Saturday, April 30, 2016

Everybody Expects The Zionist Inquisition*

(* With apologies to Monty Python's Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition...)

Now here's an interesting Q&A from Australians for Palestine's 2016 Media Symposium.  

Stuart Rees is the former head of Sydney University's Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies. Maher Mughrabi is the foreign editor of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald:

Stuart Rees: I want to ask you about courage and cowardice. What is required by journalists not to be so intimidated by the Israel lobby? Because compliance with the Israel lobby always looks to me like a form of cowardice. IOW, how do you develop the courage to resist this compliance?

Maher Mughrabi: My experience in dealing with Australian journalists who wander into the Middle East area unawares... the nature of the complaints, the extremely amped up nature of the conflict, the references to World War 2, to the Bible, to genocide, for a common-and-garden journalist who's not a specialist on the Middle East, are extremely frightening and alarming. And what is usually required at that point is not so much courage as knowledge. The standard of knowledge in newsrooms in this country about Islam and about the history of the Middle East is still far too low, and usually, if one of these people come running to me with his hands in the air going 'Look at this complaint I received!' the most important thing I can say to them is 'It's fine, you haven't done anything wrong. That's if you've seen what they've done. The problem is if you don't see what they've done. When it comes out of left field... But what I would say in general is that the first thing that people need is to make sure they check their facts, to make sure they know about what they're talking about... and then the courage is only the courage of knowing your on solid ground. What happens with these people is they're frightened they've missed something because they feel their knowledge is inadequate and that's a deeper problem than the Israel/Palestine problem, that's a problem about the culture inside newsrooms when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs."

What may we deduce from Maher Mughrabi's testimony?

That our journalists know bugger all about the Middle East and about foreign affairs in general. Surely, a damning verdict on our representatives of the fourth estate.

But if only that were it.

Far, far worse is the fact that Israel's fifth columnists in the West appear to have our journos well and truly spooked, with news rooms in a blind funk lest The Zionist Inquisition burst through the door.

Has the 'fearless investigative reporter' been replaced by the spineless investigative reporter?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Edward Said on Intellectuals Who Turn Away

Following on from my 27/4/16 post on John Haldane, it's worth recalling these words of the late, great Edward Said, as quoted by Omar Barghouti:

"Nothing in my mind is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position that you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political, you want to keep a reputation of being balanced, moderate, objective. Your hope is to remain within the responsible mainstream. For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. Personally, I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Forgive Her Lord, She Knows Not What She Says

Another of Monday night's Q&A Christian panelists, Tiffany Sparks, is described as a "progressive Anglican minister."

Here is her response to the same question dealt with by John Haldane:

"I think for us, as Australians, it's (ie, our Middle East interventions) really exposed a rift in our inter-faith understanding. There's a real problem with us understanding each other's faith. I don't know, there's some sort of stumbling block."

Tiffany's clearly out of her depth here. She continues:

"I'm a pacifist. I'm a really proud daughter of a returned serviceman that did three tours of Vietnam and I think my father's a pretty amazing person. So I have a great respect for our military and for people who do have the courage to be able to do those sort of things, that I certainly couldn't do."

Let me get this straight. Although she's a pacifist, she's proud of her Dad because he just couldn't resist popping over to 'Nam and popping assorted Vietnamese Dads and Mums and...

"I mean all of that being said, I think it's probably an interesting thing to raise is that most Palestinian Christians are actually pacifists in this whole thing. We had a wonderful presenter, Reverend Dr Greg Jenks, who is now the dean of St George College over in Jerusalem and that was something that he took great pains to really point out, that that's where the birthplace of Christianity was and they, even in all of this, are still pacifists."

Better to have held her tongue than to have uttered such nonsense.

Baby steps for Tiffany Sparks:

1) Palestinians are Palestinians are Palestinians. Whether they're Christians or Muslims is irrelevant.

2) They're all in the same trench against Zionist colonisation and dispossession. (In fact, the very first organisational manifestation of Palestinian resistance to Zionist colonisation and dispossesion came in the form of Moslem-Christian Associations, which arose in 1918 and coalesced to formed a national body, the Palestinian Arab Congress, which called for immediate independence from the Britain, and opposed the Balfour Declaration and Jewish immigration.)

3) Palestinian resistance to Zionist colonisation and dispossession has oscillated between armed struggle and non-violent resistance. You never get to hear about the latter because, by and large, the mainstream media is simply NOT INTERESTED in reporting it.

4) Palestinians, moreover, have a right under international law to resist "by all available means, particularly armed struggle," (UNGA 33/24) and "by all available means, including armed struggle" (UNGA 3246).

Interesting, though, her mention of Dr Gregory Jenks. I looked up his website, While I have real problems with many of Jenks' concepts and statements, which I won't go into here, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the relative sophistication of his analysis in the following paragraph:

"In the late nineteenth century, European material interests colluded with an emerging sense of nationalism among European Jewry, to cultivate the dream of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine. All of the people of Palestine, whether they identify as Arab or Jewish, continue to suffer from the tragic consequences of European colonialism; as do their neighbours in Iraq and Syria, where international borders drawn up by imperial bureaucrats in London and Paris continue to diminish the lives of people across the Middle East." (A Palestinian Jesus, 30/12/16)

Of course, he should have mentioned a) that Zionism at this time was very much a minority movement among Jews; b) that the interests and rights of the indigenous Palestinians (90% of the population of Palestine) were completely disregarded by the British and their Zionist collaborators; and c) that the odious and outrageous Balfour Declaration of 1917, which he inexplicably leaves out, constituted nothing less than a crime against the Palestinian people. Nonetheless, the general thrust of what he says is undeniably correct.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Forgive Him Lord, He Knows Not What He Says

The illiteracy of public intellectuals and pontificators on the subject of Palestine in particular, and the Middle East in general, never ceases to amaze.

A case in point was Monday night's all Christian Q&A panel. The panel dealt with a question, among others, about Australia's Middle Eastern involvements - Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, with a questioner asking, "are we not reaping the seeds we have sown?" Well, talk about sorting the sheep from the goats!

Now you would think that a bloke who doubles as a professor of moral philosophy and director of a centre for ethics, philosophy and public affairs might have something sensible to say on the subject, right? Wrong.

The bloke in question is John Haldane, here on a visit to Australia's Catholic University of Notre Dame from Scotland's University of St Andrews. The main part of Haldane's answer to the above question ran as follows:

"I do think that there is one thing that probably needs to be understood... the deep sense of humiliation that's felt in the Arab Muslim world, going all the way back to the end of the caliphate at the end of the First World War. And it was interesting in the period when, after 9/11, I happened to be in Washington when those attacks took place and Osama bin Laden issued a statement about the shame and humiliation that our people have suffered all these years and he saw this as a kind of just retaliation. Well, that humiliation was the dismantling of this great Islamic empire, the caliphate. I think that there is a burden of shame that is felt, that plays a very major role in reactivating the sentiments of militant Islam in various parts of the world and we don't necessarily help that at times, behaving in ways that look as if or can be interpreted as sort of carrying on the business of the continuing humiliation."

