Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Foreign Minister Lite

Did you know that "[w]ith the exception of Clinton, [Kevin] Rudd is the chief diplomat every other one wants to meet"? Or that "[h]e has almost-hero status at the United Nations"?

Such 'revelations' come in a profile by Thom Woodrofe of our frequent flying foreign minister in The Sun-Herald of November 27. In At home on foreign ground, Woodrofe is credited with "gain[ing] some rare insights on the road with Kevin Rudd."

OK, this looks promising:

"Rudd is already the most travelled foreign minister in Australian history but he refuses to take sleeping pills or watch movies on planes..."

But then:

"Instead, he reads his portfolio briefs before launching into books on theology and philosophy."

Theology and philosophy? Just what you'd expect of a well-informed foreign minister, right?

But what about those occasions when he's not reading t & p?:

"At the moment he is, appropriately, reading a biography of Charles II and the restoration of the British monarchy."

Of course - the perfect book for someone responsible for formulating our policy on Libya or Syria, no?

But it gets worse.

Where does Rudd get his reading matter from? Is it recommended by scholars? Does it come from reputable booksellers, as distinct from those who flog sport and self-help? Not on your nellie! It's carefully selected by... a newsagent:

"Despite getting an electronic book reader from his children for his birthday, Rudd will often burden his staff by buying half a dozen books in an airport terminal..."


And Rudd has the hide to, among other things, hold "a press conference to take a swipe at the Greens controlling foreign policy..."

(For Gillard's reading habits, see my 14/8/10 post The Real Julia Gillard.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fine & Danby

Federal Labor's Minister for Israel, Michael Danby MP, seems to be winning a few hearts lately:

1) "But the best speech on Afghanistan this week came from Labor's Michael Danby, the chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee. Danby is a true Australian cosmopolitan, with the widest range of foreign policy interests of anyone on the backbench on either side of parliament. He profoundly supports Australia's Afghanistan commitment and I think he is mistaken to do so. But Danby also has a George Orwell-like willingness to face difficult and unpleasant facts." (Denying a deadly dividend, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 26/11/11)

A true Australian cosmopolitan, with the widest range of foreign policy interests of anyone on the backbench?

Oh, really? Why O why is Greg hiding Michael's Light Unto the Nations under a bushel? The plain fact of the matter is that there's really only one foreign policy interest that really gets Danby's juices going. The rest is just window-dressing:

"[Danby] corrals his parliamentary colleagues and forces them to think long, hard and seriously about matters that often conjure knee-jerk reactions. 'During a recent political controversy [MERC: Gaza?], we had 11 federal MPs get together on an Israel issue. Mike Kelly [MP] convened them and I organised with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), who had a delegation up there, to sit down with us and we strategised together', Danby said."*

As for that alleged George Orwell-like willingness to face difficult and unpleasant facts, here's Danby 'facing' the fact that his god has failed:

"The boycott [Israel] campaign... is a tactic designed by extremist organisations such as Hamas to mask the strategy of the 'one state solution', a single state between Jordan and the Mediterranean. This would lead to the destruction of the independent Jewish state of Israel. Any Israeli Jews who are not killed, who did not flee for their lives, would be left as a benighted minority (the Arab word for which is 'Dhimmis') in a Hamas-ruled theocratic state."**

Now what might the anti-Zionist George Orwell say about the above? Why, this of course:

"It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit... fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort." (Notes on Nationalism, 1945)

2) "Amid all the rancor of that final sitting week, Labor's Michael Danby introduced to the House of Representatives a motion that highlighted the best in public debate. He called on Parliament to recognise each July 11 as Srebrenica Remembrance Day, as a reminder of the evil that led to the genocide of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the hands of the rebel Serb forces of Ratko Mladic in Bosnia in 1995. It was, Danby said, 'what the Russians would call an act of pamyat - memory." (Rising from the mire, Paul Daley, The Sun-Herald, 27/11/11)

Srebrenica Remembrance Day? OK, I get it! Israeli massacres of Palestinians, Lebanese, and others, dating from the 1930s through to the present, become a bit of a blur after a while, so done and dusted Srebrenica it is. Brilliant move! As Orwell would have said (and did): "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." (Notes on Nationalism, 1945)

Ah, but is there more to Danby's 'cosmopolitanism' than meets the eye? I know I'm a cynical bastard at the best of times, but could it have something to do with this?:

"How does it come about that whether the Palestinian application for statehood will be put to a vote at all, or will simply be rejected, depends on Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the Security Council's non-permanent members? Nine out of 15 votes are needed to win full membership of the UN as a sovereign state, and Palestine has secured 8 so far: those of South Africa, India, Brazil, Lebanon, China, Russia, Nigeria and Gabon. The 9th vote should come from Portugal, Colombia or Bosnia. Portugal will most probably follow the advice of EU headquarters and vote against it. President Abbas personally went to Bogota to lobby for the Colombian vote, but was told that Colombia is too dependent on American aid. So only Sarajevo is left to receive Palestine's last efforts to secure a yes vote, as well as Israeli and American efforts to persuade Bosnia to join those SC members rejecting the proposal or abstaining from the vote." (The importance of Bosnia on Palestine's path to the UN, Hajrudin Somun, Today's Zaman, 29/11/11)

But could a Srebrenica Remembrance Day be taking the irony a little too far?:

"The 3 members of the Bosnian presidency act as 3 heads of state... Each... must support a decision in order for the country's representaive to the SC to vote for the Palestinian petition. Otherwise the Bosnian delegation must abstain... Bakir Izetbegovic, representinting Bosniaks in the presidency, expressed his unreserved support for the Palestinian's legitimate quest for UN membership... The Croat member of the presidency, Zeljko Comsic, generally supports Palestine... The Serb representative, Nebojsa Radmanovic, however, strongly opposes the Palestinian quest for statehood..." (ibid)

But there's more: "Radmanovic... denies that he is pro-Israeli, but how can the fact that he and Milorad Dodik, president of the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska, hosted Avigdor Lieberman when he spent a few days on vacation in Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer be interpreted otherwise? Israel has also promised to invest in the Serb entity." (ibid)

And more: "This attitude on the part of Bosnian Serb leaders has other roots as well: They... regard the whole 'Palestinian cause' as an Islamic one..." (ibid)

So, let's pull all this together: Australia's Minister for Israel is proposing a memorial to Bosnian Muslims massacred by Bosnian Serbs, who are lining up with Israel to block Palestinian statehood, which is supported by Bosnian Muslims.

Surely it's just a coincidence! There couldn't possibly be any connection between these two phenomena. To suggest otherwise would be way too cynical, even for me.

What do you reckon, George?

[*A decade of Danby, Peter Kohn & Naomi Levin, The Australian Jewish News, 27/2/09;**Knowing the truth will scare voters, The Australian, 2/4/11]

My Brush with Superman

Oh dear, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's Jeremy Jones is at it again with his 22nd report on anti-Semitism in Australia - whether real or alleged - and we anti-Zionists have been scooped up in his net, aka Report on Antisemitism in Australia, November 2011, along with the usual suspects.

Mild-mannered JJ, you see, is apparently the Superman of the Israel lobby, capable of detecting an anti-Zionist insult sealed in kryptonite a thousand meters away (to adapt Circus Israel's wonderful line) and construing it as anti-Semitism. And his baleful x-ray vision, in the service of Zionist Propaganda, Israeli Injustice and the Apartheid Way, has settled on yours truly:

"6.5 The anonymous writer of Middle East Reality Check (MERC) often [!] used or hosted extreme and offensive rhetoric [hereinafter EOR]..."

Jones cites the following examples of MERC EOR (omission of context, of course, is a given with JJ, and the accusations of EOR are characteristically asserted, never demonstrated):

1) Commenter Syd Walker's use of the term "God-approved people of the Chosen Land."

Well, if that's an instance of EOR, would JJ care to comment on David Ben-Gurion's famous statement that "the Bible is our mandate"? JJ?

2) My reference to "Israel's Nazi-style blockade of Gaza."

JJ finds the following question - "How, other than Nazi-style blockade of Gaza, would you describe a deliberate policy of ghettoisation and enforced malnutrition reminiscent of the Warsaw Ghetto?" - a case of EOR. Well, JJ might care to answer that question. JJ?

3) My post Holocaust Studies Make the Grade. God knows I've puzzled over this one, but I just don't get the EOR label here. JJ?

4) A comment by "brian" that SBS "has long been ziionist [sic] central," based on his observation that, while SBS has inundated us with docos on the Nazis, it has screened "not one on Palestine," followed by his not unreasonable question, "how does that sort of programming happen?"

Now seriously, if JJ really found brian's comment EOR, why not hazard a rebuttal? Perhaps he could detail his (and other Zionist organisations') interventions with SBS over the years but go on to explain that these haven't had the least impact on the broadcaster. JJ?

5) A reference by that most windy of commentators, anonymous, to Israel as "a revival of Medieval Talmudic ghettoism at the expense of [Palestine's] indigenous population."

Sure it's categorical, but JJ really should read Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky's Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (1999/2004) before mounting his high horse on "Medieval Talmudic ghettoism":

"This book pinpoints the political importance of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel... Jewish fundamentalism is here briefly defined as the belief that Jewish Orthodoxy, which is based on the Babylonian Talmud, the rest of talmudic literature and halachic literature, is still valid and will eternally remain valid..." (p 4)

"The religious influence upon the Israeli right-wing of Israel B [the right & religious parties] is attributable both to its militaristic character and its widely shared world outlook. Secular and militaristic right-wing, Israeli Jews hold political views and engage in rhetoric similar to that of religious Jews. For most Likud followers, 'Jewish blood' is the reason why Jews are in a different category than non-Jews, including, of course, even those non-Jews who are Israeli citizens and who serve in the Israeli army. For religious Jews, the blood of non-Jews has no intrinsic value; for Likud, it has limited value. Menachem Begin's masterful use of such rhetoric about Gentiles brought him votes and popularity and thus constitutes a case in point. The difference in this respect between Labor and Likud is rhetorical but is nevertheless important in that it reveals part of a world outlook. In 1982, for example, when the Israeli army occupied Beirut, Rabin representing Labor, although advocating the same policies as favored by Sharon and Likud, did not explain the Sabra and Shatila camp massacres by stating, as did Begin: 'Gentiles kill Gentiles and blame the Jews'. Even if Rabin had himself been capable of saying this, he knew that most of his secular supporters in Labor, who distinguish between Gentiles who hate Jews and those who do not, would not have tolerated such a statement." (p 11)

JJ, get back to me when you've read that one, OK?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Open Letter to Bob Brown

Dear Bob,

You'll recall that back in September you placed a series of questions on notice in the Senate. These were based on the premise that, with respect to the import into Australia of Israeli products, it was meaningful to distinguish between those originating in Israel's West Bank settlements (which could conceivably be boycotted) and the rest.

