Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Goose at the Guardian

"Barghouti is no Nelson Mandela. But neither can his claims and those of his people be indefinitely deferred. Trying to do so risks another explosion - another nakba - that, for all the wrong reasons, would again place Palestine at the forefront of Middle East woes." (The Observer view on the future of Israel and Palestine, Observer editorial, The Guardian, 30/4/17)

How seriously would you take the view of someone who authoritatively declares that "Barghouti is no Mandela," when you know that he/she doesn't even know the difference between nakba and intifada?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Anatomy of a Murdoch Mugging

Editing a Murdoch Newspaper for Dummies. A Helpful Guide by Mike Carlton (29/4 tweet)

Day 1. Select this week's hate figure. Direct pliant hack to write 1,000 word front page savageing of hate figure disguised as news story.
Day 2. Have Abbott, Abetz, Bernardi, Christensen, Hanson join denunciation. Run editorial cartoon and swingeing 800 word leader attacking hate figure.
Day 3. Page one follow-up, reporting that hate figure has caused nationwide outrage, is under pressure to resign, apologise, remove FB page etc. Sool Kenny, Albrechtsen, etc to put in the boot.
Day 4. Widen attack on hate figure to also blame the ABC, Green-Left inner city latte sippers, Islamic extremism, Feminism, the CFMEU, Bill Shorten, identity politics, virtue signalling. Recall heroic sacrifice of tragic NewsCorpse martyr the late Bill Leak on altar of political correctness. Second editorial cartoon.
Day 5. Front page report of Peter Dutton's bashing of hate figure on Bolt and Hadley shows. Third editorial cartoon. Graham Richardson explains why hate figure is truly hateful. Greg Sheridan demands hate figure be deported.
Day 6. Paul Kelly's 8,000 word Inquirer essay explaining hate figure is the tragic but inevitable symbol of the ideologically driven retreat from the pure Catholicism of the Council of Trent, the collapse of the post-war anti-Communist consensus, the selfishness of the Millennial generation, the abandonment of Judeo-Christian morality by self-absorbed LGBTI activists, and the failure of Labor's Bill Shorten to stand up to ALP radical Left in Victoria.
Day 7. Select new hate figure. Repeat above.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... receives apology from its mates in Syria:

"Fighters loyal to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) have apologized for launching an attack on Israeli forces last year in the disputed [sic: occupied] Golan Heights region, according to Israel's former defense minister." (ISIS fighters regret attacking Israel & have 'apologized, former defense minister says, Tom O'Connor,, 27/4/17)

Innocent Bystander in Tough Neighbourhood...

... strikes again:

"A massive blast near Damascus International Airport early on Thursday reportedly was likely caused by an Israeli air strike said Lebanon's al-Manar, a television channel affiliated with the Syrian government ally Hezbollah... A spokesman for the Israeli military... said: 'We can't comment on such reports'." (Israelis blamed for huge explosion near Damascus airport, Suleiman al-Khalidi, AAP, Reuters, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/4/17)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

No Apology Necessary, Yassmin

I see that the Murdoch press has, predictably, raised a hue and cry over an Anzac Day FB post - Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine) - by Muslim activist and ABC television presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied.  According to The Australian, it "sparked scores of outraged responses, with many accusing Abdel-Magied of disrespecting Australian soldiers." (Muslim blogger's 'disrespectful' message deleted, Pia Akerman, 26/4/17)

Yes, I'm sure it did. The entire Abdel-Magied Monitor unit at NewsCorpse must have been, like, spewin'.

As it happens, Yassmin ended up deleting, and apologising for, the post on the same day. But really, what was the need? Frankly, who gives a toss what the Murdoch press thinks! And anyway, isn't NewsCorpse the self-appointed defender of free speech against the dreaded political correctness?

What's more, thinking Anzacs would have approved of Yassmin's post.

After all, here's what Australia's last Anzac, Alec Campbell, had to say about Gallipoli on his deathbed in 2002: "For God's sake, don't glorify Gallipoli - it was a terrible fiasco, a total failure and best forgotten."

And this from Anzac Len Hall: "Next time I would fight for the Turks. They are good people and it was their land not ours." (See my 23/4/13 post Real Anzacs Don't Wave Flags. Under the AIF label below.)

But let's look on the bright side. In a 25/11/16 post Ya Yassmin, I voiced my irritation at Yassmin's doing a gig in Tel-Aviv as part of a government-sponsored speaking tour of the Middle East and Africa last year. I went on to note, however, that she had (in Ramallah?) acquired (or was given) a copy of Joe Sacco's amazing/must-read/must-have graphic history, Palestine, and expressed the hope that as she read it, "the proverbial light bulb" would grow "ever brighter in her head," and that this would be the beginning of "an intellectual journey" for her.

Well, I'm pleased to say that her Anzac Day FB post, with its reference to Palestine, seems to have confirmed that hope.

You might recall an earlier hue and cry over SBS presenter Scott McIntyre, who referred to the commemoration of Anzac Day, in a 2015 Anzac Day tweet, as "Remembering the summary executions, widespread rape and theft committed by those 'brave' Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine* and Japan." (He also added, "Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.")

Scott refused to apologise, was duly sacked by his employer, and went on to fight an unfair dismissal case which was settled out of court last year. Again, on April 24, 2016, he tweeted yet another anti-war message, "Heroism on demand, senseless violence, all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism," and backed up his 2015 tweet with chapter and verse from the historical record.

[See my 29/7/09 post The Sarafand Massacre.]

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Neocons for Trump

Here's Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen giving Trump the thumbs-up for his first 100 days in office:

"Trump did something in his first 100 days that his predecessor could not bring himself to do in his entire second term: He enforced Obama's red line against Syria's use of chemical weapons. When the Assad regime apparently used a toxic nerve agent on innocent men, women and children, Trump didn't wring his hands. He acted quickly and decisively, and in so doing restored our credibility on the world stage that Obama had squandered." (Forget the critics, Mr President. Your first 100 days have been just fine, Marc Thiessen, 24/4/17)

Note the word "apparently." This is Thiessen paying lip-service to 'allegedly'. Clearly, he doesn't want you to dwell on the implications of Trump acting on Asad's apparent use of chemical weapons. He just wants you to move right along and applaud the president for acting "quickly and decisively."

All you really need to know about Marc Thiessen is revealed in his appended bio, where he's described as "a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the former chief speechwriter for president George W Bush."

Macron's Israeli Mates

"Israeli politicians who have met Emmanuel Macron said Monday they are impressed with the French presidential candidate. Macron, who will face a runoff race against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on May 7, was in Israel in September 2015 when he was economy minister and met with his counterpart, Arye Deri. 'I was very impressed by him,' Deri said... Macron met Labor leadership candidate Erel Margalit when he came to Jerusalem, which led to an invitation to Margalit to meet with Macron and French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace. Margalit, who was a high-tech entrepreneur before he entered politics, said the two have met four of five times... 'If Macron is elected, France will embark on an innovation economy and Israel will be at the center of its economic cooperation,' Margalit said... According to Margalit, Macron inquired about advancing joint Israeli-Palestinian economic projects in Bethlehem as a catalyst for building relations. Asked for Macron's view on diplomatic issues, Margalit said he 'wants the two-state solution to be a win-win for Israel'." (Emmanuel Macron's Israel ties, Gil Hoffman,, 24/4/17)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Molan Rattles the Sabre for Israel

Vintage Jim Molan... strutting Israel's stuff on the opinion page of yesterday's Australian:

"Everything that is concerning about the Middle East could now manifest itself on the southern Lebanese border... Iran, which finances Hezbollah to at least 80% of its annual $US1 billion budget, is achieving its grand geo-strategic aims by influence, aid and proxies in the failed states of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon." (Puppet-state Lebanon a pawn for ambitious Iran)

Oh, really? If Iraq is a "failed state," who then is responsible?

