Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Greg Sheridan's Blocked Mind

Well, The Australian's foreign editor, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, is baaack at last following bypass surgery.

Understandably, he's not quite up to speed yet with the frequency of his columns, but the ideological rigidity of his views, as infallible as that of any medieval Pope, shows no diminution:

"[I]t is unequivocally a good thing that the Sri Lankan government defeated the Tamil Tigers, one of the most murderous and vicious of all terrorist groups, which enslaved children, murdered civilians and pioneered the suicide bomb." (Isolating Fiji, Sri Lanka or Myanmar would serve no useful purpose, 7/2/13)

I was particularly struck by Sheridan's tenuous connection with reality when I read the following in today's Australian:

"A Human Rights Watch report documenting dozens of cases of torture and rape of Tamils in the custody of Sri Lankan security forces claims the practice remains 'widespread and systematic' more than 3 years after the end of the civil war." ('Torture & rape of Tamils is widespread', Amanda Hodge)

As with his demonisation of Hamas - a 'death cult' - Sheridan's Tamil Tigers emerged, seemingly, out of some pit in Hell.

The very concept of a resistance movement like the LTTE emerging as a direct result of the failure of decades of peaceful, non-violent struggle by Sri Lanka's Tamil minority for such basic human rights as the preservation of their language, secularism, constitutional rights for the Tamil minority, a de-centralised administration, and an end to the caste system is, apparently, anathema to Sheridan.

Arteries can be unblocked but not, it seems, a blocked mind. 

Gerard Henderson Spins Prisoner X

Legendary Sydney Morning Herald columnist Gerard Henderson sets out to rebut international law professor Ben Saul's thesis that, re the Prisoner X case, "[t]here comes a point where a Jewish person cannot faithfully be both Australian and Israeli. One has to choose." (Zygier spy case gets ever curiouser, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/2/13)

Now of course, Gerard being Gerard, MERC has no choice but to agree:

"The concept of dual loyalties in Australia has an unpleasant connotation since it invariably implies disloyalty. A century ago, some sectarians labelled Catholics as possessing a dual loyalty. This was cover for an imputation that their real loyalty was to the Pope or to the Irish nation, usually both. Today, the allegation tends to be made against Jewish Australians, whether or not they hold both Australian and Israeli nationalities. The imputation is some Australian Jews put their loyalty to Israel before that to Australia."

Spot on, Gerard! I mean, just because an Australian Jew is indoctrinated in a 'Jewish' school into believing that Palestine/Israel is his birthright and that he can only really feel 'Jewish' if he migrates there, and just because he (or so the scenario runs) is recruited by its intelligence service and returns to Australia to pick up new Australian passports under new names which he then uses to travel to countries periodically reduced to rubble by Israel and gets up to God-knows-what while there, doesn't mean that his primary loyalty to is Israel, right?

Gerard is correct: the "tragic death in custody" of Ben Zygier all boils down to a matter of "available evidence," and "[t]he available evidence suggests that Zygier was a troubled young man who committed suicide following his arrest by Israeli authorities on security-related charges."

So what's all this about a Mossad connection? Where's the "available evidence" for that?

"[T]he [visiting Israeli] journalist Alon Ben-David is reported in The Australian Jewish News as saying Zygier was a young man in distress who revealed state secrets to a foreign element," but hey, is there anything in what Ben-David says to suggest he worked for Mossad? I mean, I've read that sentence a dozen times and haven't come up with a single thing!

Maybe Zygier just found the aforementioned "state secrets" by the side of the road, and thinking they must've accidentally fallen out of the pocket of a passing "foreign element," polite and all as he was, set about returning them to their owner. To put it another way, just because he walked like a duck and quacked like a duck, doesn't mean he was one, right?

"Australia is a remarkably tolerant and accepting society."

Absolutely! I mean, what other country would provide refugees with free accommodation on a tropical island?

"Yet there has always been a degree of anti-Semitism within it. An accusation of dual loyalties against Jewish Australians from an anti-Semite is regrettable but not unexpected. When such claims are made by those who should know better, it is a matter for genuine concern."

Now I'm so glad Gerard mentioned that. After all, anti-Semitism is the only form of racism that really matters, right? And yes, Ben Saul, he's talking about you!

As Gerard correctly concludes:

"The Jewish community spends considerable funds guarding its synagogues and schools from attack... In such an environment, it is irresponsible in the extreme for prominent Australians to imply some of their fellow citizens are disloyal."

How true! Since synagogues and Jewish schools are about as secure as the Alamo was with Santa Anna's forces scaling its walls, it's perfectly understandable that some Australian Jews should feel the need to become Israeli agents or soldiers and off a few Palestinians. Perfectly understandable.

Now no one, of course, would suggest - least of all me - that that might have something to do with Zionism's insistence that there's absolutely no daylight between Judaism and itself, or that Israel promotes itself as a Jewish state belonging to all Jews everywhere, including those down under. I mean, where's the "available evidence" for that?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where Would We Be Without Them?

Because much of the finest work of our politicians, state or federal, goes on day in, day out, away from the public gaze, this remarkable set of men and women is often not given the credit that is its due by an increasingly cynical and tuned-out electorate.

So, in an effort to restore the public's faith in the worth of our political representatives, I take this opportunity to post the following snapshots of Australian politicians who, even as I type, toil away, thanklessly, in the service of... Israel

Take the state member for Mount Lawley in Western Australia, Michael Sutherland (Liberal), for example. "As well as being patron of the Friends of Israel of Western Australia, Sutherland, who has visited the Holy Land twice, is also a co-convenor of Western Australia's Parliamentary Israel Friendship Group." (WA friends become political opponents, The Australian Jewish News, 22/2/13)

His rival in the forthcoming state election, Labor's Bob Kucera, MP for Mount Lawley from 2001 until 2008,  is no slouch at serving Israel either, having "inaugurated the Parliamentary Friends of Israel." In fact, so sold on... Israel is Bob that he confesses that it is actually "a belief in Israel that drives me on." (ibid)

In the federal sphere too our Israelites, if I may borrow the term (which I'm sure they'd wear with pride), are doing sterling work to ensure the safety and security of... Israel.

For example, Liberal backbencher Alex Hawke (surely a worthy successor of his namesake Bob) must surely have been channelling Benjamin Netanyau when he said in a parliamentary debate on 18 February: "Iran 'is perhaps the biggest security question of our age'." (Liberal, Labor debate Iran, The Australian Jewish News, 22/2/13)

In the same debate, Liberal MP for Cowan, Luke Simpkins, frothing at the very mention of the Islamic entity, "outlined [its] imprisonment of political activists, journalists and opposition leaders, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, while raising concerns about the fairness of its electoral system ahead of a presidential poll in June." In fact, so consumed with indignation at Iranian crimes was he that he moved a motion calling for "the release of political prisoners in Iran and a further toughening of sanctions to pressure the regime into opening its nuclear facilities for inspection," explaining "they [Iran] claim to want to lead the the Islamic world and to wipe their enemies - namely, Israel - off the face of the earth." (ibid)

Jewish Israelite Josh Frydenberg, Liberal MP for Kooyong, was adamant that Australia had a job to do on Iran in the United Nations. For Israel, that is: "Australia had 'a responsibility to use our chairmanship of the United Nations sanctions committee to do more to stop Iran'." (ibid)

Not to be outdone, Labor MP for Melbourne Ports and doyen of our Jewish Israelites, Michael Danby, always hugely aroused during such debates, ejaculated that "sanctions had halved Iran's oil exports, causing a loss of $50 billion 'in hard currency' in one year." (ibid)

Enough said. So next time you hear of a pay rise for our politicians, don't roll your eyes and curse. Focus instead of the valuable work they do for... Israel and know that the country - Israel that is - is in good hands.

Monday, February 25, 2013

He Who Pays the Piper

"There was applause when [Wilders] explained his platform. 'No sharia... No more mosques. No more immigration from Islamic countries.' But he received his loudest applause when he slammed as 'most dangerous of all are the attempts of governments all over our Western societies to draft bills that restrict our freedom of speech under the pretext of discrimination or hate speech... The second loudest applause came when he praised Israel." (Free speech stoned to death, Miranda Devine, Sunday Telegraph, 24/2/13)

And why might Wilders be praising Israel? Read on:

"As I've written before, Geert Wilders is one of the scarier politicians out there. And yet a number of Australian politicians have flirted with supporting him, or causes similar to his own. They've got nothing, however, on prominent Jewish thinkers David Horowitz and Daniel Pipes, the latter of which is a regular guest to Australia, and their funding of his legal defence - and who knows what else. Reuters has this exclusive:

'Anti-Islam groups in America have provided financial support to Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an anti-immigration campaigner who is seeking re-election to the Dutch parliament this week... The Middle East Forum, a pro-Israeli think tank based in Philadelphia, funded Wilders' legal defence in 2010 and 2011 against Dutch charges of inciting racial hatred, its director Daniel Pipes said. The MEF has a stated goal, according to its website, of protecting the 'freedom of public speech of anti-Islamist authors, promoting American interests in the Middle East and protecting the constitutional order from Middle Eastern threats'. It sent money directly to Wilders' lawyer via its Legal Project, Pipes said... David Horowitz, who runs a network of Los Angeles-based conservative groups and a website called FrontPage Magazine, said he paid Wilders' fees for making two speeches, security costs during student protests and overnight accommodation for his Dutch bodyguards during a 2009 US trip.'

