Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Has Paul Daley Dropped the Ball on Beersheba?

Today, of course, marks the centenary of the Battle for Beersheba, about which I have posted much under the label 'AIF'.

I will be dealing more with the politics of its Israeli/Australian 'commemoration' this week.

For now, however, let me recall the following words by Guardian columnist and historian Paul Daley (Beersheba: A Journey Through Australia's Forgotten War, 2009), written on this very day last year (See my 2/11/16 post Keep Your Eye on Beersheba):

"It will pay to listen closely and to be wary about what you might hear from the Australian and Israeli governments. Israel? It didn't exist, of course, at the time of the charge, which took place in what was Ottoman Palestine. But Israel has gone to some lengths to claim what happened as something of a formative step in its establishment [...] I realised how readily certain groups - not least Zionists, Christian Zionists and evangelicals, were appropriating the stories of the Australian Light Horse [...] Some historians of the Middle East and Palestinian groups were, rightly, angry at the conflation. Beersheba, you can be certain, will be evoked next year as testimony to the 'special' Israel/Australia relationship... Well, they ain't seen nothing yet, I fear... I'll be writing a lot more here about Australians in the Middle East during world war one." (Beersheba: we must keep an eye on how the story is told & interpreted, theguardian.com, 31/10/16)

Is it just me, or is the take-home message here: I know what the Zionists and their camp followers are up to here. I'm on their case, and I'll be keeping a watching brief on their distortions in the lead-up to the Beersheba centenary, and reporting back on same?

In fact, to my knowledge, Daley has written nothing since on the subject of Beersheba... until yesterday that is, and even then most of its content consisted of military minutiae. Buried in said minutiae was this faint echo of last year's fighting words:

"For decade after decade the critical Australian role in the Beersheba victory was little more than a footnote in military history... But such is the politics of remembrance that the centenary of the battle of Beersheba, which falls at the end of the third year of Australia's $600 million-plus world war one commemoration extravaganza, will finally have its moment. Politicians, of course, are wont to commemorate significant moments in military history for many reasons, not least to justify participation in contemporary conflicts. Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull... and Labor leader Bill Shorten are due to attend Beersheba commemorations in Israel this week where the battle - and especially the charge - will be invoked as defining a special relationship between Canberra and Tel Aviv. The events will be marked with Australian flags and those of Israel, the modern Jewish state that did not actually exist until 1948." (Beersheba centenary: let's remember that story is not the same as history, theguardian.com, 30/10/17)

Again, is it me, or has Daley squibbed it? And why?

Monday, October 30, 2017

UK: No Consensus on Israel

The times they are a changin:

Corbyn and Arkush show how Balfour is marking the end of the British consensus on Israel by Robert A H Cohen, patheos.com, 22/10/17

"This past week Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn snubbed a dinner invitation from the Jewish Leadership Council while Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, sent an angry email to the UK ambassador to the United Nations. Arthur Balfour and his infamous Declaration are to blame for both incidents.

"It doesn't sound like much to get worked up about. But you should do. As the Balfour centenary year approaches its climax on 2 November, we're witnessing in Britain the fracturing of decades of mainstream political consensus over Israel and the gradual isolation of the Jewish communal leadership as it becomes ever more intolerant of Palestinian solidarity.

"Three weeks ago at the annual Labour Party conference, Corbyn's biggest applause line was not about Brexit or austerity but for this: Let's give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion and move to a genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"t wasn't only because the 4,000 party members in the hall endorsed the sentiment that they applauded for so long. It was because they were fed up with the intimidation from the Israel lobby in the UK that attempts to turn every expression of Palestinian solidarity into an investigation about antisemitism...

"Corbyn has been a Patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for many years. So it was hardly surprising that he refused the JLC invitation to celebrate Balfour when Palestinians view the document as an historical betrayal of their rights. It would have been astonishing if the Labour leader had said 'yes'. And the JLC would have known that. That didn't stop the JLC chair, Jonathan Goldstein, from using the dinner refusal to accuse Corbyn of more anti-Jewish sentiment. But that was likely the plan all along: 'I do think it will not have been amiss for Mr Corbyn to understand that the Jewish community will have taken great heart and great comfort for seeing him attend such an event because it recognises the right of Israel to exist.' You can be sure though that Tony Blair or Gordon Brown would have accepted the invite if either of them had still been leading the Labour Party today. So times have certainly changed.

"Meanwhile, over at the Board of Deputies, there's been plenty of pointless bashing and feigned upset going on too in the last few days. The whole stop turns on a tweet sent by a member of the UK's UN Mission in New York which said: 'Let us remember, there are 2 halves of #Balfour, 2nd of which has not been fulfilled. There is unfinished business. @AmbassadorAllen #Israel'

"Whoever composed and sent the tweet was referring to the second half of the Balfour Declaration which follows the promise of a Jewish 'national home' with this reassurance: '... it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine...'

"The 'existing non-Jewish communities' were of course the 90% plus indigenous Arabs living in Palestine who were not considered even worthy of the slightest consultation on the matter. Also worth noting is that this anonymous majority of non-Jews were only being promised 'civil and religious rights' while the Jews were being promised national and political rights.

"President Arkush was furious though. He wasted no time in dashing off an apoplectic email rebuking the UK Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, and conveying his 'deep disappointment'. Arkush described the tweet as: 'unworthy, hostile, unbalanced, negative and evidently intended as criticism of the State of Israel'.

"It's worth a moment to examine Arkush's tweet critique because it turns out that: 'unworthy, hostile, unbalanced, negative' is a better description of the Board President than the UK's Mission to New York. Arkush is keen to give Ambassador Rycroft the standard Zionist history lesson in which all blame for the last 100 years of conflict rests squarely, and exclusively, with the intransigent and rejectionist Palestinians: 'First, the "civil and religious rights of all existing non-Jewish communities in [former] Palestine" (the terms used in the Balfour Declaration) are fully protected.'

"Well, that's hardly true in the 60% of the West Bank under total Israeli control for the last 50 years where the lives of Palestinians are administered under an apartheid regime. Nor can it be true for the 1.8m Gazans besieged by Israel by land, sea and air. And while the Palestinian citizens of Israel itself (20% of the population) have freedom of movement and democratic voting rights they are still discriminated against in a host of other ways.

"Arkush attempts another line of attack: 'Secondly, the United Nations offered the partition of Palestine between the Jewish and Arab communities more than once. The Jewish community accepted, the Arabs rejected it outright.'

"But why would the Palestinians have voluntarily offered to partition their land when they were still the majority in numbers and ownership but were being offered less than half the territory?

"Arkush tries again: 'Thirdly, the Balfour Declaration was no more or no less than a British Government expression of sympathy. It came 30 years before the UN vote to establish a Jewish homeland. If an Arab or Palestinian homeland was not established, that cannot be the fault of Israel, which did not exist, but would be a criticism of either the international community, or more fairly the Arab community who repeatedly rejected the notion of establishing their own country.'

"But the original tweet (if you remember that far back) doesn't mention Israel at all. It simply talks about 'unfinished business'. The responsibility to fix this does not rest solely with Israel or the Palestinians. The problem, as Arkush admits, was created internationally. It will need to be solved internationally too. And if the Balfour Declaration was nothing more than an 'expression of sympathy' why has its celebration becomes the touchstone of support for Israel and criticism of it a mark of antisemitism?

"Arkush then blames the Palestinians for all on-going rejection and violence: 'At Camp David the PLO was offered recognition of  Palestinian state on 95% of the West Bank. Yassar Arafat rejected it and responded by starting a cycle of violence which continues to this day.'

Much has been written about the so-called 'generous offer' made to Arafat at Camp David in 2000. It was no such thing...