Haldane was possibly referring to bin Laden's October 7, 2001 statement, The Winds of Faith:

"What America is tasting today is but a fraction of what we have tasted for decades. For over 80 years our umma has endured this humiliation and contempt. Its sons have been killed, its blood has been shed, its holy sanctuaries have been violated, all in a manner contrary to that revealed by God, without anyone listening or responding. So when God Almighty granted success to one of the vanguard groups of Islam, He opened the way for them to destroy America utterly. I pray to God almighty to lift them up to the highest Paradise. When these men retaliated on behalf of their poor, oppressed sons, their brothers and sisters in Palestine and in many of the other lands of Islam, the whole world cried out, and the hypocrites followed them." (Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden, Ed. by Bruce Lawrence, 2005, p 104)

In all of bin Laden's statements which follow in Lawrence's compilation, there is only one solitary reference to the concept of the caliphate:

"So I say that, in general, our concern is that our umma unites either under the Words of the Book of God or His Prophet, and that this nation should establish the righteous caliphate of our umma, which has been prophesied by our Prophet in his authentic hadith: that the righteous caliph will return with the permission of God" (p 121)

By contrast, bin Laden's statements fairly throng with references to the injustice of Palestine.

Despite this, our eminent visitor, a Scot no less, as was Lord Balfour who issued the eponymous Declaration which created the Palestine problem, makes no reference whatever to the subject, let alone Britain's role in its creation. (Keep in mind, that but for Britain's creation of that problem almost 100 years ago we would not likely be involved militarily in the Middle East today.)

Had Haldane addressed the issue elsewhere, I wondered? Despite an exhaustive Internet search (John Haldane/ Palestine/ Israel) I could find nothing on the matter save a YouTube video of our august authority speaking to a packed & rapt house at Sydney's Notre Dame University on March 23. There he was saying pretty much the same as he said on Q&A... only worse:

"There is a sense of humiliation among many Muslims, principally among Arab Muslims, because they see themselves as the inheritors of a great tradition represented by the Ottoman Empire but going back beyond that, and then they see themselves as suffering a tremendous humiliation. This is actually analogous in a way to feelings you get in Russia because the Russians were humiliated by the West and there's a great deal of resentment..."

IOW, today's Arabs are just miffed because they're no longer top dogs a la the Ottoman sultans!

But that claptrap was as nothing compared to what followed:

"I think a very significant aspect of all of this, of course, is the whole position with regard to Israel and the perception in the Arab world that Israel has been sustained particularly by the US, and some have capitalised on that and seen it as part of this ongoing, as they see it, humiliation of the Arabic [sic] and of the Muslim world more generally. Now I think all of that is wrong, but it is part of what has to be engaged with."

IOW, Israel is not really sustained by the US (or Britain before that), it's just a deep-rooted, irrational "perception" hard-wired in the Arab mind. And, of course, the Arabs are just plain "wrong" here, but, alas, we, the West, have little choice but to deal with their mental-as-anything paranoia, right?  If only we could convince them that the US has nothing to do with Israel, and that anyway Israel is the best thing that could ever have happened to them, and that...

Oh, and to return to Q&A, here's our moral philosopher pronouncing on the woes of those poor blighters, Bush and Blair:

"I would not want to be in the shoes of someone in the White House or in Downing Street who has to make these big decisions. They're not easy and I'm reluctant to criticise them."


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Inside Baird's School Chaplaincy Program

The investigative journalist, David Marr, has described NSW premier Mike Baird as a "Bible-basher."*

What we do not know, however, is whether his particular brand of Christianity embraces the kooky heresy known as Christian Zionism, the belief that the modern day state of Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and should be supported as such. Certainly, Australia has never had a more Israel-focused premier. In fact, Baird spent a week there last month, the first day of which he devoted to visiting religious sites. Whatever the exact nature of the premier's theological beliefs, however, or the degree to which they inform his politics, the buck surely stops with Baird when it comes to the following, quite disturbing state of affairs:

"Evangelical Christian groups continue to dominate funding granted in the National School Chaplaincy Program,** earning millions of dollars... Generate Ministries has been given $4 million to provide chaplains to 202 of the 438 NSW schools participating in the scheme in 2016... Generate Ministries has historically dominated the NSCP in NSW, earning $3 million last year, and had hoped to double its funding with aggressive marketing to 2,000 schools... Although funding of $20,000 per school comes from the federal government, it has been allocated by the NSW government since 2015." (Evangelicals lead chaplains scheme, Kirsty Needham, Sun-Herald, 24/4/16)

So what are Generate Ministries - to name but the most prominent of these evangelical groups - foisting on our kids?

We can get some idea from their "SRE Curriculum Teacher's Outline," titled "Our SRE."

Among its "expected outcomes" for Year 7 students we find that students "will... comprehend God's character, purpose and action from before recorded time until the present and into the future," "appreciate the historical context of the Bible, its purpose, construction and claims," and "recognise that God and his message (in the Bible) are relevant to current society."  Take note of those highlighted words.

IOW, critically, the content of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is viewed and presented, contrary to all available archaeological evidence and contemporary scholarship, as history.

In Year 8, for example, students are taught the following fictions as fact:

"Abraham obeys God and moves his whole clan to a promised land where God will give him many descendants and land."

"Moses is chosen by God to lead His people out of Egypt to the land God promised to Abraham."

"On the death of Moses, Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and after many battles takes hold of the land."

"The nation of Israel grows..."

Fertile soil, indeed, for a false understanding of today's settler-colonial, ethnographic, apartheid Israel.

Then there's this on the Crusades:

"From the 6th Century, Islam spread rapidly..."  Islam, in fact, arose in the 7th century.

"Subsequent crusades were needed to retake Jerusalem from other Muslim invaders."  Muslim, not European Christian, invaders?!

Would that this were merely a case of snouts in the trough. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

[*The Mike Baird Story,, 23/3/15; **See my 5/11/10 post Gillard's Education Revolution.] 

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Return of the Desert God

Israeli blogger, Adam Keller (Crazy Country), begins his latest post, The Return of the Desert God (23/4/16), with a reflection on Passover, the Jewish Holiday of Liberty - based, of course, on the Biblical Book of Exodus - but, Israel being Israel, sees nothing to celebrate:

"In one particular Israeli home, this year's celebration of the Holiday of Liberty, reached a high peak. Sergeant Elor Azaria, who last month in Hebron shot a wounded Palestinian, lying on the ground, in the head and was photographed in the act by a human rights activist, was given leave from detention to spend the Passover holiday with his family. As opinion polls indicate, a majority of Israeli Jews think that anyone considered a terrorist should be killed, even if disarmed and no longer posing any threat. They concluded, therefore, that Sgt Azaria should not be charged with either murder or manslaughter. Rather, he should be released and perhaps even given a citation and a medal.

"In order to understand the deep roots of the present situation in Israel, it might be worth taking a look at another part of the Bible, a far less enticing one, the story of the Conquest of Canaan. After the great liberation from bondage in Egypt, the freed Hebrew slaves wandered in the desert for 40 years. They were reluctant to undertake the mission which God sought to impose upon them, namely to conquer the Promised Land. For that reluctance the Bible brands them cowards. The mission fell to their children, who did not remember the time of slavery in Egypt. Under the command of Joshua, son of Nun, they ferociously attacked the Land of Canaan and conquered city after city. God ordered them to slaughter all the inhabitants, men, women and children, and in some places, even the domestic animals. After they'd finished, they proceeded to divide and parcel out the land which had been emptied of its inhabitants.

"At least, that is how it is described in the Book of Joshua. Many modern historians and researchers doubt the veracity of this depiction. If so, then this Book, which gained a sacred status as part of the Jewish scriptures, must have been authored by someone with a particularly morbid cast of mind. This text was taken up by Christianity and broadcast around the world, serving as a source of inspiration for European settlers in North America and South Africa to identify with Joshua's Hebrew warriors and see Native Americans and Blacks as the new Canaanites.

