Friday, February 28, 2014

Palestine... Before Israel 2

Tired of mutton dressed up as lamb? Weary of pretenders? Sick of fakes like Israel's insufferable Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, whose parents came to Palestine from Poland via the US, touting his mob as the real Semitic thing?

"Israel has been our home for roughly 3,800 years. Archaeology shows that. The Bible says it... I just yesterday gave a coin that's 2,200 years old to Martin Shultz as a gift and it's got Hebrew on it."* (HARDtalk, BBC, 24/2/14)

You want the real thing? Here it is:

"The Semitic peasant has always been a conservative. In many ways he is to-day much like what the Canaanite occupier of the land must have been. Each wave of conquest or shower of civilization has left its effect, but underneath the Palestine peasant is a primitive Semite. Until within a few score years religion of one sort or another has usually come to him at the point of the sword. He has often adopted the veneer of a new faith in order to escape death. So it was when Joshua and the Hebrew host swept into the land, Bedawy fashion; so when Maccabean, Roman, Moslem, Crusader, and Moslem again took control. The Palestine peasant has worshiped the Baalim, Yahweh, Moloch, the God of Israel, the Son of God, the God of Islam. All the time he has kept a certain core of Semitic custom and superstition, a sort of basic religion that has been much the same all through these changes. But it is ofttimes impossible to distinguish between a survival of the old and a reversion or degeneration." (The Peasantry of Palestine, Elihu Grant, 1907, p 45)

[*Netanyahu likes to play the same game. See my 24/9/11 post Benzion, My Father.]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

George Brandis, 'Hitch-22' & Some Burning Questions

I'm always fascinated by what our politicians do and don't read. Herewith, for example, is an insight into the reading habits of Attorney General Senator George Brandis:

"Senator Brandis has defended, as within his rights, spending almost $13,000 over 4 years on books and magazines including cartoons, [Mickey Mouse? Batman?] the thriller The Marmalade Files and Christopher Hitchens' memoir Hitch-22." (Brandis orders library ladder, Jared Owens, The Australian, 25/2/14)

Just dealing with Hitchens' book, and assuming he's actually read it from cover to cover, a most interesting question arises. Might this singular event constitute some kind of Australian record? I mean, could this be the very first time a sitting federal politician has actually read something on Palestine/Israel that in any way deviates from the hermetically-sealed, Israel lobby-mandated party line?

Read these two passages from Hitch-22 and you'll see why I'm asking:

"Actually - and this is where I began to feel seriously uncomfortable - some such divine claim underlay not just 'the occupation' but the whole idea of a separate state for Jews in Palestine. Take away the divine warrant for the Holy Land and where were you, and what were you? Just another land-thief like the Turks or the British, except that in this case you wanted the land without the people. And the original Zionist slogan - 'a land without a people for a people without a land' - disclosed its own negation when I saw the densely populated Arab towns dwelling sullenly under Jewish tutelage. You want irony? How about Jews becoming colonizers at just the moment when other Europeans had given up on the idea?"

"Suppose that a man leaps out of a burning building - as my dear friend and colleague Jeff Goldberg sat and said to my face over a table at La Tomate in Washington not two years ago - and lands on a bystander in the street below. Now, make the burning building be Europe, and the luckless man underneath be the Palestinian Arabs. Is this a historical injustice? Has the man below been made a victim, with infinite cause of complaint and indefinite justification for violent retaliation? My own reply would be a provisional 'no', but only on these conditions. The man leaping from the burning building must still make such restitution as he can to the man who broke his fall, and must not pretend that he never even landed on him. And he must base his case on the singularity and uniqueness of the original leap. It can't, in other words, be 'leap, leap, leap' for four generations and more. The people underneath cannot cannot be expected to tolerate leaping on this scale and of this duration, if you catch my drift. In Palestine, tread softly, for you tread on their dreams. And do not tell the Palestinians that they were never fallen upon and bruised in the first place. Do not shame yourself with the cheap lie that they were told by their leaders to run away. Also, stop saying that nobody knew how to cultivate oranges in Jaffa until the Jews showed them how. 'Making the desert bloom' - one of Yvonne's stock phrases - makes desert dwellers out of people who were the agricultural superiors of the Crusaders."

Moreover, keeping in mind Brandis' 2009 and 2010 rambammings, what terrible tsunami of cognitive dissonance must have swept over him on reading the above, and with what, if any, result? For example, could Brandis now be the weakest link in the Israel lobby-forged chain of the federal Liberal government?

Oh yes, and will he be lending his copy of Hitch-22 to his recently rambammed protege, Tim (Freedom Fighter) Wilson? (See my 23/2/14 post I Want My Money Back!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Heroes to Zeroes

There's just no pleasing Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of Murdoch's Australian.

Back in 2009, Iranians were heroes:

"Everything that was good and decent and brave and creative about Iran was alive with hope in the days before the election, and in the heroic resistance afterwards..." (Don't pin your hopes on change in Tehran, 18/6/09)

And so photogenic too:

"The image of the beautiful young Neda Agha Soltan as she lay dying after being shot at a demonstration, almost certainly by Basij militiamen, for a moment transfixed the world." (West's hypocrites betray Iranians, 2/7/09)

And unlike Greg, whose (bleeding?) heart went out to those heroic young Iranians, a certain malign entity, comprising the likes of Louise Adler, Antony Loewenstein and Michael Leunig, which he labelled simply "the Left," was, in his words, more than "happy to accuse Israel of war crimes without the slightest evidence, but apparently unstirred by the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians in Iran." (ibid)

But that was then.

Now that these innocent young Iranian heroes are being felled, not by Basiji bullets on the streets of Tehran, but by Morrison's machetes in our very own Manus Island Guantanamo, they're just a pain in the arse:

"Whenever people are held in custody against their will, there is some danger. There is a particular danger in the case of asylum-seekers because among their number is a very tough group, substantially though not entirely Iranian, which is determined to make the centres unworkable and break the government's will..." (Calls for minister to resign are just absurd, The Australian, 25/2/14)

[See my posts: Behind the Iranian Refugee Exodus 1 (20/7/13) and 2 (30/7/13).]

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Palestine... Before Israel 1

The opening paragraphs of The Peasantry of Palestine (1907) by Elihu Grant*:

"This little book will make no attempt to tell all that could be said of its subject, but we hope that its selection of things to tell will be gratifying to you. Our wish is that not many of its pages will be condemned as dry, but that most of them have interest and refreshment. If sometimes when you are tired you can sit down and be pleased with some of these pages, here or there, you will know a little of how the trudging peasant of the village feels as, going over hill after hill, from each top he gazes off towards the west and sees the evening mists thickening and looking like good, cool mountains in the sea. It is pleasant to see the face of the native light up as he catches sight of the clouds heavy with blessings of moisture. Perhaps fierce sirocco days have followed one another for some time, longer than usual. Such days are actually looked for in trios at least, but often they hold for a longer time. Their peculiarly enervating heat is very trying, and when they have passed one welcomes eagerly an evening that brings the heavy mist. This announces that the succession of hot days is broken and that some days of respite are coming. The welcome moisture blesses the vineyards, the fig orchards, the tomatoes, squashes and melons, and it is sure to bring out ejaculations of blessing from the fervent peasant, praising the Father of all, whose favoring mercy he feels.

"Look out on a morning early and you will see the mists scudding, drifting, veiling and dissevering like masses of gauze, like streamers of truant air. Perhaps some near mountain may be cut off from the little hill half-way down by a moat filled with billowing fog. Soon the sun cuts it and scatters it away and the hot, dry day sets in. The roads and rocks are powdered with lime dust, the somber morning tones on the hills are touched with whitening brightness. Here and there is the dusty grey of an olive-orchard or the bright green of vineyards. Overhead, the brightest blue is set with one yellow gem of fire that creeps up and up until noon, and then the toiling peasantry, who have watched this timepiece of the heavens, sit down in the nearest shade to eat their food and chat. That done, they roll over for the luxury of a nap and forget a hot, dry hour in a healthy doze. The click of the chisel in the quarry ceases, the hoe is cast aside, the driver is lying on his face, fast asleep, while the donkey nibbles and rolls his load-sore back deliciously in the dust. The camel sits like a salamander, apparently minding no change of weather. Little birds pant for breath. All is very still and hot.