After becoming aware of these questions, I wrote a post - Does Bob Brown Believe in the Tooth Fairy? (15/10/11) - taking issue with that premise.

I draw your attention, therefore, to the following Haaretz news report, which simply confirms the point I made in that post, namely that there is no point whatever in such a distinction, and that all Israeli products should be the subject of a boycott campaign:

"An interesting document has recently found its way to several right-wing members of Knesset. Produced by the rightist NGO Mattot Arim, the survey rates MKs and cabinet ministers according to the aid they provided to the settlement movement and to the 'national camp' as a whole... Published every 6 months... the Mattot Arim report breaks down the legislative, lobbying, and media activity of the MKs - from bills preventing the boycott of products made in the settlements, to media interviews. In addition, ministers are lauded for harnessing their ministries for pro-settlement development, such as improving the internet and cellular networks in the West Bank... The latest survey... [listed] 100 parliamentary achievements attributed to the various MKs, and revealed the often unpublicized activities taking place on the ground to advance West Bank settlements and the rightist patina of the 18th Knesset. In one example, the report noted that the Knesset's Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee approved the transfer of NIS 10 million to emergency services in the West Bank. The Knesset's Finance Committee also approved NIS 2 million to improve cellphone reception. Moreover, gun laws were amended in a way that makes it easier to acquire weapons for self defense. In addition, the report cites the activity of government ministries to cancel out radio interference originating from the Palestinian Authority and the erection of permanent transmission sites for regional radio stations. Digital television transmission was also improved. More than half of the settlements were plugged into Bezeq's advanced internet networks, and the Israel Postal Company launched new gun-proof delivery vehicles which would allow for regular service to threatened settlements..." (Right-wing NGO exposes extent of Israel's support of West Bank settlements, Jonathan Lis, Haaretz, 24/11/11)

You'll be interested to note, Bob, that of the top 10 MKs who get ticks from Mattot Arim for their "activity of a national character," 7 come from the ruling Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Interesting, eh?



Friday, November 25, 2011

Looks Promising!

I'm making no predictions about the worth or otherwise of this series until I've seen it with my own eyes. However, this item in today's Australian Jewish News does make it look... well, promising:

"A new TV series set to begin airing on SBS1 this Sunday prompted outrage from the Jewish community when it was broadcast in the UK earlier this year. The Promise tells the story of Erin, a young London woman, heading to Israel for the summer, who discovers the diary of her sick grandfather, which relates his part in the post-World War II British peacekeeping [!!!] force in pre-state Palestine. According to the Israeli Embassy in the UK, it received more complaints about The Promise than any other program, with a spokesman saying it 'created a new category of hostility towards Israel'. President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Vivian Wineman, wrote a letter to the UK broadcaster Channel 4 slating it as 'a propagandist caricature'. He added: 'The Promise consistently demonised Jews, by using distasteful stereotypes and even comparing the actions of the Nazis during the Holocaust to those of Jews in mandate Palestine'. The board also expressed 'grave concerns at historic [sic] inaccuracies', while Man Booker prize-winning author Howard Jacobson slammed it as a 'ludicrous piece of brainwashed prejudice'." (Mandate drama isn't very promising)

Why do I have this feeling that, even as I write, someone at SBS could already be copping flak over The Promise?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Netanyahu's Little Helpers...

... come in all shapes and sizes.

From the big:

"We've been through this before. As one of the most disastrous wars in our history is coming to an inglorious end, the same neoconservative hawks who dreamed it up are agitating for a new war that would make Iraq look like the invasion of Granada - and using the ultimate trump card in American politics to silence debate over it. When hawks begin beating the drums for war in the Middle East, Israel is usually a big reason why. That was true in the run-up to the war in Iraq, and it is doubly true with the current hysteria over Iran. Despite disingenuous claims to the contrary, the only reason the US is even talking about war with Iran is Israel. As the invaluable M. J. Rosenberg, who knows the working of the Israel lobby as only a former card-carrying member can, notes, 'It is impossible to find a single politician or journalist advocating war with Iran who is not a neocon or an AIPAC cutout. (They're often both.)' Ever since the International Atomic Energy Agency released its overhyped, old-news report on Iran's nuclear program, Israel's amen corner in the US has been loudly calling for war. If Americans did not contain an enormous blind spot, no one would pay any attention to what these discredited ideologues have to say. The Iraq war they championed turned out to be one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in US history. Their ignorant and Islamophobic view of the Middle East is as breathtaking as their bland willingness to commit America to yet another ruinous war against a Muslim country, this time one four times larger than Iraq and with more than twice as many people. They have a demonstrated track record of complete failure. Yet these incompetent militarists are still taken seriously. And the reason is simple. They purport to be supporters of Israel. In American politics, you can get away with even the most cracked war-mongering as long as you claim to be 'pro-Israel'. And the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card for anything having to do with Israel is the Holocaust. To listen to the neocons and hawks, you'd think Hitler was about to send the tanks over the Polish border." (The boys who cry 'Holocaust', Gary Kamiya,, 22/11/11)

To the little:

"Australia will consider joining a US-led coalition set to impose additional sanctions on Iran, as new laws are fast-tracked to disrupt the supply chain for weapons of mass destruction... A spokesman for Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday Australia, as a member of the IAEA, was at the forefront of efforts to crack down on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. 'Australia implements tough measures enforcing UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, and imposes comprehensive autonomous sanctions that go beyond those required by the security Council', the spokeswoman said. 'Consistent with Australia's mounting concern about Iran's nuclear program, the government will continue to explore additional sanctions'. The comments came after the government fast-tracked new laws through the House to address weaknesses in trade security and give Defence Minister Stephen Smith, in particular, greater power to disrupt supply to terrorists and rogue states." (Canberra mulls further Iranian sanctions as loophole closes, Sean Parnell, The Australian, 23/11/11)

But big or little, it's Bibi who has them all in his thrall:

"Netanyahu is obsessed with the Second World War parallels, real or imagined, and even used them to justify his opposition to the peace process with the Palestinians in the nineties. Netanyahu is deeply influenced not only by his hundred-year-old father's right-wing revisionist ideology, but also by a profound sense of himself as Israel's post-Holocaust protector. Heroic imagery, like the F-15s flying over the rail tracks at Auschwitz, is no small part of what drives him. Five years ago, he said of the Iranian nuclear issue, 'The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany'." (Iran, Israel, & the bomb, David Remnick,, 6/11/11)

And as far as Bibi's concerned, he'll fight Adolf Ahmadinejad to the last American, British, or French soldier, global oil crisis or no:

"Iran would doubtless lash out at US forces and shipping in the Gulf, which would immediately precipitate an oil crisis... Against all that is the calculation, carefully unspoken but present nevertheless, that a unilateral Israeli strike would trigger massive American intervention against Iran's nuclear program. This could come in response to Iranian retaliation against American targets, or because Washington would have an overwhelming interest in 'finishing the job' that Israel began. In the post-Libya climate, France and Britain might well be moved to come in alongside the US." (World must believe Netanyahu on Iran, David Landau, Sydney Morning Herald, 24/11/11)

And why should little Australia stop at mere tightened sanctions? Why not join in the fun?

After all, when the Sydney Morning Herald thinks so highly of Netanyahu that it features a paean to him on its opinion page by former Haaretz editor-in-chief Landau, who are we to resist the siren call of the man Landau grandiloquently describes as having "3,000 years of Jewish history on his shoulders"?

Ah, if only we pissants could but see the man for what he is: one of history's classic poet-warriors, divinely sent to protect us all from the moustache-twirling, boddice-ripping, Islamofascist hordes, who, even as we speak, are brazenly sharpening their arsenal of world-slaying nuclear scimitars.

As Landau reminds us lesser mortals: "Netanyahu's drum-beating is tactically impeccable. But it's not just tactics. The bluffer isn't bluffing. Let's hope Obama, Sarkozy and the rest are hearing him loud and clear."

Are you listening, Gillard? Three thousand years of Jewish history! This is your John Howard moment. Are you ready? Follow your spirit, and upon this charge/ Cry 'God for Bibi, Israel, and Saint Herzl!' (with apologies to the Bard).

Witches Brew 9

This post, the latest in my Witches Brew series on the anti-BDS 'debate' in the NSW Legislative Council on September 30, features the 'contribution' of one of the LC's 'Arab' contingent, namely the Liberal's John Ajaka. It makes for very sad reading indeed.

During the course of his speech, Ajaka confessed:

"My father was born in Lebanon and my mother was born in Palestine-Jerusalem. I say that because she has two birth certificates: one says that she was born in Palestine and the other says she was born in Jerusalem."

I find this statement quite puzzling. What's with this Palestine-Jerusalem business? Does the Australian-born (1956) Ajaka not know that Jerusalem is in Palestine? That it has always been in Palestine? Why this beating around the bush?

According to his 2007 Inaugural Speech (hereinafter IS), Ajaka's parents "travelled to Australia from Lebanon in the early 1950s." Could his mother then, have been a Palestinian refugee? In any case, didn't the woman whom he described as "the one who believed in me, who encouraged me, who pushed me," (IS) pass on something - anything - about the nakba which had overtaken her or her people? If so, there is nothing whatever in either Ajaka's IS or his September 15 LC speech to indicate this.