"It should be noted that Judaism itself... has, over the centuries, increasingly distanced itself from this text. The distant descendants [?] of those savage nomads, they who had emerged from the desert with swords dripping with blood and destroyed the cities of Canaan, had become the quintessential urbanites in the many countries in which they lived. Above all, they admired scholars and sages, and kept their distance from warlike activities... Also, the god in which Jews believe, a universal God who holds eternal sway 'from end to end of the world', was far removed from the bloodthirsty tribal God of the ancient nomads. Jews also abandoned the blood sacrifice of animals, which had turned the temples of the ancient world into veritable slaughterhouses, and replaced it with public prayer, a custom also adopted by Christians and Muslims. But the Book of Joshua and other bloody verses remained part of the Bible. Observant Jews must not omit even one letter from the scriptures, let alone a whole book. But it is permitted to provide softening interpretations and glosses. It was also possible to put off dealing with such issues until the coming of the Messiah, when they would be irrelevant to the actual lives of Jews in the here and now... For centuries this was not the focus of Jewish faith and tradition; among the many sacred dates and holidays in the Jewish calendar no date was set to commemorate Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan.

"It wasn't until the rise of the Zionist movement in 19th century Europe, which even before reaching the Promised Land and meeting the Arabs face-to-face had already begun to cultivate dreams of a 'muscular Judaism'. In 1899, Saul Tchernichovsky... who was destined to become one of the main Zionist poets, wrote one of his most memorable poems: The people have grown old - their god with them/ Passions, stifled by unmanly folk/ Have arisen from a thousand years of slumber!/ I bend the knee to life, to beauty, to power/ To all the wondrous glories, of which/ Corrupt and degenerate walking corpses/ Have robbed the mighty God/ Of the vast, uncharted deserts/ The God of the conquerors/ Who took Canaan by storm/ But these have bound him up in straps, in phylacteries!

"One hundred and seventeen years have passed since a passionate young poet wrote those words. A hundred and seventeen years, during which the Zionist movement and the state of Israel have been engaged in the task of releasing the God of the Conquerors of Canaan from his chains. The ultimate fruit of these efforts, the visage of the rampant God of the Desert, can be seen in the video released this week containing footage from a demonstration in Tel Aviv, an enthusiastic rally called in support of the aforementioned Sgt Azaria, who had aimed his rifle and fired point blank at the head of the injured Palestinian lying on the ground. 'Muhammad is dead! Muhammad is dead!' chanted the crowd, and then 'We will burn down your village! Burn, village, burn!' and 'A Jew has a soul, an Arab is the son of a whore!' followed by 'A Leftist is the son of a whore!' and 'Fuck the media!' and concluding with a plain 'Death to the Arabs! Death to the Arabs!'

"Undoubtedly, the God of the Conquerors of Canaan is now rampaging throughout the state of Israel and the territories under its ongoing military rule. And where are we going to find, these days, someone to try binding him up again?"

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian Axis

Birds of a feather:

"Mohamad bin Abdallah Zahrani, Mohamad bin Abdullah Rabia and Walid bin Abdel Rahman al-Obaidi top a list that includes the names of senior officers in Saudi Arabia. The list was part of classified documents that were leaked to make the story public: Saudi Arabia has been cooperating with the Israeli government over military training courses, joint military cooperation and management of sensitive areas in the Middle East. The 2014 memorandum of understanding was concluded on joint military cooperation between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea, and was exposed recently as the secret documents were leaked by a senior military official linked to left-wing liberal [Israeli] party 'Meretz'. One of the most stunning details of the leaks is that the agreement was concluded to [facilitate?] Saudi Arabia and Israel['s] management of sensitive passageways such as the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea littoral countries as well. Playing a game of mutual interest, the oil-rich country and Israel held a joint operation staff [meeting] on Tiran Island. The island will be used as the headquarters of a joint operation between Tel Aviv and Riyadh in the Red Sea..." (Saudi Arabia & Israel in joint training, mutual interests in Red Sea,, 15/4/16)

[*Tiran and Sanafir are two small, uninhabited islands in the Red Sea, recently transferred by Egypt to Saudi Arabia.]

Friday, April 22, 2016

IsrAid Points the Way

A heartwarming letter from Diane Armstrong of Vaucluse:

"Jock Keene (Letters, April 19) is hoping that the United States, Great Britain and Israel do their share to help Syrian refugees, so he'll be relieved to know that for months a team of Israeli doctors and nurses - Jewish and Arab - from the Israeli humanitarian organisation IsrAid, have waited on the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos to rescue and care for the thousands of Syrian refugees who reach these shores." (Sydney Morning Herald, 20/4/16)

How wonderful, Diane!

Who could possibly have imagined Israeli Jews and Arabs working together. Thank you so much for drawing our attention to this proven fact.

Now that, at long last, it has been established that Israeli Jews and Arabs can work together, I wonder: is there any need for an exclusively Jewish state, catering only for that rubbery Zionist construct 'the Jewish people'?

Diane, is this not a sign of what is possible?

Surely, IsrAid's fine example of Israeli Jews and Arabs working together points the way to Israeli Jews and indigenous Palestinian Arabs, including those currently under the Israeli boot, and those given the boot by Israeli forces in 1948 and 1967, working together in one, binational state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

I mean, if they can work together in IsrAid, why not in a future binational state?

What do you say, Diane? Or are you just trying to score a cheap propaganda point for Israel?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Origins of the Judeo-Christian Meme

Whence the 'Judeo-Christian' meme?

Food for thought from:

Curriculum review: where did 'Judeo-Christian' come from? (Chloe Patton,, 12/1/14)

"Education minister Christopher Pyne has copped it from the Left with both barrels for demanding that the Australian education curriculum teach students 'the significance of Judeo-Christian values to our institutions and way of life.' He did this in announcing his review into the national curriculum late last week...

"By simply typing 'Judeo-Christian' into [the Australian parliamentary website's] search tool, Australia's youngsters will be no doubt regaled with stirring accounts of Australians founding a modern democracy on a shared commitment to a Judeo-Christian heritage, or valiantly fighting to defend Judeo-Christian values on the battlefield at Gallipoli.

"The only problem is that they won't. The term doesn't even appear until 1974. Throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s it is used in only a handful of contexts without any apparent consistency in its meaning. In fact, the vast majority of the 855 results the search generates are dated from late 2001 onwards. Until September 11, it appears Australians didn't give a fig about Judeo-Christian values.

"The notion of a Judeo-Christian tradition is, in fact, borrowed from American public discourse. But even in the US, it is still a relatively recent idea. According to US researchers, the term only began to regularly appear during and after World War 2, when progressives sought an inclusive term that naturalised the incorporation of Jews into mainstream US society. The political intent driving its use changed from one of inclusion to one of exclusion in the post-September 11 era, however, when it most often signified the perceived challenges of Islam and Muslims.

"Even now, the term Judeo-Christian is used more commonly in the US. As Monash academic Sue Collins has found, the term appeared 6,418 times in North American newspapers between 2006 and 2013. By contrast, it was used only 765 times in all European newspapers, including the British print media, and 304 times in major Australian newspapers:

"On close analysis of Australian use of the term, Collins finds that the 'Judeo' element is merely tacked on for political expedience: 'The term has become a kind of shield for undeclared conservative interests which really want to privilege, and actually mean, the Christian tradition, but are conscious this would be politically counter-productive'...

"Christopher Pyne can dress it up in any way he likes, but the only historical significance Judeo-Christian values have in Australian public discourse is in post-9/11 conservative rhetoric."

