Monday, June 30, 2014

How Times Change

These days Murdoch's Australian has little appetite for Iraqi blood:

"With good reason, there is no appetite in Washington... for a return to boots on the ground in Iraq..." (Editorial, Jihad threat must be contained, The Australian, 28/6/14)

Back in 2003, however, the entire Murdoch pack were baying for it:

"What a guy! You have got to admit that Rupert Murdoch is one canny press tycoon because he has an unerring ability to choose editors across the world who think just like him. How else can we explain the extraordinary unity of thought in his newspaper empire about the need to make war on Iraq? After an exhaustive survey of the highest-selling and most influential papers across the world owned by Murdoch's News Corporation, it is clear that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. Some are bellicose baritone soloists who relish the fight. Some prefer a less strident, if more subtle, role in the chorus. But none, whether fortissimo or pianissimo, has dared to croon the anti-war tune. Their master's voice has never been questioned. (Speaking with their master's voice, Roy Greenslade, Guardian Weekly, 27/2/03)

How times change.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Meet the 'ABC Israel Advocacy Network' Spokesman

It's sometimes difficult to know just where a ms media interviewer is coming from.

Take Radio National's James Carleton, for example.

His ABC bio bills him as "specialising in national and international politics, especially the Middle East." I assume this means he has at least some knowledge of the modern Middle East.

Now you'd think that a feeling, thinking individual with more than just a passing knowledge of today's Middle East and its historical antecedents couldn't possibly be anything other than an anti-Zionist, right?

Yet, when it comes to the subject of Israel, there's barely a hint of criticism, let alone anti-Zionism, in Carleton's interviews. I can only conclude, therefore, that either his knowledge of the issue simply isn't up to the task, or that he believes that playing the devil's advocate is what interviewing is really all about, or both.

In any case, he's so damn irritating.

You might recall his interview with George Galloway last year, which you can read about in my 16/7/13 post Our ABC Owned.

Now consider the questions he addressed to Bishop George Browning of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) on the subject of the Abbott government's terminological tangle over OCCUPIED East Jerusalem on Radio National's Breakfast program on June 17:

Q1: "But isn't this really a semantic argument because on the ground we have the PLO [sic] on the West Bank now forming a unity government with Hamas in Gaza and recently as April Hamas said 'We will not recognise Israel. This is a red line that cannot be crossed.' He's not talking about East Jerusalem, he's talking about Israel proper, Tel Aviv, Haifa."

So? Does Carleton seriously expect a Palestinian, any Palestinian, to say: I accept that my ancestral homeland is now someone else's ancestral homeland?

Q2: "Yeah, but... suburbs like Gilo in Israel will become part of Israel. IOW the places that are so-called occupied now will become part of Israel by Palestinian agreement presumably. There'll be land swaps so doesn't that make this argument somewhat academic?"

Gilo is not in Israel. It's an illegal settlement built on Occupied Palestinian land. And what is this "so-called occupied land" shit? Is Carleton trying to channel Senator Brandis, or does it just come naturally?

Q3: "Quite right, and your position, correct me if I'm wrong, is dead in the middle, namely that there are two valid narratives in terms of Jerusalem. If you're a Palestinian, you're dispossessed from your East Jerusalem home, it's an occupation. If you're an Israeli Jew who's been expelled by Jordan in 1948, it's a disputed territory. Both narratives have their place."

An "Israeli Jew who's been expelled from Jordan in 1948"? Is Carleton for real? And just look at that last sentence: "Both narratives have their place"!!!

You'd think Carleton was a spokesman for - how shall I put it? - an 'ABC Israel Advocacy Network'.

OK, it may be difficult to work out where some ms media interviewers are coming from, but not, I feel, in Carleton's case.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

They Can't Get No Satisfaction

Fair dinkum, there's just no satisfying the Israelis.

Back in 2002:

"Israel urged the United States... to press ahead with a military offensive against Iraq, arguing that any delay would give Saddam Hussein more time to develop weapons of mass destruction." (Sharon urges America to bring down Saddam, Anton La Guardia,, 17/8/02)

Here it is 2014, and:

"Israel's ambassador to Australia, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel... said the 'disintegration' of Iraq and Syria - regardless of whether Iranian-backed Shiites or al-Qa'ida-inspired Sunni Muslims emerged more powerful - would pose a threat to Israel and the Jewish people." (Fear Iraq-Syria focus 'to turn West', Paul Maley & Mark Schliebs, The Australian, 27/6/14)

Friday, June 27, 2014

First Impressions

Sometimes it's the first impression that turns out to be the correct one:

"I can proudly claim that I do know the date of my first pilgrimage to Jerusalem; partly because it was a year after the close of the Great War, and partly because when my publishers suggested my going to the Holy Land, it sounded to me like going to the moon. It was the first of my long journeys through a country still imperilled and under arms; it involved crossing the desert at night in something like a cattle-truck; and parts even of the Promised Land had some of the qualities of a lunar landscape. One incident in that wilderness still stands out in my memory for some strange reason; there is no need to recur here to Palestinian politics; but I was wandering about in the wilderness in a car with a zealous little Zionist; he seemed at first almost monomaniac, of the sort who answers the statement, 'It's a fine day,' with the eager reply, 'Oh, yes, the climate is perfect for our project.' But I came to sympathise with his romance; and when he said, 'It's a lovely land; I should like to put the Song of Solomon in my pocket and wander about,' I knew that, Jew or Gentile, mad or sane, we two were of the same sort." (Autobiography, G.K. Chesterton, 1936, p 284)

PS: You might also enjoy my 11/2/12 post Listen Up, Guys...]

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Peter Greste & the Elephant in the Room

"What a pity Peter Greste isn't an American. If he were, the US would have promptly suspended all the millions of dollars of military aid to Egypt, pending a presidential pardon..."

So begins a letter in today's Sydney Morning Herald.

Let's get one thing straight here: even if Egyptian jails were full to overflowing with Americans, the United States still wouldn't turn off its estimated US$1.5billion annual aid flow to Egypt.

But don't expect any ms media commentator or pundit to tell you why this is so. It's an ELEPHANT-in-the-room thing.

The following report is probably about as close as the ms media will ever get to the beast:

"The US State Department spokeswoman bobbed and ducked and weaved for a full 20 minutes, determined not to state what seemed obvious: that in the midst of Middle East chaos, Egypt is just too important an ally to cut adrift, no matter how anti-democratic its behaviour. (Despite talk, no avoiding the truth about Egypt, Nick O'Malley, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/6/14)

"Before the briefing... both the White House and the Secretary of State John Kerry had issued stern statements about Peter Greste and his al-Jazeera colleagues. 'The prosecution of journalists for reporting information that does not coincide with the government of Egypt's narrative flouts the most basic standards of media freedom...' said the White House. The tone of Mr Kerry's statement was similar. 'Injustices like these simply cannot stand if Egypt is to move forward in the way that President as-Sisi... told me just yesterday...' After that meeting... Mr Kerry had said he had come to reaffirm Washington's 'historic partnership' with Egypt, including hundreds of millions of dollars...

"The jarring disconnect between the sentencing and Mr Kerry's warm words made for a combative media briefing.

"'I'm curious, though,' a reporter asked State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, 'did the secretary, in fact, raise these cases yesterday while he was in Egypt?'

"She responded: 'I think the secretary made very clear today our feelings... in his statement he called on the Egyptian government to review the political sentences...'

"Back and forth it went: '... how is this anything other than just a slap in the face to you guys, particularly after you've given them - you went ahead and released additional assistance?'

"Finally Ms Harf said: 'This is about the fact we have shared strategic interests, that the assistance we provide to them... is done in service of those shared strategic. It's all where the US national security interests lie'."

Shared strategic interests? US national security interests? What rubbish!

C'mon, Ms Harf, spit it out.