"Finally, Arkush shows what's really bothering him. It's the mismatch in attitudes between the British Conservative government, on whom he can rely on for support to Israel, and the career diplomats in New York who actually understand what's gone on and have studied a bit of history and read the occasional book on the subject.

"'... the tweet is completely inconsistent with the United Kingdom's declared policy to mark, commemorate and celebrate the Balfour Declaration (all terms used by the Prime Minister and other Ministers in recent weeks). In just a fortnight's time a commemorative dinner is to take place to be attended by the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is deeply unattractive for the UK's Mission to the UN to strike a critical note and exposes the UK Government to a charge of hypocrisy.'

"Well, President Arkush, God forbig anyone should be leaving themselves open to a charge of hypocrisy.

"The problem for our Jewish leaders in the UK is that they have put all their Israeli eggs into one Conservative shape basket. And the current chaos of Brexit negotiations hardly makes the Tories look like the 'natural party of government'.

"However, in truth our Jewish leadership's mistake goes back much further. Signing up to be the puppets of the State of Israel's Foreign Ministry is where it all went wrong. The JLC, the Board, and indeed the Chief Rabbi, now look like nothing more than local adjuncts to the Israeli Embassy. Years ago, they should, and could, have taken on the role of critical friend to Israel and developed a nuanced Jewish diaspora position that held Israel to account for its excesses and campaigned for a genuine 2-state solution. But instead they opted to be local sub-contractors for Israeli propaganda. And now it's too late to turn back.

"So the Balfour anniversary year is turning out to be more revealing and significant than I imagined 12 months ago. At a national and political level there is now no agreement over Israel at Westminster. Meanwhile the formal Jewish leadership in the UK are painting themselves into a blue and white corner and looking ever more out of touch with a general public which is beginning to understand that Israel/Palestine is a conflict about human rights and not about terrorism. As for bullying national politicians and career diplomats over Israel that does not look like smart communal politics and certainly nothing like the Jewish traditional championing justice and compassion.

"The final two weeks of the Balfour anniversary year will show up further divisions on Israel across British public life. There are numerous speeches, rallies, marches, celebrations and protests planned across the country. They will prove that Britain no longer has a consensus on Israel."

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Back to the Good Old Days in Saudi Arabia

Well, I'll be...

"... Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on Tuesday that he wanted the kingdom to return to 'moderate Islam'... [His] remarks... indicated he is committed to combating extreme interpretations of Islam and to focusing on economic reforms...  'We are simply reverting to what we followed - a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions'.

"In a subsequent interview with The Guardian, the prince unexpectedly blamed Saudi Arabia's arch enemy, Shiite Iran, for the kingdom's turn towards Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam that is promoted by Riyadh both domestically and abroad. 'What happened in the past 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the past 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries - one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn't know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it,' he said." (Moderate Islam push seen as marketing ploy, Rick Noack, Washington Post/ Sydney Morning Herald, 27/10/17)

So, up until the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Saudis were practising "a moderate Islam open to... all religions," including, one presumes, the Shi'a branch of Islam?

Well, let's test this proposition by turning the clock back to 1927, a full 52 years before the Iranian revolution of 1979, to the good old days of the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ibn Saud (1875-1953), and see just how "open" the KSA was to the religious practices of the Shiites in the east of the Arabian peninsula.

In 1927, Ibn Saud was having a spot of bother with those legendary Saudi moderates, the Ikhwan (brethren), so he convened a Congress in Riyadh which issued a fatwa. On the subject of the Arabian Shi'a, it had this to say:

"As to the Shi'a, we have told the Imam that our ruling is that they must be asked to surrender to true Moslems, and should not be allowed to perform their misguided religious rites in public. We ask that the Imam should order his Viceroy in Hasa to summon the Shi'a to Sheikh Ibn Bishr, before whom they should undertake to follow the religion of God and His Prophet, to cease all prayers to the saintly members of the Prophet's house or others, to cease their heretical innovations such as the commemoration rites performed on the anniversaries of the deaths of members of the House of the Prophet and all other such rites performed in error, and that they should cease to visit the so-called sacred cities such as Karbala and Najaf. They must also attend compulsorily at the Five Prayers in the mosques, along with the rest of the congregation, and Sunni Imams and muezzins, each with an assistant, should be appointed to instruct them. Shi'as must also be forced to study Sheikh Ibn Abdul Wahhab's Three Principles.

"Any places specially erected for the practice of their rites must be destroyed, and these practices forbidden in mosques or anywhere else.

"Any Shi'as who refuse to keep to these rules must be exiled from Moslem territory." (Arabian Days, Sheikh Hafiz Wahba, 1964, pp 135-36)

Back to the drawing board, Crown Prince...

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Palestinian Genocide

The Guardian has a piece by Gavin Haynes (26/10), The Stupidest thing a nation has ever done, in which he kicks off a discussion by citing 5 examples: The Trojan Horse; King Vortigan's mercenaries; Myanmar's nines; the Confederacy's cotton ban; and the Maginot Line. As of this morning it's garnered some 864 comments.

Predictably - this is Jonathan Freedland's Israel-friendly Guardian after all - the Balfour Declaration, even as it fast approaches its centenary of November 2 - wasn't on Haynes' list. However, it was cited twice, in the comment thread, the first time with 15 likes, the second with 20, more likes than most other examples, it should be noted. (Sykes-Picot, mentioned once, got 9 likes.)

Apropos the Balfour Declaration, one of the most interesting of the many essays currently appearing on the subject is Gideon Polya's 100th anniversary of Australian Beersheba Charge, UK Balfour Declaration & Palestinian Genocide Commencement

Deploying the UN Genocide Convention's definition of the crime of genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group," Polya sets out to show that what has happened to the Palestinian people since the British takeover of their homeland in 1917 fits this definition, and quantifies the genocide as 2 million deaths from violence (0.1 million) or imposed deprivation (1.9 million) since WW I.

By way of encouraging a reading of the whole, here is section 4:

Summary of the horrendous dimensions of the ongoing Palestinian Genocide, the 50-year Occupation and egregious violations of Palestinian human rights: 

(1) The Palestinian Genocide commenced in earnest with the famine deaths of 100,000 Palestinians after conquest of Palestine in WWI by the British and the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS).

(2) The violent killing of Indigenous Palestinians commenced with the 1918 Surafend Massacre by ANZAC soldiers.

(3) Since WWI there have been 2 million Palestinian deaths from Zionist violence (0.1 million) or Zionist-imposed deprivation (1.9 million).

(4) There are 8 million Palestinian refugees and all of the 14 million Palestinians are excluded from all or part of Palestine.

(5) Of about 14 million Palestinians (half of them children), 7 million are forbidden to even set foot in their own country, 5 million are held hostage with zero human rights under Israeli guns in the Gaza Concentration Camp (2.0 million) or in ever-dwindling West Bank Bantustan ghettoes (3.0 million), and 1.8 million live as Third Class citizens as Israeli Palestinians under Nazi-style Apartheid Israeli race laws.

(6) 90% of Palestine has now been ethnically cleansed of Indigenous Palestinian inhabitants in an ongoing war criminal ethnic cleansing that has been repeatedly condemned by the UN and most recently by UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that was unanimously supported (with a remarkable Obama US abstention but subsequently fervently pro-Zionist Trump America and Turnbull Australia opposition).

(7) GDP per capita is US$2,900 for Occupied Palestinians as compared to US$37,000 for Apartheid Israel.

(8) Through imposed deprivation, each year Apartheid Israel passively murders about 2,700 under-5 year old Palestinian infants and passively murders 4,200 Occupied Palestinians in general who die avoidably under Israeli Apartheid each year (this violates Articles 55 & 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War that demand that an Occupier must provide life-sustaining food and medical services to the Occupied "to the fullest extent of the means available to it.").