See also my posts Onward Judeo-Christian Soldiers 1 (9/8/10) and 2 (27/4/11), and The Push for a Judeo-Christian Curriculum (12/3/14)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Meet the Australian Liberty Alliance

OMG, lock the door, draw the curtains and turn off the lights, an election's coming, and a veritable zombie apocalypse of muppets, misfits and morons is on the prowl for our votes. Among them, a gibbering troop of Islamophobic sadsacks (inspired by Geert Wilders no less), called the Australian Liberty Alliance.

Has the word 'liberty' ever been so slighted? 

A sample of their puerile and contradictory pap:

"Our Australia stands for individual liberty, small government, Western values built on Judeo-Christian and Humanistic foundations, social fairness and an integrated multi-ethnic society with one set of laws for all, regardless of colour, gender or creed." (

Judeo-Christian Humanists aside, check out the ALA's foreign policy. Of the 6 paragraphs devoted to the subject, the final two read as follows:

"Australian Liberty Alliance considers Israel to be the only liberal democracy in the Middle East today. We find Israelis not deserving of the criticism from those with limited understanding of historical and social political developments in the Levant.

"We acknowledge Israel's right to exist in peace and within secure borders, including the traditional homelands of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria, with Jerusalem as its undivided capital."

IOW, every square inch of Arab Palestine.

Whatever did the poor bloody Palestinians do to this lot?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Gutless Wonder

"... Mr Turnbull used a key speech in... Shanghai to... call on the Communist leadership to grant greater freedoms and develop a stronger rule of law... " (PM urges new commitment to rule of law, Mark Kenny/Philip Wen, Sydney Morning Herald, 15/4/16)

What a fearless crusader for human rights is M'Lord Turnbull! Imagine saying that to the Chinese in China!

But would he say the same to the Israelis in Israel? Just imagine:

'Mr Turnbull used a key speech in... Tel Aviv to call on the Zionist leadership to grant greater freedoms to Palestinians and develop a stronger rule of law in the occupied West Bank...'

After all, as a recent Haaretz editorial stated:

"When the prime minister, defense minister, education minister and justice minister are all working against the highest court of the land, it shows Israel is not ruled by law, certainly not when it comes to what happens beyond the Green Line." (Israeli ministers vs the rule of law, 29/7/15)

No, it's impossible to imagine M'Lord Turnbull coming within cooee of such a call.

I'm afraid his Message from the Prime Minister: Passover 2016 is about as close as he'll ever get to the subject:

"The enduring example of the Israelites' deliverance from slavery resonates down through the ages, and with all who seek freedom from oppression." (

Monday, April 18, 2016

Prison Nation 2

This is a normal country?

Israel sentenced a 13-year-old Palestinian girl to prison: This week, just as a 12-year-old's term was reduced, a 13-year-old girl was sentenced and told to pay an unimaginable fine - and if not, her mother will be sent to jail for up to seven months. By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 14/4/16

"They're not even sure of the exact date of her arrest. They only remember that it was on a Wednesday nearly a month ago. (It was March 23.) They also had a hard time finding a photograph of S. Her mother rummaged around for a long time until she found a faded and wrinkled studio picture of the family, taken a few years ago. S. is in the front, sitting on a rocking horse, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. There's another shot of S. as a baby. That's all. Where's her room? It's here, the room we're sitting in: a living room with moldy walls that contains nothing apart from a few mattresses on the floor and two light-brown plastic chairs. At night, it's her room.

"But now S. is not home. She is in Sharon Prison. A 13-year-old girl, in the seventh grade, she is an inmate in an Israeli jail. Last Thursday, S. was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison and a fine of 7,000 shekels ($1,860). If the fine is not paid - and for this family it's an absolutely unimaginable amount - S.'s mother, Amna Takatka, will be sent to jail for up to 7 months; one month for every 1,000 unpaid shekels, for what her daughter did. That was the sentence handed down by military judge Lt. Col. Ami Navon.

"Six weeks ago, we visited the family of another girl, D., a 12-year-old from Halhul, who in February was also sentenced to four-and-half months in prison. She too is in the seventh grade. Thus, during the same week in which the public campaign to bring about D.'s early release succeeded - she will be let out on April 24, about two months early - another girl of about the same age, S., was thrown into prison.

"In the home of the al-Wawi family in Halhul, D's well-kept room awaits her, the stuffed rabbit, kitty-cat and teddy-bear perched on her bed. For her part, S. will come back to her dingy home in Beit Fajjar, a few kilometres from Halhul, both of them suburbs of Hebron. In Beit Fajjar, known for its stonemasonry, everything is covered in dust - the streets, the cars, the clothes people wear and the air they breathe. S.'s home is located very close to the industrial area where the stonemasons are concentrated, at the town's entrance, where her father works as a stonecutter. Amna, 45, mother of six children, sits on a mattress in the living room. All she knows about her daughter at the moment is that she's incarcerated in Sharon Prison.

"On the day of her arrest, S. went to school as usual. She then came home, ate lunch and helped her mother with housework and special preparations with the family of her aunt. S. then served tea to the guests, at her mother's request. She placed the glasses of tea on the table and disappeared. She was distraught, her mother recalls now; She'd been in a highly emotional state for the whole week, since two residents of her town, Ali al-Kar and Ali Takatka, were killed in the course of a stabbing attack that they perpetrated near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, on March 17. S. watched the reports of their killing on television. The former was the brother of a classmate, the latter a member of her own extended family. Their killing shocked S. deeply. Her classmates related that S. said she hates Israel for killing the two and wanted to avenge their deaths. Her grandfather saw her leave the house and run toward the road that leads out of town, but wasn't able to stop her. It was early evening. He said afterward that her face was flushed and that she seemed to be holding back tears. He did not see a knife in her hand.

"An improvised Israel Defense Forces checkpoint had been set up on the main street. The army often swoops into Beit Fajjar, by day and by night, because of the town's proximity to the Etzion Bloc Junction, a major settler site and a focal point of the present wave of resistance. The soldiers sometimes prevent young people from leaving the town; night arrests are common. According to eyewitnesses, S. was a few dozen meters from the soldiers. It would later be alleged that she was holding a knife ('a particularly long one'). She apparently also threw stones. A few locals tried to calm her down and put her into a car, to take her away. But the soldiers ran after her and arrested her before the vehicle could pull away.

"Her father says he got a phone call that evening from the local Civil Administration District Communication Office, informing him that his daughter had been detained. Her mother saw her a few days later at a hearing in a courtroom on the Ofer base, near Ramallah. It looked to her as though S.'s face was sickly and yellowish. S., who was handcuffed, burst into tears when she saw her mother crying. Her mother has not seen her since. A prison visit will not be allowed for another three months, S's mother was told.

"As happened in the case of D., with S. too, the prosecution and the defense agreed on a plea bargain. 'Juvenile Court in Judea, before his honor Judge Lt. Gen. Ami Navon,' the court transcript states. 'The accused: the court read me what is attributed to me in the indictment. I understood it and I admit it. The judgment: I convict the accused [the male rather than the female form is used] of what is attributed to him in the indictment, namely an attempt to cause death deliberately, an offense under Article 205, 209 of the Security Directives Order: Being in possession of a knife, as per Article 248. Throwing objects at a person or property. Article 248. The verdict: The accused was convicted, according to her confession, within the framework of a plea bargain, of deciding, on March 23, 2016, after watching a program and content on television channels, to stab and cause the death of Jewish civilians [according to the indictment, she tried to attack soldiers, not civilians]. Accordingly, the accused took a knife with a particularly long blade, 19 centimeters [7.5 inches], and went to execute her plan, to cause the death of a Jewish civilian as such. In addition, the accused threw stones at soldiers, so that they would approach her, with the intention of later being able to implement her plan to stab one of them. There is no doubt that these are among the gravest offenses there are, whose aim is to take human life as such, only because of its belonging to the Jewish people, in this case.' Here the court's interpretation echoes that of the Israeli propaganda machine. The Palestinians are trying to kill Jews because they are Jews, not because they are occupiers. Judge Navon concluded, 'After considering the arguments of the sides, I found that the plea bargain is reasonable and deserves to be honored,' and handed down his sentence.