I find this a most curious matter. Certainly, I can't imagine the two beaming gents in the gallery, on whose behalf our motley crew of MLCs were strutting their stuff on that day (exclusive, I need hardly remind you, of the Greens' John Kaye and David Shoebridge), being at all backward in coming forward about some imaginery direct descent from the Kings David and Solomon, if not Abraham himself.

Anyhow, returning to our Lebanese-Palestinian-Australian's LC speech, just wrap your head around this load of old cobblers:

"This form of boycott as pushed by the boycott, disinvestment [sic] and sanctions is nothing more than prejudice and racism... directed at one part of our community... If this type of boycott were directed at an Islamic, Catholic or Jewish community or any other religious or cultural community it would not be acceptable... We in this country welcome people who want to do business here, because they provide jobs and resources. I must admit that I have had a few Brenner waffles - perhaps too many. It is unacceptable that such a business is being subjected to this dreadful boycott."

This is truly jaw-dropping stuff. There's a hint in sentence two that Ajaka doesn't even connect Max Brenner with Jews, let alone Israel, seeing it merely as a business, but I'll charitably assume that his words didn't quite come out as intended. That said, we seem to be dealing here with a guy who, though admitting to having a Palestinian mother, has so little awareness of the Palestine problem or BDS that he misconstrues it as attack on multiculturalism or a case of sectarianism. Clueless. Utterly, utterly clueless.

But it gets worse: "My office library contains the first book that I read, Mein Kampf. I read it as a year 11 student while studying advanced history."

OK... Deep breath... Read that again. Mein Kampf was the first book I read. The first book I read. The first. And that wasn't until he was in Year 11 at Marist Brothers in Kogarah (IS)! Ach mein Gott! Ajaka got all the way to senior high school without opening a book? And this is one of the blokes currently running the show in NSW?! Gott help us!

He continues, invoking the by now familiar anti-BDS Nazi slur:

"I still have it, but not because I respect it; in fact, I detest it and its message. I have kept it as a reminder of the potential outcome of a protest such as the one we are witnessing against one religious or ethnic community. It is a reminder that that should never happen in Australia. We cannot allow this type of prejudice and racism to fester and spread. It is not a protest; it is the dreadful beginning of a movement targeting one culture and one religion. I cannot accept that and I will not allow it to happen: I will do everything I can to prevent it... For those reasons, I reject the BDS movement and everything it represents."

What to make of this guy? In his IS he laments that in his youth he had "always been aware of my ethnic background; it was hard not to be, with the ever-present taunts and jeers thrown by other children," and that "still, even now, a latent prejudice runs through our community like an underground stream - a stream that bubbles to the surface in times and in places unexpected, as with the emergence of the stench and stain of One Nation."

And yet, he can laud former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, the man who pinched Pauline Hanson's policies and made them his own, as "a great leader of our country, whom I am proud to have always supported..."

Ajaka's rage against those who've messed up his childhood is palpable:

"When I was a child some of my peers sadly constructed my entire identity solely on my ethnic background. They isolated, separated and labelled me a wog. This was all I would ever be to them. Well, I do not want my children - any children - growing up with the feelings I had when I was growing up. We have come so far in the past 30 in tearing down the monolith of prejudice. I am here to add my own small contribution to the continuation of this important task. If the first reason for my presence in this place is to fight prejudice, the second is to fight injustice. I believe in the spirit of law."

And yet, Ajaka's seeming obliviousness to the almost century-old, bloody settler-colonial dynamic at play in Palestine/Israel - bizzarely, at no stage in his blessedly short 'contribution' does he even mention the word Israel - renders him blind to the fact that BDS is nothing more than a response to the Zionist project's ongoing isolation, separation, labelling (and worse) of his mother's people, a reaction to the massive monolith of (anti-Arab) prejudice and injustice which is the apartheid state of Israel.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zionist Hypocrisy Alert

Hypocrisy is a hallmark of Zionist advocacy.

Here, for example, is Michael Weiss, 'communications director' of the UK's Ziocon foreign policy 'think' tank, the Henry Jackson Society, labelling Syrian opposition leader, Burhan Ghalioun's reference to Syria's Arab identity as chauvinistic:

"On the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic Festival of Sacrifice, Syria's de facto opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun delivered an address on international TV. Among the emotional appeals and platitudes befitting a future president, the leader of the Syrian National Council made at least one substantive remark: 'Syria's new constitution will protect minorities and their rights, including the Kurds, who have suffered discrimination'... But Kurds have been wary of joining the SNC's government-in-exile, some on account of the early chauvinist noises - including from Ghalioun - about retaining Syria's 'Arab' identity." (Fate of Syrian revolution rests on the treatment of Kurds, The New Republic/The Australian, 21/11/11)

Needless to say, the same individual had no such qualms in referring to Israel as the Jewish state, despite its 20% Palestinian Arab population, most recently in a 21 September piece in the UK's Daily Telegraph, Barack Obama's UN speech, goes from cutting to confused.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Laying Siege to German Jews

The following paragraph, from a feature article in the Weekend Australian, conceals a much more nuanced story:

"Questioning the way history is presented is one of [Albrecht] Dumling's chief preoccupations. He was in Canberra to sift through the National Archives, looking into what really happened to [German] Jewish musicians whose flight from Nazi terror brought them to Australia. Today, it is tempting to imagine Australia as a safe haven, where the unjustly persecuted could begin again. The reality was different. Australia was not eager to accept Jewish immigrants. At the Evian Conference of 1938, Australia's trade and customs minister Thomas White, pleading against large-scale Jewish immigration, declared that 'as we have no real racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one'." (Musicians who kept it quiet, Shirley Apthorp, 19/11/11)

The awful truth of the matter, however, is that it wasn't just the redneckery of hicks like Thomas White which helped seal the fate of German Jewry, as the Wikipedia entry on the Evian Conference shows:

"The Evian Conference was convened at the initiative of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938 to discuss the issue of increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution... The Jews of Austria and Germany were very hopeful, believing that this international conference would provide a safe haven... With both the US and Britain refusing to take in substantial numbers of Jews, the conference was ultimately seen as a failure by Jews and their sympathizers... Zionist organisations did not take part in the conference. One hisorian describes their attitude as one of 'hostile indifference' since any positive outcome would reduce the numbers of people wishing to migrate to settle in Palestine."

Come again? Zionist organisations boycotted an international conference convened to rescue German Jewry from escalating Nazi brutality because channeling Jews into Palestine for the coming stoush with its indigenous inhabitants took priority? Who would have thought? Let's take a closer look:

Arising out of the Evian Conference, an Intergovernmental Committee for Political Refugees was set up to negotiate with the Nazis an exit strategy for besieged German Jewry. It was headed by Americans Myron Taylor, the Evian Conference chairman, and George Rublee, a friend of President Roosevelt. By January 1939, Rublee had managed to negotiate a plan which would have resulted in Jews under 45 being released from concentration camps on condition they emigrated, with the rest being allowed to remain undisturbed in Germany. This was not, however, to the liking of the Zionist movement, because emigration to Palestine was not an integral part of the deal, and their virulent opposition to the plan was sufficient to ensure that it remained largely on the drawing board until overtaken by the outbreak of World War II.

Israeli scholar S.B. Beit Zvi delivers this measured, but damning, assessment of political Zionism's attitude towards the plight of German Jews:

"In assessing what Zionism did to German Jewry at this stage, we will once more refrain from accusing the Zionists of abandoning the German Jews to a violent death. Even then, in the Spring and Summer of 1939, no one was thinking along the lines of total destruction. Nonetheless, it is no exaggeration to describe what was done as laying siege to a Jewish group which was in terrible distress. The situation of German Jews was thoroughly known from the accounts of visitors and of refugees who managed to get out of the country. The Jewish Agency Executive heard an updated report from Eliahu Dobkin who had just visited Germany and Austria. According to Dobkin, less than 1% of the wage earners were in fact earning a living, and over half of them were employed in community and Zionist institutions. Two-thirds of Austrian Jews and one-third of German Jews were living on charity. Many had been able to manage only by selling jewelry and other valuables... Every Jew in Germany and Austria was thinking about escape. The Nazi authorities were not talking about the liquidation of the Jews within 3 years - their intention was that the majority should leave within one year. Not even Dobkin's shocking account impelled the Jewish Agency leadership to budge from its position. The chairman of the session, Yitzhak Gruenbaum, thanked Dobkin 'for his excellent and exhaustive talk', and that was the end of the matter. Concurrent with its war on the Rublee Plan, the World Zionist Organization pursued the Haavarah deal. Its representatives also made useful deals with the Gestapo in Berlin and Vienna aimed at bringing about the immigration to Palestine of Zionist pioneers, the establishment of training facilities for the pioneers, and the liberation of potential Palestine settlers from concentration camps. When it came to aliyah, deals with the Nazis were not unconscionable and the Jews were not compelled to wait until the collapse of the regime." (Post-Ugandan Zionism On Trial: A Study of the Factors that Caused the Mistakes Made by the Zionist movement during the Holocaust, 1991, pp 198-199)

In sum, writes Beit Zvi:

"These events... exemplify a bitter and persistent truth which is deeply interwoven in the episode of the Rublee Plan. That fact - which cannot be expunged or obliterated from the annals of the Jewish people - is that for nearly a year a group of American non-Jews headed by Myron Taylor under the active auspices of President Roosevelt engaged in considerable efforts to extricate the Jews of Germany. The dedicated activity of the Americans had the vacillating aid of British representatives and, to a lesser degree, of other countries. Throughout this entire period the attitude of the Jewish organizations swung between total opposition on the part of the overwhelming majority and constrained and reluctant cooperation on the part of a few functionaries whose true motivation was opposition to rival Jewish organisations. And on the issue that is of primary concern to us: the Zionist movement vigorously opposed the Rublee Plan and did all it could to thwart its implementation." (p 206)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In 2

The jury's in again*: Israel is an apartheid state - no if's, but's, and maybe's. And yes, it's from the river to the sea:

"The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is an international citizen-based Tribunal of conscience created in response to the demands of civil society (NGOs, charities, unions, faith-based organisations) to inform and mobilise public opinion and put pressure on decision makers. In view of the failure to implement the Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004 of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the failure to implement resolution ES-10/15 confirming the ICJ Opinion, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 July 2004, and the Gaza events of December 2008-January 2009, committees were established in different countries to promote and sustain a citizen's initiative in support of the rights of the Palestinian people. The RToP is imbued with the same spirit and espouses the same rigorous rules as those inherited from the Tribunal on Vietnam (1966-1967), which was established by the eminent scholar and philosopher Bertrand Russell... The Tribunal has no legal status; it operates as a court of the people.