Another of your duckers and weavers, the former US press secretary PJ Crowley, managed it back in January 2011 when he was asked why the US still supported Mubarak when the Egyptian people wanted him out. This is what he said:

"We respect what Egypt contributes to the region. It is a stabilising force. It has made its own peace with Israel and is pursuing normal relations with Israel. We think that's important. We think that's a model that the region should adopt..." (See my 29/1/11 post US: Egypt Is All About Israel.)

There you go. It doesn't matter whether it's Sadat, Mubarak, Morsi, or Sisi. Whoever the Egyptian president is, and whatever he does, the US will continue to bribe him annually just to keep the Israelis happy.

[See also my posts Egypt: Life Support System for a Treaty (6/7/13), That Peace Treaty (9/2/11), A Likud Peace (15/2/09).]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lib MPs Not Quite Blown Away by Israel

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyam

You've - almost - got to feel a bit sorry for recently rambammed Senator Anne Ruston (SA).

Just imagine finding yourself trapped in the Upstart - sorry, Startup - Nation where all you're hearing is the incessant drip, drip, drip of chatter such as this:

"1. Drip irrigation Probably no other advancement has been quite as significant. While the concept of drip irrigation existed well before Israeli statehood, it was revolutionized by Israeli water engineer Simcha Blass, who serendipitously discovered that a slow and balanced drip led to remarkable growth. He created tubing that slowly released water where it was most effective, and in 1965 Kibbutz Hatzerim built a whole new industry, Netafim, based on his invention." (The top 12 ways Israel feeds the world,, 10/5/12)

Then there's Craig Kelly's inane babbling:

"I think because Israel is such a small place in the world... If you come up with a business idea or innovation, you're looking at 'how can I actually market my idea idea to the world or to the globe?'"

And John Alexander's embarrassing ejaculations:

"Ahhh... the innovation, the brain power, and the cutting-edge technology."

... drip, drip, drip...
... drip, drip, drip...

And all the while you're haunted by what you'd said in your Appropriation Bill 2012-2013 speech of 18/3/13:

"In the seventies we used to export our irrigation technology to places like Israel. Israel, very cleverly, took that technology and innovation and applied it in their own arid climate... and now we see that most of the irrigation technology that is being exported around the world is actually coming out of Israel and not out of Australia." (

Why, that's bordering on...

Any wonder that Senator Ruston couldn't make it to the AIJAC gig?

As for Ruston's fellow MIA, Senator Zed Seselja's (ACT) no-show, I have no explanation.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lib MPs Blown Away by Israel

Herewith the latest *sigh* batch of rambammed Australian politicians:

"Three Liberal members of federal Parliament shared their experiences of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's (AIJAC) Rambam Israel Fellowship Program - from which they recently returned - at a luncheon briefing on Friday." (Pollies praise Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 20/6/14)

Craig Kelly (Hughes, NSW):

"Kelly told the gathering... that visiting Israel was always something that had been on his bucket list. 'Before I went, I thought I had a reasonable understanding of the situation. But until you actually get there on the ground... you really don't have an appreciation for the issues,' he said. Especially poignant for Kelly was the delegation's visit to a school in Sderot, complete with protective shelters where the children seek refuge when the sirens sound. 'I can't help but think what it would be like as a young child to grow up in that environment, where you know people are actually firing rockets into your township,' he said. He also drew attention to Israel's 'entrepreneurial culture' as something Australians can learn from. 'I think because Israel is such a small place in the world... If you come up with a business idea or innovation, you're looking at 'how can I actually market my idea to the world or to the globe?'"

Hm... so Kelly "had a reasonable understanding of the situation" in Israel but thinks there's a difference between "the world" and "the globe."


But wait, there's more:

"We had meetings with the Palestinian delegation [to the peace talks], and one of the senior Palestinian negotiators said when we were talking about the failures of the recent peace talks initiated by John Kerry, and he basically said 'we have time', to say there is no rush for any peace process, and to me that was the most disappointing thing that I actually heard because it seems as though from the Palestinian point of view there is no rush to get on with settling things quickly'." (Federal Liberal MPs visit Australia,, 15/6/14)

Got it? The iron law of rambamming: Palestinians disappoint, Israelis inspire!

John Alexander (Bennelong, NSW):

"Alexander echoed his colleague's sentiments, stressing "the innovation, the brain power, and the cutting-edge technology' which exists in Israel. He said that while other countries, including Australia, are lucky to have natural resources at their disposal, the asset of Israel is its people. '[It's] their ingenuity, their absolute will to overcome adversity,' he enthused." (AJN)

I didn't think I'd ever feel sorry for adversity.

Now here's an absolutely awesome insight which only a trip to the other side of the world or the globe would enable:

"We've got wealthy people, and people who aren't doing so well, and when people have got nothing to lose they're far more willing to pick up arms." (jwire)

Which is funny, really, because all anyone else would see over there is Israelis carrying arms.

Wyatt Roy (Longman, Qld):

"Roy, the youngest member of Parliament, spoke of a 'life-changing experience.' He said one aspect of the trip that particularly affected him was visiting a hospital in the north of Israel which treats casualties from the Syrian conflict. 'To meet blokes who are my age who are missing three or four limbs... I think gives you an emotive connection to the issue, that you simply could not get anywhere else'." (AJN)

Translation: Shit, those blokes were shorter than me!!!

"When I look at the region it is incredibly complex and anyone who tells you they have a coherent and up-to-date understanding of the region must be lying because it is so complicated." (jwire)

Translation: Strewth, when I think about the Middle East I just get a headache, and if my colleagues don't feel the same, the bastards are lying.

"The other experience was going to Ramallah with our representatives of the Australian government there and meeting with representatives of the Palestinian Authority and to see where they were coming from again was something you couldn't get unless you were sitting in the room with them." (jwire)

Buggered if I can remember a thing they said though.

But that's not all, folks. For reasons best known to themselves two other Libs who also had tickets to ride couldn't make it to the AIJAC singalong. And, at least in the case of one, I think I might know why!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Israeli Ambassador is Outraged

Israel's peace-seeking ambassador, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, is outraged. Outraged:

"As a parent, I'm terrified by the too-true revelations that a school-aged boy called the police in a panic to say he and his friends had been kidnapped. As an Israeli, I'm resigned to the reality that the abduction of 16-year-olds Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrah is just the latest chapter from the Hamas terror playbook. Just 10 days after Hamas and Fatah signed a so-called unity deal, the fairytale is over. No longer can we continue to delude ourselves that there will be lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas aligns himself with such a murderous organisation."  (Abbas has made a pact with the devil: kidnaps are but one outcome, The Australian, 20/6/14)

Murderous, eh?

Hamas must be a pretty scurvy crew then.

But doesn't that sort of go with the territory? I mean, isn't the Middle East a tough neighbourhood after all?

So I guess the question has to be: Just how far down (or is it up?) on the scale of bad is Hamas?

"In addition to having a charter that directly calls for the violent destruction of Israel, Hamas has launched more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at, and infiltrated dozens of suicide bombers into, my homeland."

My homeland! Nice touch...

"Since taking power in Gaza, thousands have perished as the result of Hamas's murderous commitment to frontier justice, cronyism and administrative indifference. In the ensuing civil war, Hamas militants threw their opponents gleefully off roofs and out of hospitals. Their children's television shows glorify martyrdom, jihad and ridding the earth of Jews; thereby instilling in an entire generation hate, fear and mistrust."

Blimey, they're practically off the scale!  Fugly as...

In fact, with all of that Hamasian murder, mayhem, pillage and plunder going on inside the Gaza Strip, you've really got to wonder why the Israelis even bothered launching Operations Rainbow, Days of Penitence, Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, Hot Winter, Cast Lead, Returning Echo, and Pillar of Defence.

No wonder the ambassador didn't mention them... after Hamas pulling such a Pol Pot on its own people, Israeli ops must come as something of a welcome diversion to the suffering masses of Gaza.