"That same day Israeli soldiers arrested another child, a boy, a few streets from S.'s home; making it another family with a child in jail. It's a more affluent home. Zainab Takatka shows us her son's handsome room, all in light blue, the walls and the bed, and can't stop crying. Her 14-year-old son, M., was arrested at school last Thursday. His friends brought her his schoolbag and told her that soldiers had arrived and arrested M. and another boy., who has since been released. M.'s trial has not yet been held. His mother says now some local children told her that they were playing soccer when the soldiers made the arrest. It's very possible that stone throwing took place. Maybe that's exactly why soldiers raid the premises while children are in school or are leaving the grounds. Zainab is convinced that her son was arrested because he's the biggest boy in the class. His 4-year-old sister, Fatma, and his 3-year-old brother, Osama, keep asking about him. And again, Zainab breaks down.

"Asked to comment on the arrests of M. and the other boy, the IDF Spokesman told Haaretz that on April 7, 'army forces identified youths, including the subject of the inquiry, burning tires on the outskirts of Beit Fajjar, for the purpose of provocation. The forces arrived at the site, and caught the two youths with the lighters still in their hands. The youths were turned over to the security forces'."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Prison Nation 1

An urgent call from Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network:

"On 17 April each year, Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian people, and the world, mark the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners. Commemorated since 1974, when the first Palestinian prisoner, Mahmoud Hijazi, was freed in a prisoner exchange with the Palestinian Resistance, 17 April is a day of protests, rallies, marches, forums and more to commemorate the struggle of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli occupation jails and demand their freedom...

"Over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails. More than 700 of them are held in administrative detention without charge or trial. The others face military courts which convict over 99% of the Palestinians who appear before them. Over 400 Palestinian children as young as 12 years old are held in Israeli prisons.

"Every night, Israeli occupation forces conduct violent armed invasions of Palestinian villages, cities, refugee camps and homes, ransacking them and arresting dozens of Palestinians. This comes amid near-daily killings and extrajudicial execution of Palestinians by occupation forces, the demolition of the homes of the families of Palestinian prisoners, new racist laws targeting Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship and further escalating repression...

"On Palestinian Prisoners' Day 2016, key issues facing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons include:

*Solitary confinement: nearly 20 Palestinians are being held in long-term solitary confinement, a form of torture. They are demanding return to the general population.

*Administrative detention: over 700 Palestinians are imprisoned without charge or trial under administrative detention, often targeting community leaders and activists like Eteraf Rimawi, circus teacher Mohammed Abu Sakha or journalist Musab Kufaisheh.

*Attacks on students: In the past weeks, Al-Quds University, the Arab American University and other Palestinian universities have been raided by Israeli occupation forces. Student leaders and activists at Bir Zeit University, Al-Quds University, An-Najah University and other institutions have been arrested and imprisoned in an attempt to stifle student organizing and activism.

*Torture & mistreatment: Nearly every Palestinian prisoner is subject to 'legitimate' torture and abuse under interrogation, including lengthy periods of being held in painful stress positions, sleep deprivation, sexual threats and threats to family members, and direct beating and physical assaults. The vast majority of children arrested report experiencing physical and psychological torture and abuse at the hands of Israeli occupation soldiers and intelligence agents."

The Guardian Takes the Piss

From the Guardian's Candidates spar over Israel and fate of Palestinians in Democratic debate:

"The Democratic debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on Thursday night was electrified by a series of feisty exchanges, but one especially pugnacious discussion stood out as a potentially historic moment in presidential politics: the candidates' dispute over Israel and the fate of Palestinians. Close observers of New York politics and the place within it of the city's prominent Jewish population were astonished that Sanders spoke openly and directly about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza while criticizing Israel and its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, for responding disproportionately to Hamas provocations. Never before had such an outspoken pro-Palestinian message been delivered from the presidential campaign stage. During the debate, Sanders... allud[ed] to his heritage by saying that 'he spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel.' He was careful to describe himself as '100% pro-Israel." (Ed Pilkington, 16/4/16)

Surely, Ed Pilkington, chief reporter for Guardian US, is taking the piss here.

I mean, the 100% pro-Israel Sanders' characterisation of Israel's genocidal frenzy in Gaza as merely disproportionate AND the result of Hamas provocations... is an outspoken pro-Palestinian message?


And then this: the stolen, ethnically-cleansed land of Palestine is the Brooklyn-born (of Polish parents) Sanders' heritage?


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Crime After Crime

"Britain has invaded 9 out of 10 countries in the world. Only 22 countries have escaped us. At the time of writing..." George Galloway tweet, 15/4/16

See my 8/11/12 post Curse You!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Who is the 'Guardian' Guarding? 2

Two snippets from The dark side of Guardian comments, The Guardian, 12/4/16.

1) "We also found that some subjects attracted more abusive or disruptive comments than others. Conversations about crosswords, cricket, horse racing and jazz were respectful; discussions about the Israel/Palestine conflict were not..."

Well, well, well, what a surprise!

Hey, Guardian, maybe, just maybe, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is just not cricket. Think about it...

2) "The Guardian has already taken the decision to cut down the number of places where comments are open on stories relating to a few particularly contentious subjects, such as migration and race."

We know, we know. But you left out Israel. Why?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Who is the 'Guardian' Guarding? 1

Spot the odd one out:

"Writers who touch on tricky subjects - race, gender, Israel, migration... can often find themselves on the receiving end of abuse and agenda trolling as well as reasoned debate and criticism."

That's the Guardian's 'executive editor for audience,' Mary Hamilton, writing in a February 1 opinion piece, Online comments: we want to be responsible hosts. The fact that Israel is included in Hamilton's list is highly revealing of the Guardian mindset. While one can fully understand her concern about racist (including anti-Semitic) and sexist comments, and the need to give these the flick, the inclusion of Israel in the list suggests that, for the Guardian, anti-Zionism is as unacceptable as racism and sexism, a clearly absurd proposition.

So when the notice This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards appears (as it too often does) in comment threads involving Israel, you can be sure that the Guardian is trying to shield Israel from trenchant criticism.

I cannot, of course, prove it but I imagine that most of the censored comments on these threads either contain words such as 'apartheid,' 'ethnic cleansing,' or 'supremacist,' question the legitimacy of Israel as an ethno-religious 'Jewish' state, or reject that quintessential Zionist construct, 'the Jewish people' (as opposed to Jews, believers or lapsed).

This is why I simply do not believe the Guardian when it claims, at least with reference to Israel, that "[w]e recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation or belief and attacking people on the based on their race [and] religion..."

Just who are the Guardian's faceless moderators? What are their qualifications and biases? It is entirely conceivable that, at best, they simply do not have the knowledge base to rule comments on Israel in or out, while at worst, they may harbor, to one degree or another, a host of Zionist prejudices and misconceptions.