Moylan, of course! As his appended bio states, "Jim Molan is a retired army officer who served as chief of operations in Iraq..."

And if Syria ever becomes a "failed state," it'll only be because the Americans, their allies, and their various jihadi proxies, will have succeeded in toppling Asad - as with Saddam and Gaddafi in Iraq and Libya respectively.

As for Lebanon, the only thing that stands in the way of it becoming an Israeli colony is the determined resistance of Hezbollah, which emerged as the spearhead of Lebanon's national resistance to Israel's 1982-2000 occupation of south Lebanon.

Let's be clear here: the only grand plan at play in the Middle East today is Israel's. The Middle East's only apartheid state, financed by its US proxy to the tune of $US3 billion plus annually, and armed to the teeth with its proxy's weapons of mass destruction, wants a balkanised Arab world over which it has undisputed hegemony.

And here's Molan, almost salivating at the prospect of Israel's next rampage in Lebanon:

"[Iran's] most reliable proxy is Hezbollah, which has had thousands fight in Syria... The skills and experience gained by Hezbollah in Syria will be brought back to Lebanon for use when Iran next wants trouble to occur... Of course Israel will not stand for this. It is poised and ready, as I saw in a recent Israeli-sponsored trip to its northern border. If Hezbollah starts something, then Israel is likely to see the Lebanese government, people and supporting infrastructure as one with Hezbollah, and all as legal targets for the best air force in the world... If Israel replies to Hezbollah provocation, it will take a decade for Lebanon to recover."

Lebanon and its people as "legal targets for the best air force in the world." Chilling.

Thank God Abbott's "Special Envoy for Sovereign Borders" failed in his bid to win a Senate seat for the Liberals in the 2016 election.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Je M'excuse...!

by Gideon Levy

Dear Orna & Moshe Gan-Zvi,

"I was saddened to read in Tuesday's Hebrew edition of Haaretz that you've decided to cancel your subscription. I don't know you, but I will miss you as readers. As someone who is partly responsible for your decision, as your article indicated, allow me to apologize. To apologize for writing the truth all these years. I should have taken into account that this truth wasn't palatable to you, and acted accordingly.

"It was not pleasant for you to read the theory put forward by me and my fellow Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass about the occupation. You, who are active in Rotary Israel, who come from the business world, who are so proud of your children and the fact that they live in the West Bank. Your son was educated at the Eli premilitary academy, and your granddaughters proudly carry the last name Sheetrit. You, who are so pleased with yourselves and your values, with your children and your morals, don't think you should be forced to read unpleasant truths. You simply don't deserve it.

"Indeed, how could I have spent all these years publishing articles that even you, generously, admitted were touching, without ever, to my shame, checking how these Palestinian families ended up in their serious predicaments? Really, how did this happen? Of course it was their own fault, but I keep blaming the Israel Defense Forces - how could I? And how could Amira Hass be so one-sided and lacking in perspective that would explain how a people could prefer the elimination of another people over a democratic society? Really, how could you, Amira?

"I assume, Moshe, that if they were to lock you in a cage for years, you would continue your Rotary membership and refuse to back a struggle against your incarceration. I assume, Orna, that if foreign soldiers were to burst into your home in the middle of the night and arrest your Moshe before your eyes, kick him, force him to his knees, blindfold him, handcuff him, and beat him in front of your children who study in Eli - and then snatch him from your home for months without trial - you would be looking for some 'creative leadership' for your people.

"I assume that you, who come from the business world, would lovingly accept those who confiscate your property and ban you from your own land. I'm sure it would never occur to you to struggle against those who have tortured you with such evil for so many years.

"What can we do? The Palestinians are different from you, dear Orna and Moshe. They were not born in such lofty heights as you. They are human animals, bloodthirsty, born to kill. Not all of them are as ethical as you and your children from the Eli academy. Yes, there are people who fight for their freedom. There are people who are forced to do so violently. In fact, there are almost no nations who haven't acted this way, including the chosen people you're proud to belong to. Not only do you belong; you are the pillar of fire that leads the camp, you're the best, the moral elite - you, the religious Zionists.

"I apologize for the one-sidedness. How could I not maintain a a balance between the murderer and the murdered; the thief and his victim; the occupier and the occupied? Forgive me for daring to turn off your joy and pride in the land flowing with milk and Mobileye, and cherry tomatoes, too. There are so many wonderful things in this country, and Haaretz - with its 'moral deterioration,' as you call it - is ruining the party. How did I not see that you don't like to read the truth, and didn't take this into account when I'd return from the occupied territories every week to write about what I'd seen with my own eyes?

"But now it's too late. The call to boycott chocolate spread was too much even for you, so you've decided to boycott Haaretz. From now on, the only paper on your coffee table will be the weekly, right-wing Makor Rishon. They won't write about how IDF soldiers sprayed five Palestinian car passengers with bullets three weeks ago, and I'm sure your Shabbats will be a lot more pleasant from now on." (A heartfelt apology to Haaretz readers, Haaretz, 21/4/17)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

While You Were All Distracted by Steve Bannon...

... the Trumble/Shorten crew have been supping with the devil himself this weekend. Here's what you should know about Mike Pence:


"Trump is a Trojan horse for a cabal of vicious zealots who have long craved an extremist Christian theocracy, and Pence is one of its most prized warriors. [...]

"Pence has claimed that he wants to 'economically isolate' Iran rather than engage in a military attack. But should Israel decide to conduct pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, he said in 2010, 'if the world knows nothing else, let the world know this: that America will stand with Israel.' He supported a failed legislative effort to make it U.S. policy 'to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, including the use of military force.' Both in rhetoric and policy, Pence has compared 'radical Islam' to the 'evil empire of the Soviet Union' and said that he and Trump will 'name the enemy' and 'marshal the resources of our nation and our allies to hunt them down and destroy them before they threaten us'." (Mike Pence will be the most powerful Christian supremacist in US history, Jeremy Scahill,, 16/11/16)


"While one might expect Jewish leaders to keep their distance from a popular Christian pastor with extremist views such as these, [John] Hagee has been closely embraced by Israeli governments (Netanyahu is a fixture at CUFI [Christians United for Israel] conventions), Jewish American politicians (Former Senator Joseph Lieberman has referred to Hagee as a modern-day Moses) and prominent American Jewish leaders (Elie Weisel once called Hagee 'my pastor.')

"CUFI's Jewish Executive Director, David Brog, clearly serves to give cover to Christian Zionists, painting them as 'mainstream' and not nearly as scary as their beliefs would indicate. Following the outcome of the recent election, however, Brog seems to smell blood in the water; he recently announced CUFI's plans to get 'a little more aggressive' in pushing its policies with the Trump administration, where it has clout and connections, particularly with evangelical Vice President Mike Pence.

"To put it mildly, Jews should be among the least of those who would seek to find common cause with one such as Mike Pence. In an extremely important piece for the Intercept, last November, reporter Jeremy Scahill convincingly argued that Pence is 'the most powerful Christian supremacist in US history,' concluding: 'The implications of a Pence vice presidency are vast. Pence combines the most horrid aspects of Dick Cheney's worldview with a belief that Tim LaHaye's Left Behind novels are not fiction, but an omniscient crystal ball.'