But seriously now, if only the Palestinians knew just how much Israelis such as Ben-Shmuel care about them (and, more importantly, if only they had the sense to listen to, and follow, their always sage, indeed Nobel Prize quality, advice):

"The Palestinians deserve a government that will represent their needs and aspirations, and this is not one with Hamas as a core element."

It's just as well we in Australia have the Murdoch press on hand to host such a factual, no-nonsense, yet warmly sympathetic, portrayal of Palestinian suffering under the Hamas yoke as Ben-Shmuel's. I mean, if this were Israel, we'd have to put up with the likes of self-hating, bleeding-heart party-poopers such as Avraham Burg:

"All of Palestinian society is a kidnapped society. Like many of the Israelis who performed 'significant service' in the army, many of the readers of this column, or their children, entered the home of a Palestinian family in the middle of the night by surprise, with violence, and simply took away the father, the brother or uncle, with determination and insensitivity. That is kidnapping, and it happens every day. And what about their administrative detainees? What is all this if not one big official, evil and unjust kidnapping that we all participate in and never pay the price for? That is the fate of tens of thousands of detainees and others under arrest, who stayed, or are staying, in Israel's prisons - quite a few of them for no good reason, falsely imprisoned on false pretexts. The vast majority of them have been exposed to the appendages of military justice, and none of us cares a whit. All these things have turned the topic of the prisoners into the main subject in the lives of the occupied society. There is not a single household without a detainee or prisoner." (The Palestinians: A kidnapped society, Haaretz, 18/6/14)

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Good Old Days

In the good old days, there was the plain truth.

Now, in the Abbottoir, there's truth and gospel truth.

In the good old days, they were all just taxes.

Now, in the Abbottoir, they might not be taxes. They could be levies... or even... rabbits.

In the good old days, when men in uniform invaded a place and stayed, it was called occupied.

Now, in the Abbottoir, it could be disputed (preferred) or occupied (at a pinch), but Occupied, why that's judgmental at best and anti-Semitic at worst:

"The head of the Palestinian delegation to Canberra, Izzat Abdulhadi, told Guardian Australia that Bishop had explained to the [Arab/Muslim] ambassadors at Thursday's meeting that Brandis had been 'talking about occupied with a capital O as a noun and part of East Jerusalem's name, which the government did not support'. She said she was happy to say East Jerusalem was occupied with a small 'o' as a description." (Ministers set to condemn decision to call East Jerusalem 'disputed', Lenore Taylor, 19/6/14)

Oh, and in the good old days, a foreign minister knew the difference between a noun and an adjective, but now, in the Abbottoir...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Neocons: No Beautiful Dreamers

Jonathan Holmes' opinion piece, America's dream of Iraq showing the way has turned into a nightmare in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald is sadly typical of that paper's piss-poor Middle East coverage.

Having produced a 2003 Four Corners documentary (American Dreamers) on the role of the US neo-conservatives in initiating the Iraq war of 2003-11, Holmes thought he'd revisit the subject in yesterday's edition, with the following result:

"Since the end of the first Gulf War in 1992, the neo-cons had been calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In the aftermath of 9/11 they seized their chance... What was really driving the neo-cons was not cynical pragmatism [ie getting hold of Iraqi oil], but an idealistic optimism that American power could be deployed for the benefit of the whole Arab world... It was a beautiful dream. But to many, even then, it was extraordinarily naive."

Unfortunately, about the best that can be said of the above is that at least its author isn't trying to tell us that the Iraq war was all about oil.

Holmes' portrayal of the neocons (more properly, Ziocons) is, to borrow his own words, "extraordinarily naive."

The idea that a bunch of extraordinarily Israel-friendly dreamers simply rocked up, post 9/11, to the Bush White House with a plan, nay, "a Beautiful Dream" to "benefit the Arab world," is of course ludicrous.

Anyone with a serious interest in the genesis of the Bush/Blair aggression on Iraq needs to acquire a copy of Stephen J. Sniegoski's Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel (2008).

Here's an extract contra Holmes' "beautiful dream" nonsense:

"While the neoconservatives were the driving force for the American invasion of Iraq, and the attendant efforts to bring about regime change throughout the Middle East, the idea for such a war did not originate with American neocon thinkers but rather in Israel. An obvious linkage exists between the war position of the neoconservatives and what has been the long-time strategy of the Israeli right...

"The idea of a Middle East war had been bandied about in Israel for many years as a means of enhancing Israeli security. War would serve two purposes. It would improve Israel's external security by weakening and splintering Israel's neighbors. Moreover, such a war and the consequent weakening of Israel's external enemies would serve to resolve the internal Palestinian demographic problem, since the Palestinian resistance depends upon material and moral support from Israel's neighboring states...

[Sniegoski cites here the views of Rabin adviser Yoram Peri, who described in 1982 how the coming to power in Israel of the Likudniks [1977], saw a shift in security conception from coexistence and maintenance of the status quo to hegemony over, and destabilization of, the region via its fragmentation into warring ethno-religious communities.]

"Peri had argued that if Israel went off on its own in destabilizing the Middle East, the United States would abandon Israel, to Israel's detriment. What was needed for the Israeli destabilization plan to work was a transformation of American Middle East policy. If the United States adopted the same destabilization policy as Israel, then such a policy could succeed. For the United States' influence among its allies and in the United Nations, where it held a veto, would be enough to shelter Israel from the animosity of world public opinion, preventing it from ending up as a pariah state such as the white-ruled Repubic of South Africa. Better yet, though perhaps even unimagined in the 1980s, would be to induce the United States to act in Israel's place to destabilize the region.

"Such a policy transformation was impossible in the 1980s. However, through the long-term efforts of the American neoconservatives, that transformation would occur in the Bush II administration. The neocon advocacy of dramatically altering the Middle East status quo stood in stark contrast to the traditional American position of maintaining stability in the area - though it did, of course, mesh perfectly with the long-established Israeli goal of destabilizing its enemies...


"To reiterate... the vision of 'regime change' in the Middle East through external, militant action originated in Israel, and its sole purpose was to advance the security interests of Israel. It had nothing to do with bringing 'democracy' to Muslims. It had nothing to do with any terrorist threat to the United States. These latter arguments accreted to the idea of regime change as the primary military actor changed from Israel to the United States..." (pp 44-57)

[NB: My 22/12/08 post on the neocons and Iraq, Absent-Minded Professors Inadvertently Set Iraq Ablaze, which also draws heavily on Sniegoski, covers similar territory to this one.]

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Iraq According to the Herald

Whatever happened to holding your tongue on a subject you know bugger all about?

In yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald editorial, Unity government the only hope for Iraq, we get a history lesson that'd make any reputable specialist on the subject weep:

"It has taken almost 1500 years for the ME to reach the latest stage of sectarian schism."

The entire history of the Arab world... reduced to the Sunni-Shia divide.

"Recall that almost a century ago, Britain and France in effect created nation states such as Iraq and Syria."

No they didn't. They created colonies, euphemistically known as Mandates.

Indeed, far from creating nation states, they each in their own own way destroyed the first brave attempt at a united Arab nation by the Amir Faisal, who had led the Arab revolt (1916-18) against the Turks in alliance with the British, following a promise of British support for (in the words of the Hussein-McMahon Treaty of 1915) "independence of the Arabs within the territories... proposed by the Shereef of Mecca," the latter (Hussein) being Faisal's father. That is, all of the Arab Middle East, with the possible exception of Lebanon.*

Faisal's vision of a united, non-sectarian Arab nation can be found in a speech he delivered in Aleppo on 11 November 1918:

"I am an Arab and I have no superiority over any other Arab, not even by an atom... I call upon my Arab brethren irrespective of their different sects to grasp the mantle of unity and concord, to spread knowledge, and to form a government that will do us proud... The Arabs were Arabs before Moses, and Jesus and Muhammad. All religions demand that [their adherents] follow what is right and enjoin brotherhood on earth. And anyone who sows discord between Muslim, Christian and Jew is not an Arab." (Faisal I of Iraq, Ali A. Allawi, 2014, p 167)

Britain's promise of an independent Arab nation, of course, wasn't worth the paper it was written on, with the British going on to divide it, in secret, between themselves and the French (the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916). In a further act of betrayal of its wartime Arab allies, Britain then proceeded to promise Palestine to the incipient Zionist movement (the Balfour Declaration of 1917).