No wonder then that the Guardian's readers are unhappy. Here, for example, is JohnnyCK's response to another piece by Mary Hamilton, The Guardian wants to engage with readers, but how we do it needs to evolve (9/4/16):

"So, ah, I just got moderated on the Guardian for the first time. I'm a bit shocked. It wasn't because I insulted someone or attacked a journalist or flame baited or trolled. I attempted to explain my position on Israel and I must have said something the moderators didn't like. I didn't say anything antisemitic or inflammatory... I tried to be very even-handed in what I said. I wasn't totally pro-Israel though, which I guess is the problem. I'm not thin-skinned online., but I'm very taken aback by how my statement was moderated in this instance. It's given me real pause over whether I want to keep using this newspaper."

That highlighted sentence says it all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Magic Mike Does Upstart Nation 5

"NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Jeremy Spinak said that this [trip to Israel by NSW premier Mike Baird] will push new economic ties between NSW and Israel, and impact on the image of Israel in Australia. 'People at home are starting to see Israel in its true light, as the 'Start-Up Nation,' he said." (Baird: 'Nothing can prepare you for Yad Vashem', The Australian Jewish News, 8/4/16)

There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth: Baird's trip (costing the NSW taxpayer $?) was undertaken precisely because Israel and its lobbyists are growing alarmed that more and more people here are starting to see Israel in its true, apartheid light.

Baird's rambamming is simply part of the lobby's campaign to re-brand the apartheid state as 'the start-up nation,' and all the accompanying babble about 'innovation,' 'cutting edge research' and other such folderol, is designed to distract us from Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people. That Baird has been a willing conscript in this campaign speaks volumes about the man, and whatever he or his spin doctors say about the trip, of one thing you can be certain: it was undertaken first and foremost to promote BRAND ISRAEL

I should add, too, that neither the Murdoch nor the Fairfax press has shown the least interest in the astonishing fact that, for the very first time, an Australian state government has gone AWOL for a week merely to star in an Israeli PR stunt.

What an embarrassment!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Magic Mike Does Upstart Nation 4

Just how vacuous is NSW Premier Mike (Walk on Water) Baird?

Judge for yourself:

Yad Vashem:

"Nothing can prepare you for this."

"There was a red sandal that caught my eye, and immediately I imagined a young girl like one of my daughters who innocently dreamed and laughed and played."

The Apartheid State:

"Baird described Israel as an 'incredible nation' that is 'leading the world in so many ways'."


"Baird said he believes the trip will come to represent a 'critical turning point' in relations between NSW and Israel, 'going from being... allies and friends to significant collaborators and economic partners'."


"It was, he said, 'very remarkable' to see how close the sites of the different faiths are. He spent a few quiet moments at the [Wailing] Wall, and remarked afterwards that he found the place 'very profound'." (Baird: Nothing can prepare you for Yad Vashem, The Australian Jewish News, 8/4/16)


"If Bethlehem were ever to become famous for a second thing... it should be this chicken kebab." (Mike Baird's Facebook page, 11/4/16)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Magic Mike Does Upstart Nation 3

"The first premier of Sydney's host state* to visit Israel. He saw for himself the security wall built by the Israelis to counter the attacks of terrorism including suicide bombers against Israel." (Mike Baird visits Palestinian refugee camp,

Ah, but what was Magic Mike really thinking of while he "seeing for himself" Israel's illegal apartheid "security wall"?

Of Elbit Systems, perhaps?:

"Analysis of a key set of Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade financial records... show that over the past 10 years the Australian government has spent more than $1.5 billion on contracts with Israeli arms companies, primarily the company Elbit Systems. Elbit supplies surveillance equipment for the highly controversial wall Israel has built throughout the occupied Palestinian West Bank, a wall that is integral to Israel's occupation and settlement activities. The wall, like the occupation, is illegal under international law. Last month, it was revealed that Mary Easson, one of 5 members of the NSW branch of the pro-Israel lobby group the Australia Israel Labor Dialogue, is also a lobbyist for the Australian subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The AILD was highly active in lobbying ALP members to reject motions at the NSW Labor conference critical of Israel or its supporters, including those calling for a boycott of the settlements." (Australia guilty of double standards in supporting Israeli settlements, Paul Dufill, Sydney Morning Herald, 7/4/16)

At any rate:

"NSW Premier Mike Baird has signed an agreement in Israel securing an Israeli-built flight simulator for the Royal Flying Doctor base in Dubbo. The flight simulator  is part of a new $18 million facility, which will also allow the RFDS SE to accommodate an integrated aeromedical simulation and training facility, as well as a Flying Doctor tourism and visiting centre. The Premier announced the joint initiative between the RFDS SE and Elbit Systems, an Israeli technology company, during the Premier's trade mission to Israel at a signing at Elbit's facility in Netanya... The NSW Government funding, alongside funding from RFDS SE, Dubbo City Council, the Dubbo Support Group and Elbit Australia, will bring a multipurpose aeromedical, aviation and tourism facility to the Dubbo Base." (Israeli simulator for Flying Doctor Service in Dubbo, 8/4/16,

$18m, eh?

Jwire is unfortunately mum on the funding breakup. Happily, this has been supplied by the Sydney Morning Herald as follows:

"Following three years of negotiations, the RFDS has received $18 million in new funding, including about $12 million from the Australian subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems... In addition to Elbit's funding, RFDS also received $2.5 million from the state government and $1.1 million from  its Dubbo Support Group... The flight-training simulator will be installed and operated by Elbit Systems of Australia... " (Royal Flying Doctor Service gets an $18 million boost, Julie Power, 8/4/16)

So let's get this straight:

The RFDS has received $18 million, the bulk of which - $12m - comes from the Australian subsidiary of Israel's death-dealing Elbit Systems, Elbit Systems of Australia, to buy an Elbit Systems flight simulator, which will be installed and operated by Elbit Systems of Australia.

This hardly sounds like your average business transaction. The question arises: is it really anything more than an Israeli PR stunt, with $2.5m NSW taxpayer dollars kicked in by Magic Mike?

And where does Labor's Mary Easson, a self-confessed spruiker for Elbit Systems of Australia, fit in, given that the 'purchase' is the culmination of 3 years of negotiations? (See my 18/3/16 posts Spotlight on the 'Australia Israel Labor Dialogue' 1 & 2)

[* What a bizarre way of saying 'NSW'.]

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Magic Mike Does Upstart Nation 2

For sheer self-serving cynicism Mike (Walk on Water) Baird's 4/4/16 Facebook post is hard to beat:

"Today, while visiting a refugee camp in the West Bank, I met a group of young kids the same age as my son. I asked one of the boys what he dreamt of becoming when he was older. 'It's hard to have dreams when you know they can't come true,' he told me. The situation here is nothing short of heartbreaking. I don't know where the cycle of thousands of years of violence ends. But I do know that all kids should be able to dream. That they should have hope of a better future. The team at the Aida refugee camp are doing a great job in a difficult situation. The money donated by the Australian Government - and therefore Australian taxpayers - is doing great work in helping these kids. These kids are funny. They love soccer (Real Madrid, specifically). They love learning at school. And the hope is that they are given a chance to chase their dreams and enjoy the peace that, in NSW, we can take for granted."

The only matter at issue here is whether was it penned by Clare Masters, Baird's senior media advisor/speechwriter, formerly at Murdoch's Daily Telegraph, or by Imre Salusinszky, his media director, formerly at Murdoch's Australian, where he was an integral part of Operation Spread the Word: BDS is Electoral Poison for the Greens.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Palestinian Chair

In its ceaseless campaign to wipe Palestine and Palestinians off the map, Israel has devised (and field-tested) many a fiendish device. One of these, if not already in use in your country's dungeons, could well be on your president/ prime minister/ king/ dictator's wish list as we speak. Meet the Palestinian chair:

"As a former interrogator in Iraq working as a military contractor for the private security firm CACI, Eric Fair was stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison and in Fallujah in 2004. While in Fallujah, he witnessed a torture device known as the Palestinian chair. He writes in his new book, Consequence: A Memoir, that the chair was a way to immobilize prisoners in order to break them down both physically and mentally. He also wrote that the Israeli military taught them how to use the Palestinian chair during a joint training exercise...