"It baffles me that Jews - as people who have been subjected to horrible instances of oppression and antisemitism over the years - feel that it's OK to align themselves with such virulently racist and unapologetically anti-Islam politicians like Wilders. By extension is the support, very clear in Australia, for groups like the Q Society, which espouse almost verbatim Wilders' views, which is equally repugnant..." (How prominent Jews are funding and supporting anti-Muslim MP Geert Wilders, Liam Getreu,, 12/9/12)

Rats in the Ranks

Jeez... what does a Dutch prophet have to do to convince those in the meeja most receptive to his 'Muslims under the mattress' message? You know, the ones who paid their pretty penny, battled their way to the remote south-western Sydney suburb of Liverpool (albeit with the assistance of a Gregory's), drank deeply of his STOP ISLAM BEFORE IT STOPS YOU! rant, and, who knows, maybe even knelt and kissed the hem of his robe.

Now you're not going to believe this, but once they'd made it back to civilization, these renegades immediately set about SOWING DOUBT & DIVISION IN THE RANKS!

First, the Q Society's go-to man at Fairfax, Paul Sheehan, threw a spanner in the works by actually conceding that MOST MUSLIMS ARE NOT FROTHING FUNDAMENTALISTS:

"[T]here is no Muslim monolith. The problem is a strain of violent, medieval, repressive Islamic fundamentalism that exists within every large Muslim community but does not define any large Muslim community." (Overkill in the name of Islam, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/2/13)

Then, as if that concession to the bleeding obvious were not bad enough, bloody Miranda Devine just up and lashed out at Geert something terrible.

True, she did kick off by condemning "Australia's shabby treatment of Geert Wilders" and faithfully recording his every (?) inspired utterance, but then, in an unforgivable affront to the coiffed Cassandra, the bitch actually went on a thinking binge:

"Much of what he says about the difficulties of Muslim integration in Europe is true. But I couldn't help but wonder how it would feel for the decent law-abiding Australian Muslims I know to sit in that room. What is wrong with a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf? What is wrong painting an arrow on the floor of a jail cell pointing to Mecca? What is wrong with Muslims building a mosque to pray in? And why keep calling Muhammad a paedophile? Some of what Wilders says is calculated to cause offence, and so if he is snubbed, he can blame himself." (Free speech stoned to death, Sunday Telegraph, 24/2/13)

Islamic fundamentalism does not define any large Muslim community? Decent, law-abiding Muslims I know...?

Really now, with 'friends' like these...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

'Worse Than Amritsar'

In the Zionist lexicon, the word massacre can mean just about anything from a scratch on up - so long as we're talking about Israeli Jews. But when it comes to Palestinians, no matter how many are gunned down, shelled or bombed to smithereens by Israeli terrorists, the 'm' word simply does not apply. You may, for example, remember the Israeli government swearing blind that the massacre of Palestinians by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin in April 2002 was nothing of the sort:

"Had the United Nations investigators who were standing by in Geneva, been allowed to enter Israel to carry out a proper investigation, perhaps the real truth would be a bit clearer. But, there was no independent investigation. Just as in Tiananmen Square, the power of the gun and the tank ensured there was no proper body count or accounting. Just as happened in Tiananmen Square, the uninformed and those with their own agenda, are now claiming there was no massacre. There was a massacre, a considerable number of human beings were indiscriminately and unnecessarily slaughtered. The truth was the other victim." (Correspondents Report - UN report on Jenin massacre flawed, Peter Cave,, 4/8/02)

So why raise the matter of Zionist semantics now?

You can blame serendipity in the form of an opinion piece in The Australian on the occasion of UK Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to the Indian city of Amritsar, and a reference to Amritsar in a near-forgotten set of diaries, both, as it happens, read within 24 hours of each other.

The first, originally published in The Times on the occasion of Cameron's recent visit to the city of Amritsar, part of a current 3-day trip to India, focused on an infamous massacre perpetrated in the city by British colonial troops in 1919. I reproduce it here in full:

"Indians have been waiting almost a century for the British to apologise for the massacre in Amritsar. All the signs are that they will have to be patient for some years yet. The Queen, visiting the Jallianwala Bagh memorial in 1997, spoke of regret and sadness; David Cameron has described it as shameful. But 'sorry' remains elusive because it would acknowledge the moral shortcomings of British efforts to keep its empire together by force.

"Nowhere was this force quite as naked as in Amritsar on an April afternoon in 1919. Revolt had been in the air for months and the British were on edge. When an Anglican woman missionary was attacked in an Amritsar lane, Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered Indians using that thoroughfare to crawl on all fours. News that there would be a meeting in the Jallianwala Park convinced him it could lead to insurrection. Dyer arrived with 90 soldiers, most of them Gurkhas, and positioned two armoured cars at the main entrance. About 15,000 people were gathered, tightly packed. He did not order them to disperse and waited barely 30 seconds before ordering the soldiers to fire. There was a howling as some bullets penetrated two people. The firing lasted 10 minutes. According to the British estimate, 379 died; Indians put the figure at close to a thousand. Dyer, asked in a subsequent inquiry why he had not arranged for the wounded to be treated in hospital, replied 'It was not my job'. Instead, the dead lay on the ground through the night, gnawed, reports said, by jackals. Dyer told another inquiry: 'I think it quite possible that I could have dispersed the crowd without firing, but they would have come back again and laughed and I would have made, what I consider, a fool of myself.'

"The massacre sowed decades of resentment. Some 21 years later, an independence activist assassinated Lieutenant Governor Michael Dwyer, who had backed Dyer's order to shoot. The activist was hanged but hailed as a hero by the Nazis. 'Will the historians of the future have to record that it was not the Nazis but the British ruling class which destroyed the British Empire?' wrote the New Statesman in 1940." (Sorry seems to be the hardest word, Roger Boyes, 22/2/13)

So, I'm pretty sure you'd agree. If it's massacre you're talking about, Amritsar 1919 is as good an example as any, right?

The second reference to Amritsar and its massacre came in Baffy: The Diaries of Blanche Dugdale 1936-1947, edited by N.A. Rose, 1973. You may remember the gentile-Zionist ultra, Baffy, niece of Lord Balfour and one of the habitues of London's Zionist Office, featured in my 3 posts The Jeffries-Dugdale Exchange, 6-8/1/13) Here's the Amritsar reference in her diary entry for January 15, 1941 - London:

"Wet snow. Zionist Office. Heard about some progress in the Army negotiations, and most sickening and horrible reports sent by Moshe [Shertok], therefore reliable, about atrocities committed on the refugees who were torn away from Athlit camp and sent to Mauritius. I refused to read the evidence, but Lewis [Namier] said worse than 'Amritsar'." (p 181)

So there you go, according to Lewis Namier, a leading British Zionist official and influential historian, the push and shove entailed in the removal of illegal Jewish refugees in December 1940 from the British prison camp at Athlit, just south of Haifa, to the island of Mauritius, constituted a massacre 'worse than Amritsar'.

One of the key lessons to be learnt from a close study of the history of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine (1917-?) is that you can believe almost nothing that a Zionist ideologue or propagandist says. Given the movement's propensity for bare-faced lies, endless spin and semantic quibbling - one always needs to penetrate the fog of propaganda and observe with clear eyes its actions on the ground.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stacy Does a Runner

'Menzies House'* grandly bills itself as "Australia's leading online community for conservative, centre-right and libertarian thinkers." 'Thinkers' like Cory Bernardi, that is.

Scanning the comment threads which follow its opinion pieces provides an insight into the prejudices and obsessions that animate what might be called today Abbott's Army.

Now Geert Wilders, you'll be unsurprised to know, is a hero to these folk, and masochist that I am, I recently found myself reading the comments which followed the January 16 post Dutch MP Geert Wilders to Visit Australia.

There was, of course, the usual band of Islamophobic nuttjobs typical, I suppose, of those currently flocking  to Abbott's colours. And then there was Stacy, a woman sufficiently brave - or maybe foolish - to at least make an attempt to inject a little common sense, nuance and human decency into the 'conversation'.

In a world where Muslims have largely replaced Jews as the favoured target of reactionaries, racists, and retards, I found her contributions both poignant and reassuring. So here they are, along with those of her detractors and my annotations:

Stacy: "I was friends with a very nice Muslim family next door many years ago. The husband was religious but very generous and tolerant of everyone else's beliefs. His wife was much the same, and she would always bring over fantastic Lebanese food once a week, and we'd do the same, keeping in mind to make sure it was halal - but she'd always tell us what was and what wasn't. She didn't even have to wear a hijab. Her husband told me that was because all the Koran tells you to do is dress respectfully, and that's what she did.Then her husband died of a heart attack. She then married a more fundamentalist man, one who took issue with her associating with us. He made her wear a hijab outside the house and forbade me from speaking to her alone. Eventually, they moved away, and sadly I haven't heard from the family in years. The point of this story is that it isn't Islam that we should have a problem with, but the fundamentalists that curtail all forms of freedom and interpretation that all religions need."

Well, as you can imagine, that was like waving the proverbial red rag at the proverbial bull. Enter 'Abraham'. Seeing as how Stacy's neighbour's husband didn't quite conform to Abraham's stereotypical Muslim, he just had to set her right:

"Well Stacy it is quite clear that her first husband wasn't an extremely devout Muslim. Her second seems to take his vows to Allah serious [sic] and as a result he has brought his new family in line with the prophet's teachings. So no Stacy, it's not whether you are fundamentalist or not. It is whether you adhere to the teachings of Islam or not. Islam is the problem. Your naivety is understandable."