"The Israeli Government was invited to present its case before the Tribunal but chose not to exercise this right and provided no answer to correspondence from the RToP.

"Following the hearings and deliberations of the jury, the findings of the third session of Russell Tribunal on Palestine, held in Cape Town on 5-6 November 2011, are summarised as follows.

I. Apartheid

"The Tribunal finds that Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalised regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law. This discriminatory regime manifests in varying intensity and forms against different categories of Palestinians depending on their location. The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognised human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel's rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.

"The state of Israel is legally obliged to respect the prohibition of apartheid contained in international law. In addition to being a crime against humanity, the practice of apartheid is universally prohibited. The Tribunal has considered Israel's rule over the Palestinian people under its jurisdiction in the light of the legal definition of apartheid. Apartheid is prohibited by international law because of the experience of apartheid in southern Africa, which had its own unique attributes. The legal definition of apartheid, however, applies to any situation anywhere in the world where the following 3 core elements exist: (i) that two distinct racial groups can be identified; (ii) that 'inhuman acts' are committed against the subordinate group; and (iii) that such acts are committed systematically in the context of an institutionalised regime of domination by one group over the other.

Racial Groups

"... On the basis of expert evidence heard by the Tribunal, the jury concludes that international law gives a broad meaning to the term 'racial' as including elements of ethnic and national origin, and therefore that the definition of 'racial group' is a sociological rather than biological question... From the evidence received, it was clear to the jury that 2 distinct, identifiable groups exist in a very practical sense and that the legal definition of 'racial group' applies to all circumstances in which the Israeli authorities have jurisdiction over Palestinians.

Inhuman Acts of Apartheid

"Individual inhuman acts committed in the context of such a system are defined by international law as crimes of apartheid. The jury heard abundant evidence of practices that constitute 'inhuman acts' perpetrated against the Palestinian people by the Israeli authorities. These include:

"Widespead deprivation of Palestinian life through military operations and incursions, a formal policy of 'targeted killings', and the use of lethal force against demonstrations.

"Torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians in the context of widespread deprivation of liberty through policies of arbitrary arrest and administrative detention without charge. The jury finds that such measures frequently go beyond what is reasonably justified by security concerns and amount to a form of domination over the Palestinians as a group.

"Systematic human rights violations that preclude Palestinian development and prevent the Palestinians as a group from participating in political, economic, social and cultural life.

"Palestinian refugees who remain displaced are also victims of apartheid by virtue of the ongoing denial of their right to return to their homes, as well as by laws that remove their property and citizenship rights.

"Policies of forced population transfer remain widespread, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territory.

"Civil and political rights of Palestinians including rights to movement, residence, free opinion and association are severely curtailed.

"Palestinian socio-economic rights are also adversely affected by discriminatory Israeli policies in the spheres of education, health and housing.

"Since 1948 the Israeli authorities have pursued concerted policies of colonisation and appropriation of Palestinian land. Israel has through its laws and practices divided the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian populations and allocated them different physical spaces, with varying levels and quality of infrastructure, services and access to resources. The end result is wholesale territorial fragmentation and a series of separate reserves and enclaves, with the 2 groups largely segregated. The Tribunal heard evidence to the effect that such a policy is formally described in Israel as hafrada, Hebrew for 'separation'.

A Systematic & Institutionalised Regime

"The inhuman acts listed above do not occur in random or isolated instances. They are sufficiently widespread, integrated and complementary to be described as systematic. They are also sufficiently rooted in law, public policy and formal institutions to be described as institutionalised. In the Israeli legal system, preferential status is afforded to Jews over non-Jews through its laws on citizenship and Jewish nationality, the latter of which has created a group privileged in most spheres of public life, including residency rights, land ownership, urban planning, access to services and social, economic and cultural rights... The Tribunal heard expert evidence detailing the relationship between the State of Israel and the quasi-state Jewish national institutions (the Jewish Agency, World Zionist Organisation, and Jewish National Fund) that embed and formalise many of the material privileges granted exclusively to Israeli Jews.

"Regarding the West Bank, the Tribunal highlights the institutionalised separation and discrimination revealed by the existence of 2 entirely separate legal systems: Palestinians are subject to military law enforced by military courts that fall far short of international fair trial standards; Israeli Jews living in illegal settlements are subject to Israeli civil law and a civil court system. The result is a vastly different procedure and sentence for the same crime, committed in the same jurisdiction, by members of a different group. An apparatus of administrative control implemented through pervasive permit systems and bureaucratic restrictions adversely affects Palestinians throughout territories under Israeli control. In contrast to the explicit and readily available South African legislation, the Tribunal draws attention to the obscurity and inaccessibility of many laws, military orders and regulations that underpin Israel's institutionalised regime of domination.

"Much of the evidence heard by the Tribunal relating to the question of apartheid is also relevant to the separate crime against humanity of persecution, which can be considered in relation to Israeli practices under the principle of cumulative charges. Persecution involves the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights of the members of an identifiable group in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population. The Tribunal concludes that the evidence presented to it supports a finding of persecution in relation to the following acts:

"The siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip as a form of collective punishment of the civilian population; The targeting of civilians during large-scale military operations; The destruction of civilian homes not justified by military necessity; The adverse impact on the civilian population effected by the Wall and its associated regime in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; The concerted campaign of forcible evacuation and demolition of unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev region of southern Israel.

III. Legal Consequences

"Apartheid and persecution are acts attributable to Israel and entail its international legal responsibility. Israel must cease its apartheid acts and its policies of persecution and offer appropriate assurances and guarantees on non-repetition. In addition, Israel must make full reparation for the injuries caused by its internationally wrongful acts, with regard to any damage, whether material or moral. With regard to reparation, Israel must compensate the Palestinians for the damage it has caused, with compensation to cover any financially assessable damage for loss of life, property, and loss of profits insofar as this can be established.

"States and international organisations also have international responsibilities. They have a duty to cooperate to bring Israel's apartheid acts and policies of persecution to an end, including by not rendering aid or assistance to Israel and not recognising the illegal situation arising from its acts. They must bring to an end Israel's infringements of international criminal law through the prosecution of international crimes, including the crimes of apartheid and persecution.

IV. Recommendations

In view of the above findings, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine resolutely urges all relevant parties to act in accordance with their legal obligations.

Accordingly, the Tribunal urges:

"The state of Israel to immediately dismantle its system of apartheid over the Palestinian people, to rescind all discriminatory laws and practices, not to pass any further discriminatory legislation, and to cease forthwith acts of persecution against Palestinians;

"All states to cooperate to bring an end to the illegal situation arising from Israel's practices of apartheid and persecution. In light of the obligation not to render aid and assistance, all states must consider appropriate measures to exert sufficient pressure on Israel, including the imposition of sanctions, the severing of diplomatic relations collectively through international organisations, or in the absence of consensus, individually by breaking bilateral relations with Israel.

"The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to accept jurisdiction as requested by the Palestinian authorities in January 2009, and to initiate an investigation 'as expeditiously as possible' as called for by the 'Goldstone Report', into international crimes committed in Palestinian territory since 1 July 2002, including crimes of apartheid and persecution;

"Palestine to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

"Global civil society... to replicate the spirit of solidarity that contributed to the end of apartheid in South Africa, including by making national parliaments aware of the findings of the Tribunal and supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS);

"The UN General Assembly to reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, and to convene a special session to consider the question of apartheid against the Palestinian people. In this connection the Committee should compile a list of individuals, organisations, banks, companies, corporations, charities, and any other private or public bodies which assist Israel's apartheid regime with a view to taking appropriate measures;

"The UN General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the ICJ as called for by the current and former UN Special Rapporteurs for human rights to the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, to examine the nature of Israel's prolonged occupation and apartheid;

"The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to address the issue of apartheid in its forthcoming review of Israel in February 2012;

"The government of South Africa, as the host country for the third session of the RToP, to ensure that no reprisals of any sort are taken by the state of Israel against the witnesses that testified before the Tribunal..." (Dr. Hanan Chehata,, 7/11/11)

It goes without saying that the the above finding was not reported by any Australian ms media outlets that I'm aware of.

[*See my 21/9/09 post Israeli Apartheid: The Jury's In.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Witches Brew 8

Yet another post in my series on the extraordinary anti-BDS rants in the NSW Legislative Council of September 30...

Today's focus will be on the 'contribution' of Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann, who, although having nothing of value to say on the subject, said it anyway, embarrassing in the process her two more informed colleagues, John Kaye and David Shoebridge, undermining the Greens' reputation for principled politics, and, needless to say, giving immense comfort to the enemy:

"The Greens have a strong and principled position on the question of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Middle East. The Australian Greens resolution on the matter makes clear our support for the rights and aspirations of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign states."

Strong and principled? Not!

For the Greens, an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the establishment of a Palestinian state therein, is effectively all that is needed to solve the Palestine problem.

