the trends for its neighbors to create peace with Israel and the entire region'. The tweets appeared under her handle @LindsayLohan, on Friday afternoon. Several fan responses on her network wondered if Lohan's account has been taken over by a publicist in light of her latest legal fiasco." (Lindsay Lohan: Egypt should keep Israeli peace treaty, Elise Viebeck,, 11/2/11)

" [Australian] Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was 'vital that whichever new government emerges from this process respects the rights of all Egyptians, including minorities such as the Copts, and maintains the peace settlement with Israel'." (Sydney shows solidarity, Norrie & Singh, The Sun-Herald, 13/2/11)

And if Italy's Silvio 'Bunga-Bunga' Berlusconi, weren't so busy stoking the coals with Red Hot Ruby he'd no doubt be saying the same, although, in a spot of R & R prior to Mubarak's exit, he had hoped that "in Egypt there can be a transition toward a more democratic system without a break from President Mubarak, who in the West, above all in the United States, is considered the wisest of men and a precise reference point." (Silvio Berlusconi calls Mubarak a wise man,, 4/2/11)

OK. Speaking of knaves - I mean, knives - "US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton on Monday expressed support for the tens of thousands of protesters in Iran's capital, saying they 'deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and are part of their own birthright'." (Clinton: Iranians deserve same rights as Egyptians, AP,, 15/2/11)

Got it? The party's well and truly over. Egypt's in safe hands. Get out of that damned square NOW, go home, take a cold shower and resume focus on Iran! Why Iran? Well, because, when all is said and done, it's all about...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Army Schemers

Ash-sha'b yureed isqaat an-nizaam (The people want the overthrow of the regime) was one of the most popular chants heard in Egypt over the past weeks.

Unfortunately, although Mubarak may have fled (if only as far as Sharm el-Sheikh), his regime remains in place, with the Egyptian military, led by the likes of Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi*, described in a WikiLeaked 2008 cable as "Mubarak's poodle," firmly in charge. So, while the top brass has promised a transition to civilian rule, it behoves those celebrating Mubarak's departure to remember the army's role in shoring up his rule, especially during the recent intifada:

"Since January 28, the Mubarak regime has sought to encircle the protesters. Egypt's governing elites have used different parts of the regime to serve as arsonist and firefighter. Due to the regime's role in both lighting the fire and extinguishing it, protesters were effectively forced to flee from one wing of the regime to another. This occurred on two levels: first, the regime targeted the protesters, using the police as its battering ram. During the first days of demonstrations, uniformed officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds. Beginning on February 2, plain-clothes officers posing as Mubarak supporters - some on horseback and camels - carried whips and sticks to intimidate and injure those protesting against the system, teaching them a repressive lesson. Although it is impossible to say every single member of the 'pro-Mubarak' crowd was in the security forces, enough of them had their credentials taken to illustrate an indisputable police presence. Moreover, the violence has been selective and targeted, not chaotic, as Mubarak has described. The disappearance of police officers on January 29, leaving the neighborhoods to criminal elements and neighborhood watch groups, and their reappearance 24 hours later suggest that they were acting on orders, rather than haphazardly dispersing and returning. While the army kept order in the streets, the Interior Ministry and police were functioning as the regime's repressive arm, performing the dirty work of trying to force the protesters from Tahrir back into their homes.

"The military's rank and file, who are deployed on the streets, became part of a different regime strategy. There is no doubt that solidarities developed between protesters and soldiers as fellow citizens, but the army's aloof neutrality underscores that its role on the sidelines was intentional. This was prominently on display when the 'pro-Mubarak' demonstrators attacked antigovernment protesters in Tahrir on February 2. That the siege of a major city square took place over the course of 16 hours, leaving 13 dead and more than 1,200 wounded, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health, suggests that the military's orders were conceived to cast its officers as potential saviors from the brutal violence. This containment strategy has worked. By politically encircling the protesters, the regime prevented the conflict from extending beyond its grasp. With the protesters caught between regime-engineered violence and regime-manufactured safety, the cabinet generals remained firmly in control of the situation.

"The generals that now man the cabinet also sought to wage a war on the non-protesting population, and they did so without firing a single shot. As the state framed the demonstrators as troublemakers, non-protesting Egyptians experienced the uprising's effects. Banks have been closed since January 27, ATMs have been emptied of their cash, and the prices of food and staples have slowly risen at a time when school is cancelled, offices are closed, and curfews are in effect. Similarly, the Internet and cellular networks were shut off and have been patchy at best since their return." (from Egypt's democratic mirage, Joshua Stacher,, 7/2/11)

"Robert Springborg, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and an expert on the Egyptian military, said that the army had continued to cultivate its image as protector of the nation since the protests began in Egypt, as it held back from cracking down on hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo who called for Mr Mubarak's ouster.. But Mr Springborg said that he believed that the military's leadership was orchestrating events, and has been involved in allowing attacks against the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces... but not by the army, so as not to taint it in the public eye. 'Behind the scenes, the military is making possible the various forms of assault on the protesters', Mr Springborg said. 'It's trying to secure a transition for itself. There's lots of evidence that the military is complicit, but for the most part Egyptians don't even want to admit that to themselves'." (from Egypt stability hinges on a divided military, Elisabeth Bumiller,, 5/2/11)

[* "Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday telephoned Egypt's new military ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Israeli news site Ynet reported... Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Egyptian military's statement that it would honor the peace treaty between the countries. 'The longstanding peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has greatly contributed to both countries and is the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East', Netanyahu said in a statement from his office." (Barak telephones Egypt's Tantawi,, 13/2/11)]