The French, for their part, would go on to smash the repository of Arab national hopes at the time - Faisal's Damascus-based Kingdom of Syria (1918-20) - at the Battle of Maysaloun.

"Those concocted borders... paid no heed to the ethnic or religious ties of the people who lived there."

What?! Just the opposite. In Syria, French policy was to divide and rule, in true colonial style, by pitting sect against sect, while in Palestine the British resisted all moves towards representative government by the majority non-Jewish population, intent instead on laying the foundations of "a National Home for the Jewish people," eventually to become the mother-of-all sectarian states, Israel.

Yet not a peep about any of this in the Herald editorial, just 1500 years of indigenous Arab Muslim "sectarian schism," and nonsense about "concocted borders [which] paid no heed to the ethnic or religious ties of the people who lived there."

Even when dealing with more recent history, the editorialist still can't get it right:

"Recall, too, how the West overthrew Saddam Hussein's brutal, Sunni-supported but purportedly secular dictatorship..."

"Sunni-supported but purportedly secular"? Consider this Iraqi assessment:

"When an objective study of the history of the Arab East in the 20th century is carried out, one fact should stand out irrespective of other successes and failures. It is that the Ba'ath [Party] had succeeded more than many nationalist parties in other countries in appealing to the whole society and uniting people across all divides. It was the Ba'ath nationalist ideology in Iraq and Syria which prevented tragedies like the sectarian Lebanese civil war, the continuous friction between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, and the carnage of the 1990s in Algeria taking place in either state... [When the 3 men considered to be the founders of the Ba'ath ideology and party] Zaki al-Arsouzi, an Alawi Muslim, Michel Aflaq, an Orthodox Christian, and Salah ad-Deen Al Bitar, a Sunni Muslim, got together to advocate an ideology and form a political party appealing to the entire Arab society, people from the whole of society flocked to adopt their propagated ideology and join the Party. That is the success of the Ba'ath in the Arab world if everything else failed: its ability to express and entrench the existence of the Arab nation. The disintegration of Iraq following the 2003 invasion and the overthrow of the Ba'ath is a living proof of that success and the failure of the invasion." (The Trial of Saddam Hussein, Abdul-Haq Al-Ani, 2008, p 34)**

"Indeed, for the first few years after Saddam, a Western presence in Iraq looked promising enough in keeping Sunni-Shiite divisions in check."

What utter rubbish! It was the occupying power ("Western presence" LOL) which undertook the de-Ba'athification of Iraqi society.

"None of this historical reflection serves to blame the West, including Australia, for the crisis facing Iraq now."


"Many believe a redrawing of the Middle East map into a series of ethno-nationalistic states will have to come, sooner than later."

Oh, really? Anyone without an Israeli axe to grind?

[* Excluding "portions of Syria lying to the west of... Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo," that is, today's Lebanon;** See my 18/12/08 post Life Under Saddam...]

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Iraq According to Abbott: 2003-2014

Obama: "Aussies know how to fight and I like having them in a foxhole if we're in trouble."
Abbott: "We don't want to be in foxholes, full stop, but if we need to take shelter it's good to have Australians and Americans side by side." (Abbott, Obama unite to confront terror, David Crowe, The Australian, 14/6/14)


Tony Abbott, along with the rest of the Howard crew, put his hand up for attacking a country he probably couldn't have found on a map of the world.


When it became apparent that Pretext No.1 for this aggression - WMDs - was a lie, Abbott began mouthing a new set of talking points:

"By any standards, Saddam Hussein ran an evil regime. He had invaded his neighbours, used poison gas on his own people, funded terrorists and harboured Abu Nidal. As the secret burial grounds now reveal, he is the world's biggest mass murderer since Pol Pot (and who complained when the Vietnamese army removed him?). Weapons of mass destruction were never the only justification for Australia's participation in the Iraq war... and there's no reason to think that the Iraqi desert has yet yielded up all its secrets." (The Moral Case for the Howard Government, 23/6/04)


Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths later, Iraq in ruins, and the genie of sectarianism stalking a land contaminated by depleted uranium and God knows what else, he spun this crime against humanity as if it were a gift from the West to the Iraqi people:

"Saddam was always a much bigger threat to his immediate neighbours than he ever was to America or any of its allies apart from Israel. It was to liberate other people, to advance everyone's interests and to uphold universal values that the 'coalition of the willing' went to war in Iraq. If it's possible to engage in an altruistic war, this was it." (Battlelines, 2009, p 158)


Now the country that he'd concluded (in 2009) was no threat to the world (in 2003) he's describing as... a threat to the world:

"Should the control of [ISIS] be consolidated, we are faced with a situation of a terrorist state... Not only is it a humanitarian disaster for the people of those sections of Iraq, it is a security disaster for the Middle East and for the wider world." (Australian PM warns of 'terrorist state' if Iraq extremists consolidate, Bridie Jabour,, 16/6/14)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Brain Trusts

Australia no longer recognises that Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem is... Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, and as a result, Arab diplomats are reportedly mulling a boycott of Australia's live export trade to the Middle East.

What a bummer! So what's poor old flummoxed Barnaby Joyce to do?

"Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, who has made live exports a core feature of his tenure, said the issue was not his 'field of endeavour. I will leave all that wondrous stuff on foreign affairs to people on a vastly better pay scale and smarter than I am,' Mr Joyce said." (Bishop hoses down East Jerusalem row, Jared Owens, The Australian, 14/6/14)

Right... leave it to the Abbott government's... er... brain trust. Hm... that can only mean Foreign Minister Julie Bishop:

"Ms Bishop was a member of the Howard government, which in 2003 committed Australian forces to the US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. Asked on Sunday whether this had been a mistake in light of current events, Ms Bishop told Channel Ten, 'Well, I supported the liberation of Iraq at that time. I thought Saddam Hussein was one of the worst dictators on the planet at that time. And his removal was a good thing." (We offer support but no troops for Iraq, says Bishop, Dan Harrison, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/6/14)

Yeah, right... And speaking of brain trusts and Iraq:

"Another supporter of the 2003 invasion, former British prime minister Tony Blair, hit out at critics for linking those events to the current violence [in Iraq]. In an article published on his website, Mr Blair blamed the violence on the sectarianism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, and the west's failure to act in Syria. 'It is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis,' he wrote." (ibid)

Oh, I see... so today's Middle East has become a "cauldron" all by itself, and the 2003 Bush/Blair/Howard/Bishop invasion and occupation (that word again!) had absolutely nothing to do with it?

Funny then, that 2002 statement of US Ziocon, Michael Ledeen:

"If ever there was a region that deserved to be cauldronized, it's the Middle East today."*

What could possibly have possessed him to say such a thing?

[*See my 24/3/13 post Netanyahu & the Cauldronization of Iraq & Iran.]

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Iraq & Syria Sorted by Waleed Aly

Thank God we've got Sydney Morning Herald columnist Waleed Aly around to explain where we went wrong in Iraq and Syria. We'd be all so confused otherwise:

If only Bush hadn't intervened in Iraq:

"Over 11 years ago we entered a war of choice on a pretext that was always dubious and proved ultimately false... the invasion has unleashed forces we simply cannot pretend to have under control."  (Middle East meltdown: Blowback from invasion of Iraq unfolds to haunt the West, Waleed Aly, 13/6/14)

If only Obama had intervened in Syria:

"... in Syria, where a ruler every bit as brutal as Saddam Hussein is in the process of enacting mass violence against his own people. This is a ruler who has merrily danced across what Barack Obama declared to be his 'red line' by using chemical weapons* against them. Obama ran an anaemic campaign for military intervention in Syria that went nowhere. These days he regards Syria merely as 'somebody else's civil war'.** We will never know what would have happened had America intervened. But we do know that Bashar al-Assad had free rein to unleash brutal force, thereby radicalising the environment and laying down a magnet for Sunni terrorist groups.**"

Wait a minute!