"It should not come as a surprise that the Pence family's last trip to Israel was funded by, you guessed it, John Hagee. Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana, took the time to meet with Netanyahu during his visit. Now connect those dots to Pence's meeting with the Israeli prime minister during his recent visit to DC. Both Pence and Netanyahu later commented that they met to discuss, among other things, the creation of a 'mechanism' that would help the White House and Israel better coordinate construction in the settlements on the West Bank." (Apocalyptic extremism: no longer a laughing matter, Rabbi Brant Rosen,, 27/2/17)

See also Trump & Pence had a Jewish connection before a political one - and it's steeped in the Holocaust (, 24/4/17)

Bernard Lewis Demolishes Piers Akerman

How erudite is Piers Akerman! All of history is lodged in the man's noble cranium! One cannot but be humbled by the depth of his scholarship:

"Alexandria had housed the greatest library in the ancient world before it was burnt by the Romans in pre-Christian days. Historians say the fire may have spread accidentally from ships in the harbour. The library was rebuilt and the city retained its reputation as one of the most cosmopolitan seats of civilisation in the world. Egypt became a Christian nation, not through invasion, but through persuasion. That changed with the Arab invasion 600 years after St Mark's arrival. In 642AD, Caliph Omar promptly ordered the burning of the papyrus books and records in the rebuilt library. It is held that he told a general: 'If those books are in agreement with the Koran, we have no need of them, and if these are opposed to the Koran, destroy them. The destruction of knowledge, beauty and culture was deliberate - as deliberate as the most recent destruction of the ancient monuments and temples in Palmyra in Syria by ISIS and the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan." (Christianity attacked at holiest celebration, Sunday Telegraph, 16/4/17)

Oh, wait:

"From Professor Hugh Lloyd-Jones's review of Luciano Canfora's book on the library of Alexandria [NYR, June 14], one learns, with astonishment, that the author, and perhaps even to some degree the reviewer, are still disposed to lend credence to the story of how the great library of Alexandria was destroyed by the Arabs after their conquest of the city in 641 AD, by order of the Caliph 'Umar.

"This story first became known to Western scholarship in 1663, when Edward Pococke, the Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, published an edition of the Arabic text, with Latin translation, of part of the History of the Dynasties of the Syrian-Christian author Barhebraeus, otherwise known as Ibn al-'Ibri. According to this story, 'Amr ibn al-'As, the commander of the Arab conquerors, was inclined to accept the pleas of John the Grammarian and spare the library, but the Caliph decreed otherwise: 'If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.' The books in the library, the story continues, were accordingly distributed among the four thousand bathhouses of the city, and used to heat the furnaces, which they kept going for almost six months.

"As early as 1713, Father Eusebe Renaudot, the distinguished French Orientalist, cast doubt on this story, remarking, in his History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria published in that year, that it 'had something untrustworthy about it.' Edward Gibbon, never one to miss a good story, relates it with gusto, and then proceeds: 'For my own part, I am strongly tempted to deny both the fact and the consequences.' To explain this denial, Gibbon gives the two principal arguments against authenticity - that the story first appears some six hundred years after the action which it purports to describe, and that such action is in any case contrary to what we know of the teachings and practice of the Muslims.

"Since then, a succession of other Western scholars have analyzed and demolished the story - Alfred J. Butler in 1902, Victor Chauvin in 1911, Paul Casanova and Eugenio Griffini, independently, in 1923. Some have attacked the internal improbabilities of the story. A large proportion of books of that time would have been written on vellum, which does not burn. To keep that many bathhouse furnaces going for that length of time, a library of at least 14 million books would have been required. John the Grammarian who, according to the Barhebraeus story, pleaded with 'Amr for his library, is believed to have lived and died in the previous century. There is good evidence that the library itself was destroyed long before the Arabs arrived in Egypt. The 14th century historian Ibn Khaldun tells an almost identical story concerning the destruction of a library in Persia, also by order of the Caliph 'Umar, thus demonstrating its folkloric character. By far the strongest argument against the story, however, is the slight and late evidence. Barhebraeus, the principal source used by Western historians, lived from 1226 to 1289. He had only two predecessors, from one of whom he simply copied the story and both preceded him by no more than a few decades. The earliest source is a Baghdadi physician called 'Abd al-Latif, who was in Egypt in 1203, and in a brief account of his journey refers in passing to 'the library which 'Amr ibn al-'As burnt with the permission of 'Umar.' An Egyptian scholar, Ibn al-Qifti, wrote a history of learned men in about 1227, and includes a biography of John the Grammarian in the course of which he tells the story on which the legend is based. His narrative ends: 'I was told the number of bathhouses that existed at that time, but I have forgotten it. It is said that they were heated for six months. Listen to this story and wonder!' Barhebraeus merely followed the text of Ibn al-Qifti, omitting his final observation on the number of baths. The number is provided by other Arabic sources, in quite different contexts.

"To accept the story of the Arab destruction of the library of Alexandria, one must explain how it is that so dramatic an event was unmentioned and unnoticed not only in the rich historical literature of medieval Islam, but even in the literatures of the Coptic and other Christian churches, of the Byzantines, of the Jews, or anyone else who might have thought the destruction of a great library worthy of comment. That the story still survives, and is repeated, despite all these objections, is testimony to the enduring power of a myth.

"Myths come into existence to answer a question or to serve a purpose, and one may wonder what purpose was served by this myth. An answer sometimes given, and certainly in accord with a currently popular school of epistemology, would see the story as anti-Islamic propaganda, designed by hostile elements to blacken the good name of Islam by showing the revered Caliph 'Umar as a destroyer of libraries. But this explanation is as absurd as the myth itself. The original sources of the story are Muslim, the only exception being Barhebraeus, who copied it from a Muslim author. Not the creation, but the demolition of the myth was the achievement of European scholarship, which from the 18th century to the present day has rejected the story as false and absurd, and thus exonerated the Caliph 'Umar and the early Muslims from this libel.

"But if the myth was created and disseminated by Muslims and not by their enemies, what could possibly have been their motive? The answer is almost certainly provided in a comment of Paul Casanova. Since the earliest occurrence of the story is in an illusion at the beginning of the 13th century, it must have become current in the late 12th century - that is to say, in the time of the great Muslim hero Saladin, famous not only for his victories over the Crusaders, but also - and in a Muslim context perhaps more importantly - for having extinguished the heretical Fatimid caliphate in Cairo, which, with its Isma'ili doctrines, had for centuries threatened the unity of Islam. 'Abd al-Latif was an admirer of Saladin, whom he went to visit in Jerusalem. Ibn al-Qifti's father was a follower of Saladin, who appointed him Qadi in the newly conquered city.

"One of Saladin's first tasks after the restoration of Sunnism in Cairo was to break up the Fatimid collections and treasures and sell their contents at public auction. These included a very considerable library, presumably full of heretical Isma'ili books. The break-up of a library, even one containing heretical books, might well have evoked disapproval in a civilized, literate society. The myth provided an obvious justification. According to this interpretation, the message of the myth was not that the Caliph 'Umar was a barbarian because he destroyed a library, but that destroying a library could be justified, because the revered Caliph 'Umar had approved of it. Thus once again, as on so many occasions, the early heroes of Islam were mobilized by later Muslim tradition to give posthumous sanction to actions and policies of which they had never heard and which they would probably not have condoned.