(9) Apartheid Israel violently kills an average of about 550 Occupied Palestinians each year.

(10) Occupied Palestinians are deprived of essentially all human rights and civil rights by Apartheid Israel (e.g. Apartheid Israeli home invasions, beatings, executions, killings, exilings, mass imprisonments, seizures of land and homes, and population transfers in violation of the UN Genocide Convention and the Geneva convention).

(11) Nuclear terrorist, serial war criminal, genocidally racist, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel determines that 74% of its now 50% Indigenous Palestinian subjects who are Occupied Palestinians cannot vote for the government ruling them (i.e. egregious Apartheid).

(12) US-, UK-, Canada-, France- and Australia-backed Apartheid Israel in its genocidal treatment of the Palestinians ignores numerous UN General Assembly Resolutions and UN Security Council Resolutions, the UN Genocide Convention, the Geneva Convention, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and many other aspects of International Law.

(13) Apartheid Israel has attacked 12 countries (including the US) and occupied 5 with 1950-2005 avoidable deaths from deprivation in countries neighbouring and variously occupied by Apartheid Israel totalling 24 million.

(14) 5 million Occupied Palestinians (half of them children) are routinely blackmailed through torture or denial of life-saving medical care to spy on fellow Palestinians for Apartheid Israel.

(15) 5 million Occupied Palestinians (half of them children) are excluded by checkpoints from Jews-only areas and Jews-only roads.

(16) 50% of Israeli children are physically, psychologically or sexually (17%) abused each year but 100% of the 5 million Occupied Palestinian children (2 million in Gaza Concentration Camp, 3 million in West Bank ghettos) are subject to traumatizing human rights abuse by the serial war criminal Israel Defence Force (IDF).

(17) There is a 10-year gap between Israeli and Palestinian life expectancy.

(18) Theocratic Apartheid Israeli laws prohibit all but religious marriages and marriage between Israelis and Occupied Palestinians is effectively excluded (they are forbidden from co-habiting).

(19) Decent, anti-racist Jewish Israelis, as well as decent, anti-racist Jews worldwide, are grossly and falsely defamed by conflation of Apartheid Israel and its appalling crimes with all Jews, as in the false appellation 'Jewish State'.

(20) There is an ever-present threat expressed by Apartheid Israeli ultra-extremists of a neo-Nazi Final Solution in which the Indigenous Palestinians, who presently constitute 50% of Apartheid Israeli subjects, will all be expelled from Palestine.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Newie on Me

I'm used to Syria's president being routinely demonised by the msm ('dictator'/'tyrant'), and seeing his government referred to pejoratively as a 'regime' (another indication that the war in Syria is actually a regime-change war against Syria), but this is the first time I've read something like this:

"In the end, cats and dogs were feeding on shredded human flesh in the streets. But when the siege first closed in, life in Raqqa went on much as before. There were niggling court cases over property rights; Islamic State had its own bureaucracy. There were the public executions, and there were multi-million-dollar business deals with the Syrian regime... Abu Mahmoud, 50, an estate agent before the war, is one of those men who can see profit in a crisis. He was putting together a contract for Islamic State to sell $US5 million worth of concrete oil pipelines to the regime. Sadly for him, the deal finally collapsed when the caliphate's capital was surrounded. (Dogs ate the dead as noose tightened on ISIS stronghold, Richard Spencer, The Times, 21/10/17/ The Australian, 24/10/17)

Richard Spencer is a Middle East correspondent for Murdoch's The Times. To get some idea where he's coming from, see his 30/8/17 piece, Will the West confront the power of Hezbollah: While we have focused on defeating Isis in the Middle East, an old foe has grown even stronger.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Danby. Again.

After last week's expose of Michael Danby's wagging school to spend some quality time hanging with his Israeli mates, you'd think he'd give it a rest. But no:

"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will raise the stalled extradition of former school principal and alleged sex offender Malka Leifer directly with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem next week in a bid to dramatically step up pressure on Israel over the issue. The move will be part of a broader bipartisan Australian push to to secure the extradition of Ms Leifer, who has claimed she is too ill to attend hearings in relation to her return to Australia to face 74 counts of child sex abuse while principal of an ultra-conservative Jewish school in Melbourne. An Australian political delegation, including Labor MPs Michael Danby, Mark Dreyfus, Mike Kelly and Gai Brodtmann has also sought to discuss the issue with Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on October 30, the day before Israel commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in 1917... Australian authorities have been dismayed by the Israeli justice system which has, in effect, shielded Ms Leifer from facing justice in Australia." (Bid to extradite Jewish educator, Cameron Stewart, The Australian, 23/10/17)

Footnote: "Dismayed by the Israeli 'justice' system"? As well they should be. 'Israeli justice' is an oxymoron.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Meet Australia's Next Liberal PM

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jacqueline Maley has written a profile of Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg for Saturday's Good Weekend. Tellingly, it is called Power play. In it, we learn that "he has his sights set... on politics' big prize: the prime ministership."

We also learn that Frydenberg has what it takes to win the 'prize' - he inhabits an elite politician's parallel universe:

"McQuie recounts a conversation among the [sheep] station's workers where Frydenberg couldn't understand how someone could survive on an income of less than $100,000 a year. 'He was like, Wow, good lord, how do you do that?' McQuie says Frydenberg was also impressed at the quiet resourcefulness of the stockmen. 'He said, All my political career I've been telling everyone how good I am, and what my strengths are,' recalls McQuie. 'He said, You guys are so capable, but you don't tell anyone about it'."

Given Frydenberg's vaulting ambition, and since Maley doesn't subject him to the pre-eminent litmus test for intellectual and moral courage in our time - the Palestine/Israel test - we particularly need to know where this product of Melbourne's Bialik & Mount Scopus Memorial colleges stands in relation to the Zionist entity.

While not perhaps conclusive, the following two quotes such that if she had put him to the test, the result would have been a clear, if not epic, fail:

- "I don't agree with everything Israel does but I also will defend its ability to secure itself against some very hostile neighbours." Josh Frydenberg on Q&A, 2015

- "We were with you [Israelis] 100 years ago around the anniversary we commemorate today with Anzac Day, we were with you during the Shoah and I was at Yad Vashem just a couple of days ago, we are with you today at the United Nations, we are with you today on the border with Sinai and Syria [where Australia has peacekeepers] and we will be with you for a long time to come." Josh Frydenberg, quoted in Frydenberg in Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 27/4/17

Hm... I think there's little room for doubt here: Josh Frydenberg is destined to be Australia's next Liberal PM, don't you?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Herald Finally Discovers 'Balcony Over Jerusalem'

John Lyons' Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir (1917) is the most important book ever written on the existence and modus operandi of Australia's under-the-radar Israel lobby since Antony Loewenstein's 2006 My Israel Question.

Curiously, although it's been in the bookshops since July, the Sydney Morning Herald has so far ignored it - that is, until yesterday. Instead of the merited full review, however (and for reasons best known to those responsible for the book reviews in the Herald's weekend Spectrum), it was relegated to the following mere mention:

"On the balcony of their house in Jerusalem, foreign correspondent John Lyons and his wife, Sylvie Le Clezio, watched history unfold. 'Our balcony became our private time machine. We could fast-forward from the biblical past to the troubled present. We could see tear-gas being fired at Palestinians and rocks being thrown at Israeli soldiers.' From this box seat, Lyons ventured out into the Middle East covering the war in Syria, the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi and the Arab Spring. But it his reporting on the slow-motion tragedy within Israel and the occupied territories, and the public relations war waged by the Israeli government and media to keep its citizens and the rest of the world in the dark that gives this engrossing book its spine and force. 'If the whole world could see the occupation up close, it would demand that it end tomorrow'." (Fiona Capp, In Short Non-Fiction)

It has to be said here: it isn't only "the Israeli government" that keeps us "in the dark" on this issue - it's also the gutless, self-censoring Fairfax press.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Michael Danby's Magical Mystery Tour

"Labor frontbenchers are losing patience with federal MP Michael Danby over repeated corrections he has made to his register of interests this week after it was revealed he went to Israel for speaking engagements while claiming to be too ill to attend parliament. Mr Danby has lodged three separate alterations to his parliamentary register to declare sponsored travel and other previously undisclosed interests since The Australian reported on Monday that he flew to Israel and Geneva in September last year for a busy round of scheduled conferences. Changes are meant to be lodged within 28 days of occurring, and knowingly providing false information risks referral for contempt of parliament.