Amy Goodman: This is Democracy Now!,, The War & Peace report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest is Eric Fair, an Army veteran who worked as a contract interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as well as other places. He's the author of the new book, Consequences: A Memoir. You've said that what happened outside Abu Ghraib, what contractors did, in terms of torture, was often worse than inside Abu Ghraib.

Eric Fair: That was certainly my experience. And again, I'm focusing on my own sort of behavior, my own sort of actions. So, for me, yes, personally, Fallujah was worse than Abu Ghraib.

Amy Goodman: So, why don't you read for us from your book, Consequence?

Eric Fair: We pass by the interrogation room where Tyner has been working on Raad Hussein. We haven't heard Tyner scream or throw anything today. The door to the room, a flimsy sheet of plywood, has blown open in the hot desert wind. Inside, Raad Hussein is bound to the Palestinian chair. His hands are tied to his ankles. The chair forces him to lean forward in a crouch, forcing all of his weight onto his thighs. It's as if he's been trapped in the act of kneeling down to pray, his knees frozen just above the floor, his arms pinned below his legs. He is blindfolded. His head has collapsed into his chest. He wheezes and gasps for air. There is a pool of urine at his feet. He moans: too tired to cry, but in too much pain to remain silent. 'Henson comes out into the hallway and walks past the room. He covers the side of his face as he walks by and says, 'I don't even want to know.' I am silent. This is a sin. I know it as soon as I see it. There will be no atonement for it. In the coming years, I won't have the audacity to seek it. Witnessing a man being tortured in the Palestinian chair requires the witness to either seek justice or cover his face. Like Henson in Fallujah, I'll spend the rest of my life covering my face.

Amy Goodman: Why did they call it the Palestinian chair?

Eric Fair: I was never clear on the actual origin. The rumors within the interrogation cell were that Army interrogators had learned to use this chair by Israeli interrogators, and the Israeli interrogators presumably called it the Palestinian chair because they were torturing Palestinians in it. I certainly don't know if that's true. And quite frankly, for my own story, I am not sure that it necessarily matters.

Nermeen Shaikh: Well, in the book, you write that interrogators in Iraq said the Israeli military taught them how to use the Palestinian chair during a joint training exercise. In response to this revelation in your book, Sarah Lee Whitson of Human Rights Watch said, quote, 'The description by an American interrogator of a 'Palestinian chair' torture device that he says the Israeli military taught US soldiers how to use is disturbing and shameful on more than one level, suggesting as it does a means of torture used against Palestinian detainees eagerly copied by Americans seeking to interrogate and torture Iraqis... You also sat in the Palestinian chair. Could you talk about what that experience was like?

Eric Fair: I did. I mean, recognizing that there was an actual device that we were using in interrogation was - I was surprised by that. And so a close friend of mine and I made sure that we - I think we at one point had been tempted to use it. I did not use the chair. And that's not to suggest that I wouldn't, if I had stayed longer. But we thought that if we were going to use it, we should sit in it, and we should get a sense of what it was. And so we strapped each other in. And it locks you into what is essentially a squat, a permanent squat, from which you can't recover. We only lasted about a minute...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hick Nation

The government can let into this country any number of warmongers, war criminals and other assorted nutjobs, but a renowned Syrian calligrapher? Now that's a bridge too far:

"Mouneer Al Shaarani is a master Arabic calligrapher whose compositions have been displayed in museums across the world. But the 64-year-old Syrian artist was refused a temporary work visa by the Immigration Department to open his first Australian exhibition at the Mils Gallery in Sydney's Surrey Hills. Al Shaarani was rejected on the basis of being a Syrian passport holder and it was determined that he did not fulfil the requirements that indicated his visit would be 'genuine temporary stay.' A disappointed Al Shaarani says 'it is clear I did not intend to stay in Australia permanently' and that he will not reapply. Mils Gallery director Adriano Rosselli... says the department declines to 'believe in Al Shaarani's intention to return to Syria following his exhibition... The grounds for this refusal were blatantly at odds with al Shaarani's expressed desire to remain practising his art in Syria.' A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesperson says they cannot comment on Al Shaarani's case. The exhibition runs until April 16." (The official line, Jennine Khalik, The Australian, 7/4/16)

Will this nation ever GROW UP?

Just as a Matter of Interest...

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs: 

The good, the bad & the RAMBAMMED

Chair: Teresa Gambaro MP, Lib RAMBAMMED 2012

Deputy Chair: Nick Champion MP, Lab RAMBAMMED 2011


Bob Baldwin MP, Lib RAMBAMMED 2012
Michael Danby MP, Lab Serially RAMBAMMED
Sean Edwards MP, Lib RAMBAMMED 2015
David Feeney MP, Lab RAMBAMMED 2014
Senator Alex Gallacher, Lab
Alan Griffin MP, Lab
Natasha Griggs MP, Lib
Andrew Hastie MP, Lib
Dennis Jensen MP, Lib RAMBAMMED 2005
Craig Kelly MP, Lib RAMBAMMED 2014
Senator Joe Ludwig Lab RAMBAMMED 2007
Senator Ian Macdonald, Lib
Richard Marles MP, Lab RAMBAMMED 2010
Senator Anne McEwen, Lab
Senator Bridget McKenzie Nat RAMBAMMED 2015
Andrew Nikolic MP, Lib
Senator Deb O'Neill, Lab
Melissa Parke MP, Lab
Senator Linda Reynolds, Lib
Philip Ruddock MP, Lib
Bruce Scott MP, Nat
Senator Lisa Singh, Lab
Sharman Stone MP, Lib
Maria Vamvakinou MP, Lab
Nickolas Varvaris MP, Lib
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Greens
Matt Williams MP, Lib

Total: 29

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dennis Jensen MP: More Space Cadet than Sky Warrior

Most Liberals have a fairly shaky hold on reality at the best of times. Take, for example, the case of the recently dumped Liberal MP for the WA seat of Tangney and member of parliament's joint standing committee on foreign affairs, Dennis Jensen:

"If federal MP Dennis Jensen is dumped by Liberal Party preselectors in his blue-ribbon West Australian seat of Tangney on Sunday, he can always pursue a back-up career as a writer of far-fetched fiction. The Australian can reveal that Dr Jensen secretly used his parliamentary letterhead to seek a publishing deal for what he described as his 'controversial' first book, The Sky Warriors, about a fictional war between Australia and a coalition of Indonesia and China. And as for a Liberal MP who's being backed by the evangelical Christian Right in the coming preselection vote, the unpublished novel contains some surprisingly graphic sex scenes. One of the female journalists has breasts 'as firm as they had been in her late teens' and moans in delight as her married lover gropes 'her inner thigh until he felt the warm wetness with his hand. She pulled his trousers off, ripped the underpants off excitedly, and took him in her mouth,' Dr Jensen writes." (MP Dennis Jensen used official stationery to spruik his novel, Andrew Burrell, The Australian, 31/3/16)

As if Jensen's fantasies about the invading yellow/brown hordes and pert-breasted, hot-to-trot female journos with a taste for battered sav, aren't worry enough, allow me to remind you of this ex-South African's views on colonialism and Gaza*:

"Hell, how long ago was colonialism? Get over it... every country in the world has been successfully invaded in the past!"