"Mosul is in terrorist hands because we blew the lid off Iraq..."

So we shouldn't have squished Saddam, right?

"... then refused to help put it back on Syria."

But we should have squished Bashar, yeah?

Hang on!

[*Wrong! See my 8/4/14 post About That Gas Attack in Syria...;** So the Americans, the Turks, the Saudis and the Gulf monarchs had absolutely no hand in "unleash[ing] brutal force, thereby radicalising the environment and laying down a magnet for Sunni terrorist groups," just Bashar?]

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Greg Sheridan's Tsunami


According to Tony Abbott's Suppository of All Wisdom, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of The Australian, we'll soon be standing in it!

Here's Sheridan on the tsunami of anti-Semitism that's supposedly about to "engulf" us:

"There has been astonishingly, a recrudescence of Christian anti-Semitism. Some of this comes from Arab Christian churches who seek to portray Jesus not as Jewish, which he certainly was historically, but as a Palestinian." (Hatred of Jews on rise again: There is nothing isolated about the surge of anti-semitism engulfing us, 7/6/13)

Funny, I've never known Sheridan to have conniptions over the stereotypical depiction of Jesus as a blue-eyed, blonde, Nordic type, bearing not the least resemblance to Theodor Herzl, but as soon  as a Palestinian pipes up...

"It is indeed a legitimate element of Christian theology that the Old Testament promises are fulfilled by Christ in the establishment of Christianity. But it is not legitimate to deny the Jewish people, or their history."

Crafty bugger! Notice it's "the Jewish people," not 'Jews' (as in Christians, Muslims and Jews). Boilerplate Zionist dogma in other words. You see, what Sheridan's really defending here isn't Jews and/or Judaism, but political Zionism:

"The idea of Zionism is that there should be a Jewish state in the historical lands of Israel. It is not remotely necessary to have any religious faith at all to acknowledge the historic and ongoing Jewish connection with the land of Israel. This certainly does not entitle Israel to all the land of the Biblical passages."

Actually, Greg, that "connection," however you characterise it, doesn't "entitle" Israel (the creation, by bomb and bullet, of mainly East European Jews) to one square inch of Middle Eastern real estate.

"But it is a historic claim of association to a land of a kind that we recognise explicitly in our own legislation regarding Aboriginal land rights."

Only a rusted-on Zionist fanatic like Sheridan could twist Australian history in this shameless fashion.

We recognise Aboriginal land rights because Aboriginals were living here when our European mob arrived and dispossessed them. Likewise, Palestinian aboriginals were living in Palestine before Israel's European mob arrived and set about dispossessing them. However, not only does that particular mob NOT recognise Palestinian land rights but is still as busy snapping up Palestinian land as it was when it first arrived, and, to add insult to injury, claiming that God gave it to them!

"It is the kind of association of a people with a land that is the basis for many civic identities around the world."

Oh really? Name one other civic identity based on the X-ness of one's mother.

"But now, alone among all such claims, Zionism has become a dirty word in all progressive circles. But what is really disturbing is how many other rivers of anti-Semitism are all flowing together."

Presumably, "progressive circles" should instead be backing the Zionist in this imagined conversation:

Zionist (banging on Palestinian door): Hey, we're baaack!
Palestinian: Who the hell are you?
Zionist: We're the guys who own this place.
Palestinian: No you don't, this is my place. It's been mine for untold generations.
Zionist: Sorry, rootless Arab, before it was your place it was our place.
Palestinian: Says who?
Zionist: God, of course.
Palestinian: God! What if I refuse to leave?
Zionist: That'd be anti-Semitic.
Palestinian: Oh well then, I guess I better start packing...
Zionist: Correct. You've got 5 minutes to get your stuff out before the bulldozers roll.

Give us a break, Greg.

Why even bother with Sheridan's shit? Well, he is Tony's Suppository of All Wisdom, and not only do he and Tony go back a long way, but so does their anti-Palestinian bent:

"In 1977, Abbott and I drove down from Sydney to Melbourne to attend an AUS conference at Monash University... No doubt the silliest thing we did at the conference was to attend a Palestinian film night... we heckled the film a bit... the film was stopped and we were told we had to leave..." (See my 13/9/12 post Greg & Tony Do Monash 1 for the gruesome details.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraq Today

Guardian headline:

"Iraq army capitulates to ISIS militants in four cities: Half a million people on the move after gunmen seize four cities and pillage army bases and banks." (12/6/14)  

Bush & the Ziocons:

Chaos, panic and disorder - our work is done!  


Who do we want? Saddam! When do we want him? Now!

What's Going On Up There?

What goes through the mind of the Sydney Morning Herald letters editor when he/she approves a letter such as the following for publication, or when those who have the Herald tossed onto their lawns every morning read it over breakfast or on the train?

"Bob Carr and Gareth Evans are keen to ensure the loaded term 'occupied' be used in relation to Israel's presence in the West Bank and east Jerusalem... Surely when you tell the Palestinians they are in the right by using such one-sided language, you are discouraging them from negotiating and thereby hindering peace. It's interesting that we don't hear the same push to label Turkey's occupation of part of Cyprus, or China's occupation of Tibet or disputed islands in the Pacific." Danny Samuels Malvern (Vic)

Do they recognise a specimen of overweening Zionist arrogance and sophistry when it's right there in front of their eyes?

Do they react calmly, seeing it as a species of propaganda, genus Zionist?

Do they recoil in disgust, as from a funnel web crawling across the kitchen table towards them?

Do they swallow it all, hook, line and sinker?

When they read "loaded term 'occupied'", do they smile and think, Only a Zionist fanatic could cook up a sequence such as that, oblivious to the connotations?

When they read "Israel's presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem," is the word "presence" sufficient to banish from their minds the reality of checkpoints, summary executions, settler thugs, walls, cages, harassment, torture, humiliation, home invasions, home demolitions, and evictions?

When they see "tell[ing] the Palestinians they are in the right," do they get all sarcastic and say, Oh yes, Palestinians always wrong, Israelis always right, Palestinians bad, bad, bad, Israelis good, good, good? Always. Every time. No exception. None.

When they read that last talking point, are their minds immediately transported a million miles away, as intended by the letter's author?

These are the kinds of questions that throng my brain whenever I read letters of this kind.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Memo to Bob Carr: Israel is Occupied Palestine

In an opinion piece in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald, former Labor foreign ministers, Bob Carr and Gareth Evans, slammed "Australia's new policy of refusing to describe East Jerusalem as 'occupied'":

"If East Jerusalem is not to be referred to as 'occupied', why not Nablus or Bethlehem? If the Australian government can say 'occupied East Jerusalem' is fraught with 'pejorative implications' what is to stop Ms Bishop applying this to the occupied West Bank as a whole?" (East Jerusalem stance will not aid peace process)

Point well taken, but perhaps it's time to broaden the discussion:

If East Jerusalem is to be referred to as occupied (which, if course, it certainly is), why not West Jerusalem?

If Nablus and Bethlehem are to be referred to as occupied (which, of course, they certainly are), why not Jaffa and Haifa?

The simple fact of the matter is that today's 'Israel' - taken by brute force force and ethnic cleansing in 1948 - is just as much occupied Palestine as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - taken by brute force and ethnic cleansing in 1967.

Do Carr and Evans need to consult the shades of the Zionist architects of Israeli-occupied Palestine - from the River to the Sea - to understand the bleeding obvious? Namely, that every inch of Palestine is stolen land? That just about every Jewish Israeli is either a settler or the son and daughter of a settler or the grandson or granddaughter of a settler? That yesterday's kibbutzim and moshavim are today's West Bank settlements? That Israel is because Palestine isn't?