"It is surely time that the Caliph 'Umar and 'Amr ibn al-'As were finally acquitted of this charge which their admirers and later their detractors conspired to bring against them." (Bernard Lewis, letter in response to The Vanished Library by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, The New York Review of Books, 27/9/90)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Wikipedia's Wild Goose Chase

A cautionary tale...

On April 20, The Australian featured, on its front page, a feel-good story on Yazidi refugees now settled in the NSW town of Wagga Wagga - Yazidi survivors ring in new year, new life (Simon Benson).

An information box titled 'The Yazidis' accompanied the story. Under the sub-heading 'Religion', were these words: "Yazidism, combining elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism."

Intrigued at the reference to Judaism, I thought, What's this, another lost tribe?

So I started digging. First port of call: Wikipedia. Under 'Yazidis', I read as follows: "The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish religious community or an ethno-religious group indigenous to northern Mesopotamia who are strictly endogamous. Their religion, Yazidism is linked to ancient Mesopotamian religions and combines aspects of Zoroastrianism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. [27][28][29][30][31]"

These words, I concluded, would seem to have been the source for The Australian's "combining elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism."

Next port of call: Wikipedia's footnotes - 27-31.

27 took me to a book called The Ethnically Diverse City, which, on the face of it, had everything to do with urban planning, not Yazidis.

28 took me to a mere heading, Yezidism in Europe... and that was it.

29 took me to The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion & Social Justice. No reference to Yazidis! Still, I persevered, and googled the book online.This is all it had to say on Yazidi religion: "The Yazidi Kurds have been tied to the 'sevener' sect [of Shi'ism], but also represent an ancient heterodox religious sect linked to Zoroastrianism and Sufism." (p 404)

30 took me to a Guardian backgrounder Background: The Yezidi by Fred Attewill & agencies, which claimed that "Their religion, whose origins are shrouded in eastern prehistory, is highly syncretic... It combines elements of Zoroastrian, Manichean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic faith." Jewish! Eureka! So I looked up Fred. Was he, perhaps, an authority on obscure Middle Eastern faiths? Alas, no, merely an editor at Agence France-Presse.

31 took me to Who, What, Why: Who are the Yazidis? which said merely that they "revere both the Bible and Koran," that their faith is "linked to Zoroastrianism," and that they "share many elements with Christianity and Islam."

Burning questions:

1) Seriously, would you trust Wikipedia as far as you could throw it?
2) Who slipped "Judaism" into the Wikipedia entry, and why?
3) Where did Fred get his "Jewish" from?

See my last post on Wikipedia, Wikipedia Warning (11/3/17)

Friday, April 21, 2017

On the Record:

"Asked if he trusted Trump and Pence's judgment, Turnbull replied: 'I do. I trust the judgment, the wisdom of the American government, the president and the vice president'." (Malcolm Turnbull: I trust the 'wisdom and judgment' of Trump & Pence, Paul Karp,, 20/4/17)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Israel's Megaphone of Hate

One word beloved of Zionist propagandists is 'incitement', as in 'Palestinian anti-Semitic incitement'. But look who's really doing the incitement:

"Every 46 seconds an Israeli Jew publishes a racist or inciting comment against Arabs on Facebook and other social networks, a new study finds. According to the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (7amleh), which published its Index for Racism & Incitement on Social Media last week, 60,000 active Israeli social media users published at least one racist post against Arabs in 2016. According to the study there were over 675,000 such posts in the previous year, published at a rate of one post every 46 seconds - a dangerous increase from 2015, when 280,000 racist and inciting posts were published.

"7amleh's study also focused on the correlation between remarks made by high-level government officials and the amount of inciting posts. One can see a clear increase in the number of racist posts against Arabs following every inciting remark by a member of the government. The sharpest spikes in racist posts came following remarks by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Arab citizens, following the fires that raged across Israel and the West Bank in November 2016, which leaders blamed on nationalistically-motivated arson... Another sharp increase was felt throughout the trial of Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who was found guilty of killing an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron early last year. [...]

"7amleh's report was a result of repeated accusations by Israeli politicians that Palestinians take part in incitement against Israel Jews on social media. These accusations led to the arrests of Palestinian activists, often when they had committed no such crime. According to 7amleh, Israel is putting pressure on companies such as Facebook and Google to reveal data on its users so as to make it easier to track and arrest them. According to human rights organizations, over 200 criminal cases have been opened against Palestinian activists who have been accused of incitement on the internet... " (Israelis post anti-Arab racism online every 46 seconds, study finds, Rami Younis,, 13/2/17)

Ditzy Doctor Gets a Drubbing

Guardian Australia's on an anti-Bashar/Asma kick at the moment. Even their good doctor, Ranjana Srivastava, who normally dispenses only medical advice, is now getting in on the act:

"Preparing dinner, I bite my tongue as images of the latest atrocity in Syria flashes on the screen. 'Isn't he a doctor too?' my daughter asks. 'Yes,' I cringe at the 'too' and rededicate myself to the carrots." (Bashar al-Assad trained as a doctor. How did he become a mass murderer? 18/4/17)

But, as it happens, Dr Srivastava found herself being rapped over the knuckles by hundreds of readers, who were having none of her nonsense. Here's my favorite example:

"Ms. Srivastava, maybe you should have said to your daughter: 'We don't know who is responsible for the gas attack, as yet. There has to be an investigation, and that hasn't started yet. Sometimes the news on the telly is not accurate. We will have to wait and see before we rush to judgement. It's a bit like me at work. I have to investigate, run tests and examine before I make a diagnosis. That's the way we do things in a civilised world. Now, eat your carrots'."

I for one won't be holding my breath for Dr Srivastava's reflections on... Kashmir.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Marwan Barghouti: 'Palestinians Will Not Be an Exception'

Why we are on hunger strike inside Israel's prisons, by Marwan Barghouti (New York Times (International Edition), 16/4/17)

"Hadarim Prison - Israel - Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel's illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no other choice but to resist these abuses by going on hunger strike. 

"Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners' Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

"Decades of experience have proved that Israel's inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong, by inflicting suffering on their bodies, separating them from their communities and communities, using humiliating measures to compel subjugation. In spite of such treatment, we will not surrender to it.

"Israel, the occupying power, has violated international law in multiple ways for nearly 70 years, and yet has been granted impunity for its actions. It has committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against the Palestinian people; the prisoners, including men, women and children, are no exception.

"I was only 15 when I was first imprisoned. I was barely 18 when an Israeli interrogator forced me to spread my legs while I stood naked in the interrogation room, before hitting my genitals. I passed out from the pain, and the resulting fall left an everlasting scar on my forehead. The interrogator mocked me afterward, saying that I would never procreate because people like me give birth only to terrorists and murderers. 

"A few years later I was again in an Israeli prison, leading a hunger strike, when my first son was born. Instead of the sweets we usually distribute to celebrate such news, I handed out salt to the other prisoners. When he was barely 18, he in turn was arrested and spent four years in Israeli prisons.

"The eldest of my four children is now a man of 31. Yet here I still am, pursuing this struggle for freedom along with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world. What is it with the arrogance of the occupier and the oppressor and their backers that makes them deaf to this simple truth: Our chains will be broken before we are, because it is human nature to heed the call for freedom regardless of the cost.