"But work-time comes again before the heat goes, and the workmen half sit up, looking around, perhaps playfully tossing a stick or clod on the head of a lazier comrade. The work-saddles are roped on the backs of the animals. The camel, long habituated to complaining, whether made to kneel or rise again, utters grating gutturals from his long throat. He is the Oriental striker, objecting, vocally, at least, to every new demand upon him. Well walked, the countryside begins to be busy again and work goes on until sundown. As the afternoon slips into the evening you will see traveling peasants hastening to make their villages. The hills are touched with pinks and purples that shade into dark blue. The grey owl calls, the foxes reconnoiter the fields, the village dogs bark, lights straggle out from the settlements. One may hear the song of a watcher in a vineyard or the bang of his musket as he shoots at a dog or fox meddling with the vines. As we hastened one evening through a village two hours distance from our own, the people, sitting about the doors and in the alleys, seemed astonished and urged us to stop overnight, not understanding our preference to travel on in the growing dark. But we went on, passing possible sites for Ai, then Bethel and Beeroth, and so to our own Ram Allah. The way was precarious and stony, with only the starlight to help us, and the evening was chilly."

[*Grant (1873-1942) was an archaeologist and Professor of Biblical Literature at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. Expect more such extracts from this wonderful book about Palestine's indigenous people.]

Monday, February 24, 2014

Let's Do the Rambam Again...

"Trade Union representatives who participated in an Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Rambam mission last November reported their impressions at a lunch in Sydney last Thursday."  (Unionists report back, The Australian Jewish News, 14/2/14)

Our happy clappy rambammers (and their 'insights') this time around are:

Scott McDine (National Secretary, AWU): "There are... some in the labor movement... who have a very strong preconception of the Israeli-Palestinian issue'... He recalled discussing his experience with a representative from a union which endorses BDS, noting that the representative subsequently enquired about the next mission."

David Bliss (Assistant Secretary, Newcastle branch of the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA): "It's very hard to put yourself in the shoes of the Israeli people and how they have struggled in the 60 years of the existence of the state to actually push away the many threats which surround them. When people criticise Israel about how it defends itself and the measures it takes to protect its people - we live in a very kind of sheltered existence."

Daniel Mookhey (Federal Election Campaign Coordinator of the ACTU): "Daniel Mookhey recalled witnessing 'a blistering, no-holds-barred industrial relations dispute' upon arriving in Israel... you wouldn't think, reading the press about Israel... that something so ordinary happens in practice day-to-day, because the view that you get of Israel is a view of a militaristic state. It's certainly not something that is worthy of sanction, boycott or divestment."

Phoebe Drake (See my 29/9/13 post Transformative Experience, Anyone?)

Michael Borowick (Assistant Secretary, ACTU): "It's critical that Israel remain a bipartisan political issue in the Australian body politic... and the mission plays its role in anchoring this strategy."

Prisoner X: The Movie?

The ABC's Rafael Epstein, "who knew [Ben] Zygier from their shared time in Melbourne Zionist groups in the 1980s," has just published a book on the latter called Prisoner X, an edited extract of which appeared in Fairfax's GoodWeekend of 22/2/14.

Given that nowhere in the extract is there any kind of acknowledgment that Zygier, who was so damn drunk on Zionist Kool-Aid that he even joined the Mossad, was both the product and victim of a highly toxic ideological brew, I was bound to find it inadequate to say the least.  The following two references, however, really pissed me off:

1) "In mid-2008, he applied for an Australian government-funded loan to to help pay for a post-graduate management degree in Melbourne the following year" while "still receiv[ing] a salary from [Mossad]." ('The heart secret')

Oh great. Just great. A hopelessly deluded Australian Muslim who goes to Syria for a scrap loses his passport. A hopelessly deluded Australian Jew who goes to Israel and joins Mossad or the IDF gets an Australian government loan.

2) "There were a number of overseas students in the management course... Significantly for Ben, there was also a businessman who had links to Iran, and it was this Iranian who played a key role in his downfall. My understanding is that Ben began talking about things he should not have ever discussed, not only telling people that he used to work for the Mossad but divulging details of the operations against Iran in which he'd been personally involved. It seems incomprehensible that someone who'd received Mossad training and was so committed to Israel would do this... Yet two sources tell me that's what Ben did in conversations at the university, including with the Iranian businessman. This man is described as being 'unscrupulous', which makes Ben's willingness to disclose important facts to him even more surprising... [Ben] had been to Tehran, and he knew plenty about what the Mossad was trying to do. His loose talk was a serious problem, especially as the program of assassination of Tehran scientists was then near its peak."

Hello?! Have I got this right? The Iranian student was "unscrupulous" because he patriotically passed on details of Zygier's boasting (about Israel screwing Iran?) to his embassy, but Zygier, a cog in a terror machine involved in knocking off Iranian civilians, wasn't?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Want My Money Back!

"[Tim] Wilson says his agenda at the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will be to promote liberal human rights, 'like freedom of speech, of association and of movement, of religious worship, of property rights, and the rights of individuals to determine how to live their lives'." (Freedom fighter, Tim Elliott, GoodWeekend, 22/2/14)

Hm... with an agenda like that, you'd imagine that Australia's new Human Rights Commissioner would have a pretty damn good nose for human rights abuses, though I must say that the qualification "liberal human rights" doesn't look all that promising.

Still, with the taxpayer forking out $325,000 per year for Wilson's salary, you'd expect some value for money, right?

For example, you wouldn't expect him to shoot his mouth off about an issue without first brushing up on it, would you?

And you'd probably expect him to have sufficient intellectual and moral wherewithal to see through a transparent attempt to suck him in.

Sorry to disappoint:

"I was very fortunate to go on the Rambam Israel Fellowship program by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), so I did a tour of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and we went down to Sderot... it was an incredibly rewarding trip in terms of seeing Israel, understanding Jerusalem, how the West Bank is divided, and that you really can't understand it until you go and see it. It was one of the most rewarding and fascinating experiences." (Speaking his mind, The Australian Jewish News, 21/2/14)

Hm... You really can't understand it until you go there. Really?

Oh well, I guess then he won't be requiring $20,000 worth of taxpayer-funded books and bookshelves like Senator Brandis, the bloke who appointed him - just enough for airfares. Lots of airfares.

OK, so maybe Wilson's just not at his deepest in an interview. How about on paper then:

"In Tel Aviv I met up with my media colleagues participating in the Rambam Israel Fellowship programme organised by AIJAC. The comprehensive introduction to Israel included a tour of the old city of Jerusalem and the ancient fortress of Masada, and meetings with politicians, academics and journalists. Our Palestinian guide took us to the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem for an uneventful, educational experience about how the locals live. The local Palestinian kids decided to perform and threw rocks at the nearby Israeli soldiers. The soldiers also performed by firing two tear gas canisters in the sky, before one landed 5 metres away, bounced and laid to rest at my feet. Sadly I couldn't find a T-shirt that said 'I was tear gassed by the IDF and all I got was this T-shirt, stinging eyes and a decongested nasal passage.'" (Notes from abroad, The Spectator,, 29/11/13) 


OK, so his wit's a bit on the limp side. What about Sderot then? Surely, surely, if anything will, a visit to Israel's Stalingrad should elicit the kind of scepticism you'd expect from someone hoovering up 325,000 taxpayer dollars per annum?

More fool you: 

"Tear gas is nothing compared to the experience of the small township of Sderot. If Sderot residents hear the words 'red colour' in Hebrew, they have 15 seconds until it rains Qassam rockets sent from the Gaza Strip only a kilometre away. That isn't very long, especially as it took 5 for our bus to stop and open its door. I counted. Fortunately, Hamas weren't in the performing mood the day we visited. I have only one bit off advice if you are considering travelling to Israel: go!"

Hm... another blank. This is getting kinda frustrating. I mean, I'm actually starting to wonder if we're getting value for money out of our freedom fighter.