'Ah yes. Thank you for that clarification, Abraham,' Stacy was expected to respond. 'You're right, of course, I now see that my neighbour's husband wasn't the real Muslim McCoy.' But Stacy, bless her, had attitude and shot back with this:

"Actually, Abraham, he was a very religious person. He went to Friday prayers and adhered to the laws of Islam. We even had discussions about his religious views and he said that it was only the observers of strict Sunni Islam that follow 'the more devout path' as he called it. He also said that there were many paths to paradise in Islam and that the prophet [had] stated that in his teachings. So no, Abraham, it's not [simply a matter] of [focusing] on some Islamic fundamentalists behaving badly, it's whether you've done your research on the area and actually have half a brain to think with. Your naivety is understandable."

Such cheek! Look out, Stacy! Did you really think you could give Abraham lip on his own turf and get away with it? Surely the lurid Islamophobic fantasies, the simple-minded knee-jerk assertions, the faux scholarship, the snearing condescension and the execrable prose didn't come as a complete surprise? Ah well, at least the 72 virgins didn't get a mention:

"You said it yourself '... the more devout path...' And of these 'many paths' would you agree martyrdom to be one? Killing innocent women and children by self-sacrifice? Is that one of the 'many paths' your dear Muslim brother referred to? So, Stacy, I will concede to your argument if you can name me one Islamic country (with that I mean a country with a Muslim majority) where Christians, Bahia's [sic], Buddhists, Catholics, homosexuals, atheists and women are treated with respect, equality and basic human rights. You have to understand Islam is a comprehensive philosophy governing every sphere of Life. Spiritual, mental, physical, social and cultural. But you of course knew that from your deep discussions with your 'friend'. Why do you think Islamic countries are poor, underdeveloped, oppressive, and primitive? And why do you think Western countries are wealthy, developed, progressive and modern? Put yourself in your neighbours shoes. She is now subjected to the most oppressive and primitive existence possible and that in Australia. What if it was you? What would you have done? Accept it as the prophet's will. Insh'allah I guess. However my offer stands. One country." 

Inevitably in these 'discussions', a self-styled Quran/sharia expert or three will weigh in. In this instance, he was going by the name of 'Linne':

"Stacey [sic], before you get completely out of your depth I suggest that you have a read of the Qu'ran and Sharia Law. While reading Sharia Law you will quickly reach the part that says that it is completely acceptable for Muslims to lie to non-believers. They do it all the time and that has been the reason for most of their success in having the gullible believe that they are really a peaceful ideology. If you read 'Islamic Sharia Law In Brief' you may have a different opinion."

There you go, Stacy, your neighbour's husband was lying through his teeth! You were conned! By now the penny was beginning to drop for Stacy. However, feisty as ever, she soldiered on:

"Well, Abraham, it looks like I'm not going to change your mind on any of these matters but I'll retort, just to have a laugh at your reply. First point, no. My 'dear Muslim brother' said that those fundamentalists were practising a flawed version of Islam, one that is contradicted by passages in the Koran. Should our perception of a religion be based solely on the practitioners who demonstrate the lowest morals? Second point, Israel. That has a Muslim majority and they have quite comprehensive rights for all those people. [Yes, I know, Stacy's got Israel wrong, but let's continue.] Then there's Turkey, which also has those basic rights. Forgot about those counties, Abraham? Third point, of course I knew that, and your simplified, reduced, uninspired and quite frankly inane comment on that serves only to detract from the discussion we're having. Fourth, they're not all poor. In fact, they controlled one of the largest empires in the modern world at one point. Remember the Ottoman Empire from history? They were quite successful until they picked the wrong side in WWI, neglected the Turkish people to maintain the empire during the war and then had said empire dismantled piece by piece. After which, those countries had to rebuild everything from scratch. Sixth, I wondered exactly the same thing and I even asked her if she was happy. You know what she told me? She wasn't. Then why did you marry him? I asked. She said that he was a good provider and that with his help she'd be able to afford to send her son to university and to care for her other son who had Downs Syndrome. I didn't agree with her choice, but it was hers to make."

In response to Linne, our expert on all matters Islamic, Stacy replied coolly:

"Do you have any sources for this claim? You made it, the burden of proof is on you. And you do have to prove they lie 'all the time'. I also assume this 'lying' extends to eating with us, inviting us to dinner at their place, the polite conversations, and the mutual generosity. I think you'd better jump in a lake, Linne, and cool off, the heat must be getting to you."

But her simple requests merely provoked this equivalent of projectile vomiting from our resident Professor of Islamic Law:

"Islamic Taqiyya vs. Reality of Islamic Sharia! Caution! Islam permits devout Muslims to lie, cheat, and deliberately bluff non-muslims to protect or promote his religion of Islam, anytime, anywhere. And this tactic is known as 'Islamic Taqiyya' (read: Islamic deception), and was originally used by the Prophet of Islam to fool, and later subjugate and destroy enemies of Islam. As Prophet of Islam repeatedly asserted: 'War is a deception' and with this holy-tactic, Prophet of Islam established his most intolerant religion of violence (by 80 plus bloody battles) which he later named as: 'religion of peace'!"

Abraham, by contrast, thought he'd play the schoolmaster taking an errant pupil to task. Particularly noteworthy is his tender concern for "homosexuals" on a site which features posts by Cory Bernardi, the Abbott frontbencher who was sent to the backbench last year for linking gay marriage to bestiality. Hell, maybe Abraham is Cory Bernardi!:

"As per Israeli Bureau of Statistics, the Religious Makeup of Israel (end of 2008) is as follows... [He rattles off the relevant stats] Now unless you know something the IBS doesn't... it's a FAIL on Israel. As for Turkey, they might have a majority Muslim population but are homosexuals granted the same rights as say homosexuals in Australia? You state your 'friend' considered Sunni Islam to be prone to exploitation bt fundamentalists due to its more stringent form of Islam, correct? Turkey has a Muslim population of 90% of which 85% are Sunni. Could you with certainty propose Turkey as a successful and progressive Islamic nation? Not according to your own statements. Lastly, the Ottoman Empire, seriously? That's the best you can come up with in supporting Islam as not some primitive and oppressive failure? The Ottoman Empire ceased to exist in 1922 after 623 years. And since then? They have become a social and political powerhouse... or not. So... again... on Turkey also a FAIL."

With this ex-cathedra judgment, Stacy just knew in her bones that if she continued to value her sanity, the only course of action open to her was to put as much distance as possible between 'Australia's leading online community for conservative, centre-right and libertarian thinkers' and her good self. I'm outta here! summed up her final contribution to the 'debate':

"All I came here to do was say not to judge a religion from the worst it has to offer, and offer the story of my neighbours, but it seems that we have to judge everyone from the lowest common denominator. I could go on and correct Abraham on his flawed history lesson regarding the collapse of the Ottoman Empire or the current history of Turkey, including gay rights - not that Abraham gives much thought to gays unless he's trying to prove a point, but I'd just be wasting my time. I wish you all the best." 

Assuming victory over this recalcitrant female, unctuous Abraham just couldn't resist delivering a patronising little 'West is best' homily with a fatuous nod at tolerance for those who dissent from the party line - just so long as they're prepared to 'fess up and admit when they're WRONG, that is:

"Having to defend your position is never easy. Vigorous debate and acute differences of opinion is [sic] what made Australia (and the West) great civilisations and societies. Freedom of speech is an absolute. It has never been the intention of any contributor to this blog to 'chase' away individuals such as yourself. True, you and I differ on this issue. However it would be sad to see you leave because it is our diversity which gives flavour to our lives. Imagine a Chicken Korma or Tandoori Beef made only with salt. No other spices allowed? It would be absolutely horrible to say the least. Admittedly my style [?] is a bit forthright but my intention is never to humiliate. So please remain a faithful reader and if you truly feel passionate about your own personal convictions, defend them with pride and honour. But remember to always question. And admit when you are wrong. Hope to see you soon."

 I don't think so.

[NB: You can see the results of an earlier visit to Menzies House in my 30/8/11 post I, Danielle Keys.]

Friday, February 22, 2013

Smarty Pants Journalism

Real smarty pants journalism in The Australian:

"Geert Wilders continues his visit under tight security. It occurs to me to ask Hizb ut-Tahrir's Uthman Badar whether he has ever required armed protection in Australia. 'No,' he says." (The Right to Speak, Chris Kenny, 21/2/13)

But then Mr Badar's not roaming the world traducing Christianity, rubbishing the Bible and taking cheap shots at Jesus, is he?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

USrael Pulls Bulgaria's Strings

Those of you who read Murdoch's Australian might remember its spate of reports and opinion pieces linking last year's bomb attack on Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian town of Burgas with Hezbollah:

Aussie bombmaker in Hezbollah attack, Adam Shand & Dan Box, 7/2/13
Bulgarian 'bomber' left Australia in 2006, Paul Maley, 8/2/13
EU must do right by Sofia on Hezbollah, Daniel Schwammenthal, 8/2/13
Hezbollah eyeing terror strikes, Hugh Tomlinson & Laurence Norman, 9-10/2/13
Ban Hezbollah in all its guises or forever be victim to its terror, Colin Rubenstein, 11/2/13

To see where all of this was leading, I quote only the opening paragraph of the last-cited opinion piece:

"Following revelations that an Australian passport holder is a terror suspect in the July 18, 2012, Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed 6 people, it is high time all countries, including Australia, banned Hezbollah in its entirety."

You will not, of course, be surprised to know that its author, Colin Rubenstein, is the executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

[Aside: Australian passports? Did someone just mention Australian passports?]

Got the message? Ban Hezbollah now or we all die!

Well, before you get too carried away, please take the time to read some real journalism: Bulgarian revelations explode Hezbollah bombing hypothesis (18/2/13) by Inter Press Service's Gareth Porter:

"When European Union foreign ministers discuss a proposal to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nikolay Madenov will present his government's case for linking two suspects in the July 18, 2012 bombing of an Israeli tourist bus to Hezbollah. But European ministers who demand hard evidence of Hezbollah involvement are not likely to find it in the Bulgarian report on the investigation, which has produced no more than an 'assumption' or 'hypothesis' of Hezbollah complicity.