"Israel has built nearly all of its prisons inside Israel rather than in the occupied territory. In doing so, it has unlawfully and forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians into captivity, and has used this situation to restrict family visits and to inflict suffering on prisoners through long transports under cruel conditions. It turned basic rights that should be guaranteed under international law - including some painfully secured through previous hunger strikes - into privileges its prison service decides to grant us or deprive us of.

"Palestinian prisoners and detainees have suffered from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and medical negligence. Some have been killed while in detention. According to the latest count from the Palestinian Prisoners Club, about 200 Palestinian prisoners have died since 1967 because of such actions. Palestinian prisoners and their families also remain a primary target of Israel's policy of imposing collective punishments.

"Through our hunger strike we seek an end to these abuses.

"Over the past five decades, according the human rights group Addameer, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel - equivalent to about 40% of the Palestinian territory's male population. Today, about 6,500 are still imprisoned, among them some who have the dismal distinction of of holding world records for the longest periods in detention of political prisoners. There is hardly a single family in Palestine that has not endured the suffering caused by the imprisonment of one or several of its members.

"How to account for this unbelievable state of affairs?

"Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. Israel's courts are a charade of justice, clearly instruments of colonial, military occupation. According to the State Department, the conviction rate for Palestinians in the military courts is nearly. 90%.

"Among the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians whom Israel has taken captive are children, women, parliamentarians, activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics, political figures, militants, bystanders, and family members of prisoners. And all with one aim: to bury the legitimate aspirations of an entire nation.

"Instead, though, Israel's prisons have become the cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination. This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners' movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the Struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom.

"Israel has tried to brand us as terrorists to legitimize its violations, including mass arbitrary arrests, torture, punitive measures and severe restrictions. As part of Israel's effort to undermine the Palestinian struggle for freedom, an Israeli court sentenced me to 5 life sentences and 40 years in prison in a political show trial that was denounced by international observers.

"Israel is not the first occupying or colonial power to resort to such expedients. Every national liberation movement in history can recall similar practices. This is why so many people who have fought against oppression, colonialism and apartheid stand with us. The International Campaign to Free Marwan Barghouti and All Palestinian Prisoners that the anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and my wife, Fadwa, inaugurated in 2013 from Nelson Mandela's former cell on Robben Island has enjoyed the support of eight Nobel Prize laureates, 120 governments and hundreds of leaders, parliamentarians, artists and academics around the world.

"Their solidarity exposes Israel's moral and political failure. Rights are not bestowed by an oppressor. Freedom and dignity are universal rights that are inherent in humanity, to be enjoyed by every nation and all human beings. Palestinians will not be an exception. Only ending occupation will end this injustice and mark the birth of peace."


The New York Times, of course, just had to add the following 'Editor's note: April 17, 2017': This article explained the writer's prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were 5 counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court's jurisdiction and legitimacy. Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.


The demands of the Freedom & Dignity campaign are:

1. Instal a public telephone for Palestinian detainees in all prisons and sections in order to communicate with their families.
2. Visits: a) Resume the second visit stopped by the Red Cross; b) Regularity of visits every two weeks without being disabled by any side; c) No relative of the first and second level shall be prevented from visiting a detainee; d) Increase the duration of the visit from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half; e) Allow detainees to take pictures with their families every 3 months; f) Construct facilities for the comfort of visiting families; g) Allow children and grandchildren under the age of 16 to visit detainees.
3. The medical file: a) Close the so-called Ramle prison hospital because it does not provide the necessary treatment; b) End the policy of medical negligence; c) Conduct periodic medical examinations; d) Perform surgeries whenever needed; e) Allow specialized physicians from outside the prison; f) Releasing sick detainees, especially those who have disabilities and incurable diseases; g) Medical treatment should not be at the expense of detainees.
4. Respond to the [special] needs and demands of Palestinian women detainees, whether by special transport or direct meeting without a barrier during visits.
5. Transportation: a) Accord humanitarian treatment for detainees during their transport; b) Return detainees to jails after attending clinics and courts and do not keep them waiting at crossings; c) Prepare crossings for human use and provide meals for detainees.
6. Add satellite channels that suit the needs of detainees.
7. Install air conditioners in prisons, especially in Megiddo and Gilboa.
8. Restore kitchens to all prisons and place them under the supervision of detainees.
9. Allow detainees books, newspapers, clothes and food.
10. End the policy of solitary confinement.
11. End the policy of administrative detention.
12. Allow detainees to study at the Hebrew Open University.
13. Allow detainees to take the Tawjihi matriculation exams in an official and agreed manner.

PS: "Tens of thousands of Palestinians from throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip marched and attended rallies to show their support for hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Marwan Barghouti, who is leading the strike, was placed in solitary confinement." (Israel places Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti in solitary over prisoners' hunger strike, Jack Khoury, Haaretz, 17/4/17)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Palestinian Prisoners' Day

Today is Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

Think of this: every Palestinian is either in exile (as a refugee), under occupation (in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip), reduced to third class status (in Israel), or... in an Israeli jail:

"Israeli authorities have detained approximately one million Palestinians since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, according to a joint statement released Saturday by the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners' Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS), and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS)." (1 million Palestinians detained by Israel since 1948: joint statement, Ma'an News Agency, 16/4/17)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The 'Quality Journalism' of Caroline Overington

Margaret Simons,* the director of Melbourne University's Centre for Advanced Journalism, bemoans the future of journalism in a Guardian opinion piece, Journalism faces a crisis worldwide - we might be entering a new dark age (15/4/17)

Despite her forebodings, however, she remains determinedly chipper:

"[T]here is a new concern for the virtues of the traditional newsroom and what good journalists do. That is, find things out, verify the facts and publish them in outlets which... can generally be relied upon to provide the best available version of the truth. [...]

"The experience of the last decade tells us the citizen-journalist cannot replace the work done by properly resourced and trained professionals..."

Sounds lovely, doesn't it? The problem is that on one particular issue - the contemporary Middle East - as the evidence adduced by this particular citizen-journalist over an almost ten year period has shown, such pieties simply do not apply when it comes to mainstream journalism. Indeed, much of what is written on the subject verges on fiction.

The latest glaring example is the hatchet job on the wife of the Syrian president by the Australian's associate editor Caroline Overington. (Keep in mind as you read her opening paragraphs - all I intend to burden you with -  that Overington describes herself on her twitter profile as a "total feminist, no exceptions," and that in 'rebel' Syria, women have been everywhere thrust back into purdah):

"Once upon a time there was a little girl who was known to her friends as Emma, who grew up in a pebbled house in London and went to the finest schools. Emma's father was a doctor, her mother a diplomat, and besides being pretty, Emma was bright and everyone agreed she had the world at her feet. But then, at 25, Emma met a man who took her to his castle in Damascus. She was smitten, so when he proposed marriage she agreed to become his wife and, in the process, became first lady of Syria... And the West rejoiced. Here was a young British woman, at once elegant and poised; a native English-speaker who also spoke Arabic and French; who had worked as a banker in New York; who had been accepted to Harvard; who was interested in the plight of women and girls in the Middle East; who did not cover her hair, and wore stylish trousers. Surely she was the perfect fusion of Arab and Western ideals? That was the fairytale.

"Now comes the nightmare. Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, is now 41 and the mother of three young children. Once so pretty, she is now a repugnant creature, the first lady of hell." (Once adored, now abhorred: the transformation of the Syrian dictator's bride, 15/4/17)

Seriously, would it surprise you to find that Overington also describes herself in her twitter profile as a writer of "sexy thrillers"?