The more fundamental issue of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 (who constitute the majority of Palestinians) to their homes and lands in Israel (im)proper is fudged with talk of "a just and practical negotiated settlement of the claims of the Palestinian refugees that provides compensation for those who are unable to return to their country of origin, Israel or Palestine" ( This construction, of course, begs the question why they are unable to return, an issue that Greens policy studiously avoids because it leads ineluctably to a recognition that Israel's Jewish character, linked to its current, gerrymandered Jewish majority, rests on keeping millions of Palestinian refugees in a state of permanent exile.

And so, for the Greens, blather about practicability and inability to return trumps the adoption of the genuinely strong and principled position of unambiguous support for the Palestinian right of return and a clear repudiation of the Zionist concept of Israel as a Jewish state for all Jews vis-a-vis a state of its citizens - inclusive of those currently stateless Palestinian refugees - regardless of ethno-religious affiliation.

It is precisely the failure of the Greens to come to terms with the refugee issue and Israel's essential apartheid nature that leads to the inclusion in its platform of that risible nonsense about our support for the rights and aspirations of Israel - an occupying, colonising, deeply racist state.

"The ongoing injustices against the Palestinian people, including ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories and the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources for Israeli settlements, is unacceptable. The Greens are extremely critical of Israeli Government actions in this area."

Just unacceptable? Just extremely critical? In the Greens resolution on Tibet, China's "plundering of Tibet's natural resources and destruction of Tibetan cultures" is roundly (and rightly) "condemned." Typically, with Greens such as Faehrmann, China gets a firm rap over the knuckles for swamping Tibet, while Israel gets the very lightest of wrist-taps for doing the same in Palestine.

"The BDS urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law. I agree that this tactic has been extemely controversial and its success in Australia has been brought into question."

As I've indicated in other posts, Faehrmann seems blind to the fact that the controversy around BDS is solely the work of the Israel lobby and its Murdoch mouthpiece, The Australian, and therefore an entirely confected thing having no real resonance with the Australian public.

"While I do not agree with much of what other members have said in this debate, I share the concern of some members that the tone and public perception of these protests has been counterproductive and they are of concern to me."

Again, as I've indicated in earlier posts on Faehrmann, her NSW colleague Jeremy Buckingham, and federal Greens leader Bob Brown, so spooked are they by The Australian's confected anti-BDS crusade that they've even adopted its vocabulary, the word 'counterproductive' being the dead give-away here. It goes without saying that if the Greens are serious about becoming a real third party force in Australian politics, a genuine alternative to Labor and Liberal, they wouldn't be taking their cues from the Murdoch press.

"In my view certain chants used at the protest have descended into that domain [of anti-Semitism]. The Hon. Eric Roozendaal mentioned the 'From the river to the sea' chant. I echo his concern about it and do not support its use. It is unfortunate and should be condemned."

Nor should the Greens be in the business of echoing Zionist talking points as deployed by the likes of Eric Roozendaal. The plain fact of the matter here is that Faehrmann has absolutely no idea what the chant represents - essentially an echo of the need for a genuinely democratic, bi-national state covering all of Palestine. (See my discussion in Witches Brew 7 on this.)

"I have given this motion a great deal of considered thought and I have found it difficult to arrive at this decision, but I can only vote in support of it."

The problem with Faehrmann is that her considered thought has no foundation in knowledge of the issue. I guarantee she hasn't devoted a nanosecond of her time to the necessary research and reading required for an understanding of the Palestine problem. Why not defer then to those of her colleagues, especially John Kaye, who have obviously done their homework? But hey, that'd take an ounce or two of humility, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood are Just Pussies!

Meet the 'ladies' of the Zionist Sisterhood:

The smug, smirking, ball-busting Israeli settler woman, loitering with (genocidal) intent on a street somewhere in Israeli-occupied Hebron, simply cannot resist the guy with the microphone:

Here it's great. This is Hebron Heights. We've got King David's palace, fresh air, olive trees, fruit trees. The entire Hebron landscape. It's the best.
-Do the Arabs here make trouble?
If they do, then we... That's the challenge. This is not paradise. There's still a lot of work to do and... From two of my windows you can see that side of town, all of Hebron. My neighbour calls it 'motivational windows'. You open them in the morning and see what else has to be done. Until we can return to there... That's it.
-It's Jewish or Arab...?
(Pointing to house in a wire cage) This house is still Arab. Another one here (pointing to door daubed with Hebrew graffiti and stars of David) used to be Arab and today it houses Jews. It will become more and more Jewish.
-(Palestinian woman standing on her doorstep inside the wire cage calls out to interviewer) She wants to lock us in!
(Zionist Sister marches towards her, barking orders) Get in the house!
-I won't close the door.
Close it! Close the door!
-Stay out of this!
Close the door!
-Stay out of this! I'm not closing the door.
Sit here, in the cage.
-I'm not closing the door.
Sit here. Close the door!
-I don't want to go inside.
Close the... (Zionist Sister notices she's being filmed by the woman's daughter) Get the camera out of here!
-Call the police.
Turn the camera off!
-It's early in the morning, what do you want from us?
Shut up!
-(Calling to Israeli soldier) Don't you see what she's doing?
Sharmoota (Whore), sharmoota.
-You are.
-You are. Go away.
-Look what she's doing. Go away!
-Go away, you bitch!
-(To soldier) Did you see what she did?
(Dragging it out for effect) Sharmooota. Sharmooota. You are a sharmooota. Your daughter is too. Don't you dare open this door!
-Don't you dare come here!
-I'll leave as I please.

(The complete b' video - Orthodox Jewish woman harasses Palestinian - may be viewed at, 13/11/11)

Meanwhile, across the seas, somewhere in Israel's nurturing motherland, her Sister*, Rachel Abrams, a woman with (genocidal) attitude, the wife of neocon Bush official Elliot Abrams, and Board Member of Bill Kristol's Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), is so overcome by the news of Gilad Shalit's release that she just up and vomits it all into her blog, titled - but of course - Bad Rachel:

"He's free and he's home in the bosom of his family and his country. Celebrate, Israel, with all the joyous gratitude that fills your hearts, as we all do along with you. Then round up his captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women - those who aren't strapping bombs to their own devils' spawn and sending them out to meet their 72 virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others - and their offspring - those who haven't already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god - as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they're traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose." (GILAD!!!!!!!!!!, 18/10/11)

[* "To the Jews of Judea and Samaria whose every stud hammered and floor tile laid in that magnificent, empty lunar landscape summoned the disapproving scrutiny of allies and the menacing outrage of foes, and who must contemplate the possibility of expulsion - or worse - every day for the sake of a 'peace' with a people whose declared war against them has never abated: May it be a sweet year." (May it be a sweet year,, 28/9/10)]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Can't Quite Get My Head Around This One

On the one hand:

"Female cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy are subjected to widespread, low-level sexual harassment, a comprehensive investigation of attitudes towards women at the ADF's officer training establishment has found. Sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said she also heard confidential testimony describing how some senior cadets held competitions to score a 'trifecta' - sex with a first-year cadet from each of the 3 services... The low-level sexual harassment consisted mainly of jokes and stories, unwelcome questioning and discussion among cadets about sexual activity... The survey found 74.1% of females and 30.3% of males reported unacceptable gender-related or sex-related harassment. That included whistling, sexist and offensive remarks, put-downs and unwanted attempts to establish a sexual relationship. And 2.1% of women and 0.2% of men reported being forced to have sex without consent while 4.3% of women and 1.9% of men reported being treated badly for refusing to have sex." (Defence academy women 'targeted', Brendan Nicholson & Mark Dodd, The Australian, 4/11/11)

On the other:

"Across our nation today [11/11/11] we will pause to commemorate a great war that began before most of us were alive and ended with the deaths of 60,000 Australian soldiers. Our leaders will make speeches echoing honour and sacrifice, school captains will lay wreaths, and trumpeted reveilles will puncture a minute's silence. But what is the point of all this national emotional investment in commemoration?

"Australians seem obsessed with commemorating world wars. We watch high-rating TV shows in which Australians trace the footsteps of their military ancestors. We've built thousands of war memorials and hundreds of RSL clubs. We swim in war memorial pools. We drive to our national capital on a Remembrance Driveway, where roadside toilets remember our Victoria cross winners. We can buy sand from Gallipoli over the counter at any Australia Post, and buy military histories by the metre in our bookstores. At fottball grand finals the names of fallen soldiers grace the big screen. Commemoration is almost inescapable - lest we forget.

"Commemoration sells and war memorials are a growth industry in Australia. This year, while the Australian Defence Force budget was cut, the Australian War Memorial budget increased 25%. Staff and seed funds from government are supporting a campign for a $3.5 million dollar Peacekeepers Memorial, and another group is soliciting for a $3 million edifice to the distant Boer War. Another $25 million is planned for two new world war memorials beside Lake Burley-Griffin. The Prime Minister has committed $8.1 million to building new war memorials in Wellington and Washington. At $39.6 million, the planned outlay on these memorials will be greater than the budget of Australia's peak intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments." (From On the 11th, remember the living, James Brown, Sydney Morning Herald, 11/11/11)

Witches Brew 7

Continuing my analysis of the September 15 anti-BDS fest in the NSW Legislative Council...

Former NSW Labor treasurer Eric Roozendaal's 'contribution' to the 'debate' was a textbook case of throw as much mud as possible and hope some of it sticks:

The Nazi slur, of course, is de rigeur:

"Why do people feel uncomfortable about this BDS campaign? I feel uncomfortable to see Jewish shops, Israeli shops, being targeted because that brings back images very similar to those seen pre-war in Nazi Germany, Austria and other places."

Not to mention the Zio-blur, whereby Jewish shops mesh seamlessly with Israeli shops. Should your opponent make a perfectly valid point about an Israeli firm aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes, simply call it a Jewish shop, and hey presto, he's an anti-Semite.

There's cheap as chips debating points:

"I do not see the BDS campaigning outside a Syrian kebab shop. I do not see people targeting Syrian stores in this country - or stores that have an association with the Syrian Government or have businesses in Syria." (To which Greens MLC Dr John Kaye shot back deliciously: "Name one!")