"... I was in Israel... in 2005 [when] Israel allowed Gaza self-determination. I would have thought that the way in which Palestinians at that stage would have shown good will was to try to make Gaza as much as possible a model state. Instead, what they did was that they started firing rockets into Israel."

Let's hear that again:

Israel. Allowed. Gaza. Self-determination.

And just to remind you what the member for Tangney's been up to - at least while in federal parliament - since 2013:

Joint. Standing. Committee. On. Foreign. Affairs


[*See my 22/4/13 post Tony's Crew.]

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Wisdom of the Elder

"An examination of [Ahmed] Merhi's past reveals the former Sydney labourer traded a life of drugs, petty crime and unemployment for the cult of militant Islam. His father, Faraj Merhi, said his son was wild, headstrong and frequently in trouble with the law before leaving Australia for the Syrian battlefield. 'He was going the wrong way when he was here, too,' Mr Merhi told The Australian. 'He was on drugs or something... We tried to help him a lot. Always, he do his own mind. He's got his own way.' Mr Merhi said his family was essentially unreligious. While his wife, who is Lebanese, prays, Mr Merhi says he foreswore religion after migrating to Australia from his home in Syria, where he still has family. 'I hate religion since the time they create Israel,' he said. 'That's when they start, when I was young. That's when they start religious hatred'." (Father slams 'stupid' terrorist son, Paul Maley/Mark Schliebs, The Australian, 4/4/16)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What Makes Walt Secord Tick

Now we know what makes weird* Walt Secord tick:

" [NSW] Labor's health spokesman Walt Secord, born in Canada with a Mohawk-Ojibway father, told the upper house of their frustration and tears. 'For reasons that we do not understand, our heritage, our blood or narrative is vital to us. What else could explain the boom in genealogy and the success of programs like Who Do You Think You Are?" (Heartfelt plea that helped change sperm donor ID plans, Kirsty Needham, The Sun-Herald, 27/3/16)

It's not that hard, Walt, sheer boredom.

"I for one have traced my father's rare family origin and I know the responsibility of belonging to a race of only 1800 people in the world...'  "

So you discharge that responsibility by migrating to Australia and advocating for the apartheid state? Right...

"'Our genes are the reason for our existence'."

Blood... race...

Hang on. Now where have we heard that before?

[*Merely click on the label below.]

Monday, April 4, 2016

Just Another Palestinian Anne Frank

"The father of a 12-year-old boy on the run for a week from Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank has told Middle East Eye that he fears his son will be killed if caught. Ramzi Abu Ajamia has been in hiding for the past 7 nights, the boy's father, Nasir Abu Ajamia, said from their family home in Bethlehem's Dheisha refugee camp. Israeli forces first showed up at the family's home on 24 March, raiding the house and detaining Ramzi's older brother.

"Ramzi said he had no idea why Israel was seeking to detain him. He says he attended protests against Israeli occupation, where rocks were thrown. 'I don't go to the clashes outside of the camp, but when soldiers come to us inside the camp, yeah I go out with the other boys - but that's it - only when they come to us,' he said, speaking to MEE during a furtive visit to the family home. 'I can't explain why they want me, other than it's my turn. Tomorrow it will be another kid's [turn].'

"Nasir said: 'The soldiers have been to the house 3 times now, the first time they took my 16-year-old.' At the time, 12-year-old Ramzi was not at home. 'They beat his brother bad and afterward Ramzi saw the blood on the street and heard about how bad his brother had been hit, so he's too frightened to let himself be arrested.' Nasir said the Israeli soldiers had asked where Ramzi was on 3 subsequent visits to the house.

"While Nasir has urged his son to stay home and allow Israeli soldiers to take him in for questioning, Ramzi has refused. Instead, Ramzi said, he plans to dodge the apparent arrest order for as long as possible. His father fears the situation risks escalation by the day. 'I'm scared that they will kill him if they find him now. I know it happens, after coming to arrest someone 3 times and not finding them, they aim to kill them when they do,' the father said." (From Palestinian 12-year-old on run from Israeli forces, Sheren Khalel Abed al Qaisi,, 31/3/16)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Slip, Slop, Slap Journalism

Read this:

"Otto Skorzeny was a diehard Nazi: an expert in special operations nicknamed 'Hitler's commando' who rescued Mussolini from Italian partisans, ensured the murder of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews and departed to eternal damnation with a posse of elderly Nazis making the fascist salute over his grave. This week, it was revealed that Skorzeny had also been a Mossad hitman, contracted after the war to kill another ex-Nazi who was helping Egypt develop a strategic missile program." (To catch the devil from the shadows, you need to recruit his disciples, Ben Macintyre, The Times/The Australian, 2/4/16)

Now watch as Macintyre goes on to slip, slop, slap a few coats of whitewash on Mossad: 

"Mossad, probably the world's least sentimental secret service, was merely demonstrating a reality of the seamier side of intelligence work: to catch the devil, you sometimes had to recruit his disciples."

"... this uncomfortable accommodation with evil..."

"The balance between utility and morality, between extracting value and maintaining ethical values..."

Bloody hilarious...

OK, Ben, OK, enough already, I get it!

Mossad's the most ethical intelligence agency in the world, and the IDF is the world's most moral army, and Israel's the only democracy in the Middle East, if not the world, and Israel's a bastion of Western civilization in a sea of barbarism, and...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Indigenous Terminology (Australia & Palestine)

AUSTRALIA - from the document Indigenous Terminology issued recently by the University of NSW (

More appropriate


Australia was not settled peacefully, it was invaded, occupied and colonised. Describing the arrival of the Europeans as a 'settlement' attempts to view Australian history from the shores of England rather than the shores of Australia.

Less appropriate


The use of the word 'settlement' ignores the reality of Indigenous Australian peoples' lands being stolen from them on the basis of the legal fiction of terra nullius and negates the resistance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The fact that most settlers did not see themselves as invading the country, and that convicts were transported against their will is beside the point. The effects were the same for Indigenous Australian peoples.

PALESTINE - suggested draft for the University of NSW's next Indigenous Terminology guideline



Palestine was not settled peacefully. It was invaded, occupied, colonised, and ethnically-cleansed from 1918 to 1948 by Zionist immigrants under the protection of British bayonets and with the aim of carving out a Jewish state. Those remnants not ethnically cleansed in 1948 - the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - were invaded, ethnically-cleansed, occupied, and colonised from 1967 on.

Not at all appropriate

Land of Israel (Eretz Israel)
Terrorism (unless applied to the ethnic-cleansing operations of Zionist forces)

Describing the invasion of Zionist immigrants as a 'return' to, and 'redemption' of, the 'Land of Israel' (Eretz Israel) panders to political Zionist mythology and ignores the settler-colonial reality of the Zionist project in Palestine. Palestine was never, in Zionist terminology, 'a country without a people.' In 1918, 90% of its population were Arabs (Muslims and Christians), and, up to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist terrorists in 1948, they were still a two-thirds majority in their own land. The use of the terms 'return' and 'redemption' ignores the massive Zionist theft of Palestinian homes and lands which followed the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and the Zionist label 'terrorism,' used against the Palestinian Arab people, negates their resistance to Zionist colonisation, a resistance which began in earnest in 1920 and continues to this day. The fact that some Zionist immigrants left their European homes and invaded Palestine in response to anti-Semitic persecution in Europe is beside the point. The effects were the same for the Indigenous Palestinian Arab people.