"Major revelations about the investigation by the former head of the probe and by a top Bulgarian journalist have further damaged the credibility of the Bulgarian claim to have found links between the suspects and Hezbollah. The chief prosecutor of the Bulgarian investigation revealed in an interview published in early January that the evidence available was too scarce to name any party as responsible and that investigators had found a key piece of evidence that appeared to contradict it. An article in a Bulgarian weekly in mid-January confirmed that the investigation had turned up no information on a Hezbollah role, and further reported that one of the suspects had been linked by a friendly intelligence service to AlQaeda.

"The statement made Feb 5 by Interior Minister Tsevetan Tsvetanov referred to what he called a 'reasonable assumption' or a 'well-founded assumption', depending on the translation, that two suspects in the case belonged to Hezbollah's 'military formation'. Underlining the extremely tentative nature of the finding, Tsvetanov used the passive voice and repeated the carefully chosen formulation for emphasis: 'A reasonable assumption, I repeat a reasonable assumption, can be made that the two of them were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah.'

"The host of a Bulgarian television talk show asked Tsvetanov Feb 9 why the conclusion about Hezbollah had been presented as 'only a guess'. But instead of refuting that description, Tsvetanov chose to call the tentative judgment a 'grounded hypothesis for the complicity of the Hezbollah military wing.' The reason why the senior official responsible for Bulgarian security used such cautious language became clear from an interview given by the chief prosecutor for the case Stenela Karadzhova, who was in charge of the investigation, published by '24 Hours' newspaper Jan 3. Karadzhova revealed how little was known about the two men investigators believe helped the foreigner killed by the bomb he was carrying, but whom Tsvetanov would later link to Hezbollah. The reason, she explained, is that they had apparently travelled without cell phones or laptops. Only two kinds of information appear to have linked the two, according to the Karadzhova interview, neither of which provides insight into their political affiliation. One was that both of them had led a 'very ordered and simple' lifestyle, which she suggested could mean they both had similar training. The other was that both had fake Michigan driver's licences that had come from the same country. It was reported subsequently that the printer used to make the fake Michigan driver's licenses had been traced to Beirut. Those fragments of information were evidently the sole basis for the 'hypothesis' that two of the suspects were members of Hezbollah's military wing. That hypothesis depended on logical leaps from the information. Any jihadist organization could have obtained fake licenses from the Beirut factory, and a simple lifestyle does not equal Hezbollah military training.

"But Karadzhova's biggest revelation was that investigators had found a SIM card at the scene of the bombing and had hoped that it would provide data on the suspects' contacts before they had arrived at the scene of the bombing. But the telecom company in question was Maroc Telecom, and the Moroccan firm had not responded to requests for that information. That provenance of the SIM card is damaging to the Hezbollah 'hypothesis' because Maroc Telecom sells its cards throughout North Africa, a region in which Hezbollah is not known to have any operational bases but where Al Qaeda has a number of large organisations. Morocco is also considered a 'staunch ally' of the United States, so it is unlikely that the Moroccan government would have refused a request from the United States to get the necessary cooperation from Moroccan Telecom. Senior Bulgarian officials have remained mum about the SIM card, and Karadzhova was sacked as chief prosecutor shortly after the interview was published, ostensibly because the interview had not been approved.

"On Jan 17, the sister publication of '24 Hours', the weekly '168 Hours', published an article by its editor, Slavi Angelov, reporting that the Bulgarian investigators had failed to find any evidence of Hezbollah involvement. Angelov, one of the country's premier investigative journalists, also wrote that one of the two suspects whose fake IDs were traced to Beirut had been linked by a 'closely allied intelligence service' to a wing of Al Qaeda. The story, which is not available on the internet, but was summarised on the '24 Hours' website, earned a brief reference in a Jan 17 story in 'The Jerusalem Post'. That story referred to Angelov's sources for the information about the Al Qaeda link as unnamed officials in the Interior Ministry. The Angelov story's revelation that Bulgaria had no evidence linking Hezbollah to the bus bombing was also headlined by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the same day. 

"By the time the investigation's 4-month extension was due to expire on Jan 18, there was no question among investigators that they needed much more time to reach any meaningful judgment on who was responsible for the bombing.. Chief prosecutor Karadzhova told '24 Hours' there was 'no obstacle to the deadline being extended repeatedly'. But by mid-January, international politics posed such an obstacle: the United States and Israel were already pointing to the Feb 18 meeting of EU foreign ministers as an opportunity to get action by the EU on listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. Washington and Tel Aviv wanted a conclusion from the Bulgarians that could be used at that meeting to force the issue. A meeting of Bulgaria's Consultative Council for National Security to consider extending the investigation, originally scheduled for Jan 17, was suddenly postponed. Instead, on that date Foreign Minister Madenov was sent on an unannounced visit to Israel. Israel's Channel 2 reported after the meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror that Bulgaria had given Israel a report blaming Hezbollah for the bus bombing.

"The office of the Bulgarian foreign minister and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov both issued denials Jan 18. Borissov said there would be no comment on the investigation until 'indisputable evidence has been discovered', implying that it did not have the needed evidence yet. Nevertheless, over the next three weeks, the Bulgarian government had to negotiate the wording of what it would say about the conclusion of its investigation. The decision to call the conclusion an 'assumption' or even the weaker 'hypothesis' about Hezbollah was obviously a compromise between the preference of the investigators themselves and and the demands of the United States and Israel.

"The timing of that decision is a sensitive issue in Bulgaria. Prime Minister Borissov told reporters in Brussels Feb 7 that he had decided to 'name Hezbollah' after investigators had found the SIM card at the site of the bombing. That would put the decision well before Karadzhova gave her interview Jan 1. And in any case, the discovery of the SIM card could not have caused the investigators to veer toward Hezbollah but would have called that hypothesis into question. Tsvetanov admitted that the Hezbollah 'assumption' had been adopted only 'after the middle of January'. The admission indicates that the decision was reached under pressure from Washington, not because of any new evidence."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back to the Future with Geert Wilders

So Geert Wilders loves Muslims but hates Islam. Thus the Dutch Messiah calls on "all the Muslims in the world to leave Islam for Christianity or atheism or whatever they want," which will be "good for them and also for our free society." (Change religion, politician tells Muslims, The Age, Barney Zwartz, 19/2/13)

This indefensible, even perhaps genocidal, call is just another variation on old Europe's hatred of 'the other'.

And so reminiscent of another time.

Although most of us are blissfully unaware of it, there was once a time when converting European Muslims to Christianity was all the rage..

It began following the conquest in 1492 of the Muslim emirate of Granada, the last (but one) foothold of Muslim rule in Spain to fall to the combined forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Despite a proclamation of religious tolerance by the latter, the urge to Christianise the Granadans was too strong, with one of Wilders' 'spiritual' forbears, Francisco Jimenez de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo, setting out in deadly earnest to do just that:

However "[h]e quickly lost patience with the slow rate of progress and began sending recalcitrant Muslims to prison, where they were treated with... 'methods that were not correct' until they agreed to convert. One of those imprisoned was a Moorish noble named Zegri Azaator, whom Cisneros entrusted to the care of a thuggish priest known as the Lion from his surname Leon. After 20 days in the harsh company of this 'lion', the humiliated and filthy nobleman was brought in chains before Cisneros and announced that Allah had commanded him in a dream to become a Christian. Cisneros immediately had Zegri washed and dressed in a scarlet robe and whisked him off to the baptismal font, where he adopted the Christian name Gonzalo Fernandez Zegri." (Blood & Faith: The Purging of Muslim Spain, Matthew Carr, 2009, p 58)

After the 300,000 Muslims of Granada had become 'New Christians', the process was extended to the rest of Spain's Muslims, now derogatively labelled Moriscos (half-Moors).

But not even more than a century of wiping Muslim Spain off the map and forcibly converting its people could assuage the genocidal tendencies of Wilders' historical soulmates. As the 16th century wore on, they contemplated even more radical measures:

The Dominican monk Jaime Bleda, for example, "forged an obsessive loathing of a Morisco population he regarded as 'flesh-eating wolves and rabid dogs' whose members were 'born with the lie in their mouths'... Bleda's hatred of the Moriscos was entirely unconstrained by any consideration of mercy or humanity. Despite his fervent support of expulsion, Bleda was always attracted by more extreme possibilities and once expressed the hope that Moriscos might become infected with plague en route to Barbary and kill more 'Saracens' after their arrival." (ibid, p 208)

Eventually, inspired by the likes of Bleda, Philip III decided to deport the Moriscos en masse, beginning with those of Valencia:

"On the morning of September 24, 1609, town criers in the city of Valencia proclaimed the decree of expulsion to a fanfare of drums, horns, and trumpets. In it Philip accused the entire Morisco population of Valencia of heresy, apostasy, and 'divine and human lese-majeste' and announced his intention to expel them to Barbary in order to ensure the 'conservation and security' of his realms. All Moriscos were given 3 days to withdraw to their houses and wait for the royal commissioners to lead them to their assigned ports of embarkation... Printed copies of the decree were circulated throughout the kingdom and promulgated in every locality, so that within a few days there were few people in Valencia who were unaware of its contents... [S]oldiers and militiamen began patrolling the main towns and cities in a show of force, and workmen began constructing gallows by the roadsides as a warning to Moriscos considering resistance. In the city of Valencia, ironsmiths, swordmakers, and powdermakers manufactured weapons and ammunition to a constant rumble of militia drums and rifle shots as soldiers practised their marksmanship." (ibid, 233-234)

The uprooting of Valencia's 124,000 Moriscos was just an opener though. Tens of thousands were removed from the rest of Spain.