Maybe he'll come good on the premier free speech issue of the day, BDS:

"I want to make it clear that I want BDS advocates to 'out' themselves, so people can hold them to account." (tweet, 17/12/13)

Jeeesus! Enough already, I want my money back!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Taming of Tanya 4

Why is the news of Tanya Plibersek's rambamming not up on her website or Facebook page? Why should one have to go to The Australian Jewish News to learn of it?

"Shadow foreign minister Tanya Plibersek lamented the lack of progress towards peace after spending two and a half days in Israel and the West Bank. The deputy Labor leader's itinerary last month saw her visit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, and meet with figures including Israeli Labor leader Isaac Herzog, Ministry of Defence foreign relations head Major General (Ret) Amos Gilad and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah." (Plibersek reflects on Israel trip, 21/2/14)

Herzog? Of course. They have have much in common:

"As a politician, Herzog made a name for himself always adhering to the party line." (The Bougieman: Much hope rests on small shoulders of Isaac Herzog, Asher Schechter, Haaretz, 1/12/13)

And how rich is this: the woman who once referred to Sharon as a 'war criminal' ends up having a cuppa with one of his cronies:

"[Amos Gilad became] the army's co-ordinator in the occupied territories and helped... Ariel Sharon engineer the reoccupation of the West Bank and crush the Palestinian Authority." (Amos Gilad 'running Israel', Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, 26/2/09)

"She told The AJN one of the most memorable moments was visiting Yad Vashem and the children's memorial was moving,' she said. 'A political highlight was my visit to the Knesset, and the interesting and influential people I was able to talk with there.' She said the country remained 'as beautiful as I remember it from my first visit [in 2000]'."

Funny how the rambammed never seem to notice THE WALL...

"'It is a privilege to visit cities, towns and regions with such a long and rich history,' she said. 'In my opinion, one of the great strengths of Israel is its diversity, where people from many backgrounds live together in a pluralist, democratic society'."

Yes, Tanya, it doesn't come much more diverse than a Jewish state. And OMG, that "pluralist, democratic" stuff is pure Tony Abbott! (See my 13/9/13 post Just How Bright is Tony Abbott.)

"But she observed: 'Politically, my general observation is that Israeli politics has gradually moved towards the right, including the growing strength of settler parties'."

That's all you observed, Tanya? Seems it's not only pluralist, democratic Israel that's lurched to the right. Whatever happened to the woman who once (2002) described Israel as a 'rogue state'? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

From Sabra & Shatila to Manus Island

"Papua New Guinea locals employed by security guards at the Manus Island detention centre attacked asylum seekers with machetes, knives and rocks, an interpreter employed by the Australian Immigration Department has claimed." ('There was blood everywhere', Michael Gordon & Sarah White, Sydney Morning Herald, 20/2/14) 1)

Questions arising:

Is Tony Abbott Abbottoir's Menachem Begin? Is Scott Morrison Abbottoir's Ariel Sharon? Does the 'P' in PNG stand for Phalangist? Is Manus Island detention centre Australia's Sabra & Shatila?

Send in the clown:

"It's a mad world. The Iranian foreign ministry has summoned the Australian ambassador to protest the death of an Iranian asylum-seeker who in all likelihood was fleeing Iran's oppressive regime." (Letter to The Australian from George Fishman, Vaucluse, NSW, 20/2/14)

No, George, it's much more likely that he was fleeing an economy devastated by crippling anti-Iranian sanctions imposed by the US and its lackeys - including Abbottoir - at the urging of Israel.

Jake Lynch Update 2: Bigger Than Ben Hur

Some of the juicier bits from Suit against Israeli boycott supporter Jake Lynch 'too unwieldy' for court. The rest is just reiteration:

"Justice Alan Robertson told the lawyer for plaintiff Shurat HaDin, Andrew Hamilton, to work with Professor Lynch's solicitor... to try to simplify the case to avoid it dragging on... at huge expense. 'This is unlikely to be heard this year on the current rate of progress,' Justice Robertson told the court... 'It seems to me at the moment that the proceedings are remarkably complex,' Justice Robertson told yesterday's directions hearing in Sydney. Justice Robertson asked Mr Hamilton, who participated in the directions hearing by telephone, why this was the case. 'Why so many actions, why a class action, isn't there a simpler way,' Justice Robertson asked. Mr Hamilton responded that it was a 'class action against a group of people discriminated against' who were 'not able to bring their class action themselves.' Mr Hamilton started to say Shurat HaDin argued that Professor Lynch's stand adversely affected not just individuals but whole categories of people* when Justice Robertson cut him off. 'I don't want speeches, I just asked you a question, and the answer is no,' Justice Robertson said. Justice Robertson set down a yet to be decided day in mid-March for an interlocutory hearing of applications by both sides... Mr Hamilton, who informed the court he has a property in the Sydney beachside suburb of Coogee, said he would be happy to provide a statement of his own assets and liabilities, which he said were about $3 million and $1 million respectively." (Ean Higgins, The Australian, 12/2/14)

[*Memo to Andrew - sorry, Akiva - Hamilton. Don't forget to include in your list of claims the crippling transgenerational trauma experienced by the children - even unto the third and fourth generations - of those Israelis brutally robbed by Professor Lynch of the opportunity to attend Pink Floyd and Santana concerts.]

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Up There With Atlantis

It's not only G-d who works in mysterious ways. Ditto for certain historical phenomena - at least for those who dwell on Planet Zion.

Here are two examples of same culled from a recent opinion piece by Mark Leibler, national chairman of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), in The Australian, the Murdoch-owned newspaper of choice for Zionist heavies.  (Just to fill you in on the context of the piece, Leibler was responding to a "simplistic, contentious and counter-productive" op-ed by former foreign minister Bob Carr on the subject of Israeli settlements.)

The first of these phenomena constitutes, for Zionists at least, one of the greatest mysteries of all time. It is for them what Atlantis is for the rest of us.

Although it may take many forms, here it is in Leibler's current rendering:

"...Palestinians whose ancestors fled in 1948..." (Carr's view on settlements is counter-productive, The Australian, 18/2/14)

Typically, for Zionists such as Leibler, despite their much-touted reputation for grey matter, the 'why' of the Palestinians "fleeing" in 1948 always seems to elude them.

It's like, Now you see 'em, now you don't/ Here today, gone tomorrow/ Funny, I could've sworn they were here a minute ago. Know what I mean?

Like Churchill's Russia, 1948's "fleeing" Palestinians is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma - only more so!

But hey, how convenient was that "fleeing", how very, very convenient. More convenient even than a chain of 7/11s, and then some.

The second phenomenon is equally mysterious:

"Settlers were not transferred or deported into the West Bank in a 'forcible' manner - as Article 49 [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] implies... They moved there of their own volition."

That's right, conveniently, the Fourth GC simply doesn't apply to Israel's colonization of the West Bank because Israel was, always has been, and forever will be just an innocent bystander in the process.

Like God, who created the heavens and the earth and all that jazz in just six (6!) days, and took a well deserved break on the 7th, Israel was so damn rooted from conquering and occupying and cleansing the West Bank in just six (6!) days in June, 1967 that he too rested on the 7th and apparently hasn't lifted a finger (except to the rest of the world) since.

And lo, he, Israel, just sat back and watched in total astonishment as, in the following decades, wave after wave of Israeli settlers crossed the Green Line into the occupied - sorry, disputed - territory, drawn there by some mysterious, totally inexplicable force, never to leave.

Spooky, eh?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Question of Spine

First they came for the BDS, and I did not speak out...
(with apologies to Martin Niemoller)

Victorian Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik has written a piece for the New Matilda website on a move by the Victorian Government to crack down on the right to protest. She writes that:

"The Summary Offences & Sentencing Amendment Bill 2013, which has not yet been debated in state parliament, significantly expands the circumstances in which police... may direct a person, or group of people, to 'move on' from a public place for up to 24 hours... Currently... 'move on' powers can be exercised if a person is or is likely to breach the peace, endanger or likely to endanger the safety of any other person... Move on powers do not apply in relation to picketing a place of employment or when demonstrating or protesting about a particular issue." (Two ways Victoria is clamping down on protest, 13/2/14)

She adds: "No evidence has been produced or case been made for this significant extension of of police powers against the rights of citizens to protest."