Where do I begin? a) I'm not aware of any Syrian organisation that calls for BDS; b) Syrian kebab shops (or more properly, kebab shops owned by Australian citizens of Syrian origin) are not links in a Syrian kebab shop chain that feeds the Syrian army and boasts about it on its website; c) The crimes of the Syrian regime are directed solely against its own people and do not extend to dispossessing and occupying another.

Ready for slur number 2?:

"The Greens need to understand that there is a distinct discomfort in watching particular civilian stores being targeted in a way that is very similar to what happened in pre-war Nazi Germany. I think that is a legitimate concern for people to have."

Chuck in a red herring:

"The BDS tries to equate Israel as an apartheid state in order to delegitimise it."

Appalling syntax aside, which of the three BDS demands - an end to the occupation and colonization of Arab lands; the recognition of the right of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and the promotion of the right of return to their homes and properties of Palestinian refugees - mention apartheid? (Not, of course, that Israel has any legitimacy to lose in the first place or is not an apartheid state.)

At bottom, it's all about Eric and tribe:

"What was the chant at the Max Brenner store in Victoria? It was 'From the river to the sea'. What does that mean? It means they want to see one state running from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean - one state. The basic theory of the BDS is that removing the only Jewish state in the Middle East and turning it into an Arab state will somehow contribute to peace."

Keeping in mind that the second line of the chant is 'Palestine will be free', is it then a crime to want freedom for Palestine?

Returning to the 3 key BDS demands, is it a crime to want the end of an illegal occupation, illegal settlements and illegal wall? Is it a crime to want complete equality for all citizens within Israel, regardless of their ethno-religious background? Is it a crime to want the return of ethnically-cleansed Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands? Is it a crime to want a secular, democratic state in Palestine vis a vis the existing sectarian, ethnographic, occupying, war-mongering entity known as Israel?

Seems Eric's all for freedom, equal rights, refugee rights and unfettered democracy - just not in Palestine. And why not? Simple: As a Jew, a Jewish state in Palestine grants Eric the unbelievable privilege of choosing whether to live in Australia or Israel or both. Palestinians, of course, get no such choice. Depending where it is they're hanging on by their fingernails, they're either born into an occupation (West Bank/Gaza), into second-class citizenship (Israel) or into stateless exile (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan etc).

Blatant misrepresentation never goes astray when all that matters is being on the top of the pile. First, make your straw man:

"Under the second major platform of the BDS we are led to believe that the resolution of all the problems in the Middle East will come from the abolition of the state of Israel - from the river to the sea." (The second platform of BDS, you'll remember, is actually equality for Arab Palestinian citizens in Israel.)

Then rip into him:

"Take away this little Jewish state stuck in the centre [sic] of the Middle East and all of the problems in the Middle East will be resolved. The problems in Libya will disappear. The problems in Egypt will disappear. The problems in Syria will disappear. The problems in Lebanon will disappear."

Stuck!? Well, who's responsible for that, Eric? And Eric, you've conveniently forgotten the biggest Middle Eastern problem of them all, that of the Palestinian people. A transition from a Jewish to a secular, democratic Palestinian state - from the river to the sea - would surely go a bloody long way to solving their near 100-year old problem of exile, statelessness, occupation and oppression.

Play the pseudo-scholar? Why not?:

"Members might ask: Where does the slogan 'From the river to the sea' come from? It is not an original slogan of the BDS; it is, of course, the slogan of Hamas - that democracy-loving organisation which is prohibited in many Western countries around the world."

I hate to have to break it to you, Eric, but geographic Palestine has always been from the river to the sea. And when you describe Hamas sarcastically as a democracy-loving organisation, you are, of course, speaking largely to an audience for whom the fact that Hamas won the eminently democratic Palestinian elections of 2006 fair and square would be about as well-known as the fact that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC.

Trivialise and mock the issue:

"I do not understand or see the connection between a white chocolate frappe and Max Brenner and resolving the problems of the Middle East."

But two can play that game: I, for example, simply do not understand or see the connection between Eric Roozendaal, a quite comfortable, thankyou, Australian citizen, who doesn't have to think twice before spending his grossly inflated salary on white chocolatte frappes, and the fortunes of the apartheid state which currently occupies all of Palestine - from the river to the sea.

Posture as the voice of sweet reason vis-a-vis those Green "extremists," Kaye and Shoebridge:

"I support a two-state solution in Palestine and Israel, as do most reasonably-minded people."

Finally, how about another slip, slop, slap of slur-n-blur?:

"I always support the right of people to protest. I have protested many times... but when Jewish chocolate shops are targeted on the slimmest of reasons I know something is going wrong... I have seen those images before somewhere and I am uncomfortable with that. This BDS campaign is sinister..."

OK, so Eric's a two-stater and Jewish chocolate shops are out of bounds, right? But hands up all those who've ever seen/heard him protest Israel's occupation, its settlements, or its wall. Come on, I'm patient.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In the Dead of Night 2

The NSW Greens' nocturnal nemesis, Dr John Nemesh, appears to have miraculously escaped being clapped in irons (see my 29/9/11 post In the Dead of Night):

"John Nemesh pleaded guilty yesterday in Newtown Local Court of distributing electoral material 'without particulars' after admitting his anti-Greens posters did not include the name and address of the printer. Magistrate Margaret Quinn, who described Dr Nemesh as 'a very well-regarded person', ordered the dismissal of the charges without proceeding to a conviction. Ms Quinn said she regarded the charge against Dr Nemesh as being of 'very low' importance. She said she had been aware of the Marrickville BDS campaign 'from the papers'. 'I make no comment on the matter, but I did think it was fairly disgraceful at the time', she said." (Greens' boycott a disgrace, says judge, Imre Sulusinszky, The Australian, 11/11/11)

This is a puzzling account indeed. Questions abound. Nemesh is well-regarded, but by whom? If the charge is of such low importance, why is it even on the books? What have the magistrate's views on BDS got to do with the case? And would they be relevant anyway if her information on the subject comes solely from the papers? Or should that be paper? And what to make of a magistrate who prefaces a comment that the Greens' boycott is a disgrace with I make no comment?

Then there's the contradiction between her gratuitous commentary on The Greens and the BDS campaign, but, we have to assume from Salusinszky's report, complete silence on the disgraceful nonsense emblazoned on Nemesh's posters: The Greens are anti-gay, anti-women, support terrorism and oppose democracy.

On the other hand, one can appreciate just how high the stakes were for the good doctor:

"His barrister, Stephen Russell, told the court Dr Nemesh was concerned that under a BDS scheme, his young daughter who attends school in Marrickville would be banned from participating in any exchange program with Israel." (ibid)

A father's worst nightmare!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guilty as Hell

Screwing Arab Palestine is a proud, near century-old British tradition. And Foreign Secretary William Hague's decision to abstain from voting on the Palestinian Authority's bid for recognition in the UN Security Council is merely the latest footnote in the sordid history of this perversion:

"Britain will abstain from the United Nations vote on the Palestinian bid for statehood, Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament Wednesday. For the quest for full recognition to be adopted by the Security Council, the Palestinians need at least 9 'yes' votes and must avoid a veto by any of the permanent council members: United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. The US already has announced it will veto the resolution." (Hague: UK to abstain on UN Palestinian vote, Gregory Katz, AP, 9/11/11)

The unspeakable practice, of course, began with Foreign Secretary (1916-19) Arthur James Balfour who lent his name to the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917, in which Britain proclaimed its plan to throw Palestine to the Zionist wolves. In fact, Hague's predecessor made absolutely no bones about it, as we know from the following memorandum addressed to his cabinet colleague Lord Curzon on 11 August 1919:

"The contradiction between the letters of the [League of Nations] Covenant and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the 'independent nation' of Palestine than in that of the 'independent nation' of Syria. For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country... The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion that is right. What I have never been able to understand is how it can be harmonised with the declaration [Anglo-French of November 1918], the Covenant, or the instructions to the [America's King-Crane] Commission of Enquiry. I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs, but they will never say they want it. Whatever be the future of Palestine it is not now an 'independent nation', nor is it yet on the way to become one. Whatever deference should be paid to the views of those living there, the Powers in their selection of a mandatory do not propose, as I understand the matter, to consult them. In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate." (Quoted in Palestine Papers: 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict, Doreen Ingrams, 1972/2009, p 73)

That Hague and his forbears are collectively responsible for one of today's longest-running Crimes Against Humanity will be obvious to all but the most inveterate historical amnesiacs. If anything, the following 1968 indictment of Britain's paramount role in this crime, by British historian Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975), is way too restrained:

"The story [of the Palestinian people] is a tragedy, and the essence of this tragedy is that about 1,500,000 Palestinian Arabs have now become refugees as a result of the intervention of foreign powers in their country's affairs. The might of these foreign powers has been irresistable, and the evicted Palestinian Arabs have been forcibly deprived of their country, their homes, and their property without having been allowed to have a voice in the determination of their own destiny.

"Though the facts are public, there is widespead ignorance of them in the Western World and, above all, in the United States, the Western country which has had, and is still having, the greatest say in deciding Palestine's fate. The United States has the greatest say, but the United Kingdom bears the heaviest load of responsibility. The Balfour Declaration of 2nd November 1917 was the winning card in a sordid contest between the two sets of belligerents in the First World War for winning the support of the Jews in Germany, Austria-Hungary, and - most important of all - in the United States.

"In promising to give the Jews 'a national home' in Palestine, the British Government was, I believe, using deliberately ambiguous language. As a citizen of the United Kingdom, I declare this belief of mine with feelings of shame and contrition, but I do believe that this is the truth. Throughout the First World War and after it, the Government of the United Kingdom was playing a double game. Perhaps a lawyer might be able to plead plausibly that there was no inconsistency between the respective pledges that Britain gave to the Arabs and to the Zionists, or between the inclusion of the Balfour Declaration in the text of the mandate taken by Britain for the administration of Palestine and the classification of this mandate in the 'A' class - a class in which the mandatory power was committed to giving the people of the mandated territory their independence at the earliest date at which they would be capable of standing on their own feet. Whatever the casuists might say, laymen - Arabs or Jews - would, I think, naturally infer, bona fide, from the British Government's various statements and acts that it had made two committments that were incompatible with each other.