"The Israel trip caused dismay in Labor ranks because Mr Danby had submitted a medical certificate stating he was unfit for parliamentary duties for a period that was later found to coincide with his travel. Bill Shorten has so far deflected media questions about Mr Danby's unsanctioned trip since The Australian's first report on the subject. However, he is reported to be not pleased after recently reprimanding the Labor MP for using his parliamentary allowance to fund an advertisement attacking the ABC's Jerusalem correspondent over her coverage.

"It is understood the Labor leader told Mr Danby this week to amend his parliamentary register so that it was correct, but the Labor MP since has been forced to make further changes because required information was missing or incomplete. Mr Danby submitted a brief change on Monday that said 'Economy fare Geneva - Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm.' The handwritten update was stamped by parliament's register on the day The Australian's first report on the subject appeared and several days after questions about Mr Danby's September 2016 travels were sent to him for a response. It did not name the trip's sponsor nor list any dates. A day later, Mr Danby replaced the update with another that said a pro-Israeli group, NGO Monitor, had helped pay for his overseas trip. This second update was worded differently: 'Economy flight Ben Gurion - Geneva 17-19 September 2016'. It reversed the order of Mr Danby's flight destination, no longer mentioned any sponsored accommodation and appeared to list Geneva travel dates when Mr Danby was still in Israel.

"Mr Danby then submitted a third register change, stamped on Wednesday, following reports in The Australian's Margin Call column that discussed interests including an undisclosed 20-year-old company directorship and a mortgage on a Fitzroy property.

"Resentment among Labor colleagues has compounded following confirmation that much of Mr Danby's Israel trip related to previously scheduled events, despite his claims to be ill. The Jerusalem Post said in its Grapevine column on September 13 last year that Mr Danby was in Israel and would hold a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club 'on Sunday of next week'. The Post's advance notice said the press conference would be jointly hosted by Mr Danby and pro-Israeli lobby group NGO Monitor, which has Mr Danby as a member of its international advisory board. The column included details of how the Labor MP intended to speak out about an alleged scandal involving World Vision's aid operations in Gaza. Labor colleagues said yesterday that notice of a public event hosted by him in Israel 'on Sunday of next week' suggested the Labor MP's trip was pre-planned. One said yesterday: 'He's not looking like an accidental tourist here'." (MP anger over 'sick' Danby's world trip, Brad Norington, The Australian, 20/10/17)

But there's more:

"Labor's member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby has stuck by his just-in-time approach to parliamentary disclosure all week. Yesterday he finally lifted the veil on a 20-year-old corporate directorship and a host of other freebies. It's been a game of catch-up for the two-decade federal parliamentary veteran, who has fleshed out detail on a trip last year to Israel while on sick leave from federal parliament and has now confirmed his directorship of mysterious corporate vehicle Roosevelt Nominees. The company was formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created in 1997, just ahead of Danby's entry to parliament the next year. It hasn't rated a mention Danby's register until now. He stresses it's a 'non-trading entity'.

"Danby has also just revealed he's got shares in the once Aidan Allen-advised listed law firm Slater and Gordon... He also has membership in the Qantas and Virgin clubs. 'Membership automatically aquired (sic) when becoming an MP, the same as other MPs,' he told the Register of Members Interests yesterday. Better late than never. There's also news of the mortgage on his partner Amanda Mendes da Costa's home in North Fitzroy, which her mum lives in rent-free. No word though, on his lawyer wife's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Expect that in the 46th parliament - if Danby still has a seat by then." (Better late than never, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 20/10/17)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Like Pulling Teeth

"The Michael Danby disclosure story continues, one comically late update after another.

"Yesterday, Labor's member for Melbourne Ports fleshed out the details of his trip to Israel last year while on sick leave from federal parliament, finally revealing part of his trip had been funded by the Jerusalem-based Gerald M. Steinberg-founded NGO Monitor, which analyses and reports on the output of the international NGO community from a pro-Israel perspective.

"But still nothing on the convalesced Danby's mysterious corporate vehicle, Roosevelt Nominees, formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created 20 years ago, before Danby entered parliament in 1998. Almost two decades on and it's yet to rate a mention on the register of members' interests. We were told last night that 'fast fingers' Danby was on the case, but the material was still to be processed by the registry office.

"And the paperwork shouldn't end there. Eventually there should be an update on Danby's Melbourne barrister wife Amanda Mendes da Costa's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, announced last month by Attorney-General George Brandis. The AAT reviews government decisions, with Mendes da Costa to be paid in the order of $305,000 a year for the job... As for the house that Mendes da Costa has in North Fitzroy, Danby tells us her mum lives in it rent-free. Still, there's a mortgage on it to Ian Narev's CBA that Danby perhaps may want to note. All in his own time.

"And what about the Qantas Chairman's Club membership and complementary Foxtel service that Danby has received but not disclosed? 'The electoral office has a Foxtel connection,' Danby told us. 'Like all MPs, I am automatically a member of the Qantas Club and it was not a sought membership.' That's an interesting interpretation of Privileges and Members' Interests committee chairman Ross Vasta's disclosure guidelines. Wonder what he makes of it?" (Danby's trip disclosure near dandy, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 19/10/17)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Danby Declines

"... Mr Danby has declined to say who helped fund his travels in September last year in a handwritten update to his parliamentary register of interests that was submitted hastily on Monday after The Australian asked questions about the trip. Nor has the Labor MP listed the dates for his sponsored travel and hospitality in the sparsely worded update that says: 'Economy fare Geneva-Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm'... Bill Shorten has refused to comment about Mr Danby claiming to be too ill to attend parliament and then leaving the country for speaking engagements... " (Danby fails to name donors, Brad Norington, The Australian, 18/10/17)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zionising Palestinian & Australian History

Here we go again: more Zionisation of Palestinian and Australian history:

"Anticipating a visit to Israel by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for centenary commemorations of the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba on October 31, the Times of Israel has reproduced a re-enactment photograph showing horsemen bearing the Australian and Israeli flags side-by-side. Quite apart from anything else the image is historically inaccurate since no such Israeli flag existed in 1917, nor the State of Israel itself. That would come 31 years later. (Australia's complicated contribution to the State of Israel, Tony Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/10/17)

"Why such an ahistorical embellishment of a sacred event in Australian history should be necessary is a matter for the organisers, but it is difficult to escape a conclusion politics is involved... "

"Sacred"? When (not to mention why) did this event become "sacred."? If it ever did.

And no, it's not at all "difficult" to escape the conclusion that this event has been Zionised. (The word 'politicisation' doesn't even begin to call a spade a spade in this case.)

"It remains a stretch... to suggest that Beersheba was a midwife to Israel's birth."