Significantly, does Pennicuik speculate on the government's motive. My guess is that this new legislation is BDS-related:

"The Victorian government will investigate whether tougher legislation is needed to prevent political protests closing down businesses, after a magistrate found in favour of anti-Israel demonstrators targeting the Max Brenner chocolate shop chain." (Baillieu seeks to toughen protest laws, Pia Akerman & John Ferguson, The Australian, 25/7/12) (For details of same, see my 25/7/12 post Finessing It in the Victorian & NSW Knessets.)

If I'm right, the question arises: Why is Pennicuik silent on the matter?

Are they under the thumb of the Israel lobby?

Here's my evidence for asking:

1) "Greens MPs in the Victorian parliament will be forced to declare whether they support a boycott of goods and services from Israel... Health Minister David Davis urged Greens MPs across the nation to state their position on the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign. Mr Davis said that if the Greens in Victoria did not publicly state their opposition to the ban he would introduce a motion to force a vote on the issue... Two of the three upper house Greens MPs yesterday refused to reveal their attitudes on the boycott, while the third [Sue Pennicuik] did not return calls." (Bid to expose Greens on Israel, John Ferguson, The Australian, 29/4/11)

2) "Support for the BDS movement by the NSW Greens was a huge mistake, admitted Senator Richard Di Natale at the Limmud Oz conference last weekend... [Di Natale] appeared on a panel with MPs Colleen Hartland and Sue Pennicuik and Jewish educator Ittay Flescher, who probed the Greens on their policy affecting Israel..."* (BDS was a huge mistake, admit Greens, The Australian Jewish News, 15/6/12)

If the Victorian Greens are simply too spineless to get behind Palestinian rights and the BDS movement, what confidence can we have that they will have the spine to stand up to the state government's bid to snuff out the right to peaceful protest?

[*Are you now, or have you ever been, a supporter of the BDS movement?]

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

From Diversionary Programs to Diversionary Propaganda

In its never-ending quest to defend the indefensible, The Australian Jewish News, in its February 14 issue, launched no less than 5 attacks (+ editorial & front page) on Four Corners' recent exposure of Israel's mistreatment of Palestinian children, Stone Cold Justice. (See my 10/2/14 post Murdoch Beds Aunty.)

The grubbiest, for me at least, was that by lawyer George Newhouse. Billed as "the head of Shine Lawyers social justice department" and one-off "advocate for Aboriginal youth in detention in WA (Wilson v Francis [2013] WASC 157)," his was a cynical attempt to use an entirely unrelated issue - Aboriginal detention rates in Western Australia and the Northern Territory - in order to divert attention from Israel's "systematic abuse and torture"* of Palestinian youths:

"The Four Corners program highlighted the disgraceful treatment of Palestinian youth in the Israeli military youth justice system but they also reported the news that the Israeli government and its military has accepted that reform is required and will take steps to improve military youth justice and detention. That's more than can be said for the governments of Western Australia and the Northern Territory who refuse to address the problem. Things are so bad that the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Chairperson Warren Mundine called for a national summit on Aboriginal justice issues and the soaring incarceration levels... It's time for UNICEF and Four Corners to investigate the treatment of Aboriginal children in youth detention in WA. Until then one might take a jaundiced view about the ABC's internationalist position on this vital issue." (We need to look in our own backyard)

So that's it then. The trigger-happy lads of the WADF (Western Australia Defence Force) are running amok in Aboriginal communities, ripping kids from their beds in the dead of night and secreting them in detention centres, where they're subjected to abuse and torture designed to elicit false confessions of stone-throwing and/or agreement to act as spies and informers.

Well, no.

Since Warren Mundine is Newhouse's cited authority here, let's explore what Mundine has to say about the issue of Aboriginal youth in detention.

The following text, from ABC Radio National's The World Today (Jobs not jail for troubled Indigenous youths: Mundine, 9/1/13) appears to be the source for Newhouse's reference to Mundine but, as you'll see, beyond Newhouse's cherry-picked reference to "soaring incarceration levels," it has little or nothing to do with the content of the Four Corners program:

Samantha Donovan: One of Australia's most prominent Indigenous leaders is calling for a national summit on Aboriginal justice issues to reverse soaring incarceration levels...
Emily Bourke: What's driving this increase?
Warren Mundine: I'm critical of all governments over the years and critical of the Aboriginal leadership... We are looking at the wrong end. We're looking at the jail end of it... We are trying to make culturally appropriate prisons, you know... where people get in trouble, they go on the culture camps. What we should be doing is the complete opposite. We need to be putting diversionary programs in that focus on keeping kids in the classroom and getting into jobs.
Emily Bourke: Warren Mundine says going to jail is a badge of honour for some young Aboriginal men and he also concedes some find it easier and even more appealing to go to jail... Warren Mundine says police and magistrates are hamstrung.
Warren Mundine: I do feel for the legal and also for the policing end because there are not options or supports for them to actually do these diversionary programs. We've got these silly ideas of black prisons and culturally appropriate prisons... We've got to get away from that and we've got to say let's have black classrooms... black jobs... and lets have commercial activity happening in Aboriginal communities rather than the jails.

Clearly, this business resembles Israel's abuse of Palestinian kids about as much as the proverbial chalk resembles the proverbial cheese.

More recently, Mundine is quoted in The Australian as saying:

"What I discovered when I headed Generation One was that there's about 40-50,000 people not in the Centrelink system or in employment so what they're doing is they're living off their families and humbugging... They get into criminal situations. We don't just say 'no dole', we've got to put in place processes to make sure they don't go into criminal activity'." (Youth missing from system, says Warren Mundine, Patricia Karvelas, 15/2/14)

Nor, it seems, does Mundine have any issue with the West Australian government:

"Mr Mundine said he had secured the support of the West Australian Corrective Services Commissioner... and the state government to try out the diversionary plan to tackle the incarceration rate. 'Everyone supported it'... he said."

The lengths Zionists will go to shield the object of their devotion from justified criticism is quite extraordinary. This includes, as we see here, the cynical manipulation of one indigenous issue in order to distract us from paying attention to another.

[*See my 18/4/13 post The UN Goes to Water.] 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hanging Offences

I was prompted by the following 'news' item to imagine just what Australia's legal landscape would look like if it ever underwent a Murdoch makeover:

"The creator of the Australian-based pro-Hezbollah Electronic Resistance website does not support a two-state solution in the Middle East and describes the Oslo and Camp David Arab-Israeli accords as 'a lie' but denies the site incites violence and promotes terrorism... Dr Rodger Shanahan, an expert on Shia Islam, terrorism and the Middle East at the Australian National University, describes the site as 'a possible portal' for further activity. 'Hezbollah is incredibly security conscious. They tend to tap you on the shoulder, not the other way round.' Despite this Dr Shanahan said the site offered a 'one-sided and bigoted' view of events. 'It idealises death for non-state actors,' he warned." (Hezbollah site denies promoting terrorism, Christian Kerr, The Australian, 13/2/14)

The omniscient 'Justice' Rodger Shanahan of the Lowy Tribunal would be presiding over such apparently hanging offences as:

1) Creating a website without Christian Kerr's express permission
2) Supporting a one-state solution to the Palestine problem
3) Critiquing the Oslo and Camp David accords
4) Providing possible portals for further activity - whatever TF that is
5) Getting tapped on the shoulder
6) Refusing to lie down and allow Israeli troops to walk all over you

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jeremy Buckingham, Anti-CSGasite

"NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham has risked alienating himself from all sides of the Middle East divide by criticising the Israeli government about its treatment of Palestinian children... Following [Monday night's] Four Corners program, he has written to the Friends of Israel [parliamentary] group saying he was very concerned about the practices uncovered by the program. 'I am concerned the targeting and treatment of Palestinian children and the IDF's relationship with Israeli settlers is institutionalising the conflict in a way that is not only very harmful to the children involved, but also to the IDF soldiers (many of whom are also very young).' he wrote." (Green turns on Israel over use of children, Mark Coultan, The Australian, 14/2/14)

If only Buckingham would exhibit such Dalai Lama-like inclusiveness towards the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry.