How I'd love to be a fly on the wall when Simons fields questions from her students about the Murdoch press in particular.

[*Simons, it should not be forgotten, was more than happy to take the side of the Israel lobby against false allegations of anti-Semitism directed against Age journalist Michael Backman back in 2009. See my 23/1/09 post The Backman Beat-Up.]

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Angry Brigades

In a 9/2/15 post, Me, Myself & I in Raqqa & Melbourne, I featured a snapshot of wannabe Australian jihadi Musa Cerantonio.

Although French political scientist Olivier Roy's focus, in his essay Who are the new jihadis? (, 13/4/17), is on French jihadis, he could just as easily have been writing about the likes of Cerantonio. His essay is therefore as relevant here as in France.

He sees "contemporary jihadism, at least in the west," essentially as a "youth movement... constructed independently of parental religion and culture," and stresses, above all, its nihilistic character:

"The systematic association with death is one of the keys to understanding today's radicalisation: the nihilist dimension is central. What seduces and fascinates is the idea of pure revolt. Violence is not a means. It is an end in itself."

Crucially, he makes the point that contemporary jihadist terrorism "does not arise from the radicalisation of Islam, but from the Islamisation of radicalism."

"The typical radical," Roy points out, "is a young, second-generation immigrant or convert, very often involved in episodes of petty crime, with practically no religious education, but having a rapid and recent trajectory of conversion/reconversion, more often in the framework of a group of friends or over the internet than in the context of a mosque. The embrace of religion is rarely kept secret, but rather is exhibited, but it does not necessarily correspond to immersion in religious practice. The rhetoric of rupture is violent - the enemy is kafir, one with whom no compromise is possible - but also includes their own family, the members of which are accused of observing Islam improperly, or refusing to convert."

In addition to their ignorance of Islam, Roy finds that the type has zero engagement with, or interest in, the real problems and issues that afflict the Middle East:

"The Muslim community such terrorists are eager to avenge is almost never specified. It is a non-historical and non-spatial reality. When they rail against western policy in the Middle East, jihadis use the term 'crusaders'; they do not refer to the French colonisation of Algeria. Radicals never explicitly refer to the colonial period. They reject or disregard all Palestinian and religious movements that have come before them. They do not always align themselves with the struggle of their fathers; almost none of them go back to their parents' countries of origin to wage jihad. It is noteworthy that none of the jihadis, whether born Muslim or converted, has to my knowledge campaigned as part of a pro-Palestinian movement or belonged to any sort of association to combat Islamophobia, or even an Islamic NGO. These radicalised youths read texts in French or English circulating over the internet, but not works in Arabic.

"Oddly enough, the defenders of Islamic State never talk about sharia and almost never talk about the Islamic society that will be built under the auspices of Isis. Those who say they went to Syria because they wanted 'to live in a true Islamic society' are typically returnees who deny having participated in violence while there... Living in an Islamic society does not interest jihadis: they do not go to the Middle East to live, but to die. That is the paradox: these young radicals are not utopians, they are nihilists."

Finally, he underlines his thesis that it is not Islam as such that motivates these troubled souls, but rather a form of narcissism:

"There is a temptation to see in Islam a radical ideology that mobilises throngs of people in the Muslim world, just as Nazism was able to mobilise large sections of the German people. But the reality is that Isis's pretensions to establish a global caliphate is a delusion - that is why it draws in violent youngsters who have delusions of grandeur."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Positively Presidential

"Trump drops 21,000 pound $310million bomb on the world's poorest people in Afghanistan. 'Liberals' of the world unite in perfect silence." (George Galloway tweet, 14/4/17)

Another case of X being in inverse proportion to the size of Y?

Oh Puh-lease...

"A seven-year old Syrian refugee whose tweets from war-torn Aleppo won her a global following is set to write a book. Bana al-Abed's Dear World will recount her experiences in Syria and how she and her family rebuilt their lives as refugees. Simon and Schuster plans to publish it in the US this autumn." (Bana al-Abed, seven-year-old Syrian peace campaigner, to publish memoir, Danuta Kean,, 13/4/17)

With a foreward by Ivanka Trump?

White House, Black Lie

Two extracts from:

The Nerve Gas Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria: A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report Issued on April 11, 2017 by Theodore A. Postel, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology & National Security Policy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 12/4/17 (

"I have reviewed the [White House statement claiming intelligence findings about the nerve agent attack on April 4, 2017 in Khan Shaykhun, Syria] carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria... In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4 [...]

"[W]hat the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Planet Janet Transmitting:

"Just imagine if any Arab leader with genuine vision for his region said: 'Enough. We must settle this centuries-old conflict that dates back to AD632 fought in the name of Mohammed over his rightful heir. We must resolve the violent schism between Sunni and Shia that has seen Muslims killing Muslims for thousands of years. We must settle, once and for all, the proxy war being fought in Syria as part of a wider battle for the heart and soul of Islam and geopolitical power across the Middle East. For the sake of Arab people, solving the conflict in Syria is our responsibility. As part of this resolution we call on Iran, we call on Hezbollah and Hamas to recognise Israel as the legitimate homeland of the Jewish people. Existential threats against all peoples must be condemned as the necessary step to an enduring peace in our own homelands'." (Islam's local derby is for them to resolve, Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, 12/4/17)

Wherein the thriving business of knowing nothing, but saying it anyway is taken to new, stratospheric, heights.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dirty, Bloody US Hands Off Syria!

A piece has just appeared (9/4/17) on The Conversation website, provocatively titled Why can't America just take Assad out? The author, David Alpher is described as Adjunct Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, George Mason University.

In a nutshell, Alpher's thesis is that America can't just take Asad out because "Targeting Assad would likely give birth to the same kind of catastrophe we saw in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi's fall."

While totally agreeing with Alpher's statement of the bleeding obvious in relation to Syria, I think it's time to pose a more fundamental question: What right has America to pursue regime change anywhere

The answer, of course, is none. The words of a prominent American critic of  his country's Vietnam War involvement, General David W. Shoup (1904-1983) are worth recalling here:

"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-crooked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. That they design and want. That they fight and work for. And if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the 'haves' refused to share with the 'have-nots' by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans." (1966)

Shoup's words are as relevant today as they were in the 60s.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Asad Wins a Heart at The Australian

Trump's sudden reversal on US involvement in Syria has really set the proverbial cat among the Trumpista pigeons. Check out Jennifer (Thank God for Israel) Oriel's latest emission, Reckless West could unleash jihadist hell in Syria. Bashar al-Asad has never before looked this good in the Murdoch press:

"The US has launched a pre-emptive strike on a foreign nation. President Donald Trump ordered the missile strike without an independent investigation into allegations that the Syrian government used chemical weapons. The US strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signals a return to interventionist foreign policy. While the Western press and politicians have celebrated Trump's decision, America's tactical military victory risks destabilising the Syrian government and empowering our jihadist enemies."  