By 1614 it was all over - Spain had been ethnically cleansed of its Morisco population.

A deep study of history tells us that words and ideas, especially bad ones, can have terrible consequences. Listening to the Islamophobic rants of Wilders and his ilk, spewing forth their hatred for the Muslim 'other', I frankly find myself transported back to the terrible era of the Spain of the Reconquista and the Inquisition.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Exclusive Interview With Geert Wilders*

MERC: Welcome to Australia, Geert. Love the thatch!
Wilders: Thank you, so do I.
MERC: So tell us a bit about yourself.
Wilders: Sure. "Thirty years ago, as a young man, I dreamed of Australia. I wanted to find myself a job there. Lack of sufficient funds decided otherwise and I ended up in Israel, working in a bakery in Jerusalem and on a farm near Jericho. During the year that I lived in Israel, I travelled to Egypt. This trip made a huge impression on me. Israel and Egypt are neighbours, with the same climate, similar resources, the same potential. And yet Egypt is poor while Israel is wealthy. Even though at the time I was interested in politics, I learned from this trip that the key to understanding the wealth of nations lies in their culture. If the latter promotes freedom, a nation will prosper."
MERC: And I thought travel was supposed to broaden, not narrow, the mind.
Wilders: What was that?
MERC: Nothing. Please continue.
Wilders: "In the Islamic world, I was always struck by two things. I was impressed by the kindness and helpfulness of many people. But there was also their fear. Islamic societies are ruled by terror. Muslims are good people, but they live under the yoke of Islamic sharia."
MERC: Really...?
Wilders: I'm afraid so. Then "I returned to the Netherlands and became a politician. I used to live in the Kanaleneiland district of Utrecht. During my years there, the district was transformed into a dangerous neighbourhood for non-Muslims. I have been robbed. On several occasions I had to run for safety." MERC: Sorry, I'm confused. Let me get this straight, Geert. Wherever you travelled in the Islamic world, there were shitloads of sharia, right?
Wilders: Correct.
MERC: But the folks were bonza, right?
Wilders: As I said.
MERC: But when you went back home, despite a relative, even complete, absence of sharia, you say you lived in fear for your life?
Wilders: Yes, it was terrible.
MERC: So why are you so worried about sharia? Maybe the folks in Kanaleneilad had it in for you because you were a politician? They're not too popular here either.
Wilders: Don't be facetious. Now where was I? Oh, that's right. "Contrary to what many Westerners think, Islam, rather than a religion, is a totalitarian political ideology. It is an ideology because it aims for an Islamic state..."
MERC: An Islamic state? But Geert, what about your love affair with the Jewish state? Nothing totalitarian or ideological there?
Wilders: Not at all. "I really enjoyed myself [there], and not just because of the beautiful Israeli women."
MERC: Not just... c'mon, Geert? A spunk like you? Why, even I'm tempted to run my fingers through that hair.
Wilders: You'll have to join the Q (Society) first. Sorry, I couldn't help that one. OK, OK, I admit it. Those Israeli women couldn't keep their hands off me. See what I mean about freedom? As I said, the problem with Egypt and the other Islamic countries is the culture of fear which comes from Islam. You see, those Arab women were dying to get their hands on me but this... this... this bloody sharia thingie just kept getting in the way. They were simply too afraid to run their hands over my adorable white body or their fingers through my truly stunning locks, which incidentally seem to turn on the ladies wherever I go... Please... not now, Debbie!
MERC: Please, if you don't mind, Ms Robinson, I'm trying to conduct an interview here!
Wilders: See what I mean? Actually, the women of Holland haven't been able to get anywhere near me "for 9 years [now because] I have been living under constant police protection."
MERC: Police protection? You should be so lucky, mate. If you were a Palestinian, you'd have been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.
Wilders: Palestinians? Don't talk to me about Palestinians. Hopelessly deluded, the lot of them! "The Palestinians believe - and this is the nature of Islam - that Israel is their country and that they are fighting the non-Muslims in the West through it. The struggle against Israel is a struggle against us. We are Israel. The reason Dutch parents can sleep soundly without having to worry about their kids is that Israeli parents stay awake at night because their children are in the army." 
MERC: No kidding?
Wilders: No kidding! You see "the reason we reject Islam is Islam's violent nature." However, "our commitment to human dignity does not allow us to use violence..."
MERC: But didn't you once say Ariel Sharon was your "role model"?
Wilders: Absolutely!
MERC: But what about your commitment to non-violence?
Wilders: Did Sharon have any other option? Face it, if he gave the Palestinians the West Bank today, they'd be at the gates of Vienna - sorry, Tel Aviv - tomorrow! Anyhow, the greedy bastards already have a state. "Jordan is Palestine. That's how it was in the past," or as I like to call it, the good old days, "after the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and this is the solution for the conflict."
MERC: So the Palestinians should be expelled into Jordan then?
Wilders: No. "I am against the idea of a transfer or ethnic purification." What are you laughing at?
MERC: Nothing...
Wilders: Now where was I? Yes, the "Palestinians could be encouraged to move there."
Wilders: You're rolling your eyes. Why?
MERC: Sorry, Geert, it's the sun off your hair. So dazzling! Please go on...
Wilders: That's what I'm here for... to dazzle. Now if you'll excuse me, the ladies of the Q society wish to have a word with me... in private.

[*Wilder's quoted words are taken from Islamification of Western societies threatens everyone's freedoms, Geert Wilders, The Australian, 18/2/13;and Geert Wilders: Israel fighting our war, Eldad Beck,, 30/11/10]

Prisoner X: The Really Big Picture

Fran Kelly: Can you see why it'd be confusing for young Australian Jews who may be spending time in Israel? At what point does loyalty to Israel become disloyalty to Australia?
Philip Chester (Zionist Federation of Australia): I don't think any issue of dual loyalty arises for Australian Jews when they move to Israel. (See my 17/2/13 post Prisoner X 5)

I takes me hat off to this magnificent 16 February post from Adam Keller's blog Crazy Country. Called From Prisoner X to Lord Montagu, Keller follows Ben Zygier's trail all the way back to 1917, connecting dots most mainstream journalists haven't even heard of:

"No court issued a gag order on the detention of Samer al-Issawi.* The information was freely available, and anyone who wanted to could have published all the facts: Samer al-Issawi, a resident of Isawiya in East Jerusalem, was placed last July in Administrative Detention without trial and imprisoned in the Ramle Prison (yes, the same prison which this week made it into the headlines for other reasons). He began a hunger strike which has already passed the 200 days' mark, lost 35 kilograms and suffered severe damage to his kidneys. A few days ago he stopped drinking the vitamins and few nutritional supplements which had kept him alive until now. All this information was completely open to publication - everything except the charges against Issawi, which were contained only in 'secret evidence' presented to the judge who extended his detention and of which Issawi himself was not told. There was no problem in publishing it - but reporters and editors in Israel's newspapers and electronic media just did not think it of interest to their readers and listeners. Only this weekend, when the deteriorating condition of Samer al-Issawi precipitated a series of demonstrations across the West Bank and clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers, a few references cropped up in the media - and even then, in a minimal way. Had Ben Zygier been a Palestinian, even now nobody would have heard of him.

"So what really happened in this affair, of which only a select few knew 4 days ago, and which has now captured the headlines in Israel, Australia and around the world?

"How it started is well known: a young Jew raised in a distinguished Melbourne family, taking his Zionism seriously, makes aliya, comes to live in Israel and marries here. He enters the country's spy service, Mossad, and undertakes a series of mysterious tasks while still retaining his Australian citizenship. In fact, much of his value to Mossad consisted of his ability to carry (or lend to others) a genuine Australian passport which would pass the closest security, and allow him to freely enter countries barred to carriers of an Israeli passport. And indeed, to visit and study in Australia where his family live.

"The middle of the story is still mostly hidden. In early 2010, unknown agents assassinated a senior Palestinian in the Emirate of Dubai. The assassins not only failed to disappear without a trace, but left a spectacular trail; abundant CCTV photos, names in forged Australian (and other) passports, and a series of clues pointing to Mossad and the State of Israel. But what exactly was the connection to Ben Zygier, the Australian Jew who migrated to Israel and made his passport available for Israel's daring espionage operations?

"And the end? Most of it is by now clear. A secret trial, a secret detention in a well-guarded isolation cell in Ramle Prison, gag orders to hide every scrap of information from the public, serious charges that could have kept him in that secret cell for many, many years, and a plea bargain which offered some leniency but still many years in jail, a difficult choice between two harsh options. And then, suicide in custody, in a cell with 4 surveillance cameras. If it was suicide.

"But what exactly did happen in the middle? What did he do, or plan to do? Shalom Yerushalmi published in Ma'ariv what appears to me a message direct from Mossad: 'Zygier, it is said, was holding a smoking gun. Had he not been stopped, he would have caused great damage. No one in Mossad wanted him to commit suicide in prison but after he did so none of them went into mourning.' And on TV, the veteran Ron Ben-Yishai pointed an accusing finger at the Australian security service: 'They are the ones who got Zygier into trouble.' But how, exactly.

"A hypothesis, not based on any first hand information: At some time, late January or early February, Australian security services confronted Zygier, an Australian citizen who travelled a lot on an Australian passport, and demanded that he tell them what he knew about the use to which Israel was putting Australian passports - in ways which might be contrary to Australian national interests - as Australian tourists and business people were increasingly being suspected of being Israeli spies.