Merely a "stretch"? Try 'utter bullshit'.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Not So Fine & Danby

"Danby is not a single-issue politician but is a strong supporter of Israel... " (Greg Sheridan, Its response to Danby lays bare ABC's hubris, The Australian, 14/10/17)

Apparently, last September, senior Labor MPs were looking everywhere for the shadow minister for Tel Aviv, scratching their pates and wondering, one to the other, where on earth he could possibly be, only to find he was on a Tel Aviv-related mission. Who'd have thought, they were heard to exclaim on this surprise finding:

"Federal Labor MP Michael Danby took a trip to Israel and pursued some of his favourite causes after allegedly telling his party back home that he was too ill to attend a sitting week of parliament. Mr Danby... made the trip in September last year during a two-week absence. He had supplied a medical certificate that stated he was unfit for parliamentary duties. The second week of Mr Danby's absence coincided with a sitting week of parliament. During that time he was in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, to attend a counter-terrorism conference...

"Senior Labor sources have confirmed Mr Danby's journey... was not sanctioned by the party leadership, and not known in advance. His leave was not related to representing Australia...

"A few days after attending the summit event... Mr Danby spoke at a media conference at the Jerusalem Press Club. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that he had been invited by the pro-Israel group, NGO Monitor, to Jerusalem to address 'the recent World Vision scandal' which allegedly involved millions of dollars in aid money for Gaza that had been siphoned off to militant Palestinian group Hamas. 'If Australian money was spent on building (Hamas terror) tunnels, that is beyond the pale,' Mr Danby was reported as saying.

"Although some Labor MPs believed Mr Danby was at home in Melbourne and unwell at the time of his international trip, others thought he was on compassionate leave, spending time with his former wife, who had been seriously ill. When concerned senior colleagues called Mr Danby's mobile phone from Canberra during the parliamentary week to ask after his health, they were puzzled to hear 'international pips', they said... After further calls, they learned Mr Danby was in Israel and intended to speak out about World Vision at the Jerusalem Press Club. They attempted to persuade him not to hold the media conference, but failed.

"Senior Labor MPs have wondered how his activities could be described as parliamentary business when the House of Representatives was in session and he would normally be required to attend, if able. Questions have also been raised about whether Mr Danby's stand against World Vision, while consistent with the Israeli government's position, was in line with ALP policy. World Vision officials deny aid funds were wrongly diverted to Hamas. The manager of aid operations for Gaza has been in Israeli custody for 15 months pending a possible prosecution, with World Vision trying to secure his release.

"The Australian asked Mr Danby to comment on how he came to be abroad when he was assumed to be on sick leave during a parliamentary week. Mr Danby was also asked if any of his leave and accommodation costs in September last year were paid by sponsors, and if so, who paid. He was asked for comment on why a number of senior Labor colleagues were not aware of his overseas travel when parliament was sitting - until finding out during his absence. In response, Mr Danby told The Australian last night: 'I received medical advice to take a complete break and get away. I took that advice. Unauthorised release of private medical information is ethically wrong. None of us want our private health details released, especially when they're used to distort circumstances. No taxpayer dollars were involved in the trip.'

"Mr Danby's globetrotting in September last year was spread over three weeks, starting in Israel and including Geneva, where he spoke at a UN-linked NGO Monitor event on September 26... " (Shorten's 'sick' ally took trip to Israel, Brad Norington, The Australian, 16/10/17)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

He's Just Fine & Danby

Breaking: Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan has just come out swinging at the Little Red Book-carrying, green left ABC, in defence of his old mate, Michael Danby, Labor's shadow minister for Israel:

"Melbourne Ports is one of the two federal seats with the highest proportion of Jewish voters. Danby is not a single-issue politician but a strong supporter of Israel who believes the ABC does not report the nation fairly. Frankly no one could seriously contest that proposition." (Its response to Danby lays bare ABC's hubris, The Australian, 14/10/17)

But, Greg, think of it this way: Danby's strolling along the riverbank, right? And he sees Netanyahu and the Dalai Lama struggling in the water, right? We all know who he's going to rescue, right? Frankly, you couldn't seriously contest that proposition, right?

"A former chairman of the parliamentary joint standing committee on foreign affairs, he is an old-style social democratic internationalist with a passionate concern for human rights, free trade unions and the like."

C'mon, Greg, can the crap. He's an uber Zionist with a knee-jerk response to any criticism of Israel, however slight, and zero concern for Palestinian rights. Just like you, actually.

"The ABC is consistently biased against Israel in a similar way to the BBC and for similar reasons. The overwhelming majority of ABC reporters and general broadcast commentators share a fairly narrow spectrum of world view, ranging from the middle left of Labor to the green left."

OFFS, Greg, what planet are you on? I've been blogging away at this subject now for ten long years and, in all that time, I cannot recall a time when Israel's ever taken a hit from the ABC. Just the opposite, in fact!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Melbourne Ports to Monash?

Kate Ashmor, lawyer and chair of the Committee for Monash, argues, in an Australian opinion piece, as follows:

"When a list of the greatest Australians is compiled, names such as Bradman, Freeman, Laver, Buttrose, Mabo and Menzies frequently appear. But one name surpasses them all. It is a name synonymous with inspiring leadership, patriotism and excellence, a name that deserves a permanent place in our commonwealth's democratic institutions. That name is General Sir John Monash [...] After World War I broke out, Monash led the nation in battle, landing at Gallipoli on April 26, 1915. It was his deliberate decision-making that crafted the Anzac identity; he personally led annual commemorations of Anzac Day until his death. [...] His contribution cannot be over-estimated: Monash all but won the war for the Allies, despite the best efforts of prominent public figures at the time to deny him recognition at the highest levels, arguably because of anti-Semitism and his lack of professional military service." (Let's salute Monash, our great leader & patriot, 12/10/17)

Apparently, the Committee for Monash, described in her piece as "an informal grouping," wants this claimed lack of recognition remedied by having the electorate of Melbourne Ports (currently held by Labor's Michael Danby) renamed Monash. Well and good, Ashmor may indeed have a valid case to make here. But questions remain:

Who else makes up the Committee for Monash? Why doesn't Ashmor disclose her chairwomanship of the Liberal Party's Melbourne Ports Electorate Conference? And, most pertinently, why doesn't she tell her readers that Monash was head of the Zionist Federation of Australia and New Zealand from 1927 until his death in 1931?

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Weinstein Saga Takes a Turn for the Worse

With sordid revelation after sordid revelation, could the Harvey (Gimme a massage NOW!) Weinstein saga get any worse?

Of course!

Read on:

"Oscar-winning film producer Harvey Weinstein expressed his deep love and appreciation for the Jewish state on Monday, saying, 'I am an Israeli in my heart and mind.' Speaking on the red carpet at The Algemeiner's fourth annual gala in New York City, Weinstein emphasized, 'I love that country, I love what it stands for, I am proud to be Jewish.'... He also spoke of his upcoming movie 'Mila 18,' an adaption of Leon Uris' acclaimed novel on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. 'When people see 'Mila 18,' they can subtitle it 'Jews with guns,' because this is not about going into the night quietly,' Weinstein said. 'This is the birth of the modern Israelis, these were the guys in the ghetto who said we are not going to walk into concentration camps and get herded like cattle. They said, we're going to kill some Germans instead.'" (Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein at Algemeiner gala: 'I am Israeli in my heart and mind', algemeiner.com, 20/9/17)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Indigenous Pilgrims' Progress

October 31, 2017, of course, is the centenary of the much hyped charge of the Australian Light Horse at Turkish trenches defending the Palestinian town of Beersheba. The hype is largely due to the event's appropriation by Australia's Israel lobby, part of its ongoing effort to manufacture alleged historical links between Australia and Israel as part of the fiction that a 'unique relationship' exists between the two countries.

Although but one part of an Anglo-Arab thrust aimed at dislodging the Turks from the Levant in World War I, the victory of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba has been opportunistically appropriated by our Israel lobbyists and hyped as an integral component of the Zionist project in Palestine, on a par, almost, with the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917.