Yes, we know he's concerned about the industry's impact on people and the environment, but has he ever thought how CSG miners (many of whom are quite young) feel about being locked out of land (promised to the CSG industry by G-V) by indoctrinated, insult-hurling mobs?

It's time we faced facts here: Buckingham's constant singling out and delegitimisation of the CSG industry crosses the line into anti-CSGasicism!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Out of His Depth

I may be wrong, but I imagine that travel journalism these days generally amounts to little more than getting a free ride to an exotic destination and then repaying the 'favour'.

In the case of Derek Rielly's A letter from a Tel Aviv cafe in the Sydney Morning Herald's travel section (31/1/14), however, repaying the favour takes on a whole new meaning.

Rielly is (self?) described (on the Encyclopedia of Surfing website) as a "bright and mischievous surf journalist," who divides his time between "schoolboy comedy" and "risk[ing] a wank once my flatmate leaves for the beach."

That the following ejaculation of Rielly's has found its way into Sydney Morning Herald's travel section speaks volumes about the paper's spiraling decline into complete irrelevance:

"Israel is a brave little country, just 65 years old, that backs onto the moody Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by countries whose sole reason for getting up in the morning is the desire to see it destroyed with as much fire and histrionics as possible. Israel, meanwhile, has turned a crummy piece of desert and rock into the most culturally and politically advanced nation in the Middle East. A place in the region not known for its fabulousness, where girls and boys can flash eyes at each other in public or swim together in revealing swimsuits and not fear a vengeful brother or father; where gay men can openly lasso tongues and not cower under the threat of jail or violence.

"Maybe you missed it, but it was International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday. January 27 is the day in 1945 when the biggest of the death camps, Auschwitz, was liberated... Of the six million Jews killed by the German Final Solution, only a handful survived. More history! Three years and four months later, having been cut a piece of the Palestinian Mandate for a Jewish homeland by the UN, the newly minted state of Israel began a nearly two-year existential war against Arab countries. That, after a year of civil war, between Arab and Jew. Again and again, year after year, wars, bombs, intifadas, suicide hits, massacres, murders, reprisals, invasion and propaganda. The people feel it."

Oh, I know, Derek, I know, I know.

"And it hairs 'em out. There's the ongoing tension that more rockets are going to be launched from Lebanon or Gaza or maybe somewhere inside Israel. Tension that Iran is going to get the bomb. Tension that Syria's and Lebanon's dirty wars will drip across the border."

Yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda...

"Can you imagine what it's like to have created a model society amid dictatorships, military juntas and artificially created kingdoms and yet every single day you wonder if it will be your last?"

Truly, this surfer would be out of his depth in a puddle.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Australia's Playschool Parliament

Australia's playschool parliament in action:

"The opening of question time yesterday was a rare gem for the ideological insiders of politics... First, there was the condolence motion for the death of long-time Labor senator Arthur Gietzelt... But the condolence motions got even more ideological a moment later. Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, all spoke in condolence on the death of the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. All said more or less conventional things about what a significant leader Sharon was, his devotion to Israel, to building the nation and providing for its security, and his remarkable action in withdrawing Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

"The manager of government business, Christopher Pyne, who loves this sort of mischief making, asked if he could associate himself with the 'heartfelt' comments of Abbott, Bishop and Shorten as well as the 'comments' - no heartfelt adjective proceeding them - of Plibersek. This was an implicit reference to comments made by Plibersek more than a decade ago that Israel was a 'rogue state' and Sharon a 'war criminal'.

"Plibersek has since said she regrets those remarks, that she spoke 'injudiciously' at the time and that she no longer holds those views. Surely people are allowed to move on from views they publicly repudiate. But she didn't actually say any of that in Parliament yesterday. Rather she just rose to say she found Pyne's comments 'deeply insulting' and asked for them to be withdrawn. What she presumably found insulting was the implication that her laudatory comments on Sharon may not have been 'heartfelt'.

"The Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop, played it all with a straight face and said she didn't see how she could ask someone to withdraw a comment asking to be associated with someone else's remarks. Pyne nonetheless leapt to his feet and withdrew his wish to be associated with Plibersek's remarks.

"Tony Burke, in turn, leapt to his feet to say he didn't think people should be using someone's death to be scoring political points. Bronwyn Bishop wondered whether the way things were going was not diminishing the seriousness of proceedings." (Dead obscure, but this is all good clean fun, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 12/2/14)

Grownup parliament in action (UK, 5/2/14):

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): I once led a delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European Parliaments to Gaza. I could no longer do that today because Gaza is practically inaccessible. The Israelis try to lay the responsibility on the Egyptians, but although the Egyptians' closing of the tunnels has caused great hardship, it is the Israelis who have opposed the blockade and are the occupying power. The culpability of the Israelis was demonstrated in the report to the UN by Richard Goldstone following Operation Cast Lead. After his report, he was harassed by Jewish organisations. At the end of a meeting I had with him in New York, his wife said to me, 'It is good to meet another self-hating Jew.'

"Again and again Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the West Bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as justification. That is unacceptable. The statistics are appalling. There is fresh water for a few hours every 5 days. Fishing boats are not allowed to go out - in any case, what is the point, because the waters are so filthy that no fish they catch can be eaten. The Israelis are victimising the children above all. Half the population of this country is under the voting age. What is being done to those children - the lack of nutrition - is damaging not only their bodies and brains; it will go on for generation after generation.

"It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafes. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away. The right hon. Member for Banbury (Sir Tony Baldry) quoted the Prime Minister as saying that Gaza is a prison camp. It is all very well for him to say that, as he did in Turkey - he was visiting a Muslim country - but what is he doing about it? Nothing, nothing, nothing!

"The time when we could condemn and think that that was enough has long passed. The Israelis do not care about condemnation. They are self-righteous and complacent. We must now take action against them. We must impose sanctions. If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it - even unilaterally. We must press the European community for it to be done. These people cannot be persuaded. We cannot appeal to their better nature when they do not have one. It is all very well saying, 'Wicked, wicked Hamas.' Hamas is dreadful. I have met people from Hamas, but nothing it has done justifies punishing children, women and the sick as the Israelis are doing now. They must be stopped."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Mistreatment of Children is Intolerable But...

... "to understand the problem in context, it needs to be acknowledged that the Israeli army faces constant and often dangerous provocation in the area, with children in the vanguard of stone-throwing and violence... [It] was an excessive response to an ongoing, simmering conflict and not the product of state-sanctioned racism... Israel's enemies will undoubtedly seize upon the West Bank revelations to falsely depict [the Middle East's only functioning democracy] as being innately racist. It's not and never was." (Editorial: Israel moves on child justice, The Australian, 11/2/14)

A mere overreaction, nothing more, nothing less.

Typically, The Australian's editorial line here is seriously out of whack with its Middle East correspondent John Lyons' clear and unambiguous recognition, in his weekend feature on the subject, that the problem is entirely of Israel's own making:

"While Israel is under pressure over the issue, at its heart is the occupation... Central to the conflict is that the Palestinians wake up each day under an occupation they do not want." (Palestinian children pawns in an unjust system, 8/2/14)

The question arises: does the editor (Sheridan?) even bother reading what his own correspondent writes?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jake Lynch Update 1

The latest on the current Israeli offensive against free speech in Australia:

"A landmark court case over whether the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel is racist and discriminatory will begin sooner than expected, with the parties to debate potentially decisive orders this week. What was expected to be a routine directions hearing in the Federal Court on Wednesday will now see substantive argument, with lawyers for the pro-BDS defendant, academic Jake Lynch, applying to have the case brought against him by an Israeli legal organisation struck out. Professor Lynch will also seek a security of costs order arguing that the plaintiffs are not living in Australia." (BDS legal battle lines drawn, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 10/2/14)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Murdoch Beds Aunty

Whoopee doo:

"Israel has foreshadowed a dramatic overhaul of its military justice system in the occupied West Bank, following several years of international criticism of its treatment of Palestinian children." (Israel in U-turn on child justice, John Lyons, The Australian, 8/2/14)

Yeah, adult prisons; cages out in the snow; solitary confinement; 'A lawyer? You must be joking'; and 'If you don't cooperate, we're gonna hurt you and/or your daddy real bad, terrorist spawn'  - definitely not a good look for Godzone.