"If this is what happened, Zygier could not have gotten out of it well, do what he may. Had he provided the information, he would have been considered a traitor under Israeli law. Had he refused, he would have been considered a traitor under Australian law. In short, he would have experienced that nightmare of Australian, US and other Jews, the charge of dual loyalty. Did Israel have the moral right to place Ben Zygier, an Australian Jew, in such an impossible situation? Did Israel, 30 years before, have the moral right to appeal to Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew, and convince him that, as a Jew, he owed to Israel a loyalty surpassing that which he owed to the United States? How many Jews, in how many countries, have paid a direct and indirect price for the actions and policies of Israel?

"In July 1994, an explosive charge was detonated in a Jewish community centre in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, and 85 people were killed. Although unsolved, this bombing is considered to have been an act of revenge for Israel's assassination of Hezbollah leader Abbas Musawi. Argentinian Jews, unconnected with Israel's wars in south Lebanon, were selected as easy targets for revenge against the 'Jewish State'. This affair continues to resound in Argentina's politics, coming up again and again. A few weeks ago, the Argentinian government decided to initiate an international investigation into the bombing involving the Iranian government, prompting the Israeli government to lodge a strong protest with the Argentinians. The Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who, perhaps not coincidentally, is himself Jewish, summoned the Israeli ambassador to lodge a protest at the Israeli protest and the Israeli government's interference in the way in which the government of Argentina has chosen to deal with the murder of its citizens. As reported at the time: 'The Argentinian foreign minister was so upset that he... cut the Israeli ambassador off again and again: 'Israel has no right to ask for explanations, we are a sovereign state... Israel doesn't speak for all Jews. Those Jews who wanted Israel to represent them went to Israel and became Israeli citizens. Jews who live in Argentina are Argentinian citizens. The bombing was against Argentina, and Israel's desire to be involved in the matter only gives ammunition to anti-Semites who accuse Jews of dual loyalty'.'

"In 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to 'view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.' In the prolonged deliberations held by the British cabinet before this declaration was issued, Lord Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish minister in the British government at the time, expressed his reservations and strong opposition to the planned declaration: 'I assume that it means that Mahommedans and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews hereafter will be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine'. He expressed his concern that a dual loyalty' would be created among the Jews of the world - loyalty to the governments in their countries of residence vs. loyalty to their national home in Palestine - and that it would finally give anti-Semites a pretext to undermine the position of Jews in Britain and other countries, and expel them, against their will, to their 'National Home'. To appease Lord Montagu and other opponents of the declaration, a clear reservation was added its text. The establishment of a National Home was conditional on 'it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country'.

"Ninety-six years later, the National Home has become a fact, and has established the most powerful army in the Middle East as well as an intelligence network spanning the globe. In light of this, it would be very difficult to argue that what was 'clearly understood' in 1917 has indeed been complied with, or that there is no basis to the apprehensions of Lord Montagu."

[*See my 12/1/13 post Another First for Israel's Cutting Edge Thuggery.]

Monday, February 18, 2013

Prisoner X 6: The View from 'The Australian'

Although the Fairfax press has had the running with the case of Prisoner X, Murdoch's Australian has also managed some useful reporting.

There's the testimony of Zygier's Israeli lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, for example:

"Mr Feldman, one of the last people to Zygier alive, would not detail the specific charge but said last night it was 'not on the high level of gravity.' Asked about reports in Israel that Zygier was accused of 'treason', Mr Feldman said: 'I can't go into specifics but treason doesn't have to be somebody who is in coalition with Hezbollah or any other enemy of Israel... Mr Feldman visited the high security cell at the prison in Israel in the days before his death to discuss whether he should accept a plea bargain and face a shorter prison sentence or contest the charges and risk a longer sentence. He described the treatment of Zygier as 'stupid, inhumane and repulsive'... Mr Feldman said his client 'claimed before me he had done nothing wrong'... Mr Feldman would not detail the specific charge against Zygier or any security details, citing a secrecy agreement he had signed. But he said his impression of Zygier was that he was 'someone who was not a traitor by nature or ideology. He was involved in something that I cannot go into but this concern does not threaten the security or the government of Israel,' he said." (Zygier's family never knew charges, Paul Maley & John Lyons, 15/2/13)

Feldman's words add weight to the theory that Zygier had been (or was about to) talking to an Australian agency about Mossad's misuse of Australian passports, a matter that would normally place him in the category of whistleblower. If so, it would appear that, despite all his years of Zionist indoctrination from Bialik College on, Zygier still had sufficient independence of mind to speak out when confronted with real evidence of Israeli hands in Australian pockets. In a normal country that would be seen as an act of personal courage and integrity, but in a paranoid and security conscious apartheid state, it is bound to be construed as a hanging offence.

Further light is shed on the strangely passive attitude of Zygier's family to his detention and death:

"The Australian understands Zygier's family received very little information about his case... It is understood Zygier's family are satisfied that his rights were attended to at all times by Israeli authorities. They do not harbour any doubt about the verdict of an Israeli investigation into Zygier's death, which found the former lawyer had hanged himself in a cell supposed to be under constant surveillance... [family friend of Zygier] Mr Greener said the family had been devastated by Zygier's death. Zygier's father had retired from his role at the Jewish Community Council of Victoria soon after the funeral and had returned to work as executive director of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission only in the past 6 months." (ibid) [NB, I assume that these references to Zygier's 'family' are to his Melbourne family. As to his Israeli wife and children, so far no one's said a word.]

Then came this from the Weekend Australian :

"Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported yesterday that the Zygier family had recently signed a deal with Israel to accept 'several million shekels' in compensation. The paper quoted one of Zygier's lawyers as saying Israeli authorities had threatened the Australian, while he was in solitary confinement, that unless he pleaded guilty, he was likely to be sentenced to a long prison term and would be shunned by his family and the Jewish community. Zygier's family has not commented since ABC TV's Foreign Correspondent broke the story on Tuesday." (ASIO knew all about spy Zygier, John Lyons, 16/2/13)

And this:

"The fathers of two Australians whose passports were used by Mossad agents have declined to comment on the Zygier case, with one denying any connection between the events. Lawyer Harvey Bruce... is the father of Joshua Bruce, who had been studying in Jerusalem for seven years his passport was used in the assassination of Mabhouh. Mr Bruce said he was 'not at all' happy to discuss the case. 'There's no connection as far as I'm concerned,' he said. The office of Joe Krycer, father of Tel Aviv speech therapist Joshua Aaron Krycer, whose passport was also used in 2010, said he would not be commenting. Mr Krycer works in the same Caulfield South building as Zygier's father, Geoffrey, Mr Krycer is Victorian bequest director for the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which raises money for land conservation projects in Israel, while Mr Zygier is executive director of the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission." (ibid)

Finally, there's the suggestion, from 'an Israeli official' admittedly, that the Australian authorities know more than they're letting on:

"Australia has not made a single request for information about the Ben Zygier case since news of the alleged spy's incarceration and death in an Israeli prison broke this this week. Amid a storm of speculation about the reason for the suspected Mossad spy's jailing, including the claim he may have been about to divulge information about Australian passport fraud, a senior Israeli official said Canberra was unlikely to make a request because the Gillard government already had detailed knowledge of the case. 'Every day that goes by you see how deeply involved they were,' the official told The Weekend Australian. 'They interrogated him, they suspected him, they knew many things. It is clear they were in the know long before he died. Then when the coffin was returned to Australia, they knew he was not some backpacker who got lost trekking'... Israel's Channel 10 said in 2009, Australian intelligence officers interrogated Zygier about trips he took to Iran, Lebanon and Syria. The report alleged that the case was leaked to an Australian reporter who phoned Zygier and questioned him about his alleged links to the Mossad. The reporter, Jason Koutsoukis, told Israel's Channel 2 TV that Zygier strongly denied the allegations. Zygier was arrested shortly after they spoke... Zygier was caught between two intelligence services, Israeli sources said. Mossad believed he was on the 'verge' of passing information to the Australians. Soon after his return to Israel, Mossad's domestic counterpart, Shin Bet, swooped and Zygier was arrested..." (ibid)

In stark contrast with the Australian's Prisoner X reportage, the editorialist, whose frequent foaming fulminations on behalf of Israel over the years deserve to be the subject of media legend, has been strangely silent. Equally so has been the swarm of Zionist letter writers who normally never miss an opportunity to land one on the letters page. These pests appear, thus far at any rate, to be waiting this one out.

The paper's most public Zionist voice, foreign editor Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, only recently baaack in print after a mysterious absence, weighed in on the subject on 14 February, titillating us all with a tribute to the Mossad "mystique":

"I have met a number of former Mossad personnel who seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Arab world. They can tell you which cities to visit, almost which restaurant to go to, across the Middle East... If a former Mossad agent has ended up in an Israeli prison, this can only indicate that something has gone terribly wrong. Apart from the inherent sensitivity of any information involved in the case, the Israelis would hate to admit publicly a problem with one of their agents. This would undermine the mystique of super motivated, super capable Mossad agents combing all over the world, working their magical craft to serve Israel's interests." (Mystique of Mossad its greatest weapon)

Fortunately, he's had nothing to say on the subject since!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Prisoner X 5

In my 3rd post in this series, I discussed two aspects of the Prisoner X case which I felt were worth raising. The other two, bigger picture issues, I'd intended to canvass will be the subject of this post.