Of course, no such explicit linkage was ever made by Zionist spokesmen in the immediate post war years. Burnishing Israel's image in contemporary Australian domestic politics is what this blatant propaganda exercise is all about.

Here, for example, are some of the latest Zionist iterations of the linkage:

"On 31 October 1917 two events happened which shaped future world history. The first was the capture of Beersheba by British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers... The second was the decision by the British war cabinet to endorse the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home - the legal foundation of the future state of Israel." (The History, beersheba2017.com)

"The date of the Beersheba charge generally coincided with the Declaration by the British Government that led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel." (Connections to Indigenous Diggers of World War I, jwire.com.au, 23/2/17)

If we look back at earlier Zionist statements, part of the hype surrounding the construction at Beersheba of a 'Park of the Australian Soldier' by the Pratt Foundation in 2008,* the linkage rhetoric was far more explicit: the park was described as "a memorial to those who died in battle for the Jewish state"; "the result of the victory was the emergence of a thriving democratic and vibrant nation"; "the Australian victory... set in train... the establishment of the state of Israel"; and "the gallant 800 changed Jewish history, and the history of the Middle East." (See my 1/5/08 post Zionist Myth In-Formation by clicking on the AIF label below.)

Need I remind the informed reader that Allenby's Anglo-Arab campaign against the Turks, let alone its Beersheba component, was a purely military affair related to the stalemate on the Western Front, and not in any way a paving of the way for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, and that the British war cabinet decision to issue a declaration of support for the Zionist movement was made on the same day as the charge at Beersheba which could not, therefore, have influenced the decision one way or the other. (British attempts to enter Palestine had actually been underway since February 1917.) The Balfour Declaration, that is Balfour's infamous letter to Lord Rothschild, which gave voice to the decision, not unnaturally emerged soon after - as it happens, on November 2.

IOW, the timing was pure coincidence. If we bear in mind the Anglo-Zionist machinations which led up to the Balfour Declaration, the British decision to support Zionist aims could have been made as early as July 1917, long before Allenby's campaign. And as for the Ottoman Empire as a whole, the British had had designs on that stretching back at least to the De Bunsen Committee Report of June 1915, which made no mention whatever of Zionist aims.

Having clarified that, I will now move on to the latest, grotesque stage in this cheap Zionist production, already hinted at in the title of the jwire report, the appropriation of descendants of a claimed 100 Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers, not merely for use as props in the coming centenary celebration in Israel, but to underscore Israel's bogus claim to indigeneity in Arab Palestine.

This was featured recently in Murdoch's Australian, in a front-page article headed, Remembering Beersheba's heroes, the Aborigines willing to die for their country. The article was accompanied by a photograph of Indigenous Australians, Ray Minniecon and Elsie Amamoo, kitted out as Light Horse troopers. Here's the propagandist core of the piece:

"The pilgrimage to Israel [by the descendants of Aboriginal Lighthorse soldiers next week] has been organised by the Rona Tranby Trust, with the support of the Pratt Foundation. Thomas and Eva Rona were Holocaust survivors who found sanctuary in Australia, and their trust specifically supports and preserves indigenous oral history. 'There are so many parallels between the Jewish people and indigenous Australians,' [Trust administrator Jennifer] Symonds says. 'They both understand dispossession from their lands, and the importance of oral histories - This project [the Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project] will enable descendants to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors, and when they return, they will record the stories, so the experience of those soldiers is not forgotten'." (Caroline Overington, 7/10/17)

The cynicism of this "pilgrimage to Israel" emerges only if we bear in mind the wider historical context.

Ostensibly, 'The Rona Tranby Australian Light Horse Project' is merely 'enabling' these descendants of Aboriginal victims of British settler-colonialism in Australia to "walk in the footsteps of their ancestors." The reality, however, is that they are being involved in a propaganda exercise designed to cement White Australia's connection with another settler-colonial state, one, moreover, which eschews any genuine reconciliation with its indigenous Palestinian Arab victims, having deluded itself into believing that its European Jewish colons, not the native Palestinians, are in fact the indigenous population of the land they now occupy, their 2,000-year spell in Europe notwithstanding.

Those post pilgrimage stories should indeed make interesting reading. As should the product outlined in the notice appended to Overington's article: "The Weekend Australian will publish a special magazine on October 28 commemorating the centenary of Beersheba."

[*The late Dick Pratt, in addition to being a cardboard tycoon (Visy), was a generous donor to both Israeli 'charities' and Australian mainstream political parties, a convicted price-fixer, and a key supporter of Bill Shorten.]

Monday, October 9, 2017

Zionism Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

"The federal Labor MP Michael Danby has refused to apologise for using taxpayer dollars to fund an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News accusing ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill of being biased in her reporting of Jews and Palestinians. But he has promised not to publish any more ads about McNeill, conceding he had been pulled into line by Labor leader Bill Shorten." (Michael Danby refuses to apologise for ad attacking ABC's Sophie McNeill, Gareth Hutchens, theguardian.com, 8/10/17)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Assange on the Israel Lobby

An interesting piece from Alex Mitchell's Weekly Notebook, News not reported here, cometherevolution.com.au, 5/10/17:

"Julian Assange is an alleged rapist who is wanted in the US to face charges as a 'world terrorist' and spend a lifetime behind bars. On the other hand, to a majority of civilised people across the globe he is a hero whistleblower who has blown open the atrocities of the US military in Iraq and around the world. Now he's done it again with a statement issued from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he lives in self-imposed incarceration. On 22 September 2017 Assange told reporters via telecast:

"'Russian actions on its own doorstep in Eastern Europe do not in fact threaten the United States or any actual vital interest. Nor does Moscow threaten the US through its intervention on behalf of the Syrian Government in the Middle East. That Russia is described incessantly as a threat in those areas is largely a contrivance arranged by the media, the Democratic and Republican National Committees and by the White House.

"'Candidate Donald Trump appeared to recognise that fact before he began listening to Michael Flynn [retired US Army Lieutenant-General Flynn who was sacked as National Security Adviser on February 13, after just 24 days in the job], who has rather a different view. Hopefully the old Trump will prevail. There is, however, another country that has interfered in US elections, has endangered Americans living or working overseas and has corrupted America's legislative and executive branches. It has exploited that corruption to initiate legislation favourable to itself, has promoted unnecessary and unwinnable wars and has stolen American assets and military secrets. Its ready access to the mainstream media to spread its own propaganda provides it with cover for its actions and it accomplishes all that and more through the agency of a powerful and well-funded domestic lobby that oddly is not subject to the accountability afforded by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938 even though it manifestly works on behalf of a foreign government. That government is, of course, Israel."

Mitchell follows this with Buying the US Congress:

"If you think Assange is exaggerating you should be aware that in the past week the US Senate unanimously passed (99 votes to 0) the Anti-Semitism Awareness Bill. The legislation makes Jews and Jewish interests a legally protected class that is immune from criticism. In future, Americans will be able to burn the Stars and Stripes, sell pornography and automatic guns and attack the Christian religion - but they won't be able to criticise Israel as that effectively becomes a 'hate crime'. The legislation was demanded by the Israeli lobby which bribes its way across Capitol Hill to propagandise on behalf of the apartheid-style Zionist regime in Tel Aviv."