"At the same time when the mandate was drafted, offered, and accepted, the Arab Palestinians amounted to more than 90% of the population of the country. The mandate for Palestine was an 'A' mandate, and, as I interpret the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, Palestine had not been excepted by the British Government from the area in which they had pledged themselves to King Hussein to recognize and support Arab independence. The Palestinian Arabs could therefore reasonably assume that Britain was pledged to prepare Palestine for becoming an independent Arab state. On the other side, the Zionists naturally saw, in the British promise of a 'national home' in Palestine, the entering wedge for the insertion into Palestine of the Jewish state of Israel which was in fact inserted there in 1948.

"To my mind, the most damaging point in the charge-sheet against my country is that Britain was in control of Palestine for 30 years - 1918-1948 - and that during those fateful 3 decades she never made up her mind, or at any rate never declared, what her policy about the future of Palestine was. All through those 30 years, Britain lived from hand to mouth, admitting into Palestine, year by year, a quota of Jewish immigrants that varied according to the strength of the respective pressures of the Arabs and Jews at the time. These immigrants could not have come in if they had not been shielded by a British chevaux-de-frise. If Palestine had remained under Ottoman Turkish rule, or if it had become an independent Arab state in 1918, Jewish immigrants would never have been admitted into Palestine in large enough numbers to enable them to overwhelm the Palestinian Arabs in this Arab people's own country. The reason why the state of Israel exists today and why today 1,500,000 Palestinian Arabs are refugees is that, for 30 years, Jewish immigration was imposed on the Palestinian Arabs by British military power until the immigrants were sufficiently numerous and sufficiently well-armed to be able to fend for themselves with tanks and planes of their own. The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the World, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the World's peace. Britain's guilt is not diminished by the humiliating fact that she is now impotent to redress the wrong that she has done." (From Toynbee's Foreward to The Palestine Diary (1970) by Robert John & Sami Hadawi)

My God, if ever a nation needed to get down on its knees and beg forgiveness from the Palestinian people - both past and present - it's surely Little Britain. Hague's latest manoeuvre in the Security Council shows just how far Little Britain is from this most necessary act of repentance.

(See also my 19/1/10 post It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.)

Lest We Forget Indeed!

"At 11am tomorrow (Friday), the nation will pause to remember all those who have fought gallantly for Australia on the battlefield... As Jews, we recall the gallant deeds of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade in the Battle of of Be'er Sheva [sic: Beersheba], which fought to liberate lands from the Ottoman Empire that would one day become part of Israel." (Editorial: Lest we forget, The Australian Jewish News, 11/11/11)

"... which fought to liberate lands from the Ottoman Empire that would one day become part of Israel." Which fought and died.

But what if those deaths could have been prevented?

What if Chaim Weizmann, Zionist supremo and architect of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which gave the Zionist movement its initial, British-backed foothold in Palestine, hadn't deliberately scuppered a peace deal with the Turks that would have seen them out of the war well before the Battle of Beersheba, and so saved the lives of who knows how many Australian, British and Turkish troops?

Those who, for propaganda purposes, would spin Sir Edmund Allenby's campaign against the Turks in Palestine (October-December, 1917), and especially its Australian involvement, as some kind of pre-ordained clearing of the way for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, wouldn't, of course, be interested in such questions. They might find a skeleton in the closet.

Those unafraid to explore the real history of the time, however, will take the trouble to read my 13/11/10 post Diggers Who Died for Israel? Just click on the Chaim Weizmann label below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Imitates Art

(Or Marquez imitates Diaz.)

Comic genius Tracey Ullman was born to send up the rest of us, in particular the Americans who walk among us.

From her State of the Union series, Tracey does ditzy/effervescent (take your pick) actress Cameron Diaz:

Voiceover: At an independent film festival in Portland, Oregan, Cameron Diaz talks about her latest movie.
Compere: We're talking to Cameron Diaz who stars in a new movie, That Terrible Time of the Month, a film about female genital mutilation.
Diaz (skolling coke and repeatedly burping): I'm sorry... I can just do that!
-Cameron, welcome.
Diaz (burps again, laughing hysterically)
- Cameron, welcome. Thankyou for talking to us.
Diaz: Hello, thankyou, thankyou.
-So what got you interested in female genital mutilation?
Diaz: Well, I was buying these amazing jeans from Fred Segal and it got me thinking that, like, African girls they can't even wear jeans because of their painfully mutilated geni-als, and that's just so sad and amazing because this is really like... the... golden age of American blue jeans so...
-So is it true that rock star Bono made you into more of an activist [Diaz burps] on this cause?
Diaz (laughs hysterically, crushing coke can): Who told you this? [Throws crushed can on floor] Um, yeah. We were on Larry David's plane and Bono took me into the bathroom, which is like amazing, like surrounded by, like Tibetan prayer flags and stuff, and he showed me where they do the actual circumcision. [Opening legs wide] It's like in here and they just -tshh- take it all out and then it was really sad and amazing [laughs].
-Let's see a clip from That Terrible Time of the Month which is creating Oscar buzz.
Diaz: Oh no, just stop! Just stop.

Diaz, brandishing rifle, bursts into African mud hut, screaming at off camera clitorodectimist: Just stop right now! Drop that clitoris! OK, Togo, c'mon [African girl runs to her as Diaz backs out still training her rifle on off camera clitorodectimist] You are really sad [burps] and... not amazing [farts].

OK, that's the 'art', now here's 'life'. Tracey'd love it:

"While [US] Department of Defense... policies still restrict women from serving in combat units, the soldiers selected from this group [of female trainees] will serve alongside the Army's most elite units on the battlefield. The Army has never selected women to do a mission because of their sex, until now. It is recruiting female soldiers to work closely with Special Forces teams and Ranger units during raids. Because women and children are often held in a separate room while soldiers search the compound, these teams go into villages in Afghanistan to build rapport with women, as it is culturally inappropriate for male soldiers to talk with them... The teams are trained to have a deeper understanding of Afghan culture and to connect with women in the villages to gather information on enemy activities. The teams aim to create a dialogue between US forces and Afghan women, which can help in medical clinics or building governance...

"The Soldier Urban Reaction Facility (SURF) was created to focus on building rapport in a foreign culture. Using cameras, the instructors can watch how the soldiers might handle different worst-case scenarios, staged in each of the 4 rooms. Built out of wood with faux arches and a crescent hanging over the opening, it looked like a cheap, rundown amusement park, but it is intended to resemble the Middle East. Rugs covered the floors. Pillows lined the walls of one room. In the center of the third room was a low table covered by a maroon cloth.

"When the test started, [Sgt Janiece] Marquez knocked softly on the door and was greeted by 7 female soldiers posing as 'villagers'. 'How is everyone?' Marquez asked, taking a seat on the floor and laying her rifle nearby. The 'villagers' started speaking at once. Their husbands beat them. One said she didn't want to be a sex slave around only to make babies. The 'villagers' demanded education. Freedom. Equality. The pleas were lost in a shrill wall of sound. 'Ladies, I can only speak to one of you at a time', Marquez said calmly. But before the meeting could get going, two soldiers acting as husbands burst into the room. Screaming and waving an AK-47 rifle, the men chased their wives into a back room. Marquez, startled, jumped up and snatched her rifle. Holding it in both hands, she backed away from the men, who were huge, compared with her. 'Why are you in my house?' demanded Spc David Atkinson. 'Who let you in here? Which one?' As Atkinson yelled, his partner, Staff Sgt. Mike Ward, started hauling the women out. Holding the women by the hair and 'slapping' them, Ward screamed at Marquez. She raised her rifle and ordered the men to get on their knees. 'Are you here to execute us?' Atkinson screamed. 'Lay down', Marquez said, grabbing Atkinson's AK-47, which had been dropped in the commotion. The men acted stunned, but they complied. After kneeling and stretching their arms out across the table, they began to yell at Marquez. 'Why are you in my house?' 'I am here to listen to your concerns', Marquez said, her rifle still trained on them. 'This is how you help people?' Atkinson screamed. 'By coming into my house and making me get on the floor? You want to keep disrespecting us?' Her training as an interrogator kicked in. 'Right now, you're under an insurgency', she told them. 'We fear for not only you but your wives. I am here to help people'." (In a new elite army unit, women serve alongside Special Forces, but first they must make the cut, Kevin Maurer, The Washington Post, 28/10/11)

Oh, and 'saving' brown (Afghan) women from brown (Afghan) men doesn't come cheap: $444 billion in the past decade to be exact.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

That Shitty Little Prime Minister


"They never remember to turn off the microphone. In one of the most bizarre stories in recent memory, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama were caught making catty comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a 'private' moment at the G20 conference. 'I cannot stand him. He is a liar', declared Sarkozy, speaking to Obama in one of the private rooms but having left his microphone running for all the media to hear. 'You're fed up with him?! remarked Obama, 'I have to deal with him every day!'" (Obama, Sarkozy trash-talk Netanyahu at G20 meeting, Jason Ditz,, 7/11/11)

Very funny, guys, but it looks to me like Bibi's got the last laugh, what with the media taking an oath of omerta:

"The conversation continued for nearly 3 minutes before the microphones were shut off, but incredibly went mostly uncovered by major media outlets in the wake of the conference. Reports that the members of the media on-hand were made to sign an agreement not to report the story have not been confirmed, but one journalist present said there was a 'discussion' held after the gaffe and everyone 'agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue'. The bumbling attempt at covering it up worked for a few days, with no major outlet covering the scandal after the Thursday talks. They only came to light today when media watchdog Arret sur images covered the gaffe, along with the efforts to 'intimidate' the press into not covering it. Incredibly, those present were quick to confirm that they were cowed into not covering it." (ibid)

How does he do it?