Still, a nip here and a tuck there, and hey, no more bad PR (at least on that front).

But check this out:

"The announcement of the need to change has come during a joint investigation of the system by The Weekend Australian and the ABC's Four Corners to be broadcast on Monday night."

That's right, folks, the ferociously Zioconservative, BDS-bashing, ABC-hating Murdoch press in bed with one of the many objects of its fear and loathing! What gives? Is Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan losing his grip?

Something to do with The Australian's Middle East correspondent John Lyons it seems. Maybe he's just big on fatherhood. (For the investigation's genesis see my 18/4/13 post The UN Goes to Water.)

For the time being I'll confine my comments to Lyons' accompanying feature, Palestinian children pawns in an unjust system, in The Weekend Australian.

As you'll appreciate, not many features on the subject of Israel begin thus in Murdoch's Australian flagship:

"Sitting in the heavily fortified headquarters of the Israeli army in Tel Aviv a few months ago, we were surrounded by some of the world's most advanced military technology. Yet it was not the equipment of the most powerful military in the Middle East that went off but my early warning bulldust detector."

Now bulldust detectors are not what you'd normally expect a journalist who reports for Australia's equivalent of The Jerusalem Post, but we press on:

"The subject of discussion was the military's treatment of Palestinian children... It was all going well until one officer made an absurd comment. Every so often in journalism you hear something that makes you wonder about everything else that person has said."

Stone the crows, is this the very first time Lyons' bulldust detector has gone off in all those years of listening to and parroting Israeli officials? But I digress:

"My question had been simple: how many Palestinian children go through Israel's military court each year? 'Unfortunately our computer software cannot distinguish between children and adults,' the officer said. 'Maybe 200.' The answer was ridiculous: Israel's army and intelligence service know every kilometre of the West Bank. My assessment, based on reliable sources, is that Israel has as many as 20,000 paid Palestinian informants in the West Bank. Israel is also a leader in technology; the notion that its computers were unable to distinguished between detained minors and adults was absurd. I replied that UNICEF estimated it was about 700 children a year. 'That would be right,' he agreed instantly."

Lyons outlines UNICEF's findings on the matter before writing that:

"At the heart of the issue is that Israel enforces two legal systems in the West Bank, one for Jews and one for Palestinians... Palestinian children appear before the military court, while Jewish children face a civil court with full legal protection."

Yes, it's called apartheid, John.* And here's where my own bulldust detector began humming a merry tune:

"Typically, a Palestinian child is taken by the army in the middle of the night and blindfolded, handcuffed and transported to an unknown location. Unlike Jewish children, they are not allowed to have a parent or a lawyer present; often their parents do not know their whereabouts for weeks. Palestinian children from the age of 12 are often sentenced to 3 months' imprisonment while a Jewish child cannot go to prison until 14 and jail for them is rare."

Jewish children? What Jewish children? Find me one - just ONE - instance of any of those settler darlings EVER ending up in an Israeli court!

Still, credit where credit's due. I guarantee that there are more instances of the 'O' word in the following Lyons' paragraph than in all editions of The Australian stretching back decades:

"While Israel is under pressure over the issue, at its heart is the occupation. When it began occupying the West Bank, there were about a million Palestinians there. Now there are 2.5 million. Central to the conflict is that the Palestinians wake up each day under an occupation they do not want."

That has to be worth something.

[*The 'A' word actually appeared in a Lyons' headline back in 2012, occasioning much wailing and gnashing of teeth at The Australian. For which, see my posts Consensus at Last (7/5/12) and Down the Memory Hole (10/5/12).]

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Salt of the Earth vs Monosodium Glutamate of the Earth 2

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Israeli Forces Raid Ein Hijleh as Villagers Remain Steadfast

"Large numbers of Israeli troops and Border Police have made several attempts to raid the reclaimed Palestinian village of Ein Hijleh. Today, their attempt to reach the centre of the village was blocked by villagers, some of whom were overcome by tear gas. One youthful defender was shot and wounded in the leg by a tear gas canister fired at point blank range.

"The defence of the village followed the confiscation by Israeli forces of a 'Welcome to Ein Hijleh' sign placed on the so-called Route 90.

"Two Palestinians were also injured on the night of February 3 following clashes with Israeli forces; popular resistance activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh sustained an injury to his arm resulting in multiple fractures, and a Palestinian youth, Mohammad Al-Khatib, suffered fractured ribs. Both were taken Jericho for hospital treatment. (It should be noted that Israeli forces blocked the entry of the ambulance carrying the patients back to Ein Hijleh, forcing the ambulance crew and the injured to proceed on foot.)

"The village is under siege by Israeli forces with water, food supplies and medical personnel being denied entry.

"Today, the villagers renovated several homes and planted 150 trees donated by the Environmental Relief around the village. Evening activities included art and cultural and political discussions.

"Israeli forces also detained 18 volunteers as they were entering/exiting the village, including an International Solidarity Movement activist who was later released."

Friday, 7 February 2014

Israeli Forces Evict Palestinians from Ein Hijleh

"Hundreds of Israeli troops raided the Jordan Valley village of Ein Hijleh at 1.30 in the morning, violently evicting its residents and declaring the village a closed military zone. It is estimated that between 200-250 Palestinians were in the village at the time. Thirty-five villagers were taken to Jericho Hospital following the eviction.

"Israeli forces fired a large number of sound bombs to scatter the crowd which had gathered in the centre of the village, and many women and children were evicted while sleeping in homes and tents. Israeli forces beat, kicked and threw residents to the ground, with some even being pushed into a fire. Taunted by Israeli troops, they were transferred on Israeli military buses to Jericho.

"Journalists and medical personnel in the village also came under attack. A cameraman from Palestine TV was pushed off a rooftop and a medic was hit in the chest with the but of a rifle.

"Activist Mahmoud Zawahreh from the Popular Struggle Committee in Al-Masara said that, despite the eviction from Ein Hijleh, the occupation forces could never evict the memory of the village or its accomplishments from the hearts and minds of its residents. Activist Monther Amira from Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem said the eviction would not end the work of activists in the Jordan Valley, adding 'we will continue with our campaign, Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth), to thwart Israeli plans to Judaize and annex the Jordan Valley."

Where, I wonder, was Fairfax's correspondent, Ruth Pollard while all of this was taking place? Too busy penning such inanities as "All of [the Israeli-occupied West Bank] is considered illegal under international law - a point Israel has disputed for decades"?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Those Reservations Aside...

Would anyone writing today (or yesterday for that matter) on Germany's occupation of Europe in WW2 bother telling us that said occupation was 'illegal'?

Of course not. Hello? Occupation? we'd scoff.

What if they told us that it was 'considered illegal under international law'?

We'd probably respond here with sarcasm: Oh really, we had no idea. Who would have thought?

What then if they'd bothered to add the qualification 'a point that was disputed by Germany,' as in 'Germany's occupation was considered illegal under international law - a point Germany disputed'?

We'd probably write the author of the piece off as a Nazi sympathiser or apologist.

And yet, Ruth Pollard, Fairfax's Middle East correspondent appears to have no problem writing as follows: "All of [the Israeli-occupied West Bank] is considered illegal under international law - a point Israel has disputed for decades." (Israel fights back against boycott, 8/2/14)

Again, can you imagine anyone writing of the German occupation of France as follows: 'The French resistance movement has taken up arms to drive the Germans out of occupied France. Its detractors label the movement as anti-German.'

Here we'd start by scratching our heads: Who are these mysterious 'detractors' we'd be wondering. Then the penny would drop. Oh, he means the Germans! So why the f**k doesn't he say so?

And yet Pollard can write, seemingly without pause: "Formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian individuals and civil society groups, [the BDS movement] calls for the boycott of Israeli companies and products that profit from Israel's occupation... Its detractors label the movement anti-Semitic..."