Saturday, October 7, 2017

UK Labour's Arbiter of Anti-Semitism

Remember when anti-Semitism used to be a matter of hating, or discriminating against, Jews for no other reason than that they were Jews? Well, times change, and now, apparently, it means something quite different:

"Politicians and media pundits are starting to push the debate about anti-semitism in disturbing new directions... and this process has accelerated since [JeremyCorbyn became leader. This dangerous trend was highlighted in a commentary last week in the midst of the [Labour Party] conference. Jonathan Freedland, a senior columnist at the Guardian newspaper and the Jewish Chronicle, is highly influential among Britain's liberal Zionist community. He is possibly the most prominent arbiter of 'anti-Semitism' on the British left. He used his column to attack three well-known Labour figures closely identified with Corbyn who had each dismissed 'Labour's anti-Semitism plague' as mischief-making. Freedland accused former London mayor Ken Livingstone, award-winning film-maker Ken Loach, and trade union leader Len McCluskey of anti-semitism denial and leading Labour into a 'dark place'.

"In a circular proof of Labour's anti-semitism crisis, Freedland cited calls from some Labour activists - in fact, a handful - to expel the JLM [Jewish Labour Movement, the sister organisation of Israel's own Labour Party] from the party. He avoided mentioning why: that the JLM had been caught redhanded conspiring against the party leader by the Al Jazeera investigation... Freedland, a former winner of Britain's Orwell Prize, then indulged in some trademark Orwellian 'newspeak'. He argued that the three leading Labour lights, as non-Jews, were not in a position to assess whether there was an anti-Semitism crisis in the party. Only Jews could make that call - and, he added, Labour's Jews were adamant that the party had a big problem. Here Freedland effectively backed the draconian and rejected definition of anti-semitism originally proposed by the JLM at the conference. According to both the JLM and Freedland, anti-semitism cannot be adduced through objective criteria, or by applying tradtional methods, such as hateful statements or actions against Jews because they are Jews. Instead, Freedland and the JLM believe that anti-semitism can be defined more broadly. It exists, they say, if it is perceived as such by its victims, even if no tangible evidence can be identified. It is like a mood sensed only by those - Jews - who are attuned to it through their firsthand experience of anti-semitism." (As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting 'Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism, Jonathan Cookmondoweiss.net, 5/10/17)

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Hounding of Sophie McNeill 2

Michael Danby, MP for Tel Aviv, may have bitten off more than he can chew. Here's the latest development in his campaign against the ABC's Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill:

"Top Labor figures believe 'it's time' for outspoken federal MP Michael Danby to retire as anger over his taxpayer-funded attacks on an ABC journalist sparked fresh speculation about his future... [P]arty figures from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten down are deeply unimpressed with Mr Danby's attacks on McNeill. In a heated phone conversation on Wednesday Mt Shorten instructed Mr Danby - his factional ally - to withdraw [the latest of two ads] but it had already been sent on to the printers. The controversy has hardened the resolve of Mr Danby's critics, who want him to end his 20-year hold on the seat of Melbourne Ports and make way for someone better able to fend off the Greens. 'The expectation here is it's time,' one state source said... Federal party sources say they are fed up with Mr Danby using political capital to attack the media rather than the government. But his critics are unwilling to publicly criticise him, fearing it will cause him to dig in and run again." ('It's time': Labor MP Michael Danby under pressure after ABC attack backfires, Adam Gartrell, Broede Carmody, theage.com, 5/10/17)

Typically, the ALP has no problem with Danby's Zionism. It's just that they'd just prefer him to be a zionist rather than a Zionist, know what I mean?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Hounding of Sophie McNeill 1

"Federal Labor MP Michael Danby has paid* for an advertisement in the Australian Jewish News that accuses ABC Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill of being biased in her reporting of Jews and Palestinians. The ABC's director of news, Gaven Morris, is so appalled by the prominent ad... he has written to the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, calling on him to curb the Victorian MP's attack... This is not the first time Danby has taken aim at McNeill... She has been a particular target and the Israel lobby has also openly campaigned for the ABC to cancel her posting. In 2015 former managing director Mark Scott strongly defended McNeill from attacks by Liberal senator Eric Abetz... In July former Middle East correspondent for the Australian John Lyons revealed that pro-Israel advocacy groups in Australia targeted McNeill, fellow ABC correspondent Peter Cave and himself. Lyons said he was subjected to consistent pressure from the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council while based in Jerusalem for the Australian for six years. In his Middle East memoir, Balcony Over Jerusalem, Lyons said there was a campaign against McNeill before she set foot in the Middle East." (ABC's Sophie McNeill accused of anti-Israel bias in ad by Labor MP, Amanda Meade, theguardian.com, 4/10/17)

Here's John Lyons' account of that campaign from Balcony Over Jerusalem:

"I came to realise that hardline Jewish groups in Australia commonly targeted journalists. One such campaign led to an extraordinary process inside the ABC.

"The ABC's Sophie McNeill was targeted from the moment her appointment was announced in February 2015. AIJAC published a dossier which amounted to a comprehensive attack on her. It was authored by Ahron Shapiro and posted on AIJAC's website. Headlined 'Should the ABC have given advocacy journalist Sophie McNeill the keys to its Jerusalem bureau?', it went on: 'There are serious questions that must be raised about whether Sophie McNeill, who has recently been appointed the ABC's exclusive Jerusalem-based Middle East correspondent, can comply with the obligations contained in ABC's Code of Practice.'

"The dossier said that McNeill had appeared on a panel where she was 'speaking alongside' two people who had supported Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The case against McNeill included that she once said in an interview: 'One of the saddest things I've seen in my whole life is spending time filming in a children's cancer ward in Gaza.' On this charge, I could also be indicted - one of the saddest things I've ever seen was a baby dying in a children's hospital in Gaza because the hospital could not get through the Israeli checkpoint the medicines required to keep him alive.

"The sourcing of much of AIJAC's material was questionable. It said: 'According to the account of a Palestinian student who summarised from a personal video she made of the event... ' AIJAC said McNeill's 'apparent role at the event was to inspire student activities through her first-hand accounts from Gaza, and she appeared eager to play the part'. Apparent role? It continued, 'according to the Tweet of one attendee, she spurred the audience on.' The Tweet of one attendeee? McNeill's appearance at the conference, AIJAC said, 'was tantamount to joining a protest movement'. Tantamount to? The standard of allegation made in AIJAC's attacks on journalists often did not come anywhere near the standard of sourcing of material that they demanded from the journalists they were attacking.

"The dossier also targeted McNeill for a story she had done looking at Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. 'McNeill promotes the narrative that Israeli Jewry as a society is radicalising in terms of its Jewish character through the demographic growth of the ultra-Orthodox.' The 'implied message', AIJAC said, was that 'Israel is not really the pluralistic Western society it purports to be but is shifting towards religious radicalism'. Implied message? Of all the absurdities in the dossier, to me this was the most bizarre. Israel's own media is full of stories about the rising number - and power - of the ultra-Orthodox. Given their high birth rates - many have seven or eight children - they are increasing as a proportion of the community.

"After publishing the dossier, AIJAC wrote to the board of the ABC, referencing it. The letter set off an extraordinary - perhaps unprecedented - chain of events. The chairman of the board, Jim Spigelman, asked the managing director, Mark Scott, for a response. Scott then instructed the corporation's editorial policies department to prepare a response. Senior managers in the news and current affairs department were also enlisted. Scott believed that the ABC's selection process was thorough, and was unhappy that a lobby group had the power to require the ABC to have to defend an appointment. 'I will not cower to AIJAC,' he told his managers.

"The ABC's managers answered each claim, taking more than three weeks. The process included putting to McNeill each AIJAC accusation against her. The AIJAC attack also said that McNeill had credited British journalist John Pilger as being an influence on her - when she was 15. To her managers, McNeill pleaded guilty to this charge but said his influence was in alerting her to the situation in East Timor when she was 15. In fact, McNeill was critical of Pilger - she said that she believed Pilger's politics had 'blinded him' to the situation in Syria.