So be it then:

David Ben-Gurion: "If I was an Arab leader, I should never make terms with Israel. That is natural; we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but that was two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?"

Vladimir Jabotinsky: "Any native people... views their country as their national home, of which they will always be the complete masters. They will not voluntarily allow, not only a new master, but even a new partner. And so it is for the Arabs... They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervour that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon the prairie..."

Moshe Dayan: "Let us not today fling accusations at the murderers. Who are we that we should argue against their hatred? For eight years now they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their very eyes, we turn into our homestead the land and the villages in which they and their forefathers have lived. We are a generation of settlers, and without the steel helmet and the cannon we cannot plant a tree and build a home... Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You don't even know the names of these Arab villages, and I don't blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal arose in the place of Mahlul, Gvat in the place of Jibta, Sarid in the place of Haneifa, and Kfar-Yehoshua in the place of Tel-Shaman. There is not one single place in this country that did not have a former Arab population."

Carr and Evans also wrote:

"Israeli realists know indefinite occupation of the West Bank will degrade their own country, maintaining its Jewish identity only at the price of compromising its democracy."

Can they tell us how maintaining the "Jewish identity" of Israel - at the expense of the non-Jewish Palestinians - is not as racist a project as that of White South Africans maintaining the White identity of South Africa - at the expense of non-White South Africans?

Maybe they need to sit down and listen, really listen, to the unashamedly Zionist, and hence unashamedly racist, Israeli mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso:

"I'm not afraid to say it out loud... Upper Nazareth is a Jewish city and it's important that it remain so. If that makes me a racist, then I'm a proud offshoot of a glorious dynasty of 'racists' that started with the 'Covenant of the Pieces' [that God made with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 15:1-15] and the explicitly racist promise: 'To your seed have I given this land' [Genesis 15:38]...

"The racist Theodor Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, not The State of All Its Citizens). Lord Balfour recommended the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Arlosoroff, Moshe Sharett and other racists established the Jewish Agency, and the racist UN decided to establish a Jewish state - in other words, a state for Jews. The racist Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and during the War of Independence even made sure to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jews and drive out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living here - all to enable it to be founded with the desired racist character.

"Since then, racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as Habayit Hayehudi - 'The Jewish Home'. Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority - in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war. If not for all that 'racism' it's doubtful we could live here, and doubtful we could live at all.

"In these times of hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness, of the proliferation of flaky types who are disconnected from reality, in the relative security that causes us to forget the dangers we face, we can sit in north Tel Aviv and cry 'racism' to seem enlightened and good-hearted in our own eyes. We can be shocked at a mayor who prefers that his city, which is right next to the largest Arab city in Israel, retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it. There will not be a single Jew in the future Palestinian state, but that's all right. That isn't racism." ('If you think I'm a racist, then Israel is a racist state', Haaretz, 7/8/13)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Israeli-Occupied Labor

A June 2014 snapshot of the Israeli-occupied Australian Labor Party:

1) Here's Opposition leader, Bill Shorten (described by former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr as "umbilically attached to the cause of Israel") doing the old duck and weave when asked by a journalist if he's comfortable with the Abbott Government's rejection of the word 'occupied' to describe Palestinian territory OCCUPIED by Israel in 1967:

Journalist: [A]re you comfortable with the Government's decision to drop 'occupied territories' as the word to describe Israeli settlements?

Shorten: On this matter, we take our foreign affairs very seriously. We believe the Government should always do things through consultation and working through the issues. Middle Eastern issues are very complex but we think the Government should step through these processes rather than pull surprises on people.

Journalist: So are you comfortable or not?

Shorten: It is more a process issue for the Government. Our Prime Minister is trying to fix up the relationship they have damaged with Indonesia. I think when it comes to diplomacy and international relations, the fewer surprises and the more thought-out positions, that's what we require.

Journalist: We still didn't get a position from you. Are you comfortable?

Shorten: I am not comfortable with the process this Government is adopting and I am not going to get caught up in second-guessing the outcomes when I'm not convinced the process has been the correct process.  (Doorstop: Williamstown,, 6/6/14)

Of course he's comfortable with the Government's move, just not with this journalist's questions.

2) Here's Shorten's Deputy & Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya (injudicious no more) Plibersek, speaking through one of her minders:

"We are committed to supporting an enduring and just two-state solution. Clear Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice to Labor in government was that the settlements are not in line with international law." (George Brandis's take on 'occupied east Jerusalem' comes under Labor fire, Katharine Murphy,, 6/6/14)

Not illegal, mind you, just "not in line with international law"!

3) Now for a snapshot of the troops. Just back from a rambamming in Israel. (You're surprised? You mean you didn't know? Well, of course you didn't know. You could read the Australian corporate press from sunup to sundown, and you still wouldn't know. Only The Australian Jewish News ever reports these propaganda junkets.)

Read and weep:

"Shadow foreign minister and Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek reiterated Australia's support for Israel in its desire to achieve a two-state peace outcome with the Palestinians [?!], in recent remarks to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. Plibersek - who visited Israel in January - saw her views echoed at meetings in Sydney and Melbourne* by members of a federal Labor parliamentary delegation who took part in AIJAC's Israel Rambam study visit program last month.

"Group members - led by Senator Penny Wong and including Deborah O'Neill, Gai Brodtmann MP, Stephen Jones MP, Dr Jim Chalmers MP and Tim Watts MP - expressed appreciation for having the opportunity to explore realities firsthand, and meet a variety of Israelis and Palestinians in such locales as Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and Sderot.

"Wong cited Yad Vashem as a very moving highlight of her visit. She also said that, at Sderot, she was struck by the resilience and persistence of ordinary Israelis and the challenges of Israel's leaders having to juggle the work of government with managing a constant existential threat.

"Brodtmann expressed concern about the challenges hindering the Palestinian Authority's ability to realise the two-state solution - in particular the destabilising influence of Hamas. Meanwhile, Watts said he was impressed by the objectivity of the Rambam program, which he said exposed him to a diverse range of views and the space to develop his own views on Israel without intrusion or interference.  

"O'Neill told a rapt audience that she believed that 'Israel is ready for peace.' She also spoke eloquently about how she was moved by the 'depth of understanding of a shared humanity' from watching Arab and Jewish Israeli doctors and nurses working together at Tzfat's Ziv Hospital to treat Syrians injured in that country's devastating civil war." (ALP leaders reflect on Israel, 6/6/14)

My fave here has to be Penelope Wong's "a constant existential threat." Seriously, Penelope, if you had to choose "a constant existential threat," which one would it be, the one talked about ad nauseam by Israeli leaders or the one experienced on a daily basis by Palestinians?

[*A taxpayer-funded shuttle service?]

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Will Australia Resist Israel's Advances?

Now where were we?

Oh yes, way out there on the very tip of that aforementioned UN limb, with Australia astride Israel's lap, getting decidedly physical...

Australia (arms around Israel's neck): Hi, handsome. OMG, is this the hardest cushion I've ever sat on, or are you just, like, pleased to see me?

Israel (smirking, unable to believe his luck): Both, bitch. My dick's as deadly as a rubber bullet, pure steel under a gristle coating. And when I come it's like white phosphorus over Hamastan. Burn, babies, burn, know what I mean?

Australia: Love it when you talk dirty, Israel. Hey, I hear it's such a tough neighborhood around here, I'm surprised you've got time, like, to get it up.

Israel: There's no keeping an Israeli dick down, bitch. We're not known as Erectz Israel for nothing, you know? Let me tell you a story.

Australia: Love stories! A dirty one?

Israel: The best, babe.

Australia: Shoot, handsome... Oh, wait. I can't believe, like, I just said that... (giggles uncontrollably)

Israel: Listen up, bitch, it's about one of our greatest warrior-poets, name of Arik.

Australia: Hey, wasn't he the one who erected all those, like, cheeky settlements in, like, disputed territory?