Can you also imagine an article on the subject of the Nazi occupation giving the same weight to Germans (whether officials complaining about 'Germany-bashing' or heads of German universities telling us what champions of 'free speech, academic freedom and human rights' they are) as French resistance fighters?

And what would you think of its author if he gave them space to whine that 'the resistance movement was undermining all this and damaging efforts of collaboration'?

Well, Fairfax's cowardly adherence to the insidious dogma of 'balance' ensures that this is effectively what we get in Pollard's piece on the BDS movement.

And while I'm bitching, here are my quibbles about Pollard's report:

a) "Dan Avnon has spent most of his career promoting co-existence between Jewish and Arab Israelis." Name one instance of Avnon having called for or worked for equal rights for 'Arab Israelis,' or else insert the adverb 'allegedly';

b) "The BDS movement has powerful backers" ???!!! Name them!;

c) "While the BDS movement may have appeared... extreme when it began eight years ago." Extreme?! What, after 57 years of Palestinian exile and 38 years of occupation? Give me a break!

Those reservations aside, at least Pollard has raised the issue of BDS (and, in particular, Israeli lawfare outfit Shurat HaDin's unprecedented hauling of Sydney University academic Jake Lynch before the courts this month), only the second Fairfax employee after Richard Ackland* to touch on this most appalling challenge to free speech and academic freedom.

[*See my 18/1/14 post With My Own Eyes.]

The Unasked Question

Donating money to political parties is a highly mysterious business. While our news media are happy to list say the top ten single donations to major parties, I've never known an Australian journalist to follow up by contacting the respective donors with a simple one-word question: why?

Until now, that is:

"A Chinese-based property company that hired former NSW treasurer Eric Roozendaal as its vice-chairman after he quit politics was among the largest donors to the NSW Labor and Liberal parties last financial year. According to election funding returns published by the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday, YuHu Group (Australia) donated $200,000 to the NSW branch of the ALP during 2012-13, including $100,000 in June last year. It also donated $100,000 to the NSW Liberals during the period... [T]he general manager Holly Huang, said the donations were unrelated to the [company's] planned [$200m Eastwood Shopping Centre] development as approval had been given prior to the company's purchase of the shopping centre. Ms Huang said after the company entered Australia in May 2013 'a lot of people approached us. A lot of Chinese community friends introduced us to the parties to understand how the system runs in Australia,' she said. Ms Huang said she could not comment on Mr Huang's personal donations as she only spoke for the company. YuHu's website features pictures of Mr Huang and politicians including former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and former treasurer Chris Bowen." (Ex-treasurer working for Chinese company that was major donor, Sean Nicholls, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/2/14)

Hardly a satisfactory answer I know, but at least Nicholls, for one, asked the bloody question.

I'm still waiting for a ms journalist to ask the following Israel-doting donors in particular why they lavished the following sums on the Labor and Liberal parties in the 2012-13 financial year:

Westfield Limited (Frank Lowy) $150,000 > Labor

Ubertas Group (Albert Dadon) $7,500 > Labor

Visy (Anthony Pratt) $1,500 > Labor

Pratt Holdings P/L (Anthony Pratt) $250,000 > Liberal

Westfield Limited (Frank Lowy) $150,000 > Liberal

Needless to say, I won't be holding my breath.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Salt of the Earth vs Monosodium Glutamate of the Earth 1

Friday, 31 January 2014

Palestinians launch 'Melh Al-Ard' Campaign by Reviving Ein Hijleh Village in the Jordan Valley

"Hundreds of Palestinians announced today the launching of 'Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth) campaign by reviving the village of Ein Hijleh in the Jordan Valley on land belonging to the Orthodox Church and St. Gerassimos Monastery. The campaign is launched in rejection of Israeli policies aimed at Judaizing and annexing the Jordan Valley.

"Campaign organizers and participants declared, We, the daughters and sons of Palestine, announce today the revival of Ein Hijleh village as part of the Melh Al-Ard campaign in the Jordan Valley. The action constitutes a rejection of the political status quo, especially in light of the current, futile 'peace' negotiations aimed at destroying the right of our people to liberate and reclaim their land.

"Accordingly, we have decided to revive an old Palestinian Canaanite village in the Jordan Valley next to so-called 'Route 90' linking the Dead Sea to Bisan. This action is just one step in an ongoing campaign against the Israeli occupation's plan to annex the Jordan Valley. It is an act of popular protest against Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and the Judaization of their land.

"From the village of Ein Hijleh, we the participants, announce that we will never let go of our right to all occupied Palestinian lands. We reject US Secretary of State Kerry's plan to establish a mutilated Palestinian state and force us to recognise the Israeli entity as a Jewish state. Such a state would turn Palestinians living on lands occupied in 1948 into mere residents and visitors who can be deported at any time. We affirm the unity of our people and their struggle, wherever they are, for our inalienable rights.

"Ein Hijlah village is located in what is called 'Area C' in the Jordan Valley, which is threatened by annexation and Kerry's plan. We have therefore decided to take charge and call for a national action to protect the Jordan Valley and put an end to the constant Judaization of Palestinian lands.

"Based on our support for the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement we call upon our friends and international solidarity groups to support the demands of the Palestinian people and boycott all Israeli companies, particularly Israeli factories and companies that operate in the Jordan Valley and profit from Palestinian natural resources.

"We ask you, for example, to boycott Mehadrin, the largest exporter of fruits and vegetables, some of which is grown in the Jordan Valley, and Hadiklaim, which exports dates produced by Israeli settlers in the Jordan Valley. We also call on you to boycott both Ahava and Premier, cosmetics companies that use Dead Sea minerals in their products.

"Our village is located near Deir Hijleh or St. Gerassimos Monastery, on land belonging to the Orthodox Church. It consists of a few abandoned houses and some palm trees. The soil is highly salty, and it is surrounded by Israeli settlements on confiscated land. An Israeli base separates the land from the monastery, which owns about 1,000 dunums, some of which has been taken by Israeli forces under the pretext of 'security.'

"The name of the campaign, Melh Al-Ard (Salt of the Earth), refers to a verse in the Bible (Matthew 13:5), which says, You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. The name of our village, Ein Hijleh, derives from the original Canaanite name and the spring (Ein) which is present there.

"We, the sons and daughters of Ein Hijleh, call upon our people to join the struggle to revive the village and protect our rights, our history, our culture and our land. Daughters and sons of Palestine, be the salt of the earth and stay steadfast on it."

MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Alzeer, 0592400300 or 0525339054

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

They're a Weird Mob

Australian PM Tony Abbott has described Israel as a "bastion of liberal pluralism and democratic freedoms." (PM pledges to stand by Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 15/11/12)

As Judge Judy might have said, 'Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining':

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been condemned by family members and religious groups over his son's [Yair] alleged romance with a non-Jewish Norwegian woman... Mr Netanyahu's brother-in-law, Hagai Ben-Artzi, took to the airways to denounce the relationship. Dr Ben-Artzi, the brother of the PM's wife, Sara, said: 'You should know that if he does such a thing, if he doesn't break off the relationship, then he is spitting on the graves of his grandmother and grandfather who loved him so much and raised him.'... Orthodox Judaism strongly opposes marriage between Jews and gentiles, which it regards as a threat to the survival of the Jewish people. Aryah Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, told a conservative radio station that if the reports were true it was a matter of national import. 'I try not to raise personal criticism, but if, heaven forbid, this is true, it is no longer a personal matter - it is a symbol of the Jewish people,' he said. 'I have friends who invest tens of millions, hundreds of millions, to fight assimilation throughout the world. If, heaven forbid, this is true, woe is us. I hope it is not true.' Marriage in Israel is performed under the auspices of the religious community to which the couple adheres, meaning interfaith couples must go abroad if they wish to marry, or convert to the same faith. The rate of Israeli intermarriage, however, is small, unlike in many Jewish communities around the world. Alarm bells are frequently raised about the half of American Jews who marry outside their faith. Lehava, a far-right group that works 'to prevent assimilation in the Holy Land,' wrote an open letter to Mr Netanyahu urging him to intervene to end the relationship, noting that 'your grandchildren will not be Jewish.'... It added that if Yair were to marry a gentile, he would join the 6 million Jews lost in the Holocaust." (Outrage in Israel as PM's son dates gentile, Catherine Philip, The Times/The Australian, 31/1/14)