The first concerns the extraordinary silence of Australia's Jewish community when one of their own, from a prominent Melbourne Zionist family no less, came to grief whilst in Israeli hands: "Few in the local Jewish community have spoken publicly about Mr Zygier's death - more than a dozen organisations and individuals contacted on Thursday by Fairfax Media offered no comment - but the silence does not surprise Mr Greener, who put it down to a modest Malvern family's simple desire for privacy." (We want justice for Ben Zygier, family friend says, Konrad Marshall, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/2/13)

The question arises: Is this closing of ranks simply a sign of respect for the privacy of the Zygier family or is something more tribal involved? With around 80% of Australian Jews calling themselves Zionists, it is impossible not to speculate whether some kind of totalitarian groupthink, in this case a rallying around the - Isaeli - flag, right or wrong, is at work.

The following February 15 Fran Kelly interview with Philip Chester, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, on ABC Radio National's Breakfast program gives credence to this view. To describe it as gruelling is to indulge in understatement. Chester's response to Kelly's generally clueless questions resembles nothing so much as the inky discharge of a squid as it attempts to evade a predator, even if, in this case, one without teeth. My comments in square brackets:

Fran Kelly: Well thousands of Australian Jews travel to Israel every year for holidays, to study, to work, even to serve in the Israeli Defence Force, but none... have had a tragic experience like this. Philip Chester is the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia which funds and organises travel to Israel, especially for young people. His organisation has actually helped more than 10,000 Australian Jews to emigrate permanently to Israel. Philip Chester, I know you're unaware of the details of this case but generally would you be surprised to learn that Australians you send to Israel could be recruited by Mossad as spies? [Kelly's naivete is astonishing. If Zionist leaders such as Chester, a one-time Betar youth movement leader, have no qualms whatever about young Australian Jews joining the so-called Israel Defence Forces (IDF), why would they cavil at them moving into the other sectors of Israel's state security apparatus?]

Philip Chester: Fran, I don't really have any knowledge about recruitment of any Australians to Israeli agencies. [I know nothing.] It's not something we're involved in or that anyone discusses with us or that we make any enquiries in relation to. We facilitate young, middle-aged and older people, families, youngsters, single people to, once they make the decision that they want to move to Israel and live there, help them do that. Many of them, if they're of the right age, need to do some military service... in Israel but that's when our involvement ends and they serve the country if required and then go on with their productive lives hopefully.

FK: Since the tragic circumstances surrounding Ben Zygier's death have become public we've been hearing from spies and spy agencies and people associated with them that Australians and New Zealanders are particularly attractive recruits for Mossad because our passports are so widely accepted. An Australian passport allows Israeli spies to travel throughout the Middle East without attracting suspicion. What's your advice... to Australian Jews who go to Israel if they are approached by Mossad or are recruited in this way?

PC: Well, Fran, obviously I don't represent or have any involvement in the security agencies in Israel or in Australia for that matter so it's not something we dispense advice on or something we're involved in or have any discussions with anybody on. Obviously, every person has to be cognisant of the laws of Israel, and Australia if they're still an Australian citizen, and be aware of the implications of... if there was ever a breach of those laws, but I'm not in the business of giving advice on issues like that. We haven't been involved in any such cases or had any matters raised with us that we needed to discuss with anybody. [I know nothing.]

FK: I am not even suggesting for a moment that you have any involvement in this at all but it's very much an issue in discussion now, and even now Fairfax papers are reporting that ASIO is investigating 3 Australians who were recruited. I wonder what your reaction to that is, and I suppose I'm asking you in this context, in this debate that's currently around, has anyone implied to you at all that they have been contacted by Mossad?

PC: No. No one has implied or said anything to me or, I believe, to our organisation about that. Of course, these allegations of which there are many flying around at the moment about passports or recruitment or the involvement of agencies. [Australian passports? What Australian passports?] As far as I understand they do not have any substantiation associated with them at the moment. I assume there will be further inquiries and investigations in relation to that but really there's nothing I can comment on that has been put to me in any factual sense about any person being approached or any discussion with them or any Australian about the use of their passports... [I know nothing.] As I said before, if anyone is involved in a breach of Australian law, that's a serious matter that obviously the Australian government needs to enquire about and investigate. That's perfectly appropriate, but no, I'm not aware [of] or have had any such matters drawn to my or my organisation's attention. [I know nothing.]

FK: Do you think it's a confusing line or can you see why it'd be confusing for young Australian Jews in particular who may be spending time in Israel? At what point does loyalty to Israel become disloyalty to Australia? Where is the line that shouldn't be crossed?

PC: Well I don't... when an Australian decides to move to another country... as you said earlier a number of Australian Jews have because they feel an affinity to Israel and people from other communities move to other countries for various reasons. It happens all the time, the movement of people throughout the world. [So Australian Jews who migrate to Israel because they're indoctrinated into believing that it's their divine right to do so while the country's ethnically-cleansed indigenous population cannot return to their homeland for fear of a bullet in the brain are the equivalent of other Australians visiting the country they or their parents were born in?] When they make that decision, they decide to make Israel their home, I don't believe for a moment they abandon their love and affinity with Australia. Australia is a wonderful country where Jews thrived and I believe have made a wonderful contribution as well and so I don't think any issue of dual loyalty arises for Australian Jews when they move to Israel They settle into their new country that's their new home but this doesn't mean any form of disloyalty in relation to Australia. They come back often. Of course, they still have families here and they maintain a very strong and warm relationship and we see them coming back and forth all the time and that's our impression and experience.

FK: The difficulty here I guess is it does mean they're disloyal to Australia if they become spies. If, as is alleged in the case of Ben Zygier, they come home to register a false name, get a new false passport. I mean the Age is now reporting that Ben Zygier had been in contact with Australian intelligence agencies and may have been prepared to blow the whistle on the misuse of Australian passports, because we do know for a fact, this is not just rumour, that Australian passports were used by Israeli agents in the assassination of a Palestinian militant, the Hamas official in Dubai.

PC: Fran, there are, as you're highlighting, there are lots of stories flying around at the moment [Just vicious rumours, Fran!] that I can't substantiate or...

FK (forcefully): That's not a story though. At the time the Australian government registered the strongest possible complaint about that. Our foreign minister at the time, Stephen Smith, said there was no doubt our passports had been misused.

PC: Yes, yes, I remember the...the...the incident very well. There was a lot of controversy surrounding it [Notice how, when a Zionist is confroned with a factual truth, he simply brands it 'controversisl'?] and, as I said before, if any Australian at any time misuses his Australian passport I understand that's a breach of Australian law and that's a serious matter that the authorities need to deal with but I don't for a minute want your listeners to believe that when we send Australians to live in Israel that there's an industry that exists of harvesting or using passports in any inappropriate or illegal way. [Oh yes there is! See my 4/3/10 post Removing the 'I' from CIA.] As I said, it's not something I have any personal experience of or have ever heard anyone discuss [I know nothing.], so the issues that occurred 2010 and that are being alleged now I can't... I have no sense of the magnitude, of how many people are involved, if anybody, but as I said before, if there are, the Australian authorities should be dealing with it. It's perfectly appropriate.

FK: And I accept... as I said, I'm not trying to impute that at all, that you have any knowledge of this but given these 2 incidences and given the tragic circumstance and the inappropriate circumstances surrounding it all, it would seem... I wonder in the future now as president of the ZFA, a group that does coordinate, help, support and fund young Australians to either move or certainly travel to Israel, whether you will be at pains to talk to these young people before they go about this issue.

PC: Well, it's not... I don't, we don't have a manifest we hand out which says, you know, don't do this, don't do that, be aware of this, don't worry about that. If... um... we would... I'll certainly say to any person moving to Israel, please be aware of all the laws of Israel, of course, and certainly Australia. We would if this came... if someone wanted to discuss this or the issue arose we'd certainly reinforce the fact that, if they remain Australian citizens, they continue to have obligations under the laws of Australia and these have to be taken very seriously.

FK: And are you, as president of the ZFA, disappointed in the Israeli authorities, the Israeli government, that gave the Australian government and the family of Ben Zygier very little information about what was happening to Ben Zygier, that the Australian government was never really told the nature of the accusations against him, the information was very scant and came only through back channels, not official, formal channels like the ambassador, does that disappoint you, that behaviour?

PC: Fran, I don't think anyone knows what communications actually took place, what was discussed, what was coming and to where. I saw that the foreign minister originally thought there'd been no communication with the Australian government in relation to Prisoner X. They retracted that last week when it became evident that there had been some comments.

FK: But only through the intelligence channels.

PC: Well, I can't sit here and answer how valid and effective those communications were. Same with the family. I don't know exactly what the family was or was not told. It's just complete speculation. [I know nothing.] What I can say, Fran, is the Zygier family are well regarded and active members of the Jewish community, that what happened to their young son was a tragedy. We're very sad about it for them and for our community. That's obviously something which has upset us greatly, but everything that surrounds it, communications, what actually happened to Ben, is just speculation that I can't add to. [I know nothing.]

The final aspect of the Prisoner X case that concerns me, and one which sheds a glaring light on Australian corporate media values and culture, is the huge discrepancy in the Australian media's treatment of Jewish as opposed to Arab deaths. It is impossible to believe that a Palestinian-Australian who fell foul of the Israelis in some way or other would receive anywhere near the same level of attention or concern. Indeed, as likely as not, they would not even be accorded the presumption of innocence. This is racism, pure and simple.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Prisoner X 4

Since significant new material has emerged in today's Fairfax press regarding the case of Prisoner X, I'll leave the other two aspects of the case I'd intended writing about to a later post, possibly the next.