Israel: That's the one. We used to call him the Bulldozer! Sadly, he's no longer with us anymore, but his spirit lives on! Now, zip it, I've got a story to tell!

Australia: Yes, boss!

Israel: It was back in May '48. Arik was just 12 at the time. Twelve! He was taking part in the Battle of Latrun against the Arab Legion, trying to penetrate the blockade of Jerusalem. He got hit in the nuts - or so he thought - and was evacuated to a camp for the wounded. A sexy young nurse asked him to urinate but he couldn't. When she called for a catheter, he said, Wait, I'll try again. This time he succeeded. Then she kissed him, smack on the mouth! Now how did he put it? It was only then that I realised that my wound was not where I had feared.

Australia: Go on! You're making it up. You Israelis are, like, such liers.

Israel: No way, bitch. It's all there in Uri Dan's book, Ariel Sharon: An Intimate Portrait, page 13.

Australia: Let's give it a go then (kisses him). OMG, you're, like, channeling Arik!

Israel: Every inch an Arik, bitch! Hey, listen, I've got an idea. Now we know each other a little better, why don't you ditch that pad of yours back in Tel Aviv, and I'll set you up with something much nicer here in Jerusalem? Whaddya say?

Can Australia resist? That's the question.

Now in case you think I'm imagining things here, check out Tanya Nolan's interview* with a former Australian ambassador to Israel, Peter Rodgers, on Australia's current - ahem - moves, where she asks him that very question:

Tanya Nolan: What do you think the risk is now, by Australia not recognising that Israel is occupying East Jerusalem, of our being invited to relocate [our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem]?

Peter Rodgers: Oh, I'm sure they'll be invited. It's a question of whether they have the fortitude to resist the invitation.

Watch this space...

[*The World Today, Radio National, 6/6/14]

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lap Dancing for Israel?

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has just this week gone on record as refusing to recognise the bleeding obvious, namely that the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories are in fact... well, occupied (and even managing an impersonation of legendary US Senator Joe McCarthy at the same time). In fact, Brandis' words on this subject belong up there in flashing neon lights with the Prime Minister's "Climate change is absolute crap," and Treasurer Joe Hockey's "You can call [the Medicare co-payment] a tax. You can call it anything you want. You can call it a rabbit."

Here's the relevant excerpt from ABC Radio National's PM program of June 5:

Alexandra Kirk: Today... George Brandis delivered a statement clarifying the government's stance on the question of Israeli settlements after independent Senator Nick Xenophon tried, without success, to find out about legal advice to the Government and probing by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon at a Senate hearing last night.

Lee Rhiannon: Why did the Australian Ambassador to Israel attend a meeting in occupied East Jerusalem with the Israeli minister for housing and construction; the same minister who is forecasting a 50% increase in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the next 5 years?

Brandis: Well, I think I should say... that the rather tendentious way in which you've put that question, and in particular the use of the word 'occupied' is not something that the Australian Government of either political persuasion acknowledges or accepts.

Rhiannon: So you don't use the term 'Occupied Palestinian Territories', even though it's a United Nations term used widely by a number of international agencies, European members etc...

Brandis: Well, it's used by a lot of people. It's used by a lot of communists too. Weren't you a member of the Communist Party once?

Alexandra Kirk: After consulting the Foreign Minister overnight [MERC: who, you may recall, has publicly doubted the illegality of Israeli settlements] Senator Brandis returned to the hearing this morning to explain the Government's position.

Brandis: The description of areas which are the subject of negotiations in the course of the peace process, by reference to historical events is unhelpful. The description of East Jerusalem as 'occupied East Jerusalem' is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate, nor useful. It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian Government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language.

Frankly, if this is the Abbott government's current position, it appears that Australia is no longer merely perched, with Israel, the United States, Canada and a handful of Pacific Island micro-states, out on a United Nations' limb, in inglorious isolation from the rest of the world, but is actually in the process of climbing onto Israel's lap.

It was precisely this kind of isolation from the international consensus on Palestine/Israel, you'll remember, that former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr fought so hard to avoid when, in 2012, he bravely put Australia's international reputation before loyalty to Labor's Israel-entranced leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, by refusing to vote against the upgrading of Palestine's status in the UN As he put it in his recent Diary of a Foreign Minister:

"The column of 10 nations, die-hards, glued on Israel supporters - Micronesia and the Marshall Islands - had just been reduced by one. A message to the settlers and the fanatics in Israel, a message to the noble Israeli liberals and moderates, a message to a suffering West Bank population, battered and trapped, a message to the UN membership about Australia, the country they just elected to the Security Council." (See my 20/4/14 post The Carr Diary: Reflections 6.)

The message being sent by the Abbott government to those same parties is now the reverse of the previous government's.

I draw your attention to Senator Rhiannon's initial question to Brandis about the Australian ambassador to Israel's mysterious meeting in East Jerusalem with Israel's Housing Minister, Uri Ariel, to my knowledge simply brushed aside by the Attorney-General. Considering that this particular fanatic, a member of Israel's far-right Jewish Home party, has just invited bids for 1500 new homes in Jewish settlements - 400 of them in occupied East Jerusalem - as, to quote him, a "Zionist response to the establishment of the Palestinian [Fatah-Hamas] terror cabinet," we may now legitimately speculate that ambassador Dave Sharma* was reassuring him of Australia's backing in the UN when the matter of Israel's ever-expanding settlements next came up in the General Assembly.

Unfortunately, with Australia now positioned on Israel's lap, something a little more erotic and enduring than a cuddle, a kiss, and a few whispered endearments could well be in the offing, a possibility I'll be canvassing in my very next post.

[*For a look at the Gillard government-appointed Sharma's extraordinary work for Israel, simply click on his label below.]

Friday, June 6, 2014

Jake Lynch Update 10

"Sydney University academics have narrowly voted against supporting or even discussing boycotts of Israel, after the head of their union staged an unusual intervention which left the faculty deeply divided. A general meeting on Wednesday saw a motion to continue a discussion of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign defeated by 68 votes in favour to 56 against, after a vigorous debate. A second motion put by the general secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, Grahame McCulloch, to not endorse BDS or devote union resources to debate it, was passed by a similar margin... Mr McCulloch is understood to have told the closed-door meeting that launching a debate about the BDS campaign would prove divisive at a time when the union needed unity to fight immediate issues like federal budget cuts..." (Unionists at Sydney side-step debate on Israel boycott, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 6/6/14)

OK, so that's the official line, is it? The NTEU must stick to "immediate issues like federal budget cuts"?

Another iteration of same came from Sydney University Professor Dianna Kenny:

"I believe that the proper agenda of the NTEU is the survival of higher education - particularly in light of the... budget." (Academics at war over Israel boycott, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 4/6/14)

If the NTEU general secretary or the 68 Sydney University staff who voted to gag discussion on this issue as a distraction from "the proper agenda of the NTEU," defined as "budget cuts," maybe the National President of the NTEU, Jeannie Rea*, should be censured for devoting union time and resources to her recent (2/6) condemnation of the military coup in Thailand, which can be read at the NTEU's website under the heading: Condemnation of the coup in Thailand.

But is the old core business furphy really just a cover for someone with a soft spot for Israel? The following sentence from Higgin's 6/6 report suggests so:

"[McCulloch] suggested supporters of BDS were really pushing a radical 'one state' outcome in the Middle East."

[*"NTEU president Jeannie Rea said Sydney University had a 'good record' on supporting freedom of intellectual inquiry." (Dalai Lama's office 'suggested' venue change, John Ross, The Australian, 19/4/13) Not any more!]

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Using Force, Rewriting History & Getting Away With It

In an opinion piece in Tuesday's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, international editor Peter Hartcher concluded his commentary on the the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre as follows:

"As it did 25 years ago in a very different situation, China is using force, rewriting history, and getting away with it." (China muscles its way to power, 3/6/14)

(The present tense is using refers, of course, to the recent sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.)