"The acquired Western habit of deposing foreign heads of state has not yielded a net benefit for the free world. It has left the Western world in a state of deep debt by fighting wars we cannot win. It has empowered jihadist groups across the Middle East and contributed to refugee crises that push Islamists into the WestWhatever the West feels about Assad, we must recognise that he is a third-term president elected by his people. His recorded approval rating is very high. If Western leaders want to unseat Assad, they must establish an evidence-based case and seek the prior consent of the Syrian people by democratic election." (The Australian, 10/4/17)

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Silencing of Bassem Tamimi

Not a whisper about this matter in that hive of alleged free speech warriors, the Murdoch press:

"The Immigration Department has refused to comment on exactly why it blocked the visa of a prominent Palestinian activist, but has argued it has a responsibility to protect the community from abuse or danger. Bassem Tamimi, 50, had his visa cancelled hours before he was due to travel to Australia, on the grounds his opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could provoke anger in the community. He had been given permission to travel to Australia on Tuesday, but the following day the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) revoked his visa." (Visa of Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi revoked hours before travel, Matthew Doran,, 8/4/17)

The department's grounds for blocking Tamimi's visa are, of course, entirely spurious. The simple fact of the matter is that while Israeli apartheid politicians and propagandists, from Netanyahu on down, come and go without let or hindrance, a bona fide victim of Israeli apartheid, with an urgent story to tell about the ongoing theft and occupation of his land, has the door slammed in his face.

The real reason Tamimi's visa was blocked has been spelt out by the ABC's Middle East correspondent, Sophie McNeill, in a tweet:

"I'm told Bassem Tamimi's visa to #Australia was revoked after lobbying by #AIJAC on Immigration Minister Dutton's office." (8/4/17)

No surprise there. Just another stark reminder of the power of Israel in Australia.

Allow me to recall here Kevin Rudd's inclusive description of Australia's Deep State:

"[Rudd] reflects on how few people run the country: the Murdoch media, the heads of Rio and BHP, probably the heads of the big banks, and 'that mob', by which he means the hard-line, Likud-aligned pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne." (Diary of a Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, 2014, p 449)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Paul McGeough: History Overboard

Paul McGeough's "analysis" in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald is a perfect example of the appalling history overboard school of journalism so lucidly described by Peter Hitchens in my last post.

Here's McGeough's opener:

"If there was a selfish, inward-looking core to Donald Trump's election-winning 'America First' philosophy, it took a backseat to human decency on Thursday, when the President ordered a swift and stunning missile assault on a Syrian air base as punishment for a poisonous gas attack that killed more than 80 civilians this week." (Syria's complex fight is now more complex)

Not only is Syria's guilt assumed, but the hitherto reviled Trump is deemed to have finally done the decent thing by unleashing his missiles! Next thing you know, McGeough will be hailing Trump as 'presidential'."

Some more McGeough gems from the same piece:

"But what happens next - how do Russia and Iran, patrons of the beleaguered Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad respond?"

McGeough's takfiri head-choppers are everywhere on the defensive in Syria, yet it's Asad who's "beleaguered"?

"Compared with 2013, when President Barack Obama failed to act on his 'red-line' to the Damascus regime that Washington would launch military strikes against the regime if it used chemical weapons - but didn't... "

No mention, of course, that Obama "failed to act" for the very best of reasons - Asad hadn't, in fact, crossed his red-line. (See my 8/4/17 post Why Obama Didn't Do What Trump Has Just Done.)

"[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson, cold-heartedly, insisted that it was up to the war-ravaged Syrians, not the US, to decide Assad's fate."

Unbelievable! If only George W Bush's Secretary of State, Colin Powell, had "cold-heartedly" declared that it was up to the Iraqis, not the US, to decide Saddam Hussein's fate!

Mainstream Media as History-Free Zone

Must-read: It's WMD all over again. Why don't you see it? by Peter Hitchens:

"Actually knowing something, remembering history and having experience of the world is becoming a disadvantage. How much easier it would be to join in with the flow of opinion about Syria, to listen happily to, and read contentedly, media reports on the subject.

"As it is, I feel something close to physical pain as I do this.

"Today's frenzy over illegal use of poison gas in Syria is the 2017 version of Anthony Blair's WMD in Iraq. Why can you not see it? Did you think they would do it in exactly the same way again? You are being assailed through your emotions, to act first and think long after, and far too late.

"How can trained journalists (and experienced diplomats) be so lacking in the desire or ability to question what they are told. How come that they accept without hesitation reports which have not come from their own staff, but instead come from within terrifying war zones where gangs of fanatical murderers are the only law? One or two at least have the decency to refer to the new reports as 'suspected' or alleged, but most present them as established fact. 'All the hallmarks' mean in such cases what? Though millions believe this has been proven, past accusations of gas use by Damascus have never been independently shown to be true." (, 8/4/17)

Worth reading in full.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bombs Away!

Syrian kids in harm's way? No sweat. A few American cruise missiles, and they'll be right as rain.

And anyway, what could possibly go wrong?

Oh, wait:

"Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah which was bombarded by US marines in 2004 exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study." (Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima', Patrick Cockburn,, 23/7/10)

Damn, better ask America's favorite Syrian kid what she thinks first.

Hi, Bana, Uncle Donald here. Hope you and your mum are recovering from your war wounds over there in Turkey, and Uncle Recip's taking good care of you. Say, what do you think we should do about Syria?

"I am a Syrian child who suffered under Bashar al Asad & Putin. I welcome Donald Trump action against the killers of my people." (Bana Alabed tweet, 7/4/17)

Then bombs away it is!

Why Obama Didn't Do What Trump Has Just Done

Everybody, but everybody's convinced that Asad is responsible for what's just happened in Khan Sheikhoun, and that's because everybody, but everybody's forgotten about (or has chosen to ignore), what really happened in similar circumstances in Ghouta in 2013, and why Obama didn't go off half-cocked then as Trump has now with his cruise missile strikes on Syria's Shayrat airbase.

As veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh explained in his April 2014 essay, The Red Line & the Rat Line:

"In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August [2013], after the sarin gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the 'red line' he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than 2 days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed... and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad's offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

"Obama's change of mind had its origins in Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn't match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army's chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn't hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon. The joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria's infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

"For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria's neighbors, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was known to be supporting the Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. 'We know there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin gas attack inside Syria - and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat'." (

See also my 4/8/14 post About That Gas Attack in Syria... (Just click on the Seymour Hersh label below.)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Working for the (White) Man

You've really gotta feel sorry for Trump's UN ambassador Nikki Haley in a way. I mean, with parents like hers:

"When [Nikki] Haley was 5 years old, her parents entered her in the 'Miss Bamberg' contest. The contest traditionally crowned a black queen and a white queen. Since the judges decided Haley did not fit in either category, they disqualified her." (Wikipedia)

And, really, what kind of parental advice is this?:

"Every position I've ever had, people have assumed that I am looking towards something bigger, when in reality I am the daughter of Indian parents who said to me, 'Whatever you do, be great at it and make sure people remember you for it. That's all I'm trying to do,' she said." ('New sheriff in town' seizes the foreign affairs agenda, Cameron Stewart, The Australian, 5/4/17)

Seems like Nikki's being trying to earn the approbation of the White Man ever since:

"The days of Israel-bashing are over,' she told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] in Washington last week to a standing ovation. 'For anyone who says you can't get anything done at the UN, they need to know there is a new sheriff in town'' She said the Trump administration was 'putting everyone on notice,' at the UN. 'I wear heels. It's not for a fashion statement,'' Haley said. 'It's because if I see something wrong we're gonna kick 'em every time'." (ibid)

Pathetic, if it weren't so serious.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bored with Gallipoli? Then Try...