Well, this recent, inadvertently leaked, email from the director of the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre (BICOM), intended for donors' eyes only, informed us, in part, that:

"Throughout the weekend, BICOM staff were in contact with a whole host of BBC and SKY news desks and journalists, ensuring that the most objectively favourable line was taken, and offering talking heads, relevant to the stories unfolding'. BICOM's Senior Analyst Dr. Noam Leshem, briefed the BBC World News Editorial Board on Saturday afternoon regarding the fall-out from the Israel Egyptian Embassy siege. After contact with the BICOM Media Team, SKY News changed their narrative in explaining the prior events in the region which led up to this weekend, eventually acknowledging that both Egyptian AND Israelis were killed in Sinai a fortnight ago."

"BICOM has one of BBC News' key anchors on a bespoke delegation. When planning her very first trip to the region, Sophie Long got in touch with BICOM to see if we could help her out with meetings in the region. Sophie is now spending 3 days of her trip with Bicom Israel, taking a tour around the Old City, meeting Mark Regev and Dr. Alex Yacobsen, as well as visiting Ramallah and Sderot."

"I briefed Jonathan Ford, the Financial Times leader writer for his upcoming leading article in tomorrow's paper. BICOM had regular contact with the Editor at Large of Prospect Magazine, David Goodhart, helping to inform him about the forthcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood." (For the complete email, see This is how Israel runs the British press, Gilad Atzmon,, 6/11/11)

Ah, but it couldn't possibly be that way here, now could it?

PS: Unbelievable reader interest in Fairfax's online reports about the G20 gaffe: at around 8:35 am, 9/11, 534 people were reading The Age report, and 576 the SMH report.

Monday, November 7, 2011

None So Blind

"Many, perhaps even most of the greatest crimes have been committed not in the dark... but in full view of so many people who simply chose not to look and not to question." (Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, Margaret Heffernan)

What is euphemistically described as the 'Middle East conflict' or the 'Palestine problem', perhaps the greatest colonial running-sore of modern times, began as an act of wilful blindness. Consider the following line of thought:

"Reading [Theodor Herzl's declarations], the reader may be conscious of a remarkable anomoly in them. If Herzl's fundamental thesis was that persecuted or unenfranchised Jews should get away from their false environment and found a State where they would be by themselves and so be the equals of any men, if this was what Herzl meant, how then could he come to consider Palestine as a spot where such a State could be founded? It was a territory where the Jews could not be self-secure, for the Arabs were already living there in hundreds of thousands. How could Herzl fix his eyes on Palestine then, where the conditions for his Sinn Fein 'ourselves alone' State were unobtainable?"

This obvious question - 'What about the Palestinian Arabs?' - so beautifully framed by British author and journalist J.M.N. Jeffries (1880-1960) in his 1939 book Palestine: The Reality, goes direct to the fatal flaw at the heart of political Zionism.

Jeffries continues:

"The question may well be asked. But it would be difficult for Zionism to provide an answer to it. Nothing is more significant of the character of the Zionist movement than the fact that in those crucial days of last century it never paid the least attention to the Arabs who peopled the country upon which all its efforts were directed. Not a lift of a Zionist eyebrow seems to have been wasted upon an Arab form.

"The sincere Mr Stein is one of the few Zionist writers who seems conscious of this shortcoming. He does what he can to rectify it. 'When Herzl', he explains, 'had spoken of a Charter' (from the Sultan) 'he had not, needless to say, contemplated any eviction of the Arabs of Palestine in favour of the Jews. He was, to judge from his Congress addresses, hardly aware that Palestine had settled inhabitants, and he had, in perfect good faith, omitted the Arabs from his calculations'.

"Was there ever anything more extraordinary than this? Vast plans are made engaging the destinies of a multitude of people, yet the man who engenders these plans never takes the essential first step of surveying the land where he proposes to carry them out. Nor apparently do any of his associates suggest it to him. There might be no Arabs in the world for all the difference it makes to him or to his associates.

"Year by year Zionist congresses are summoned, and from their platforms and in the corridors of the assembly speakers discourse incessantly about themselves, about champions and about opponents of the cause within the ranks of Jewry, about the dove-tailing of ill-fitting factors in their programme, about their hopes and their fears of Gentile help, about their own culture and their own need for spiritual expansion. Without doubt these were reasonable and respectable topics. When however were they put aside to consider the existence of inhabitants in the land which the Congress members proposed to acquire? When indeed? Was a single day's session of a single Congress devoted to the discussion of the understanding which must be reached with the people of Palestine? Not one.

"Herzl's own situation is the most extraordinary of all. He justly becomes celebrated. He goes about the world spreading his gospel. He interviews monarchs and chiefs-of-government. Strange interviews they must have been, for he is closeted with the Sultan, the ruler of Palestine, yet comes away without news that Palestine has a population. He interviews the Pope and talks with him of the custody of the Holy Places, but never learns of the Christian inhabitants who frequent them. He even visits Palestine, but seems to find nobody there but his fellow-Jews. Arabs apparently vanish before him as in their own Arabian nights. The Arabic tongue at the moment of utterance is transmuted magically into Hebrew or Yiddish or German!

"But it is when we turn from Herzl to his associate leaders, and still more when we consider the action of the chiefs of Zionism who immediately succeeded him, that his plea of not having perceived the Arabs cannot be entertained. We are given to understand that this blankness of view persisted for some 6 or 7 years. Mr Stein, writing of the period round 1905, says that 'it was now coming to be realized that Palestine was not empty'. Herzl had died after the Sixth Congress, in 1904, and his death marks a demarcation.

"I cannot see how it can be held that for 6 years a great number of admittedly intelligent educated men remained ignorant of the presence of the Arabs. If they did remain so ignorant, theirs was as bad a case of culpable ignorance as can be imagined, and they cannot be allowed to profit by it. But I do not believe in this ignorance, and I maintain that the-half-and-half prolongation of it which was kept up till the War, and to all intents was resumed afterwards (as will be seen when the Balfour Declaration is analysed), altogether discredits the leaders of the Zionist cause as well as their friends in our own Cabinet.

"There were 19 Jewish colonies established in Palestine before the year 1900. The colonies of Rishon-le-Zion, Zichron Jacob and Rosh Pinah had been founded in the early 'eighties, and housed thousands of Jews who had fled from Russia. The international Jewish Colonization Association, founded by Baron Hirsch in 1891, was busy in 1900 reorganizing these colonies, which had been over-subsidized by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The Choveve Zion or 'Lovers of Zion' organization, established in Russia, but with committees in Vienna, Berlin, New York, Paris and London, had been engaged in Jewish settlement for 6 years. The 'Jewish Colonial Trust' had been founded and registered in England to collect funds for use in Palestine and had received a quartrer of a million pounds in its first year. The Jewish 'National Fund', created to acquire land in Palestine, was founded in 1901. In Jerusalem there were many thousands of Jews, and also in Jaffa.

"All these trusts and colonies and the people who inhabited them were in regular and continuous communication with Jewish bodies and persons throughout Europe and America. Many of the Jews of Jerusalem were subsidized by pious co-religionists, so that they alone were responsible for a network of correspondence between Palestine an innumerable synagogues and congregations everywhere. The Choveve Zion and the secular associations necessarilly were drawn into association with the Zionist Organization and with the Zionist Congresses. At Basle and at the succeeding Congresses there was infinite discussion about the colonies.

"In a hundred ways the conditions prevailing in Palestine and the existence of the Arabs and the varying ways in which the Arabs reacted to existing colonies and to the promise of more colonies must have been known to all Zionists.

"The only conclusion then, and it is a conclusion forced on the observer, is that if Zionism was unaware of the Arabs it was because most Zionists perceived an obstacle in the Arabs and did not want to be aware of them. The Zionist leaders, and the more prominent of their followers, obsessed with the absurd notion that Palestine had always been the patrimony of the Jews, did not intend to be aware of anything which conflicted with this. To have made approaches to the Arab population, and to have discussed at any length the bar which that population presented or might present to the accomplishment of their plans, would have to disconfess the plea upon which those plans were based. It would have disclosed to most of the non-Jewish world, and indeed to a good part of the Jewish world, that there was a factor in existence which upset the whole formula of Jewish ownership.

"I do not say that all of the leading Zionists viewed the matter quite in this fashion. Some of them will have thought about the Arabs in a careless, indifferent way. They will have considered them as nobodies who would disappear presently, decamping from the soil after a little money had been spent or by some other almost natural sequence. They would vanish like the mist before the sun of Zion.

"Those who thought like this wasted no time in discussing persons of such little import as the Arabs. As far as they themselves were concerned the Sultan of Turkey was the temporary population of Palestine. Of him they did talk, and with him they dealt, if unsuccessfully.

"But most of the principal figures of Zionism must lie under the imputation of not having desired to perceive the Arabs. Their attention had been called to them by one man at least who belonged to their own number, Achad Ha'am. Achad Ha'am was the pen-name of Asher Ginsberg, whose essays and treatises became the literary focus of all Jews who opposed the establishment of a Jewish State. His patent disinterestedness and his altruism marked him out amidst his contemporaries. He declared that the political Zionists, that is to say those who worked for a Jewish State, were ruining the cause. 'Judaism', wrote he in 1897, 'needs at present but little. It needs, not an independent State, but only the creation in its native land of conditions favourable to its development; a good-sized settlement of Jews working without hindrance in every branch of culture, from agriculture and handicrafts to science and literature'.

"Achad Ha'am protested even some years before the Basle Conference against the Zionist wilful or casual exclusion of the Arabs. It was folly, he said, to treat them as wild men of the desert who could not see what was going on around them. At the Basle Conference he sat 'solitary amid his friends, like a mourner at a wedding-feast', and wrote afterwards of 'the complete absurdity of Herzl's statesmanship, aimed inexorably at a Jewish state in Palestine'. Twenty-three years later, in 1920, he wrote, 'From the very beginning we have always ignored the Arab people'." (pp 39-43)