"Mark Scott was particularly angered by parts of the dossier which attacked McNeill for who she may have spoken alongside on panels. 'Here is a professional journalist like Sophie McNeill subject to a whole lot of attacks which in my view were trying to taint her by association,' Scott told his managers.

"Scott wrote for the ABC board a 12-page response to AIJAC's letter. In it he said that while AIJAC did not call for McNeill's appointment to be reversed, despite raising a series of critical questions and concerns about her 'past activities' - 'they were letting us know they would be watching'. Scott told the board that he had engaged in dialogue as a media executive for almost two decades. 'In that time, I have seen similar dossiers to the one created on Sophie McNeill on other journalists and around coverage of issues. The AIJAC website contains detailed, negative coverage of many leading Australian journalists who have reported on the Middle East, including Paul McGeough, John Lyons, Ed O'Loughlin and Ruth Pollard, as well as reporters from the BBC and The Guardian.'

"Scott added: 'The article demonstrates to Sophie McNeill and to the ABC that her every word will be watched closely by AIJAC and she starts on the ground with this key interest group sceptical. We are all aware she will be under even closer scrutiny now. As they seek to influence our coverage, this is a pre-emptive "shot across the bows". It should be noted, of course, that fair, impartial, accurate and balanced coverage from McNeill will not guarantee her immunity from ongoing criticism.' Scott told the board: 'The pre-emptive attack on McNeill is similar to the approach employed by lobby groups internationally. The US reporter, Jodi Rudoren, was targeted when she was appointed Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times in 2012 and accused of being biased against Israel and unsuitable for the post ... The New York Times refused to bow to the pressure and Rudoren remained in the position.'

"On 30 March 2015, Scott presented the response to Spigelman. The defence, and AIJAC's attack, went to the April meeting of the board. The board supported Scott. The whole process had taken enormous resources inside the ABC. In my view, no other lobby group in Australia would be able to command that level of response. This is real power. And as a journalist I believe that such efforts can have the effect of making a journalist or organisation self-censor. This would not prove to be the case with McNeill. However, in my opinion such a process certainly puts pressure on a reporter, raising the possibility of what is known in journalism as 'the pre-emptive buckle'." (pp 282-86)

Finally, some high comedy on the matter from today's Sydney Morning Herald: "It is not the first time the MP for Melbourne Ports has criticised McNeill's reporting. In the past, he has called her an 'advocacy journalist' on social media and has claimed she is obsessed with the 'Palestinian narrative'." (Labor MP used taxpayer funds to attack ABC reporter, Adam Gartrell & Broede Carmody)

Of course, Danby is nothing if not a pro-Israel 'advocacy politician', utterly obsessed with ensuring that only the 'Zionist narrative' is heard in public discourse.

[*The Herald account, says that Danby "admitted he had used a 'small amount' from his taxpayer-funded electoral allowance."]

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Failed States of America

"Each new massacre that is not met by drastic changes in gun laws (among other things) is further evidence that the US is a failed state." David Rovics tweet, 3/10/17

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 1 Month to Go

Here's the American historian, Herbert Adams Gibbons (1880-1934), writing on the subject of Britain's odious, ill-fated November 2, 1917, decision to hand Palestine to the Zionist movement in the January 1919 edition of the New York magazine Century:

"The Zionists fall back upon their acceptance of the clause in the Balfour Declaration that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' Zionism, they say, does not mean oppression of or conflict with the other communities. If conflict arises, it will be the fault of others, and help will be asked from Dr Weizmann's 'one just and fairly responsible guardian' [Britain!] to defend the immigrants. But how can the setting up of the Jewish 'national home' in Palestine fail to affect the civil and religious rights of the present inhabitants of the land? What other result can it possibly have than to rob the Palestinian Arabs of their hope to evolve into a modern, self-governing state? The spirit of the twentieth century is unalterably opposed to government by communities constituted on theocratic principles. The evolution of self-governing democracies has been possible only through unification and secularization. Utah is an illustration. Doing away with polygamy was simply the rallying cry in the inevitable conflict with Mormonism. In Zionist congresses delegates have frequently advocated making the United States 'the promised land.' But the answer always was that the ideals of Zionism could not be realized under the American system of civil government. Mr Lloyd George is now an enthusiastic advocate of Zionism - for Palestine. But years ago, when he was lawyer for the [Zionist] organization at the time of the eastern African proposal, he told his clients frankly that they would have to change their scheme of governing Zion if Zion was established in a British colony."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Mearsheimer & Walt's 'Israel Lobby' 10 Years On

If Spain had the Inquisition, the United States has the Israel lobby. Such is the fear of 'the lobby' in the United States that the classic book on the subject, Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby & US Foreign Policy (2007) almost failed to appear:

"The two men actually gave up on the article and book years before it was published because doors kept closing... Mearsheimer spoke about the idea first at the American Political Science Association meetings in Boston in 2002; and a friend said the Atlantic wanted to commission an article on that very subject. The Atlantic magazine assigned Walt and Mearsheimer in 2002. Then it got cold feet and killed the piece in early 2005. At that time, Walt said, the two scholars thought no other outlet in the United States would publish it, but they could flesh it out as a 'short book,' so they consulted a 'number' of publishers... We got what you would call polite interest but nothing you could call enthusiasm. At one point we basically decided to drop the project entirely... After that, though, an editor who had a copy of the piece showed it to a scholar at UCLA who reached out to Mearsheimer and said the London Review of Books might be interested. The LRB version was eventually published in March 2006, and 'provoked an immediate firestorm,' Walt said. Ironically, once it provoked that firestorm, suddenly publishers... recognized that there was a product people were interested in and suddenly they were contacting us and offering us book contracts." ('The lobby is still as powerful as ever' - John Mearsheimer, ten years after publishing The Israel Lobby, Philip Weiss, mondoweiss.net, 25/9/17)

The comment by CitizenC in the thread following Weiss's post is a fair assessment of the book:

"The book and article were indeed important landmarks, and brought the issue into the mainstream. But the authors pulled their punches in certain ways. They did not examine the first chapter of the story, the 1940s, when the nascent IL overwhelmed the opposition of the military and diplomatic establishments, and forced support for the partition of Palestine and a Jewish state on the US government. They also claimed that the IL 'is just another lobby, doing its job in US interest group politics.' This was in part defensiveness about the charge of anti-Semitism, which they addressed.

"The IL is not like other lobbies. It has operated at and beyond the margins of the law since its founding. In its early years it moved adroitly thru various legal gambits and incorporations to evade prosecution under foreign agent laws. The Fulbright hearings of the early 1960s forced the founding of AIPAC by existing IL personnel, and were the end of US sovereignty in the foreign agent area, as far as Israel was concerned. Grant Smith has shown all this in an important series of books based on documents unearthed with FOIA. He feels that the USG has essentially lost the ability to enforce the Foreign Agent Registration Act where Israel is concerned.

"Much of Mearsheimer and Walt's defensiveness was due to the refusal of the left, led by Chomsky, to consider the issue, imposing instead the [Israel as] 'strategic asset' dogma. Chomsky wrote some trivial dismissal in response to the article, and ignored the book. The left is unchanged since Mearsheimer and Walt. The IL argument is still viciously attacked as anti-Semitism, notably by Jewish Voice for Peace. Ten years after the article and book appeared, Chomsky's friend Irene Gendzier tried to impose the 'strategic asset' argument on the 40s, in a risibly weak book.

"The IL has also been addressed by diplomats, politicians and academics since the 40s. Paul Findley, George Ball and Michael Cohen are examples. Nonetheless, Mearsheimer and Walt gave the issue renewed prominence, made a major contribution, and paid a price, as Phil says."

I would add to CitizenC's list in the above paragraph - and highly recommend - James Petras' The Power of Israel in the United States (2006).