Meanwhile, the comment thread following the Israeli news report Lehava 'Hotline' to help prevent intermarriage (David Lev,, 9/9/13), pulsates with liberal pluralist opinion and respect for democratic rights:

"Intermarriage is not only with Arabs! Even more dangerous are the xtians who come here with the single purpose of stealing Jewish souls. Look into the numbers that have been assimilated by these people who smile and buy their way into the country." Sara, Jerusalem

"Do we even want to save Jewish girls who marry arabs? How truly Jewish can a girl even be if she allows herself to be seduced by an arab, and then marries him? Islam is a savage, primitive religion which says that HaShem is actually allah, muhammad was greater than Moshe..." Samuel Fistel, USA

"Don't forget the men that marry non-Jews... the internet brides and the young men traveling after the army very often bring back their new brides, of course non-Jewish. Their children are not Jewish and are creating a problem for those that want to be sure they are marrying a Jew... Read Ezra, this is not a new problem. Eliezer, Betar Illit

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shameless Israeli Propaganda at the WaPo

"US envoy Martin Indyk... told [Jewish leaders] that a final peace treaty [between Israel and the Palestinians] could provide for compensation to Jews forced out of Arab countries after the founding of Israel in 1948. That would give descendants of those refugees living in Israel a potential financial stake in a deal long assumed to also provide compensation for Arabs who left land in what is now Israel." (Proposal for Israeli borders, Anne Gearan, Washington Post/Sydney Morning Herald, 1/2/14)

Putting to one side, if you can, one's cynicism at the decades-old farce of an Israeli-Palestinian 'peace' process brokered by Israel's "true friend" (Obama's description), and focusing solely on WaPo journalist Anne Gearan's choice of words here, one is compelled to ask how she can be allowed get away with the following two grievous misrepresentations: "Jews forced out of Arab countries" and "Arabs who left land in what is now Israel"?

The truth, of course, is the very reverse. To write that "Arabs" simply "left" Palestine in 1948 is, of course, now standard fare for mainstream reporters who, for whatever reasons, bend over backwards to obfuscate the fact and extent of Zionist ethnic cleansing at the time.

But to top that with the fiction that the post-1948 Israeli government-engineered immigration of Arab Jews to Israel was an equivalent Arab ethnic cleansing is to enlist directly as a spear carrier in Israel's current propaganda campaign to undermine the legitimate claims of Palestinian refugees.

I've exposed this kind of dishonesty before, of course, and you need only click on the 'Arab Jews' label below for the details. For those interested, here are two more items on the subject which give the lie to Gearan's (& Indyk's) shameless partisanship:

"In January 1952, about half a year after the official conclusion of the operation that brought Iraq's Jews to Israel, two Zionist activists, Yosef Basri and Shalom Salah, were hanged in Baghdad. They had been charged with possession of explosive materials and throwing bombs in the city center. According to the account of Shlomo Hillel, a former Israeli cabinet minister and Zionist activist in Iraq, their last words, as they stood on the gallows, were 'Long live the State of Israel.' It would have been only natural for Iraqi Jews in Israel to have reacted with outrage to news of the hanging. But on the contrary, the mourning assemblies organized by leaders of the community in various Israeli cities failed to arouse widespread solidarity with the two Iraqi Zionists. Just the opposite: a classified document from Moshe Sasson, of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Division, to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett maintained that many Iraqi immigrants, residents of the transit camps, greeted the hanging with the attitude: 'That is God's revenge on the movement that brought us to such depths.' The bitterness of that reaction attests to an acute degree of discontent among the newly arrived Iraqi Jews. It suggests that a good number of them did not view their immigration as the joyous return to Zion depicted by the community's Zionist activists. Rather, in addition to blaming the Iraqi government, they blamed the Zionist movement for bringing them to Israel for reasons that did not include the best interests of the immigrants themselves." (From The Jews of Iraq, Zionist Ideology, & the Property of the Palestinian Refugees of 1948: An Anomaly of National Accounting, Yehouda Shenhav, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 1999, p 605)

"'It is far from the first instance of tampering with, exploiting, and deleting our history, but it is the straw that broke the camel's back, and so... we formed the Committee of Baghdadi Jews in Ramat-Gan.' That is how writer, poet and activist Almog Behar described a decision by a group of Jews from Arab and Kurdish backgrounds to speak out forcefully against renewed Israeli government propaganda efforts to counter Palestinian refugee rights by using the claims of Jews who left Arab countries for Israel in the 1950s. Israeli diplomats, Haaretz reported last week, 'have been instructed to raise the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries at every relevant forum. This part of a new international campaign to create parity between the plight of Jewish and Palestinian refugees, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon announced on Monday.'

"'The way the Israeli establishment uses our history from the 1950s is not in order to give us our rights back, but in order to get rid of the rights of the Palestinians, and avoiding a peace agreement with them,' Behar wrote to The Electronic Intifada. The idea is that Palestinian refugee and property rights are negated by equivalent claims from Jews from Arab countries, thus absolving Israel of having to make any restitution to Palestinians. Jews who left Iraq and some other Arab countries in the 1950s for Israel were deprived of their property and citizenship. But in an extraordinary statement posted on Facebook last week, the newly-formed Committee of Baghdadi Jews in Ramat-Gan, of which Behar is a founding member, hit back: 'We are seeking to demand compensation for our lost property and assets from the Iraqi government - NOT from the Palestinian Authority - and we will not agree with the option that compensation for our property be offset by compensation for the lost property of others (meaning Palestinian refugees) or that said compensation be transferred to bodies that do not represent us (meaning the Israeli government).'

"The statement went on to demand an investigation of Israel's complicity in the departure of Iraqi Jews from their homeland including terrorist acts against Jews: 'We demand the establishment of an investigative committee to examine: 1) If and by what means negotiations were carried out in 1950 between Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri as-Said, and if Ben-Gurion informed as-Said that he is authorized to take possession of the property and assets of Iraqi Jewry if he agreed to send them to Israel; 2) who ordered the bombing of the Masouda Shem-Tov synagogue in Baghdad, and if the Israeli Mossad and/or its operatives were involved. If it is determined that Ben-Gurion did, in fact, carry out negotiations over the fate of Iraqi Jewish property and assets in 1950, and directed the Mossad to bomb the community's synagogue in order to hasten our flight from Iraq, we will file a suit in an international court demanding half of the sum total of compensation for our refugee status from the Iraqi government and half from the Israeli government.'

"The role of Israel and Zionist undercover agents in helping precipitate the departure of Jews from Iraq has long been suspected. Naiem Giladi, an Iraqi Jew who joined the Zionist underground as a young man in Iraq and later came to regret his role in fostering the departure of some 125,000 Jews from Iraq, wrote that 'Zionist propagandists still maintain that the bombs in Iraq were set off by anti-Jewish Iraqis who wanted Jews out of their country.' But 'the terrible truth,' Giladi said, 'is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews'." (From Iraqi Jews reject 'cynical manipulation' of their history by Israel, Zionists, writer Almog Behar tells EI, Ali Abunimah,, 17/9/12)

Sunday, February 2, 2014


What a mess of contradictions is Murdoch's Australian.

On the one hand, it's solidly behind Reconciliation Australia's campaign - Recognise - to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution.

On the other, it's just as solidly behind the Israeli government campaign for Indigenous Palestinians to recognise Israel as "the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people*," as its columnist Janet Albrechtsen put it recently, which would effectively mean Palestinians abandoning their historic (and international law-backed) claims to Palestine, and giving the thumbs up to 65 years of Palestinian dispossession, exile and genocide.

To translate the latter into Australian terms, this would be tantamount to calling on Indigenous Australians to recognise non-Indigenous Australians - past, present and future - as the legitimate owners of this land and giving the thumbs up to over 200 years of Aboriginal dispossession and genocide.

[*Including Messrs Arnold Bloch and Mark Leibler of Arnold Bloch Leibler - Lawyers & Advisers, prominent Jewish supporters of Reconciliation Australia.]