The most important piece on the issue has to be Philip Dorling's report, Zygier 'close to spilling on Israel', which offers an eminently plausible explanation for Prisoner X's incarceration and suicide/murder:

"Australian security officials suspect that Ben Zygier, the spy who died in secret in an Israeli prison cell in 2010, may have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations, including the use of fraudulent Australian passports, either to the Australian government or to the media when he was arrested. '[Zygier] may well have been about to blow the whistle, but he never got the chance,' an Australian security official with knowledge of the case told Fairfax Media yesterday. Sources in Canberra are insistent that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was not informed by its counterparts of the precise nature of the espionage allegations against Mr Zygier. However, it is understood that the former Melbourne law graduate had been in contact with Australian intelligence. He was in contact the day before he died with human rights lawyer Avigdor Feldman, who said last night: 'When I saw him, there was nothing to indicate he was going to commit suicide', adding that he was rational, focused and without self-pity. Mr Feldman said he was surprised 'that a man who was being held in a cell like that, a cell which was being monitored and checked 24-hours a day, could manage to commit suicide by hanging himself. I understood that he was told he was likely to face the longest possible jail term and that he was likely to be ostracised by his family,' he said. Israeli intelligence informed ASIO of Mr Zygier's arrest and detention just 8 days after authorities in Dubai revealed that suspected Israeli agents had used fraudulent Australian passports in the assassination of a Palestinian militant leader. The subsequent crisis in Australian-Israeli intelligence relations provided the context in which the Australian diplomats did not seek access to Mr Zygier, who was regarded by Australian security officials as being a potential whistleblower on Israeli intelligence operations." 

Dorling goes on to say that, although ASIO's liaison office in Tel Aviv was notified of Zygier's detention by Israel's domestic intelligence service, Shin Bet, and that it in turn notified DFAT, "as no request for consular assistance was made by Mr Zygier or his family, the matter was left to be dealt with through intelligence channels."

Two matters arise here.

First, if Zygier had wanted to blow the whistle on Mossad's abuse of Australian passports and had contacted Australian intelligence with this in mind, how did he end up in Shin Bet's hands?

Two possible explanations come to mind. The Shin Bet were already onto him and picked him up before he could tell all to his Australian intelligence contact(s), or the latter cold-shouldered him or worse to avoid the kind of falling out with Israel that a full disclosure of the passport abuse by an Australian-Israeli intelligence insider might have precipitated. If so, the question arises as to just how far up the Australian chain of command, security and political, that decision might have been made. Certainly, the suspicion that then PM Rudd and his FM, with their expressions of 'grave concern', their vows to 'take action', their carpeting of the Israeli ambassador, and their expulsion of an Israeli 'diplomat' - but no real severing of intelligence links - were really just taking part in an elaborate charade had crossed the mind of one of our more astute and combative television news presenters/interviewers, Kerry O'Brien. (See my 16/8/10 post Diplomatic Dancing.)

Second, I can't quite get my head around the implications of the assertions that a) "[Zygier] was told... that he was likely to be ostracised by his family"; and b) "no request for consular assistance" was made by Zygier's family. What is going on here?

These assertions are further complicated by Konrad Marshall's report,  We want justice for Ben Zygier, family friend says:

"A family friend of Melbourne man Ben Zygier... has called for 'justice' and transparency two years after the 34-year-old's death. Henry Greener... said he could no longer abide by a 'sleeping dogs lie' credo. 'We all knew there was something suspicious and underhanded about Ben's death and nobody wanted to go there because of the suppression order in Israel... But now that the cat's been let out of the bag, we are going to find out a lot more, and in that process I think there should be justice for Ben..."

One is left wondering why, if "we all knew there was something suspicious and underhanded about Ben's death," we're reading references to family ostracism, a failure to seek consular assistance and respect for an Israeli suppression order.

Finally, my attention was caught by this particular exchange, in a report by David Wroe, 'We failed our duty' to Prisoner X:

"Asked by Greens senator Christine Milne why no embassy official had gone to visit Mr Zygier in jail, [DFAT] secretary Peter Varghese said communications had been between intelligence agencies, not the respective governments... Senator Milne asked: 'My question is just why did the Australian government hand over the welfare of one of our citizens to the spooks? Why?'" (14/2/13)

Could you ever imagine Milne play the terrier over the fate of an Arab-Australian in Israeli hands?

Prisoner X 3: How Dumb Are We?

Apart from the inevitable fascination with the reason for Prisoner X's incarceration and suicide/murder in Israel's top security prison, at least 4 other aspects of the case should give us pause for thought. In this post I'll discuss the two I consider to be of lesser importance, leaving the other two for the next post.

To begin with the least important, consider this extract from Fairfax Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard's 14/2/13 report Strange fate of Benji, the suspected spy:

"It is believed Mr Zygier travelled back to Australia in 2009 to attend Monash University, where he was doing an MBA... A source observed him over several days sitting with a group of students from Saudi Arabia and Iran at the university's Caulfield campus. The source said: '[Australian Taxation Office] records from 2008 show that he applied for and was approved a HECS loan for postgraduate studies at Monash University where he is currently [November 2009] studying."

In light of the current HECS debt of $6.2 billion dollars* it's appropriate to ask whether Ben Zygier, or whatever name he'd been using at the time, had discharged his debt to the Australian taxpayer before returning to Israel. If not, the Australian taxpayer surely has a right to know that he/she is unwittingly funding the education/work of Mossad operatives and to ask the classic question: How dumb are we then?

[*See Lost HECS debt $6.2bn, & rising, Andrew Trounson & Christian Kerr, The Australian, 21/1/13.]

Next, consider the following data from the same report:

"Each of the men had travelled back to Australia separately to change their names and obtain a new passport, two intelligence sources said... One man had changed his name 3 times, with others having changed theirs twice, the source said, from names that identified them as European-Jewish to ones that were Anglo-Australian. The men had used the new passports to travel to Iran, Syria and Lebanon..." 

Now that was back in the last decade when ASIO, which, according to Pollard, "won't comment," was supposedly "investigating" these 3 dual Australian-Israeli citizens.

So what, if anything, has been the result of ASIO's investigation? Is any member of the government aware of its findings? If not, why not? If so, what steps have been taken/are being taken to ensure that this blatant abuse of our passport system by foreign agents does not continue?

And beyond that, there's the question of whether, in light of this, it is really in the national interest for our intelligence agencies - ASIO and ASIS - to be in bed with Mossad, a matter dealt with in my 29/5/10 post All the Way With Mossad?

Surely too, this particular aspect of the Prisoner X case, warrants a reiteration of the above classic question: How dumb are we?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Prisoner X 2

The latest developments:

"An Australian diplomat knew that Melbourne man Ben Zygier was being held in an Israeli prison before he died in his cell, the government has admitted amid explosive reports that Mr Zygier was a Mossad agent known as 'Prisoner X'. Foreign Minister Bob Carr was forced into an embarrassing backflip on Wednesday as he ordered his department to investigate the Zygier case. His office was forced to correct earlier claims that the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv knew nothing of the case until after Mr Zygier died in prison in December 2010 when his family - a prominent Jewish family in Melbourne - asked for his body to be repatriated. In a revelation that raises questions about the extent of the Australian government's knowledge, Senator Carr's spokesman said an Australian diplomat - who was not the ambassador - was aware that Mr Zygier, 34, was being held by Israeli authorities... His father, Geoffrey Zygier, executive director for B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, did not comment on Wednesday... Zygier's death in 2010 was met with more than a dozen condolence notices in the Australian Jewish News. These included notices from Monash University, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, the Jewish Holocaust Centre, and the National Council of Jewish Women. None would comment yesterday." (Australian diplomat 'aware Zygier being held', David Wroe & Ruth Pollard, The Age, 14/2/13)

"When Ben Zygier died in a maximum-security prison in Israel he was under investigation by the spy agency ASIO, which suspected him of using his Australian passport to spy for Israel, Fairfax Media can reveal. Benji, as he was known by those close to him in Jerusalem's Jewish community, reacted angrily when Fairfax Media confronted him in early 2010 with allegations that he was working for the Israeli security agency Mossad. 'Who the f..k are you?' an incredulous Mr Zygier told Fairfax's then Middle East correspondent, Jason Koutsoukis. 'What is this total bullshit you are telling me?' He expressed shock at the suggestion he was under any kind of surveillance and said that he had also changed his name for personal reasons. 'I have never been to any of those countries that you say I have been to,' Mr Zygier said. 'I am not involved in any kind of spying. That is ridiculous.' 'He was at first angry, then exasperated that I wouldn't accept his denials at what I was putting to him,' Koutsoukis said. 'He told me that he was like any other Australian who had made aliyah and was trying to make a life in Israel.'

"Fairfax Media spoke to Mr Zygier after learning that ASIO was investigating at least 3 dual Australian-Israeli citizens who had all emigrated to Israel in the previous decade. ASIO would not comment. On Wednesday the agency again refused to comment. Each of the men had travelled back to Australia separately to change their names and obtain a new passport, two intelligence sources said at the time in Koutsoukis's story... The man had changed his name 3 times, with others having changed theirs twice, the source said, from names that identified them as European-Jewish to ones that were Anglo-Australian. The men had used the new passports to travel to Iran, Syria and Lebanon - all countries that do not recognise Israel and do not allow entry to Israelis, or anyone else with an Israeli stamp in their passport... It is believed Mr Zygier travelled back to Australia in 2009 to attend Monash University... along with his Ben Zygier identity, he also used Ben Alon, Ben Allen and Benjamin Burrows... Since 2006, Monash University has been involved in education in Middle Eastern countries... It is well known that Israel approached immigrants to assist Israel by handing over their passports, an Israeli intelligence expert told Fairfax Media in 2010. It is understood the ASIO investigation into Mr Zygier and the other 2 men began at least 6 months before the January 10, 2010 assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, widely believed to have been carried out by Mossad using passports obtained from Australia and Europe." (Strange fate of Benji, the suspected spy, Ruth Pollard, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/2/13)