Another interesting ad. This time in Monday's Australian:

Oct 22-Nov 3, 2017

On 31 October, 1917, the strategic town of Beersheba was captured by the Australian Light Horse Brigades in a helter skelter great cavalry charge, with the Lighthorsemen armed only with rifles and bayonets.
Join Military History Tours as we follow the campaign of the Australian Light Horse in Palestine (now Israel) during the First World War. This is a special tour is [sic] developed in the hope that we will, in a small way, ensure that this part of Australia's history is not forgotten as we visit the battle sites, each with an informative briefing, meet the local dignitaries who maintain our military heritage and pay our respects at the resting places of our fallen.

To register for attendance pass, visit
For more information call 1300 364 671 or visit
Limited spaces left. Book now to avoid disappointment.


See my 23/6/13 post How Palestinian Beersheba Became Israeli Be'er Sheva

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Uproot Nation

Here's the Jewish National Fund's latest campaign ad, as seen at

JNF Blue Box Pesach Campaign 2017
Help Ethiopian Jews find their roots
Donate Now

The irony is breathtaking.

First, Israel uproots thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the 80s and 90s, and airlifts them to the usurped homeland of the uprooted Palestinians, where, of course, they have no roots. Now it's soliciting money to help these same uprooted Ethiopians find - wait for it - their roots.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Real Julie Bishop

Age columnist Sarah Gill, although beginning to have her doubts following Julie Bishop's recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines ("At this juncture, what's called for is not an expression of 'concern'... but a point-blank repudiation of Duterte's drug war - its mission and its methods."), has obviously been a great fan of our sleek and stylish foreign minister:

"Underneath it all, I think Bishop cares a great deal about human rights. I believe in the authenticity of her desire to eradicate the death penalty globally - although it's not clear the matter was broached with Duterte, who is on the verge of reinstating it. I also believe in her sincerity when she speaks of fundamental freedoms, or argues passionately for democracy, or insists that human rights are inextricably linked to prosperity and regional stability." (We turn blind eye to regional atrocities, Sydney Morning Herald, 3/4/14)

Frankly, foreign ministry press releases can only take us so far with these professional politicians. It's the unscripted, on-the-hop, quip which best takes us to the "underneath it all." As in:

"I would like to see which international law has declared [Israeli settlements] illegal." (Julie Bishop, quoted in Israeli lawyers caution Bishop, John Lyons, The Australian, 27/1/14)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Waiting for Szego

Fairfax (ex-Australian Jewish News) columnist Julie Szego on Islam:

"A secular society must reject special pleading for religious dogma. And why should the religion that's at this moment in history the most dogmatic be the one shielded from attack and marked 'fragile'?" (Why Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets up so many people's noses, The Age, 30/3/17)

Given her stance as a fearless defender of secularism against religious dogma, I'm very much looking forward to Szego's next column on these two egregious examples:

"Defense is important and security is important, but the most important thing is the moral claim of Israel. We are committed to go forward with living in our ancient land, land that was given to us not by Google and Wikipedia, but by the Bible." (Communications Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, quoted in Israeli minister: the Bible - not Google - gives Israel moral right to land, Tovah Lazaroff, The Jerusalem Post, 28/3/17)

"Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said there were three quick arguments for placing Area C of the West Bank within Israel's borders, all of which centred around the word 'just,' and then mentioned Israel's victory in the Six Day War. 'It was a just war. It is a just defense. But the most important one, it was based on a just claim. A just claim of the Jewish people on [the Biblical areas of] Beit El, Shechem, Jerusalem and Hebron." (ibid)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 7 Months To Go

November 2, 1917, was, of course, when the British government of David Lloyd George issued the infamous Balfour Declaration, arguably the worst (because most short-sighted, shameful, far-reaching and destructive) foreign policy decision in British imperial history. In the countdown to the centenary of its issue, on November 2, 2017, I will be featuring, on the 2nd of each month, a commentary/judgment on the subject.

I begin here with that of the British suffragist and peace activist Maude Royden (1876-1956). It comes from her 1939 book The Problem of Palestine:

"What was the Balfour Declaration?

"It was a statement, issued by the British Government in November, 1917 that 'His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.'

"The negotiations which led up to this Declaration were for the most part in the hands of Lord Balfour and Dr Weizmann: hence its title. There is more of it than I have quoted but this paragraph expresses its purpose.

"It is concerned with Palestine; that is to say, with an Arab country to whose people we had promised their freedom, and in return, had their support in war. But the wishes of these people were never once consulted.

"It is concerned with Palestine; that is to say, with a country whose inhabitants were 90% Arabs, but the word Arab does not once appear in the whole of this extraordinary document.

"It is concerned with Palestine; that is to say, with a people who had inhabited that land for thirteen hundred years; yet all the recognition of their existence and presence is a reference from time to time to the 'non-Jewish communities'.

"Non-Jewish! It is as though the Welsh, who once dwelt in Ancient Britain, should refer to the entire English nation as the 'non-Welsh communities of England'!

"The British Government had no right to make this promise. It was invalid from the start. When pressed for a justification, its defenders must - and do - fall back in the end on the fact that 'we conquered Palestine and had a right to do do as we liked with it'. We 'conquered' Palestine by the curious expedient of promising freedom to her people and so ranging them on our side; but if indeed we had conquered them, the justification offered is clearly one of naked force. Has Mussolini a right to 'do what he likes' in Abyssinia or the Japanese in China, where and in so far as they have conquered it?

"Neither had the League of Nations any right to give Britain a mandate for Palestine, still less to give it (as it did) subject to a condition that the Balfour Declaration be carried out. It will seem astonishing to believers in 'power politics' but it is nevertheless true that the weak nations have rights of their own and that these are not less valid than those of the powerful merely because they cannot so readily be enforced.

"Certainly the Arabs have never accepted this strange view of international politics. They have not admitted and they will not admit our right to dispose of their country over their heads." (pp 94-96)

I would urge all and sundry to sign and publicise this petition: Christopher Geidt Private Secretary to Queen Elizabeth II Please do not advise Royal Visit to Israel in Balfour Cent/?tvHuLlb

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Australia's Latest Poll on Palestine/Israel

From a March 30 media release by APAN (Australia Palestine Advocacy Network):

"A Roy Morgan Poll released this week revealed that the Australian public is much more sympathetic toward the Palestinians than the Turnbull government.

"An overwhelming majority of survey participants expressed support for the recognition of Palestinian statehood: 73% (up from 62% in 2011), while a majority (55%) indicated that they regarded the Palestinians' call for 'a boycott of Israeli goods, services, companies and institutions profiting from the occupation of Palestine' as reasonable."

Other findings were as follows:

"61%... opposed the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied territories."
"53%... opposed the Turnbull government's rejection of UNSC Resolution 2334."

These figures would, I believe, be much higher but for several political and media-related factors such as:

1) Blind, bipartisan support for Israel by LibLab.
2) The ignorance/cowardice of the national Greens on this issue.
3) The failure of the ACTU to take up the issue. (In fact, its vice president, Michael Borowick, heads an Australia Israel Leadership Dialogue (AILD).
4) The ignorance/cowardice and self-censorship of the Fairfax press.
5) The strident, unrelenting pro-Israel line of the Murdoch press.
6) The 'soft' pro-Israel line of Guardian Australia.
7) The presence of prominent pro-Israel gatekeepers at the ABC (Adams, Doogue, Kohn, et al).

Considering our generally skewed media coverage, I am not surprised by this finding:

"Despite extensive media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, only 44%... indicated that they knew either 'a lot' or 'a fair amount' about the issue."

An interesting question not put by the poll would have been:

How do you view the Palestine/Israel conflict?

a) primarily a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims
b) primarily a colonial-settler conflict
c) other