Whatever this formulation's applicability to China, however, I was struck by how well it summed up Israel's modus operandi: using force, rewriting history, and getting away with it.

Thank you, Mr Hartcher.

But typically, not in a million would Hartcher, rambammed in 2009 and 2011, ever say any such thing about the apartheid state, its long history of murder and mayhem, its false historical narrative, and its Scarlet Pimpernel-like ability to evade censure and sanction.

To take just two recent examples from The Australian Jewish News of history rewritten:

1) A supplement to the AJN last month, Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) 2014-5774, leads with a two-page spread A journey through history, by Nathan Jeffay.

Essentially a tourism ad, the only history we get here is:

a) that "the modern Jewish state" was established on May 14, 1948.
b) that an attack by Arab armies followed the above.
c) that three "Zionist militias" (the Palmach, the Etzel "paramilitary organisation, also known as the Irgun and commanded by the man who became Israel's 6th Prime Minister, Menachem Begin," and the "hard-line Lehi, also known as the Stern Gang") made this glorious event possible.

What we don't get is any mention of Palestinians or the fact of their ethnic cleansing at the time.  They are completely absent from Jeffay's journey through history.

2) An article by Uri Butnaru, The forgotten refugees, in the AJN of 23/5/14. This begins:

"The decision by the Canadian parliament earlier this year to recognise the refugee status of 850,000 Sephardi Jews forced to leave Arab lands such as Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Libya between 1948 and the early 1950s is another small step towards justice. Being the son of an Iraqi Jewish refugee, it gladdens my heart that in a small way the world is starting to understand that there was suffering on both sides of the conflict, sparked by the establishment of Israel in May 1948 - it wasn't just the Palestinians who were dispossessed and displaced. Sephardi Jews from Arab lands had to leave everything behind, their homes and all their possessions. But while not one of the 22 Arab countries that could have taken in the displaced Palestinians did so, for the Sephardi Jews there was one tiny country in the world that welcomed them with open arms."

Butnuru's is, of course, a propaganda piece premised on a false equivalence, namely that both Palestinians and Arab Jews were "refugees," sharing a similar experience and fate (summed by Butnuru as "dispossession and displacement") and that Israel's sole involvement in the matter extended to nothing more than merely "welcom[ing] them with open arms."

A Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report from March 28, 1950 gives the lie to this:

"Premier David Ben Gurion returned today from his 3-weeks leave and tonight will attend a joint session of the Israel Cabinet and the Jewish Agency executive, called to explore the possibilities of the immigration of Iraqi Jews to Israel after they are permitted to leave Iraq." (Ben Gurion returns from vacation; discusses immigration of Iraqi Jews to Israel,

The key word here, of course, is immigration. Broadly, while the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Zionist forces, Arab Jews emigrated from Iraq with more than a little help from Ben Gurion and friends.

Now I could stop here, but let's go on and explore some of the differences between the experiences of Palestinian refugees on the one hand, and Iraqi Jewish emigrants on the other.

Here, for example, is a description of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian port city of Jaffa in late April, 1948, courtesy of our aforementioned Israeli 'paramilitary' chieftain, Menachem Begin:

"Then a strange phenomenon was revealed before our eyes: the mass flight from Jaffa. Arab civilians and a variety of Arab 'fighters' suddenly began to leave in panic. There appear to have been two causes for this epidemic flight. One was the name of their attackers and the repute which propaganda had bestowed on them.* The Beirut correspondent of the United Press cabled that when the first boat-load of refugees arrived there from Jaffa they reported that the information that this attack was being made by the Irgun had thrown the population into a state of abject fear. The second factor was the weight of our bombardment. I do not know exactly how many [mortar] shells we sent into Jaffa. Yigal Yadin, Operations Officer of the Haganah, told me afterwards that we had not been sufficiently economical with our precious shells. The total load was certainly very heavy." (The Revolt: Story of the Irgun,1952, p 363)

[*A veiled reference to the Irgun's Deir Yassin massacre of April 9, 1948.]

Nothing even remotely comparable happened to Iraqi or any other Arab Jewish community.

To stick with the example of Iraq's Jews, news of Zionist atrocities against Palestinian civilians in 1948, the Iraqi army's involvement in the war against a Zionist takeover of Palestine, and the existence in Iraq of an armed Zionist underground, all combined to foster the view that Iraqi Jews constituted a potential 5th column for Israel.

The Iraqi government initially reacted by seizing the property of Iraqi Jews known to be in Israel, and some Jews began leaving Iraq illegally by December 1948. When restrictions on the emigration of Iraqi Jews were lifted in March 1950, a spate of mysterious bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad followed, leading to a mass emigration, mostly to Israel, from May to August 1950. Evidence points to the work of Zionist terrorists seeking to speed up the process. (See my posts Greg Sheridan: Charmed by Israel's 'Most Dangerous Politician', 21/12/07; Shameless Israeli Propaganda at the WaPo, 3/12/14)

Israel's foreign minister at the time, Moshe Sharett, crowed in a telegram that "[The emigration] is striking vindication persistent and daring efforts of Mossad Ha'Aliyah [underground Zionist movement for encouraging emigration] which in long years of underground work... succeeded creating movement which breathed new spirit into traditionally submissive Iraqi Jewry." (quoted in Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries, Michael R. Fischbach, 2008, p 56)

To return to our opening theme: aggression in spades, rewritten history on a grand scale, and getting away with it every time. Israel makes the Chinese look like mere amateurs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Oxymorons 101: Israeli Hummus

"Hummus is Arabic. PERIOD. Israelis have no real culture, no national food, nothing is authentically theirs, not even their land. Their solution to everything is to steal and claim it to be 'originally' theirs. So shameless." Comment by Lisa, 14/1/14, Hummus: is it Israeli or Arab?

"Israel's biggest food and beverage company and the world's largest hummus manufacturer..."

The Middle East's Only Democracy. The Bulwark of Judeo-Christian Civilization against the Rising Tide of Muslim Barbarism. The Light Unto the Nations. And now... The World's Largest Hummus Manufacturer!

"... wants to expand its emerging dips and spreads business in Australia to capitalise on growing demand for its products. Strauss Group*, which in addition to dips and spreads owns the Strauss Coffee and Max Brenner Chocolate Bar brands, is also considering expanding its Strauss Water purification division into Australia after launching a joint venture in China. The company's chairwoman and one of Israel's most powerful women, Ofra Strauss, said the expansion of the group's dips and spreads business Australia would be spearheaded by Obela Australia, part of a global joint venture between Strauss and soft drinks giant Pepsico. Obela Australia was established 2 and a half years ago to market the Red Rock Deli brand of dips... Last year Obela launched its own range of hummus in Australia." (Israeli food mogul targets Australia, Damon Kitney, The Australian, 3/6/14)

[*See my 12/7/09 post How Sweet It Is.]

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jake Lynch Update 9

According to the Murdoch press, the head of the National Tertiary Education Union, Grahame McCulloch "will intervene to try to stop its Sydney University branch from moving towards a boycott of Israel*... In an email to members issued yesterday, he said the branch 'has been caught in a destructive and confusing debate about the Middle East conflict'." (Union bid to end war over BDS, Ean Higgins, The Australian, 31/5/14)

Hello? A member of the Sydney University branch of the NTEU, Professor Jake Lynch, has been dragged before an Australian court by Israeli lawfare** outfit, Shurat HaDin, over his principled opposition to links with Israeli universities, his branch rallies to his defence with a resolution to widen said opposition, and this is deemed "destructive and confusing" by the union's general secretary?

This is most puzzling, coming from the leader of a union dedicated to, among other things, "intellectual freedom." (See Policy Advocacy,

Even more puzzling is why there is no mention of, let alone expression of support for, Professor Lynch, on the NTEU's website.

[*See my JL Updates 6 & 7; **Shurat HaDin's motto is: Bankrupting terrorism one lawsuit at a time.]